It has been a truly stellar week for the Daily Star, and for their front-page headlines in particular. On Tuesday, a 42-year-old medical professional and sports medicine specialist was referred to as ‘Chelsea girl doc’.
Thursday brings yet more brilliance.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) June 8, 2016
‘England’s football stars led by captain Wayne Rooney have brushed aside the threat of a Euro 2016 terror attack – while their German rivals have suddenly got the jitters,’ reads the first paragraph. It gets no better and, frankly, considerably worse.
Note both the use of plural – ‘England’s football stars’ – and the reference to ‘captain Wayne Rooney’ above. The only ‘England star’ who ‘brushes aside’ the threat of a terror attack is Chris Smalling.
“We have a fantastic security team and we have been informed of all the French security as well,” said Smalling. “So from our point of view we have nothing to worry about. We are able to focus on what we are here for – and that’s the football. Obviously we read about it in the media and see it on the news, but we are very much focused on the football side.”
So, who are the ‘German rivals’ – again, plural – who have ‘suddenly got the jitters’ and ‘wimped out’? One Jerome Boateng of Bayern Munich, who has informed us that his family will not be attending this summer’s tournament because “the risk is simply too big”. Ensuring the safety of his family? The bloody wimp. Jerry Lawton describes the central defender as ‘nervous’.
At this stage it is of the utmost importance to note that Boateng was, as Lawton himself writes, ‘playing for Germany at the Stade de France the night three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside’ during a friendly against France in November. Mediawatch cannot be sure, but we think we might be a bit bloody ‘nervous’ and ‘wimp out’ if we were in the same position.
But still, those ‘jittery Germans’, eh? And don’t forget our ‘brave Lions’. Football (jingoism) is coming home.
Reade all about it
Brian Reade is not even content to wait until Euro 2016 actually begins before pinpointing who England’s ‘go-to scapegoat’ could be if they fail at this summer’s tournament. ‘There’s always a public enemy No. 1 when England return as failures,’ Reade writes in the Daily Mirror.
After taking short stops at the feet of Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere, Reade eventually arrives at his proposed destination: Raheem Sterling.
‘In 2014, he won the Golden Boy award, naming him the best under-21 player in Europe and months later he was ranked the continent’s most valuable youngster,’ he writes.
‘This time last year, his agent was demanding he move up to the next level from Liverpool, to be with fellow world-class players, winning titles.
‘And move he did, for a fee potentially worth £49million, with his new Manchester City boss, Manuel Pellegrini, hailing him “one of the best attacking players in world football.”
‘It’s fair to say that City, let alone world football, has yet to see it.
‘Sterling made only 23 league starts in a season he ended up as a bit-part player.’
Some disagreeable bits, but certainly not outlandish. Until…
‘Since joining up with England he’s been working with psychiatrist Steve Peters to get “mentally tougher”. But you wonder why a clearly self-confident 21-year-old, with 23 England caps and a World Cup tournament under his belt, would need that? He’s hardly a kid.’
Raheem Sterling may be ‘hardly a kid’, but he is 21 years of age. He was signed for £49m by a side with the highest ambitions in the Premier and Champions League. He provided more goals and assists (21) in all competitions in his debut season for said club than all but two of his teammates – not too bad for someone Reade describes as a ‘bit-part player’. And yet he is routinely booed by fans throughout the country. One suspects that might have a mental effect.
Also, since when was the use of psychologists restricted to children?
‘To be fair, in the past two friendlies he’s looked livelier, after a poor game against Turkey,’ Reade continues.
It was after that ‘poor game’ against Turkey in which Reade’s colleague, David McDonnell, described the winger as ‘lively and alert’, adding that he was ‘rediscovering his form after a tough first season at Manchester City’.
‘Pep Guardiola is a man in a hurry and, unlike England, won’t wait around for a 21-year-old to fulfil his potential.’
No. He might at least attempt to help him realise it though, instead of lamenting his perceived mental frailty and poor form.
The real REVEAL
‘England coach Ray Lewington REVEALS Roy Hodgson plans in major gaffe ahead of Euro 2016 opener against Russia’ – The Sun, June 8.
‘Has Ray Lewington revealed England’s Euro 2016 line-up? Assistant boss snapped with ‘team sheet” – Daily Mirror, June 8.
‘England’s secret could be out as assistant boss Ray Lewington may have let slip of team for Euro 2016 opener against Russia’ – Daily Mail, June 8.
Mediawatch will leave the rest to Lewington, who later recovered from his ‘major gaffe’ to tell us:
“It was just a simple drill we had involving crossing and shooting. We just found it a bit of a laugh.”
Consider us stunned.
