You might think that writing Mediawatch when little is happening in the world of football would be a bind; you might think we would struggle for material. But Mediawatch actually perversely enjoys watching the tabloid press conjure back-page stories from the sum total of f*** all.
The Sun have gone for ‘ANOTHER BIG EXCLUSIVE’ with Mauricio Pochettino apparently angry at the way Harry Kane is being made a ‘SCAPEGOAT’ for England’s disastrous Euro 2016, which is wonderfully ironic from a newspaper that vilified Raheem Sterling for having the temerity to buy his mother a house and an FA communications bod for taking a picture of his personalised headrest.
Thinking this story feels a little late? Well, the 27th paragraph of the story on The Sun’s inside pages has the reveal: ‘Speaking at his team hotel in Melbourne during their pre-season trip to Australia last week…’ Oh.
Thinking this story sounds familiar? You might be a Daily Mail, reader, God forbid. The quotes in The Sun’s ‘BIG EXCLUSIVE’ also feature in the Daily Mail. So not only old but really not an exclusive.
Thinking it seems unlikely that the Argentine Pochettino used the quite emotive English word ‘scapegoat’? You would be absolutely right. What he does say: “Harry was in the same line-up as the other players. Some good, some bad.”
All in all, a magnificent effort.
The Daily Mirror have done an ‘INVESTIGATION’. Oooh, we do like an ‘INVESTIGATION’. The spirit of Woodward and Bernstein and all that.
‘PREMIER LEAGUE clubs are getting ripped off in the transfer market because they behave like “amateurs” and have more money than sense,’ it begins. Which, frankly, needed no investigation at all. But it’s nice of Adrian Kajumba to ring a few agents and confirm. Nice. We definitely prefer a sh*t ‘investigation’ to a ‘bugger, we need a back page, have you got any spare Pochettino quotes?’ panic.
The Daily Star are also claiming an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ that Wayne Rooney has held talks with Sam Allardyce. A source has told them: “They got on well. Wayne is not expecting to be dropped.” Which is a massive relief to any total bell-ends who has spent any time at all worrying about that incredibly unlikely proposition.
The Daily Express have surprisingly gone straight and dull with some Marcus Rashford quotes on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Boo.
The Daily Mail have got a genuine ‘EXCLUSIVE’ with Wayne Rooney, who sat down with Martin Samuel to publicise his testimonial (and the Hublot watch front and central in the accompanying image). What’s bizarre is the quote they have chosen for the back page. Apparently, ‘WAYNE ROONEY will continue to play for England – even if he is not captain under new manager Sam Allardyce.’
Once again, if the exact opposite of the story is roughly 427 times more compelling then it’s probably not a story.
Ol’ pale blue eyes
Let’s linger on that Wayne Rooney interview. Nothing surprises us about what Rooney says – that Martin Samuel has decided that his non-retirement from international football is the headline, you know that he says comparatively little – but some of Samuel’s furious lapping deserves a wider audience.
‘And so here we are: 50 years of hurt, going on two more. Rooney is the first England player to talk over what went wrong, at any length, since the tournament. Fronting up again.’
Rooney is the first England player to have a testimonial to punt.
‘Rooney, as one can tell from his appearance – neatly trimmed hair, black polo shirt, straight leg denim, defiance in those pale blue eyes – is something of a traditionalist.’
Let’s face it, he has very little choice but to have neatly trimmed hair. And the black polo shirt is advertising the Wayne Rooney Foundation (and Hublot). And quite how you measure ‘defiance’ in eyes is anybody’s guess, but we know for damned sure that he had no choice about having ‘those pale blue eyes’. So the one thing he has chosen about an appearance that screams ‘traditionalist’ are his jeans. Mediawatch is also wearing jeans today but we suspect Samuel would not think us traditionalists; and nor would we want him to.
‘And then he pauses, and you can hear that boxer’s discipline in the coldness of his voice.’
At this point, all Mediawatch can do is laugh. And you can hear the Scrabble player’s concentration in the depth of that laugh.
Back to the future
‘ANDER HERRERA believes Manchester United have gone back to the future with a strike force that can emulate Fergie’s Fab Four legends,’ writes Steve Bates in the Daily Mirror.
Does he though? Does Ander Herrera cite the ‘AWESOME 4-SOME’ of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who won the Treble when he was a nine-year-old boy living in Bilbao – and compare them to United’s current crop of strikers?
Does he f***.
How this sh*t works
For those of you who have never worked as a national newspaper sports journalist – well, all of you, because they obviously do not read our parasitic sniping – then let us walk you through what happens after press conferences. There is usually a huddle – accompanied by paranoid glances around the room searching for those who might not know the etiquette – and then said journalists identify two or three ‘lines’ from the press conference and decide what will be filed for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (or a week on Monday if you’re Paul Jiggins and you have some old Mauricio Pochettino quotes). They go through the process a) so they have enough material for several days, b) so nobody spoils their story by ‘breaking’ it 24 hours earlier and c) because they live in perpetual fear of missing ‘the line’. This has gone on forever.
Have a guess what they all bizarrely decided was the best line’ from Antonio Conte ‘for the Mondays’…
Justin Allen in The Sun: ‘ANTONIO CONTE could end up costing Chelsea a fortune…in throat sweets.’
Matt Barlow in The Daily Mail: ‘ANTONIO CONTE is losing his voice. ‘I’m shouting too much,’ he says as he throws a lozenge into his mouth and starts to crunch.’
Tony Banks in The Daily Express: ‘ANTONIO CONTE sits down for his interview sucking a throat lozenge. He has been getting through a lot of them recently.’
George Scott in The Daily Star: ANTONIO CONTE sits down sucking a throat lozenge. He has been getting through a lot of them recently.’
Perhaps we should mention at this point that George Scott does not actually exist – that’s the Daily Star sub-editor’s attempt at adapting Tony Banks’ Express copy for a Star audience. George Scott doesn’t exist and yet he still has about as much imagination as his ‘colleagues’.
Prepare to fail
Headline on the Sky Sports website story that desperately wants you to think they have some new information on Paul Pogba: ‘Paul Pogba prepares to fly to England to complete Man Utd transfer.’
Assuming Pogba prepares to fly exactly like Mediawatch prepares to fly, he will right now be wondering whether sandwich bags can be used for toiletries in hand luggage; instead, he appears to be having rather a fine time at various pool parties.
Final paragraph of this non-update: ‘Pogba was due to return to Miami after his weekend in Las Vegas, however it is unknown whether he then travels to Turin or flies straight to Manchester from the United States.’
Oh. So what you know is that he is likely to fly to England at some indeterminate point in the future. Maybe. But is he prepared?
The big reveal
‘Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reveals he wants to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic the title… again’ – Metro. What will he reveal next? That he has two legs? To be fair, it will be a better story than the throat lozenges.
Non-football football story of the day
‘Mario Balotelli pictured smoking and enjoying time on a private boat on the Italian riviera less than two weeks before the start of the Premier League season’ – MailOnline.
Smoking? Enjoying himself? Two weeks before the start of a Premier League season in which he will not play? The cad.
What’s interesting is that it’s just over two years since the MailOnline told us that Balotelli had been ‘caught smoking a cigarette on hotel balcony while on holiday in Florida’.
The difference on that occasion? He was with fiance Fanny Neguesha and so there were 26 – count ’em – pictures.
Oddly, there are fewer pictures of a man ‘caught’ smoking when his companion is a slightly podgy man.