We see you, Giles Mole. We see you.
‘Jones on the move? Another potential outgoing: reputable transfer news blog Football 365 are linking United defender Phil Jones with a move to Stoke City, in the light of comments made by Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen’ – Daily Telegraph, August 23.
This means war. But with pillows instead of guns.
I want a trio and I want one now
The time is 9.51am on Tuesday, and the headline on the Daily Telegraph football homepage reads as follows:
‘Chelsea transfer news and rumours live: Could Antonio Conte be about to sign these three huge stars?’
The link unsurprisingly takes you through a live transfer blog; the Telegraph have run one all summer for each of the four big clickers: Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. The same headline greets you there.
Scroll down the page to find this entry from 7.06am. You can’t say they’re not early risers:
‘Chelsea could be among the most active clubs in the final days of the transfer window with the Premier League club linked with a trio of world-class players, reveals The Metro. Mario Mandzukic, Giorgio Chiellini and James Rodriguez could arrive at Stamford Bridge in the coming days as Antonio Conte looks to strengthen his squad.’
We could stop at the website of a supposedly serious broadsheet newspaper selling their Chelsea coverage on a Metro story when they have a journalist with actual Chelsea contacts in Matt Law as a sign of the sorry times, but when have you known Mediawatch to stop when it has gone far enough? Exactly.
That’s because the Metro story the Telegraph use as their Tuesday morning sell was actually published on Sunday afternoon. It’s two days out of date. Not only that, it’s not even a bloody Metro story. They quote the Sunday People on Mandzukic (story published on Saturday evening), Spanish newspaper Sport on Rodriguez (which was on Friday) and The Sun on Chiellini (also from Saturday evening).
From various speculative weekend stories to ‘Could Antonio Conte be about to sign these three huge stars?’ three days later via the Metro. Mediawatch sure hopes the spoils of the Daily Telegraph’s era of online debate is worth selling their souls for.
Booo! Take away their beds!
‘Sam Allardyce reveals Euro 2016 England flops will still be treated like superstars,’ reads The Sun’s headline to Neil Ashton’s piece on Sam Allardyce and England. Oh dear.
‘THE pampering and the preening will carry on,’ Ashton begins. Sigh.
‘England’s players will be indulged, with everything done for them and everything taken care of when they meet up at St George’s Park for the World Cup qualifier against Slovakia. They have tried and spectacularly failed with that approach before. But Allardyce is convinced it will be very different this time.’
Mediawatch is shocked that the Football Association have not paid to remove some of the facilities at St George’s Park as a punishment for England’s Euro 2016 under-performance. We had assumed – presumably like Ashton – that they would be ordering in the gruel and concreting over the swimming pool.
Unfortunately we have some sad, sorry words for Ashton, courtesy of his former employers at the Daily Mail:
‘The hotel boasts 79 rooms, including executive suites, while their dietitians ensure food served at the complex caters for all needs; so Ronaldo doesn’t have to worry about not getting what he wants. The national rugby centre has three grass pitches and two artificial pitches, a swimming pool and a cardio-training room, as well as hotel facilities and restaurants suited to players’ needs.’
Turns out Portugal weren’t sleeping on beds of straw before their Euro 2016 triumph after all.
Up to speed
‘Aaron Ramsey is out of Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Moldova next month,’ writes Charlie Wyett on The Sun’s inside back page. ‘The midfielder, 25, damaged a hamstring during Arsenal’s 4-3 opening-day defeat to Liverpool.’
Top sleuthing from The Sun’s football editor, but we can’t help think that he’s a touch behind the times.
Here’s some copy from the Daily Telegraph on August 15, eight days ago:
‘Aaron Ramsey will be out until after the first international break with the hamstring injury he suffered in Sunday’s 4-3 defeat against Liverpool,’ Jeremy Wilson wrote.
‘It means that he will definitely miss Saturday’s match against Leicester City but also then the game against Watford as well as Wales’s first World Cup qualifier against Moldova on Sept 5.’
He’ll feel a right Charlie.
Crisis? What crisis?
Mediawatch does admire the optimism of MailOnline’s Jonny Singer when writing about Arsenal, and it’s actually nice to read something sunny to balance the negativity. Yet we can’t help feeling that he’s guilty of selective vision. Singer’s message is that Arsenal can hardly be in crisis when they finished second last season.
