What became of the likely lads?
According to the ‘probable’ or ‘likely’ line-ups in Friday’s newspapers, England’s right-sided forward against Australia could be Andros Townsend, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana or the left-footed Ross Barkley (thanks, Daily Mail). They could play a 4-1-2-1-2, a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Jack Wilshere could play. Or he might not. What we do know for certain is that they are playing Australia.
Mediawatch would prefer if they simply used the word ‘guess’.
Man wants to do well in job
The Sun are unashamedly running out of back-page ideas. What’s their big splash on the Friday when Jose Mourinho was set to be unveiled as Manchester United manager?
‘JOSE MOURINHO is out to avenge his Chelsea sacking – by making Manchester United great again.’
Is that it? Is that sodding it? A man wants to do well in his new job? And that’s the biggest story in sport?
Apparently, ‘SunSport can reveal that Mourinho, 53, is on a mission to show the Blues how wrong they were to get rid of him back in December’.
And Mediawatch can ‘reveal’ that we said the words ‘for f***’s sake’ four times while looking for the nugget of news.
Suits you, Sir
Mind you, The Sun were not alone. The best the Daily Express could muster?
‘JOSE MOURINHO got suited and booted to celebrate his £36milion deal as new Manchester United boss with a bottle of red.’
It’s just a shame that they missed out on the really big scoop that he wants to make Manchester United great again.
Mediawatch imagines that Louis van Gaal might invite The Sun to stick their sympathy up their f***ing arse.
— Jordan (@FourFourJordan) May 27, 2016
So Neil Ashton believes that Manchester United have acted abysmally towards Louis van Gaal, writing that ‘United made the poor fella’s life hell for six months by talking to the Special One behind his back’.
Poor fella? Is this the same ‘poor fella’ described as ‘clueless’ in the headline of a Sun story written by Ashton himself only last month? Mediawatch imagines that might have made his life hell rather more than the kind of negotiations that Ashton admits are pretty much standard in football in the 21st century.
What’s more upsetting – knowing your club has contingency plans or repeatedly reading that your players have turned against you?
As Ashton wrote in April: ‘Respect for Van Gaal, supposedly one of the great managerial minds, has gone. These players are openly questioning him, wondering out loud how the club can seriously keep him beyond the end of the season.’
And just this Monday, Ashton wrote: ‘LOUIS VAN GAAL lost the respect of the Manchester United dressing room because of his bizarre management methods. Despite lifting the FA Cup on Saturday, the Dutch coach has failed to deal with squad unrest at Old Trafford.
‘Although Van Gaal delivered some silverware, the players are sick and tired of the club’s turgid playing style. Many of them want a return to 4-4-2 after another depressing season playing in Van Gaal’s rigid system.’
So The Sun – via Neil Custis – have been telling us for months that Manchester United are talking to Jose Mourinho, and that his players are ‘sick and tired’ and have no ‘respect’ for him, but it’s Manchester United who have made his life hell? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most hypocritical of them all?
History: A re-write
‘Spare us the crocodile tears for Louis van Gaal,’ writes Ashton’s old Daily Mail colleague Jeff Powell.
‘Not for the first time in his career the pompous Dutchman has failed by the exacting standards demanded of those aspiring to practise at the elite level of the game.
‘By way of reference, ask the Holland supporters who watched Van Gaal’s side fail to qualify for the 2002 World Cup or the ones who witnessed a squad full of stars coming up short in Brazil two years ago.’
Sorry but what? We understand that you are not a Van Gaal fan,but you are now painting a third-place finish with players like Ron Vlaar, Daryl Janmaat, Jonathan de Guzman, Paul Verhaegh, Jeremain Lens, Dirk Kuyt, Georginio Wijnaldum, Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay as under-achievement?
Thankfully, we can find the Daily Mail’s match report from that third-place play-off with Brazil and that reads:
‘Louis van Gaal will arrive in Manchester next week as a winner after heaping more misery on Brazil’s wretched World Cup campaign.
‘Van Gaal is set to be unveiled at Old Trafford on Thursday with his reputation enhanced from a rewarding month in South America that saw Holland qualify from the Group of Death and last night complete an impressive third-place finish.’
The caption on a video further down the page? ‘Holland fans claim third place win over Brazil beats expectations’.
Mediawatch suspects that Dutch fans are rather happier with their World Cup under Van Gaal than their Euro 2016 under a new manager.
Luk who’s scooping
Hidden in the 21st paragraph of a Daily Telegraph story about John Stones from Matt Law on May 24: ‘Chelsea are more confident of signing another of their transfer targets from Everton, Romelu Lukaku, who has set his heart on a return to Stamford Bridge.’
Three days later, there’s an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ on the back page of the Daily Mirror from John Cross: ‘CHELSEA are confident of beating competition from Manchester United to re-sign their former striker Romelu Lukaku.’
Into the Woods
Where will Wayne Rooney play this summer? Up front? As a No. 10? Wide left? In central midfield? So many choices. But apparently not enough for the Daily Star’s Dave Woods, who sells himself as ‘IN THE KNOW, INSIDE THE GAME’.
‘This may be crazy but could he reinvent himself as a ball-playing centre-back?’
No. No, he really couldn’t.
‘Football’ story of the day
‘Having a party: England ace Jamie Vardy served POT NOODLE to stunned wedding guests’ – The Daily Star website, who wangle the word ‘WAG’ into the URL for that ‘story’.
Let’s read on for more on this big news:
‘The instant snacks were dished out for a joke after bride Becky Nicholson said they were the only thing the Leicester striker, 29, can cook.
‘Guests – including singers Tinchy Stryder and Sam Bailey – were then treated to a sumptuous banquet at the bash at Peckforton Castle, Cheshire.’
Ah. Noodle bantz.
Recommended reading of the day
Seb Stafford-Bloor on the media v Pep Guardiola
Gabriele Marcotti on Milan hosting the Champions League final
Steven Peye on Aston Villa’s illustrious past