Flying without Wing’s
On Monday evening, Paul Pogba went to Wing’s Chinese restaurant. If you haven’t heard of it before, think Planet Hollywood but for Manchester-based footballers. They just can’t get enough.
In response, the Daily Telegraph wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek piece regarding Pogba’s potential move to Manchester United on the back of this meal. The prawn crackers must have been exceptional.
‘Footballers can signal their desire to move clubs in many ways,’ the piece began. ‘Slapping in a transfer request. Rowing with the manager. Refusing to celebrate a goal. Sometimes all three, in fact. But has Paul Pogba come up with a novel technique for forcing a transfer: proclaiming his love for another club outside a Chinese restaurant.’
By the time that story had a headline, however, things had got a little less jokey: ‘Paul Pogba fuels Manchester United speculation with restaurant visit.’
Mediawatch was intrigued why being in Manchester fuelled United speculation, but not City. We forgot that Wing’s isn’t Manuel Pellegrini’s favourite restaurant. That’ll swing the deal.
‘Paul Pogba fuels speculation of a return to #MUFC with a visit to Chinese restaurant,’ the first tweet from the Telegraph’s football account read. This was followed by a moment of clarity (‘Paul Pogba eats out at Louis van Gaal’s favourite Chinese restaurant. Coincidence? Probably’), before reverting to type (‘Paul Pogba sparks rumours of a move after eating at a Chinese restaurant in Manchester’).
For completeness’ sake, it’s worth pointing out that Pogba’s brother plays for Partick Thistle, they both still have friends in Manchester and the midfielder was given an extra day off by Juventus because he is suspended from their game against Lazio on Friday. Still, #WelcomePogba.
Changed your tune
Thursday is Harry Redknapp column day in the Evening Standard, which means discovering which issue he’s flip-flapping on now. This week, it’s Diego Costa.
‘You are always going to have a problem with Costa,’ Redknapp writes. ‘A few years ago, what you’d have done with a striker like that — who was on a barren run — is say to him: “We’ve got a reserve game on Tuesday. Have a run-out with them. Go and get your eye in in front of goal again and do your confidence the world of good.”
‘Most strikers would have said: “Okay, no problem.” You can’t do that now. If you asked Costa to play in the reserves, there isn’t a chance he’d do it. The foreign players rarely like a reserve game, even when they are coming back from injury. Usually they don’t want to know.’
It’s interesting that Redknapp writes how he knew that ‘you are always going to have a problem with Costa’, because this is him in September:
‘He is a proper centre-forward. He looks to be one that, once he puts his boots on, he doesn’t care what anyone has said to him or what instructions he’s had. He is a streetfighter. That is how he wants to play, that’s what he enjoys about the game and he is a very important player for Chelsea. He is enthusiastic and sparks off everything from the front. He is really a throwback to my playing days at West Ham, when centre forwards would spark fear into defenders.’
Always going to be a problem (because he’s foreign), but two months ago he reminded you of an old-fashioned English centre forward? Right you are.
Generalising, with Harry Redknapp
‘The foreign players rarely like a reserve game, even when they are coming back from injury. Usually they don’t want to know’ – Harry Redknapp, Evening Standard, December 3.
Mediawatch mostly enjoys the superfluous ‘The’ in front of foreign players, to indicate that they are one job lot.
‘Learning’ five things from a game continues to be a throwaway verb, with The Sun’s effort on Southampton vs Liverpool particularly strong.
– Southampton scored early.
– Scoring the first goal doesn’t mean you win the match.
– Daniel Sturridge looked really bloody good.
– Liverpool did not win on penalties.
– Liverpool were better than Southampton.
Writes Neil Ashton in the Daily Mail: ‘Neville has already made his first appointment by recruiting FA video technician Gary Scoulding as technical coach at the Mestalla. Scoulding, who worked with Hodgson at Fulham and Liverpool before moving to Wembley to work with the national team, is so highly thought of that he has been placed on a secondment.’
Sounds to Mediawatch like Neville is dangerously close to having faith in a ‘laptop guru’. Bloody fool.
