Elephant in the Roon
‘Mourinho is also set to axe captain Wayne Rooney for Saturday’s clash with Leicester following another poor performance at Vicarage Road’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, September 20.
‘Rooney is in need of rest and a period to reflect on a difficult start to life under the new boss. He may well get that chance by sitting out Saturday’s lunchtime clash with Leicester’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, September 21.
‘Rooney’s poor showing means he could be dropped for the crunch clash with Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday’ – Charlie Wyett, The Sun, September 22.
‘Wayne Rooney fears he will be axed by Jose Mourinho for tomorrow’s clash with Leicester’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, September 23.
Wherever could poor Wayne have got that idea from?
The Sun have got a whopping great back-page exclusive for us, fit with their very own picture and a decidedly terrible headline.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) September 22, 2016
‘This is the shocking moment heart-scare Sunderland star Patrick van Aanholt was caught smoking a shisha pipe,’ writes Gary Stonehouse.
Mediawatch has just two questions at this point:
* Is ‘heart-scare Sunderland star’ really a thing? Mediawatch had a nosebleed once; we demand to be known as ‘nose-scare pedants’ in the future.
* It is not awfully ‘shocking’, is it?
‘The Dutch defender was snapped puffing away just a month before he was dramatically pulled from the Sunderland team minutes before last Sunday’s clash at Tottenham due to health fears.
‘The picture was taken on August 9, only days before his club’s season opener at Manchester City.’
Wow. That truly is a ‘shocking moment’. The Sun are joined by the Daily Mail in their disgust. Craig Hope writes:
‘Patrick van Aanholt has been pictured allegedly smoking a shisha pipe just over a month before he was withdrawn from Sunderland’s side over a heart concern.
‘Pictures have now emerged which appear to show Van Aanholt smoking shisha with friends just days before the start of the Premier League season.’
‘Shisa pipes are used to smoke fruit-flavoured tobacco and although there is no suggestion the player has done anything illegal…’
We’ll stop you there. Catch Van Aanholt doing this a month after a lung-scare, and we’ll talk.
Give it Giggseh
‘Ryan Giggs would be open to the possibility of becoming Swansea City manager if the Welsh club decided to part company with Francecso Guidolin’ – Paul Hirst, The Times.
Giggs wasted little time in putting the record straight:
“There has been no approach from Swansea City but, in any case, there is a manager in place at the club,” he told talkSPORT at 10am this morning.
“I’m happy with life outside of the game right now and enjoying media work.
“At some stage, further down the line, it’s no secret I’d like to get back into football as a coach – but that’s for later, not now.”
Someone isn’t telling the truth. The question is who?
End of days
Paul Ince is a great man. Paul Ince has not been in managerial work since leaving Blackpool after just 40 games as manager in 2014. Paul Ince is a tactical genius. Paul Ince once played for Manchester United.
Of course, you only have to fit one of those criteria in order to be asked about your opinions on football in 2016. As a former United player – who left in 1995 – the Daily Mirror are naturally all too happy to run a two-page spread of quotes from the former midfielder.You can already guess the main subject.
“No-one has a divine right to play for Manchester United,” Ince begins, which is an awfully strange way to start your argument as to why Wayne Rooney should retain his starting role.
“There are too many United players not playing at the top level. Anthony Martial was outstanding in parts last year, but this season he has not been on the ball.”
Martial has indeed struggled this season. But what about Rooney, Paul?
“It might be that they are failing to understand Jose Mourinho’s ideas. Everyone can jump the gun and say, ‘Drop Rooney’, because he is a stand-out player who isn’t performing, but who do you play instead?”
Henrikh Mkhitaryan? Marcus Rashford? Juan Mata? Ander Herrera? Paul Pogba? Jesse Lingard? Heck, even Marouane Fellaini could probably be more useful as a No. 10.
“There is no one at Manchester United who is better than him as a No. 10. Rooney shouldn’t be in midfield. End of.”
Ah, the staple to every solid argument. End of.
‘The man who always speaks his mind’ is the tagline for Stan Collymore’s Friday column in the Daily Mirror. That he does, that he does.
It’s not necessarily a positive thing, of course. Old Stanley is a little frustrated with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, it appears.
‘Antonio Conte is a very good manager,’ he writes, ‘but he needs to decide what he’s doing with his defence at Chelsea – and sooner rather than later.
‘Is he going to go for a three with two wing-backs or two central defenders?’
Chelsea have played seven games so far this season in all competitions. They have started each with two central defenders accompanied by two full-backs.
It appears that Conte has decided what he’s doing with his defence, Stan.
Hundreds and thousands
Stan does not stop there in his one-man crusade for justice in the Daily Mirror. His next target is Tony Pulis.
‘I don’t think Tony Pulis should have been inducted into the League Managers Association Hall of Fame,’ he writes.
‘All right, so managing 1,000 games is worthy of a tribute from the LMA, but perhaps a raised glass at a dinner and a few pats on the back would have been more pertinent for the veteran gaffer.
