The Page That Will Melt When He Smiles

Martin Samuel has a (foolproof) system to give Arsenal a tougher draw, whilst Roy Hodgson is now the same person as Adrian Durham...

Last Updated: 29/08/14 at 13:39

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Luck Of The Draw
'End this tedious and bent travesty' reads the pretty angry headline to Martin Samuel's column in the Daily Mail following the Champions League draw. It really is very frothy-mouthed indeed.

'So here comes another one, just like the other one. The best team in England have the toughest Champions League draw. Again. Manchester City will play Bayern Munich. Again. And CSKA Moscow. Again. Meanwhile, Arsenal meet Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea face Schalke 04. Again, again.'

'The elite are protected so that Arsenal, who last won the title in 2004 and needed to pre-qualify this year, are shielded from the toughest opposition, while Manchester City, reigning champions with two title wins in three years, must again climb a mountain to reach the later stages.'

Firstly, Martin, we don't want to undermine your point or anything, but two of the three times that City have faced Bayern in the Champions League, they didn't enter it as champions. And Arsenal were actually in the 'Group of Death' last year with Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille, which they qualified from.

Secondly, the random element of fortune is ignored here. City did indeed get a tough draw, but could equally have drawn Benfica, Olympiakos and BATE Borisov, whilst Arsenal could have got PSG, Leverkusen and Roma. That's why it's a draw - there's luck involved.

Does Samuel think that Liverpool and Manchester City should be kept apart in the FA Cup just because they finished as the top two in the Premier League? Is it biased draws all the way for league winners?

Before the draw, the 32 qualifiers are divided into four pots based on the UEFA coefficients, which are in turn decided by a mixture of the team's own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country's league. That seems like common sense, rather than 'naked protectionism' or a 'routine revenue-generating process, there to fill TV primetime.'

Samuel does actually have a solution, which is to have the pots for the draws allocated according to title winners from the previous season, weighted according to the ranking of the league. And this is where it really gets fun.

'Under my system Manchester City could end up with Olympiacos, Apoel Nicosia and Ludogorets Razgrad and Arsenal with Real Madrid, Ajax and Roma,' Samuel continues. 'But as one team won its league and the other came fourth, why should it be any other way? This is the Champions League. That title should mean something.'

Yes, those teams could get those groups, but Samuel again wilfully omits the element of luck in the draw, to spectacular results. Under Samuel's system, City would have the same chance of being drawn against Barcelona, Roma or Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, whilst Arsenal could face CSKA Moscow, Anderlecht and BATE Borisov, an even more favourable draw than they received yesterday.

Pass Me The Bucket
Mediawatch can reveal that it's one of a handful of people left in the United Kingdom not to have had ice and water thrown over them in the name of climbing on board a social media craze raising money for charity, so it didn't seem particularly newsworthy that Jermaine Pennant (a player without a club since January) had been nominated for the challenge by his wife. Certainly not enough to be the fifth story in the list on the Daily Mail website's 'Sports Big Hits'.

Oh, actually, hang on. We think we know why this is a 'story'. 'Alice Goodwin does Ice Bucket Challenge in bikini and picks husband Jermaine Pennant,' reads the headline. Oh, a bikini you say. Why didn't you mention it before? The story contains four pictures and one video of Pennant's wife in said bikini, of course.

The number of mentions of the words 'charity', 'fundraising', 'ALS' or 'motor neurone disease' in the story? We'll let you guess that.

The Sighing Mediawatch
Given the airing it has been given in the papers since Thursday afternoon, Mediawatch would just like to clear something up: Roy Hodgson did not label Jack Colback as the 'Ginger Pirlo'. Not at all.

What he actually said was that "someone [it was Adrian Durham] who knows him very well called Jack the 'Gginger Pirlo' - let's hope that becomes true."

See that word "becomes", it implies future tense. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a comment by a man himself making a tongue-in-cheek reference. Of course, with news thin on the ground, this is entirely ignored by the papers.

