A moment of silence to start, if you will
Failure is a difficult situation to manage. Putting yourself on the line professionally is to take a leap of faith, both in yourself and others. The fall-out from that can be bruising, enough to damage reputations that have taken years to build. One of the key tenets of modern life is that failure sticks in the minds of the masses more than success. It is an uncompromising, cruel world.
You may have enjoyed Manchester United’s Champions League exit on Tuesday evening. You may dislike the club, their players or their manager, and thus delight in their misfortune. You may have enjoyed Jose Mourinho being hoisted by his own petard, and reacting by criticising Manchester United’s own history.
But failure creates as many casualties as it does celebrations. As you whistled on your way to work on Wednesday morning, giggling at the thought of teasing your Manchester United-supporting colleagues, spare a thought for those punched to the ground by such unappetising failure.
Spare a thought for those who rely upon the sustained success of Mourinho’s teams to continue their merry way in journalism.
Spare a thought for those who can no longer turn a blind eye to unarguable failure.
Spare a thought for Duncan Castles. Time to buy that Paris Saint-Germain shirt?
Ignorance is bliss
“I don’t think it’s tricky but I don’t think it’s anything that should really stand in the way is it? You know, where would Sevilla be in the Premier League? Bottom six? Probably?” – Ray Wilkins, Talksport, February 21.
One day, the Old School PFM culture that pervades a layer of English football punditry will learn to accept – and maybe even embrace – that there is a world beyond the end of their noses. And the grass is pretty green there too.
Nothing to see here
The Sun’s Neil Custis is a fan of Jose Mourinho. He’s good for a back-page headline, is generally pretty good value for the media and hasn’t yet called him “fat man”.
Back in August, Custis wrote that Jose Mourinho was targeting a Premier League and FA Cup double and a minimum quarter-final place in the Champions League. That same month, Custis appeared on Sky Sports to explain why Mourinho would be more successful than Pep Guardiola this season:
“I don’t see any progress from last season. I think a lot of players, particularly at the back, don’t know what they’re doing. Whereas Mourinho simplifies football, I think Guardiola overcomplicates it. It just seems very complicated sometimes with what they’re trying to do.
“What I see Mourinho having done, having been around the club and going everywhere with them, is that he’s got the club back. He’s got the spirit back, the relationship back between the club and the fans, the fans and the players. The spirit among the players now, compared to two years ago, is chalk and cheese. In a year, he has got the giant that had fallen asleep back tall and walking again. I just think he’s done a fantastic job there.”
Those words have gone about as well as Manchester United’s Tuesday evening. So now Mourinho has failed to win the Premier League and reach the Champions League quarter-finals, surely Custis has hammered his man? Well, no.
‘Jose Mourinho saw Manchester United crash out of the Champions League after a defensive horror show,’ Custis’ back-page story reads. No mention of the team selection and tactics, Neil?
No. Custis goes on to talk of players lacking desire, and not pushing on the front foot until it was too late. Again, who might be responsible for that?
So who is to blame?
With Jose Mourinho escaping Custis’ censure, a scapegoat is needed. Oddly, Marouane Fellaini, who came off with the score at 0-0, is that scapegoat:
‘ON a night when Manchester United’s European future was at stake they called on a character from Disneyland.
‘On the morning of the game Marouane Fellaini was pictured in a photoshoot with his hair done up like Mickey Mouse.
‘Last night he was being asked not to Donald Duck it up.
‘Whenever his name appears on the teamsheet there is not a high expectation of free-flowing football.
‘You cannot blame it on Fellaini, but he is simply not a Manchester United player.
‘Not at the level they need to get back to where they want to be. There will not be many tears shed if, as looks likely, he sees out his contract and leaves this summer.’
Remind us: Who picked Fellaini for the game, Neil? Or, as David Anderson wrote in the Daily Mirror:
‘Just when Jose Mourinho had silenced his critics by masterminding Saturday’s fine win over Liverpool, he gives them fresh ammunition by Marouane Fellaini.’
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) March 14, 2018
Either that, or you just have a different opinion to Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph.
A bold defence
‘The defeat to Sevilla does not mean United are failing as such. It just means they have failed earlier than expected in a competition they were never expected to win this season’ – Luke Edwards.
Erm, what? Mediawatch agrees that sacking Mourinho now probably isn’t the right thing to do, but ‘they weren’t going to win it anway so who cares what happens?’ is a truly bizarre argument.
So Manchester United could have lost every group game 7-0 and it would have been fine because they weren’t expected to win the competition anyway? And Everton could finish 17th in the Premier League this season, because they weren’t going to win the title anyway.
Mediawatch wonders why Leicester City bothered trying in the Premier League in 2015/16. They were never expected to win it anyw…. Oh.
West Ham had planned a warm-weather training camp in Miami before their home defeat to Burnley on Saturday. They now have a three-week break until their next competitive game, so it makes sense. Newcastle United are just one other club to do the same.
However, with West Ham thrown into shambles on Saturday, The Sun go for the classic ‘How dare they be pictured not crying after that?’ hatchet piece.
‘West Ham stars including Andy Carroll and Mark Noble enjoy Miami sun as club face relegation battle,’ reads the headline. Mediawatch enjoys the insinuation that West Ham are having to play a home game with no players because they’ve all buggered off.
‘RELEGATION-THREATENED West Ham stars soak up the Miami sun just days after fan chaos engulfed the London Stadium and with the club in crisis.’
‘David Moyes whisked his flops 4,500 miles away from the capital after their dismal 3-0 meltdown at the hands of Burnley last Saturday.’
We never want to read the phrase ‘Moyes whisked his flops’ again.
‘Now supporters were posing for selfies with the players as Joe Hart was seen slapping sun cream on the back of Declan Rice.’
The bastard. How can you hope to stay up if you aren’t brave enough to get sunstroke?
From the shadows, lifted
‘Nemanja Matic lifts the lid on what happened in Manchester United dressing room after Sevilla shocker’ – Daily Mirror.
Mediawatch enjoys this type of insight. We rarely see behind the curtain into the dynamics of an elite football club, so the headline grabbed us. ‘Lifts the lid’ hints at some interesting nuggets of information. Strap in.
“We know the supporters are sad because of the result, we are sad too and we have to go back to winning ways and I hope the team reaction will be good.
“We are not happy because we are out of the Champions League but this is football and we have to focus on the FA Cup and focus for the league but we have to say congratulations to Sevilla, they played really well and they deserved to go through.
“There is no excuse, we had a big game against Liverpool, we won and we came in to this game with high confidence. But they played better than us and they deserved it.
“We have to be focused on the game against Brighton because they are a good team and we have to win and we have to give everything to try and go through.”
“We have to forget this, to see where we made mistakes and what we have to to do better, Saturday is a new game and life goes on and this is football so we have to accept that.”
Oh. Now we really know ‘what happened in the dressing room’.
You’ve got to hide your love away
Wednesday, 5am – Romelu Lukaku clarifies his comments from Tuesday night about Manchester United players ‘hiding’:
‘Never will I criticise my teammates! Hiding your face when you’re upset in the dressing room is normal. The result is terrible but we’re Manchester United we will bounce back for sure with your support! Another big game coming up time to prepare for that one! 200 Goals now in my young career but it’s time to add trophies in my career. Time to work even harder.’
'Some players were hiding'
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 14, 2018
Truth? Meh. Accuracy? Who cares.
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