You know it’s a slow news day when…
‘Jose Mourinho forced to sit on plastic chairs with staff during Wayne Rooney’s testimonial against Everton as substitutes packed dugout’
‘Man forced to sit on chair’ is the top story on the MailOnline website at Thursday lunchtime.
Football. Now. Please.
Good news, Manchester United fans: You’ve signed Paul Pogba.
Predictably, the clamour to announce the deal first has threatened to swallow the transfer window whole. Outlets are tripping over themselves to announce an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ that only either club or the player involved can actually confirm. And it it really is quite funny to stand back and watch.
On July 29, the Daily Mail claimed: ‘Paul Pogba completes record-breaking £100million transfer to Manchester United… and club are set to officially announce him’
Their confirmation rather diluted the Daily Record‘s ‘world exclusive’ on Wednesday evening: ‘Paul Pogba signs for Manchester United in stunning £110million deal’
True to form, The Sun followed that with their own version: ‘Manchester United ‘finally complete world record £110million Paul Pogba deal’
Mediawatch finds The Sun’s claim dubious. Below is a timeline of their ‘updates’ on Pogba’s return to Old Trafford.
‘Paul Pogba ‘hours away’ from joining Manchester United as he posts kickboxing video on Instagram’ – August 2, at 9:17am. That was 27 hours ago.
‘Manchester United finally set to complete world record move for Paul Pogba as player undergoes LA medical’ – July 29. ‘Finally set to complete…’
‘Paul Pogba will seal a world-record £112million move to Manchester United’ – a ‘WORLD EXCLUSIVE’ on July 27. That was over a week ago.
‘Paul Pogba has completed world record move from Juventus to Manchester United… according to Google’ – July 24. For fu…
July 26 was a particularly stellar day. At 2:59pm, they published a story titled ‘Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United stalls as he ‘holds out for Real Madrid”. Ten minutes later, another article was produced with the headline ‘Paul Pogba edges closer to Manchester United after Gonzalo Higuain finally completes £75.3m move to Juventus’.
We should not be too surprised; this is the same outlet who reported in August 2015 that ‘Chelsea have agreed a stunning £69million deal to sign Juventus’ Paul Pogba’.
To clarify, the latest update is the same as every update for the past month: He has not signed.
Pogba, Pogba, Pogba
How are other outlets coping with the lack of actual, discernible Pogba updates?
The Metro go with: ‘Paul Pogba is already fourth favourite to win PFA Player of the Year – but who are the bookies backing most?’ – because stories based on bookmakers’ odds are always excellent.
The Daily Mail‘s take: ‘Paul Pogba poised to launch into action with Manchester United ahead of £100m world record move, proving he’s up for the fight in kickboxing class’ – the footage is indeed of Paul Pogba kickboxing. It was also published on Wednesday morning.
According to the Daily Telegraph, United are ‘close to announcing world record Paul Pogba transfer with £100m fee thought to be agreed’. The update is that ‘Manchester United are moving closer to announcing an agreement with Juventus to sign Paul Pogba in a world-record deal as Wayne Rooney eyes a new contract with the club.’
Sometimes there is just nothing to report, guys. Especially when you have already announced the ‘world exclusive’ that he has already signed.
Are you at all pleased with your club’s business in the transfer market? Newcastle and Middlesbrough fans must be delighted, while Mediawatch offers its commiserations to supporters of Hull. And that’s without taking into account your transfer business.
Of course, the transfer window is not yet over – far from it. The deadline falls on August 31, so clubs still have over three weeks to finalise their plans.
Thankfully, the MailOnline have compiled a list of the most eagerly awaited Premier League arrivals of those confirmed to be joining. You may expect Ibrahimovic, Guardiola and Xhaka to appear on such a list; you would be right. But not as you would imagine.
‘Meet the new Premier League WAGs… from Mrs Ibrahimovic to Mrs Guardiola, here’s the other halves joining for the new season,’ reads the headline to a piece from Alex Sharp.
‘The superpowers of the Premier League continue to bolster their squads ahead of the new campaign, attempting to lure the finest players in the world to join their ranks.
‘A selection of the summer signings have never plied their trade in the Premier League and will need help adjusting their lives to new surroundings.
‘Fortunately for some players they have a wife or girlfriend to keep their spirits high for that transition of lifestyle.’
