The first thing Mediawatch does every morning is look at the back page of The Sun. And this fine Wednesday morning we found the most bizarre of back pages…
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) January 1, 2019
What is more bizarre? That it is written not by a football reporter but by The Sun’s news man Richard Moriarty (he of the exclusive front page about Raheem Sterling’s ‘blinging’ sink in 2016), or that it contains absolutely no quotes from Pep Guardiola?
It’s almost like it was New Year’s Day, most of the football writers had the day off, and they decided they needed a story about the title race for the back page. Because who wants to read about Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton and actual football?
So suddenly ‘PEP GUARDIOLA thinks Liverpool will burn out and blow their bid to win the Premier League’. Apparently he ‘has told his players he is confident their strength in depth will help overhaul the Reds and retain their crown’.
So ‘manager tells players they can win title’. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a ‘TITLE SHOWDOWN EXCLUSIVE’.
Give us a shout when Pep Guardiola thinks his players have f***ed it.
But Richard Moriarty is not done there. His foray into sports reporting sees him REVEAL Pep Guardiola’s six-point plan to beat Liverpool. Mediawatch was nodding along with some pretty simple tactical stuff – that may or may not have come from ‘City sources’ – until we came to point 4).
Remember, that this is Guardiola’s ‘blueprint to stop Klopp’s title charge’.
‘4) Guardiola is worried about City’s attacking corners as Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane’s taking has been poor for weeks. The bad delivery is one reason the City boss is desperate for Kevin De Bruyne to play so he can be on corner duty.’
We’re not sure what is amusing us more. That a ‘blueprint’ basically consists of ‘take better corners’, or the pesky facts about City’s corner-takers this season, that De Bruyne has found a teammate with just one of four attempts while Mahrez has hit a teammate 18 times out of 35.
Oh and the only City player to claim a Premier League assist from a corner last season was Leroy Sane.
The flaws in that ‘blueprint’ took us back to point 3), which consisted of advice to the City defence to keep a high line ‘because Liverpool have a habit of straying offside’. Moriarty then explains that Liverpool have been caught offside 42 times.
Mediawatch feels compelled to add the rather important context that Liverpool lie 11th on a list of Premier League teams being caught offside. Perhaps City (48) should worry a little more about themselves.
Oh and 5) is that City are likely to play Danilo at left-back. How on earth did he get this much insight?
‘Why not even a 5-0 Liverpool win at Man City will make them my title favourites’ is the headline on Satan Collymore’s latest Daily Mirror column.
Why? Because you’re a damned fool?
Actually, he does have his reasons…
‘City have the capacity and capability to easily put together a run of 15 games unbeaten and while Liverpool themselves are unbeaten in 20 Premier League matches, it still nags me that a 10-point lead – as it would be by Friday – could quickly be eroded with so much football still to be played.
‘That’s largely because City have had their wobble now and we know they have such a good squad. But it’s also because they have completed this course before and we know that counts for plenty.’
Hmm. We’re not sure that City losing 5-0 to Liverpool would mean that they had ‘had their wobble’. We’re pretty sure that would mean they had pretty much wobbled right over.
The Sun’s Mark Irwin based his entire Arsenal match report on the notion that boss Unai Emery makes rather a lot of half-time changes.
‘MOVE over Claudio Ranieri, there’s a new Tinkerman in town,’ begins his report on a 4-1 victory. Because of course that’s a perfectly normal way of reporting on a 4-1 victory.
‘Unai Emery is coming up with more permutations than the Kama Sutra in his relentless quest to bring sexy football back to the Emirates.’
He then goes on to detail how Emery changed things at half-time against Fulham by bringing off Shkodran Mustafi before writing that ‘maybe he could make life easier for himself by getting it right from the start’. How very droll.
Pesky fact: Mustafi was injured.
Or he came off with ‘illness’ and a ‘bug’, according to a very odd Sun report that then cites his hamstring.
On the same page
Raphael Honigstein, ESPN, December 31: ‘Mesut Ozil has categorically ruled out a January loan move and is fully intent on winning back his starting position in the Arsenal team, sources close to the player have told ESPN FC.’
Headline on a Mark Ogden piece on ESPN, January 1: ‘Transfer window: Ozil and the players most likely to move in January’
Bombast of the day
‘Chelsea sign Christian Pulisic in one of BIGGEST deals in Premier League history’ – Daily Express website.
Eighth biggest deal. We’re not sure that justifies the capital letters.