You know it’s international week when…
‘BEAUTY AND THE BEARD Olivier Giroud has his beard and eyebrows combed in grooming session’ – The Sun.
Yes, that is the whole story.
‘Gareth Southgate has Mario Balotelli moment and struggles to get his bib on as England train ahead of World Cup qualifiers’ – The Sun.
And so is that.
Taking the knife out of the back
The Sun‘s Neil Ashton is suddenly very keen to get across how down to earth Marcus Rashford is. On September 6 he wrote a column on how Manchester United ‘bring their players up a certain way’ and that ‘they are grounded boys, stretching back to the days of Becks, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, brother Phil, and Rio Ferdinand’.
On Tuesday, Ashton repeats that line:
‘Nobody expects Rashford, who is due to start England’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley against Slovenia on Thursday, to go down that road. He appears too smart, too streetwise, too level-headed for that. Instead, he is trying to lead a quiet life, spending the afternoons in the Trafford Centre with his girlfriend or meeting his pals for peri-peri chicken in Nando’s. That is the way Rashford rolls.’
The thing is, we’ve never suspected anything different of Rashford. He seems just about as mature and grounded as any young player could be. It’s part of why he is incredibly likeable.
In fact, the only journalist who has ever claimed anything different about Rashford is Ashton himself. In April, he wrote a hatchet job on the young Manchester United forward. It stuck in Mediawatch’s mind because it was so savage:
‘The flashy motors in the parking bays and the king-sized houses being built in the Cheshire countryside are all well and good when the goals are flying in. When Manchester United’s highly-paid players are drawing blanks, as they did during Saturday’s wretched 0-0 draw with West Brom, the bling culture becomes a problem.
‘Rashford, a Euro 2016 wildcard with England, has lost his way since the big bucks started to roll in. His new home, a sprawling six-bedroom pad being built in Bowden, Cheshire, is almost ready for the forward to move into. It has sprung up on the same street as Joe Hart and is close to the house Zlatan Ibrahimovic rents from former Manchester City star Micah Richards.
‘The £30,000-plus Rashford spends annually on car insurance for the fleet of motors that started arriving when he signed a new deal barely touches the sides. Last month he splashed out £14,500 on a Rolex Santos wristwatch for his mother Melanie’s birthday.
‘He has an obsession with Balenciaga — a luxury French fashion brand — and has more than 30 pairs of their £400-a-pop shoes to choose from each morning. Rashford can do whatever he likes with his cash, but United are entitled to feel a tad disappointed with the return on their investment so far.’
From ‘an obsession with Balenciaga’, ‘losing his way’ and ‘bling culture’ to ‘the quiet life because that’s how he rolls’ in six short months. That’s some turnaround. Are you sure you weren’t being a little hasty before, Neil?
‘Someone, somewhere has tried to tuck him up. Everybody, it seems, is pretending to be Marcus Rashford’s best mate these days,’ begins Ashton’s column on Tuesday. So it seems.
Sage advice #1
Stan Collymore has never been employed as a football manager, and when you read his advice for Ronald Koeman about how to solve Everton’s goalscoring problems in Tuesday’s Daily Mirror, that is easy to believe:
‘Everton put the horse before the cart in the summer and that was their mistake. They sold Romelu Lukaku then fleshed out the squad rather than making it a priority to replace him. It’s impossible to take 24, 25 goals a season out of a side and not pay a price for it. And it’s coming back to haunt them big time at the minute.’
So far, so reasonable.
‘I’m certain Benteke would have been gettable for not much more than Crystal Palace paid for him. And having seen him at Aston Villa I’m convinced he’d have been tailor-made for Ronald Koeman’s side. He has pace, holds the ball up well, brings others into the game, and he’s good in the air.’
Advocating paying £35m or so for Benteke suggests that Collymore hasn’t seen much of him or Palace this season, but it’s not an unreasonable shout. Still, Collymore has a better, more ingenious plan:
‘Back in the day, managers in this situation would have been tempted to look in the reserves or the age groups for a big centre half with an eye for goal and stick him up front, change the style of play and see what happened.’
