Odds one out
‘Leicester may never top the greatest sporting story ever told when they claimed the Premier League title as 5,000-1 no-hopers…’ – Dave Kidd, Daily Mirror.
Does anyone have any ideas what odds were available on Leicester winning the league last season?
Slight difference of opinion
The following two paragraphs are offered on Robert Huth’s performance against Club Brugge.
‘Early slip almost gifted Bruges opener. Not at his best’ – Dave Kidd gives him a 5/10 in the Daily Mirror. He is rated as Leicester’s worst player.
‘Last Champions League game was 10 years ago but seemed like he’d never been away’ – Laurie Whitwell gives him a 7/10 in the the Daily Mail. Only three players are rated higher.
Slight difference of opinion 2: Return of the Kidd
The following two paragraphs are offered on Islam Slimani’s performance against Club Brugge.
‘The debutant is strong, quick and clever. Linked up well with Vardy’ – Dave Kidd gives him an 8/10 in the Daily Mirror. Only Riyad Mahrez scores higher.
‘Looked rusty with sloppy control but made nuisance of himself to set up opening goal’ – Laurie Whitwell gives him 5.5/10 in the Daily Mail. He is rated as their worst player.
Did they watch the same game?
‘DONE FOUR’ reads the headline on The Sun‘s back page on Thursday morning. Jon West has some bad news for English clubs with Champions League aspirations.
‘New Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin could cut England’s four Champions League spots to three,’ he writes. Surely not? The fourth-place trophy would be no more.
‘The Slovenian lawyer was the shock choice to succeed the disgraced Michel Platini. And he is set for an instant showdown with Europe’s biggest clubs. He is unhappy at changes that have angered smaller nations.’
This really does not sound good. England have had four qualification spots for the Champions League since the 2002/03 season. To reduce that to three would affect the whole of the Premier League.
‘Four Champions League group stage slots will go to English, Italian, German and Spanish clubs in 2018.’
Phew. That’s a relief. So it would only be reduced to three clubs qualifying in three years?
‘But Ceferin said: “I will have to sit down with all 55 national associations.”‘
Oh. From ‘New Uefa president could cut England’s four Champions League spots to three’ to “I will have to sit down with all 55 national associations”, and so soon too.
Doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?
For the avid Sun readers among you, a) you’re really weird, stop doing that, and b) you might remember a particular story and headline in their edition on Wednesday, September 7.
‘ED HUNTED,’ screamed the headline to a Neil Ashton back-page exclusive. ‘Eddie Howe being lined up by Arsenal to replace manager Arsene Wenger with Frenchman’s contract set to expire in summer,’ said the sub-headline.
‘SunSport can reveal that the highly-regarded Bournemouth chief’s name is being discussed in the corridors of power at the Emirates,’ Ashton wrote. Again, it would be weird if one of the best young managers in the Premier League wasn’t ‘being discussed’ with regards to replacing a boss whose contract expires soon.
But anyway, to a story on The Sun’s website today.
‘Diego Simeone agrees to two-year contract reduction at Atletico Madrid’ is the headline, and it is sold as an ‘Arsenal boost’. It is the leading story on the homepage.
‘Arsenal fans have been given a huge boost with the news Diego Simeone has sensationally reduced his contract as Atletico Madrid boss by two years,’ writes Andrew Richardson. ‘The Gunners hierarchy see the highly-rated Argentinian manager as the ideal candidate to take over at the Emirates when Arsene Wenger finally calls time on his tenure as boss.’
Would that be the same ‘Gunners hierarchy’ who have kept themselves busy by ‘discussing’ Eddie Howe’s name recently? Surely not?
Richardson is not done. He adds: ‘Simeone had a contract at the Calderon until 2020, but has negotiated it down to 2018 – but will remain the highest-paid player in La Liga.’
Just in case you missed it, read the last part again. Yep.
Perhaps Richardson or another member of The Sun‘s team should have contacted Pete Jenson – a man with actual contacts in Spain. He has covered the Simeone story, which was broken by Spanish newspaper AS, for the Daily Mail.
‘Diego Simeone looks set to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of next season,’ writes Jenson. So far, so good. ‘But Premier League suitors will struggle to land the hugely successful Argentine coach because he sees Italy as his next destination.’
‘Simeone has been offered Premier League posts in the past with both Manchester United and Chelsea making serious advances. He started learning English two years ago but is understood to have made slow progress and still feels that the language barrier would make success difficult for him in England.’
So much for that ‘Arsenal boost’.
Under a rest
The Daily Mirror are clearly puzzled by Jose Mourinho’s decision to leave Wayne Rooney behind in Manchester as his United squad traveled to Feyenoord for their Europa League game on Thursday.
