Think Liverpool are doing rather well to be in third when they have only finished in a Champions League space in one of the previous seven seasons? Then you are not Garth Crooks; he’s disappointed in you, Jurgen.
‘Hugging Mignolet in sheer relief that his keeper has kept him in with a massive shout of Champions League football next season is a bit of a cop out for me. Liverpool should have been challenging for the title.’
If only we could see Crooks’ pre-season predictions and know that actually, he did not even fancy Liverpool for fourth.
Nonsense of the week
From Garth, of course:
‘I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Luke Shaw has timed his return to the team with Ibrahimovic’s return.’
Yes it is.
Mediawatch is on board with the notion that Dele Alli is a talented young man, but there is more than a little wilful ignorance of the facts when it come to comparisons made with those who came before.
The headline on the front page of the Mirror’s football section reads ‘GERRARD + LAMPARD + BECKHAM = ALLI’ and the BBC ask ‘Dele Alli: Better than Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham combined?’ based on statistics that say he has produced the same number of Premier League goals and assists as that triumvirate by the age of 21.
It’s quite the feat but how many of that trio were playing ahead of two holding midfielders at the age of 20? That would be none…so well done Dele, but ‘Golden Generation put in the shade’? Only if you insist on not comparing like with like. We might as well say he’s scored more goals than Rio Ferdinand or John Terry too…
The eternal captain, leader, legend
Mediawatch does not disagree with the Daily Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson that captains are important in sport, and we hardly needed to read his extended plug for Sam Walker’s undoubtedly excellent new book on the subject to arrive at that opinion.
Nor do we disagree that John Terry has been an important part of Chelsea’s success. Wilson writes that ‘Terry has been more influential in Chelsea’s finest era of success than any of the 11 managers,’ and it’s hard to srgue. He’s been there for all of those years, for a start.
What we can’t get on board with is Wilson smashing those two concepts together to argue that Chelsea must keep John Terry around forever because captains are important. Which he does.
‘They might also encourage Chelsea to think very carefully before basing the merits of a new contract for their extraordinary captain on simply his on-field contribution over this past season. Even from the bench against Bournemouth on Saturday, you could sense Terry’s presence.’
It’s odd then that none of the six match reports Mediawatch checked even mentioned Terry’s name once, given his presence was so obvious. And it’s also odd that Terry didn’t use this ‘presence’ last season when he was actually on the pitch and Chelsea were playing badly. Maybe he prefers West Ham after all?
‘Graeme Souness, Philipp Lahm, Billy McNeill, Franz Beckenbauer, Franco Baresi, Didier Deschamps, Iker Casillas and Roy Keane are among those footballers singled out.’
You will notice one name missing from that list: John Terry. So he doesn’t even get name-checked?
‘Especially intriguing in a book that is also crammed with examples from American sports is the passing mention of Antonio Conte for the sometimes volatile influence of his captaincy at Juventus during the 1990s. It suggests that, if anyone would now understand the wider importance of a figure like Terry, it will be the Chelsea manager himself.’
Yes, a figure like Terry. ‘Antonio Conte will want a leader in his team,’ is hardly a controversial statement. ‘Antonio Conte should give a player he doesn’t use a new contract because he’s been captain for ages’ really is.
The Sun’s Chief Sports Writer Dave Kidd was as grumpy as any other relatively sane person to be spending a sunny day in Sunderland; the misery began with the team sheet:
‘We are now entering the part of the season in which every Mourinho team sheet can start to read like a poison-pen letter wrapped around a brick and lobbed through the boardroom window.
‘Fellaini as captain certainly read like some sort of coded warning.
‘And where was Wayne Rooney? He could be working on the roads now for all we know.’
Couple of things to address there…
1) The ‘coded warning’ was that Marouane Fellaini was Manchester United’s longest-serving starter; none of Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling or Michael Carrick was in the XI. Alan Turing not required here.
2) Rooney had an ankle injury; he missed Tuesday’s game with the same thing. So he’s probably not ‘working on the roads now’.
Among the things that the Daily Mirror ‘learned’ from that game was that ‘Black Cats fans are starved of goals’.
It’s been about ten years.
Bless this arse
We’re not saying that the Sunday Mirror’s Tom Hopkinson does not have a hotline to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, but we are saying that he should have used said hotline to check his facts. Otherwise it sounds like the kind of lazy journalism that gives newspaper reporters a bad name. It sounds like he has put two and two together to make five, and we absolutely know no self-respecting national sports writer would ever do that.
According to Hopkinson:
‘The Germany star, who worked under Mourinho at Real Madrid, will enter the final year of his contract in July and talks over a deal have been shelved until the end of the season.
‘And Mourinho plans to take advantage of the situation with an audacious move to link up with Ozil again.
‘The Portuguese was furious when the player was sold by Bernabeu bigwigs without his blessing.
‘The message from the top brass was that the £42.5million offer from north London was too good to turn down.’
Odd how Real Madrid did not seek the blessing of the new Chelsea manager before they sold one of their players to Arsenal.
Cheeky claim of the day
Only The Sun could claim Antoine Griezmann’s quotes about Real Madrid as a ‘TRANSFER EXCLUSIVE’ two days after he spoke to reporters in Madrid.
File under ‘speaking too soon’
The perfect way to finish the week off. pic.twitter.com/SMbtpfLdB2
— Ross Barkley (@RBarkley20) April 9, 2017
Barkley getting dropped last night???? pic.twitter.com/XnQpzWcxcP
— ㅤㅤㅤㅤ (@chris__1892) April 10, 2017
Headline of the day
Makes more sense than most Daily Mail headlines, to be fair. pic.twitter.com/Epvz3OoUmk
— Football365 (@F365) April 10, 2017