Bizarrely, as The Sun’s Neil Custis firmly told us that Joe Hart would not be playing against Steaua Bucharest (described as ‘the only good news Hart has heard all summer’), the Manchester City goalkeeper not only played but was captain for the night at the Etihad. Obviously a communication breakdown between Custis and his source.
For a situation that ‘would only heap further humiliation on his situation if his final game for the club was before a half-empty Etihad in a meaningless game’, it all seems to have got quite emotional for both Hart and Custis, who notes that the England man ‘did well to hold it together’ as ‘Hart touched his heart’. It doesn’t sound massively humiliating to Mediawatch. Well, apart from that Hart/heart thing, which is truly embarrassing.
Pep Guardiola’s decision to give Hart the captaincy may hint at respect for the goalkeeper, but Custis has uncovered a shocking snub that tells us otherwise:
‘Erased from the outside of the ground, now he is also gone from within it. The picture on the outer rim of the Etihad that shows Hart in action and was visible for the opening game of the season has now been replaced by a group shot. Hart is not in it.’
So they’re whitewashing him from history even before he has left the club? Disgusting. Except, wait a minute, Custis is not finished…
‘City officials will tell you it is part of their rebranding and, to be fair, there are not action shots of anyone while Hart can be seen in one team pic.’
Oh. So ‘to be fair’, there is absolutely nothing in this at all.
‘So, hopefully he is not paranoid…’
Hopefully HE is not paranoid?
Richard Tanner in the Daily Express: ‘IN THE end it was the perfect – if emotional – send-off for Joe Hart.’
David McDonnell in the Daily Mirror: ‘If this was Hart’s final City appearance, he is unlikely to look back on it with great fondness, a meaningless game in front of a stadium barely two-thirds full.’
It’s almost like nobody actually knows what Joe Hart was thinking.
Get out of jail free
Of all the ridiculous words being written about one footballer being deemed surplus to requirements by one manager, there is little doubt which are the most ridiculous.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 25, 2016
Yes, that’s ‘imprisoned’. Joe Hart is basically the Nelson Mandela of our times.
‘Hart is not being allowed to move on unless City get what they, rather than he, wants. They are entitled to do so, legally, of course. Hart has three years left on a contract worth £120,000-a-week and he is a valuable asset. They are entitled to ask for a transfer fee or even one to loan him for a season.
‘If City cannot find anyone to pay £7m to loan Hart they should be willing to lower the fee and consider paying a percentage of his wages.’
Or perhaps, if Joe Hart does not want to be ‘trapped and confined to a non-playing cell’, and Manchester City insist on another club paying them something for the asset they have coached and nurtured, Joe Hart could consider being paid a little less. Surely when your very freedom is at stake…
A Brit of alright
Anybody wondering why there has been such a fuss made about Hart only needs to read this line from Luke Edwards:
‘Nationality should not matter, but it does. There have been so many times in the last four years that Hart has been the only British player in the City team. There is a bond between him and the club’s supporters that matters to them both.’
Conclusion: Let him go for nothing because he’s British.
Mediawatch has no doubt that Neil Ashton of The Sun is right that Jose Mourinho has had a word with Anthony Martial about his disappointing form so far this season. But somebody should have a word with Ashton about a few facts.
‘Last summer’s £36m signing from Monaco has been substituted in United’s opening three fixtures. Although Mourinho is off to a 100 per cent winning start, Martial has been subdued in his new role out on the left.’
Of the 29 Premier League starts made by Martial last season, 17 came on the left. It’s a whole lot less new than Ashton’s status as the Sun’s chief football writer.
Sympathy for the tactician
Spare a thought for Jonathan Wilson this morning. He wrote a perfectly reasonable piece about patience with managers in the modern era.
The Guardian’s clicky headline? ‘The Question: How long will Liverpool keep faith with Jürgen Klopp?’
It’s going to be a long old day on Twitter.
Mediawatch knew when we read Martin Samuel on the height of Manchester United’s squad on Wednesday that Thursday would bring charts and graphics in at least one national newspaper. Step forward The Sun and ‘Football Editor’ Charlie Wyett.
‘SunSport has investigated the height of all the players who have featured in the Premier League this season, the club’s squads and even the stars who were in action this weekend.’
Couple of things:
a) Does looking up the heights of footballers qualify as an ‘investigation’? Forget ‘Wyett’, let’s just call him ‘Woodward’.
b) What on earth does ‘even the stars who were in action this weekend’ mean? What kind of ‘investigation’ would have ignored the latest data?
By far our favourite line from Wyett’s ‘investigation’ into the relative heights of men:
‘Even look at the size of Middlesbrough’s players – is it a coincidence that Boro manager Aitor Karanka is Mourinho’s friend?’
You’ve uncovered a veritable bloody Watergate there, Charlie.
The big man cometh
Erstwhile target man Chris Sutton is in the Daily Mail saying it’s ‘time to stand up for the target man’.
‘Why is a target man so out of fashion?’ asks Sutton, largely – it seems – based on the fact that Liverpool lost to Burnley at the weekend without a target man in their starting line-up. Never mind that Divock Origi came off the bench and he’s by no means a small bloke, Sutton is on a mission to protect a seemingly endangered species.
‘This is the most competitive Premier League of all time in an age of limitless pots of money, so why not keep a big striker to give you some variety?’
Indeed, Chris. Which is presumably why Manchester United have Zlatan, Chelsea have Diego Costa, Arsenal have Olivier Giroud, Manchester City have Kelechi Iheanacho, Everton have Romelu Lukaku, Tottenham have Harry Kane, Leicester have Leonardo Ulloa, West Ham have Andy Carroll and…do we need to go on?
It turns out that the WWF don’t need to take up the cause of the poor target man just yet.
Thanks for that
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) August 25, 2016
We can’t stand the suspense; is it because they’re much better teams?
Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate on the relationship between Pep Guardiola and Claudio Bravo
Adam Hurrey on the 90s legend that is Tino Asprilla
Euan McTear on the mystery of Cuban football