Big fat surprise of the day
It took ‘fat man’ Neil Custis of The Sun a full 43 paragraphs (in a world where sentences are whole paragraphs) to get to the crux of his argument in favour of Louis van Gaal’s exit:
‘LVG’s rudeness in press conferences – he had a pop at yours truly again on Saturday – is hardly befitting of a man in his position, either.’
The ‘pop’? Custis apparently asked the first question of the Dutchman’s press conference and Van Gaal simply stared at him, said “you’re asking the first question?” and then refused to answer; somebody else asked exactly the same question and he answered. Awkward, petty, but also quite, quite wonderful. Befitting? Maybe not? Be-bloody-fantastic? Yes.
Fool if you think it’s forgotten…
More from Neil Custis, who writes: ‘The fans will simply not stand for this any longer. Nobody was really fooled by the brief upturn in results of late. While they were unbeaten in five, the performances were not better than when they lost four in a row.’
Which is bizarre because this is what Custis wrote on January 11 after a win over League One Sheffield United that featured one shot on target from open play: ‘The fans are bored, the players look bored and yes, the manager does too. Yet there are some flickering signs of change. After all, United still have a draw and two wins from their last three games. Despite all the dissent immediately after the match, I definitely thought the team was at least trying to play more positively.’
It’s amazing what you feel obliged to write two days after writing that your beloved Ryan Giggs ‘has taken his chance to put a smile back on the face of Manchester United’.
Neil Custis, The Sun website, January 22: ‘MANCHESTER UNITED have made a dramatic move to snatch Pep Guardiola from neighbours City. United officials met Guardiola for face-to-face talks in Paris last week, according to French paper L’Equipe. The secret meet took place at the five-star Le Bristol hotel. Old Trafford officials last night denied any meeting had happened but the reports will still stun City, who were thought to have virtually done the deal to install Guardiola as their boss next season.’
Neil Custis, The Sun, January 23: ‘MANCHESTER CITY are confident they have Pep Guardiola in the bag. The Etihad club are unruffled about the prospect of a late move from neighbours United snatching the superboss out of their grasp.’
From ‘stunned’ to ‘unruffled’ in less than 24 hours; that’s quite a u-turn.
One word: Shameless.
Talking of shameless
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) January 25, 2016
A ‘cheeky’ (their word, not ours) tap and then he ‘escaped’ to Holland (to celebrate his daughter’s birthday).
From the Daily Telegraph’s Liverpool gossip page, January 24: ‘Dubbed the “new Anthony Martial” – which just seems plain lazy – Mbappe is a skilful, pacy striker and has already scored a goal in the Europa League in one of his three games for Monaco so far.’
From the Daily Telegraph’s Arsenal gossip page, January 25: ‘Arsenal to sign the next Anthony Martial?’
Anthony Martial is 20.
Headline on the Daily Mirror website: ‘Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are like Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United – they never believe they’re beaten.’
They looked quite convinced against Manchester United last week.
Question of the week
Robbie Savage to Ed Balls on BT Sport’s bantz-fest Fletch & Sav: “So, what made you leave Parliament.”
Every day’s a school day
So what five things did Arsenal fanboy John Cross ‘learn’ from the Gunners’ 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, according to the Daily Mirror website? What did he glean through his tears?
1) Diego Costa could beat Arsenal on his own
Wonderfully, Crossy begins by writing ‘So, did we learn this? No.’ Excellent start.
2) Arsenal’s mentality will again be seen as their biggest flaw
‘Have they got the mentality to win a title? Do they have enough spirit and strength? Well, after this game it’s a fair question.’
That sounds an awful lot like a series of questions rather than a lesson, John. What did you actually learn? Maybe it will start now…
3) Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace is an issue
4) Theo Walcott is captain material
‘But can you really afford sentiment in such a big game? And does it make a difference? The answer is probably no to both.’
Right. So what you learned – from the teamsheet – was that Theo Walcott was captain rather than that he was ‘captain material’?
5) Chelsea have still got what it takes
To what? Finish in mid-table? Apparently all they need is to ‘find some consistency, unity and some new players’. Thanks. For. That.
Alan Shearer definitely doesn’t want to put any pressure on Dele Alli in his Sun column. We know this because he says as much:
‘I don’t want to put pressure on the 19-year-old…’
Good. Sensible. He is only 19.
‘…but I remember a certain Tottenham No 10 with the same touch.’
Don’t say Gazza, don’t say Gazza…
‘Glenn Hoddle was a brilliant player, able to pass beautifully with his left and right foot, and score great goals – and there was something of him in that Alli effort.’
Oh. No pressure at all.
‘Not that Stones was the only golden boy in Blue to have a shocker. Far from it,’ writes Phil Thomas in The Sun after an abject Everton performance.
‘Gerard Deulofeu was just about the only one who could hold his head up. The rest? Forget it.
‘Ross Barkley promised much but delivered nothing bar an afternoon of misplaced passes and being caught in possession.
‘Romelu Lukaku, desperate to cap his 100th Everton start with another goal, will rarely be kept as quiet as he was by Ashley Williams and Federico Fernandez.’
The Sun’s Dream Team ratings ‘compiled using Opta data’:
John Stones 7
Ross Barkley 6
Romelu Lukaku 7
Gerard Deulofeu 6
Are we surprised? After all, this is the system that claims Wayne Rooney has had a better season than either Jamie Vardy or Odion Ighalo.
This is simply bizarre from Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail: ‘The leaked details of Gareth Bale’s deal with Real Madrid made the headlines, but the minutiae of Anthony Martial’s transfer to Manchester United was equally compelling — providing an insight into what is valued by a top club.
‘Not what you think, as it turns out. The basic fee for Martial was £38.5million, with another £7.7m activated if he scores 25 competitive goals for the first team. So far, so predictable. Another £7.7m is due if he makes 25 appearances of at least 45 minutes in length for France and the final instalment of £7.7m arrives if Martial is shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or. Yet those involved in club football would decry FIFA as a corrupt, decrepit, increasingly outdated regime, and international football as on its last legs.
‘Why would Manchester United pay extra if Martial is involved for France and in award shows? It can only mean that they generate significant financial value. So are not meaningless, after all.’
If Martial becomes a regular for France, it means he is playing very good football. If Martial is shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or, it means he is playing exceptional football. These are also things that Martial would probably quite like too. It’s almost like Manchester United are agreeing to pay more if Martial turns out to be brilliant.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) January 25, 2016
Sean Ingle on the might of the Premier League
Thore Haugstad looks at Arsenal v Chelsea tactics
Jonathan Liew on that Deli Alli goal