The Page That Wolfed It Down

Michael Owen would have Adam Lallana in his England first XI, but not his squad, while Robbie Savage announces his end-of-season awards...

Last Updated: 16/05/14 at 12:32

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Lallana Land
Apologies if Mediawatch is a little late to this, but you should know our love of a good U-turn by now...

Said Michael Owen this week when asked by the BBC for his thoughts on Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley's roles in the England squad: "I would start with both of those players. I think you can't get enough match-winners in the team."

That's quite the endorsement. Certainly more so than the ideal 23-man squad Owen picked for The Daily Telegraph, in which he omitted Lallana in favour of including Andros Townsend (two Premier League starts since mid-November) and Wilfried Zaha (stuck on the bench for relegated Cardiff in the run-in).


Slight Difference Of Opinion
'£40m - United reveal the staggering cost of Moyes reign' - The Sun.

'Moyes' wretched reign cost United £50.4m' - The Telegraph.

'Champions League failure cost us £35m, says Woodward' - The Guardian.


Top Marks
Robbie Savage's end-of-season report cards make for interesting reading in the Daily Mirror as he once again reminds everyone that he tipped Manchester City to win the league. Well done, Sav. Slow clap.

No-one scores higher than Hull or Sunderland's A+ grades, despite the former having dropped from the safety of the top half to 16th in the final standings following five wins in their last 25 matches.

Of Sunderland, Savage writes: 'Only the second club, after West Brom, to escape the drop after being bottom at Christmas. Those seven points at City, Chelsea and United were as vital as they were astonishing. Grade: A+'

It certainly was an astonishing run, but in a review of the club's entire season it seems rather generous to award them the highest mark in the league. They did go ten games without winning between February and April and lost at home to Aston Villa, Hull and West Ham.

Moving on, we were particularly intrigued by Savage's assessment of Spurs' disappointing campaign. 'Andre Villas-Boas blew £100million from the sale of Gareth Bale, and Tim Sherwood deserved a better fate than the sack,' he writes. 'It's AVB's fault they didn't finish in the top four. Grade: C'

Silly Mediawatch, we were under the impression that Franco Baldini was in charge of transfers at Spurs, but thanks to Savage, we're now aware it was all Villas-Boas' fault. And of course he should be blamed for Spurs failing to reach the top four - anyone can see that the ten-point gap at the end of the season is smaller than the five-point gap at the point of his dismissal.

We've saved the best for last, though, as Savage writes of Manchester United's disastrous campaign: 'A horrible, unacceptable season. An absolute write-off. I said, after the first transfer window, they would finish outside the top four - sadly, I was proved right. Grade: E'

Erm, no you didn't, Robbie. You predicted that United would finish third on August 16 and you repeated the exact same forecast on September 5 after the transfer window closed. Grade: F.


Force-fed
'EXCLUSIVE: Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino sacks 440 staff and closes academy,' reveals the headline on the Daily Star's website.

Below, Jeremy Cross details how 40 permanent employees and 400 casual staff have lost their jobs as part of Cellino's cost-cutting excercise.

But wait, what's this? The Leeds nightmare stretches even further?

'And earlier this week Leeds' England u-20 international Sam Byram was forced to get his lunch from a fast-food shop close to the ground after he'd been to Elland Road for treatment.'

Jesus. Who's the b*stard responsible for this? Forget the 440 sacked staff, who dragged Sam Byram into McDonalds and forced Big Macs and McFlurries down his neck until he could no longer move?


Hiding To Nothing
Steven Howard is in sparkling form in The Sun on Friday as he lays into Arsenal for the games they've lost this season and rather ignores the matches in which they've played pretty bloody well.

After criticising the Gunners for losing to Bayern Munich in the Champions League - 'needless to say, they were beaten' - Howard concedes:

'Yes, they had good home wins over Liverpool and Everton in the FA Cup and also beat Brendan Rodgers' side at the Emirates in the Premier League.

'And, yes, they suffered when Aaron Ramsey was injured.

'But overall it has been another hugely infuriating season where the Gunners played in fits and starts.'

That might be true, but what puzzles Mediawatch is Howard's pointed tone when addressing Arsenal's achievements. Yes, they did beat two excellent Liverpool and Everton sides to reach the FA Cup final. Yes, Aaron Ramsey's loss was an enormous blow. Why is that so difficult to acknowledge?

'We all know what happens to Arsenal in big games,' concludes Howard.

Alternatively, we all know that if Arsenal win big games it will be ignored in favour of deriding defeats in other matches.


Quip Of The Day
'So much for the end of the great Barca team,' writes Steven Howard in The Sun. 'But it will be the end for manager Gerardo 'Tata' Martino...A case of ta ta, Tata.'

Badum tish. Please, try the veal, I've heard it's excellent.


Straight-talking
We've heard from all and sundry about Louis van Gaal ahead of the Dutchman's appointment at Manchester United, but amid the din one voice appears to have been missing. Step forward, Terry Venables.

In the serialisation of his new autobiography for The Sun (THE BOOK THEY ALL WANTED), El Tel reveals Van Gaal's lack of etiquette at a coaching event in South Carolina.

'Our host from Umbro, recognising Van Gaal had not been happy the day before, asked: "Louis, I hope the food was good for you?" "It was beautiful," he replied. "But last night was s**t."

'He was out of order on this occasion, but we could do with more of his straight-talking Dutch attitude.'

There are two things Mediawatch particularly enjoyed about this story: firstly, Venables' idea that it's an eminent Dutch trait to be straight-talking, and secondly, that Van Gaal's straight-talking related to him not wanting to join in the Country and Western line-dancing.

Mediawatch is now picturing Venables yee-hawing his way through the do-si-do.


Banter
Going by his comments on Friday, it seems James Chester wants Hull to ready the banter bus for a possible FA Cup parade.

Chester told the Daily Mail: "The lads will tell you I'm always laughing and messing about in training, cutting up laces and socks and putting pegs in people's shoes.

"If I read before a game what someone is going to do against us, I just think: 'I'll give them a tickle and see what they make of that'."

You don't have to be crazy to work for Hull City but it helps.


Quote Of The Day
Said Martin Keown: "The manager has given up his life for Arsenal."

Well, for Arsenal and his £8m-a-year contract.


Misleading Headline Of The Day
'Everton In Town For Big Names' - the Daily Mirror. 'Andros Townsend' is a whole 14 letters.


Worst Headlines Of The Day
'ROOBISH' - The Sun. It certainly is.

'Jammed United' - the Daily Mail.


Non-Football Story Of The Day
'Ypsilanti's children's slides are free and clear of feces after the Ypsilanti Police recently identified a suspect in their hunt for the notorious "mystery pooper."

'Ypsilanti Police Chief Tony DiGiusti confirmed the department made contact with an individual believed to be the "mystery pooper" who regularly defecated on the same slide in Prospect Park between November and April.

'DiGiusti said there have been no further incidents since contact was made with the individual and he declined to provide any further details on the case. No charges were brought against the individual.

'Feces were found on the slide so frequently that police set up a camera in a nearby tree to help catch what some city council members during the investigation dubbed the "mystery pooper."

'Council Member Brian Robb said he hopes "we can just put this behind us."' - mlive.com

Thanks to Daniel Tilles, Stephen Willcocks and Elliot Newstead. If you do spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at theeditor@football365.com, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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