Successful manager Martin Keown has some wise words for Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman is comparing unfavourably to Brendan Rodgers on 'clarity of vision'...
Di Maria drops a 'bombshell' on his first day at United, and why Harry Redknapp isn't to blame for waving at Tottenham fans...
Put Your Hands Up, Bend Your Knees
Odd column from Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail today. Really odd.
Whilst there is obvious cause to lay some of the blame for Manchester United's current squad issues at the feet of Alex Ferguson, Samuel attacks him in pretty aggressive manner for his management of the club.
'Fergie ran United like a Sunday league team. Now they're 20 years behind the times,' reads the headline, and it doesn't get much less ballsy.
Calling something 'Sunday league' is normally an accusation of amateurish or slapdash behaviour, but Samuel's accusation is actually that Fergie was too hands-on.
'Across the best part of three decades, [United] used an antiquated model of dictatorial control.
'For all their smart facilities, record-breaking contracts and stable of internationals they are, at heart, almost a Sunday league team: one guy did it all.'
So, Ferguson was too involved in the club? He should have sat back and performed below his top level in order to make things easier for his successor? Mediawatch is pretty sure that would have gone down terribly well with Samuel and his ilk.
Samuel has also rather changed his tune on Ferguson's dedication and commitment. The following was written following the manager's retirement in May:
'First in, last out. The puritan work ethic never deserted him, no matter his success. And he instilled it in all he met. That was his genius.
'He leaves them close to impregnable. Ferguson did not build a team, he built team after team after team after team. Yet, more than a team, Ferguson built a club. The modern Manchester United, its stadium and global renown, are testament to his singular vision.'
It's the biggest U-turn since Usher.
Top Of The League
Simon Bird may be the Daily Mirror's north-east correspondent, but Mediawatch can't help but feel that he has got slightly carried away in his overestimation of Alan Pardew's achievements at Newcastle.
'The biggest price for his moment of madness at Hull is the damage inflicted on his ultimate ambition - taking over the national team.'
Erm... he's not saying what we think he is, is he? Oh yes he is.
'The Newcastle chief is undoubtedly one of...if not the top home-grown home candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson.'
Well, they did very well two seasons ago, but...
'A decent argument can be made that Pardew was gathering the top of the league experience to make him a viable option for the FA, post European Championship in 2016.'
It's an argument. But to call it 'decent' is stretching things just a tad.
There's No 'I' In Venables
Sol Campbell's weekend allegations, which form the part of a soon-to-be-released biography, were so extremely inflammatory and accusatory that it seems reasonable that anyone potentially implicated in such claims would quite like to hold up their hands and say "nothing to do with me guv".
Luckily for former England manager Terry Venables, he has a column in The Sun.
'I am shocked by Sol Campbell's claims that he was overlooked for the England captaincy because he was black,' Venables begins, in a piece that spends a long time providing reasons why Sol couldn't possibly be talking about him with his accusations.
'I have known Sol since he was 14...'
'I gave Sol his Tottenham debut...'
'I gave Sol his England debut... despite his obvious inexperience.'
'I have always got on with Sol.'
'We were neighbours in London until a few years ago.'
'I even did a piece for his book.'
'I know his claim centres on his time in the England squad after my reign as manager.'
Yes Terry, we get it. He's probably not talking about you. But for a piece that should be focusing on the worrying claims made by a black player about racist treatment by a national governing body, you using the word 'I' as the first word in 11 of your 30 paragraphs is rather missing the point.
We might be mistaken (we are mistaken), but Mediawatch reckons that if you read down the last letter of each paragraph it spells out the sentence 'Some of my best friends are Sol Campbell'.
Goals, Goals, Goals
Can't help but think that Tim Sherwood is getting a little too misty-eyed over Roberto Soldado scoring the winner against Cardiff, a performance and match as dull and dreary as any we can remember.
"He knows he's been in a sticky spell but I've looked him in the eyes and I know he's always had the belief. I've stuck by him because I believed he'd come good."
We've double-checked, and Soldado did just score one goal yesterday, against the second-worst team in the Premier League. It is still just two goals from open play in 1708 Premier League minutes.
"I hope it's the platform for him to go on and score 20 goals before the end of the season," continued our favourite gym teacher.
Easy tiger. Even if Spurs get past Benfica and qualify for the Europa League final, they can still only play a maximum of 17 games before the end of the season. Maybe let's walk before we can run, eh.
Keep On Kicking On
Mark Lawrenson has rather forgotten logic and recent history in his piece for the Daily Mirror on how Manchester City can now be inspired to win the title.
'The League Cup is a great trophy to win because it can kickstart the last quarter of the season for the team that wins it and can be a springboard for further success.'
Well, yes it can, we guess. Apart from last year, when Swansea won just two games all season after their cup victory, starting a downward spiral which ultimately led to the sacking of Michael Laudrup.
And the year before, when Liverpool lost five of their next six Premier League matches following victory in the final, a run that saw Liverpool finish 17th in a table for the second half of the league season and led to Kenny Dalglish's sacking after an eighth-placed league finish that represented the club's worst league performance since 1994.
