Mediawatch: Guardiola, grades and Merson

Date published: Tuesday 2nd February 2016 12:53

That went well
Headline from the Daily Star on December 18: ‘EXCLUSIVE: Pep Guardiola deal to replace Jose Mourinho at Chelsea is “90 per cent done”.’

Curse that 10 per cent.


What’s in a number?
‘Guardiola, who announced earlier this season he was leaving Bayern Munich and heading to English football, will be given up to £300m to spend on signings after being ordered to win the Champions League before 2019’ – Daily Star.

‘Pep will be handed a transfer war chest of about £200m to turn City into Champions League winners’ – Daily Express.

‘Pep Guardiola will have at least £150m to spend on players when he replaces Manuel Pellegrini as the Manchester City manager in the summer’ – The Guardian.

‘Up to £300m’, ‘about £200m’ and ‘£150m’. Excellent work.


Pep talk
So, which players will Pep target in his first summer as Manchester City manager?

* The Sun tell us Guardiola will target Robert Lewandowski (for £75million), Paul Pogba (£70m) and David Alaba (£35m).

* The Daily Mail inform us that Pogba will actually cost £80m, while £30m-rated John Stones is on his wish list.

* The Daily Express report that Thiago Alcantara, Ilkay Gundogan and Aymeric Laporte will be his first signings.

* The Guardian list Thiago, Pogba and Stones, as well as Philippe Coutinho and Marcelo, as players Guardiola ‘may target’.

The Independent chime in, claiming that Ross Barkley could join.

Just the ten players then. But don’t worry, they’ll join for ‘at least £150million’. Or ‘about £200m’. Or ‘up to £300m’.

Mediawatch finds it interesting that nobody knew that Guardiola’s appointment was going to be announced yesterday, and yet everyone knows which players he will buy. Bizarre.


Big-time Charlie
With the news of Manchester City signing 427 players in Guardiola’s first summer, what of the current squad at the Etihad Stadium? Don’t panic, Charlie Nicholas provides the insight.

The Sky Sports pundit tells us which players are staying and which will leave due to the change in manager. Among those staying will be:

* Joe Hart – although he will be ‘under scrutiny’ because Guardiola ‘likes a sweeper keeper’.

* Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. Shock. Horror.

Nicholas also predicts that nine players will leave this summer. Poor Fernandinho is off, while the lesser Fernando stays. Among the Nicholas gems are the following:

* Willy Caballero will ‘surprise people’ because ‘he played in Spain’.

* On Kompany: “All Pep has to do is get him fit.” If only Pellegrini had thought of that.

* Jesus Navas will stay “because of his sheer pace”.

* On Fabian Delph: “If I were Delph, I’d want to listen to everything Guardiola has to say.”

Nicholas offers Sterling the same advice, but no other players. Presumably because the scoundrels are young and English. Odd because Mediawatch was expecting Delph and Sterling to tell the two-time Champions League winner to f**k off.

* “I think Pep would like to keep Bony.” ‘VERDICT: GO,’ is Nicholas’ last line. Glad that’s clear.


Missing the target
Time to spare a thought for 48 of the players on the Daily Telegraph‘s ‘Top 50 transfer targets in the January window’. It didn’t go well.

Of their list, only Mathieu Debuchy and Alexandre Pato secured moves away. And they are both only on loan.

Perhaps set your sights a bit lower (and less clicky) next time, chaps?


The Magic Man
Back to Sky Sports now. Mediawatch simply cannot resist taking a look at Paul Merson’s transfer window Premier League grades. The best bits:

* Upon awarding Arsenal a grade of ‘C-‘:

“They get a C because…”

Great start, Paul.

* Upon awarding Chelsea a grade of ‘C-‘:

“How can you give Branislav Ivanovic another year and not John Terry? You give him one because he’s John Terry, just to get the fans back on side.”

Ivanovic is 31, Terry is 35. Terry has not been offered a contract by Chelsea, but there are still three months remaining on his deal, and the club are deciding whether to renew it. Doing so “just to get the fans back on side” is probably not top of Roman Abramovich’s agenda.

* Upon awarding Everton a grade of ‘C’:

“If I’m being honest I don’t know much about Oumar Niasse because I’ve never seen him play. They’ve brought in players who are not proven, so they could be really hit and miss.”