‘He certainly hasn’t reinvented the managerial wheel and the fact we’re in a day and age of entertainment seems to get lost on him.
‘I can’t remember one Tony Pulis team that excited me in those 1,000 games and it looks like an award for longevity but little else.’
It is an award for longevity, Stan. There is a reason they are celebrating his 1,000th game as a manager, not his 854th.
It is not Collymore’s first hat-trick, but it is certainly his most recent. Jordan Henderson is next up as the subject of his ire.
‘Last week in this column, I wrote that Jordan Henderson wasn’t of the same calibre as the midfielders he’d come up against a few hours later when Liverpool visited Chelsea,’ he writes.
‘That N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic would win the midfield battle and, therefore, the game.
‘Henderson responded with the goal which settled matters — an absolute cracker , too — but I’m still reserving judgement until he has scored six or seven this season, including a couple of tap-ins.
‘To be a central midfielder for Liverpool, you have to be multi-faceted. You have to provide the assists, the long-range passes, short-range passes and goals.’
A couple of things, Stan:
– Georginio Wijnaldum has two assists and no goals in the Premier League so far. Is that good enough?
– Adam Lallana has two goals and one assist this season. Since he joined Liverpool in summer 2014, he has scored 11 goals and assisted a further ten in the Premier League. Henderson has nine goals and 12 assists in that time. Is that good enough?
– According to the latest statistics, Henderson has completed more passes than any other Liverpool player this season, and the most of any player in the Premier League (388). He has made 37 ‘long-range passes’ – the next best outfield Liverpool player is Dejan Lovren, with 20. He has also completed 304 short passes, at least 87 more than any of his teammates. It’s going ok.
‘Friday was a massive step forward for that,’ Collymore continues, ‘but rather than trying to be the new Steven Gerrard he needs to concentrate on being Jordan Henderson and that means using his great engine and his big heart to get more involved in and around the 18-yard box.
‘If he does that, he can go on to become a top-drawer midfielder.
‘But I’m not going to get excited by a single wondergoal, because that is something anyone can do.’
But he needs to score ‘a couple of tap-ins’, because that is the true test of quality.
Screw it. The best things come in fours – Beatles, limbs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to name a few – so let’s allow Collymore to complete a full haul with his Daily Mirror column.
‘I’m not saying that Rooney, 30, is ready for the scrapheap, don’t get me wrong,’ he begins.
‘But the time looks right for Jose Mourinho not just to park him on the bench for a few weeks but to drive him out of Old Trafford altogether and stick him on a container ship bound for the United States of America.’
With no disrespect (but absolute disrespect) to MLS, that does sound an awful lot like you’re ‘saying that Rooney is ready for the scrapheap,’ Stan.
Express and star
If you have never seen the Daily Express‘ latest venture into clickbaitery, you really ought to.
‘Predicted Premier League table ahead of Gameweek 6’ is the headline, and it is just as nonsensical and ridiculous as it sounds. After five games, they are predicting just how the Premier League table will look come the final game in May.
The Daily Express' predicted end-of-season league table. We reckon Tottenham will concede more than three goals and Everton more than seven. pic.twitter.com/30O4pUF6L9
— Football365 (@F365) September 23, 2016
Here are the highlights:
* The top four do not change. It is as if making predictions after five games is futile.
* Tottenham will concede only three goals in 38 games. They will also score just 40, despite having the most shots per game of any side so far.
* Liverpool will concede more goals than every side aside from their bottom four – West Ham, Bournemouth, Sunderland and Stoke.
* Bournemouth will score nine goals all season.
* Sunderland will score seven goals all season.
* Stoke will score six goals all season.
* Stoke will earn six points all season.
That the last prediction is the most accurate of all speaks volumes.
Dick move of the day
Meet Rob Beasley, the master of dick moves.
‘On Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the USA in 2013 I stumbled on a most remarkable scene,’ writes Beasley in his new book, Jose Mourinho: Up Close and Personal. You surely know by now it is being serialised by the Daily Mail. Beasley is a man uncomfortable with the definition of ‘off the record’.
‘As I turned a corner in the team hotel, there, lying face down and stretched out on the floor, was Jose Mourinho.
‘Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro was attending to him along with Chelsea’s player liaison officer, Gary Staker.
‘I immediately strode down towards the prostrate Chelsea manager and called out: “Wow, what a great story this is!”‘
A man’s just collapsed, Rob.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 23, 2016
He is not wearing a suit, his hair is wonderful and he has hardly cracked a smile. What will everyone do for news stories now?
‘Tottenham announce seventh new deal with Kyle Walker signing on until 2021 …as Mauricio Pochettinho FINALLY ditches his suit’ – MailOnline.
‘Kyle Walker signs new Tottenham deal – and Mauricio Pochettino has FINALLY changed his wardrobe’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Shock as Pochettino FINALLY changes suit for Spurs contract announcement’ – Yahoo.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on Jose Mourinho.
Michael Cox on Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea.
Adam Hurrey on David Ginola.