‘Victory Through Harmony’ – in three to four weeks
Arsene Wenger lives life three to four weeks in advance.
On Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, April 1: “He should be available, there are no special concerns. [He is] three to four weeks away.”
On Santi Cazorla, March 31: “Santi is running again outside so it should be three to four weeks more training.”
On Oxlade-Chamberlain, March 13: “He will be out for three, four weeks maximum.”
On Aaron Ramsey, March 11: “His clinical signs are quite positive, and I would say four weeks.”
On Petr Cech, March 4: “Cech will be three or four weeks with a calf injury.”
On Jack Wilshere, February 19: “Wilshere is back in three to four weeks.”
On Cazorla and Wilshere, February 12: “I don’t count on Cazorla and Wilshere in the next three or four weeks.”
On Danny Welbeck, February 8: “We can organise games internally and I think in the next three weeks he should be available.”
On Laurent Koscielny, November 7: “He will not be available for three or four weeks.”
On Ramsey, October 23: “It is a three to four weeks job.”
Perhaps that Premier League title is ‘three to four weeks away’. Just like Jack Wilshere was ‘three to four weeks away’ six weeks ago.
Load of hotchPoch
Ah, April Fools’ Day. A day which allows – nay, encourages – misdirection, inaccuracies and downright lies in the name of ‘banter’.
By pure coincidence, The Sun have a juicy back page to start our Friday mornings. ‘Utd on Poch watch’ reads the headline on a piece by Neil Ashton.
‘Ed Woodward’s interest in Spurs’ Mauricio Pochettino is hotting up as he weighs up the next Manchester United manager,’ the article begins.
‘The Old Trafford executive vice-chairman has been monitoring the progress of Tottenham’s title-chasing boss.’
Rough translation: He has looked at the Premier League table.
Ashton adds that ‘close allies’ of Pochettino’s are ‘well aware’ of Woodward’s fondness for the manager.
Mediawatch is interested to note the use of the phrase ‘close allies’. On February 8, Neil Custis ran a similar exclusive claiming that United had spoken with ‘representatives’ of Pochettino. The Argentinean does, of course, work without an agent.
By February 11, such ‘representatives’ had been downgraded to ‘connections’. Over a month later, and we arrive at ‘close allies’. Lovely.
Ashton also reveals that Woodward is ‘taking advice from influential people within the game about the high-flying Argentine’. Is that the easy way of saying he has asked Alex Ferguson, who will support the claim of anyone to the manager’s job at Old Trafford providing his name is not ‘Jose Mourinho’?
And what ‘advice’ does Woodward really need with regards to Pochettino? Tottenham had just finished sixth the summer they appointed the Argentinean, with United five points and one place behind. In under two seasons, the 44-year-old has taken Spurs from Europa League qualification contenders to title challengers. ‘Influential people within the game’ will likely be just as impressed as those without’ influence’.
No way, Jose
Jose Mourinho must have been stunned when he picked up his copy of The Sun on Friday. The Portuguese has been linked with the Manchester United job since time began. Mainly by The Sun.
* ‘Jose Mourinho will be offered a mind-boggling £60million to send Manchester United soaring back to football’s summit’ – a Neil Custis exclusive on March 25.
* ‘Manchester United could appoint Jose Mourinho before the end of the month’ – a Neil Custis exclusive on February 14.
* ‘Jose Mourinho to Manchester United all but agreed’ – a Duncan Wright exclusive on December 22.
* ‘Jose Mourinho holds talks with Manchester United as Louis van Gaal is on his way out of Old Trafford’ – a Neil Custis exclusive on December 20.
On Friday, Mourinho is linked, exclusively, by The Sun, to the Valencia job. The former Chelsea manager has now been a reported target for Arsenal, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, even though his move to Manchester United was ‘all but agreed’ in December. It’s all been a five-month long April Fools’, hasn’t it?
Worst paragraphs of the day/week/ever
In fact, f*ck it, let’s have a top three:
3) ‘If you’re not being asked to wear rainbow laces or pink ribbons, you’re being bombarded with anti-racist and anti-sexist messages — from Kick It Out, the ‘equality and inclusion’ campaign, to the FA’s Respect programme to ‘help ensure a safe, positive environment in which to play the game’ – Toby Young, MailOnline.
2) ‘It was designed to promote Breast Cancer Care, the FA’s official charity partner. There’s no question this is a worthy cause — one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime — and the partnership has raised £300,000 since 2014. But what’s it got to do with football? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the FA to raise money for a disease that affects men, such as prostate cancer?’ – Toby Young, MailOnline.
