You may have seen Raheem Sterling’s rather level-headed quotes about Liverpool, his development and plenty more on Thursday morning. The 20-year-old rather calmly discussed his decision to join Manchester City among other things.
Of course, if you’re The Sun and it’s international week, Sterling directed a ‘KOP DIG’ towards Anfield.
Actual quotes from Sterling: “I have no regrets. I’m not trying to say I proved anyone wrong, it’s just that I thought it was right for me – and my heart was saying it is what I should do. They are both two big clubs and I am just happy to be where I am.”
Less ‘KOP DIG’, more ‘player speaks with respect over former club but believes he made the right choice to leave’. The latter, admittedly, is not quite as kind in terms of spacing.
If Sterling’s digging, The Sun are most certainly stretching.
The sigh was audible from Mediawatch upon opening the Daily Mirror on Thursday morning. Two pages in, John Cross teams up with Peter Reid to deliver the annual ‘young English players should have absolutely no ambition whatsoever’ line.
The player used for the argument this time is Jack Rodwell, who made his England debut as an Everton player exactly four years ago but has since seen his career unravel after joining Manchester City in 2012. Cross, with quotes from Reid, attribute Rodwell’s dramatic fall from grace to ‘putting cash before footballing dreams’ by joining City three years ago.
‘His England career has taken a nosedive because he has not been playing regular first-team football in the Premier League,’ writes Cross. ‘And he can’t say he wasn’t warned.’
Rodwell indeed has not been playing regular first-team football in the Premier League, but is that really solely down to Manchester City, John? The midfielder played 25 games in all competitions from 2012 to 2014 at City, but missed a total of 32 through three separate injuries. Rodwell was available for barely three months of his debut season, and he understandably struggled to secure a regular first-team place at the Etihad after injuries marred his second season.
‘Rodwell’s third – and only cap under Hodgson – came in the 2-2 draw with Brazil in June 2013,’ Cross continues. ‘Partly due to injuries, his career has been in freefall ever since.’
‘Partly due to injuries’ or mostly due to injuries, you pick.
Reid adds, on Rodwell: “I can understand them going to City. It’s a great club, great set-up and you can win trophies. But you can’t if you’re not playing. And that’s the problem. Now he has gone to Sunderland and he’s still not playing. What is that telling you?”
That money has nothing to do with it and Rodwell was and is perhaps simply not of the required standard?
It’s international week, so ‘Football Expert & Columnist’ Paul Merson joins Sky Sports to provide us with some predictions for the Premier League season. They’re here to replace his weekend fixture predictions, but fear not, Merse is still bang on form.
We begin with who will win the Premier League title. “I can’t split Manchester City and Arsenal, I really can’t,” says Merson. He backs City within the same paragraph. “It’s a really hard call but if you’re forcing me to pick one…” adds Merson. He does know what predictions are, right?
With (his former club) Arsenal taking second, Merson then predicts Spurs to finish third, demanding that ‘people have got to start respecting’ them. Merson predicted that Spurs would lose 3-0 to Arsenal on Sunday, and admitted that he would be “shocked” if the Gunners didn’t win. Big respect.
Considering Merson also tipped Spurs to finish eighth in another prediction of the final Premier League table after four games in September, it’s been quite the rise for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. They were behind Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Swansea in Merson’s rankings at that point.
Most bizarre though is Merson backing Chelsea to finish fourth. For context, the Blues are currently 16th on 11 points after 12 games; the highest any side has finished after such a poor start is sixth by Aston Villa in 2003/04. Chelsea have to overhaul a 13-point gap on currently fourth-placed Manchester United, never mind the 11 teams separating those two sides. Chelsea could go on an incredible run – contrary to their current form and all common sense – but them finishing fourth also relies on numerous other teams suffering sudden drops in form.
Those teams also include the current holders of the fourth-placed trophy, Manchester United. On how Chelsea will finish above the Red Devils, Merson says Louis van Gaal’s side ‘go out not to lose’ games as opposed to Chelsea’s desire to win them. Considering the Blues have lost seven of their 12 Premier League games so far this season to United’s two, perhaps they’d be best advised to adopt such tactics more often.
The Daily Mail have a tasty EXCLUSIVE for us. Neil Ashton claims that Paris Saint-Germain have joined Real Madrid in the race for the signature of Eden Hazard next summer.
But hold on, that sounds familiar…
From The Sun on October 25: ‘CHELSEA fear Eden Hazard could be tempted by a £75million move to Paris Saint-Germain.’
Well, it is EXCLUSIVE to November.
‘Carlo Ancelotti has shot back to the top of the list as a possible replacement for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea,’ said The Sun on Wednesday. ‘The Italian was spotted in a swanky West London eatery last night appearing to hold talks with people claiming to represent the Blues.’
Are they sure he wasn’t just chatting to Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail, who produced a two-page spread of an interview with the Italian manager after meeting with him in a London restaurant earlier this week?
Shock of the day
John Cross selects three Arsenal players in his team of the season so far for the Daily Mirror. None of his colleagues picked more.
Non-football football story of the day
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) November 12, 2015
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) November 12, 2015
— The Sun (@TheSun) November 12, 2015
‘Unemployed doctor gets married.’
Headline of the day
‘I’ll beat my boos problem’ – The Sun.
Worst headline of the day
‘Kop could Sturr it up’ – The Sun again. That simply isn’t how his name is pronounced.
Recommended reading of the day
Daniel Taylor on Nottingham Forest and Brian Clough.
Adam Bate on Chris Smalling’s rapid rise.
Jonathan Wilson on Mehmed Bazdarevic – international football’s nearly man.
Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotters Ed and Kate. Mail us at theeditor@football365 and help us out. Pretty please.