In great Nick
Mediawatch was among the majority watching Manchester United tumbling out of the Champions League on Tuesday, open-mouthed at the sight of Nick Powell replacing Juan Mata in a must-win game. It was as bizarre as it was funny, at least for the neutral.
For The Independent’s Ian Herbert and Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph, however, it was Powell’s conduct off-camera which bemused them most.
‘Amid the United gloom on Tuesday night, the kindest thing you could say about Powell’s post-match behaviour as he left the stadium was that he was not set much of an example by some of his team-mates,’ begins the piece by Wallace. ‘But there can be no further mitigation for the sneering contempt with which he responded to a request for the standard post-match interview.’
Herbert describes Powell’s snubbing of the press as follows: ‘He did not grant so much as a second’s eye contact, pulling a face which said “contempt” as he walked by.’ Mediawatch can do faces for ‘sad’, ‘angry’ and ‘orgasmic’, but we’d struggle to do ‘contempt’.
Herbert laments a ‘breathtaking air of entitlement’ from Powell, a ‘superiority complex’ encouraged by the actions of his manager Louis van Gaal. But his words pale in comparison to that of Wallace.
‘In a lobby full of football reporters who have seen, in their time, some seriously bad attitudes on the other side of the cordon, Powell went straight into the all-time top 10 with that effort,’ adds the Telegraph’s Chief Football Writer.
The ‘all-time top 10’ of ‘seriously bad attitudes’? For pulling a face and refusing an interview after his side had just suffered elimination from the Champions League? The bastard. Mediawatch accepts that it would have been good for him to have a brief chat, but this feels a little harsh on a clearly upset kid.
Considering Powell ‘was not set much of an example by some of his team-mates’, Mediawatch assumes they comprise the remainder of Wallace’s ‘all-time top 10 bad attitudes’ list.
Making a mess
Buried in Herbert’s critique of Powell is the following: ‘So his side flail, only among the Premier League leaders because Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho at City and Chelsea have made such a mess of things.’
That’s right; Manchester United are fourth in the Premier League, just three points behind leaders Leicester and level with Manchester City, solely because reigning champions Chelsea are ‘making a mess of things’.
Van Gaal is far from perfect, but to suggest United are three points off the top of the Premier League only due to the failings of other sides is quite a leap.
In other news, Arsene Wenger is rubbish and Arsenal are only second because 18 other teams have been rubbish. Aren’t things rubbish?
Young at heart
Mediawatch can’t quite leave Herbert’s Independent piece alone. In it, he questions why poor Ashley Young was kept on the bench, with untested Guillermo Varela making his full debut instead. ‘Varela was given the right-back’s jersey and was taken apart by André Schürrle,’ apparently.
According to Opta stats (we’re no better than The Sun), Varela had the third-most touches of any United player, won more duels than anyone (11 of his 15), made the second-most interceptions, and made at least two more tackles than any of his team-mates. Schürrle, who ‘took apart’ Varela, had the second-fewest touches of any Wolfsburg starter, and had the lowest passing accuracy of any player for either side, completing just 14 passes all evening.
Or, as Herbert’s Independent put it: ‘Making his first start for United would have been a daunting task for anyone, but Varela did well considering the magnitude of the game. He wasn’t afraid to come out and deal with danger.’
‘Mesut Ozil is making a mockery of the criticism that have dogged his time at Arsenal,’ writes Sami Mokbel, learning the second of just four things from Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday. The Daily Mail‘s Mokbel continues: ‘One of the most scathing insults was his perceived inability to produce his best when it mattered most.’
‘Scathing insults’, you say? Mokbel will not have to look far for the critics he bemoans, considering only one man has accused Ozil of ‘nicking a living’, Mokbel’s Mail colleague Neil Ashton. Another Mail luminary springs to mind, to: Rob Draper.
After Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, Draper wrote that Ozil, much like Arsenal, ‘flatters to deceive’, and that the German once more failed to step up in a big game. After listing Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Eden Hazard as those capable of producing in huge matches, Draper added: ‘The feeling is that Ozil ought to be in that company but never will.’
‘It’s not just the £42million price tag which demands more,’ said Draper back in early November. ‘He is finally looking a £42million player,’ reads Mokbel’s last line in December. That happened quickly.
Said a Manchester United source to Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star: “It has become nearly impossible for a Premier League team to win the Champions League because of how little help English entrants get.”
Are you sure it’s nothing to do with the fact that other teams are better?
‘Player Ratings: Willian inspires vital Chelsea win as Costa and Hazard continue poor form,’ reads the headline on the Chelsea vs Porto player ratings from the Daily Express website. Diego Costa and Eden Hazard are both handed 5s out of 10, with every other starter scoring higher.
The Daily Mail gave Hazard an 8 and Costa a 7.5, the Daily Mirror also handed Hazard an 8, with Costa receiving a 7, while Barney Ronay of The Guardian described Costa as ‘more like the marauder of old’ as he ‘thrived’ at Stamford Bridge.
Did David Wright of the Express watch the same match?
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They’ve been really sh*t. Oh, and Tim Sherwood.
Five ridiculous headlines from far more successful websites
– ‘Star in a reasonably priced car! £180,000-a-week England midfielder Raheem Sterling drives £12,000 Smart car on his way home from Manchester City training’ – MailOnline. Did he really? And what did he eat for dinner? And how many times did he breathe in and out?
– ‘Mark Warburton and Dennis Bergkamp emerge as favourites to replace Garry Monk’ – Daily Express. ‘Favourites’ is a big shout. At the time of writing, Warburton is the fourth favourite at 14/1, with Bergkamp at 16s.
– ‘This mind-blowing stat about Fifa 96 will make you feel very old indeed’ – Metro. It turns out 1996 was quite a while ago. Perhaps Mediawatch’s mind is less easily ‘blown’ than yours.
– ‘Everton star Gerard Deulofeu gets ready for Christmas with a little help from his pet dog’ – MailOnline. It’s not even accurate. The dog did f**k all to help.
– ‘Arsenal coach proves he’s a true Gooner with quality reaction to Giroud penalty’ – Metro. He just didn’t watch the penalty. But as anyone worth their salt knows, that’s the sign of a ‘true Gooner’.
‘That escalated quickly’ headline of the day
‘Monk standoff ends as South Korean police arrest Buddhist temple fugitive’ – The Guardian
The managerial situation in Swansea is getting out of hand.
‘Didn’t fancy her anyway’ of the day
‘Manchester United claim Champions League now lags far behind winning Premier League title’ – Independent.
Well it does when you can no longer do one of those things.
Headline of the day
‘Greece-proof Gunners’ – Daily Mirror.
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith on British managers.
Stuart James on Garry Monk.
Edward Stratmann on the lovely Willian.
Thanks to Andrew Perry. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, putting ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field.