1) ‘Perhaps it was fitting that Tuesday’s England match was awash with pink shirts, pink ribbons and pink flags. After all, football — along with rugby, cricket and every other traditionally male sport — has been forced to undergo what you might call, to borrow a fashionable phrase, gender re-assignment surgery in the past few years. An area of life that used to be associated with men has been colonised by women determined to prove a point about gender equality, regardless of whether they have any genuine interest in the sports in question’ – Toby Young, MailOnline.
What an absolute sodding weapon.
‘Manchester City’s hopes of signing Lionel Messi have been boosted by a stalemate in contract talks with Barcelona,’ writes Shaun Custis in The Sun. It is, of course, an exclusive.
Mediawatch can only assume Custis does not talk to his colleague Antony Kastrinakis. For the esteemed European football ‘expert’ reported of the ‘famous rift’ between Messi and incoming City manager Pep Guardiola back on December 17. Are they on speaking terms now?
The Magic Man
The conclusion of the international break not only heralds the return of the Premier League, it heralds the return of the Magic Man. And Paul Merson is on top form for Sky Sports on Friday. Here are some snippets from everyone’s favourite tipster.
* ‘Man City have some hard games coming up and are fighting for their lives.
The current league placings of Manchester City’s next four league opponents are: 13th, 11th, 10th, 19th.
* ‘The pressure has been getting to Leicester a bit, they haven’t been great lately.’
Leicester have won seven of their last nine games; no Premier League team has accrued more points over the last six games, and no sides has conceded fewer goals in that sequence.
* ‘We are at that stage of the season where teams like West Ham and Manchester United have to win to challenge for the top four. Draws are no good, so they need to have a go for it.’
West Ham have drawn 11 games this season, the joint-most of any side. A draw on Saturday could conceivably put them level on points with Manchester City. Drawing has served them alright so far, has it not?
Paul Merson loves Revels
Paul Merson, November 20: ‘Stoke had a good result a fortnight ago against Chelsea but, like Everton, they are neither here nor there this season. They lose at home to Watford then go and beat Chelsea, they’re a bag of Revels at the moment, but they do have the players.’
Paul Merson, December 29: ‘It depends on what Liverpool turn up, if we get the side that beat Leicester, then Sunderland have their work cut out to get anything. They are a bag of Revels at the moment, though.’
Paul Merson, January 31: ‘They are going well in the league and Shrewsbury are inconsistent – they conceded seven against Chesterfield and then beat Burton away. They are a bag of Revels.’
Paul Merson, February 5: ‘Which Everton are going to turn up? They’re like a bag of Revels, you just don’t know what’s coming.’
Paul Merson: April 1: ‘If Man City don’t win on Saturday then this is a big game for United, but it depends what Everton side turn up – they are a real bag of Revels.’
Does Merse have a sponsorship deal he has neglected to tell Sky Sports about?
A fool thinks himself to be wise
Time to visit The Metro‘s website. It is April Fools’ Day, and the saying, ‘Happier than a pig in sh*t’ has never been more apt.
* ‘Former Man United star named as Louis van Gaal’s shock replacement!’
Yes that’s Rio Ferdinand, and it’s based on a tweet (one bloody tweet) from the man himself. Mediawatch presumes the exclamation mark in the headline denotes the fact that this story is stuffed full of piping hot banter.
* ‘Exclusive: Chelsea star John Terry is ready to return to the England national team for Euro 2016 after setting out his demands to Roy Hodgson.’
Yes, because Terry will be the one ‘setting out his demands’ to Hodgson. If that were the case, the England boss would probably have a two-word response rhyming with ‘duck cough’.
* ‘Man Utd star: Van Gaal is using me all wrong’
Quotes from ‘Man Utd star’ Paddy McNair (of 24 Premier League games): “I am learning about the holding midfield position and really enjoy playing it for Northern Ireland. If I had the chance to play the holding midfield role at United that would be fantastic. If I’m told though to play centre-back, right-back or whatever, I’ll be happy because I want to play games.”
Out of the Woods
Thank the Lord for David Woods of the Daily Star. Without him, how else would we know that Jamie Vardy existed prior to this season?
‘Four years ago yesterday, Jamie Vardy was lining up for Fleetwood at Bath in the Blue Square Premier League,’ Woods writes.
And 30 years ago Vardy was not even alive. What an incredible story.
Worst headline of the day
‘YOU’LL SEE MORENO OF ME’ – Daily Mirror. Terrible.
Recommended reading of the day
Stuart James on Salomon Rondon and life in Venezuela.
Michael Cox on the difference between Liverpool and Spurs.
Nick Miller interviews Jack Pitt-Brooke.