14 questions for The Sun and The Times after their Hillsborough non-coverage are here…
One of the six (six? take that, five) things that the Daily Mirror’s David McDonnell ‘learned’ from Manchester City’s game with Real Madrid is that Cristiano Ronaldo has big ideas of himself. We know, we were shocked too.
Yet Mediawatch can’t help feel some sympathy with Ronaldo, who was hardly running onto the pitch during the game, flexing his latissimus dorsi muscles in a quest to become the centre of attention.
‘Ronaldo never misses a photo op,’ McDonnell begins. ‘He may have been ruled out, but Cristiano Ronaldo still made sure he took centre stage pre-game. He sat on the Madrid bench in club attire, extravagant headphones glued to his ears, glum-faced over his enforced absence, making sure the world knew just how dismayed he was at missing the game.’
He sat on the bench AND looked glum-faced at missing a Champions League semi-final? The self-centred b*stard.
Note: If one of the things you learned about a Champions League semi-final was about someone not even in the matchday squad sat down and looked, it’s probably not him making it the story.
Hart of darkness
The Times are guiltier of far worse crimes on Wednesday morning but if your headline is ‘Hart stands tall to keep City’s Euro dream alive’ and Henry Winter’s match report describes one of his saves as ‘extraordinary’ and claims he is ‘one of the world’s best keepers’, we would humbly suggest that you should award him more than 6/10. Yes, Paul Hirst apparently believes Hart was the equal-worst Manchester City player on the pitch against Real Madrid.
Next time, Henry; lean across and have a word.
Labour of love
Over to the Daily Mail and the headline on page 76 is ‘Bale labours as Real cry out for Ronaldo magic’.
On page 77 Martin Keown awards Bale 7.5, exactly the same as ‘STAR MAN’ Joe Hart.
One tiny difference
Robbie Savage sees a correlation between the success of Leicester City and Wales, telling The Sun: “Never did I think in my lifetime I would see Wales qualify for a major tournament and see Leicester finish in a Champions League spot, never mind win the league, so it’s two incredible stories.
“I think the key to Wales’ success is that they’re all good lads and it’s the same for Leicester.”
Well, that and the world’s most expensive footballer who scored seven of their 11 goals in qualifying.
So yes, exactly the same.
Drawing a Blanc
Neil Custis is in The Sun with yet another Manchester United ‘exclusive’ about Laurent Blanc making a ‘secret trip to Old Trafford recently’. Is he exclusively paying £15 a year for his subscription to Red Issue?
We reported on April 19th recent Blanc appearance at OT with his rep in tow on non-matchday. Full details are at https://t.co/GvhEdL0tA9
— Red Issue (@RedIssue) April 26, 2016
‘So, what does the manager do in England’s new plan…cut the oranges?’ is the not-at-all inflammatory headline on Martin Samuel’s Daily Mail column. Yes, he’s angry about change.
‘It is no wonder the FA seem very relaxed about any potential successor to Roy Hodgson,’ Samuel begins. ‘By the time the new technical department has finished with its latest England DNA project, what will be left for the next man to do?
‘Coach? Oh, don’t be so old-fashioned. The last thing the FA seems to want these days is a manager with designs on running a team. This is the march of the teachers, the technicians, the analysts and advisers. The FA have finally got football the way they want it. Sweaty blokes with opinions are out, smooth tracksuit-clad experts with computers, clipboards and offices at St George’s Park are in.’
‘What will these coaches do? This is where it gets interesting. They do what the manager and his staff once did, affecting every junior level from Under-15 to Under-21. All will be given a specialist ‘in-possession’ and ‘out-of-possession’ coach. Quite what this leaves for the manager is hard to say, every team being either in-possession or out-of-possession once a game begins, even when the ball is dead. What separates an ‘in-possession’ coach from an ‘out-of-possession’ coach? Hard to say. Most would argue that the two go hand-in-hand. Pep Guardiola, for instance, is said to work hard on the time it takes to win back the ball. This doesn’t mean, however, that he leaves others to work out what players must do once that happens.’
Sorry Martin, but we have to stop you there. We know there’s more, a lot more in fact. So sorry, but a few things.
Firstly, this ‘England DNA’ is a move to overhaul the way the youth teams train, creating a conveyor belt and identity through each age group. It is similar in style, if not quite execution, to the plan effected by the German FA. A bloody successful plan.
Secondly, The Football Association can’t really win can they? People spend years grumbling about the same old England, left behind while other countries breeze past them in the outside lane, and then continue to grumble when changes are implemented. Rather than cry foul from the start, why not, y’know, give it a chance?
Furthermore, using Pep Guardiola as a poster boy against delegation is ludicrous. This is a coach who, at Bayern, has a personal assistant, two assistant coaches, three fitness coaches, three video analysts (boooo!), a cardiologist, six physiotherapists and a nutrition adviser, all to deal with the club’s first team. If none of those sound like ‘sweaty blokes with opinions’ then, well…
Finally, and to answer Samuel’s question, Roy Hodgson (or whoever his replacement may be) will pick the team, oversee training and issue team talks, like an…erm, manager. Particularly as these new coaching roles only apply to the teams between U15 and U21 age groups anyway, not the senior team.
Slight difference of opinion
‘Nigel Pearson closing on Aston Villa job after holding second round of talks with crisis club’ – Daily Mirror.
‘EXCLUSIVE: Celtic set to beat Aston Villa to Nigel Pearson appointment’ – Daily Express.
At 12pm on Wednesday April 27, this was the top headline on the MailOnline football page:
‘Rated at £100m, wanted by Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of the European elite. So, was letting Pogba leave Manchester United on a free transfer Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst decision?’
Possibly. But why the f*** are you asking us now?
The even bigger story
At 12pm on Wednesday April 27, this was the top headline on the Daily Telegraph football page:
‘The Premier League’s 25 oldest players ever.’
Some unnamed grunt writes: ‘Stoke City goalkeeper Shay Given joined the ranks of the Premier League’s oldest ever players over the weekend. Where does he rank in the top 25 oldest ever players to appear in the league? Let’s find out.’
To save yourself a lot of clicks…it’s 16th.
Ifs, buts and maybes
The Daily Star website bring us ‘Arsenal’s XI next season if Diego Simeone takes over’.
Why stop there? What if Tim Sherwood takes over at Manchester United? What if Nigel Pearson takes the reins at Real Madrid?
For the record, he would apparently buy Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And entirely forget about the existence of Santi Cazorla. They know him so well.
Expert of the day
When asked who Arsenal should sign this summer, Ray Parlour – who declared Anthony Martial a ‘miss’ before the start of the season without ever seeing him play – said: “Robert Lewandowski, if they can get him. Someone of that calibre.
“Ideally you want players that are 25 or 26 but sometimes you don’t get opportunities for that.”
But you can get a 27-year-old striker who has scored 27 Bundesliga goals this season and is preparing to play in a Champions League semi-final? He’ll just have to do.
Suggestion of the day
Headline on the Metro: ‘Pictures suggest Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli could be banned for the rest of the season after apparent punch v West Brom.’
Pictures? We suspect the FA charge is the real hint.
Insistence of the day
According to the Daily Mirror: ‘JAN KIRCHHOFF insists Sunderland are favourites to beat relegation’.
Why ‘insist’? Why not just look at the odds?
Recommended reading of the day
David Conn on Hillsborough
Tim Rich on Shakhtar Donetsk
Iain Macinstosh on Leicester and Leicester City
Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotter Steve Wilson