‘Another summer. Another quiet transfer window for Arsenal,’ the piece begins. ‘Another disappointing season awaits. Or at least, that is the prevailing narrative. Fans are unhappy, the media is baying for blood, and Arsene Wenger, once again, is getting tetchy as he is asked about the club’s untapped cash reserves. The problem with this narrative, of course, is that it is based in a world where football is ‘won’ in the transfer market, rather than on the field. The reality is different.
‘For all the petty scrapping in the away end at the King Power and amongst fans on Twitter, that is not a disastrous start. A five-point gap at this stage of the season is a near irrelevance, especially given United and City’s weaker calibre of opponent so far. Remember, last season both Manchester clubs finished five points behind Arsenal. If, as some have suggested, this summer’s spending represents a widening of the gap between the clubs, it is Arsenal who would benefit.’
To suggest that a five-point gap at this stage of the season as an irrelevance is passable. Saying that the transfer market isn’t the be all and end all is perfectly reasonable. But to say ‘second last season was comfortably above expectations’ for Arsenal (as Singer does elsewhere in the piece) is to willfully ignore the fact that ambitions can change according to the situation. They lost a title race to Leicester City having been top of the league.
Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with holding the opinion that Arsenal will be fine, but saying that the Premier League’s summer spending so far actually benefits Arsenal is a ballsy statement. Mostly Mediawatch wants to grab a megaphone and shout: ‘Have you seen who and what the other clubs have bought?’
Sorry, but this line from Singer’s piece also grates:
‘Wenger has already added the talented Rob Holding, who looked at home against the champions on Saturday, to his squad. That leaves him with five senior central defenders. To bring in another would make the squad unbalanced, even without injured captain Per Mertesacker’
Those five central defenders: Laurent Koscielny (excellent), Per Mertesacker (long-term injury, doubts about form), Gabriel Paulista (injured, serious doubts about form), Holding (young), Calum Chambers (young, serious doubts about form). To say that another would actually unbalance the squad is pretty far-fetched.
When even Wenger says Arsenal need to sign a central defender, they could probably do with signing a central defender.
Closer than close
Writes Ken Lawrence in The Sun:
‘Since arriving for £35million from Atletico Madrid, he has hit 105 top flight goals in 152 appearances. The only player in this country who has come anywhere near that remarkable rate over the same time frame is Wayne Rooney.’
In the last five seasons, Rooney has scored 28 fewer league goals than Aguero in more matches than the Argentinean. The only reason that Rooney is the ‘only player in this country who has come anywhere near’ over those five years is because very few strikers have actually been in the Premier League for those five years. Rooney has 49 league goals in his last four full seasons; Harry Kane only has three fewer in his last two.
Play the game
‘Arsenal transfer news and rumours live: Gunners lead Chelsea in race for James Rodriguez’ – Arsenal transfer blog, Daily Telegraph website, August 23.
‘Mario Mandzukic, Giorgio Chiellini and James Rodriguez could arrive at Stamford Bridge in the coming days as Antonio Conte looks to strengthen his squad’ – Chelsea transfer blog, Daily Telegraph website, August 23.
It’s called playing to your audience.
Five ridiculous headlines from far more successful websites
‘Liverpool transfer to be confirmed this week – report’ – Daily Star.
It’s Taiwo Awyoniyi’s loan move to NEC Nijmegen, obviously.
‘Confirmed: Defender reveals why he rejected Arsenal – fans won’t like it one bit’ – Metro.
Quotes from Djibril Sidibe: ‘I hesitated a lot, but knew my playing time would be limited at Arsenal.’
Someone fetch the pitchforks.
‘Sanchez sets up an Instagram page for his dogs… and it attracts almost 13,000 followers in a day’ – MailOnline.
Are we actually watching The Day Today?
‘Arsenal ace Aaron Ramsey treats injury woe with a new haircut… and trolls say he looks like Vanilla Ice’ – The Sun.
Sh*t the bed.
‘#UNBLOCKMEMESSI Miss BumBum begs Lionel Messi to unblock her on social media with cheeky Instagram campaign’ – The Sun.
We await mass extinction with an added air of optimism.
Offer of the day
“If I have to I will die on the pitch for Newcastle” – Aleksandar Mitrovic.
That’s almost certainly not going to be necessary.
Chris Bascombe with Dr Peter Vint at Everton
Tony Barrett on not comparing Olympics and football
Seamas O’Reilly’s review of ‘Sweeper’, Steve Bruce’s book