* Upon awarding Leicester a grade of ‘B’:

“I like what they’re doing at the minute. They’re having a good go, they’re looking and thinking ‘right, we’re going to need to score goals to win the Premier League’ and they play with a high tempo and work hard so you do need players who are going to be 100 per cent. I like their business and Demarai Gray is one for the future.”

Is it just Mediawatch, or is only the last line applicable to Leicester’s transfer business? Yet they get a B?

* Upon awarding Liverpool a grade of ‘D’:

“You can’t really give them a mark because they haven’t done anything.” Which is fine. Oh, you’re not done, Paul? “So it’s just a D.”

Stop. Writing. Everything. Down.

* Upon awarding Manchester City a grade of ‘D’:

“I think they’ve tried to pull the wool over the fans’ eyes by announcing Guardiola and not signing anybody. For me, they still needed players this season.”

There is no analysis about which players in which positions.

* Upon awarding Manchester United a grade of ‘D’:

 “If a kid doesn’t do his homework then he’s going to get a D – and they haven’t done their homework.”

Mediawatch isn’t sure what school Merson went to, but we’re pretty sure that if you don’t do your homework, you don’t get a grade at all.

* Upon awarding Tottenham a grade of ‘D’:

“I would probably have tried to get a world-class centre-half.”

Of all the clubs in the Premier League, are Spurs the ones in desperate need of a central defender?

He’s called ‘the Magic Man’ for a reason.


Surprise party
Neil Custis manages to twist Guardiola’s appointment into a story about Manchester United for The Sun. The Spaniard’s arrival at neighbours City means United ‘MUST get Jose Mourinho’ as ‘he’s the only man who knows how to beat Pep Guardiola’.

For the record, Guardiola and Mourinho have been rival managers in 15 games. Guardiola has won seven, Mourinho has won three, and there have been five draws. If Mourinho does ‘know how to beat Pep Guardiola’, he really should have done it more often.

‘WHEN THE announcement came from Manchester City there was no surprise,’ is the first line of Custis’ piece.

Which is weird, as Custis wrote a piece titled ‘Pep Guardiola will wait to land dream Manchester United job’ back in December.

And just last week he described how City had been ‘stunned’ after it was revealed – and subsequently rubbished – that Guardiola had met with United to discuss becoming manager.

But there was ‘no surprise’, right, Neil?


Head case
Speaking of Mourinho, Paul Kelso of Sky Sports grasped the opportunity to ask the out-of-work Portuguese whether he would take the Manchester United job on Monday. Mourinho, arriving at a FIFA event, shook his head at the question. The scoundrel.

What does this become if you work at The Independent? Well, it becomes a story headlined ‘Jose Mourinho shakes head in disgust when asked about Manchester United job’.

‘His response said it all,’ reads one paragraph from Tom Sheen. Replace ‘it’ with ‘f**k’ and that’s about right.


Big price Depay
‘Deadline day was watered down at Manchester United – but at least Memphis Depay was able to get things bog-rolling,’ reads the opening paragraph to a piece in the The Sun. Strangely enough, it is attributed to no-one.

It continues: ‘United’s £25million Dutch flop avoided chucking his money down the pan during a Cheshire shopping trip. Maybe next time he can help boss Louis van Gaal rummage around the bargain aisle for a couple of good deals to get the struggling giants’ mind-numbing football out of cold storage.’ Christ.

They aren’t the only ones. The Daily Mirror have handed Richard Innes the task of analysing Depay’s midweek shopping trip, while Katie Butler of the Manchester Evening News includes a line on Depay ‘parading’ his ‘£250,000 Rolls Royce Phantom around the city’. James Dutton of the MailOnline tell us how Depay bought ‘several different types of water including Evian and San Pellegrino,’ as well as ‘three large bags of Andrex’ and ‘a giant box of Capri Sun’. They provide a breakdown of the costs, which total to £35.65.

Mediawatch does not want to live in this world.


Mr Nice Guy

Petr Cech will be devastated.


Insight of the day
Thierry Henry to Sky Sports: “Not only because it is a great club and you have the resources, but Pep Guardiola will be the guy who can attract any player in the world that wants to be coached by him.”

So Guardiola will attract players who want to be coached by him? Does Manuel Pellegrini not attract players who want to be coached by him? Is it not the same for any manager?

Note to the Sky Sports transcribers: Don’t write down literally everything they say.


Recommended reading of the day
Paolo Bandini on Mark Hateley and Milan’s derby win.

Gabriele Marcotti on Pep Guardiola.

Jonathan Wilson on Leicester.

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