They do pride themselves on not being part of the group-think, so the Independent website’s Samuel Stevens deserves some credit for going against both statistical and empirical evidence in praising Wayne Rooney for his performance at Old Trafford.
Let’s have a reminder of Rooney’s performance in statistics: No shots on target. No chances created. A passing accuracy of 55% (the lowest on the pitch). Lost possession 28 times (highest on the pitch). One touch in the opposition penalty area.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was worth 7/10. More than Anthony Martial (6), who completed the most dribbles in the Premier League this weekend.
‘After turning 30 on Saturday, the United skipper led from the front,’ writes Stevens. ‘Delivering a display epitomising his responsibilities, his most memorable contributions came in front of his own goal.’
Sorry (not sorry) to do this, but Rooney’s touch map shows he touched the ball just once within 25 yards of his own goal.
But well done, Wayne. You were exactly as good as Chris Smalling.
Friday’s Mediawatch highlighted the fluffing given to Wayne Rooney ahead of his 30th birthday by The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson, who told us gleefully that Rooney topped a list of players to score the most Premier League goals by the age of 30, ignoring the quite relevant fact that Rooney had a good five years’ head start on Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry.
But apparently, these statistics ‘form the bedrock for the case billing Rooney as a Premier League great’.
Jackson went on to write: ‘Given Rooney’s desire to continue for the foreseeable future, his ability to operate in differing roles and his benign injury record, he should play until the same age as Shearer (35), at the very least. That means the Liverpudlian should be able to surpass Shearer to set a new goal record.’
As Mediawatch calculated, that would mean Rooney scoring Premier League goals at a rate of 15 a season for the next five years. Which seems highly improbable.
Jackson failed to even vaguely acknowledge that Rooney’s best years are very much behind him, ending his piece thus:
‘Wenger also said after that maiden league goal in 2002: “If he can take Henry as a model, he’ll go a long way.”
‘He has. He continues to do so. The next fascination is to see where Rooney goes from here. Where his career will take him between now and 24 October 2020, when Rooney will celebrate his 35th birthday.’
So Mediawatch was a tad surprised to read this from Jackson on Monday:
‘Rooney’s insipid displays this term are stacking up. Against Manchester City in Sunday’s 170th edition of the local squabble the Sky Blues’ famous “We’re not really here” chant might have been rewritten to feature Rooney as the subject, so invisible was he.
‘Afterwards Van Gaal professed to being “sick” of having to field posers about Rooney’s form. Publicly the Dutchman can refuse to do so, as he did in the Old Trafford press room. But privately Van Gaal may well be asking himself if Rooney should be dropped.
‘In the summer he jettisoned Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao from the club. Rivaldo and Hristo Stoichkov are among other A-listers he has dropped previously in his career. Could Rooney be the next Van Gaal takes the axe to? It may only be for a game or two. It may lead to a Rooney revival. But, unless the Liverpudlian improves, it feels imminent.’
How the bloody hell is he going to pass that Shearer total from the bench, Jamie?
Not on the Wayne
Before Jackson came along, we thought The Sun’s Neil Custis was Wayne Rooney’s biggest fan in the media. As there was little positive to say about Rooney’s performance against Manchester City (unless you think he delivered ‘a display epitomising his responsibilities’), Custis had to dig deep to find another way to praise his hero:
‘Ahead of the game Chris Smalling was hailed as one of the best centre-halves in the world. By the end, he had done Wayne Rooney proud in his assessment of the England international.’
The headline? ‘Smalling is proving Roo right.’
He might now be a sh*t footballer but he can sure spot a centre-half.
According to The Sun’s Dream Team ratings (‘compiled using Opta data’, it says here), Wayne Rooney was exactly as good as Chris Smalling at Old Trafford.
According to The Sun’s Dream Team ratings for the season, only Alexis Sanchez and Jamie Vardy (by one point) are having better campaigns than Rooney.
Exactly how are they ‘using’ Opta data? In the same way Mediawatch ‘uses’ a credit card to pick its teeth?
People are strange
Gary Neville may have been doing sex wees at the defending on show in the Manchester derby 0-0 but none of them impressed Garth Crooks enough to make his team of the week.
