If it ain’t broke
Neil Custis, The Sun, September 26: ‘PAUL POGBA is on his way out of Manchester United after being told he will never captain the club again. His fraught relationship with manager Jose Mourinho is now broken…’
Well it did ‘hit rock bottom’ in April 2018, before it ‘plunged to a new low’ in August 2018, both according to Neil Custis himself. It’s a wonder it wasn’t ‘broken’ before now.
The Pog days are over
Custis offers us the inside track on the dispute between manager and player – by which we mean he has relayed exactly what someone at United has told him about a player they no longer want.
He recounts an argument from last season which Mourinho ended by pointing to the sign on his office door that says ‘manager’: ‘It was clear, he was the boss,’ Custis tells us.
‘His World Cup winning performances in the knockout stages in Russia showed the player Pogba could be for United,’ he continues.
‘A point Mourinho emphasised in a back handed compliment for the player’s achievements when speaking on United’s US Tour.
‘That irked Pogba, he doesn’t take well to criticism it seems.’
After Mourinho made a point of stripping Pogba of the captaincy in front of the entire squad because he was annoyed at some public comments, you will have to remind us again who ‘doesn’t take well to criticism’ in this scenario.
Sticking with The Sun, what does their website deem the biggest story on Wednesday lunchtime? A reminder that actual football happened on Tuesday, while they seem to have inside information on the spat between the manager and the most expensive player at one of the best-supported clubs in the entire world.
‘YOU TWEETS: Manchester United and Paul Pogba trolled by Derby after shock Carabao Cup loss’
Never change, journalism.
‘Waiting for the phone call? Favourite for the Man United job, Zidane enjoys stroll around London as Mourinho leads ‘sack race’ after Carabao Cup exit’
That’s right, people. Zinedine Zidane is in London, and has posed for a picture in a red telephone box for his Instagram account.
As the Mirror tell us: ‘His post was met with a series of responses from United fans, urging him to move to Old Trafford. Fans also replied to the picture of him inside a phonebox, joking he was in conversation with Ed Woodward.’
The best bit? The Mirror article does not even include a single one of those replies from fans. So this is literally just a story based on a man walking around London and pretending to talk on a telephone. And it is the biggest story in football.
“You too. Fat man. There.”
As well as offering information on Mourinho and Pogba’s current relationship, Custis has also penned an opinion piece for The Sun. Someone’s been busy.
And someone is also more than a little predictable. In a piece stating that United ‘must side’ with Mourinho, he aims a dig at a familiar foe.
‘David Moyes was planning ahead but the club could not look beyond ten months.
‘Louis van Gaal was setting in a style of play that he had implemented at Barcelona but he was boring Old Trafford to death so he had to be put to the sword.
‘It was indeed a surprise how boring Van Gaal’s team was.’
And it is indeed surprising how long someone can hold a grudge. To almost absolve Moyes of blame completely because he was ‘planning ahead’, before subsequently admonishing a manager for ‘boring Old Trafford to death’ takes some doing.
A reminder that the former was sacked before his first season in charge could be completed, with United finishing seventh. The latter was by no means a roaring success, but finished fourth in his first season, and won the FA Cup and finished level on points with fourth-placed Manchester City in his second.
Also, United scored 1.54 goals per game under Van Gaal. The record under Mourinho is 1.77. Considering the Portuguese has spent £100m more than the Dutchman, it is hardly a chasm.
But Custis has that base covered.
‘Ok, so it has not been thrill-a-minute under Mourinho.
‘But the “United way” of playing has not been evident for some time.
‘It was not even evident towards the end of Sir Alex’s time.’
No, not even when United were scoring at least 11 more league goals than any other side when winning the title in his last season. It was ‘not even evident’ at all.
Slip and slide
‘If the board don’t back a boss in a battle with a player then the club is on a downhill slide.’
As opposed to an uphill one, Neil?
Hiding in plain sight
‘Up in the stands, Paul Pogba tried to hide under a white hoodie as the drama unfolded’ – Chris Wheeler, Daily Mail.
He didn’t do a very good job. A picture of Pogba in the stands (and a white hoodie) adorns the back pages of the Daily Express, the Daily Star and The Metro. Oh, and the best-selling newspaper in the country.
Tomorrow's @SunSport back page:
"ITS PAUL OVER": Paul Pogba is on his way out of Man United after being told he'll never captain the club again. pic.twitter.com/8VOEFXc1oX
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) September 25, 2018
Someone’s sh*t at hide and seek.
‘Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy told him the club’s new stadium will be open by Christmas,’ writes Paul Jiggins in The Sun. Finally, some good news from that part of north London.
‘The £850million arena has been delayed due to a string of problems,’ he continues. ‘Spurs must host their Carabao Cup clash against Watford at Milton Keynes tonight as temporary home Wembley is unavailable.
‘Boss Poch said: “I am confident our stadium will be ready this year. I had private conversations with Daniel and I think they are confident.”‘
a) Is this the same Daniel Levy who, back in June, was “absolutely delighted to announce the date of our first match in our new home”: against Liverpool on September 15? Perhaps his predictions are not to be treated with such certainty.
b) Also, this was hardly a prediction anyway. “I think they are confident” is not quite the same as a declaration that something ‘will’ happen.
Mediawatch is quietly ‘confident’ that it might get lucky tonight. For a variety of different reasons, that is not a back-page-worthy announcement that it ‘will’.
‘Arsenal are introducing a “private members club” at the Emirates, to enrich the match-day experience for their well-heeled corporate fans.
‘Named the Avenell Club, this new haunt will surpass the ‘cheese room’ at Tottenham’s rumoured new stadium by including a cocktail bar and a “live chef station” where you can watch your prawn sandwiches being crafted.’
Again, two things:
a) The problems have been numerous and well-documented, but calling Tottenham’s new stadium ‘rumoured’ is a stretch. It is actually happening, you know?
b) They probably won’t have a chef on hand to put some prawns between two slices of bread.
Recommended reading of the day
David Conn on Qatar.
Steven Kelly on Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.
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