Mediawatch genuinely punched the air on reading this from Alan Shearer and his trumpet in The Sun:
‘IT LOOKS highly unlikely that Newcastle will survive now. And the club will only have themselves to blame. For they have made exactly the same mistake as seven years ago by not giving the new man enough time.’
And yes, that man seven years ago was one Alan Shearer, a managerial rookie who won one of his eight games in charge of Newcastle. Which is exactly the same as Newcastle appointing Rafa Benitez, Champions League winner, double La Liga champion and manager of almost 1,000 games. Exactly the same.
‘In 2009, I was made manager with just eight games to go. I knew straight away it was not long enough,’ continues Shearer. ‘If I had another four or five matches, I believe we would have escaped.’
Was it the 3-1 victory over fellow relegated Middlesbrough that convinced you? Or the 1-0 defeat at home to Fulham a few days later after which The Guardian noted that ‘Shearer may forever be a messiah in these parts, but even he cannot make wine out of water’? Or was it the pathetic attempt at Aston Villa the following week when they went down with a whimper? On this occasion, the same paper noted that Shearer ‘deserves understanding since he could not address the basic need for new players. While the collapse should not be attributed to him, it is also true that he could not conjure up a remarkable result to redeem the club’.
At no point does anybody – and we mean anybody – suggest that Shearer would have saved Newcastle if only they had more time. Until Shearer arrives seven years later to claim that history has repeated itself with Rafa Benitez. Of course it has, Alan.
Worst intro of the day
Neil Ashton in The Sun: ‘PEP GUARDIOLA is swapping the Bundesliga for the Bungled League.’
Embarrassment of ditches
The Sun’s Charlie Wyett has been ‘analysing’ what went wrong at Norwich this season. He quite rightly blames the inactivity of last summer.
‘Norwich made just two signings – Robbie Brady from Hull for £7m and Youssouf Mulumbu from West Brom on a free – plus Andre Wisdom arrived on loan from Liverpool. Pretty embarrassing,’ he writes.
Pretty embarrassing. But not half as embarrassing as Norwich fan Wyett forgetting the Canaries’ joint top scorer Dieumerci Mbokani; we’ll forgive him for allowing Matt Jarvis to slip his mind.
Is he still expecting to see Leicester in the Championship next season?
Now fat’s what I call music
‘Fat man’ Neil Custis is back on The Sun website, detailing his spell at ‘The Northern Boot Camp near Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast’ (not that this piece is in exchange for a plug) in an attempt to win a challenge not taken up by anybody else.
‘SUNSPORT’S Neil Custis is in to the final leg of his pounds v points challenge against Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal – who labelled him ‘fat man’’, the piece begins.
Mediawatch would like to amend that sentence slightly to the following:
‘SUNSPORT’S Neil Custis is in to the final leg of his pounds v points challenge against Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal – who labelled him ‘fat man’ and then sensibly ignored calls to take part in said challenge.’
The piece continues: ‘The jibe at the end of a press conference on January 12 at St.James’s Park prompted the challenge from Custis with Paddy Power putting up £1,000 for a charity of the winner’s choice.’
One question: Can you ‘win’ a challenge you never accepted?
‘Custis had to lose more pounds than Van Gaal earned points from that moment.’
He really, really didn’t.
Martin Samuel on champagne: The very short rebuttal
MARTIN SAMUEL: Ferguson's players wouldn't dump champagne on his head, so why did Leicester's do it to Ranieri? https://t.co/fgf0wwDWLa
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) May 8, 2016
— Josh Wright (@_WrightJosh) May 9, 2016
Martin Samuel on champagne: The rather longer rebuttal
‘Sir Alex Ferguson’s players wouldn’t have poured champagne on him…so why do it to Leicester champion Claudio Ranieri?’ is the headline on Samuel’s Daily Mail piece. We would say ‘words fail’ but they clearly do not.
