Let’s get physical
On Sunday, Manchester City Pep Guardiola complained about the rough treatment of Premier League players (not just those at his club) after Leroy Sane had his ankle ligaments damaged by an awful challenge from Cardiff City’s Joe Bennett. The targeting of attacking players is something that Antonio Conte, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have previously discussed. Finally, the league’s best managers agree on something.
It will shock you to learn that the Daily Mirror’s Stan Collymore has no time for Guardiola’s complaints. ‘Pep Guardiola has marked the card of every referee – ludicrous comments about player protection will numb our game’ is the headline to his column on Tuesday. There is history here.
‘Last Friday was the 35th anniversary of Aston Villa’s victory over Barcelona in the European Super Cup and, as I remember it, only one team tried to kick the other off the park that night. Gordon Cowans, an English technician, actually ended up in the back of the net after scoring a penalty because one of Barca’s, ahem, purists, booted him into it.
‘So this notion that physically hard football and strong tackling is just an English disease doesn’t half make me laugh. And how ironic it was to hear Pep Guardiola, a son of Barcelona, venting just a couple of days after that anniversary that a Cardiff team which could not compete technically with his Manchester City side had the audacity to mix it with them physically.’
Weird that Alanis Morissette chose to leave that definition of irony out of her ditty. Mistake, in our opinion.
‘Guardiola called for the game’s ‘artists’ to be better protected ‘for the sake of football’ after their FA Cup tie. But football is a physical game, tackling is one of its components – it doesn’t all have to be about tiki-taka.
‘Look, I really enjoy the way City play. But I also love blood-and-thunder tackling, players going in hard but fair and opponents showing the athleticism to get out of the way.’
Indeed, but Bennett’s tackle wasn’t ‘hard but fair’; it made no attempt to play the ball and was negligent to Sane’s well-being. So this is all meaningless.
‘Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris tried 10 times harder to hurt George Best in the 1970s than Bennett did Sane at the weekend.
‘But Best’s ability to ride challenges from Harris and men like him, or to get back up and run at them again after they had connected, was one of the reasons we loved and still love him.’
So it’s Sane’s fault for not being able to get out of the way of a dreadful tackle from behind? Super.
‘[Guardiola] was marking the card of every referee to say, ‘Don’t let my players be challenged, dish out yellows, give them reds and stop them challenging us’.
‘That’s ludicrous. It’s anaesthetising football and it’s to the detriment of our game.’
No he wasn’t, but congratulations on constructing that ludicrous straw man. As ever.
Bang out of order
Some of Collymore’s angry words make Mediawatch type, but others just make us stare agog.
‘Credit to Newport for the job they did against Tottenham on Saturday. But criticism too for the fact that their pre-match notes about Spurs players have entered the public domain.
‘Writing down that someone is slow – as they did with Eric Dier – is bang out of order.’
Ignoring opposition weaknesses out of politeness would seem an odd method of scouting.
Also, while we’re sharing:
Prefer him as one of a back 3, doesn’t have the nouse yet or pace seemingly to step up to top drawer DM.
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) June 13, 2017
Is ‘writing down that someone is slow’ in the ‘public domain’ not ‘bang out of order’ when it’s you, Stan? Maybe Newport’s scouts simply follow you on Twitter.
Can you maybe think of another example?
Mediawatch largely agrees with the widespread conclusion that Phil Neville fielded questions pretty well in his first press conference as England women’s manager. He was caught out in not knowing the top scorer in the Women’s Super League, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker. Certainly when not even applying for the job wasn’t.
Still, Mediawatch couldn’t help wince when Neville explained why a lack of initial knowledge wouldn’t stop him doing a good job:
“I will give Lucy Bronze the same messages at right-back as I gave to Rafael or Antonio Valencia.
“The runs I want our centre-forward Jodie Taylor to make are the same messages I gave to Robin van Persie. It’s football and anyone who thinks differently is being disrespectful to the women’s game.
“When I went to Spain, I knew three Valencia players. I didn’t know the language and didn’t know La Liga. But after three months, I knew the language and every player and everything about Spain.”
And remind us how that went, Philip?
You see my old man’s got a problem
On Tuesday, the Daily Mail have a double-page spread on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, sold as a ‘transfer special’.
– The headline:
‘Flash bang wallop’
– The sub-heading:
‘Meet the bad boy bringing his supercars to Arsenal’
– Main picture caption:
‘Hello Pierre-Emerick, got ANOTHER new motor?’
– Sidebar headline:
‘London car dealers will love him… he’s owned all these lot’ (there then follows a list of cars with pictures, prices, top speed and horsepower).
A piece of incidental information: Aubameyang is also a professional football player.
Anyone else think that the Daily Star’s chief football writer might have an in with David Luiz or his agent Kia Joorabchian?
‘Chelsea star David Luiz offered to Arsenal in Olivier Giroud shock swap deal – EXCLUSIVE’ – January 30.
‘Chelsea EXCLUSIVE: David Luiz available on loan, Man Utd and Arsenal keen on deal for star’ – January 6.
‘Arsenal EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea star David Luiz lined up by Arsene Wenger in £30m move’ – December 18.
‘Chelsea star David Luiz holds crunch talks with boss Antonio Conte: Man Utd on alert’ – December 15.
‘Man Utd EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea star David Luiz could be set for Jose Mourinho reunion’ – November 17.
Sorry David, doesn’t look like any takers. Keep trying.
Says Paul Merson to Sky Sports as part of his Premier League predictions:
“I know they beat Manchester United at home but when they’ve played against the other big boys, they’ve been blown away. West Ham also blew them away a couple of weeks ago so I think Liverpool, on the big pitch at the John Smith’s Stadium, will just have too much for them.”
Pesky fact: Huddersfield are one of only five Premier League teams to have a pitch smaller than the standard size.
The magic man’s magic phrase
“Watford are really struggling at the moment. They’re the team on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – January 30, 2018.
“Watford are on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers” – January 12 2018.
“It’s so important [Watford] beat Leicester, because I think they could have ended up as one of those teams on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – January 1 2018.
“Burnley need to win, they’re on the old glass mountain with moccasin slippers on” – April 4 2017.
“There’s always a team that slides down the league like they’re on a glass mountain with moccasin slippers on and can’t stop. [Leicester] are the ones for me” – February 21 2017
“There’s always one team who end up on the glass mountain with moccasin slippers on, and it could be Swansea” – February 27 2016.
“Swansea are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they can’t stop sliding” – January 14 2016.
“There’s always one team who end up on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and this year it’s Newcastle” – May 8 2015.
“Near the end of the season you always get one team that comes flying down the league on a glass mountain with a pair of slippers on and Newcastle are that team at the moment” – April 23 2015.
Watford really are having a slippery January.
Worst headline of the day
‘When does the 2018 summer transfer window open?’ – Liverpool Echo.
Can we at least get tomorrow’s farce out of the way first?
Recommended reading of the day
Alex Clapham on Benfica’s academy.
David Squires on Transfer Deadline Day.
Paolo Bandini on Gianluigi Buffon.
PLANET SPORT recommends: Roger Federer’s top 10 Grand Slam wins (Tennis365)