'On the day Roy Hodgson called up a player he named the Ginger Pirlo, England probably did not wish to remember what the real one did to their last campaigns,' says John Dillon in the Daily Express. 'All he needs to do now is find the Bald Cristiano Ronaldo, the Bearded Lionel Messi or the Scouse James Rodriguez.' How very droll.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, use a graphic to compare Colback and Pirlo's statistics from last season, showing that the then Sunderland player comes out unfavourably in the evaluation. Shock horror.

The headline to Louise Taylor's Guardian piece reads 'Roy Hodgson's 'Ginger Pirlo' Jack Colback tipped to make England impact,' while the Newcastle Chronicle reports that 'Roy Hodgson hails Newcastle United's Jack Colback as the 'Ginger Pirlo.''

No he f**king didn't. It's no wonder that managers resort to bland cliché, when every possible drop of controversy is squeezed out in such obvious fashion.

Sherwood For The Trees
Says Paul Merson on the appointment of Neil Warnock at Crystal Palace: "Neil Warnock will go into Crystal Palace and steady the ship, there's no doubt about that. He has plenty of experience, but I just wonder when the young up-and-coming managers like Tim Sherwood will be given a chance?"

That's the same Tim Sherwood that was given his first job as a manager at Tottenham, claims to have turned down the West Brom job after being offered it in June and rejected Crystal Palace's interest earlier this month. When will he catch a break?

Presumably Merson is ignoring the likes of Garry Monk at Swansea, who is younger than Sherwood. And Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. And Roberto Martinez at Everton. And Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs. And Paul Lambert at Aston Villa. And Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs. All given Premier League jobs in the last two seasons, all younger than Sherwood.

Insight-ing Violence
This Friday, Mark Lawrenson's predictions on the BBC Sport website are brought to you by the letter 'I' for Insight.

'I was surprised with what I saw in the League Cup against MK Dons' - Good.

'QPR have had a bad start' - Better

'This will be the Blues' [Chelsea's trip to Goodison] biggest test of the season so far' - After Burnley (a) and Leicester (h)? Yes, you're probably right.

'Liverpool have been OK so far' - Useful information.

'By staying in the division, they [Crystal Palace] can turn into a Premier League club' - Thanks. For. That.

The Things I Take Pleasure In, I Can't Do
'It's different going to Liverpool. You become one of the family - you are very, very aware of upsetting the family' - Mark Lawrenson on the BBC Sport website.

Does he think that Mario Balotelli has signed for Liverpool or the Sopranos?

The Slow Death Of Journalism, Part 428

Asks a poll on the Metro website:

How annoying is it that Adrien Rabiot spells his name with an 'e' and not an 'a'?
a) Very annoying
b) It's fine

Yes, Frenchman has name with French spelling - what do you think?

Even for free, it's not worth the price.

Headline Of The Day
'Fat Chancer' - The Daily Star remain typically understated with their story on Luke Shaw's fitness issues.

Runner-Up: 'Hodge Podge' - The Sun make us smile with a dig of their own.

Non-Football Headline Of The Day
'"Please return my solar-powered meerkat," pleads Bushey pensioner' - The Watford Observer.

Non-Football Story Of The Day
'A US man with a nine-and-a-half stone (59kg) testicle is finally set to have life changing surgery to have it removed.

'Dan Maurer, 39, from Michigan, whose testicle has slowly swollen over the past ten years, has spent years raising funds for the operation .

'At first doctors told him to lose weight, but even after a rigorous exercise programme saw him lose 50 lbs, his scrotum continued to grow.

'It was eventually discovered that Mr Maurer, has a broken cyst in his scrotum that caused the rare condition of Scrotal Lymphedema.

'After finally discovering the cause of his condition, his local church started a fundraiser to pay for the $27,000 (£16,265) operation.

'His wife, Mindy, added that even though they "haven't had marital relations in seven years", she has stood by her husband. When you say those marriage vows you either mean them or you don't. I meant them," she said' - Orange. See, we do good news stories too.

Thanks to M Burrows and Erik Sheridan. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting 'Mediawatch' in the subject field.

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Readers' Comments


really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew


m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce


ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

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