Congratulations to the Daily Mirror’s John Cross, who has ‘exclusively’ worked out that with no Manchester United or Liverpool players starting against Turkey on Sunday – leaving Roy Hodgson with just 15 outfield players – that remaining strikers Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane will start together for England. He has also ‘exclusively’ worked out that Hodgson will pair his only two available centre-halves in defence.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why he gets paid the big bucks.
Breaking football news
The man who brought you our favourite ever MailOnline football story – ‘Jermain Defoe hoping to ease Sunderland’s relegation fears after nutritious meal as he gears up for clash with Crystal Palace – is back again with another absolute belter.
‘Cesc Fabregas puts disappointing Chelsea season behind him as midfielder soaks up Miami sun with girlfriend Daniella Semaan’ is the headline on Matt Maltby’s latest.
Number of pictures of Cesc Fabregas and his girlfriend by the pool: Ten.
Number of pictures actually featuring footballer Cesc Fabregas: Four.
Revelation of the day
‘Arsenal news: Revealed: Mesut Ozil’s goal celebration explained’ – Metro, May 20.
Found with the quickest of Google searches:
‘Mesut Ozil goal celebration explained: Arsenal midfielder clears up any confusion, celebrates in the same way against Liverpool’ – Independent, February 2015.
‘Mesut Ozil’s goal celebration explained: Arsenal player’s North London derby opener dedicated to recently born baby niece Mira’ – Daily Mirror, February 2015.
‘Mesut Ozil explains letter ‘m’ Arsenal celebration’ – Sport Review, June 2015.
English FA Cup for the English
Mediawatch is never surprised by the self-congratulatory smugness of Alan Pardew, but did nobody at the BBC – who printed these quotes in full without comment – think to question this utter nonsense?
“It will not just be good for me and the club to win it but good for English coaches,” said Pardew. “English coaches and managers get a bad press. As an English manager I’m coming closer than anyone for a long time. It gives me an opportunity to try and win it.”
Closer than anyone for a long time? Closer than Steve Bruce two years ago? Closer than Tim Sherwood one whole year ago? English coaches and managers are getting a bloody good press as long as nobody stands up and says ‘I call bulls**t, Mr Chunky, Sir’.
No Spain, no gain
It’s quite obvious that Spanish football clubs are doing rather better than English football clubs in Europe. There are various clues: The UEFA co-efficients, the actual results, the evidence of our own eyes.
The Sun’s Chief Football Reporter Neil Ashton has also spotted this trend. He offers no insight into possible reasons or any ideas for possible solutions, but he wants you to know that he knows that Spanish football teams are better than their English counterparts. Perhaps he wants a badge for spotting that ‘these are worrying times for English football’.
Mediawatch must take the tiniest issue with his starting point as he writes: ‘UNTIL Wednesday, Sevilla had not won a game outside of Spain since the 2015 Europa League final. In Basel, when they needed to do it against Liverpool, they came home with something to spare.
‘The Spanish side made it look so easy in the second half, with Kevin Gameiro and captain Coke securing a third successive triumph in the competition.’
In implication is clear: Only the English cannot win against Sevilla outside of Spain. Because the English are of course sh*t.
What Ashton doesn’t mention: Sevilla started the season in the Champions League and were largely outclassed, winning only two games of six. The only team to beat them twice – both home and away? Manchester City, who we strongly suspect of being an English club.
Of course, Manchester City reached the Champions League semi-finals, where – according to a disgusted Ashton – they ‘could not lay a glove on Real Madrid’.
Silly City. They should have crashed out of the Champions League and gone on to win the far easier Europa League. That would have shown those bloody Spaniards.
Actually, we have questions
‘Unquestionably, Spanish football rules,’ continues Ashton. ‘Last November, when England travelled to Alicante for a friendly, they could not get the ball off Spain in a 2-0 defeat.
‘Only last week England Under-17s were beaten to a semi-final place in the European Championships when they lost 1-0 to the next generation of junior matadors.’
What about the England Under-19s, Neil? Didn’t they play Spain in March? And didn’t they win 2-0?
Unquestionably, you have studiously ignored that game because it does not fit your narrative.
Laptop guru: A return
Because we don’t want to make this Ashtonwatch, we will move swiftly past his attempt to suggest Rafa Benitez actually did a poor job at Newcastle and Michael Carrick being ‘treated abysmally’ by Manchester United, his employers who have decided not to open talks on a renewal of contract because, well, they don’t want to, the b***ards.
But we cannot move so swiftly past Ashton’s renewal of hostilities with Michael Edwards, the ‘laptop guru who did a number on Brendan Rodgers’. Ashton describes Edwards as ‘aggressive’ after the Europa League final and suggests that the reason was the performance of Alberto Moreno (given a commendable 7/10 in The Sun’s Dream Team ratings, by the way), one of the players ‘signed off on Edwards’ watch’.
Also signed off on Edwards’ watch: Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Emre Can…need we go on?
‘Judging by Moreno’s display in Basel, it’s little wonder Jurgen Klopp demands the final say on signings,’ ends the nasty little dig from Ashton.
The ‘final say’ like Brendan Rodgers, who said in 2013: “There is absolutely no way a player will come in here if I don’t want him; it’s very clear that anyone we sign will be because I want him here.”
It’s almost like it’s not entirely Edwards’ fault that Liverpool lost the Europa League final; it’s clearly because Spanish club sides are unbeatable (sometimes).
Gauntlet of the day
According to the back page of The Sun, ‘DANIEL STURRIDGE believes he has thrown down a Euro 2016 gauntlet to England chief Roy Hodgson.’
The only problem here is that Daniel Sturridge believes absolutely nothing of the sort, as evidenced by his actual quotes in which he says: “I’m fresh and good to go for the Euros. It’s down to Roy who he wants to select.
“I can only say I know what I bring to the team and what I can do. I don’t want to put anyone else’s achievements down but I will just say I know what I can do. Then it’s down to Roy to select whoever he wants to select. That’s it. I believe in myself, you know.
“The boss has to do his job and he has the whole nation on his shoulders, so he has to make his decisions.
“It’s exciting, there are some brilliant strikers to choose from now and it is exciting for the country.”
It sounds awfully like Daniel Sturridge quite rightly believes he is quite good but accepts that there’s some tough competition at international level, but apparently Phil Thomas of The Sun is a bloody mind-reader and Sturridge’s mind is screaming GAUNTLET.
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on the tactics of Crystal Palace
Jonathan Wilson on Daniel Sturridge
Kit Holden on Red Bull Leipzig