Did they? And was it particularly successful, Stan?
‘Sometimes such a move can get you out of a rut. I’d be tempted to do that with the Under-18s, even Under-17s, just see if anyone can come in for four or five games and cause a stir as Marcus Rashford did at Manchester United.’
Yes, that’s right. Collymore’s answer to Everton’s goalscoring rut is to go to the Under-17 squad, pick a big central defender, stick him up front in the first team and sit back while he has the same impact Marcus Rashford had at Manchester United. Sublime.
Sage advice #2
Don’t think that it’s just under-performing managers who can rely upon Collymore’s advice, though. Oh no, Pep Guardiola is getting some too:
‘Pep Guardiola doesn’t have to go all Tony Pulis by wearing the club shop but if he doesn’t want to wear a suit on the touchline then he should at least don a tracksuit. There’s a standard of dress at some of our great cathedrals of football and, while Stone Island is fine for the stands, it’s not fit for Premier League dug-outs.’
Erm… what? Firstly, there isn’t a standard of dress. And if there was, it’s a very weird rule which dictates you either have to be very smart (suit) or very casual (tracksuit) but nothing in between. Who on earth are you, we or anyone to tell Guardiola how to dress? He’s a grown man for goodness sake.
Also, what again? Who cares what he wears? Why does it make any difference? Is English football losing respect around the world because Guardiola is wearing Converse and a turtle neck?
It’s almost – and bear with us here – as if Collymore has a bizarre agenda against Guardiola ever since he mistakenly thought Manchester City’s manager did not know who he was. It led to this bizarre column about exactly who Collymore was.
Conclusion: If Collymore is bothering to have a go at your dress sense, the actual football is probably going pretty well.
Martin Samuel’s masturbation gag: A few questions
‘Wayne Rooney has a wrist injury. If Everton keep playing as they did on Sunday at Goodison Park, he won’t be the only one’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.
Forgive us for the entirely unnecessary analysis, but:
– Option 1: Everton supporters will get RSI from doing the internationally-recognised w*nker sign at their players if this form continues.
– Option 2: Everton supporters will be so uninspired by their team that they will resort to masturbating in the stands if this form continues.
– Option 3: Everyone is delighting so much in Everton’s poor form that it is causing a widespread trend of increased masturbation. Continue, and it will become a national problem.
– Option 4: Samuel is using ‘he won’t be the only one’ as a euphemism for himself. We’re trying to block the mental image of this one, to be honest.
We (really don’t) need answers…
Good to know
‘With the FA still in crisis mode over Sampson’s sacking and Crystal Palace yet to score a Premier League goal or win a point this season, it’s unlikely FA chief executive Martin Glenn and Palace manager Roy Hodgson have much time for golf. But when they do, both have become members of Richmond Golf Club’ – Charlie Sale’s Sports Agenda, Daily Mail.
We can finally sleep easy.
Anecdote of the day
“I used to go to the Quarry Green social club in Kirkby with Robbo [Bryan Robson] and Terry [McDermott] and there was one Sunday session that was infamous.
“We had already had a good go when last orders came, but there was no chance that we wanted to finish – so all three of us went to the bar and, between us, we ordered 50 pints.
“It’s a sight that will live with me forever. Three men, already full up on ale, with 50 pints in front of us. Looking back, I would say it was too much” – Peter Reid.
Football’s changed, hasn’t it?
Unlikely comparison of the day
‘The fact that we live in an age where personality is king is best highlighted by Donald Trump – the world’s most powerful man exemplifies our culture of style over substance. And it’s something that Jurgen Klopp benefits from at Liverpool too’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.
They do both want a better defensive wall…
Recommended reading of the day
Miguel Delaney with Marcus Rashford.
David Squires on lion logos.
Paul Hayward with Greg Clarke.