Writes Richard Tanner in the first paragraph of his match report on Real Madrid’s win over Manchester City for the Daily Express: ‘Joe Hart admitted Manchester City did not do enough to deserve a place in the Champions League final.’
Actual quotes from Hart: “We could easily be in the final. They managed the game well but they have beaten us with a lucky goal.”
Not guilty, your honour.
Toure of strength
Yaya Toure was not very good for City away at Real on Wednesday evening. He registered no shots, made no tackles, made no clearances, and ran approximately 3.2 metres.
The Daily Mirror were not impressed, no siree. Ed Malyon hands the Ivorian a 3/10 in his match ratings. ‘Neither supported Aguero or helped in defence. Bypassed by Kroos and Modric,’ he writes.
The Times were slightly more lenient, handing Toure a 4/10. ‘Looked unfit and lasted only an hour,’ writes Joseph Cassinelli.
Next are the Daily Mail, who rate Toure at 5.5/10. Martin Keown believes the midfielder was ‘playing on one leg at times’, and ‘limped through the match’.
Last, but most certainly not least, are The Sun. Neil Ashton takes to his match report to criticise the 32-year-old’s performance. ‘You have to wonder what boss Pellegrini was thinking when he decided to play Yaya Toure in the centre of midfield,’ he writes.
‘Quite how he managed to stay on for 61 minutes is beyond belief. Toure stunk the place out.’
At the end of Ashton’s report sits the Sun’s Dream Team ratings, compiled using Opta data. They hand Toure a 6/10. Bacary Sagna and Kevin de Bruyne were the only teammates who scored higher.
Bloody Opta data (or what you do with it).
Intro the wild
‘Just call it the BernaBALE Stadium,’ writes Antony Kastrinakis for The Sun.
No. Because that sounds silly.
Metr-oh for fu…
It’s Thursday lunchtime; what do you feel is the biggest football story of the day?
Is it the fallout of Manchester City’s feeble Champions League exit, and how Pep Guardiola’s arrival will transform them?
Is it the upcoming Europa League semi-final second leg between Liverpool and Villarreal, a tie which hangs in the balance?
Is it the latest chapter of the Leicester fairytale?
No. It is in fact ‘Twitter expertly trolls Ronaldo for slam dunk during Real Madrid v Man City,’ a story which sits atop The Metro‘s website at Thursday lunchtime.
All together now: He had been given offside.
Make your minds up
‘Exclusive: Jose Mourinho holds talks with Manchester United as Louis van Gaal is on his way out of Old Trafford’ – The Sun, December 20.
‘Exclusive: Jose Mourinho to Manchester United all but agreed – the final decision on sacking Louis van Gaal is now down to the Glazers’ – The Sun, December 22.
‘Exclusive: Jose Mourinho’s first move as Man United manager would be to sign Wesley Sneijder’ – The Sun, December 23.
‘Exclusive: Mauricio Pochettino could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of becoming Manchester United’s next manager. SunSport understands United chiefs have spoken to representatives of the Tottenham boss about succeeding Louis van Gaal’ – The Sun, February 8.
‘Jose Mourinho could take over Manchester United this month as board lose faith in Louis van Gaal’ – The Sun, February 14.
‘Jose Mourinho agrees three-year deal to become Manchester United manager’ – The Sun, February 24.
‘As SunSport exclusively revealed, the Portuguese has been offered a £60million deal to take over from Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford’ – The Sun, March 26.
‘Exclusive: SunSport understands serious discussions have been ongoing for more than a month about Jose Mourinho becoming the master of the Mestalla [Valencia coach]’ – The Sun, March 31.
‘Exclusive: Jose Mourinho asked by Manchester United bosses to wait a year before taking Old Trafford hotseat’ – The Sun, May 5.
More leaks than Henry and Liza’s bucket.
Phil Cadden is the man behind the latest exclusive from The Sun on Mourinho’s move to Manchester United, which is now legally required to be described as ‘protracted’.
‘Jose Mourinho has now been asked by Manchester United bosses to wait a YEAR for the Old Trafford hotseat,’ Cadden writes.
He should perhaps have shared the news with his colleagues. Particularly Neil Custis, who is presumably annoyed at someone stepping on his ‘Mourinho to United exclusive’ turf.
‘Manchester United have told Jose Mourinho the Old Trafford job is his next season after advanced talks,’ wrote Custis last Thursday. ‘Jose Mourinho has been assured in the last 48 hours that he will be Manchester United’s new boss.’
Too many sources spoil the meal.
Excuse me, sir
Gordon Taylor wants every member of Leicester’s Premier League title-winning squad to be honoured with knighthoods. Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor.
“It goes beyond football what they’ve done,” says Taylor, missing the fact that it literally does not go beyond football. “It remains to be seen if the choice to add them to the honours list comes from The Cabinet, but I would hope so. As football goes it’s probably, in my lifetime, one of the finest achievements I’ve seen.
“Special success stories come from different areas of life. Leicester have shown that sport and football are a very important part of the fabric of this country. They give hope to any team who think they can never make it to top.
“There are inspirational stories from every team member, I could name them all.”