Mediawatch largely agrees with the Daily Mirror’s Brian Reade that agents making a lot of money is a shame. We’re not sure about the description of them as ‘ageing shysters’ (Aidy Ward, for example, is 34), but take the point. Mediawatch also agrees with Reade that football clubs not paying the living wage is a disgrace. It’s linking the two that sits uncomfortably.
‘How come, when supporters ask clubs why ticket prices can’t be reduced as a result of the record TV contracts, they’re told they don’t have the money to do it,’ Reade begins. ‘Yet when “super-agent” Jorge Mendes asks the same people if they want to take a risk on a donkey such as Radamel Falcao, the mind-boggling back-hander he demands can be found?’
Firstly, Mediawatch isn’t sure the biggest clubs are saying they don’t have the money to lower tickets, more the inclination. It’s supply and demand. Secondly, using the term ‘back-hander’ is remarkably inflammatory, whatever your suspicions of Mendes. Incidentally, that word no longer forms part of the online version of Reade’s piece.
‘Small wonder former nightclub DJ Mendes made £25m out of Premier League clubs in the summer of 2014 alone. But what does Mendes, as opposed to his multi-millionaire clients, bring to match-days that customers couldn’t do without? Nothing,’ Reade continues. ‘What about caterers, stewards, turnstile staff and cleaners? We couldn’t do without them, could we?’
Well, Mendes is largely responsible for his players being there at all, managing every aspect of their careers and brokering their deals. Reade’s argument that players should pay the agents rather than clubs is valid, but blaming the money made by Mendes et al for the selfishness of clubs refusing to pay their staff adequately is more than a little harsh.
Source of the problem
Thought you knew what the problem was at Manchester United, didn’t you? Slow football? Too much training? Lack of faith in Van Gaal’s tactics? No, no and no.
As a Manchester United source told the Daily Mail: “‘There’s no fun, no banter — just lots of meetings. The body language of the players isn’t right, and there’s no expression when they go out to play.”
Take away their banter, and you take away their freedom.
December 2: Reports indicate Chelsea’s Charly Musonda, 19, has changed his agent to sign with Aidy Ward. Yes, him of Raheem Sterling fame.
December 3: ‘Chelsea under pressure as highly-rated youngster Charly Musonda weighs up his future’ – Daily Telegraph.
That Telegraph piece says ‘Musonda is believed to be more talented than either Eden Hazard or Kevin De Bruyne were at the same age and is expected to have a big future in the game’.
Well played, Aidy. Well played indeed.
Slight difference of opinion
‘Valencia are desperate for Red Nev to be their Simeone’ – Daily Mail.
‘Gary gets the job… but Jose’s a summer target… Gary Neville may only be keeping the seat warm for Jose Mourinho’ – The Sun.
Winter is coming
Ever think that football journalism is an industry guilty of occasionally over-inflating its importance? We’ll just leave this here, then.
Spot the odd one out
‘The Premier League title race – who are the most valuable players? Who are the most important players to Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Tottenham as they do battle at the top of the table?’ – Daily Telegraph.
14th – it’s the new fourth.
Ballsy line of the day
‘Manchester City and Manchester United are preparing a staggering £350MILLION raid for the superstar pair [Lionel Messi and Neymar]. And former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez could also be available if the price is right’ – The Sun.
Why not chuck in Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in there too? Or does that make things silly?
Unsurprising news of the day
‘Leicester stars will not get a bonus if they qualify for the Champions League. Players failed to negotiate extra cash for a top-four spot, expecting a relegation fight’ – The Sun.
Runner-Up: ‘Harry Redknapp is close to agreeing a £10m deal to take over United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira’ – The Sun.
Quote of the day
‘Young, gifted and…. playing in black’ – Martin Tyler on Sky Sports.
Worst headline of the day’
‘Sturr fry force is so sweet’ – The Sun. Holy f**k.
Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe on Valencia
Gabriele Marcotti on agents fees
Brian Viner on the Neville brothers