The wider football media has been largely unanimous about one thing with regards to the England national team this summer: they have been more open, more welcoming and more embracing of their relationship with the press than at any other time in recent memory.
The England media day held a fortnight before the World Cup was the watershed moment, with each of the country’s 23-man squad made available for interview. The Daily Mail even suggested it ‘could herald a new era for’ the national team.
Fast forward two weeks and assistant manager Steve Holland has ‘scored an own goal by showing his notes before training,’ according to the Daily Mirror.
Henry Winter of The Times goes much further. ‘The right-hand man, Steve Holland, should have kept his notes a bit more hidden as the photographers picked up England’s expected team to face Panama on Sunday with Marcus Rashford replacing Raheem Sterling,’ he writes.
Winter goes on to discuss what ‘has not been a great 24 hours for England’s guiding lights,’ what with Gareth Southgate dislocating his bloody shoulder, before hitting his stride once more.
‘Holland’s training sheet is a more significant stumble. The sight of the assistant manager clutching a piece of paper with the team in formation, with each starter’s understudy scribbled underneath including Sterling’s name under Rashford (and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in for Dele Alli, who is expected to be ruled out through injury) was clearly a rare lapse of concentration by Southgate’s No.2.
‘Holland is known for being incredibly meticulous.’
Yes, more fool him for not expecting photographs and enhanced zooms, and not completely covering up what might or might not be a team sheet when he was presumably busy doing other things. Like his job.
The message is clear: Being given access is A Good Thing. Being given too much is ‘an own goal’ in a bad 24 hours.
And another thing…
England are against Panama, a team they should probably beat even if they leaked their starting line-up, tactics, dietary requirements and preferred sexual position. This is not ‘an own goal’.
Heat of the moment
If Holland’s ‘gaffe’ (Daily Mail) does not end England’s World Cup hopes, then something else might. Allow the ironically-named Sun to explain:
‘England fear the heat on Sunday could frazzle their World Cup dreams. Temperatures in Nizhny Novgorod are expected to be about 31C for the second group stage clash with Panama, who will be much more comfortable in sweltering conditions.
‘The game will be played at 3pm local time, when it will be hottest for Harry Kane and Co – a major change in conditions from their Repino base in the country’s north-west.’
Is there any point in even playing the game? Shall we just forfeit now? It is 12C warmer in the city England are playing in compared to the one they’re training in; how on Earth will these elite athletes cope?
‘They also faced hotter conditions in Volgograd on Monday evening where it was 25C – again a big difference to Repino. While Tunisia were playing defensively and settling for a draw, England ran out of steam. There is a fear of a similar situation on Sunday.’
Ah yes. Who else remembers when England ran out of steam while beating Tunisia with a stoppage-time goal on Monday?
‘England have been undone by heat at previous tournaments. Against Paraguay and Ecuador in 2006 in Germany they struggled.’
They also won both of those games to nil. Let’s hope England are ‘undone’ all the way to the quarter-finals, just like when the temperature f***ed them 12 years ago.
Just the Bil, please
‘Slaven Bilic is convinced England have a chance of going all the way in the World Cup – now skipper Harry Kane is among the goals,’ writes David McDonnell in the Daily Mirror.
And we thought a potential team leak and slightly increased temperatures would prevent football from coming home. Big Slav has other ideas. But what is it he’s actually said?
“If they continue to play like this, stay brave, stay solid, if the back three stop being so casual and reduce mistakes and if Kane keeps scoring, England can go to the end.”
Just the six ‘ifs’ then.
Mediawatch agrees wholeheartedly with the premise that the World Cup is greater and of more importance than any club competition. But Andy Dunn’s claim that ‘just playing in a single match at the World Cup finals is a more lasting honour than winning’ the Premier League or Champions League seems a bit much.
We have never met Ryan Giggs, hence we have never been involved in one of his hilarious anecdotes. But we would wager that he wouldn’t swap his 13 Premier League titles or two Champions Leagues to play in one World Cup group-stage game. Just a hunch.
If you have not read Raheem Sterling’s fantastic piece for The Players’ Tribune yet, ensure to do so. It is wonderful.
What it is not is an article by Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, however much their Twitter account would like to tell you.
— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) June 22, 2018
‘Matt Law reports’ 148 of his own words in a 1,279-word piece. Or about 8.6% of the entire article.
The issue is not in taking the quotes from The Players’ Tribune – that is the point, and every other outlet has done so. But to sell it as your own journalist’s article is quite something.
Argentina were beaten by Croatia on Thursday, leaving their World Cup hopes in great jeopardy, and plenty of questions to be answered.
The Daily Mail have assembled a four-man VERDICT PANEL, which sounds utterly terrifying. Especially because it contains Jamie Redknapp.
The quartet are asked one question: ‘Why has Messi failed to shine in Russia like Ronaldo?’
Redknapp, Martin Keown and Chris Sutton offer varied answers, ranging from ‘the ghosts of previous World Cups’, Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli and Messi himself being to blame. But what does Ian Ladyman think?
‘We will ask what is wrong with Messi but why not celebrate the brilliance of Luka Modric instead?’
Because the question was ‘Why has Messi failed to shine in Russia like Ronaldo?’ Come on, Ian.
‘Right,’ said Fred
‘FRED THE RED: THIS IS THE BEST CLUB IN THE WORLD,’ screams the Daily Mirror headline, accompanied with a picture of Manchester United’s new signing adorning the kit.
Actual quotes from Fred the Red?
“This is the biggest club in the world and I am delighted to be a part of this amazing team.”
An important distinction.
Shock revelatory headline of the day
‘Panama are more Wimbledon 1980 than Brazil 1970’ – Daily Mail.
Lickspittle of the day
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) June 21, 2018
No. Days. Off.
Recommended reading of the day
Raheem Sterling on Raheem Sterling.