What a load of sheet
Roberto Martinez was at a loss to explain Everton’s defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday. But he did give it a go:
“It was a game that probably turned with the two actions that we didn’t defend well enough in the period of three minutes before half-time. We lost concentration.
“In that period we gave a soft cushion of two goals which became a massive blow.
“We forgot to defend the box and gave them a soft two-goal lead.”
That’ll happen when you openly base your ‘philosophy’ on “winning games, not keeping clean sheets”. At least one of them would suffice.
Pounds vs points
‘It was good but it is just not Tottenham,’ begins the match report from Neil Custis of The Sun on Manchester United’s victory over Crystal Palace. Louis van Gaal’s best mate was unsurprisingly unimpressed despite a comfortable midweek cruise for the Dutchman’s side.
‘There was an air of apathy about Old Trafford. This game was just so easy, even for this United team,’ writes Custis. His report includes such lines as ‘Palace were not particularly bothered’, ‘this looked like one of those all-star charity games’, ‘it was a bit low key all round’ and ‘you cannot even sense much excitement for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final’.
You would be forgiven for forgetting United have won five of their last six games. You would also be forgiven for thinking that Custis is not too happy at the prospect of having to lose 26 pounds before the end of the season.
That man is not done there. ‘United fans snubbed Louis van Gaal by staying away from Old Trafford in their droves,’ reads the The Sun‘s back-page snippet for their match report. ‘United fans just want the season to end, which probably explains the number of empty seats last night,’ Custis writes. ‘It was still a 75,408 crowd…’
Granted, that attendance is based only on tickets sold. But ‘droves’? Really?
Anything for a good ‘snub’.
All Barkley, no bite
Everton were not very good in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday. No-one claims this as an exclusive, for it is an accepted fact. Indeed, it was one of five things Dominic King of the Daily Mail learned at Anfield. He writes:
‘It was no surprise when, just before the hour, the No 10 flickered up on the substitute’s board and Ross Barkley trudged off. He had been off the pace all night and the diamond Everton’s fans sing about was subjected to some gleeful derision as he swapped places with Cleverley.’
Indeed, Ian Ladyman does not make a single mention of the England international in his match report. But inches to the right of King’s lessons are his Mail colleague Jack Gaughan’s player ratings. Barkley receives a six out of ten, with Joel Robles the only one of his teammates ranking higher. ‘A rare bright spark – the one capable of opening Liverpool up. Others not on his wavelength.’
Were they all at the same game?
Keep the faith
‘Even if Stones does not do well then Roy Hodgson should stick with him for the Euros this summer. He has to be given his head; he has to be in the team’ – Jason Burt, Daily Telegraph, March 28.
Stones is sure testing that principle…
Smack Bilic up
With Roberto Martinez’s position as Everton manager verging towards untenable, the Daily Telegraph thankfully provide us with the ten bosses who could replace the Spaniard at Goodison Park.
David Moyes? Unlikely, but maybe. Fair enough.
Jurgen Klinsmann? Heavily linked; could be an option.
Marcelo Bielsa? An outsider, but again, not out of the question.
Slaven Bilic? Wait, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic? West Ham, a side in sixth place and chasing Champions League qualification? And Bilic will leave to join a side scrapping away in the bottom half after one year at Upton Park?
‘An unlikely option,’ writes someone wisely not brave enough to attribute their name, ‘but one which would please Evertonians no end.’
Of course it f***ing would. Bilic seems like quite a good manager just one year into a three-year contract at a much better club.
‘Bilic remains a legend at Goodison Park after his playing days, and his single season at West Ham has proven he has what it takes to fulfil the ambitions of an upwardly mobile club – something which Everton certainly are.’
Is Bilic an Everton ‘legend’? He played 28 Premier League games for the club across two seasons, with injuries and suspensions sidelining him for much of his spell. Everton website ToffeeWeb even claims that a four-month spell of recovery after the 1998 World Cup ‘turned Everton fans against Bilic’. The same website says the Croatian’s time out ‘became a protracted sad joke,’ and that Everton ‘finally realised the fiscal impact of paying him £27,000 a week for another 3 years, and decided to cut their losses’. Sounds remarkably ‘legendary’.
The Telegraph piece continues: ‘It is highly unlikely that Bilic could be persuaded to swap East End for Gwaldys Street End.’
Perfect reasoning to include a man with longer odds of replacing Martinez than Luiz Felipe Scolari, Harry Redknapp and Phil Neville on a list of the ‘top ten contenders’, then.
Martin Blackburn is not at all happy in The Sun on Thursday. He is asking why Sergio Aguero has never been named PFA Player of the Year.
It’s a fair question. Aguero recently became the second fastest man to reach 100 Premier League goals. He has fired City to two Premier League titles. He is one of a handful of truly world-class players in the English top flight.
But Mediawatch cannot quite envisage Manchester City club officials being ‘outraged’ by Aguero’s lack of award. Scoring those goals is probably more important.
‘Mirror Sport understands Ozil is close to penning a new deal which will take him up to £160,000-a-week with big add-ons. Sanchez has also held negotiations on a similar contract’ – Daily Mirror, April 21.
‘Arsenal are facing a battle to persuade Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil to sign contract extensions at the Emirates Stadium with talks over new deals being placed on hold until the summer’ – The Times, April 19.
All of the below are headlines on The Metro‘s website as of Thursday lunchtime:
‘Has this Liverpool insider just confirmed the club is set for £700m takeover?’
The ‘Liverpool insider’ is Linda Pizzuti, wife of club owner John W. Henry. She tweeted that Liverpool ‘has been an exciting club’, before later correcting her mistake.
‘Done deal: Man United seal signing of class defender with leadership qualities’
Hands up who had Lee O’Connor, a 15-year-old signed from Waterford United, in mind.
‘Revealed: Former England international ‘passed away’ after drug and drink binge’
Just make sure you leave out the part where Paul Gascoigne, y’know, survived.
Well, that’s not right…
— Football365 (@F365) April 21, 2016
Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on the contrast between Klopp and Benitez
Paolo Bandini on Francesco Totti
Jack Rodway on Athletic Bilbao’s early years