First Cutts is the deepest
It’s a quiet day in the world of football. When The Sun’s football homepage leads with the news that ‘PSG’s weekend clash against Toulouse in doubt because of violent protests by local FARMERS’, you know things are slow.
Newspaper-wise, most have played safe and opted for back-page stories on the legal problems of Ander Herrera and Alexis Sanchez. Yawn.
Except for the Daily Mirror, who splash with an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ claim from Midlands correspondent James Nursey about a new contract for Luke Shaw:
‘LUKE SHAW is in line to win a lucrative new long-term deal at Manchester United before the end of the season.’
Nice story but absolutely not an exclusive; this was written by the much-maligned (by us) Daniel Cutts on The Sun website on December 31:
‘LUKE SHAW is in line for a sensational Manchester United turnaround – with talks ongoing over a bumper new deal.’
Mediawatch is in line to feel a little bit sorry for Cutts.
Pleat pleat me
It’s labelled INSIGHT but if you ask former (four-time) Tottenham manager and Director of Football David Pleat for an opinion about Dele Alli and his diving, you are more likely to get BIAS than INSIGHT.
He claims in the Daily Mail that he was ‘surprised’ to see anybody question Alli – even after his third booking in three Premier League seasons for diving – and claims that Alli is only guilty of one thing: Getting in the box.
‘The fact is that attackers who get into the box have always induced penalties and always will.’
Yes, which is why the man with most touches in the opposition box this season (Raheem Sterling) is also the man who has won the most Premier League penalties (four).
Meanwhile, Alli has won just one penalty and ten players have had more touches in the opposition penalty area. And yet it is Alli who has a completely deserved reputation for diving. Go figure.
‘Bravery, timing and dribbling skills are all major factors that enable Dele Alli to give problems to last-ditch defenders. It’s not so surprising that he gets fouled or tipped off balance when he makes these runs several times in a game. Sometimes the merest touch at close quarters can affect a player’s balance.’
And sometimes asking a Tottenham man about a Tottenham man is not INSIGHT. Especially when he ends by saying that ‘England need a fit and worry-free Alli, who must continue to do what he does well’. So basically, leave Alli the hell alone to his running really fast into the box.
Meanwhile, Mediawatch would like to challenge Pleat to fulfil this claim:
‘I could name 50 or more current Premier League midfielders who never even get into a position to shoot at goal over 90 minutes.’
We will start you off with Jonathan Hogg, David; now let’s hear 49 more current midfielders from 19 other clubs.
A likely story
‘United chief Woodward to be quizzed on summer spending by investors’ is an eye-catching headline on the Daily Mirror’s football homepage. Sounds serious.
But then we do a ‘likely’ count…
* ‘Financiers likely to ask about United’s summer plan…’
* ‘The meeting is likely to start at 1pm British time.’
* ‘Investors are also likely to ask about United’s summer spending…’
* ‘Woodward will deliver the latest quarterly results, but will also field questions over the club’s spending, with Sanchez’ deal – believed to be worth around £500,000-a-week – likely to be on the agenda.’
It’s all likely to be guesswork.
Fur God’s sake
Neil Ashton, The Sun, October 30: ‘This is yet another Tottenham team that is in danger of being remembered for being all fur coat and no knickers.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, November 2: ‘OH, my. Tottenham Hotspur have arrived. At times Mauricio Pochettino’s players looked like they had re-invented the sport.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, December 1: ‘Tottenham are heading the same way – all fur coat and no knickers.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, February 1: ‘The football is dizzying at times, especially when Eriksen, the puppet-master is in possession.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, February 8: ‘And Spurs, fast becoming the complete team…’
Ma Mediawatch was wrong; you don’t need knickers.
Cryptic cross word
‘Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah leaves the door open to Real Madrid move with cryptic comment’ – Express website.
Alternative headline: Salah polite to Spanish journalist about Spain.
Not everyone is created equal
To perfectly illustrate the wide difference in the quality and knowledge of the rich tapestry of football pundits, we offer this absolute bilge from John Aldridge on Sky Sports:
“Firmino is a great player but if we’d have had a spearhead goalscorer who gets you 25 or 30 goals a season who knows how far we’d have been behind Man City.”
The first point Mediawatch would like to make is that Firmino actually has 19 goals from 35 games; Liverpool have at least 14 more games this season so the Brazilian is very likely to get past 25 goals. That’s really quite a lot.
The other thing to point out is that Liverpool do actually have another player who has already scored 28 goals. Aldridge clearly thinks that adding another similarly prolific player – a ‘spearhead goalscorer’ – would have absolutely no impact on Mo Salah. Because adding more goalscorers just adds more goals, right?
It’s at this point that we introduce more regular Sky Sports man Jamie Carragher, who succinctly explains what Aldo clearly fails to grasp:
“Without a doubt, Firmino is helping Salah too. He is very clever with his passing and his movement drags people out of position as well. He comes towards the ball and that opens up the space for Salah to make that penetrating diagonal run in behind that space between the full-back and the centre-back. It is a great combination for Liverpool.”
Silly Carra. Doesn’t he realise that goals + goals = more goals.
‘Wenger’s young signings no longer succeed – has he lost his touch?’ is the headline in The Guardian. It’s a fair – if slightly over-done – premise for a piece, but if you are going to pose such questions, you really do have to do your research. Or maybe just sit and think for about three minutes. That would do.
Ed Aarons clearly opted not to bother as he wrote:
‘But it has been Wenger’s failure to produce a single first-team regular during the past decade from the cast of many youthful imports that is perhaps most telling.’
Not a single one? Not Hector Bellerin, signed at the age of 16 from Barcelona and currently playing more Premier League minutes than any other Arsenal player. He is a full Spain international at the age of just 22.
And then there’s Aaron Ramsey, signed from Cardiff City at the age of 17 to become a first-team regular with over 300 Arsenal appearances despite a serious injury.
We suggest a slight edit: So it has been Wenger’s failure to produce a single first-team regular – apart from two and possibly three if you count the 24-year-old and uncapped Laurent Koscielny as young – during the past decade from the cast of many youthful imports that is perhaps most telling.
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on tactical fouling.
Barney Ronay on midfield controllers.
Jack Harry with Leon McKenzie.