“It shows when you spend a lot of money you are not happy with your squad or your players and you are desperate to improve your squad. I am very happy with my players and I think it is very difficult to find players better than we have. For that I am very happy – I am very relaxed and quiet” – Mauricio Pochettino, August.
“Maybe after five games we do not show enough quality to share two tough competitions in the Premier League and Champions League. Our objective is to be competitive in the Premier League and Champions League but we need to show more, maybe to add more quality in our squad. We have quality, yes, to compete in the Premier League but maybe to share both, maybe after today we see we struggle a little bit. When you have some problems it is difficult to be competitive in both competitions” – Pochettino, November.
If only you could have seen this Champions League campaign coming…
We build Castles in the sky
‘Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United squad is so broken it will take at least another two transfer windows to repair’ reads the headline on the latest Daily Record column from
Jose Mourinho Duncan Castles. It’s a belter.
‘The Old Trafford manager considers the group of senior footballers assembled by Sir Alex Ferguson’s successors unfit for purpose. In particular, he is concerned at an inability to deliver a consistency of performance and the ease with which many current United players accept poor results.’
Fair enough. But it is worth saying that Mourinho did spend £150m this summer, and said in August: “I’m really happy with my squad. It’s the first time I’ve worked with such a number of players because I’m used to working with 20 plus the keepers, and we have in the squad 23 plus the keepers. But this group of 23 is a great group.” And the squad he has is the most expensively-assembled in the history of the game.
‘Mourinho, whose preference has always been to adopt a surgical approach to the transfer market, calculates the deficiencies he inherited from Louis van Gaal are so large they are impossible to overcome with just a couple of windows worth of investment.’
Well Mourinho would ‘calculate’ that, wouldn’t he? His team is sixth in the league.
Finally, Mediawatch is not quite sure what Castles means by Mourinho’s ‘surgical’ approach (Precise? Delicate? Exact? Careful?), but we are confident that spending £883.8m on new players in 11 years as a manager might not meet the definition.
Do you think that Jose Mourinho would quite like a new central defender?
‘Bayer Leverkusen’s £20million-rated centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic, is also on Mourinho’s radar as the United boss looks to bolster his defence’ – Daily Mirror, November 23.
‘Manchester United and Chelsea have both shown an interest in signing Bayer Leverkusen defender Benjamin Henrichs’ – Bild, November 10.
‘Manchester United favourites to sign former defender Michael Keane from Burnley’ – Daily Mirror, November 9.
‘Manchester United will trigger Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin’s £30m release clause in January’ – The Sun, November 6.
‘Manchester United eye transfer swoop on Virgil van Dijk of Southampton to toughen up “soft” back four’ – Daily Mirror, November 5.
‘Mourinho wants United to back him with a £50m move for Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez’ – Daily Mirror, November 2.
‘Manchester United and Juventus are doing battle to sign Real Madrid defender Pepe’ – The Sun, October 30.
‘Jose Mourinho is plotting a revamp of his defence and is targeting Roma’s Germany defender Antonio Rudiger’ – Daily Mail, October 29.
‘Thiago Silva wants to extend Paris Saint-Germain stay despite interest from Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool’ – Talksport, October 24.
‘Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool set for Presnel Kimpembe transfer battle’ – Metro, October 19.
‘Football transfer rumours: Manchester United back in for José Fonte?’ – Guardian, September 28.
‘Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho lining up £42million bid for Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos’ – The Sun, September 22.
Mental health? Pah!
Let’s revisit the quotes of West Brom striker Saido Berahino, who on Sunday revealed that he been suffering with symptoms of depression:
“This last year has been the most difficult of my career and it has left me short of the form and fitness required for the Premier League. I have never been a player who lacked confidence or a belief in himself but that has been where I have found myself and it has hit me hard.
“It has left me feeling depressed and struggling for focus which has made it even more difficult to regain full fitness. Constant speculation in the media doesn’t help and I have made this statement in the hope that it will respect my privacy and determination to get my career back on track.”
So what does BBC Radio 5Live’s Chris Sutton make of that? As an ex-footballer, does he understand the potential pitfalls and therefore sympathise with any footballer struggling mentally? Does he balls.
