Spring a leak
‘Jose Mourinho holds talks with Manchester United as Louis van Gaal is on his way out of Old Trafford’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, December 20.
‘Jose Mourinho to Manchester United all but agreed – the final decision on sacking Louis van Gaal is now down to the Glazers’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, December 22.
‘Jose Mourinho’s first move as Man United manager would be to sign Wesley Sneijder’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, December 23.
‘Mauricio Pochettino could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of becoming Manchester United’s next manager. SunSport understands United chiefs have spoken to representatives of the Tottenham boss about succeeding Louis van Gaal’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, February 8.
‘Jose Mourinho could take over Manchester United this month as board lose faith in Louis van Gaal’ – The Sun, February 14.
‘Jose Mourinho agrees three-year deal to become Manchester United manager’ – The Sun, February 24.
‘SunSport understands serious discussions have been ongoing for more than a month about Jose Mourinho becoming the master of the Mestalla [Valencia coach]’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, March 31.
‘Jose Mourinho begins plotting Manchester United’s summer transfers’ – The Sun, April 4
‘As Jose Mourinho gets ready to take over at Manchester United, SunSport reveals five of his top transfer targets’ – The Sun, April 5.
‘Jose Mourinho begins house hunting in Cheshire as he prepares for life as Manchester United boss’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, April 7.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson gives green light to Jose Mourinho taking over at Manchester United’ – The Sun, April 16.
‘Jose Mourinho signs Manchester United deal after months of negotiations’ – The Sun, April 23.
‘Laurent Blanc is a shock late contender to snatch the Manchester United job from Jose Mourinho. There has been a recent wave of support within the Old Trafford boardroom for the Paris Saint-Germain boss and former United centre back’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, April 26.
Neil Custis must have smiled to himself as he nibbled on some almonds and dried kale. Make sure you keep us ‘exclusively’ updated if there is any more hand-forcing going on, fella.
Mediawatch particularly enjoyed the 24-hour gap between ‘begins plotting transfers’ and ‘SunSport reveals top five transfer targets’. Quick work.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a second reserve in two positions for a team who will likely finish fourth in the Premier League. Arsenal are reportedly keen to sell him in the summer after the progress of Alex Iwobi. A mix of injuries and poor form mean that Oxlade-Chamberlain has started only 49 Premier League games in his entire career.
When that’s the situation, you need someone with a plan – a plan to persuade people that every club in the land want you. Oxlade-Chamberlain knows somebody with that plan.
‘Manchester United are ready to join the chase for Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a source close to the player said’ – ESPN, April 26.
‘Southampton are ready to make Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain their highest-paid player this summer’ – Daily Mirror, April 12.
‘Liverpool make contact with Arsenal ahead of stunning £30m summer raid’ – Daily Express, March 13.
‘Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has emerged as one of Pep Guardiola’s top transfer targets when he takes over at Manchester City this summer’ – The Sun, Mar 9.
‘West Ham eye move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Arsenal winger keen to secure more regular first-team action’ – Daily Mail, March 7.
‘Chelsea target Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a replacement for wantaway Eden Hazard’ – The Sun, January 9.
It’s only a matter of time until Barcelona and Bayern Munich step up their inevitable interest.
Renee Scholes and Renato
Writes the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson on Manchester United’s potential signing of Benfica’s Renato Sanches:
‘Sanches’s youth and dynamism are viewed as ideal for a squad that has struggled to replace Paul Scholes, since he retired three years ago.’
Yes, youth and dynamism were precisely what Scholes was offering in the seven years he played for United after turning 30.
On the Wayne
“Everyone at the club knew where I wanted to play and I think that’s why I was disappointed. I got told to play in midfield and I didn’t want to. I just think there had to come a point when, for my own career, I had to be a bit selfish really” – Wayne Rooney, October 2013.
“I’ve known for a few years. I have played there a few times throughout my career and I can play that position. I have played and watched Paul Scholes play that role for years and I always knew that one day that is where I would play, so I have tried to learn and watch what he did. If I keep playing there, I can develop and get better. We have got a lot of pace in the team now and I think I can read the game quite well – whether to go forward or stay deeper and leave the space for the other lads. Obviously it is down to the manager, and for the team more importantly it is the right thing to do at this moment in time” – Wayne Rooney, April 2016.
What a difference two-and-a-half years, less selfishness and having strikers at the club who are playing better than you can make. Dinah Washington could never have made that scan.
If you had to create the perfect Adrian Durham cocktail, there would be several key ingredients. Deliberate controversy is a must, for he who shouts loudest is heard longest, or something. Contrariness is a definite too, so as to garner clicks through annoyance. Add a sprinkling of Arsenal, a dash of lazy foreign player stereotype and a final glug of ‘I was right all along’ and you have a disgusting drink we can all enjoy.
And so to Tuesday’s MailOnline column, on why Mesut Ozil is really a bit s**t. Oh yes.
‘Coming to the end of his third season at the Emirates, it’s fair to say Ozil still hasn’t cracked it in the Premier League,’ Durham begins.
Indeed, he’s only Arsenal’s best player. And only those who ‘haven’t cracked it’ are nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award by the league’s players.
‘Fancy flicks are great, but attitude is as important as ability, if not more so. Arsenal can’t afford to have expensive players strolling around against Swansea, or taking a break instead of going to Stoke.’
