Charles Sale has a back-page exclusive for the Daily Mail, and boy, he is not scared to use it. ‘THIERRY THREAT’ screams the headline, as Arsene Wenger has asked legendary striker Henry to choose between his current coaching role for the club and his position as a Sky Sports pundit.
The claim is that Wenger has particular ‘reservations’ about his former captain combining roles ‘since Henry said on Sky in April 2015 that Arsenal would struggle to win the Premier League while Olivier Giroud was the first-choice striker’.
The 66-year-old ‘feels his fellow Frenchman cannot work within the club during the week and then criticise their players at the weekend’. That seems fair enough, but Henry is ‘unhappy with the situation’.
As too, seemingly, is Sale. Wenger’s request for Henry to choose between his coaching role and punditry position is an ‘extraordinary ultimatum’ issued to ‘arguably the greatest player in the club’s history’.
Sale even brands the manager’s undertaking of a TV role for beIN Sport during Euro 2016 as ‘hypocritical’. Has Wenger claimed that France could not win the tournament with Giroud as a first-choice striker? Or that Granit Xhaka was a bottling b*stard when he missed a decisive penalty in a shootout? Or that Mesut Ozil is a ‘waste of money’? Has he criticised any of the players who represent the club he works for?
‘Wenger is forming a habit of falling out with club superstars,’ ends a rather bizarre piece from Sale, who goes on to reference just one former player – Patrick Vieira – who ‘is still hurt’ by not being offered a coaching role in 2011. That is the same Patrick Vieira who stated that Wenger “deserves a bit more respect” earlier this year, and that “he has done a fantastic, unbelievable job for Arsenal Football Club”. But they’ve ‘fallen out’, remember.
Who will replace Henry? Well, according to the London Evening Standard, one Tony Adams. But isn’t he a ‘club superstar’? And Wenger hasn’t ‘fallen out’ with him?
Portugal won Euro 2016 on Sunday, but, as always, captain and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was centre stage. The forward was stretchered in the first half of the 1-0 win over France, but emerged later on to cheer his teammates to a memorable victory from the sidelines. It represented the 31-year-old’s first major international honour, and his emotion was clear to see.
Dave Kidd uses his column in the Daily Mirror to tell us that this was proof of the ‘value of the team over an overhyped lead man’. ‘This was not Ronaldo’s victory but Portugal’s’, he declares, before leaving a straw man in his wake as he casually strolls off into the sunset.
Kidd even brings us an exclusive – ‘he is not a shy man, Ronaldo’ – before adding that ‘he probably thinks Carly Simon wrote You’re So Vain about him, even though it was released before his birth’. Good one, Dave.
‘It proved that while stars win headlines, teams win trophies,’ Kidd writes. Did anyone suggest otherwise? Even Ronaldo himself credited his teammates for winning without him: “Our players deserved it. I have always believed in these players.”
But it is Ronaldo’s touchline histrionics which inspired Kidd to write a 619-word article about how ‘this was not Ronaldo’s victory, but Portugal’s’, of which approximately 618 words are concerned with Ronaldo, thus implying that this is his victory, and not Portugal’s.
‘There were unconvincing attempts at proving himself a team man,’ writes Kidd. ‘The cajoling of Joao Moutinho to take a shoot-out spot-kick in the quarter-final against Poland and the needless cajoling from the technical area alongside his impressive manager Fernando Santos during the final.
‘But it all seemed to be for the cameras and for the birds.’
Cristiano Ronaldo is quite an arrogant individual; of that there is no doubt. But to suggest he was more concerned with his own image as his teammates won what Kidd himself describes as ‘perhaps the most significant medal of his career’ is folly. And as for the ‘unconvincing attempts at proving himself a team man…
“[Ronaldo] told me I would score the winning goal for the team. He gave me this strength, this energy and it was vital” – Eder.
“Our skipper put in an immense effort. He has amazing team spirit. Twice he tried to get back on the pitch but him being there in the dressing room and on the bench was very important for us” – Fernando Santos.