Ah, yes. Behind every great man is a wife or girlfriend ‘to keep their spirits high for that transition of lifestyle’. That is what they’re there for, right?
What follows is 750 words and 25 pictures, because obviously. Descriptions include:
Helena Seger, actor and wife of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is a ‘blond bombshell’.
Granit Xhaka’s partner Leonita Lekaj is a ‘stunning brunette’.
Loris Karius’ student girlfriend Annelie Alpert is the woman who ‘will entertain’ the goalkeeper during his injury lay-off.
A reminder that this ‘story’, published on Wednesday afternoon, remains rather prominent on the MailOnline’s sport – that’s sport – pages, almost a full day later.
Emre Can spoke to the press on Wednesday. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, the German midfielder discussed his progress at Anfield, his targets for the upcoming season, and manager Jurgen Klopp. He also revealed his hopes to become a leader at Anfield, which inevitably led the conversation subject to one matter in particular: Steven Gerrard.
“That’s of course a big, big honour,” the 22-year-old said of comparisons with the former club captain. “I have a lot of respect for him but I am far off that level he played for Liverpool.
“I have to go my own way, be Emre Can.”
Pretty simple quotes. Can accepts the comparisons, but signals his intention to become a player in his own right, away from the shadow of his former teammate. But how are they reported in the following morning’s national newspapers?
‘Emre Can wants to be a leader for Liverpool but admits he is ‘far off’ the levels of Reds legend Steven Gerrard,’ writes Phil Costa of the Daily Mail.
‘Emre Can thinks Liverpool have finally found their new midfield general – him,’ is Phil Thomas’ take in The Sun. ‘Kop star Emre vows to be new Stevie G,’ reads the sub headline.
That’s not quite what he said, is it?
‘Arsenal will have to break the bank to land long-term target Julian Draxler,’ reports Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star.
‘The Germany ace has put the Gunners on red alert after revealing he wants to quit Wolfsburg.
‘But the Bundesliga outfit are believed to want at least £50m – if they are forced to sell.
‘That means boss Arsene Wenger will have to shatter the club-record £42.5m paid to Real Madrid for Mesut Ozil in 2013.’
An increase of £7.5m is not a ‘shattering’, Jeremy – certainly not in the current market. It is more of a slight fissure.
@MirrorDarren your picture desk disagrees Darren: they want Adrien Silva, not Rafa…
— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) August 4, 2016
‘Arsenal target Shkodran Musatfi last night moved a step closer to joining the Gunners,’ the Sun tells us.
So, what’s this update? Has he spoken of his desire to leave Valencia? Have the Gunners submitted a bid? Has he been pictured wearing an Arsenal shirt with ‘Reine-Adelaide’ on the back?
‘The Germany centre-back was left out of the Valencia squad for their friendly at Bournemouth. Mustafi, 24, did not travel after suffering a ‘foot injury’.’
‘Their chief talent scout might have left but Leicester showed in Ahmed Musa that they can still spot a real bargain’ – Mark Irwin, The Sun.
Leicester signed Musa on July 8; ‘chief talent scout’ Steve Walsh did not leave the club to join Everton until July 21.
The Sun really are in fabulous form on Thursday. The following is another headline, this to a ‘story’ from Sam Morgan:
‘NOT A DAB HAND: Jesse Lingard paid a glowing tribute to Wayne Rooney… but he got it very badly wrong’
What exactly did Lingard do to get it ‘very badly wrong’, you ask? Well, he congratulated Rooney on ‘celebrating ten years’ with Manchester United. He’s been there for 12 years, Jesse! Jesus, man!
Bring on actual football.
Watch and learn
Talked to several of the GB men's rowing team at Lagoa today. Open, honest, candid, not defensive. Some other sports should watch and learn
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) August 3, 2016
Apropos of nothing, Jack Beaumont has never been criticised by the nation’s biggest-selling newspaper for buying his mum a house. And a rundown of Peter Lambert, Sam Townsend and Angus Groom’s partners (or people who ‘keep their spirits high’) has not been published on the sports pages of one of the most successful websites in the country.
Worst headline of the day
‘Dr-iame move’ – The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Nick Miller on Rafael Benitez and Newcastle.
Toke Theilade on Roman Abramovich.
Jonathan Wilson on Edgado Bauza’s rescue mission with Argentina.