Live (not live)
‘FA Cup quarter-final draw LIVE: Wolves, Man City and Man United or Chelsea learn opponents’ – BirminghamLive launch their LIVE coverage of the FA Cup draw a full 12 hours before the actual draw. Is this a record? Shall we follow this record attempt live? Sorry, LIVE?
Let’s play a game. Spot the problem with the opening sentence of this back-page exclusive in The Sun:
‘ZINEDINE ZIDANE wants the Chelsea job – if they match his terms and ambition.’
Seven points to each of you that spotted that no job is actually available. He appears to be making a public application for a nonexistent vacancy.
‘The French legend is keen to talk seriously about taking over as boss and turn the Blues into contenders again at home and abroad with a £200m transfer kitty.’
We bloody bet he is. A quick reminder – should it be required – that Chelsea have never spent £200m in one summer. Never. So promising he can make them ‘contenders’ with their largest ever transfer kitty might not be the most convincing of opening gambits.
Oh and another reminder: Chelsea are literally still involved in every single competition they entered at the start of the season and are just one point away from fourth place in the Premier League, which was a reasonable target at the beginning of the season.
By far our favourite line of this piece comes in the tenth paragraph:
‘Sources close to Zizou have told SunSport he is not yet expecting to be given the job, as he respects that current chief Sarri is still in control of his own destiny.’
It’s a shame he doesn’t quite respect him enough not to tell The Sun his conditions for taking a job that’s not actually available.
What we do in privacy…
The Sun then go further as they REVEAL ‘how Zidane could spend £200m Chelsea transfer war chest if he replaces under-fire Sarri’.
So there’s no job, and no indication that Chelsea would make an unprecedented amount of money available, but let’s just take a wild guess at how their imaginary manager could spent that imaginary money, shall we?
‘Major signings could include Mauro Icardi, Isco, Kalidou Koulibaly and Alex Telles, who would all cost about £291m.
‘The Blues could make £91m in sales through the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Marcos Alonso, Willian, Pedro, Andreas Christensen, Michy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham.’
Just wonderful. Simply wonderful.
Actually, Chelsea could make £91m from the first two players on that list of seven; they could probably make closer to £291m from that little bunch.
Which leads us to wonder why you would REVEAL what Zidane would do with £291m when you can REVEAL what he would do with £491m?
I’m still standing
Daily Mirror back page, February 11: ‘MAURIZIO SARRI is facing the sack after Chelsea’s heaviest Premier League defeat.’
Daily Mirror back page, February 18: ‘CHELSEA will stick to their new ‘Sarri-ball’ style, even if if (sic) costs the manager his job this week.’
It turns out that what the Mirror meant last week was that Maurizio Sarri was ‘facing the sack at some indeterminate time in the future, just like all the other managers’.
The big reverse
Last week, The Sun’s Neil Custis confidently wrote that ‘OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be named the full-time manager of Manchester United’. He was absolutely certain. No ifs, no buts, just the cast-iron certainty that this has been decided.
And then at the weekend, they revealed that ‘THIS is the swanky Italian restaurant where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shook hands with Ed Woodward on becoming Manchester United’s new permanent manager’. It’s done, you see.
So what do the SunOnline do when another outlet – this time the Evening Standard – claim that Manchester United are prepared to spend all of the money on Mauricio Pochettino? They can’t ignore it – because, well clicks.
‘MANCHESTER UNITED are prepared to pay £34million to prize Mauricio Pochettino away from Tottenham, according to reports.
‘If the club ultimately deem the Argentinian the right man to replace interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward will get out the chequebook to land their target.
‘SunSport understands that Manchester United are currently inclined to hand the full-time job to Solskjaer, however the defeat to PSG and the potential for more bad results with games against Chelsea and Liverpool next, could change the mood.’
‘Currently inclined’? ‘Currently inclined’? That’s a bloody massive backtrack from ‘OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will be named the full-time manager of Manchester United’. And can you ‘change the mood’ when you have already shaken hands on a deal?
Beep beep beep.
The tragic of the cup
‘AS A 15-year-old kid, Murray Wallace took a kitchen job in a Chinese restaurant in Glasgow. On Saturday, the teenager who washed away the sticky remains of crispy noodles and chow mein became the latest matchwinner to inscribe his name into FA Cup folklore’ – The Daily Mail, January 28.
‘MURRAY WALLACE used to wash the dishes in a Chinese restaurant – but now he is cleaning up in the cup’ – The Sun, February 18.
‘MURRAY WALLACE used to wash dishes in a Chinese restaurant as he dreamed of making a living from playing football’ – The Daily Mirror, February 18.
It was a pretty shit story the first time round.
‘ROY HODGSON admits this year might be his last chance to reach a Wembley cup final after Crystal Palace breezed past Doncaster 2-0’ – The Sun.
The word you are looking for is ‘says’.
Tracing the gossip headline
The BBC gossip column is one of the most widely read football pages on the internet. And on Monday the headline was as follows:
‘Football gossip: Zidane, Man Utd takeover, Dybala, Martial, Lingard’
We’ve already heard the Zidane rumours, the takeover has been denied, Martial and Lingard are going nowhere (the ‘gossip’ is that they may be back to face Liverpool) and so we are left with Dybala. Bring it on…
‘Liverpool are prepared to miss out on signing Juventus forward Paulo Dybala because the Serie A club plan to use the 25-year-old Argentina international as part of a deal to take the Reds’ 26-year-old Egypt forward Mohamed Salah to Italy. (Star)’
Pretty sexy. Now off we go to the Star…
‘LIVERPOOL have no interest in selling Mohamed Salah – even if it means missing out on Juventus star Paulo Dybala.’
Nice. The Star then quote ‘a football finance source’ saying that Liverpool do not need to sell players. And where did they get these quotes around which they build their whole story and somehow find themselves headline news on the BBC?
That will be the Daily Mirror. On February 9. Just the nine days ago. Question: when does ‘gossip’ simply become ‘really sodding old news’?
Jeremy Cross is fuming about Declan Rice in the Daily Star:
‘The lad has been in international football two minutes, but has wasted no time in disrespecting the highest honour in the game.
‘The West Ham midfielder is within his rights to choose which country he wants to represent and has got there in the end.
‘Like idiots, we all thought his decision had been Republic of Ireland.
‘That would have made perfect sense given the fact his dad Sean and grandparents Margaret and Jack are from Cork.
‘I mean, if that doesn’t make you Irish then what does?’
Maybe, you know, being born in Ireland. Unlike Englishman Declan Rice.
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith on Manchester United and the siren song of the quick fix
Daniel Taylor on agents and their families