It seems a simple and understandable call from the Portuguese, resting his captain for a competition he clearly prioritises over any other, with their next Premier League fixture coming in Sunday’s early game. Not so for the Mirror.
‘ROONEY’S TOLD HE NEED REST…FOR WATFORD,’ reads their back-page headline. ‘Wayne Rooney has been left out of Manchester United’s Europa League opener – because he needs a break before facing Watford,’ writes David McDonnell. It’s more than a little disrespectful to their opponents on Sunday.
Granted, ‘ROONEY’S TOLD HE NEEDS REST…FOR PREMIER LEAGUE,’ is a rather less eye-catching headline. Infinitely more accurate, of course. But less eye-catching.
Writes Mike Walters in the Daily Mirror: ‘Dimitri Payet has hit back at Watford skipper Troy Deeney over his ‘rabona’ party piece – and insisted: “I would do it again.”‘
Blimey. Of all the players to ‘hit back’ at a fellow professional, Dimitri Payet would be towards the bottom of that list. Since he has joined the Premier League he has hardly dealt in parting blows or verbal battles.
So, how was Payet ‘hit back’ at Deeney? Has he called him a big lump? Did he laugh at his meagre return of one goal from 35 league games for Walsall in the 2007/08 season? No.
“It was something that came instinctively at that time in the game. I thought it was the best thing to do at that moment. And when it works, the skill is even more impressive.
“If it worked every time, then of course [I would use it]. Unfortunately, it is not a piece of skill that you can use every time, so we will have to see.”
How will Deeney ever recover?
The Metro have more bad news for Payet. He is included in their ‘Premier League flops of the week’.
‘How on earth is he included in our flops of the week you ask?’ writes Simon Rice. ‘Well it turns out it was his fault that West Ham were humiliated. You see, his cheeky rabona cross that led to West Ham’s second goal infuriated Watford so much it inspired their comeback. At least that’s what Troy Deeney said. And for that he gets in our side.’
He assisted both of West Ham’s goals. He was not at fault for any of the four they conceded. Stop.
That Metro side is actually a piece of art. The argument for including Gary Cahill is wonderful:
‘Apparently you could see the foul from the moon it was so obvious. But despite Cahill’s bizarre protestations after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea, it was his own fault that Leroy Fer was able to catch him in possession in the first place before scoring for the home side.’
But, y’know, Fer really did foul him.
And here is why Daniel Amartey finds his way into the ‘flops’ side for the weekend:
‘You have to feel sorry for Daniel Amartey. The 21-year-old was signed as a direct replacement for N’Golo Kante and as such will be compared with the title-inspiring midfield destroyer.’
Amartey was signed in January, with all five of his Leicester appearances last season coming as a defender. N’Golo Kante left in the summer. Amartey definitely wasn’t signed to replace him.
Metr-oh for fu…
What is the biggest football news story of the day? Let’s ask The Metro to complete the hat-trick, shall we?
‘Mourinho already using Europa League as an excuse for Man Utd title failure’
At least wait until they actually ‘fail’, guys. If they even do, that is.
Running live transfer blogs in September is an unenviable task. The summer transfer window has been veritably SLAMMED shut, and it re-opens in January, a full three months away.
Most outlets, rather understandably, accept that running one is pointless. Some disagree. The Daily Mirror are among them. See if you can spot the similarities between the following headlines, both on their website:
‘Chelsea target to sign new Roma deal?’
‘Manchester United target to sign new Real Madrid deal?’
Why change a winning formula, eh?
The small things Mata
Jose Mourinho and Juan Mata have a storied past, but this time he has taken it too far. From The Guardian‘s website (but also in the newspaper version):
The Guardian pre-empting Jose Mourinho's inevitable substitution of Juan Mata, there. pic.twitter.com/znTOZPeg7P
— Football365 (@F365) September 15, 2016
Starting him and substituting him? Imagine how humble Mata would be in his blog.
Ask a simple question
Writes David Anderson in the Daily Mirror:
‘About 600 Moenchengladbach fans were in the away end and the club jokingly left letters for them, apologising to their bosses for missing work to ‘fulfill the important duty to support their team’. Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humour?’
People stuck in the 1970s, that’s who.
Most ridiculous headline of the day
‘Liverpool fans rejoice as Moreno makes massive announcement’ – Metro.
He’s cut his hair. Whoop.
Recommended reading of the day
Paul MacInnes on Dirk Kuyt.
Richard Jolly on Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp.
Padraic McCafferty on Michy Batshuayi.
Thanks to Mediawatch spotter Andy Palmer. If you notice anything you reckon should be on this page, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘Mediawatch’ as the subject field.