Harry v the straw man
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) April 24, 2016
No, Harry. No, we’re not. Nobody is.
Know what I mean, Harry…
Harry Redknapp’s column in the Daily Telegraph is certainly deserving of further attention. It begins thus:
‘There’s been a lot of talk recently that Louis van Gaal will find himself out of a job if Manchester United don’t win the FA Cup this season.’
Sorry but there really hasn’t. There has been a lot of talk recently that Louis van Gaal will find himself out of a job if Manchester United do not finish in the top four, but the FA Cup? As Redknapp quite rightly says: ‘That’s an absolute load of rubbish.’
Redknapp believes Van Gaal has done a ‘steady job’, and attributes the steadiness of the job to a hangover from Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure.
He says: ‘That is partly inevitable when the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs move on, and we knew whoever succeeded Ferguson was going to have a massive rebuilding job on their hands.’
So Van Gaal is struggling partly because Roy Keane moved on? Nine years ago. Pesky fact: Since Keane’s exit in 2005, Manchester United have won five Premier League titles. Try again, Harry.
Reluctantly, Mediawatch tends to agree with Redknapp that Jesse Lingard is far from outstanding, but this is utter nonsense from Mr Media:
‘Jesse Lingard? Again, a good player, but we’re not talking about the next David Beckham or Ryan Giggs here are we? Come on. There’s no way he’d have got into the United team a few years back.’
A few years back like ten years ago when Kieran Richardson played 36 times in a Manchester United that won the League Cup and finished second in the Premier League? Or nine years ago when he won a Premier League winner’s medal? Lingard is not the next David Beckham or Ryan Giggs but – and this may come as a shock to Redknapp – not every player can be. Some players have to be Kieran Richardson or Jesse Lingard.
‘I look around that United team and wonder who would have got into Fergie’s great sides,’ continues Redknapp before citing Wayne Rooney (of course) and possibly Michael Carrick (of course). But not David de Gea. ‘Apart from that, I don’t see anyone who’d come close.’
Sorry, but that is utter rot. Taking that 2006/07 team as an example – they won the Premier League, reached the FA Cup final and the semi-finals of the Champions League – we find the following players amongst those who played over 20 games: Richardson, Gabriel Heinze, Wes Brown, Louis Saha, John O’Shea, Mikael Silvestre and Park-Ji Sung.
Are you seriously suggesting that none of Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin, Juan Mata or Anthony Martial would get in that side? Actually, it seems you’re seriously suggesting that none of them would ‘come close’.
Sir Alex Ferguson managed some wonderful players – Ronaldo scored 23 goals that season – but he also managed some average players he made into excellent squad players. Let’s not pretend that every single player was Ryan Giggs or David Beckham. And let’s not pretend that Van Gaal does not have a set of players that should be finishing above Leicester and Tottenham.
Wat the juddering f***?
Never mind Jesse Lingard being no Ryan Giggs, it seems Marcus Rashford is not even a match for Duncan Watmore.
Here’s James Hunter of north-east newspaper the Sunday Sun:
‘While a case is being carefully constructed by a series of pundits for United teenager Marcus Rashford’s inclusion in the England squad for this summer’s European Championships, there is no such clamour for Roy Hodgson to consider Sunderland’s own young gun Duncan Watmore.’
Yes, that’s Sunderland’s own young gun Duncan Watmore – on the bench for 17th-placed Sunderland against Arsenal on Sunday. That’s Sunderland’s own young gun Duncan Watmore – the scorer of four goals this season against Norwich City (2), Stoke City and Exeter City.
It is indeed difficult to understand the lack of clamour for him to play for England ahead of a player who has scored seven goals including strikes against Arsenal, Manchester City and West Ham.
After all, he ‘is four years older, has more first-team appearances, more Premier League experience, and has represented England at U21 level’.
And being four years older and achieving less makes for quite the compelling case, we’re sure you will agree.
Hunter continues: ‘I am not calling into question Rashford’s ability. He looks a genuine talent, who could well blossom into an England regular.
‘I am simply suggesting that, when it comes to earning the right to a chance with the England senior team, surely Watmore should be ahead of him in the queue.
‘Unless a Manchester United badge is some kind of VIP queue-jump pass.’
No, but being really, really good and scoring against somebody other than Norwich might just be.
Garth Crooks on the BBC website:
‘I was watching the FA Cup semi-final with Brighton manager Chris Hughton, who turned to me and said: “He’ll save this.”
‘He was, of course, referring to David de Gea, who was about to thwart Romelu Lukaku from the penalty spot and break Everton fans’ hearts. Hughton was predicting things that only a manager could possibly know in the very evenly-balanced cup tie and it was starting to irritate me.’
And if you’re the irritating one in a conversation with Crooks…
In the changing room…
In Crooks’ team of the week is Leicester’s Jeffrey Schlupp.
‘Every team has a weakness, but I’m still trying to precisely work out Leicester City’s Achilles heel. Jamie Vardy was suspended against Swansea and they brought in Leonardo Ulloa – who scored twice. Then they leave out Marc Albrighton and bring in Jeffrey Schlupp, who did an outstanding job against a Swansea side who were patently out of their depth.’
You know where he didn’t do an ‘outstanding job’, Garth? At left bloody back.
It’s been three days…
Arsene Wenger on Friday, expressing no concerns about playing a match so soon after the Thursday night fixture:
“Between Thursday and Sunday and Wednesday and Saturday morning is exactly the same…it’s no problem. In fact…points on average [after three days] are better than after four or five days.”
Wenger, after the 0-0 at Sunderland on Sunday:
“I think our first half was very good…the second half is always more difficult when you play Sunday-Thursday-Sunday.”
Born of frustration
“I could not understand the frustration of the fans. Giroud has the confidence. I have said that many times. He has the mental stature to play in this position. We had Giroud, but we also had Theo Walcott who I believe is a world-class striker, we had Alexis Sanchez who is a world-class striker, and we had Danny Welbeck who is a world-class striker. You have to spend a huge amount of money to improve on that four” – Arsene Wenger, December 26, 2015.
“It’s very simple. We all feel guilty and we are all looked at like it’s a shame we are not winning the league because Leicester are at the top. We don’t have anybody with 20 goals in the league, so that is a handicap” – Arsene Wenger, April 24, 2016.
Can you understand the frustrations of the fans now, Arsene?
Charlie Adam made his Match of the Day 2 debut on Sunday night. Charlie bloody Adam, for goodness sake. Who thought that was ever going to be a good idea? No idea what he paid his agent to get him that gig, but it isn’t nearly enough.
His opening gambit?
“Well, it started right from the start…”
For f***’s sake.
Now this you could complain about, Arsene…
Sunderland's run-in is brutal – two games in two different divisions inside 24 hours, according to Metro pic.twitter.com/UkdmPsrmwl
— Steve Anglesey (@sanglesey) April 25, 2016
Recommended reading of the day
Jack Lang on Juventus
Sean Ingle on Atletico Madrid
Sid Lowe on Gareth Bale
Thanks to Mediawatch spotters David Moore, Stewie Griffin and Kris Garthwaite.