“He gave us a lot of confidence. He was fantastic. His attitude was unbelievable. At half-time he helped a lot, our colleagues, he had always a lot of motivational words. All the team reacted to them so it was very, very good” – Cedric Soares.
“When he couldn’t go on I tried to tell our team-mates that we had to win it for him” – Pepe.
And that’s according to his manager and teammates. Looks like the ‘overhyped lead man’ was fairly influential with his ‘unconvincing attempts at proving himself a team man’.
On the opposite page to Kidd’s missive is a piece from John Cross, headlined ‘RON MANAGER’. Where Kidd questions Ronaldo’s ‘unconvincing attempts at proving himself a team man’, good old Crossy lauds his ‘inspiring words and ability to lift the team’, while the ‘driving force’ has ‘marked himself down as a future manager’.
It’s time for Mediawatch to answer the question everyone is asking: How did the major outlets report on Graziano Pelle leaving Southampton for the Chinese Super League?
BBC Sport kick us off with a simple and straightforward, but unerringly accurate: ‘Graziano Pelle: Southampton striker joins Shandong Luneng’
Next is The Sun, who tell us that the striker will become ‘Italy’s highest ever paid player’ on £260,000-a-week wages. Interesting.
The Metro go one further, adding that the 30-year-old is now the ‘sixth best paid player in the world’. Crikey.
The Daily Mail add that the Italian rejected overtures from Chelsea and Everton to move to China.
But what is the most important piece of information? His wage? His new club? The sides he turned down? Let’s turn to the Daily Star to find out.
‘As Graziano Pelle heads to China, we say goodbye to the hottest WAG of all… Viky Varga’
As an aside, that is the top story on their website right now. On a successful football website. At lunchtime on a Tuesday. Literally top of the website.
It must be said, the Star are not alone in that regard. Proudly sitting atop the football news section of MailOnline is a story titled: ‘Pelle and his girlfriend mobbed by fans in China as he lands after signing £260,000-a-week deal to join top five earners in the world.’ Every mention of Varga within the story is either preceded or followed with a combination of the words ‘model’ and ‘girlfriend’.
They said it changes when The Sun goes down
‘Manchester United and Real Madrid will go head-to-head in what will become a world record pursuit of Paul Pogba’ – by Tom Sheen, July 9
‘Manchester United are on red alert as Real Madrid have officially ended their interest in Juventus star Paul Pogba’ – by Dave Fraser, July 10
‘Paul Pogba will decide in the next days whether to join Manchester United or Real Madrid as he becomes the most expensive player in history…Reports the Spanish giants are out of the race over the weekend were wide of the mark’ – by Antony Kastrinakis, July 12.
Reach for the Sky
A lesson in how to make a positive story seem not so happy, from Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports:
France economy made £1bn from hosting #EURO2016 – probably just about covers wages for the 90,000 police officers, soldiers & stewards
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 11, 2016
It’s almost as if Sky didn’t have the rights to the Euros.
‘Bale was the shock omission from UEFA’s Euros team of the tournament…’ – The Sun.
‘Two Wales stars were named in UEFA’s Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament but surprisingly neither was Gareth Bale’ – Daily Mail.
‘Gareth Bale was a surprise omission from UEFA’s team of the tournament yesterday…’ – Daily Star.
‘UEFA’s team of the tournament includes two Wales players, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey. The judges, including Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Gareth Southgate, did not pick Gareth Bale’ – The Times.
Gareth Bale was integral for Wales in the group stages, albeit limited in open play as his main influence came from free-kicks. He did not score or assist a single goal in the knockout stages, but provided the cross which forced Northern Ireland’s crucial own goal in the last 16. Three players made more tackles, six made more interceptions, five completed more passes, two provided more key passes, and no players was dispossessed more often.
Is there anyone who is truly ‘shocked’ or ‘surprised’ at him not being named ahead of Antoine Griezmann (runner-up, six goals, two assists), Aaron Ramsey (one goal, four assists), Dimitri Payet (runner-up, three goals, two assists) and Cristiano Ronaldo (winner, three goals, two assists)?
Recommended reading of the day
Alex Hess on Euro 2016’s blundering coaches.
David Squires on Portugal winning Euro 2016.