“Saido Berahino for the past year has been an absolute joke. Going to France to get fit? Why can’t he get fit in a park in Birmingham? The least you would expect from individual players is to be fit and get to an acceptable level.
“It comes down to the player having the pride to get to a proper fitness level. He’s let himself down. He’s a massive talent and is only 23-years-old.”
Screw mental health, screw wellbeing and screw getting away from the media glare in order to recuperate. Have some pride and go to a park in Birmingham, Saido. What ignorant guff.
Mediawatch will assume that you’ve all seen the video of Peterborough United’s Michael Bostwick accidentally kicking the ball to a steward rather than teammate on Saturday. It was funny. We all found it funny. We all laughed.
All except Martin Samuel, of course, who uses the incident to get high and mighty in the Daily Mail. Who would have thought it?
‘Michael Bostwick, a midfielder playing for Peterborough at Northampton on Saturday, looked up, saw a shirt he recognised and hit a square pass. He watched as it ran harmlessly into touch. The team-mate he identified was in fact a steward in a hi-viz vest whose attire, at a glance, resembled Peterborough’s fluorescent yellow away strip.
‘With hi-viz cladding so common these days, why do shirt manufacturers risk this confusion? Equally, why were Peterborough wearing yellow at all? They play in blue shirts, Northampton maroon. There was no clash.’
Mediawatch has been waiting so long for Samuel to rail against the rising prominence of ‘hi-viz cladding’.
‘Peterborough are actually doing rather well this season. They have good reason to be proud of their colours. Why would they want to come disguised as the turnstile operators?’
Honestly Martin, don’t worry about it. Peterborough won the game, they will never have the same problem at home, it’s pretty unusual for a steward to be walking down the side of the pitch and even more unusual for that to coincide with a player passing the ball in that direction. This really doesn’t have to become a point about a club’s lack of pride in its colours.
Oh, too late.
‘ENGLAND players get a night off from Gareth Southgate and use the time getting drunk and gatecrashing weddings or hitting the road for a strip club,’ writes Andrew Dillon in The Sun. Oh good, we’re here again.
‘Last month in the build up to two World Cup qualifiers, Germany boss Joachim Low gave his players a night pass out of their training camp on the sleazy streets of Hamburg, red light capital of the North Sea. How did they repay him? By booking theatre tickets to see the Lion King. Hell-raising it ain’t.’
‘Red light capital of the North Sea’? Amsterdam wants a word.
‘Interestingly, Germany won the last World Cup and reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 - England were home from the last World Cup within ten days and were humiliated by minnows Iceland at Euro 2016. You do the math.’
We have reached the nadir of this debate. England did not fail at Euro 2016 because England players went out on a night out in November 2016 (and broke no rules).
Mediawatch has consulted the calendar, and Euro 2016 was definitely before last Saturday.
‘EXCLUSIVE: Serge Aurier’s career could be ruined after Arsenal ban,’ reads the Daily Star’s headline.
Blimey, that seems a bit strong. I mean sure, it’s annoying he can’t play against Arsenal, but still. Career ruined?
The story is actually based on quotes from Aurier’s lawyer, Claire Boutaud de la Combe, who we are told has claimed that the Paris St Germain defender’s career could be wrecked.
Except that she didn’t say that:
“Under France law he remains innocent until this appeal has been heard. But such an appeal can take quite a long time, especially in Paris. It will take several months, maybe one year.
“We don’t understand why this has become a problem, there is no reason for his. Now this is a worry because maybe it will stop him being able to travel to other countries to play for PSG or the Ivory Coast because they will also not allow him entry.”
So more ‘this might make the occasional game difficult’ and less ‘his career could be ruined’, then.
‘Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are caught doing their secret handshake whilst Manchester United train for their Europa League match with Feyenoord’ – Skysports.com.
Administration cock-up of the day
“Basically, the FA sent my paperwork to the wrong Congo. Transferring it took about 10 days and once Fifa had cleared their workload with all the internationals on around the world, it was the day after the World Cup qualifier against Guinea” – Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe reveals why he didn’t make his DR Congo debut last week – the FA sent his paperwork to the Republic of Congo. Dearie me.
An ode to Andy Townsend
“It’s going really well in and around the first team” – Liverpool’s Ovie Ejaria.
Kelly Naqi finds Ali Dia.