The joys of six (out of ten)
Wayne Rooney was not very good on Sunday. Granted, few, if any Manchester United players were as they slipped to defeat against Watford. But their captain was particularly poor.
It is a point that Alan Shearer agrees with in The Sun. ‘Where do you want Wayne Rooney to play? Or should he be playing at all?’ he asks.
‘Not on yesterday’s performance, it is fair to say. His distribution, which always used to match his eye for goal, was well off the radar. One chance created and one shot was hit total contribution.
‘You always know things are not going well when he is constantly in the officials’ ears – and it was non-stop as things unravelled for United at Vicarage Road.’
His Sun colleague Charlie Wyett is in total agreement. ‘Skipper Wayne Rooney suffered one of his worst games for United,’ he writes.
So it required more than a few attempts to truly understand The Sun’s dream team ratings, proudly displayed in the top left-hand corner. Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia both receive a seven, having starred in a defence which conceded three goals. David de Gea and Anthony Martial receive fives. Everyone else, Rooney included, is rated as a six out of ten.
‘Ratings supplied by WhoScored.com,’ add The Sun in brackets beneath. Only WhoScored’s ratings are readily available to the public, and have clearly been tampered with. Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini, Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic should all be handed sevens out of ten, based on their actual match ratings. If they have been changed, why not alter Rooney’s?
The ratings may be ‘supplied by WhoScored.com’, but something has gone amiss in the supply chain if Rooney is a six.
‘Jose Mourinho was outsmarted by the man he once labelled a donkey. And worse for Manchester United fans, the Special One is beginning to turn into an ass himself.’
‘Suddenly, for the man who once declared himself to be the Special One, the size of his task at United had become all too apparent.’
A message to The Sun‘s Charlie Wyett and Tony Banks of the Daily Express: Read this. Then please stop it.
Crooks and liars
Never fear, for Garth is here. Only Mr Crooks seems to have been a rather sensible boy for BBC Sport this Monday. His Team of the Week features a 4-2-3-1 formation, with each player playing in their actual position. What is this witchcraft? Three of the outfielders didn’t even score!
Well this is unnervingly normal. pic.twitter.com/bTcfiPnnaN
— Garth TOTW Predictor (@GarthCrooksTOTW) September 18, 2016
But, as ever, the gems can be found in what Crooks actually says about his selections, such as the following inspirational advice he offers to defenders:
‘Lots of defenders want to score but lots of them are afraid to try. It’s one thing wanting to score goals but it has always been about having the courage to try.’
Beautiful. Crooks then adds the following, having chosen Adam Lallana in a midfield two:
‘At the risk of finding another ‘hair in the soup’, my only concern would be that in an effort to create the team ethic you don’t lose the magic of Philippe Coutinho. If you keep substituting the Brazilian you’ll destroy him. Lallana is developing into an impressive player but he is no Coutinho.’
And nor do they play in the same position, Garth.
Next up is Nacer Chadli, who deservedly lines up as an attacking midfielder after two goals and two assists for West Brom. But Mediawatch is somewhat baffled by Crooks’ suggestion that ‘Spurs fans are already announcing their disgust about the player’s departure on social media’. Are they? And how would he know? He isn’t even on Twitter.
Finally, Kevin De Bruyne makes it back-to-back appearances after starring against Bournemouth. ‘Last week I said that Kevin De Bruyne was already a certainty for player of the season,’ Garth writes.
To the previous Team of the Week we go. And we do indeed find De Bruyne in Crooks’ side. ‘De Bruyne has come back to the Premier League with a vengeance and tore the heart out of Mourinho’s side in the derby,’ he writes. So far, so good.
‘The Belgium international already looks like a contender for player of the season.’
Ah. that’s not quite the same thing.
Elephant in the Roon
Crooks also joins the growing voice of dissenters analysing the problems at Manchester United. He writes:
‘However, my tip for the title are suddenly looking very shaky and unsure of themselves. United have some fabulous players but I can’t help feeling manager Jose Mourinho is accommodating certain individuals in order to keep them onside and he has yet to create a team.’
It is at this point that Mediawatch must take the glass of champagne out of Garth’s hand and say: ‘You mean Wayne Rooney, don’t you?‘ Then Crooks will tell Mediawatch that it has made a very good point and promptly go home.
The joys of six, part two
Let’s play a game. Examine the following descriptions offered by Neil McLeman in his Daily Mirror player ratings for Crystal Palace’s win over Stoke, and guess what mark he gives them out of ten. The answer will be below.
