According to reports…
It’s an OLD TRAFFORD SENSATION. And there’s nothing Mediawatch likes more than an OLD TRAFFORD SENSATION. Except when that SENSATION is ‘boredom’. So what is this OLD TRAFFORD SENSATION that dominates the back page of The Sun?
‘MANCHESTER UNITED have made a dramatic move to snatch Pep Guardiola from neighbours City,’ writes Neil Custis. Wow. That is indeed sensational.
Except, well, it takes only two paragraphs before we reach ‘according to reports in France’.
Which is bizarre because the headline of ‘UNITED’S PARIS PEP TALK’ does not suggest any doubt whatsoever about the veracity of this story. And neither does the sub-headline of ‘Shock bid to dash City’s Guardiola plan’. Or indeed that opening paragraph.
The French claims were summarily dismissed by Manchester United in plenty of time for the Daily Star’s back-page headline to be ‘UNITED DENY PEP TALK’ but seemingly not early enough for The Sun, who instead report those rubbished claims as fact.
Can you think of any reason at all why the slightly rotund Custis might want to exagerrate claims that Pep Guardiola could replace Louis van Gaal? Nope. Nor us.
The Sun did update the web version of Custis’ story to include this fourth paragraph: ‘Old Trafford officials last night denied any meeting had happened but the reports will still stun City, who were thought to have virtually done the deal to install Guardiola as their boss next season.’
So City will be ‘stunned’ by reports already dismissed as nonsense? They must be ever so easily shocked. Even if the reports are true, we suspect that City have a slightly clearer idea than The Sun whether they have ‘virtually done a deal’ with Guardiola or not.
Neil Custis at least resisted the urge to claim that story as an ‘exclusive’ but he has quite bizarrely put his flag in a story claiming that ‘WAYNE ROONEY turned Manchester United’s game at Anfield – and not just with his winning goal’.
‘SunSport can reveal it was Rooney who took charge of the dressing-room during half-time on Saturday…’
What’s your source, Neil? Is it Rooney saying this on Sunday? “I think we knew as a group of players and there were a few reminders from myself and the manager that this is Liverpool we’re playing and we need to be tackling more, getting to the ball quicker and we did that a bit in the second half.”
That pretty much tallies with Custis ‘exclusively’ telling us five days later: ‘Rooney made it clear what was going wrong and how they had to play the second half after a poor first 45 minutes from United.’
We almost admire the chubby cheek of the man.
Sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me
The Daily Mirror back page: ‘JANUARY SALES CANCELLED: LVG given transfer ban…as he heads for summer exit.’
Headline on the Daily Mirror website: ‘Manchester United transfer rumours and news: John Stones ‘remains Louis van Gaal’s top target”
Conclusion: David Anderson’s ‘exclusive’ really isn’t good for internet business.
It must be love
‘GARETH BALE must return to Spurs if he wants to head home – as long as they match any Premier League offer,’ write Martin Lipton and Charlie Wyett in The Sun. Yes, it took two of them.
He must? They make it sound like some kind of punishment. It’s also a bloody massive non-story. Should Tottenham be able to match any other Premier League club offer for Bale, that would mean either a) Tottenham have money that only titles and consistent European football could create or b) Bale is a bit sh*t.
In either case, Bale would be very pleased indeed to re-join a club he loves.
Let’s get rocked
There’s a real sense of Friday morning space-filler about The Sun’s ‘REVEALED’ special about all the ‘SECRETS OF TRANSFER DEALS’ that have emerged this week. We’re told that top clubs have been ‘rocked’, which just leaves us wondering where ‘rocked’ sits in relation to ‘stunned’ on the tabloid shock scale.
After detailing the cover-up of Bale’s transfer fee (a cover-up that clearly didn’t sodding work as everybody – and we mean everybody – reported the transfer as a world-record £85m move), the potential £58m Anthony Martial fee widely reported by everybody – including The Sun – at the end of August and the £43m Eliaquim Mangala fee actually reported by Porto to the stock exchange on the day of the transfer, what is the next revelation detailed by The Sun?
Wait for this…it’s a doozy.
‘ILORI: Liverpool hinted at £7m fee but the maximum cost to them will be £5.4m.’
Yes, a Liverpool reserve will cost £1.6m less than previously believed! Are Liverpool officially ‘rocked’? They will just be praying that it doesn’t emerge that they paid £25m for Adam Lallana.
Could it be magic?
‘The one thing you’re going to get with Everton is that they score goals and concede goals,’ says Paul Merson on the Sky Sports website.
‘PAUL PREDICTS: 4-0.’
Could it be magic? Now…
Merson’s back: ‘The key for Sunderland is that they’ve got Jermain Defoe and Sam Allardyce. Big Sam won’t mess about, he is the most experienced manager down at the bottom, and Defoe is the best centre-forward. Defoe has nine goals this season, who else can match that?’
Georginio Wijnaldum. You’re welcome.
What a difference one game makes
Paul Merson, January 15: ‘As I said on Sky Sports News HQ on Thursday morning, Swansea are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they’re just sliding, sliding and sliding. I can’t see it stopping. I just can’t see where Swansea will turn this around. At the moment they are the team I would say are favourites to go down with Aston Villa. That’s how bad it’s got for them. It’s a disaster and I just can’t see how selling one of your best players to a relegation rival helps? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Watford had a disappointing result at Southampton but I do think they are a good team…’
Paul Merson, January 22: ‘I worry about Watford. They are on a glass mountain with slippers on and they’re sliding very quickly…’
Revelation of the day
Top headline on Arsenal’s official website at 10am on Friday: ‘Arsenal train ahead of Chelsea match.’
It’s a hell of an idea. If that’s ‘news’, we think we know why they have traditionally done so badly against Chelsea.
Transfer sh*te of the day
Headline on the home page of Metro football: ‘Guardiola plots bid for Chelsea star, they’ll accept £61.5m – report.’
The ‘Chelsea star’ is Eden Hazard and the story – when clicked upon (it’s our job) – is headlined ‘Manchester City eye £61.5m transfer of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard – report’. So it’s not Pep Guardiola at all but Manchester City. Don’t they know he’s going to United? And the story begins: ‘Manchester City could make a stunning £80million transfer raid on rivals Chelsea in the summer as they eye a move for Eden Hazard.’
So that’s an £18.5m increase between the headline and the opening paragraph. Now that’s what we call inflation.
‘Given the 25-year-old’s decline, the Daily Express claims Chelsea could sell him for around £61.5m, with City keeping an eye on his situation,’ the story continues, the price flip-flopping like Robbie Savage.
The cited Daily Express headline reads: ‘Man Utd and Man City handed boost as Chelsea slap new price tag on Hazard.’
Their source? French website Buzzport. They – of course – do not mention Manchester United or Manchester City once. You wouldn’t want it any other way.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to global football media in 2016.
Slight error of the day
— Adam Blackmore (@bigadamsport) January 22, 2016
Recommended reading of the day
Nick Miller interviews a quite sweary Winty
Godamski on Everton’s poor in-game management
Jonathan Wilson on Hiddink’s Chelsea