Anything you can do…
Clearly threatened by Craig Bellamy’s insistence that fellow Welshman Aaron Ramsey should play ahead of Mesut Ozil, Michael Owen’s desperation to prove he is English football’s most ridiculous pundit led to him basically saying that Tom Cleverley is better than Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“We were looking at the players Van Gaal has let go in his reign during the 18 months and I’m sure they would beat tonight’s team,” said Owen on BT Sport. Note the ‘we’; he’s more than a bit chuffed that Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have allowed him into their club.
“We had Rafael, [Nemanja] Vidic, [Jonny] Evans and [Patrice] Evra as a back four. Nani, [Shinji] Kagawa, [Tom] Cleverley, [Robin] van Persie and Chicharito [Javier Hernandez]. [Adnan] Januzaj is another one. [Danny] Welbeck is another one.
“We thought only two outfield players from tonight’s team – Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick – would get into the 11 that he’s actually let go.”
So is that Cleverley over Schweinsteiger? Kagawa over Juan Mata? Javier Hernandez over Anthony Martial?
It’s a tad odd because Owen said this about Schweinsteiger in September when choosing him in a combined XI ahead of any Liverpool players: “He’s a two-footed player, he’s tough, he can get about the pitch. He’s going to be a vital cog in the wheel of Manchester United.”
So in summary: Schweinsteiger is better than Lucas, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and James Milner, but worse than Tom Cleverley.
The media’s Manchester United coterie are desperate to absolve three people of blame for the club’s woes: Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling. All English, all played with Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand.
Here’s what Ferdinand says about Carrick: “When you’ve got a player like Michael Carrick, he’s my first man I put in that team. It baffles me to see the way he’s sitting on the bench. To win things you have to take risks, and this current team don’t do it – it’s too safe.”
Obviously, ‘risk-taking’ would lead any participant in a word association game to plump straight for ‘Michael Carrick’.
And we’ll just leave this here as one possible reason for Ferdinand’s staunch defence of Carrick…
— Dylan Hartley (@DylanHartley) March 9, 2014
Every day’s a school day
Of all the things that The Sun could have ‘learnt’ from Manchester United’s disastrous defeat to Wolfsburg…
‘TEENAGER Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has to be the poshest sounding player in English football.’
Make that ‘five things that vaguely amused us just before kick-off’.
On slightly different pages
Steven Howard, The Sun, p58: ”But for De Gea in the second half they would have conceded six…an incredible spell of goalkeeping from De Gea who made three magnificent saves inside four minutes…’
Whoever was charged with ‘learning’ five things, The Sun, p57: ‘UNITED’S poor performance even rubbed off on keeper David De Gea as he had a rare shocker.’
Maybe have a chat next time, fellas?
The Moyes is back in town
Mediawatch would have guessed that The Sun’s Neil Custis would conjure up the name of his great love ‘David Moyes’ amongst the undisguised glee of his ‘BIG MATCH VERDICT’ from Germany.
What we did not guess is that it would take only two words to get there. Here it was: Vindication. Boom. Take that LVG.
‘At least Moyes was in the knockout stages when he suffered that miserable 2-0 loss in Athens’, writes Custis. Moyes’ United side was also sixth in the Premier League, fully 11 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool and 15 points adrift of leaders Chelsea, Neil, but who’s counting? Not you, obviously.
‘This is a pale shadow and arguably no better than the side that Moyes presided over for ten months,’ he continues.
Oh we could argue alright. Using rather annoying research that shows that Moyes’ United – at this stage two years ago – had just lost two home games 1-0 to Everton and Newcastle after 2-2 draws with a rotten Cardiff side and Tottenham. They were in ninth. They were absolutely worse than this Van Gaal side.
‘The Dutchman admitted they were not good enough to win the Champions League. Can you imagine if Moyes had said that?’ asks an incredulous Custis.
Well we don’t actually have to imagine. From September 2013:
“To win the Champions League, you need five or six world-class players. Look at Bayern Munich, they have it. Look at Barcelona, who had it in the past and Real Madrid, who have maybe got it now. That’s the level you have to be at to win it. We’ve not got that yet but what we have got is experience.”
Mediawatch doesn’t even want to start on Custis’ description of Holland’s unlikely march to the World Cup semi-finals as ‘turgid viewing’.
Worst intro of this or any other day
‘AND so it proved Emission Impossible for Manchester United as their Champions League campaign spluttered to a halt’ – David McDonnell, Daily Mirror.
Ace in the pack
Headline on the Daily Star website, November 6: ‘Louis van Gaal boosted as Man United midfield ace looks better than ever after injury.’
Headline on the Daily Star website, December 9: ‘Manchester United fans still can’t quite believe this Louis van Gaal decision.’
Surely the real surprise should be that Juan Mata started ahead of ‘midfield ace’ Nick Powell in the first place…
Crossy and Poyet sitting in a tree….
‘Swansea have already begun looking at replacements and they have made an enquiry for Gus Poyet who is currently in charge of AEK Athens. Poyet, 48, was offered the job in 2010 and Jenkins remains a big fan with very few other experienced managerial options to replace Monk,’ writes professional Arsenal fan John Cross in the Daily Mirror.
You may remember that Cross has form when it comes to Monk, with his ‘Garry Monk misses training as pressure mounts at Swansea’ tweet in October, which was then followed by the intentionally cryptic ‘Swansea today moved to deny that Monk missed training by posting pictures of their manager taking a session at the club’s Fairwood HQ’. ‘Moved to deny’ is a hell of a circuitous route to ‘I was wrong’.
Mediawatch was curious about this latest Poyet/Swansea link as the Uruguayan does actually have a job. So we Googled ‘John Cross Gus Poyet’ and discovered:
* From May 2013: ‘Went down to Brighton to see Gus Poyet this week. Piece in the paper. A manager who will definitely be in the Premier League before long.’
* From May 2013: ‘Poy story: Stoke eye Gus Poyet to be new manager as Tony Pulis takes exit in stride.’
* From July 2013: ‘Gus Poyet talks for the first time about being sacked live on TV – and sets sights on Premier League job #bhafc.’
* From September 2013: ‘Exclusive: Gus Poyet now in pole position for Sunderland job.’
* From May 2014: ‘What a job Gus Poyet has done. Incredible.’
* From March 2015: ‘Sunderland did not get the major surgery Gus Poyet demanded – and he paid the ultimate price.’
* From May 3015: ‘Gus Poyet sounded out about Leeds job.’
* From October 2015: ‘Gus Poyet, who has Premier League experience and kept Sunderland up, still in frame for Villa.’
Long-distance love not working out, Johnny? You could always Skype…
What the Fuchs?
Think Romelu Lukaku (six goals in his last five Premier League games) and Mesut Ozil (12 assists in the Premier League this season) are the top flight’s in-form players? Fools.
It’s to the Sky Sports Power Rankings/Boaz Myhill Memorial Cup that we go to find the definitive one-two of players because they ‘reflect the in-form players of the moment’, apparently.
Mediawatch has no beef with the brilliant Riyad Mahrez topping this particular league after a hat-trick weekend but who is that just behind him? Christian Fuchs, of course.
It’s a flawless system.
‘Why elite clubs look at Chelsea and shudder: ‘It could be us next’ is the headline on Martin Samuel’s column in the Daily Mail.
And what exactly has gone wrong for Chelsea, Martin?
‘A wicked cocktail of bad luck and bad decisions,’ apparently.
And there we were thinking they were sh*t.
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on the Champions League’s five biggest under-achievers.
Jonathan Wilson on Jack Colback
Seb Stafford-Bloor on Tottenham