Bang the drum
As you may have seen, The Sun outdid themselves yesterday. In a front-page exclusive titled ‘OBSCENE RAHEEM’, they criticised the England winger for ‘flaunting his millionaire wealth’ on a ‘Through The Keyhole-style tour of a luxury mansion’. The ‘pampered star’ was videoed ‘bragging’ about his ‘wealth’ and ‘extravagance’.
The Sun’s various social media accounts promoted the story by claiming that Sterling was ‘insulting fans’, that he had ‘joined a long line of footballers scoring shock social media own goals’, and that the 21-year-old was a ‘footie idiot’.
Such ridiculous treatment understandably angered the Manchester City winger. Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News would publish an exclusive later on Thursday revealing the actual story behind the leaked Snapchat video: He had purchased the house for his mum. The ‘obscene’, ‘pampered’, ‘extravagant’, ‘idiotic’ b*stard.
In light of this news, The Sun obviously published an apology in their newspaper on Friday. Right? Wrong.
Flick to page 15 and there reads a story headlined: ‘Mansion moaner’. For fuc…
‘England flop Raheem Sterling owns the mansion he featured in a flashy online video,’ the story, afforded around five square inches in the bottom-left corner, reads. ‘Sterling, 21, bought the £2.4m ten-bed pile in Slough, Berks, for his mum Nadine Clark.’
So claims of a ‘flashy online video’ persist, despite it being acknowledged that the house had been bought for his mother. Good stuff.
‘The Sun told yesterday how the £50m Man City winger showed off a crystal-encrusted sink and supercars after England’s Euro 2016 exit. Pals said he was “furious and frustrated” at being made a “scapegoat”. One said: “Raheem and his family are really upset.”‘
Is this their version of an apology for branding a young man ‘obscene’ for treating the woman who raised him? Seriously, ‘Mansion moaner’? And you wonder why he feels vilified?
A step too far
Not content with using their platform as the best-selling newspaper in Britain to disparage a young man who did not play football to a sufficient standard this summer, The Sun took to Twitter, where they have a 1.15m following. To say that Mediawatch was absolutely aghast is an understatement.
Story about a drug dealer who was a semi-professional footballer? Why not use Sterling as the picture. Holy f**k. pic.twitter.com/0hMWiXfbe9
— Football365 (@F365) June 30, 2016
Above is a story about Omar Lindsay, a man who has been sentenced to 32 months for admitting possessing cocaine and crack cocaine with intent to supply, and escaping from police custody.
‘What does that have to do with Raheem Sterling?’ you ask. Well, quite. But that did not stop a picture of the 21-year-old being inserted into the article, with the caption including references to Sterling’s ‘lavish lifestyle’, one which a man convicted for drug offences was apparently attempting to emulate. Unless Lindsay has bought a house for his mother and The Sun have neglected to inform us?
That the picture (and the above tweet) has since been removed is irrelevant. The Sun, in their inexplicable hate campaign against Sterling, saw fit to include his picture in an article on a criminal. There is no reference to Sterling within the article, and no claim that Lindsay was attempting to emulate Sterling in particular, so why was his image used? Why not Wayne Rooney, whose excursions on a ‘£120,000-a-week yacht’ are handed a full page in their newspaper edition? Why does an image of a particular footballer need to be used at all?
And why, if the image has since been removed, has there been no public apology issued? In fact, the closest The Sun have come to an apology for their reprehensible treatment of Sterling is a 100-word article ‘Mansion moaner’; even in that story they reference the ‘flashy online video’ and Sterling ‘showing off’ a crystal-encrusted sink. Mediawatch can only repeat its message from Thursday:
‘Where does this end? When does news reporting in the public interest become a deliberate attempt to demonise the personality and jeopardise the career of a 21-year-old player? When does the desire for clicks and sales outgrow that public interest (f**k it, that one’s already gone). When does the biggest-selling national newspaper get called out for its own role in the “culture of fear” to which Steven Gerrard referred on Wednesday? And when does Sterling turn around and say, actually, I don’t want to play for England any more, and presumably be labelled a coward for doing so?
‘The Sun have every right to publish stories like these. They have every right to put them on their front page. But having done so, they forgo their right to ask why England players are struggling to swim in the goldfish bowl. Sometimes, the answer is closer to (videoed) home than you think.’
Except this time, The Sun had no right. They had no right to publish a story regarding a man convicted for drug offences featuring a prominent image of an unrelated footballer. They have no right to continue their victimisation of a young man guilty only of struggling for consistent form on a football field. Oh and buying a house for his mum, who still works as a nurse by the way.
