‘Who really gives a f*ck?’ – the second week update
‘Wayne Rooney jets out to Italy for Europa League tie as Everton star takes break from Coleen relationship woes’ – Daily Mirror.
Alternative title: Man goes to work.
‘Rooney sent a clear message his devotion to Coleen has not wavered’ – a caption on a picture of Rooney’s hand in that piece.
Now Mediawatch is no relationship expert, but we can’t help thinking that avoiding kissing other women might be a better way of proving your devotion that than just continuing to wear your wedding ring.
C-c-called a U-turn
With Chelsea suddenly looking several different types of ominous, there is a great deal of opinion-shifting to be done. Some are doing so more brazenly than others. Writes Darren Lewis in the Daily Mirror on Wednesday:
‘Chelsea’s critics were at it on Deadline Day. Never mind that boss Antonio Conte had proved them wrong before, by turning Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses and David Luiz into title winners.’
And in his piece online:
‘So what was all that about Chelsea’s squad looking a bit thin? No Hazard, no Bakayoko, no Rudiger and no Morata. Yet still the Premier League champions were able to win with authority on their return to the Champions League.’
We agree, Darren. It was incredibly hasty for people to write Chelsea off with time still remaining in the transfer window, and even more hasty to suggest that Conte’s time at Chelsea looked in danger.
People like a D. Lewis of the Daily Mirror, who wrote this on August 13:
‘The trouble this time is that the chickens are coming home to roost after Antonio Conte ’s champions failed to build from a position of strength. He says the club haven’t moved quickly enough. The club say that none of the 17 players they have shipped out this summer went without Conte’s say-so.
‘Someone, somewhere has dropped the ball. As it stands, Chelsea have now been beaten in three official games since winning the title last season: the FA Cup final, the Community Shield and now this. The reinforcements haven’t yet come.
‘Forget the nonsense that Wembley could be Tottenham’s undoing. They didn’t look too shabby in seeing off a strong Juventus side there 2-0 last week, the day before Chelsea lost to Arsenal in the Community Shield. They will be no mugs on a day when their contest with the champions becomes the hottest ticket in town.’
And the same D. Lewis who wrote this on August 17:
‘It is a continuing crisis for a man knee-deep in it this summer:
* Costa has no compunction about keeping up the fight against the club and, in particular, Conte.
* The Italian is at odds with the Chelsea board over transfer policy, who were not best pleased that he jumped the gun with THAT text to Costa.
* The players are concerned the squad is still too thin to compete on four fronts.
* And the fans can see that, once again, the club are in danger of shooting themselves in the foot after working so hard to make themselves champions.
‘The biggest fear is that the man who did so well to win so many people over in his debut campaign last season, could walk away… Chelsea may well have dragged their heels by leaving their summer business so late.’
To repeat Lewis’ question, what was that all about Chelsea’s squad, the club’s critics and Conte leaving?
Laying it on a bit thick
‘Better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, better than Wayne Rooney, better even than Ruud van Nistelrooy. Romelu Lukaku’s first-season impact at Manchester United has redefined the phrase ‘to hit the ground running’’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.
First six games impact yes, but ‘first-season impact’? It is only mid-September.
‘To outstrip this group over his first six appearances is one thing, but Lukaku is even ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo at the same stage of his 42-goal season. Ronaldo had only one goal after six matches that year; Lukaku already has six.’
Sure, and Lukaku has started brilliantly. But steady on old thing. Ronaldo was playing out wide for most of that season, while Lukaku is United’s main striker. Rooney was 18 when he played his first games for Manchester United, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored 36 times in his first campaign and Ibrahimovic scored five in his first six United games, including the Manchester derby.
Rather than ‘better than Rooney, Ibrahimovic, Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo’, can’t we just settle for ‘doing really well’?
Create your fate
‘So Manchester United began their quest to mark a special anniversary in the best possible way,’ begins Neil Custis in his Manchester United piece. With Mike McGrath, Phil Thomas and Gary Stonehouse all doing pieces on United’s game against Basle and Andrew Richardson and Sam Morgan doing reaction, it’s fair to say The Sun had their bases covered.