Sir Jamie Vardy. Sir Danny Simpson. Sir Andy King. Sir Demarai Gray – a 19-year-old with no starts and ten substitute appearances. Sir Gokhan Inler, with his three Premier League starts. Sir Yohan Benalouane, who has featured for 66 minutes of this campaign. Mediawatch cannot see a problem with granting knighthoods to “every team member”.
“They deserve all the credit they can get. The sum of their whole is so much greater than the individuals. That’s what football and life is all about – being a team.”
What better way to reward “being a team” than individual recognition?
Liverpool face Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final second leg at Anfield on Thursday. Many newspapers have predicted their line-up for the clash. The Daily Mail foresee just one change: Emre Can in for Joe Allen. The Daily Express predict two: Can for Allen, and Daniel Sturridge in for Lucas Leiva. The Daily Star believe the Reds will be unchanged from last week’s defeat.
The Daily Mirror? Well, the Daily Mirror disagree. They believe that Kolo Toure will be dropped for Emre Can, who will play in central defence. That is Emre Can, who would be returning from injury in his first game for three weeks after returning to training on Monday. Emre Can, a central midfielder who has never played in central defence under Jurgen Klopp, and whose last game in that position came in October.
Not content with that, they also predict that Sturridge will indeed be reinstated to the starting line-up at Anfield after sitting on the substitutes’ bench in Spain. Only Klopp will play the England international on the left-hand side in a 4-2-3-1, with Roberto Firmino the central striker. Hmm…
(Mediawatch is now fully prepared for Emre Can to start in central defence with Daniel Sturridge scoring a hat-trick from out wide on Thursday evening, and we’ll say sorry for as much.)
‘Why Leicester FC’s Claudio Ranieri is a better manager than Jose Mourinho, according to SCIENCE,’ reads the headline on the MailOnline website. As ever, if a word is capitalised, ensure you shout it when reading it aloud.
So, what is the SCIENCE behind drawing such a conclusion? Two psychologists have given Ryan O’Hare all of the answers. He is a lucky boy.
Professor Stephen Reicher of the University of St Andrews tells us: ‘Ultimately, Claudio Ranieri’s redemption follows a trajectory from ‘I’ to ‘we’. From his first day as Leicester manager he was keen to make it clear that it was not he who was special, but the team and league that he had come to serve.’
O’Hare adds that ‘this attitude marks a stark departure from imposing an iron-will on teams, an approach favoured by many managers including former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who was labelled ‘the Special One’.
And there you have it: SCIENCE has concluded that Claudio Ranieri ‘is a better manager’ than Jose Mourinho. SCIENCE unfortunately does not legislate for Ranieri’s one Premier League, one Super Cup, one Copa del Rey and one Coppa Italia among ten career trophies, nor Mourinho’s three Premier Leagues, two Serie As, one La Liga and two Champions League titles among 22 career trophies. But then Ranieri says ‘we’ and not ‘I’ in his press conferences.
Sniping left-wing bore
Mediawatch presents the following tweet without comment:
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 5, 2016
Almost without comment: The Sun are silly sods.
‘Mousa Dembele faces 10-match ban if found guilty of eye-gouging Diego Costa’ – The Sun, May 4.
‘Tottenham star Mousa Dembele could miss start of next season with midfielder facing potential SEVEN-match ban for violent conduct against Chelsea’ – Daily Mail, May 5.
‘Mousa Dembele facing six-match ban for Costa gouge… Spurs and Chelsea face mega fines’ – Daily Star, May 5.
‘Mousa Dembélé could be banned for more than three matches for his part in the ‘Battle at the Bridge’ – The Times, May 4.
‘Mousa Dembélé and Érik Lamela can expect three-match bans for violent conduct when the FA reviews footage of incidents that the officials did not see’ – The Times, May 3.
Commiserations to Dembele for his ten-game/seven-game/six-game/more-than-three-game/three-game ban.
More ridiculous headlines from far more successful websites
‘Man Utd complete four signings: The secret transfers agreed that club haven’t announced’ – Daily Star.
– a) Do you know what ‘secret’ means? And b) how many clubs announce the signing of four teenagers to their youth development squads with a fanfare?
‘Mousa Dembele ban: Tottenham star’s season is over after FA charge, says Harry Redknapp’ – London Evening Standard.
– Thanks for the scoop, Harry.
‘Revealed: Mata explains how Man Utd can still catch Arsenal and Man City’ – Metro.
– The ‘revelation’ that Mata kindly ‘explains’ for us is that Arsenal and Man City play each other at the weekend, and so at least one team must drop points, allowing United to close the gap on one or both of them. This is information only Juan Mata can provide.
‘Mousa Dembele has been charged with violent conduct for gouging Diego Costa.’
Thanks to Mark Irwin of The Sun, as Mediawatch now has a terrible mental image that will be difficult to shift. There is a reason everyone is referring to it as ‘eye-gouging’.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 5, 2016
Leicester are evidently a strong team unit, but sharing a Mercedes between 21 people? Shinji Okazaki can have it from 6am-4pm on Mondays, but he’ll have to remember to put Nathan Dyer’s booster seat in when the winger takes it from half four until Tuesday morning.
Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe on Denis Suarez.
James Horncastle on Luca Toni.
Archie Rhind-Tutt on Julian Brandt.