‘What the f*** has it got to do with you?’ is our first question, before quietly asking what Samuel presumes to know about a relationship between manager and players to which he is not privy. And that was before we saw that picture of a laughing Ferguson being soaked in champagne.
‘Some will look at the bubbly high jinks as another example of Leicester’s indomitable team spirit. This is what makes them special. This is why they are champions. It isn’t,’ writes Samuel.
As usual, Samuel has picked a straw man and taken him down with a scythe. Nobody with a modicum of sense believes that Leicester won the title purely because of team spirit. And Mediawatch did not believe that anybody with a modicum of sense would see a momentary glimpse into a warm relationship between manager and players as reason for indignation and anger.
‘Had it happened behind closed doors, then it is Leicester’s little joke, for Ranieri to find amusing or not as he wishes,’ continues Samuel. ‘The presence of cameras and the nation’s media, however, brought it into the public domain and the way Ranieri grabbed Fuchs’ hand when he went back in for a second go, suggested a firmer message. Enough. I’m better than this; Leicester are better than this, too.’
Mediawatch loves nothing more than a journalist deciding what a man is thinking by simply watching him grab another man’s arm; it’s second only to interpreting the dullness in a man’s eyes as a reason for his imminent transfer.
Or this: ‘A look had flashed across his face, though. A look that suggested he thought his players were smarter than to treat him this way.’
Yes, because interpreting a ‘look’ is definitely the basis for a column in a national newspaper by an award-winning journalist.
‘Dilly ding, dilly dong. Don’t they get it? This is an act. This is what he puts out there to relax the team, to break the ice and the tension, to feed the media monster and ensure not every story is about whether Leicester will crack up. This is how he behaves to lull his rivals into believing that they are not up against one of the sharpest minds in European football.’
Don’t they get it? Mediawatch would venture to suggest that players who have worked in close proximity to a man for the last ten months know a little more about him than a journalist who has watched him give a few interviews to the media. Samuel has decided that Ranieri is putting on an act while never seeing anything other than the ‘act’. It would be a parody were it not apparently so sodding serious.
Our favourite part of Samuel’s entirely ridiculous column? There were many contenders but we particularly enjoyed this: ‘On Saturday, Ranieri donned his very best. It was clearly a huge occasion for him; and unless he keeps a spare suit at work, he was going to spend the evening sticky and uncomfortable.’
We suspect he probably keeps a spare suit at work, Martin. After all, ‘football managers are serious professionals. They hold executive positions at businesses worth hundreds of millions that exist in the public eye’. And serious professionals keep a spare suit at work. Or perhaps he gave you a ‘look’ that said ‘I used to have a spare suit at work but I wore that when I spilt gravy three weeks ago and forgot to bring in another’?
Martin Samuel: A reprise
Remember this from Samuel about Wahbi Khazri? Remember when ‘Khazri cared more about how he looked than how Sunderland fared’, purely because he attempted a rabona.
Has any journalist ever been so emotionally intelligent as Martin Samuel?
Scraping the Leicester barrel
This shows how big Leicester are: NAmerican papers who've used my articles in print this week (other continents too) pic.twitter.com/SLKFIJNRRg
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) May 7, 2016
Enough about the greatest football story ever told, let’s talk about me…
Quote of the day
“No matter who we’re playing, we play three in midfield – Drinkwater in the middle and Kante either side” – Leicester scout Steve Walsh.
Insight of the day
Sam Allardyce on John Terry:
“It’ll not be his last game in the Premier League because somebody else in will take him if he wants to stay here. Or he might feel, like David Beckham did, that he won’t play for any other club in the Premier League and go venturing far and wide, because there’s that many places like America and China that will take a John Terry.”
So he will play again in the Premier League unless he chooses not to play in the Premier League.
Thanks for that.
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on Jack Wilshere changing Arsenal’s performance
Daniel Taylor on the Championship shedding managers
Richard Jolly on Manuel Pellegrini’s sad goodbye