‘Next May will be 50 years since the club’s emotional first European Cup triumph when they beat Benfica in the final at Wembley. If United can lift the trophy again, this time in Kiev, to seal a fourth triumph in the competition it will be proof that fate does indeed have a hand in things.’
Erm, will it? Or will it be proof that Manchester United spent a lot of money very wisely and that Jose Mourinho managed brilliantly during his second season?
Also, if United don’t win the Champions League this season, does that prove fate doesn’t exist? Or do these flowery concepts only work one way?
Good on the Daily Mirror for their optimism when discussing Davide Zappacosta’s first goal for Chelsea. They describe it as a ‘wonder goal’, ‘brilliant goal’ and ‘a corker’.
It was a cross, guys.
An expected opinion
‘Have you spotted this season’s new Opta stat called ‘expected goals’? It tells us that while the result was Burnley 1 Crystal Palace 0, the score *ought* to have been Burnley 0 Palace 2,’ begins Dave Kidd in part of his The Sun column.
It doesn’t tell us that. It merely offers a statistical interpretation of the phrase ‘Palace had the chances to win that game’, which is what everyone watching the match concluded. But fine.
‘Opta say: “Expected Goals (xG) is a metric that quantitatively measures chance quality, a concept that is widely used in football.
‘”Watching a game we can intuitively tell good chances from bad chances based on a variety of factors. How close was the shooter to goal? Was it from a good angle to the goal? Was it a one-on-one? Was it a header?”
‘”xG takes these factors – and others – into account and calculates how likely it is that a particular shot will be scored.”
‘Alternatively, ‘expected goals’ is proof that there are people on the internet with far too much time on their hands.’
‘People on the internet’ is a truly excellent description. Wait until Kidd finds out that these information superhighway robot-people breathe and talk like you and I.
Writes Charlie Sale in the Daily Mail about Roy Hodgson, a man who he delighted in kicking during his England downfall. This is the entirety of the section:
‘When even those who know Roy Hodgson well are unsure if he has recovered from being in charge of the England team knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland, it’s beyond belief that he is taking over at Crystal Palace. Hodgson could lose the dressing room as quickly as Frank de Boer.’
He could. Or Hodgson could be a better fit than De Boer and Palace could be a better fit than England, just as West Brom and Fulham were. Still, suppose that’s why they call it ‘Sports Agenda’.
Through the Metro filter
“I think they [Basle] followed the trendy tactic of five in the back that some of your colleagues like to call three but they are totally wrong, it is five. They were very well organised, they tried to close every space and then after the 2-0, the coach changed to four in the back and gave more freedom to [Michael] Lang, but more players in attacking areas. They understood they changed their mentality and approach and then they showed their qualities they also have. I think the 3-0 is a little bit against the grain of the game in this period” – Jose Mourinho.
‘Jose Mourinho appears to mock Arsenal and Chelsea’s ‘trendy’ tactics following Manchester United’s win over Basel.’
It’s no wonder that these Metro stories are no longer credited to individual journalists.
Headline of our times
‘’I’VE ALREADY EATEN’: Kylian Mbappe refuses to eat Domino’s pizza after starring in PSG’s 5-0 demolition of Celtic’ – The Sun.
Football story of the day
‘Marco Asensio will miss Real Madrid’s Champions League opener at home to Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night due to an infected “pimple”.
‘After Asensio had missed training this week, coach Zinedine Zidane told a news conference that he had a “pimple… which stopped him pulling up his socks,” with subsequent reports in the local press clarifying that the youngster had picked up an infection after shaving his legs’ – ESPN.
Add it to the list with the jar of salad cream…
Recommended reading of the day
Marcus Christensen on Borussia Dortmund.
Nicholas Wright on Mesut Ozil.
Priya Ramesh on Feyenoord.