And the year before that, when Birmingham beat Arsenal before losing eight of their last 12 games to confirm relegation from the Premier League and the departure of manager Alex McLeish.
If anything, the rule with the League Cup in recent years is that, actually, it has led to a decrease in performance that has ultimately proved costly to the club and managers' future employment. But yes, well done City and all that.
Forget About It
Strong work from Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror today, whose piece on the League Cup final revolves around how it was a shame that everyone is talking about Sunderland's survival chances rather than the final itself.
'What would the Capital One Cup final do for Sunderland's chances of staying up, everyone asked... the answer was simple. Who cares?
'This was about a cup final. This was about seeing Jim Montgomery's double save in our mind's eye again. This was about something that will live long in the memory. Not fade away.'
All very romantic and lovely. So we definitely shouldn't focus on their survival chances, right? But what's this here, forming the conclusion to the piece.
'Perhaps three facts are enough for now. Sunderland are currently third from bottom of the Premier League, one point from safety. They have 12 league fixtures left, including visits to Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and City.'
Oh. So it's okay to forget about it now then?
Incidentally, the web version of the column is headlined 'Sunderland deserved to live for the moment at Wembley, but relegation fears nag away', and includes a poll in the middle of the piece asking whether readers believe Sunderland will be relegated or not.
Who cares indeed.
Mediawatch isn't going to go too deeply into Mick Dennis' article in the Daily Express on why Harry Redknapp is actually doing a great job at QPR, despite them sitting nine points from the Championship's automatic promotion places. Largely because it makes us want to scream until we are sick.
However, one line did make us sob more than most.
'When you list QPR's injury absentees you realise that they need Harry Potter rather than Redknapp to conjure up automatic promotion.'
Of the 14 players used by QPR on Saturday against Leeds, every single one has Premier League experience, and 12 of them played in the top flight last season. In addition, those 14 players have 354 international caps between them.
In short, do us a f*cking favour, Mick.
Must. Stop. Getting. Annoyed.
Mediawatch doesn't like getting annoyed by the pointless exercise of rating players, but there is no way on this earth that only three of the 14 players used by Sunderland in the League Cup final performed better than Edin Dzeko. As claimed by the Daily Express.
Mediawatch is a git for statistics. We love them, and we're not apologising for that. However, sometimes we do accept that some are rolled out purely for statistics sake.
Take this nugget from Bill Edgar in The Times today: 'Hull City and Southampton have both played on the first day of December, January, February and March. They are the first top-flight clubs to be in action on the first day of four consecutive months since Everton in 2002/3.'
Thanks. For. That.
Pot, Meet Kettle
Tweet from Oliver Holt: 'Problem with Pardew is he's a recidivist. And a narcissist. Wants everybody to look at him.'
The Robbie Savage 'Who Will Win The League' Update
In the Daily Mirror, February 6th: 'Although Manchester City, my tips before a ball was kicked last August, have the superior firepower, I'm not deserting the Gunners just yet.'
On the BBC on Saturday: "I think Liverpool can win the Premier League, but I don't think they will. I said Chelsea will win the league and I stick by that."
We're just waiting with bated breath for the 'I told you so' piece that Savage writes when one of his 'tips ' eventually wins the title. And when we say 'bated breath', we mean stiff drink.
Optimistic Quote Of The Day
'On the grandest stage in world football' - Neil Ashton gets a little League Cup giddy in the Daily Mail. As huge as the tertiary domestic trophy is Neil, we strongly suspect that the World Cup final in the Maracana might be bigger.
Laboured Intro Of The Day
'If Roberto Soldado is to be cast as a donkey, as Lord Sugar suggested, then he might prove to be the most popular since the one played by Eddie Murphy in the film Shrek' - Someone at the Daily Mail needs to take a long hard look at themselves.
Worst Headline Of The Day
'24-Carrot Gem' - The Daily Mail go for a carat/carrot gag to celebrate Roberto Soldado's goal. Because he's not a donkey, you see.
'Pelle's Firsty Work' - The Sun stink the place out.
'Arc Side Of The Moon' - Because Yaya Toure's shot looped a bit, as the Daily Mirror spot (with diagram). Sheesh.
Non-Football Story Of The Day
'A 45-year-old Malawian man was on Tuesday hospitalized with a missing penis. Police in the central Lakeshore District of Salima on Tuesday responded to a report of a man lying bleeding and unconscious next to railway tracks.
'When the man was admitted to hospital, doctors were shocked to discover his penis was missing, local media reported.
'Salima police chief Foster Mangani said hours later, police were called to a local motel where the owner reported a guest had tried to sell her a penis for US$360.
'"We rushed to the lodge and arrested the suspect. We also recovered the private parts," Mangani was quoted as saying by the Nyasa Times newspaper. Police have named the suspect as Samuel Banda, whose picture was published in the newspaper along with what looked like a severed penis wrapped in white paper.
'Police said Banda had admitted selling "many body parts to well known business personalities"' - Nyasa Times
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