You won’t like him when he’s angry
Another day, another Louis van Gaal press conference ‘meltdown’. The Dutchman was unhappy after Manchester United conceded a late equaliser against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to leave them six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification. Rightly so.
“It was not a boring match,” Van Gaal said after the game. “For the third time in a row, it was sparkling.
“So I hope to get the support of the media this week,” the Dutchman added in more hope than expectation.
That was not all, of course. Attention soon turned to Jose Mourinho, who, according to reports, had been lined up to replace the Dutchman in the summer.
So, what did Van Gaal say in what has been described by both Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail and Paul Brown of the Daily Star as a “bizarre rant”? Thankfully, Rob Harris of the Associated Press has provided us with a transcript.
Harris to Van Gaal: “Although you dropped points, the performances are improving. Do you think that is important while the club are trying to replace you that you are put in the performances that show you might be value to the club?”
Van Gaal: “You have spoken with Ed Woodward?”
Harris: “Well the club aren’t denying it.”
Van Gaal: “Why do they have to deny? I don’t interfere neither. Why do the club have to deny it when you are creating stories?”
Harris: “I don’t know if you know what I write.”
Van Gaal: “OK, OK, so you haven’t spoken to Ed Woodward or the Glazers, so you are inventing this story. I don’t have to answer this question and I shall repeat myself every week. Now I have to say that you are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce the name also.”
Harris defended his opening question to the manager, describing it as “positive” via social media. But “the performances are improving,” was clearly a sweetener to the actual question: “Do you think that is important while the club are trying to replace you…?”
By his own admission, Harris did not present reports of United holding talks with Mourinho as rumours, he presented them as fact: “The club are trying to replace you.” Van Gaal’s response was understandable – why should he address stories that the press are ‘creating’?
Despite Harris later admitting there “was no malice” in Van Gaal’s voice, the Dutchman was labelled ‘furious’ by John Cross of the Daily Mirror. The Mail’s Mokbel adds that Van Gaal ‘lost his cool’ and ‘let rip’ at journalists. Dominic Fifield of The Guardian provides some context, describing Van Gaal’s quotes as ‘pantomime outrage’.
‘MR ANGRY’, screams the headline from the Mirror. Perhaps they’re describing Neil Custis of The Sun, who now has to lose seven pounds or more. You might forget, Neil, but we’ll keep count just in case.
As an aside, this is not Van Gaal’s first ‘bizarre rant’, at least not according to the Daily Star. A quick Google search tells Mediawatch that the Manchester United manager engaged in ‘bizarre rants’ on January 26, December 26, December 23, August 24 and February 10 last year. If they are so common, how can they still be ‘bizarre’?
It’s safe to say The Sun were relieved and delighted in equal measure at the sight of Diego Costa scoring a late, late equaliser against Manchester United on Sunday. Ending the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League and winning a sixth match in their last eight fixtures hardly fits the ‘Louis van Gaal out’ narrative.
Chief sports writer Steven Howard positively revels in their inability to hold onto a one-goal lead. ‘For 91 minutes, Louis van Gaal thought he got away with it,’ Howard begins.
‘An act of daylight robbery which the Dutchman, no doubt, would have interpreted as a piece of managerial brilliance on his behalf.
‘In truth, Manchester United had to once more rely on the outstanding goalkeeping of David de Gea to get them one point, never mind three.’
Manchester United had 51% possession to Chelsea’s 49%, 17 shots to Chelsea’s 16, seven attempts on target to Chelsea’s five, and 11 corners to Chelsea’s ten. To repeat, this was ‘an act of daylight robbery’.
Walking on Memphis
Part-time footballer, part-time toilet-roll-and-water-purchaser Memphis Depay did not have the best of games against Chelsea on Sunday. The Dutchman came on as a substitute for goalscorer Jesse Lingard with three minutes remaining, yet his mistake has been highlighted in the build-up to the equaliser from the hosts. His compatriot and manager would surely be incensed.
So it proved. The headline on the Daily Telegraph website reads: ‘Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal frustrated with Memphis Depay for late Chelsea goal.’ The third paragraph from JJ Bull begins: ‘Though he did not name any individuals…’
They are not alone. The Daily Express went with: ‘Louis van Gaal blasts Memphis Depay after winger costs Man Utd three points.’ The fourth paragraph from Uche Amako begins: ‘Although Van Gaal did not name Depay…’
Quite the ‘blast’.
It’s a kind of magic
Welcome to the latest episode of ‘Sky Sports transcriber writes down literally everything Paul Merson says’. Catchy headline, isn’t it?
When asked by Sky Sports whether Leicester could win the Premier League, Merson replied: “No [they can’t win the title] because if Arsenal beat them next week they’re two points behind them – that’s how quickly it changes. They’re top four, and I’ve just written Manchester United off today [Saturday]. I don’t think Manchester United win the league now.”
There are either one million different thoughts in his mind, or approximately zero.
Time for a check of the The Metro‘s website. They still exist outside of the transfer window, somehow.
Headline: ‘Arsenal goal machine makes long awaited return during in Under 21s game.’
Yes, ‘during in’. But who is this ‘goal machine’? Why, it’s Danny ‘eight goals in 34 Arsenal games’ Welbeck.
Headline: ‘Done deal: Key man confirms he’s joined Arsenal on Twitter.’
Leicester scout Ben Wrigglesworth is that ‘key man’.
Headline: ‘Serie A star heading to Arsenal this summer, announcement coming soon.’
Wojciech Szczesny is returning from his loan at Roma in the summer.
‘Nicest man in football’ watch
Elsewhere, The Metro‘s man Tom Olver has written a story on Juan Mata hugging Eden Hazard and Nemanja Matic. He asks whether the Spaniard is ‘the nicest man in football’. Not if Petr Cech or David Beckham have anything to do with it.
Who is the nicest man in football?
Watch me, watch me
As is customary, The Sun learned five things from Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Sunday. For some reason, the lessons are not attributed to a writer. The fifth and final teaching is: ‘Why do Arsenal persist with Mathieu Flamini after signing Mohamed Elneny?’
Because Elneny was unavailable due to the birth of his child. Happy to help.
Mediawatch counted itself among the majority of the viewing public who were uneasy at coverage of Kurt Zouma’s injury at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The central defender was stretchered off after landing awkwardly following an aerial challenge, with the 21-year-old’s pained screams actively audible. Sky Sports deemed close-up camera shots of a clearly distressed Zouma as acceptable.
Cue The Sun‘s Monday morning edition featuring a rather unpleasant picture of the Zouma injury, knee hyper-extension and all. Delightful. Thanks also to the Daily Mail and Daily Star, who included a photograph of Zouma screaming in pain.
‘Danny Murphy believes Liverpool should gamble on the signing of Real Madrid winger Jese Rodriguez,’ according to the Daily Star. Well, this sounds interesting. Strange, but interesting.
Buried in Jamie Anderson’s story are the following quotes from Murphy: “Jese is young, quick and well worth a gamble in January given his current discontent.”
Hmm. Perhaps Murphy is bypassing the summer transfer window and already looking forward to January 2017? Then again, obviously not.
‘This bloody season’ of the day
Headline from Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail: ‘Drinkwater’s title heroics show he can solve England’s midfield problem.’
This has all gone too far, hasn’t it?
Recommended reading of the day
Owen Gibson on the footballing revolution in China.
Nick Miller on Leicester: Where they were.
Peter Smith on Premier League goalkeepers.