‘Chris Coleman took a cheeky dig at Euro rivals England – by revealing his own Wales dream team’ – Martin Blackburn, The Sun.
No, he really didn’t. He took a ‘cheeky dig’ at those claiming England had ‘revealed’ their starting line-up in a similar fashion. Or ‘The Sun’, to be more exact.
Diamonds aren’t forever
‘Roy Hodgson has scrapped his midfield diamond experiment – and Wayne Rooney knows his place in England’s starting line-up is no longer certain,’ writes Dave Kidd in the Daily Mirror.
‘The England boss will revert to a 4-3-3 formation for Saturday’s Euros opener with Russia, after the midfield diamond failed to click in last week’s 1-0 friendly win over 10-man Portugal.’
‘Will revert’ to a 4-3-3 formation? That’s exactly the system England used for the majority of the match.
Kidd adds: ‘Rooney played at the point of the diamond behind Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the Portugal game last Thursday – but the two strikers ended up operating too wide, with the skipper pressing forward centrally.’
That sounds an awful lot like a 4-3-3, chief.
John Cross is unimpressed by the standard of England’s first opponents at Euro 2016. ‘Old men of Moscow no match for pacy Lions,’ reads the headline to his piece in the Daily Mirror.
Basically, Sergey Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski, Russia’s first-choice central defenders, are a combined ripe old age of 69.
‘The squad is weak and ageing,’ writes Cross. ‘Ignashevich and Berezutski are a major worry for the Russian because of their lack of pace and ageing legs against England’s attacking threat of Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.’
That’s all very well, but England only scored once against ten-man Portugal last Thursday. The combined age of Portugal’s central defenders started at 72 and dropped to 70 after Bruno Alves’ sending-off.
In February, Marcus Rashford was a mere foetus. Four months later, he is scoring goals for Manchester United and has been selected in England’s 23-man squad for this summer’s European Championship. Andy Cole is not convinced.
“I think Marcus has had a fantastic season but he gets in the Euros squad to sit on the bench or to sit in the stands,” Cole says.
“People say experience, but for me that’s not an experience to sit in the stands and watch the game. He can watch that at home on TV.
“If you’re going to be involved and play games then that’s experience. But when you look at it and Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge are all there, is he going to play in front of any of those guys? Most probably not.
“No doubt Marcus will say it’s a great experience to be involved at such a tender age, but you could look and say the same thing about Theo Walcott.
“He went at that age and his career has never really kicked on as a regular player in the national team for England.”
Theo Walcott had not played a single minute of Premier League football for Arsenal before heading to the 2006 World Cup with England. Rashford has played 18 games in all competitions for United, and has looked bloody good. Walcott had not made his international debut before that tournament either. Rashford has already scored once for the national team. His seasonal tally of eight goals in four months of his debut season has been bettered by Walcott only four times. The teenager will not start in France, but he has a mighty fine chance of playing regardless.
Mediawatch will also leave the following tweet here, (almost) without comment.
3 zip… Been impressed again tonight by Rashford.. Pushing door down to make final @England squad! 👌🏾
— Andrew Cole (@vancole9) May 17, 2016
From ‘pushing the door down’ to making the squad to doubting his inclusion, all in the space of under a month.
‘Pavel Mamaev last night hailed England as world class,’ writes Jeremy Cross in the Daily Star.
‘The Three Lions face Russia on Saturday in their opening game of Euro 2016. And midfielder Mamaev said: “I think England are a strong team.”‘
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 9, 2016
Quotes from Cesar Azpilicueta, as used in the actual Daily Telegraph story:
“I plan on staying another few years at Chelsea. I’m very happy there. I’m not thinking about leaving the club. I’m only thinking of (playing for) the Blues.”
Pretty sh*t fight.
‘Jose Mourinho has been handed a boost in his bid to net Paul Pogba after Manchester City dropped out of the race’ – Daily Star.
‘Mediawatch have been handed a boost in their bid to net Taylor Swift after Calvin Harris dropped out of the race’ – Football365.
Either scenario is just as (un)likely as the other.
Flores in the window
‘Watford reject Flores closes in on Sevilla job’ – Daily Mail, 22:48, June 8.
‘Quique Sanchez Flores named new Espanyol manager after leaving Watford’ – Daily Mail, 11:54, June 9.
Worst headline of the day
‘Jose posts £30m Baill’ – The Sun waste no time with wilful mispronunciations.
Recommended reading of the day
Raphael Honigstein on Germany.
Kristof Terreur on the new Vincent Kompany: Jason Denayer.
Constantin Eckner on Berti Vogts and Euro ’96.
Thanks to Joe Krishnan. If you see any other silly things, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, using ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field.