Mediawatch: The Wenger smile reveals all

Date published: Thursday 7th April 2016 12:07

Arsene Wenger - Football365

City lickers
Manchester City will be quietly confident of progressing after securing a 2-2 draw away at Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday. But they will know that there is plenty of work to do in the return leg at the Etihad Stadium in a week’s time.

Not according to Neil Ashton of The Sun. He writes that ‘it will take something special’ to prevent City from reaching their first semi-final, and that it will take all of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ‘superhuman powers’ to inspire PSG’s recovery. ‘It feels beyond them,’ he adds.

Ashton was not alone. ‘And so a Manchester City team on its last legs might just stagger all the way to the San Siro for a Champions League final,’ wrote Dave Kidd in the Daily Mirror. ‘Perhaps they will end up facing Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in the final in Milan on May 28.’

Manchester City drew 2-2 at PSG; the two away goals could prove crucial. But City must not lose, something they have already done 13 times this season. PSG have won 18, drawn two and lost two of their 22 away games this season. City’s progression from the quarter-finals is uncertain, never mind reaching the bloody final.


Take Zlat
Zlatan Ibrahimovic endured a mixed night at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. The striker missed a penalty, scored an equaliser, and miscued when presented with a number of chances.

Rory Smith in The Times was not impressed. ‘Ibrahimovic prepared his lines, only to fluff them,’ reads the headline.

Smith writes that Ibrahimovic ‘huffed and puffed and failed to find his rhythm’ against Manchester City. ‘The question, unwelcome, unspoken, is whether this represented the start of the long, steep decline.’ At the end of the piece, Smith asks whether ‘the clock is starting to tick, even for him’.

Paul Hirst gives his match ratings on the next page; no player is given a higher rating than Ibrahimovic.

The Swede’s performance was clearly difficult to judge for many:

* The Daily Mail say that he ‘strived to make amends to two bad misses – and his persistence paid off’, after rating him at 5.5 out of ten. Only Fernando (five) scored lower of the 22 starters.

* The Daily Mirror praise his ‘majestic contributions and goal,’ adding that ‘you can’t keep Ibra out of the limelight’. He is ‘PSG’s main man,’ apparently. Which is presumably why he was rated six out of ten.

The Sun‘s Martin Blackburn writes that Ibrahimovic ‘was a constant pain’ for City, ‘went through his full repertoire with flicks and passes’, and that ‘fans should be licking their lips at the prospect of Zlatan playing in the Premier League next season’.

Were they all watching the same game?


Silva lining
Fresh from proving Everton might well be the worst home team in the history of football, Martin Samuel brings us the latest from the Parc des Princes. Much like the rest of us, he was not too impressed with the defending on show.

‘He could defend a bit, Laurent Blanc,’ begins Samuel’s piece for the Daily Mail. ‘No wonder what went on in Paris last night left him looking rather pained.’

Quite, Martin. Later in the same piece, the Mail’s Chief Sports Writer tells us how Thiago Silva was ‘baffled’ and culpable for Manchester City’s equalising goal in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Except, according to Chris Wheeler’s BIG MATCH RATINGS, the Brazilian was the ‘Star man’, rated at 7.5 out of ten. Weird.


Lesson time
Thank goodness for the Daily Mirror, as without them how would we have ‘LEARNT’ that Joe Hart ‘is a world-class keeper’, that Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘is PSG’s main man’, and that Adrien Rabiot was once on the books at Manchester City – eight years ago.

Every day is a school day. It speaks volumes that it is currently the Easter holidays.


Quick maths
Writes Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail:

‘All that is needed to illustrate Manchester City’s struggles in Europe is one alarming statistic. In 37 Champions League games, City have recorded only five clean sheets.

‘That is the equivalent of only five shut-outs in one domestic season.’

Thanks, Football Editor.


Déjà vu
Arsene Wenger on Dimitri Payet: “I’ve looked at him many times. I’ve known him for a long time. He played at Saint-Etienne and we watched him many times.”

Add him to the list.


Headline acts
The following headlines are all on the same story:

‘Sturridge may lose his starting place to Origi’ – Daily Telegraph. ‘May‘.

‘Klopp may sacrifice Sturridge goal threat for power of Origi’ – Daily Mirror. ‘May‘.

‘Sturridge set to be axed for Dortmund tie’ – The Times. ‘Set to be‘.



Headline axe
A similar headline is spotted in The Guardian. ‘Sturridge facing axe,’ says the story from Andy Hunter. A couple of inches to the left are the predicted line-ups from the Borussia Dortmund v Liverpool Europa League tie. Sturridge is of course named as the lone striker.


A short message
FAO The Sun and The Times: ‘El Kloppico’ is not a thing.


Metro centre
It is indeed that time. Here are a selection of headlines from The Metro website on Thursday morning:

* ‘Mind-blowing stat proves Arsenal boss Wenger MUST pick this star for Prem run-in’

Considering Nacho Monreal has failed to start just two Premier League games this season, we doubt Arsene needs convincing.

* ‘Incredible Arsenal hero announces shock return plans’

Can Sylvain Wiltord, 41, really be described as ‘incredible’ now?

* ‘Arsene Wenger smile hints Granit Xhaka to Arsenal transfer could be done’

Never mind that his actual quotes – “No. We are starting to look at people who can strengthen our squad, but we are not on any particular case in a concrete way” – hint the transfer might not be done at all.


Star man
Paul Brown has the big scoop in the Daily Star. His exclusive is that Manuel Pellegrini has opened talks with Valencia about succeeding Gary Neville. This sounds familiar.

Daily Mail, February 2: ‘Manuel Pellegrini could replace Gary Neville at Valencia as Pep Guardiola appointment leaves clubs chasing Manchester City boss’

Daily Mail, March 30: ‘Valencia line up Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini to replace the sacked Gary Neville at the Mestalla’


‘One too many’ intro of the day
‘With Leicester City several lengths clear of the Premier League’s thoroughbreds in the final furlong of the title race, manager Claudio Ranieri has been heaping praise on his stable of unlikely stars’ – Kieran Gill, Daily Mail.


Green with envy
Said Alan Green, who has been covering English football in the media for the best part of 30 years: “At this point we’d like to welcome all those listening on BBC Radio Manchester who are joining us tonight…we just want you to know, folks, we’re with you all the way. We’re shouting for City, and I’m sure a lot of United fans listening are also shouting for City…”

Of course, Alan. Mediawatch can imagine the United fans sat there with their half-and-half scarves, belting out another rendition of ‘Blue Moon’.


Predictable headline of the day
”El Cashico’ proves to be comedy of errors’ – Jim White, Daily Telegraph.


Worst headline of the day


Advice of the day


Recommended reading of the day
Adam Bate
on how Jurgen Klopp transformed Dortmund.

Raphael Honigstein on Thomas Tuchel.

Damir Kulas on the Bosnian behemoths, Velez Mostar.


With thanks to Gerry McGreevy. If you see anything that belongs on this page, send it to, with ‘Mediawatch’ as the subject line.

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