The Page That Went Off-Piste With The Title

Mediawatch is still sat mouth open at the biggest U-turn it has ever witnessed, whilst Mexico's goalkeeper made Neymar cry before the match had even begun...

Last Updated: 18/06/14 at 12:26

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"Better!" - Andy Townsend on a promising 30th-minute passage of play by Belgium.

"That's better!" - Townsend on a promising 32nd-minute passage of play by Belgium.

C-C-Called A U-Turn

After spending the last few months demanding that England be exciting and carefree in Brazil, it would take the ballsiest of the tabloid media to step forward and criticise Roy Hodgson for doing exacty that. Step forward Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail, the man with the biggest balls in Fleet Street. What an image.

'Was Hodgson Brave or Naïve?' reads the headline on a piece that made Mediawatch bite on its fists until both were bleeding profusely.

'Whilst Roy Hodgson and his team drew widespread praise from the laymen for their spirited, open approach... it is fair to say the professionals beg to differ,' Samuel begins.

Oh do let us give you a hand down from your gold pedestal, Martin, because that is utter tosh.

From the Daily Mail match report after England v Italy, written by a certain M. Samuel: 'For England, this was a strange kind of World Cup defeat. This time will be few recriminations, no grand inquest, little soul-searching, no official or lay examination of what is rotten in our game. England played well, but lost. Went for it, but lost. Had many of the best chances, but lost. That happens in football and we'll live with it.'

If you look very closely at that match report, just after 'no recriminations' it reads 'except by me in three days' time when I look to do a hatchet job on the national team manager' in very small print.

'Why go gung-ho when it was not in your [Hodgson's] nature?' Samuel's latest piece continues. 'Italy would have settled for a draw and only stepped up their attempts to win once it became apparent from England's very aggressive start that they were not going to settle. Hodgson poked a hornet's nest.'

Yes that's right, Samuel is criticising Hodgson and England for starting the game on the front foot. Instead, they should have sat back and played for the 0-0. Because of course there would have been 'no recriminations' from the media had England followed that gameplan.

As if to place a foul-tasting cherry on top of the biggest U-turn Mediawatch has ever witnessed, this is the headline to Martin Samuel's piece from three (THREE!) days ago: 'England have to play like Liverpool in autumn, there's only one way out of this - keep faith with likes of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling and... ATTACK!'

'After a dismal experience in South Africa in 2010 and a week of predictions based around a dour, goalless draw, played at an Amazonian snail's pace in the tropical heat, England came out of the blocks in Manaus as if set down at Anfield on a perfect autumn afternoon,' Samuel wrote. 'Lost, obviously, but that happens in football. Sometimes you don't get what you deserve. A fair few in the squad know all about that this season.'

So to recap:
1. Spend months urging Hodgson and England to attack and take game to Italians.
2. Compliment them for attacking and taking game to Italians.
3. Urge that only way to succeed against Uruguay is to keep attacking.
4. Criticise Hodgson for being naive for attacking.

Even by usual England reactionism and negativity, that's rot of the highest order. Mediawatch can't work out whether it was 'brave or naïve' for ever expecting any different.

Fears For Tears
'Sombre Beat' - reads the pretty enjoyable headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror's World Cup pull-out, but unfortunately that's where the positives end.

'Unbeatable Mexican keeper and a strong ref enough to reduce Neymar and Brazil to tears,' the story reads, alongside a picture of Neymar indeed in tears.

Given that Neymar only cried during the pre-match national anthems, we'd say it's pushing it more than a touch to credit Guillermo Ochoa with 'reducing him' to tears. Maybe he stuck out his tongue.

Buttner Wouldn't Melt
Manchester United fans will presumably be heartbroken to learn of the sad news that Alexander Buttner looks to be on his way out of Old Trafford, but they will surely be consoled to learn that the 'fourth best defender in Holland' has left with some award-winning quotes.

"Van Gaal never gave me a chance in the Dutch team, even though I was MOTM for MUFC fourteen times. I'm leaving at just the right moment."

