The official statement
One of the most difficult aspects of refereeing is that each incident is only seen once, in real-time, often from a distance. Decisions are then replayed multiple times after the incident in order to victimise said referee with the benefit of glorious hindsight.
And so to Graham Poll in the Daily Mail and Mark Halsey in The Sun, former referees wheeled out to discuss Michael Oliver’s performance in Bournemouth vs Arsenal and paid to do so. Nice work if you can get it. At least with the benefit of infinite replays, they can agree:
‘Michael Oliver got two key decisions wrong – especially the red card for Bournemouth captain Simon Francis. The challenge was not dangerous and it did not endanger the player’s safety. It was a challenge worthy of a yellow card’ – Halsey.
‘Oliver finished the game with another correct call as he dismissed Simon Francis for an over-the-top challenge on Ramsey. Overall a very composed display – well done, Michael’ – Poll.
Oh. All we’re asking for is consistency.
And while we’re on that issue
The Daily Mail take a one-page spread to tell their readers that Mike Dean used to do ballroom dancing, calling him ‘the former dancing champion so often at the centre of controversy’ in the headline to the piece.
THE FACT THAT MIKE DEAN HAS – OR, MORE EXACTLY, HAD – A HOBBY IS NOT IMPORTANT.
Another day, and another round of Guardiola-bashing in the newspapers. It’s hardly a surprise after his moody, tetchy interview after the victory over Burnley.
However, while we’re not shocked Manchester City’s manager is coming in for flak, Mediawatch can’t help but think that The Sun’s Dave Kidd has been a little bit one-eyed:
‘Spoilt by gilded inheritances at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola is struggling with the greater challenge of improving City, even in a Premier League in which 12 to 14 of the teams are not actually very good.’
That’s one way of selling the Premier League, Dave. Another way is to say that the current top six is stronger than it has ever been, and therefore finishing in the top four has never been a harder challenge.
Having been told all summer that Guardiola was going to struggle in a far harder league than he’s used to, we’re now told that he’s struggling in a league with mostly poor clubs. The man can’t catch a break.
Twist the facts
Sticking with Dave Kidd, and some wonderful data-massaging in order to criticise the Premier League. Here’s Kidd’s dig:
‘England’s top flight is currently the most predictable and least competitive of Europe’s major leagues. At the halfway stage, the gap between first and seventh places in the Premier League was a whopping 22 points, compared to 16 in France, 14 in Germany, 12 in Italy and 11 in Spain.’
Two things to mention on that ‘fact’:
1) Kidd has chosen points from first to seventh place as the critical factor in determining competition, which seems a bit weird. Had he chosen the top six places, the Premier League gap would have been less than France. Had he chosen the top five, it would have been less than the Bundesliga too. Doesn’t six title challengers indicate that competition for the title is quite strong?
2) The Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A have still not reached the half-way point, so how on earth does Kidd know the gap between teams in those leagues at the halfway stage? La Liga clubs have played 16 matches and Premier League clubs 19; he’s comparing different things.
Excuse me, miss
One of Mediawatch’s favourite new developments is the MailOnline’s ‘things you missed’ from a Premier League match.
Cynics among you might assume that this is merely a progression of the ‘five things we learned’ phenomena, but that isn’t the case. On Wednesday morning, MailOnline’s football homepage boasted ‘Five things we learned from Arsenal v Bournemouth’ and ‘Seven things you missed’ on the same game. That’s lots of things.
The insinuation is that you watched the game, but might have failed to spot these little nuggets. Let’s see, shall we?
– Bournemouth have risen under Eddie Howe.
No, we haven’t missed that. It’s been quite widely publicised. For eight years.
– Arsenal’s defence was disorganised.
No, we didn’t miss that either. They went 3-0 down.
– Arsenal are struggling in midfield.
No, we saw that too.
– Granit Xhaka wasn’t very good
Bit of a theme developing here.
– ‘Lucas Perez’s volley did not so much channel Marco van Basten as make you assume Van Basten himself was on the field.’
Okay, you got us: we assumed it was Perez. Although Mediawatch does distinctly remember Van Basten using his right foot.
– Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey had an argument.
Good to get back on track. We didn’t miss that.
– Olivier Giroud’s celebration.
Six out of seven. We’ll take it.
A new high for vacuous content
‘Spurs vs Chelsea, rating the players: Whose starting XI has the edge?’ – Daily Telegraph.
– Arbitrary marks out of ten for players? Check.
– Collating those into an equally arbitrary team ranking? Check. We do have another way of ranking teams: the league table.
– Insight such as ‘Hugo Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League’ and ‘Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s main creative outlet’? Check.
– A 24-page gallery, each with its own unique page URL and so getting 24 clicks for the price of one? Check.
Pjanic on the street of…oh forget it
Arsenal transfer rumours: 'Arsene Wenger targeting Miralem Pjanic as Santi Cazorla's replacement' https://t.co/GgoGNtqtQr
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) January 4, 2017
That Daily Telegraph tweet as sent at 10.20am on Wednesday and is high on the Telegraph football homepage on Wednesday lunchtime. It links to a webpage which purports to contain ‘Arsenal transfer news’. As the tweet says, the headline news is that Arsene Wenger wants Miralem Pjanic:
‘Arsene Wenger is apparently interested in Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic as a replacement for long-term injury concern Santi Cazorla, who is struggling with a chronic Achilles problem. Reports claim Wenger has even called Pjanic.’
By ‘reports’, the Telegraph mean ‘we read The Sun’s website two days ago, used it yesterday and then again today in order to try and desperately sell no news as news’.
Remember when the Daily Telegraph had some shame?
Through the Metro filter
“I don’t like this question. Don’t hit me with these questions about my future because for players like Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Leo] Messi or [Gareth] Bale nobody asks them what is going to happen next year or where they are going to play.”
*Through the Metro filter*
‘Griezmann mentions Man Utd legend in WILD rant about Old Trafford transfer.’
God bless you guys.
— Sky Football ⚽️ (@SkyFootball) January 4, 2017
Yes, it was eight months ago.
Non-sequitur of the day
‘Pep Guardiola’s salary is more than 100 times larger than that of a Government minister’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Iain Macintosh on Mike Dean.
Jack Pitt-Brooke on Tottenham’s full-backs.
Michael Butler on Claude Makelele.