‘James Tomkins: Scored within nine minutes of home debut.’
‘Martin Kelly: Secured the left flank to allow wingers to get forward.’
‘Joe Ledley: Did the dirty work in the middle of the park.’
‘Glenn Whelan: Lost amid the chaos of the Stoke midfield.’
‘Jon Walters: At fault for first goal. Mised Stoke’s best chance late on.’
‘Wilfried Bony: Isolated. Fashioned his only chance by robbing Dann.’
The first three are given positive reviews; the last three are not. They are all given sixes out of ten. Of course.
What on Earth is this obsession with rating everything as a six out of ten?
Jack the lad
But congratulations are in order for The Metro. You might remember their last edition of the Team of the Week. It included Danny Rose. Danny Rose did not play.
Well they are back on Monday with the Premier League flops of the week. And every player they mention actually played! A pat on the back for Max Miller.
Mediawatch must question his inclusion of Jack Wilshere, however. ‘The Arsenal loanee gave the ball away on several occasions, and was caught out numerous times by the speed and creativity of his opponents,’ Miller writes.
Jack Wilshere completed 100% of his passes against Manchester City. He was dispossessed twice.
Adam Crafton is not awfully pleased with Paul Pogba in the Daily Mail. He writes:
‘It is clear that his role in the team requires some serious fine-tuning. Sportsmail columnist Jamie Carragher wrote that Pogba’s performance in the Manchester derby last weekend was ‘like a kid on the schoolyard’.
”He ran all over the pitch,’ Carragher said, ‘Without thought or discipline, and was never in the one area he should be: central midfield.’
‘Against Watford, it was once again more of the same. Pogba was supposed to line up alongside Marouane Fellaini in a 4-2-3-1 but he became the wandering man once more.
‘The Frenchman floated all over, at times popping up on the left wing, at times running beyond the Watford defence, at times popping up on the right wing and sometimes heading towards the byline. It left Fellaini terribly exposed before and United were far too easy to probe on the counter-attack.’
Now, Pogba was not great at Vicarage Road, but he ‘popped up at times on the left wing’ mainly because, well, he started on the left of a midfield three.
As for ‘popping up on the right wing’, all but 13 of his 76 touches came on the left-hand side. When United changed their formation and approach, he was charged more with attacking. And he occasionally went right. The fool.
Jeremy Cross is panicking over the lack of young English managers in the Daily Star. You’re about five months too late, Jeremy.
‘The best managers in world football won’t touch England with a bargepole. Sir Alex Ferguson would rather have managed Liverpool than take charge of the Three Lions.’
Mediawatch sincerely doubts that, but we’ll read on.
‘And that also goes for Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and even Arsene Wenger, who was considered this summer until it became crystal clear the FA were barking up the wrong tree.’
That will be the same Pep Guardiola who England reportedly turned down in late 2013, the same Jose Mourinho who admitted he wanted the England job in 2007, and the same Arsene Wenger who said he “would never rule out” taking the post. Aside from that, spot on.
But Cross’ main gripe is with those who will celebrating the ‘loss’ of Gary Neville from the England coaching pool. ‘Neville is about to go missing in action, making the pool of potential England managers even more shallow,’ he writes. ‘Whatever your opinion on the outspoken Neville, the fact is he will be a sad loss and English football will be worse off without him.’
The points are clear: This is a man who has vast playing experience under one of the greatest football managers ever, a man who is still relatively young, and a man who ‘had the guys to stick his reputation on the line’.
But it is also the man, as Cross admits, who was sacked four months into a job at Valencia, and who was assistant manager for England at three tournaments, two of which ended in unmitigated failure.
‘People like Neville are the ones the FA should tap into, not just abandon.’
We have just a few points here:
* Neville left his post as assistant manager of his own volition; he was not sacked, nor was he ‘abandoned’.
* He has openly admitted that he wishes to pursue other business ventures ahead of continuing with management.
* The FA gave him a job despite the fact he boasted no coaching experience in 2012. He has not been ‘abandoned’; Neville left them.
Burn of the day
‘Mourinho once labelled Walter Mazzarri “a donkey” when the pair were rivals in Italian football – but it was the Portuguese who was left looking an ass last night’ – Tony Banks, Daily Express.
Apply some lukewarm water, Jose.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Liew on Mark Hughes.
Rob Smyth on Ronaldo (the real one).
Andrew Flint on Roy Keane.