And another thing…
— Charlie Wyett (@CharlieWyett) June 30, 2016
So tell us, when is the right time to launch a malicious campaign against a 21-year-old man?
Big Sam’s grand slam
Sticking with The Sun, and Neil Ashton has quite the scoop regarding the identity of the next England manager: Sir Alex Ferguson is backing Sam Allardyce.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson’s conversation with the FA will be short and sweet. Big Sam is his man,’ reads the intro. Other lines in Ashton’s piece include:
‘There is no bigger voice than Sir Alex’s.’
‘It will take a brave man to ignore the most successful manager in Premier League history.’
‘It has certainly come to something when the FA are sounding out a Scotsman about the identity of the next England manager.’
‘[Allardyce] was considered once before… Steve McClaren, incredibly, was the man chosen to succeed the Swede [Sven-Goran Eriksson].’
Hopefully Ferguson’s tip for the next England manager fares better than his last one in 2006.
“I think it’d be a good appointment,” the Scot said of Steve McClaren eight years ago. “He knows the players and he’s had a good apprenticeship. He’s been at Derby, he’s been with myself and he’s had his own tenure at Middlesbrough for five years. They have a good set of players, an experienced back-room staff and Steve knows all that. He’s always been one who has had visions for developing things. He is a very progressive coach. I feel you have to support whoever is appointed but I could not see why you should not pick an English coach.”
So much for ‘English football’s king-maker’; it is important to remember that DAVID Ferguson gets his fair share of MOYES calls wrong.
Bait and switch
Let’s play a game. Mediawatch will reveal all but two words of the headline to the following column from the London Evening Standard. See if you can guess the author.
‘The next England manager should be younger – but helped by an older head like me’
If you guessed Henry James Redknapp, then have a gold star. Yes, the man whose managerial record since February 2015 comprises two games – one win and one loss – believes he should be involved in the England set-up going forward. Of course he does.
‘I know the people at the FA who choose managers and I probably don’t fit their criteria because the game now is being run by academics,’ writes Redknapp. Yeah, Harry, that’s why you are unlikely to be considered. ‘They don’t know what it takes to produce consistent performances in the Premier League because they aren’t football people.’
‘They don’t know what it takes to produce consistent performances in the Premier League,’ says the man whose top-flight record since November 2012 reads: Played 49 Won 9 Drawn 13 Lost 27.
Redknapp’s article is essentially a masterful piece of self-promotion, intertwined with the 69-year-old doing the football manager equivalent of starting a sentence with “you probably wouldn’t go out with me but…”.
‘I probably won’t get much of a mention.’
‘I won’t be holding my breath for a phone call.’
‘Maybe my opinion won’t be the one they want to hear.’
‘I’d love to do it. The chances of it happening are very slim, I know that.’
‘I’m not saying my way is right but maybe I am a more outgoing person than him (Roy Hodgson).’
‘I would love to have the opportunity to work with a young manager, if they want to bring one in. I could be around to provide some knowledge, experience with a bit of personality.’
Keep waiting by the phone, Harry. They must have got the message by now.
Phil Thompson has been offering his views to Sky Sports. The resident Liverpool ‘expert’ has been discussing new signing Sadio Mane.
“I think we’ve paid far too much for him,” Thompson begins, with regards to the £34m forward. “Perhaps it’s because of the money coming into the Premier League. Just look at Crystal Palace reportedly making a £31m bid for Michy Batshuayi.
“It’s the same with Manchester United stumping up £30m for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a 27-year-old who doesn’t score as much as Mane.”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal tally for Borussia Dortmund in the 2015/16 season: 23 goals in 51 games.
Sadio Mane’s goal tally for Southampton in the 2015/16 season: 15 goals in 43 games.
Neym and shame
‘Neymar is there for the taking for Manchester United’ – MailOnline, January 5.
‘Manchester City and Manchester United will go head-to-head to make Neymar their No 1 poster boy’ – The Sun, February 10.
‘Man United handed boost in Neymar pursuit as striker could still leave Barcelona’ – Daily Express, March 1.
‘Manchester United ready to seal world-record Neymar transfer and quadruple his wages’ – Metro, April 23.
‘Man Utd launch all-out offensive to sign Neymar: Super agent Pini Zahavi heading up deal’ – Daily Express, June 29.
What’s £15m between friends?
‘Manchester United are closing in on a club record £80m deal for Paul Pogba’ – Daily Star.
‘United step up efforts to sign £65m Pogba from Juventus’ – The Guardian.
Recommended reading of the day
Barney Ronay on hate directed towards England (yes, and Sterling).
Johnny Duerden on Shanghai SIPG signing Hulk.
Samindra Kunti on Eden Hazard.