Andre Ayew, Dimitri Payet and Mesut Ozil form a slightly gung-ho central midfield behind three strikers, though. Of course.
‘The strange thing is I don’t see Champions League football for Payet with West Ham any time soon,’ says Garth Crooks.
No Garth, the strange thing is that the BBC bill you as a ‘football analyst’.
Especially when you write about James Tomkins: ‘James Tomkins played at right-back for West Ham in their amazing win over Arsenal in their opening game of the season and then was unceremoniously dropped. Manager Slaven Bilic then called Tomkins back into the side to face Chelsea’s Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas.’
Note to the ‘football analyst’: Tomkins has started the Hammers’ last seven Premier League games.
Bunch of fives
Poor Marcos Rojo – had a brilliant game and kept Kevin de Bruyne quiet and still ended up with 5/10 in the Daily Mirror’s match ratings – the same as Wayne Rooney.
Rojo is ‘finally being trusted again at left-back’, apparently. Why?
Jobs for the (British) boys
Harry Redknapp has perfected his ‘white noise for hire’ schtick – getting paid twice for essentially saying the same things to the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph in the last few days – namely that British bosses do not get a chance in English football. Boo-hoo.
‘Another week in the Premier League, another managerial casualty and further proof of how hard it has become for British coaches to get a top job in England,’ begins his column.
We will stop you there (for the first of many times): Tim Sherwood’s sacking is proof only that Tim Sherwood was sh*t at his job. Carry on…
‘Tim is someone I have a lot of time for. He is enthusiastic and has strong opinions.’
Which of course is exactly what you need to thrive as a Premier League manager; a keen and arsey Mediawatch expects to get a call about the Villa job this week.
‘For the vast majority of British managers, the only way to manage at a Premier League club is to get promoted and, even then, it is very difficult to progress further.’
Delicious lack of irony there while talking about the sacking of a manager who somehow got two Premier League jobs with no previous managerial experience. As pointed out before by Mediawatch, Steve McClaren and Garry Monk also have Premier League jobs without ever being promoted into the Premier League.
‘There are only seven clubs that at the start of the season you would say were stabilised in the league and not at threat of relegation: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. How many have a British manager? None.’
Which sounds like a very good case for foreign managers to Mediawatch.
‘I would like to see some far more British boys get an opportunity to manage a big club and see what they can do.’
Like David Moyes at Manchester United, Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and Tim Sherwood at Tottenham? We saw exactly what they could do, Harry.
‘Tony Pulis would never have managed in the Premier League unless he had got promoted with Stoke City.’
He’s absolutely right; Pulis would not have been a Premier League manager unless he was successful as a manager.
‘Rémi Garde is now looking massive favourite for the Aston Villa job but, with the greatest respect, why? What’s he done?’
Won the French cup, reached the last 16 of the Champions League and the quarter-finals of the Europa League. You’re welcome.
‘How often do British managers get an opportunity to manage in Italy, Germany or France?’
How often do British managers learn another language and apply for jobs in other countries?
‘All the other clubs, on a bad season, can drop into it as we have seen this season at Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle. As a manager that obviously puts you at risk.’
Or they can thrive like West Ham (who replaced a British manager with a foreign) and Leicester City (who replaced a British manager with a foreign).
‘Not many British managers have had a chance at those top seven clubs but, of those that have, I think we have more than held our own. Sir Alex Ferguson is obviously a one-off but look also at the job Moyes did at Everton.’
And definitely don’t look at the job Moyes did at Manchester United.
Ask a simple question (twice)
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) October 26, 2015
Keep tweeting us! What is next for Newcastle? #SSNHQ
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) October 26, 2015
Home to Stoke on Saturday. #ssnhq
‘Who will come out on top between Matteo Darmian and Raheem Sterling?’ asked Sky Sports (always with the questions) on Facebook on Sunday. At 1.56pm. Roughly an hour after Manchester United named Antonio Valencia as their right-back.
And Sterling still didn’t win the battle with Darmian.
Recommended reading of the day
Daniel Taylor on the emergence of Manchester City’s academy.
Rob Bagchi on Massimo Cellino and Leeds.
Harry Gray on Mario Zagallo, Brazilian’s habitual World Cup winner.
Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotter Paul Turner. Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot anything.