In the know
Jason Burt, the Daily Telegraph: ‘Dele Alli is expected to be awarded his first start for England tomorrow, possibly even in an advanced midfield role behind Wayne Rooney.’
Matthew Dunn, the Daily Express: ‘With Jamie Vardy injured, the England manager is expected to play with Rooney in a deeper-lying position behind Kane as the main striker.’
Dominic Fifield, the Guardian: ‘The likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Kieran Gibbs and Jonjo Shelvey are expected to feature from the start, with Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to be paired up front.’
Ian Herbert, the Independent: ‘Jamie Vardy’s fluid on the knee has ruled him out for the game against France, meaning Harry Kane is likely to start in attack with Wayne Rooney behind him.’
Harry Redknapp is not happy.
The former Spurs manager and never England boss attempted to play down the national team’s perfect qualifying record on Friday, criticising the quality of opposition. Well, he’s at it again in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
‘It was important that we played decent opposition on Friday against Spain because, let’s not kid ourselves, the teams we played and beat in the Euro 2016 qualifiers were pretty dreadful,’ says Redknapp. Granted, San Marino and Lithuania are hardly the finest Europe has to offer, but would Redknapp have been happier with the qualifying records of any other country? Germany, ranked the second best team in the world, lost to Poland (38th) and the Republic of Ireland (42nd) in their 10 games, the latter of whom England drew 0-0 with back in June.
Perhaps Redknapp would be happier with Spain’s record? Perhaps not, considering they lost to Slovakia (21st) in the process of finishing top of their group. Mediawatch will assume Redknapp would favour England’s qualifying record over that of the Netherlands, who lost to the Czech Republic (17th) and Iceland (31st) twice each, as well as Turkey (18th). All teams of course rank lower than World Cup quarter-finalists Switzerland (11th), who were comfortably beaten 2-0 home and away by Roy Hodgson’s men.
England may have faced some not-too-stellar sides on the way to qualifying for next summer’s tournament, but a record of 10 games, 10 wins, 31 goals scored and just three conceded is a poor stick for beating anybody around the head.
Harry Redknapp continues unabashed in his Telegraph column, with the 68-year-old quite rightly drawing plenty of positives from England’s 2-0 defeat to Spain on Friday. He adds ‘individually, I still think our players are as good as anybody else’.
‘To my mind, we have got another group of players that would get into just about any team in Europe,’ he continues. ‘I honestly look at us man for man against other leading countries, say France or Italy, and I do not think they have got better players.’
That’s right, England’s players are just as good as anyone else’s in Europe. That includes Spain, who brought on Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata and Koke among their substitutes on Friday; England’s alternatives were Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Jonjo Shelvey. That includes France, whose latest 23-man squad comprises of 587 international caps; England’s admittedly injury-hit side has 367, with only Wayne Rooney (108) and Joe Hart (56) managing more than 40. That presumably also includes world champions Germany. You can keep your Thomas Mulllers, we’ve got Jamie Vardy.
A final bit on Redknapp, who has been awfully kind to Mediawatch this Monday morning.
Redknapp is busy lamenting the fact that England ‘still seem to lack a clear identity and way of playing’ after their defeat to Spain – their first since the World Cup last summer.
‘Ever since Glenn Hoddle lost his job as manager in 1999, I am still not sure how we play. We have lacked an identity. What are we about? What is our game-plan? I don’t watch England and think, ‘Yeah, this is how we play’. When Glenn was manager…you could see what he wanted to do. I am not sure at the moment how we play and what we do.’
Hoddle’s game-plan was unfortunately found lacking during England’s first three games in Euro 2000 qualifying, with the Three Lions losing to Sweden and drawing with Bulgaria before Hoddle resigned in February 1999. Where too was the game-plan during defeats to Italy, Brazil and Chile in the build-up to the 1998 World Cup?
Let us not forget: Hoddle was part of Harry Redknapp’s coaching team at QPR during their last disastrous season in the Premier League. They were sh*t; but they did have a game-plan.
Writes Paul Merson in his Daily Star column: ‘I still don’t understand why Anthony Martial is playing on the wing either. He set the Premier League alight playing as a centre forward. Now he looks like a fish up a tree.’
Martial has admittedly looked much better as a striker (where he is back playing for United, something which seems to have escaped Merson), but he has continued to look quite impressive on the wing against Sunderland, where he claimed one assist, Everton (no team-mate had more shots on target), Manchester City, where he was arguably the best United player on the pitch and Crystal Palace (no team-mate made more key passes). He didn’t look too bad from the wing assisting Olivier Giroud’s for France against Germany on Friday, either.
Bale of dismay
Merson has been a busy boy. In the same Daily Star column, he adds that he believes Manchester United should sign Gareth Bale, not Cristiano Ronaldo. ‘I’d take Bale over Ronaldo any day. If you’re giving one of them a four-year contract, you’d get far more out of Bale over four years,’ says Merse.
Would either of them sign for a side who will finish outside the top four though, Paul?
Bild it up
‘Liverpool and Arsenal are chasing Borussia Mochengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka.’
A bold claim from the Daily Star website, and one which Mediawatch felt compelled to trace.
The links between Arsenal and Xhaka emerged last week from German newspaper Bild, but Liverpool? How strange. Time to investigate.
The Liverpool link comes from a website called Winner Sports, who claim: ‘Now Winner Sports has understood that even Liverpool have joined in the hunt for Xhaka and to steal a march on Arsenal in the race to sign the Switzerland star, the Reds are planning to make a £20million bid for the 23-year old in January.’ Bild cheekily report this themselves as an exclusive. See, it happens everywhere.
The author of the article is one Sarad Bade Shrestha. A selection of his recent exclusives include:
- Chelsea want Yannick Bolasie to replace Eden Hazard
- Arsenal want Klaas Jan-Huntelaar on loan in January
- West Ham are to sign Andros Townsend
- Newcastle want Sandro and Victor Valdes
- Liverpool want Victor Wanyama and Charlie Austin in January
- Man United are replacing Louis van Gaal with Carlo Ancelotti
- Alexis Sanchez is considering leaving Arsenal
That’s a lot of sources.
‘Man Utd defender Matteo Darmian slams the Premier League for being worse than Serie A,’ reads the juicy headline on an article on the Daily Express website.
Actual quotes from Matteo Darmian: “In England, the new experience started in the best possible way and I hope it can continue like this. Playing in another league in another country helps you to grow in every way. In the Premier League it is more physical and less tactical than Serie A. Compared to Italy, there is less attention to nutrition.”
Convoluted intro of the day
From the Daily Mail‘s Martin Samuel: ‘The Eagles of Death Metal aren’t really that hard or heavy, at all. The name is a joke, about a band that is meant to have a manic thrash sound, but can’t quite pull it off. They’re like The Eagles of death metal. Get it? Josh Homme, who came up with this, called his other band Queens of the Stone Age. Its members are all male, but Homme thought Kings of the Stone Age was too macho. ‘The Kings of the Stone Age wear armour and have axes and wrestle,’ Homme explained. ‘The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age’s girlfriends while they wrestle. Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way everyone’s happy and it’s more of a party.’
‘Back in my day’ of the day
‘In a mining village you work 12 hours downthe pit then wash your mouth out with a beer. I took that on board’ – David Hirst in the Daily Mail.
Headline of the day
‘Rain Cech on helmet’ – Daily Mirror
Worst headline of the day
‘Lion club Jesse’s Lin the money’ – Daily Star
Recommended reading of the day
Raphael Honigstein on whether Europa League participation harms domestic form.
Miguel Delaney on Ireland and away goals.
Louise Taylor on Ayoze Perez.
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