Dick move of the day
‘Liverpool’s Sevilla collapse triggered by horror halftime announcement’ – 101 Great Goals.
Oh good, we’re now clickbaiting cancer.
‘Manchester United ace Romelu Lukaku ordered to pay LA police a measly £340 fine despite earning around £250,000-a-week’ – The Sun.
What do you mean ‘despite’? A ‘measly’ fine (for making too much noise in a holiday home) isn’t determined according to your wage.
It’s all going wrong
On Tuesday evening, Manchester City won their 17th match in a row in all competitions. Even if you count the shoot-out victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers as technically a draw, it’s fair to say that City are on a pretty good run.
Before their game with Feyenoord, which they won, City had already qualified for the knock-out stages, and from the moment Napoli took the lead against Shakhtar top spot in the group had also been confirmed with one game remaining. A chance for a gentle evening, then, and the opportunity to give chances to a couple of young players too.
So quite what put the Daily Mirror’s David Anderson in such a grump is unclear. Anderson wasn’t just unimpressed by City; he was angry.
‘The home fans took their cue from City’s stuttering display and the usually-rampant Blues struggled to get out of second gear.’
It’s almost as if they didn’t need to, Dave.
‘City’s ragged display was summed up when the mercurial de Bruyne unceremoniously up-ended (sic) Steven Berghuis just outside the box with a challenge Chopper Harris would have been proud of and Larsson fired over from the free-kick.’
The definition of ‘mercurial’ is ‘subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood’, and strongly hints at inconsistency. Mediawatch can think of few more inappropriate adjectives for Kevin de Bruyne.
‘Yes, the pressure was off because they had already qualified for the Champions League group stages, and, yes, Pep Guardiola made seven changes to rest some of his big names. But that does not excuse this pedestrian display as they just about got over the line to claim top spot against Group F’s whipping boys Feyenoord.’
Why doesn’t that excuse it? If they won a game they didn’t have to win and took the opportunity to rest key players, Mediawatch is struggling to see the issue.
The principal conclusion would seem to be this: If they’re having a pop at you for winning and keeping a clean sheet with a weakened team, things are probably going pretty well.
“I don’t think you need to be Sir Alf Ramsey to suss out that we’ve got some players here that can play better than they have been. They need to pitch up and start playing like we know they can play” – Gary Megson.
Ah yes, ‘play better’. It’s weird how no other football manager has thought of that new-age motivational strategy.
Ask a simple question (give a detailed answer)
Mediawatch did a weird giggle when we read the headline ‘Why did Roberto Firmino look the other way when he scored against Sevilla?’ on the Liverpool Echo website.
The notion of no-look passes and tap-ins is hardly new, after all. Ronaldinho was doing them as far back as 2001. Surely this article is going to be approximately five words long?
Oh no, for David Prentice has instead embarked on a bizarrely detailed piece to get to the bottom of a complete non-mystery:
‘Safety First Policy – Theory: Firmino was simply checking that there were no defenders in the vicinity before he took his touch – otherwise he would have finished first time. It was the most sensible course of action.’
Is this a joke? Firmino took the touch before looking around, so this entire paragraph makes no sense.
It was a simple, low-risk showboat. Everybody knows this.
‘Off day – Theory: Firmino was checking with the assistant official to check whether he was offside before scoring, as many players often do. It was just a cautious approach.’
Firmino looked behind him, so unless the assistant referee had buggered off from the touchline and into the centre of the pitch, this seems unlikely.
Also, as Firmino had already touched the ball before looking around, he hardly picked the best strategy for ensuring that he was not being caught offside. What is happening?
‘Simply Braziliant – Theory: Finishing an open goal from three yards is just too easy for a player of Firmino’s abilities. So he had to try add his own personal flourish.’
Yes, exactly. Well done.
What we still can’t work out is how it has taken 237 words and a published feature to get to a conclusion everyone else drew two seconds after seeing the replay of the goal.
A bold strategy
Having been left out of England’s squad by Gareth Southgate for the recent friendly games, it would seem a bold move of Chris Smalling to publicly question the decision-making of his international manager. This doesn’t normally end well. Enter Smalling, stage left:
“I play for one of the biggest clubs and most successful managers in Jose Mourinho. You don’t play for one of the biggest clubs in the world for as long as I have and won most trophies bar the Champions League without being able to do everything that a top defender can do, be it playing or defending.
“If my season carries on like this and we have a successful season and our team continues to concede very few goals, then I give him maybe no choice in the summer but to pick me.”
Sadly Chris, he will always have a choice. And given that you were on the bench at Manchester United for the first six games of the league season when Eric Bailly and Phil Jones were fit, you might be best walking before you set off on a sprint.
That’s particularly true when you know newspapers like the Daily Mirror will run headlines like ‘SMALL MINDED’ and claim you have ‘slammed Southgate’ and told him ‘You will still need me for the World Cup’.
Wonderfully, Smalling then went on to discuss Manchester United’s strikers in the same press conference:
“I think it would strike fear into myself if I was playing against them, and it strikes fear into most teams.”
Given that these are exactly the type of strikers England will hope to face in the World Cup next summer, maybe that fear is exactly what Southgate is worried about?
It’s political correctness gone mad
‘The Football League have gone to great lengths to ensure their advert for a new non-executive director to replace Richard Bowker is politically correct, even though the appointment is likely to be a woman to meet governance requirements.
‘It states that qualified applicants will receive consideration irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion or beliefs, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age or with regard to pregnancy or maternity. A Football League spokesman said they employ best practice recruitment processes’ – Charlie Sale, Daily Mail.
An organisation being non-discriminatory in a job advert doesn’t sound like it should be news, Charlie? Unless you consider it all a bit much? Just employ the middle-aged white guy, for goodness sake.
The obsession continues
Said Pep Guardiola on Manchester City debutant Phil Foden:
“Phil knows that the club is there to support him but it depends on him. He has to come and work every day and he knows we trust a lot with him and we are going to try. Today was a special day. I would like to thank the club for working very hard in the academy.”
And the Daily Mail’s back-page headline to Jack Gaughan’s perfectly reasonable piece? ‘MY SPECIAL ONE’.
That phrase truly will be the death of us.
Old man shouting at clouds opinion of the day
‘So Premier League football is going to take on the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing with Saturday night live prime-time TV slots from 2019. They will be playing in sequinned kits by then, you mark my words’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.
Just like all the players sing hymns during Songs of Praise on a Sunday afternoon.
Silly mistake of the day
‘Peter Schmeichel names his ultimate XI… and it doesn’t include a single Manchester United player’ – Daily Mirror.
Oh you silly sods, you accidentally missed the words ‘FIFA 18’ out of your headline. What are you like?
Recommended reading of the day
Chris Young on Aston Villa.
Adam Bate on Christopher Schindler.
Seb-Stafford Bloor on West Ham.