Sam Allardyce is set to be appointed England manager. Big news. The 61-year-old oversaw Sunderland’s pre-season friendly with Hartlepool on Wednesday, the news breaking at the same time. See if you can spot the common theme in how some of the nation’s newspapers reported his appearance.
‘Sam Allardyce squeezed into his seat in the dug-out at Hartlepool last night with his Sunderland kit on,’ wrote Simon Bird of the Daily Mirror.
‘He then squeezed into the cramped Hartlepool dugout,’ quipped Dave Coverdale of The Sun.
He isn’t called Big Sam for nothing, fellas.
But how much will Allardyce be paid to become England manager? And how long will his deal with the national team be for? Let’s find out.
* The Sun claim he will be offered two-year contract for £5m, so £2.5m a year.
* The Daily Mirror and Daily Star say he will be offered a three-year contract for £7.5m. Different length, but still £2.5m a year.
* The Daily Telegraph say he will be offered a two-year contract, but are rather more vague on his wage. They confirm it ‘will be less than’ the £3.5m a year Roy Hodgson earned.
* The Times say he will be offered a two-year contract, and will earn a wage ‘similar’ to Hodgson’s £3.5m a year.
Conclusion: Nobody truly knows.
‘Can Allardyce make football come home?’ asks Dave Coverdale in The Sun. ‘That is now his sole aim – not what he was witnessing last night at The Vic.
‘A clear sign of Allardyce’s mind being elsewhere came when he took a phone call half-an-hour into Sunderland’s clash with the League Two minnow [Hartlepool].’
Simon Bird of the Daily Mirror adds that: ‘Allardyce was a coach waiting for his phone to ring.’
‘Man takes phone call’. Maybe it was his wife just asking what he wanted for dinner?
Said Gary Lineker on June 29:
“If you go English, it is really difficult. There are two or three in the top flight, Sam Allardyce, Eddie Howe and Alan Pardew – but they have not won the trophies you would anticipate.
“Do you go back to perhaps Glenn Hoddle? He was one of England’s best coaches.
“Hoddle has been out of the game for a while, but he understands the game technically. He is the kind of guy who understands how to get over to players how to play in various systems.”
Said Gary Lineker on July 21:
Every major football nation has a homegrown manager. Think it's right for England also. Therefore, Sam Allardyce was the best choice.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 21, 2016
Compare the following two quotes. The first is from Shaun Custis of The Sun on Allardyce:
‘He has never had an inferiority complex…’
The second is from the man himself.
“I won’t ever be going to a top-four club because I’m not called Allardici, just Allardyce.”
That sure sounds like an ‘inferiority complex’. Just maybe not to Allardyce’s ghostwriter, eh?
The national newspapers are seemingly delighted at Allardyce’s imminent appointment, but Mediawatch simply cannot forgive The Sun for their coverage.
‘Mr BIG’ reads the back-page headline, accompanied with a picture of a smiling Allardyce.
We suddenly don’t fancy lunch.
Reade all about it
Writes Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror:
‘Strange goings-on at Southampton again after the great achievement of finishing ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool last season and making it into Europe.’
Can Southampton selling their main assets in the summer really still be described as ‘strange goings-on’? They have been doing it for almost a decade now, yet have improved their league positions in each of the last seven seasons. It is clearly a formula that works.
But Reade goes on, undeterred.
‘They lose their manager to a team who finished five places behind them, seemingly because they weren’t prepared to get close to what Ronald Koeman was being offered at Everton, replacing him with the relatively-unknown Claude Puel, who hasn’t won a trophy for 16 years.’
Are we prepared to criticise Southampton for not spending swathes of money to keep their manager? And a reminder that ‘relative unknown’ Claude Puel carved out a successful career in France, managing Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Nice, before moving to England. He reached the Champions League semi-finals just six years ago.
If only Southampton had appointed a ‘relative unknown’ in recent years. Such as Mauricio Pochettino, who had won no trophies and managed just one club for three years before being appointed boss in 2012. That seemed to work out alright.
But anyway, please continue Brian.
‘They lose Sadio Mane to Liverpool, who finished two places behind them, the fifth player they have allowed to go to Anfield in three years. And they sell Victor Wanyama to their old manager at Tottenham, while allowing Graziano Pelle to toddle off to China without a fight.’
Southampton signed Sadio Mane for £10m in September 2014. In under two years, they have sold him on for a £24m profit. Victor Wanyama was in the final year of his contract, and was sold for £11m. Graziano Pelle joined for £8m in July 2014, and was sold to Shandong Luneng for £13m. He became the sixth-highest paid player in the world at the Chinese Super League club, so probably pushed for the move himself.
Mediawatch wonders which of the three aforementioned transfers Reade feels Southampton have made a mistake with. But he has not quite finished.
‘This before a season when, due to Europa League demands, they’re going to need all the quality they can get their hands on.
‘You have to wonder if this is the moment that the finest selling club in the country’s luck runs out.’
People have been wondering the very same about Southampton since they were promoted four years ago. Perhaps this is the moment that people stop underestimating the effectiveness of ‘the finest selling club in the country’?
Then again, perhaps not.
In a week where John Stones confirmed his move to Manchester City by going shopping, Mediawatch thought that nothing would surprise us in terms of transfer reporting.
We were wrong.
— The Sun Football (@TheSunFootball) July 21, 2016
Woah. So what are the ‘shock developments’? Has he handed in a transfer request? Does he keep hiding in Marouane Fellaini’s hair? Has he bought his mum a house? No to all three – although the last one is close.