Given that Buttner only made 23 starts for United in all competitions, Mediawatch is intrigued by the claim of 14 MOTM awards. Perhaps United's player had an in-joke where they told him he was the best player after every match?

We do agree with the last bit, mind. The 'right moment' for all concerned.

Sugar Sugar

It's good to see that Matt Barlow has got the inside scoop in the Daily Mail on the Uruguay squad, as proven by his report written from Sete Lagaos, where Oscar Tabarez's squad has its training camp.

'Uruguay In A Sticky Spot Over Caramel' is the headline on a news story created out of nothing, reporting that the Uruguayan FA had 86lbs of dulce de leche (a popular sugary breakfast spread in Uruguay) confiscated at the airport when they arrived in Brazil.

Given that the Uruguay squad landed a full eight days ago, Mediawatch wondered how it had taken Barlow so long to get such a scoop, but we weren't left scratching our heads for too long; the BBC ran the story yesterday afternoon. A quick shimmy around of a few words and it was good to go.

More 'reports from the BBC News website' than 'reports from Sete Lagaos', then.

'Aussies Are Ready To Shock The World' screams the headline in the Daily Express ahead of Australia's must-not-lose game against the Netherlands on Wednesday evening, running with quotes from coach Ange Postecoglou.

If that seems a little bullish given the Dutch performance against Spain on Friday, then it's because he said nothing of the sort.

Actual quotes from Postecoglou: "We want to improve as a nation and measure ourselves against the best, so what the expectations are, or what other people's perceptions are, that becomes irrelevant to your own sort of self-belief.

"Having said that Holland have obviously shown that their good players are in good form and they are a very dangerous team but we know that coming in."

Shock and awe indeed.

Age Is Just A Number

Martin Keown is a man that looked 35 for most of his footballing career, and Mediawatch can't help but feel that he's taking that out on others.

In discussing Russia's Aleksandr Kerzakhov following his equaliser against South Korea on Tuesday night, Keown said defiantly: "Who says you are too old for the World Cup?"

Kerzakhov is 31. Roger Milla and Faryd Mondragon must have laughed themselves to sleep.

Casual Xenophobia Of The Day

"Well, the South Koreans are nothing if not a bit weird. Oh my word!" - Guy Mowbray of the BBC neatly generalises a country of over 50 million people.

Tomorrow - why the Germans are efficient and what's that funny garlic smell around the French training camp?

Non-Sequitur Of The Day

BBC's Jonathan Pearce, during Brazil v Mexico: "There have been 20 murders reported in Fortaleza between Friday and Sunday."

Mark Lawrenson: "What is interesting is that Mexico are playing two up top."

Pithy Assessment Of The Day

"When Neymar was shaping up to take that penalty (against Croatia), I thought he was f**king dreading it" - RTE pundit Eamon Dunphy may want to check whether he is on air next time he offers his 'insight'.

Worst Headline Of The Day

'Roo Win' - The Daily Mirror this time. The only reason we're looking forward to England being knocked out.

Non-Football Story Of The Day

'New Hampshire woman has been busted selling sex at a suburban Massachusetts library, police said.

'Brittany Macintyre, 20, was allegedly caught offering her services at the quiet public lending house in Tewksbury on Tuesday.

'Cops said they went undercover after a receiving a tip-off about her sleazy deeds. An officer said that, within moments of entering the building, he was approached by the suspected hooker.

'To respect the peaceful ambiance, the duo started passing written notes between each other, reports CBS Boston. Macintyre is said to have eventually offered to perform a sex act on the officer in exchange for $60.

'She was arrested on charges of prostitution, reports Nashua Patch, and was arraigned Wednesday in Lowell District Court' - New York Daily News. Mediawatch loves a book with a happy ending.

Thanks to today's Mediawatch spotters Scott Woods, Peter Bloom and all those who sent in the Eamon Dunphy swear. If you see anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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