Mediawatch: He sent e-mails? Hang him…

Date published: Monday 23rd May 2016 12:21

Get your tits out for the Ludds
As detailed here, the press pack have clearly been given a whole host of details about Louis van Gaal’s reign designed to make him look even sillier before the inevitable sack. Our favourite – of course – is the offering of The Sun’s Neil Ashton, who promises  details of ‘bizarre management methods’ and then tells us that Memphis Depay turned up to an Under-21 game in a Rolls-Royce and Matteo Darmian cannot boil an egg. Presumably Van Gaal is guilty by association and should have done due diligence on his signings. What kind of an idiot buys a player who cannot boil a f***ing egg?

Mediawatch wishes to remind you at this point that Ashton is a man who harbours considerable ire towards ‘laptop gurus’ and their threat to proper football folk before you read this delicious sentence:

‘He devised an elaborate system to email his players with tactical videos.’

In 2016, the chief football writer at The Sun believes that e-mailing an attachment is an ‘elaborate system’.

Turn it off and then turn it on again, Neil.


Is it just Mediawatch or does this – ‘He started sending the players individual emails detailing their faults and submitting video clips to highlight his dissatisfaction. Except by that stage a lot of the players were so disillusioned many ignored the emails or redirected them straight to their trash. Van Gaal suspected as much and had a tracker fitted so he could check if the emails were opened and for how long. It became a game of cat and mouse. Some players opened the emails on their mobiles, then left their phones on the side and wandered off for 20 minutes’ – as detailed by Daniel Taylor in The Guardian reflect rather worse on the players than the manager?


Going, going, gone
The last line of Neil Ashton’s piece in The Sun: ‘Giggs will have to meet Mourinho to discover if he can work as part of the new manager’s coaching team.’

Oddly, that ambiguity is not really reflected in The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ back page…


Neil v Neil
That back-page ‘exclusive’ in The Sun carries the names of Neils Custis and Ashton, but their views on Jose Mourinho are comedically far apart.

While chief football writer Neil Ashton writes that ‘Manchester United are hiring a managerial menace’ and ‘putting their good name on the line by hiring him to succeed Louis van Gaal’, his colleague Custis – who has been channelling Jorge Mendes for months – writes that ‘with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, the Portuguese is easily the next best option’.

While Ashton writes that Mourinho’s Chelsea were ‘serving up some dreadful stuff, limping over the line by relying on a series of clean sheets’, Custis insists that ‘there is a myth that he plays boring football’.

Now this is one fight Mediawatch would like to watch. Over 15 bruising rounds.


Devil in detail
Neil Custis’ argument against the ‘myth’ that Mourinho’s teams play boring football: ‘In four of the five full seasons he has been in charge of Chelsea in the Premier League, he was in the top two for goals scored.’

That’s technically true but in 2004/05 Mourinho’s Chelsea scored 72 to Arsenal’s 87 goals, in 2006/07, they scored 64 to Manchester United’s 83 and even in the title march of 2014/15, they scored 73 goals to Manchester City’s 83. And in the anomalous 2013/14 season, their 71 goals were blown out of the water by City and Liverpool scoring over 100 times.

Oh and a very small point: He only completed five full seasons because he cocked up two others.


Same story, different spin
Daniel Taylor, The Guardian: ‘Every Thursday, United had an 11-versus-11 practice match and it was Giggs’s role to set up one side in the formation of the team they were about to face and talk about set-pieces. Beyond that, however, he did not have a significant say in tactics and was unable to convince Van Gaal to switch to a more entertaining style of football.’

Matt Lawton, The Daily Mail: ‘The players would like Giggs to stay, given the central role he plays. When they have 11 v 11 practice two days before a game it is Giggs who organises the opposing team to mirror the side United will face. He also works directly with the players on set-pieces.’

So he either did bugger all or loads and loads. But the most important thing to remember is that he is entirely blameless for anything that went wrong at Manchester United.


Hindsight: 20/20
Phil Neville, Football Focus, May 21: “If Manchester United win today I think Louis van Gaal will stay as the United manager next season.”

Phil Neville, Sportsweek, May 22: “I thought before the game that winning or losing would make no difference…it looked like the decision was already made.”


Kidd B
On August 12, 2015, the Daily Mirror’s Dave Kidd wrote that ‘Manchester United’s Louis van Gaal has no more excuses as his spending nears a quarter BILLION’, and that ‘when you spend £244million, you should be winning titles’.

On December 9, Kidd wrote that ‘nobody has done more than Van Gaal to alter the landscape at Old Trafford since the Luftwaffe. You used to turn up there expecting to be thrilled, now you’ll be bored into submission’.

On April 10, 2016, Kidd wrote that ‘Daniel Levy’s failure to land Louis van Gaal looks like a dodged bullet after Tottenham see off Man United’.

On April 11, Kidd wrote that Van Gaal ‘can never resist clever-clogs member-waving in front of the press, but overlooks the fact ‘smaller’ club Tottenham are now more perfectly formed’ and that he ‘makes a mug of himself each time a microphone is positioned beneath his nose’.

On May 11, Kidd wrote that ‘Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United are a pale imitation of Fergie’s glory boys – on and off the pitch’.

Which all makes it quite surprising that, by May 23, getting rid of Van Gaal makes United a ‘sacking club’ as Kidd writes: ‘A club which stood for entertainment and managerial stability for a quarter of a century, is now just another filthy-rich football club, swapping one short-term blue-chip manager for another.’

So after saying he should win the title and then spending nine months detailing (quite reasonably) why Van Gaal’s job was under threat, United are now criticised for sacking Van Gaal?

Damned if they do…


More Cross words
John Cross ‘exclusive’ in the Daily Mirror, May 20: ‘Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy will be given a chance to prove their strike partnership is an option for the Euros.

‘After starting one and introducing the other off the bench in both March friendlies,England boss Roy Hodgson is set to name both Tottenham striker Kane and Leicester hot-shot Vardy in his XI against Turkey in the warm-up friendly in Manchester on Sunday.

‘They did both start when England won their final Euro 2016 qualifier in Lithuania last October, but this is a chance to play them together up front – Vardy has previously often been used out wide.’

John Cross, Daily Mirror, May 23: ‘For nearly an hour, Kane played up front with Vardy stuck out on the left and the Leicester striker looked lost.’

He wasn’t the only one.


Turn that frown upside down
Mediawatch understands that we all watch football matches differently and are impressed by different things but…

From the BBC Sport website’s player ratings for England v Turkey:

‘Harry Kane (striker) 9

‘The team was initially set up in a 4-3-3 formation to suit Kane as the central striker and he more than justified that decision – his penalty miss aside, this was another impressive display leading England’s attack. Yes, he was offside when he scored, but he took that chance superbly and was never afraid to miss.’

From the Daily Mail‘s player ratings for England v Turkey:

‘Harry Kane 6

‘Shot from all angles. Took his goal brilliantly but fluffed lines with penalty miss.’

It’s all about opinions. And on this occasion the BBC’s opinion is wrong.


Recommended reading of the day
Daniel Taylor on Louis van Gaal’s reign
Michael Cox on Manchester United under Jose
Richard Jolly on England’s strikers


Today’s Mediawatch spotter is Richard Kurt. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting Mediawatch in the subject field.

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