I wish we could stop hearing about this thing I’m writing about
‘IT was when they showed the widescreen shot of Dele Alli appearing to raise his middle finger in the direction of Kyle Walker, rather than the referee, that you began to worry,’ begins Dave Kidd’s piece in Wednesday’s The Sun.
‘That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you suspect we’re going to be hearing far too much about the precise angle of intention of a raised digit… And then you’ll just want to scream out: “Aaaarrrrggghhh! Why can’t it just be about the football?”’
Indeed we will Dave. Still, don’t let that stop you writing 800 words about it. Don’t let that stop your paper getting Ian Wright to write another column on the exact same thing. Don’t let that stop them mocking up a photo of the incident with sight-lines. Don’t let that stop them doing a feature on ‘six other rude boys’ across a double-page spread. Don’t let that stop them shouting out the headline ‘FICKLE FINGER OF FATE’.
Meanwhile, Kidd’s former employers the Daily Mirror barely even give the incident the time of day. You did have a choice, Dave.
Stop this sort of thing. Please.
Before Mediawatch continues on Kidd’s column, can we remember the facts: Dele Alli raised his middle finger. Then the rest: It was probably at his teammate Kyle Walker.
‘Dele Alli is risking going down the same road as Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney and MUST let his football do the talking’ is the headline to Kidd’s piece. Jesus H.
It goes on:
‘The Tottenham man could be banned for as many as FOUR international games after he raised his middle finger on England duty.’
Alli will almost certainly not be banned for four, or FOUR, matches by FIFA. They have not even launched a formal investigation into the incident.
‘It always seems to be this way whenever England unearths a player blessed with the natural gifts capable of making him a world great.’
Does Kidd not see that by labelling Alli as ‘capable of becoming a world great’, he is piling pressure on the shoulders of a 21-year-old every time he pulls on an England shirt? Of course he does.
Pour that pressure on, then lift your hands in open-mouthed surprise when the pressure causes petulance and frustration, adding a bit of righteous disappointment for effect.
‘Yet the fear is that, much like Gascoigne and Rooney, we’re going to spend so much time debating Dele’s on-and-off field behaviour that one day we will find ourselves wondering exactly how great a footballer he might have been without all the nonsense.’
Mediawatch’s biggest frustration is reserved for this hugely unhelpful comparison between Alli and Paul Gascoigne. Sorry, we’re going to get a bit angry here.
Alli has been sent off for an awful tackle against Gent, was retrospectively banned the previous season for hitting Claudio Yacob and has now sworn at a teammate. Gascoigne’s career and life were irretrievably damaged by the devastating effects of alcohol addiction, brought on by an emotional immaturity and lack of support network within a sport that was ill-educated on the impact of mental illness. Let’s play spot the difference, eh.
Also, and Mediawatch cannot stress this enough, the next time you hear anyone describe Gascoigne’s mental illness and addiction as ‘nonsense’, tell them to shut up. It is precisely that dismissal of serious issues as unhelpful baggage getting in the way of what really matters (football, apparently) that means people fail to receive the sympathy and help they require.
On the right side of the tracks
Elsewhere in The Sun, Neil Ashton has aimed his hyperbolic goggles at Manchester United and Marcus Rashford:
‘THEY do the right thing at Manchester United.
‘Nobody gets big-headed, nobody is allowed to get carried away with little bit of success.
‘That is the way they bring them through and Marcus Rashford is no exception.
‘Rashford is a good kid, committed to becoming a first-team regular for club and country.’
Presumably it must have been a different Neil Ashton that wrote this in March:
‘Rashford is a work in progress, with Mourinho speaking to him recently about the off-field distractions that place a strain on young players.
‘Rashford, who is building an enormous new home in Cheshire for him and his family, has recently helped buy his sister Chantelle a new house.’
And a different Neil Ashton that wrote a piece four months earlier under the headline ‘Jose Mourinho tells Marcus Rashford to sort his act out at Manchester United and start living up to the hype’ about how Rashford was struggling to cope and attracting criticism from his manager.
So which is it?
Not on my watch
Oliver Kay’s interview with Jose Mourinho in The Times contains plenty enough insight to be very enjoyable, but Mediawatch had to frown at one aspect.
You see the exclusive interview was given as part of Mourinho’s work with watch company Hublot. The main photo depicts him wearing a Hublot watch front and centre, hardly the most subtle piece of subliminal advertising.
Product-related interviews are not unusual, necessitating a little plug at the end of the piece. In this case: ‘Jose Mourinho gave this interview as part of his work with Hublot. Find out more at yadda yadda…’
Yet see if you think Mourinho might have been guided by Hublot a little with his answers:
“I like to take the watch and put it forward. At the moment it’s 2.30pm. If I have to be some place at 3pm, I tell myself it’s ten to three. In my job, too, I have done that. I accelerate the timings. Timings are a good way to put pressure on myself.”
Hey, that’s only once, you say. Well…
“I still think we need that third transfer window, but I’m not going to wait for the third transfer window to try to reach it. Again, I like to accelerate. I don’t like to sleep on a slow watch, a slow timing, and let it go.”
It all feels very shameless on Mourinho’s/Hublot’s part.
The easy way out
The Daily Mirror use a double-page spread on Wednesday to tackle the issue of why England fail in major tournaments, because this truly is the second Wednesday of international fortnight.
John Cross covers the usual issues in a perfectly reasonable column, but it is the ‘five things the Three Lions have to sort out before summer comes around’ that most piqued Mediawatch’s interest.
You know they are struggling when reasons two and three are ‘Give young players a chance’ and ‘Make better use of England age-group players’ – that’s the same reason guys – but it’s actually the first one that makes the least sense: ‘Play better teams in friendlies’. And that’s the advice to make England better?
England’s last 11 friendly opponents: Italy, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Portugal, Spain (again), Germany (again).
It’s definitely ‘picking soft opposition for friendlies’ to give ‘players’ egos a boost in the rankings’ that is the issue. Rather than literally the exact opposite being true.
Make it stop
‘Stunning Argentine model Sofia Savoy kicks off bid to become world’s number one WAG by posting series of sexy Instagram pics’ – The Sun.
How the f**k do you become the ‘world’s number one WAG’. Is there a competition judged by slathering Sun employees enjoying the closest thing they can get to intimacy?
Sofia is the new girlfriend of South American football star Mauro Dalla Costa, apparently. Given that he doesn’t even have an English Wikipedia page, we’re going to doubt that stardom.
‘Under-fire Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer travels around London after crunch talks over Eagles future’ – The Sun.
Yes, that’s because he lives in London now. It would be hard to get to and from work, the shops or anywhere else without actually moving, so it probably doesn’t merit a ‘picture exclusive’.
Recommended reading of the day
Paul MacInnes on John Motson.
Jack Pitt-Brooke with Joe Shields.
Adam Bate on Paul Clement.