You have to feel for the Daily Mirror’s chief football writer John Cross. At some point over the last few days, he received an email from one of his editors asking for his thoughts on Arsenal’s summer for a feature on Manchester City’s title rivals. No problem there.
Cross said that Arsenal should try and keep Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin and should sell Shkodran Mustafi. Cross offered his opinion (and crucially it was only his opinion) that Arsenal should target goalkeeper Bernd Leno, central defender Jonny Evans and central midfielder Kerem Demirbay.
Cross then said that Arsene Wenger should leave the club this summer: ‘They need to replace Wenger with a younger, more vibrant manager. I think Joachim Low, Leonardo Jardim, Brendan Rodgers and Mikel Arteta are all on their shortlist.’
Cross’ thoughts are presented in the paper as part of that feature, but what of the online version? Surely they wouldn’t stitch up their chief football writer and put words in his mouth with their click-tastic headline?
‘Arsenal’s summer ahead previewed: Who stays, who leaves and who Arsene Wenger will target in transfer market.’
Apart from the fact that Cross was only offering his opinion, not what Arsenal would do – and he doesn’t even think Wenger should stay – you’ve absolutely nailed it.
Exclusive: Manchester City to buy players
Mediawatch thinks that the Daily Mirror’s back-page headline of ‘Reality Cheque’ is worth standing to applaud, but we were amused that Pep Guardiola planning to spend ‘up to £200m’ this summer is being labelled as an exclusive. And there we were thinking that Manchester City would follow their title victory by signing precisely nobody.
Said back page also does a fine job of telling us exactly who Manchester City will sign:
‘City are set to splash out on Shakhtar’s Fred, Nice’s Jean-Michael Seri, Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld and Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez.’
The problem is, we’re not even sure if the piece’s author David McDonnell is fully committed to that list. By the fifth and sixth paragraphs, ‘Guardiola could resurrect his £60m bid’ for Mahrez and Alderweireld could ‘potentially follow his former teammate Kyle Walker’.
Sounds like ‘set to splash out on’ is already being scaled back to a big fat ‘could’.
Escort him off the premises
Writes Stan Collymore in the Daily Mirror, on Liverpool’s defending:
‘Back in December, I described Liverpool as a Ferrari up front and a misfiring Escort at the back. They were a side with great style but little substance. That changed in January, though, with the signing of Virgil van Dijk.’
This is the same Van Dijk about whom you wrote in January:
‘The £75million Liverpool have paid for Virgil van Dijk is absolutely obscene. What the Reds have done is buy a good, but nowhere near proven, Premier League defender.’
And the same Liverpool about whom you wrote in February:
‘Jurgen Klopp is taking Liverpool back in time – but not in a good way. Remember the days when Newcastle United were everyone’s second-favourite team 20-odd years ago? Of course, neither Keegan nor Reds boss Klopp pay anything like the attention they should to defence.
‘They have become increasingly desperate on the Kop – and no wonder, because all I keep seeing is Klopp defend the indefensible… Any supporter who thinks the signing of Virgil van Dijk for £75million is going to cure all their ills is living on another planet.’
And the same Liverpool about whom you wrote in March:
‘The one thing Jurgen Klopp has never proven is that he can put out a team to defend and get clean sheets on the spin. I think that until he addresses the defensive weaknesses in the way he puts teams out I think it would be right to question somebody that’s on whatever he’s on.’
By April 17, ‘Liverpool changed in January with the signing of Van Dijk’. Shame it took you three months to get on board.
Writes Martin Blackburn in The Sun on Pep Guardiola and Manchester City:
‘As his friends know, with Guardiola the highs are very high but, equally the lows are very low and he had some serious thinking to do. City had finished the season with four straight wins to at least guarantee a Champions League spot, but he had wanted – and expected – more from the season.
‘Just two days after the final game came another trauma for Guardiola as his wife and daughters were caught up in the Manchester Arena attack. They were attending the ill-fated Ariana Grande concert which saw 22 people killed by a suicide bomber.
‘Yet rather than let the tragic events of May 22, 2017 affect him and his family, Guardiola has embraced life in Manchester all the more since then.’
Erm. Firstly, Mediawatch is not sure that the Manchester terror attack has played much of a role in Manchester City’s title win, and suggesting otherwise is frankly a little odd.
Secondly, calling the death of 22 people ‘another trauma’ after finishing fourth in the Premier league is a pretty mental conflation of two entirely unrelated events.
It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means: The Sun’s football homepage moves its focus even further away from actual football. Enter: Jon Boon. Exit: Journalistic integrity.
‘Lamborghini Urus: The incredible car Premier League footballers are queuing up for but won’t be able to drive till next Spring,’ reads the headline. Yes, this sure sounds football-related.
‘IT’S the new expensive motor that the world’s best footballers are clamouring to buy, but it won’t be easy to nab. The Lamborghini Urus has been dubbed the world’s first “Super SUV” because it boasts a weight-to-power ratio akin to a supercar.’
We literally have no idea what that last line means. Can you put in booster seats for kids?
‘But, the Premier League’s elite may have a long wait before they can speed off in this £165k Lambo. In fact, only around 1,000 Urus cars have been produced by the Italian car makers and more may not be available till next Spring.
‘Richard Clark, owner of Bournemouth showroom Premier Sports Solutions, says it is already the next must-have motor for Premier League footballers.’
Well who would have thunk it. It’s only bloody Richard Clark, Clarky, Dicky, the Clarkmeister. He’s the new football correspondent whose view we all need. As you may remember.
Mediawatch is amused/appalled by the whole thing, but by far our favourite line was this:
“Without a doubt, footballers love to see cars before they buy them.”
The bloody weirdos.
Hint: If your piece twice includes references to ‘Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound and 1,700 watt output’ and ‘a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine, which delivers 650bhp as well as 850Nm of torque’, just admit it’s a bloody advert and put it lower down than the fourth biggest story on your football homepage. It’s embarrassing.
From the Daily Mirror’s match report on West Ham vs Stoke:
‘Referee Michael Oliver, who gave Real Madrid a controversial late penalty against Juventus in the Champions League last week, enjoyed another busy night as he disallowed three second-half West Ham goals.’
‘Referee Michael Oliver, who made a correct decision last week, made three more correct decisions.’
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on Manchester City’s celebrations.
Ed Aarons with Frank Nouble.
Miguel Delaney on Manchester United’s attack.
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