Mediawatch could not sleep on Monday evening. The ‘news’ that Sam Allardyce had contacted Paddy McGuinness to host a quiz at St George’s Park for his England squad conjured nightmares of terrible mock-ups, terrible headlines and even more terrible puns.
So when we opened Tuesday’s edition of The Sun, we expressed a deep sigh. That is the reaction most days, to be fair, but a headline of ‘SAM LIKEY IT HOT!’ really is quite something.
Then Neil Ashton opted to follow that up with the following opening paragraph:
‘Let the passion see the skill.’
‘That was Sam Allardyce’s catchphrase as the England head coach took his first training session in charge of the national side.
‘Off the field there are plans for Take Me Out host and Bolton fan Paddy McGuinness to be a quiz-master one night to help pass the time at St George’s Park.
‘Already, it is no likey, no lighty for some.’
There’s the second deep sigh of the day; it’s barely 10am.
‘Big Sam has discarded some of the brightest talents – Marcus Rashford, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere – in English football.’
We’ll stop you there, Neil. Allardyce hasn’t ‘discarded some of the brightest talents in English football’, he has simply opted not to select a) a player who isn’t starting for his club, b) a player who is yet to enjoy consistent form for his club, and c) a player whose club is open to letting him leave on loan. Each are talented, and two have started the season wonderfully, but ‘discarded’? Hardly.
‘Instead he will shine a torch on the 23 names he has picked for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.
‘He wants an identity, a clear way of playing for England.
‘Big Sam said: “For me it is about the players showing not just how passionate they are, but how skilful they are at international level. We were the youngest squad at the Euros. The experience they gained in that tournament will give them a better determination next time round.”
‘There is further scrutiny on Allardyce’s approach because of the success of Britain’s athletes at this summer’s Olympics in Brazil where they won a record 67 medals.’
So we’re still comparing Great Britain’s success at the Olympics to England’s failings in football? Grand.
‘For now, everything is nicey, nicey around the England camp.’
The sigh count reaches three. Ashton’s final sentence makes it four.
‘If you really want fun Sam, there’s always Fernando’s…’
So ends a masterclass in squeezing out 908(!) words, many of which concentrate on the throwaway line that a football manager intends to hold a quiz for his players. Lovely work.
As transfer deadline day closes in, the football rumour mill is reaching breaking point. Anyone who is anyone wants to know where Will Keane will end up, after all.
Fortunately, 2016 has brought us ‘the world’s first football transfer predictor’. Oh, Football Whispers, how we have missed you.
So, which deals are expected to go through by Wednesday? Or, as Sky Sports put it, what does the ‘unique algorithm’ rate as ‘the most likely’ transfers? A reminder that ‘it shows you who’s really moving and who’s staying put’.
In at number one is Liverpool’s Luis Alberto joining Lazio. The same move that was reported as done by pretty much every outlet as early as Monday afternoon.
At number two is Leicester signing Adrien Silva from Sporting Lisbon. This comes after the Portuguese club released a statement on their official website on Monday evening stating the player is expected to stay.
At number six is Newcastle signing Christian Atsu from Chelsea, a move which, again, was reported as done by pretty much every outlet on Monday evening.
At number seven is Sunderland, who are closing in on a move to sign Vicente Iborra from Sevilla. But what’s this?
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) August 30, 2016
The unique algorithm strikes again.
Who doesn’t love a live transfer blog? They are particularly entertaining when they are run throughout the day on a club who have not signed a player since August 9, and who do not intend to sign any others before Wednesday’s deadline.
The Daily Telegraph love a live transfer blog. ‘Jose Mourinho to make shock move for Bordeaux striker Diego Rolan’ reads the headline to their Manchester United edition. Sounds big.
‘According to RMC Sport, Manchester United are lining up a shock move for Bordeaux striker Diego Rolan,’ begins the update, which hints at an offer of some sort.
‘The Uruguay international has scored 24 goals in 89 appearances for the Ligue 1 side, including the winner in his sides 1-0 win over Nantes this weekend.
‘Bayern Munich are also believed to be interested in the forward, however, as are fellow English sides Everton, Brighton and Norwich.’
To RMC Sport we go. Their headline, with thanks to Google Translate, is ‘Manchester United and Bayern Munich watch Diego Rolan’. Already, doubts emanate over this ‘shock move’.
‘As noted by RMC Sport, several clubs have sent emissaries overseeing Diego Rolan Sunday at Bordeaux-Nantes (1-0). Among them, the Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
‘Three days before the end of the transfer window, Diego Rolan arouses desires. As RMC Sport has seen, of many foreign clubs observers were present on Sunday in the Atlantic Matmut the stands to witness the victory of Girondins against Nantes (1-0) with a goal of … Rolan.’
From Manchester United being one of ‘several clubs’ sending their scouts to watch a single game, to a ‘shock move’ being prepared.
‘The shareholder of the Girondins, Nicolas de Tavernost, however, confided this Sunday at RMC Sport that Bordeaux had not received any offers yet,’ RMC add. How strange.
Why stop there with the Daily Telegraph‘s insistence on running ‘live transfer news and rumours’ blogs for England’s four most popular clubs?
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 30, 2016
Well, this comes as news to us; we didn’t even know Liverpool were ‘pursuing’ the Colombian in the first place. So, what is this ‘blow’?
