‘Everybody has gone into overdrive about Pep Guardiola and Manchester City in recent weeks, and rightly so,’ writes Stan Collymore in the Daily Mirror. Does he have a column every day now?
‘Some of their football has been scintillating as they threaten to turn the Premier League title race into a procession even before November is out.’
Well, not ‘everybody’, Stan. Because on October 18, you wrote:
‘It may well be pretty nice at the moment there but I will tell them this: If I was still a player I’d have been much happier with a 0-0 draw away from home against our biggest rivals than scoring seven but conceding two to a Stoke team who will finish in the bottom half of the table.’
‘What will determine Pep Guardiola’s success is not how they play, it’s whether or not they can get one more point than the team in second. That isn’t a given while they are conceding two goals in games against teams such as Stoke.’
Then on November 7, you wrote:
‘Tottenham are probably the only team in England, everything considered, that I would pay money to watch. Not Manchester City – good to watch, but I just can’t get excited about them as a club. They are trying to build the best team with the biggest budget. What does that mean? Is it a great team or do they simply have the biggest budget? Anyone can do that.’
So you aren’t impressed by the defence, you wouldn’t pay to watch them and you think any manager could do the same job as Guardiola? If these are compliments…
You may not be surprised to think that Collymore believes Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will make it a title ‘dogfight’. Come on Stan, tell Mediawatch what Guardiola did to hurt your feelings.
Oh Mkhi, you’re not so fine
Another day, and another The Sun exclusive that fails to even make their newspaper. Yes, online gubbins merchant Daniel Cutts and his chatty sources are back:
‘HENRIKH MKHITARYAN is fighting for his Manchester United career – just 16 months after joining. Jose Mourinho and his United backroom staff are still understood to have major reservations over the 28-year-old.
‘He started this season well, but has struggled with injury in recent weeks and has shown alarming signs of fatigue. Mkhitaryan was dropped by Mourinho in the opening months of the last campaign after issues over his fitness levels.
‘He was also axed from their weekend 4-1 win at home to Newcastle because of “tactical reasons”.’
So you wait until Mkhitaryan has been left out of the match-day squad for the first time after starting ten straight league games, and then write a story that he is fighting for his future and that there are doubts about his future. Easy this lark, isn’t it?
Mediawatch did enjoy the actual quotes from the Manchester United ‘source’:
“There are still problems with Mkhitaryan. He is battling to save his career here. There are huge reservations over him from Jose and his backroom team. He has shown an alarming sign of fatigue in recent weeks.
“He could even be handed a rest after the international break after going away with Armenia. It’s going to be a busy festive period.”
But you just told us he had been dropped for ‘tactical reasons’, not a rest? If you are going to get such great access to these insiders at every top club in the land, at least listen to what they are telling you.
‘Mauricio Pochettino warns Dele Alli to keep his cool against referee who almost wrecked his World Cup dream’ – Daily Mirror.
1) Alli was banned for one match. He would have had to be banned for more than six games for his World Cup dream to be ‘wrecked’. That’s stretching the definition of ‘almost’.
2) Given that Alli’s gesture was not even spotted by referee Clement Turpin and that he was banned by a FIFA panel rather than the referee, how was it Turpin who ‘almost wrecked’ Alli’s World Cup dream?
Do the right thing
“One thing about Tony Pulis is that he likes to leave clubs the right way,” said Jonathan Pearce on BBC 5Live on Tuesday evening.
Before being appointed by West Brom, Pulis left Crystal Palace after announcing that he was not being backed in the transfer market. In November 2016, Pulis was ordered by a high court judge to pay £3.7m to Palace for fraudulent misrepresentation over a £2m bonus that had been paid to him the day before he announced his departure.
If that’s leaving “the right way”, Mediawatch would pay to see Pulis leave the wrong way. Naked headbutts for everyone present, presumably.
Be careful what you wish for
‘West Bromwich Albion became brilliantly boring under Tony Pulis — so sacking him is risky,’ writes Chris Sutton in Tuesday’s Daily Mail.
Now ‘brilliantly’ isn’t an adverb we would associate with anything about West Brom over the last eight months, so this should be interesting.
‘It all comes down to where the owners expect them to finish and how they expect them to play.’
It also comes down to them wanting to win matches. West Brom have won two of their last 21 league games. How, by any definition, is that ‘brilliant’?
‘Personally, I think every year they stay in the Premier League is a success. Do the owners expect them to finish in the top eight? Realistically, West Brom are always going to be in a scrap.’
Erm, well West Brom did finish eighth 18 months before Pulis arrived, under Roy Hodgson.
‘If they want a better brand of football then it may have been better to wait until the end of the season. It’s fanciful to expect them to do it now.’
But that’s precisely the point, isn’t it? It wasn’t just the dreadful football and it wasn’t just the dreadful results, but those two things in miserable combination.
As ever, those advising supporters who have paid to watch West Brom over the last eight months to ‘be careful what they wish for’ might be better off speaking to those supporters first.
Throw enough s**t against a wall
‘Arsenal set to sell Mesut Ozil to Barcelona for £20m as agent negotiates deal’ – The Sun, November 21.
‘Arsenal star Mesut Ozil lined up for emotional Schalke comeback’ – The Sun, November 20.
‘Atletico Madrid contact Mesut Ozil about stunning return to Spain next summer’ – The Sun, November 14.
‘Mesut Ozil could sign new Arsenal contract… if Arsene Wenger gives him Jack Wilshere’s No 10 shirt’ – The Sun, November 13.
‘Arsenal ace Mesut Ozil reckons Manchester United move is a done deal – and has told team-mates he’s making shock move’ – The Sun, October 20.
So he’s going to Manchester United, Schalke, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or staying at Arsenal? Glad that’s clear. Three of those were ‘exclusives’.
Cultural reference/analogy/ending of the day
‘In fact, the next time the two of them [Pogba and Ibrahimovic] cast an eye across the Premier League tundra, the conversation should be reminiscent of the one between Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King, when they are sitting on top of the cliff and looking out over everything beneath them.
‘Mufasa says: “A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun. One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.”
‘Simba replies: “And this’ll all be mine?”
‘“Everything,” says Mufasa’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on Chris Coleman.
Jack Pitt-Brooke with Christian Pulisic.
Nick Miller on sacking season.