Ah yes, this old thing again. Regular readers may remember Durham accusing Ozil of ‘bottling’ the trip to Stoke. Everyone but Durham will be aware that Ozil was injured.
‘Maybe you could excuse Ozil by claiming he can only perform with a lot of high-quality players around him. I’ve lost count of how many times Gooners have tried to convince me Ozil’s lack of impact is because Olivier Giroud isn’t good enough. He might not be, but I’m still expecting Ozil to make a difference.’
The reason they’re telling you that Adrian, is because they’re right. He creates the chances – more than anyone else in the country – and asks a striker to finish them. That’s his job, his role.
‘If you’re in Arsene Wenger’s position, having never won the Champions League, and desperate to win a Premier League title for the first time in a decade, do you shovel £42,000,000 into Real Madrid’s bank account in return for a player with all the software but not a lot of hardware?’
Yes. And then – even if Durham’s deliberately one-eyed description of Ozil is right – you buy players with a lot of hardware and less software, and then others with the right balance of both. It’s called ‘building a title-winning team’.
Not that it needs repeating, but Arsenal did not fail to win the league because Ozil did not do his job (hence being nominated for the Player of the Year award by his peers). They failed to win the league because others, most importantly his manager, did not do theirs.
‘Fair play to Wenger though, that’s some achievement making a player as good as Ozil look so terribly bang average,’ Durham concludes.
Welcome to Adrian Durham’s world, where anything below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s all-singing, all-dancing majesty is ‘terribly bang average’. We want to go home.
In his column for The Sun, Ian Wright has got his trendy spotted pocket square in a twist over the PFA Team of the Year. Poor Wrighty has got things awfully muddled.
‘Sergio Aguero is a man who would walk into any team in the world,’ Wright begins. ‘Any team, it would appear, other than the PFA one, judging from Sunday night’s announcement.
‘Let me make it clear, I’ve got nothing against Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy and would not dispute their selection given the season they’ve had. But I do find it staggering Aguero isn’t in there…’
We’ll stop you there, fella. The PFA Team of the Year is, and always has been, picked in a 4-4-2 formation. If you aren’t disputing the selection of Kane or Vardy, you really aren’t making much of a case for Aguero.
Plus, whatever case Wright had is hardly strengthened by his own Team of the Year selection he made last week. As you’ve already guessed, Wright chooses, in a 4-4-2 formation, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane as his strikers
‘Sergio Aguero is a man who would walk into any team in the world. Any team, it would appear, other than the PFA one.’
And your own…
Be Wright back
Sticking with Ian Wright, and his Aguero defence (does he need defending?) does not end there:
‘Does anyone seriously think that if he had not missed eight games, he wouldn’t be clear at the top and City a lot closer than 12 points off the top?’ Wright says.
Well, maybe. But of those eight league games Aguero missed, City won five and drew two. In fact, they’ve taken more points per game without him in the side. Aguero is obviously ruddy wonderful, but can we really label his absence the difference in City’s title challenge?
The one with the extended metaphor
‘Real Madrid may offer Cristiano Ronaldo a new five-year contract in the summer and on hearing the latest change of tack at the club, you can only emit a deep, frustrated sigh. I mean honestly, these two: Real Madrid and Ronaldo; they’re like football’s Ross and Rachel.
‘It’s a romance that has as many permutations as the 10 seasons of Friends. You lose track of who’s in love with whom and why. To recap, he likes her, but she doesn’t like him. But wait. She likes him but now he doesn’t like her. Still, he realises she likes him and now he likes her again. And, oh, they’re married. And divorced. And married again. And they’re on a break. Or not. And now they’re separated but having a baby. And so it went on and on and on.
‘Matt LeBlanc once explained in Episodes – one of his shows after Friends – why Ross and Rachel were so important to the programme’s success. A romance can’t ever reach a definite conclusion in a sit-com. If they had got together and lived happily ever after by Series 2, Series 3 might never have seen the light of day. And so it is with Ronaldo and Real Madrid’ – Rob Draper, MailOnline.
We get it – they fall out a bit.
Better the Devils you know
‘Zaha’s dig at Devils’ reads The Sun’s headline.
‘Wilfried Zaha has told FA Cup rivals Manchester United: You’re not special any more,’ Andrew Dillon’s piece begins.
“Everyone goes on about Manchester United all the time but they’re just another team in the final. I don’t see it as anything special. It can be United, Aston Villa, Chelsea or whoever. My only objective is to win with Palace. It doesn’t mean anything to me who we play.
“Look, I went to United and what happened there happened. I’m back at Palace now and playing for this club. I don’t have anything against United. Playing them won’t make me run any faster or try any harder. I’ll still play the same way I play.”
Guess ‘Zaha: I’ll play the same way’ just wasn’t quite catchy enough.
Mischievous line of the day
‘Chelsea captain John Terry, despite all his off-field incidents, is especially popular with the girls in the academy teams and their parents’ – Charles Sale, Daily Mail.
Terry’s daughter plays for Chelsea girls, and therefore he has organised free tea and coffee for all watching parents. Not quite the story Sale was hinting at.
Headline of the day
‘The Daw is shut’ – The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on English clubs in semi-finals
Miguel Delaney on Atletico vs Bayern
James Horncastle on Juventus