‘Liverpool’s chase of James Rodriguez could be over after the Daily Star reported that he wants to stay and fight for his place at Real Madrid.
‘The 25-year-old had been heavily linked with a move away from the Bernebeu this summer, having fallen down the pecking order at the club.
‘However, it is believed that the Colombian attacking midfielder is keen to prove his worth at Real Madrid and get back into Zinedine Zidane’s side.’
Right then; off to the Daily Star, and their man James Benson, who gives us the inside information of how ‘Liverpool’s hopes of luring James Rodriguez to Anfield may be over’.
‘The 25-year-old has been tipped to leave Real Madrid this summer, having failed to live up to his hefty £75m price tag.
‘But he is not without options away from the Bernabeu, with Arsenal and Chelsea believed to be keen on him too.
‘However, he appears set to stay in Spain to fight it out for a place in Zinedine Zidane’s team.’
Hold on a minute. Where did the actual link with Liverpool come from? It seems commonly accepted that this is a ‘blow’ for the Reds, but who claimed they were interested in the first place? It looks like this transfer trail will take some investigation.
Eventually, the link is sourced back to Spanish website Mundo Deportivo, and a story they published on August 24 on Rodriguez’s future.
Included in said article are two references to the Real Madrid star. Again, Google Translate is our friend. They are below:
‘There are several clubs who have shown interest in James at some point. Arsenal and Chelsea , the best positioned. Milan, Paris Saint Germain and Liverpool also sounded.’
‘Liverpool has also shown interest, but its economic potential is far from the interests of Florentino Perez.’
So Liverpool were initially interested, but did not have the money to finance a deal? Never mind suffering a ‘blow’ on Tuesday; it sounds like Liverpool’s ‘pursuit’ was dead in the water a week ago.
‘Hart quits City to join Serie A minnows Torino in a shock deal,’ reads the back-page headline on the Daily Mirror.
Serie A titles won by Torino: Seven.
First Division/Premier League titles won by Manchester City: Four.
Coppa Italias won by Torino: Five.
FA Cups won by Manchester City: Five.
‘Minnows’ seems a tad harsh.
From the bottom, now they’re here
What links Michail Antonio, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Danny Drinkwater, Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? Well, according to the Daily Mirror, the England octet are examples of the players who have risen from the lower-league doldrums to international acclaim.
That will be the same Jack Wilshere who has not played a single game below Premier League level. And Ross Barkley, whose 117 Premier League appearances pale in comparison to his 17 games in the Championship. And Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has played one full season in England’s third tier, and is in the midst of his sixth campaign in the top flight.
Ah, the journey from Premier League Bolton to Premier League Arsenal to England. It is almost exactly the same as the journey from Stocksbridge Park Steels to Halifax to Fleetwood to Leicester City to England.
Quick question: What is the difference between a ‘top guy’ and a ‘footie idiot’? Let’s ask The Sun, shall we?
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) August 28, 2016
‘Manchester United’s latest hero Marcus Rashford has moved his mum and two brothers to a luxury £800,000 house in the leafy Wythenshawe suburb of the city,’ a piece by Dave Fraser begins.
‘The English striker, 18, grew up in that area of Manchester and was quick to give his mum a more comfortable pad after bursting onto the scene last year and earning himself a bumper pay day of £25,000-a-week.
‘Rashford – who netted United‘s last-gasp winner against Hull on Saturday – always said to mum Melanie he would look after her – and he has moved her and his siblings just three miles away from the house they grew up in.’
What a delightful gesture from Rashford, a young footballer using his new-found riches to thank his family for their support. As The Sun’s tweet said, he’s a ‘top guy’.
But Mediawatch cannot help but recall an instance just two months ago of a young English footballer partaking in the selfless act of caring for his family by purchasing them a new home. That individual was labelled an ‘England flop‘ and a ‘footie idiot‘ by the same outlet. He also warranted a front-page headline of ‘OBSCENE RAHEEM’ in the country’s best-selling newspaper.
Again, what separates a ‘top guy’ from a ‘footie idiot’? Any ideas?
Hit the road, Jack
Jack Wilshere. Not Jack Wilshire, not Jack Wiltshire, but Jack Wilshere. The Arsenal midfielder’s surname is not complicated, yet it is commonly misspelt.
Still, the Daily Express have made the best attempt yet. ‘West Ham? Crystal Palace? Everton? Spurs?! Who Arsenal star Jack Wilshere may join on loan,’ reads the headline to James Dickenson’s piece, which essentially boils down to betting odds. So far, so good.
Then the first paragraph happens: ‘Jack Welsher is being tipped to join West Ham on loan after being surprisingly made available by Arsenal.’
Five stars for effort.
On the same page
‘Berahino appears likely to see out the final year of his contract at West Brom despite interest from Potters boss Mark Hughes’ – the Daily Mirror newspaper.
‘Stoke believe they can finally land Saido Berahino from West Brom for £20million’ – the Daily Mirror website.
Reach for the Sky
I was sitting there thinking
— Football Fours (@Football_Fours) August 26, 2016
Never change, Charlie Nicholas.
Harrowing quote of the day
“We wouldn’t expect Harry to be dry for too much longer” – Sam Allardyce.
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith on ‘the Premier League’s Golden Cage’.
Archie Rhind-Tutt on Andre Schurrle.
Glen Wilson on Doncaster Rovers.