‘Luke Shaw’s mansion in Cheshire up for sale for £2.6million, sparking rumours he could leave Manchester United this summer,’ reads the headline in a story from Sunni Upal.
According to Upal, Shaw’s future ‘has been in doubt ever since Jose Mourinho was announced as new United boss’. Has it? The Portuguese said just last week that:
“The kid was great in the summer. He worked every day at the training ground to try to be ready for this.”
But yes, Shaw putting his house up for sale ‘means he may be on his way out of Old Trafford’. Not that a 21-year-old man is simply moving house.
'Sparking rumours' doesn't count if it's only in your heads, The Sun. pic.twitter.com/iMh1c3jnLa
— Football365 (@F365) July 21, 2016
As one of many unimpressed (or should that be impressed?) by those who ‘learn’ five things from even the most arbitrary of matches, Mediawatch must doff its cap to David Anderson of the Daily Mirror.
Anderson watched Manchester City’s 1-0 pre-season defeat to Bayern Munich courtesy of a late goal, and was required to teach us five lessons. The only problem: Nothing much happened.
Except that Yaya Toure ‘looks leaner and meaner’ of course. And that ‘Guardiola doesn’t like fuss and he kept his return to Bayern distinctly low key’.
That, by the way, is the total sum of lesson five. All the lessons combined comprise of 128 words.
This is not a criticism of Anderson, far from it. Sometimes lessons are simply not there to be learned, particularly from a boring 1-0 pre-season friendly defeat.
Mediawatch cannot help but notice a flaw in Anderson’s report on the game, however. He writes:
‘Bayern put a ‘welcome back’ sign above the entrance to the away dressing room, but Guardiola did not want any fuss. He made a deliberately low-key entrance from the tunnel, nipping into the away dug-out, past the battery of photographers.’
A reminder that yesterday, Anderson claimed that Guardiola’s return to former club Bayern Munich had barely received a mention from the Bundesliga champions. Twenty-four hours later, and there is a ‘welcome sign’ and a ‘battery of photographers’, with Guardiola himself seeking to avoid the fanfare.
One too many
Mediawatch would like to make a plea to journalists around the world. This is important.
‘Jose Mourinho became the ‘Generous One’ on Manchester United’s flight to China by taking a seat in economy in order to ensure all of his players were able to take advantage of the flat beds in business class’ – Mark Ogden, The Independent.
‘Add to that near 40-degree temperatures and sweltering humidity and the Special One is set to be a hot one out here’ – Neil Custis, The Sun.
Hey, guys. That thing you’re doing? Yeah, stop doing it.
Don’t let The Sun go down on me
‘POG IN BAG’ reads the back-page headline on The Sun. They are positively crowing. ‘Manchester United have sealed a world-record £105million deal for Paul Pogba – just as SunSport told you on Saturday.’
Of course, what they fail to disclose is that the story in question, from their Saturday edition, actually said that negotiations are ‘expected to be completed this weekend’. Call Mediawatch pedantic – because it often is and has been called far worse – but Thursday is not the weekend. In fact, it is now closer to ‘next weekend’ than ‘this weekend’ as of ‘last weekend’.
‘The rulers of English football have declared a crackdown on bad behaviour and promised a blaze of yellow and red cards to end ugly scenes like last season’s Battle of the Bridge between Tottenham and Chelsea’ – Matt Barlow, Daily Mail.
‘A zero-tolerance crackdown has been promised across professional football next season in an attempt to finally end the culture of abuse of referees at every level of the game’ – Jeremy Wilson and Harry Yorke, Daily Telegraph.
‘English football will renew its war on bad behaviour next season with a zero-tolerance approach to swearing and referee intimidation’ – Darren Lewis, Daily Mirror.
‘English football has finally decided to target bad behaviour by players, promising a zero-tolerance policy to any abuse of officials’ – Tony Banks, Daily Express.
‘A new crackdown on bad behaviour is promising zero tolerance for players who abuse officials’ – George Scott, Daily Star.
Good to see the FA are ‘declaring crackdowns/war’ with a new ‘zero tolerance approach/policy’ for ‘players/managers’ who ‘abuse/intimidate/swear at’ officials. It’s about damn time. But oh, what’s this?
‘If the latest plans to crack down on ‘intolerable behaviour’ by players and managers in English football look familiar, it is because they are,’ writes Phil Jiggins.
‘Yesterday’s announcement in a West End hotel near the London Palladium may have sounded like a new dawn.
‘But the truth is, referees have always had the power to punish players and managers for swearing or kicking off in the technical area. It is just that they have been instructed not to do so.’
Cringeworthy intro of the day
‘Jose Mourinho travelled ‘economy’ on his way here to underline he means business as he prepares Manchester United for the season ahead’ – Richard Tanner, Daily Express.
But what’s this? A late contender from Tim Gray of the Daily Star…
‘Jose Mourinho travelled ‘economy’ on his way to China but he definitely means business with Manchester United.’
You’re both as bad as each other.
Worst headline of the day
‘Jeff on the Pul’ – The Sun attempt to make sense of West Brom (and Tony Pulis) bidding £9m for Jeffrey Schlupp. But what does ‘Jeff on the Pewl’ even mean?
Mind you, it is not a patch on ‘Mr BIG’. That’s your lunches ruined, too.
Recommended reading of the day
Andy Hunter on Aidy Boothroyd.
James Horncastle on Inter Milan’s uncertain future.
Crispin Andrews on helping footballers tackle addiction.