Don’t be Rash
After the response to a resounding 4-0 England victory – and really quite good Marcus Rashford performance – was to ask ‘CAN RASHFORD EVER BE ENGLAND’S No 9?’, Mediawatch expected a reprieve on Tuesday. It was time to look ahead to the game against Kosovo, not behind to a confected and confused debate.
Yet Stan Collymore is the man who always speaks his mind, and his mind simply cannot contain these thoughts any longer. And he makes a strong start in the Daily Mirror.
‘If Marcus Rashford isn’t careful then, sooner rather than later, he is going to find himself cast as the modern-day Theo Walcott.’
Well he already has seven England goals to Walcott’s eight, three trophies to Walcott’s two, 29 Premier League goals before turning 22 to Walcott’s 23 at 23, and nine major tournament finals appearances for England to Walcott’s four.
It seems that ‘the modern-day Theo Walcott’ has already surpassed the actual Theo Walcott, even after giving up close to a decade of a headstart.
Ignore the strange comparison, though, as Collymore’s argument is the same tired, laborious one that ignores all context.
‘That’s why now is the perfect time for the Manchester United youngster to decide whether that’s the way he wants to go. Or would he rather be a player who lives or dies as a No.9.’
Perhaps he’d rather play for his country and boyhood club wherever he is picked. Which, as everyone seems to be ignoring when it comes to the latter, is most often as a left-sided forward. Why should Rashford, already a regular starter, limit his chances by becoming ‘a player who lives or dies as a No.9’ when the man already in that position is one of the world’s absolute best there?
‘If he’s happy to play anywhere, if it means being an England regular, then that’s his call.’
‘But if that is the case over the next five to 10 years, then I worry about the negative impact such a decision could have on his club career because of the message it sends.’
‘The message it sends’ is that Rashford is happy to play wherever he is picked. Clubs bloody hate players who might be willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater cause, right?
‘United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could well be forgiven for thinking, ‘If this lad doesn’t have the confidence to back himself as England’s main No.9, then why should I back him at arguably the biggest club in the world?’
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is an idiot, yes.
‘There’s no way Rashford can toddle off with England every few months and play out wide, and then go back to Old Trafford and play like Ruud van Nistelrooy. So there’s a potential problem brewing for him.’
Good job that’s really not what he does then. Rashford doesn’t ‘toddle off’ with England to play out wide, then come back to United as Ruud van Nistelrooy-lite. He has played central for them once this season, when Anthony Martial was unavailable. His first-choice position for club is the same as it is for country: coming in off the left wing.
‘Of course, there will be those who’ll say he’d be shooting himself in the foot by going up against Harry Kane because the Tottenham man will always be England’s first choice.
‘But if Rashford’s sticking them in week after week for United, and Kane hits a dry spell or gets injured, it only takes one hat-trick and the door is well and truly open.’
Take it from Stan Collymore and his three England caps, Marcus: completely change your position for both club and country just in case Harry Kane struggles for form or gets injured. Then you’ll be able to replace him at centre-forward (like you already do when he isn’t available because you are pretty much second choice anyway).
‘Gareth Southgate will unleash Jason Sancho against Kosovo tonight, with Marcus Rashford expected to be dropped’ – Sami Mokbel, Daily Mail.
For ‘dropped’, also read ‘rested’ or ‘rotated’.
Whelan and dealing
The few outlets that are not pretending Marcus Rashford is at some sort of career crossroads are busy acting as though nothing has happened and that the transfer window is still wide open. Which is how we get Noel Whelan posing as some sort of Manchester United source.
The former Leeds, Coventry and Middlesbrough striker was exclusively asked by Football Insider for his thoughts on Declan Rice. Quite why, no-one knows. But still.
“West Ham have got a really special player on their hands. They will struggle to hold on to him, because the big clubs will be hot on his trail,” he said.
“I think Declan Rice could be the next player who goes for a Premier League record fee. We have just seen Harry Maguire go for £80million and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rice goes for more than that, above £90million, even. He’s young, English, hugely talented and is such a long way from his peak. You look at a team like Man United, who need a midfield anchorman and you can see it happening.
“They don’t mind paying over the odds for a player, as we saw in the summer. I could see them looking to get Rice in January.”
Not many people would see those quotes, published at Monday lunchtime, and consider them worthy of a story on Tuesday morning. But Mediawatch is a rank novice at this in comparison to the Daily Express.
‘Man Utd tipped to sign Declan Rice for ‘above £90million’ in January transfer window’
…by Noel bloody Whelan.
The Sun even feel guilty enough to name the man himself in their headline. Although such niceties are thrown out the window when you are inexplicably asked to run a Manchester United live blog in the midst of an international break. So we get this:
‘11.30am Man Utd news LIVE: Pogba LATEST, £90m Rice bid, James Wales strike, Sanchez eyes permanent Inter switch’
“I wouldn’t be surprised” and “I could see them looking to get Rice in January” has already become a ‘£90m bid’. Impressive. Although Noel Whelan has clearly never encountered Ed Woodward before.
The big reveal
But the Manchester Evening News are above all that nonsense. They ignore the Rice claims, publishing neither a story nor the quotes in their live blog. Good on them.
Instead, Samuel Luckhurst is here with this:
‘Manchester United stance on January transfer window revealed’
Oh wow. This should be good. Are they going to try and get rid of deadwood like Marcos Rojo? Will they rectify the issues that have already become apparent since the summer? Has a massive budget been set aside for Solskjaer? Is Declan Rice signing for £90m and being pictured with new agent Noel Whelan?
‘Manchester United remain open to making signings in the January transfer window on the proviso the right players are available.’
Consider our whelm considerably undered.
Get your Phil
‘Phil Foden’s double backed up his plea to Pep Guardiola for more playing time’ – Tom Barclay, The Sun.
That’s not how youth-level football works, particularly not with regards to a teenager competing with some of the best midfielders in the world at club level.
Poking the Hornets’ nest
Writes Andy Dunn in the Daily Mirror:
‘Watford have to be very, very careful because players do respond to managers and once you set the tone of, ‘Oh, we’ve had a bad run of five or six games, it’s OK, we’ll sack the gaffer’, it can give them a lot of power. If they’re fond of their boss as well – and Javi Gracia is very likeable – then a group can easily come out the other end of a poor six or seven-game run.’
Except this ‘bad run of five or six games’/’a poor six or seven-game run’ is actually a run of 32 points from 32 games dating back to the start of November. That is relegation form, and just cause for a sacking, whether Javi Gracia ‘is very likeable’ or not.
‘According to the player ratings for the world’s most popular computer football game, Jadon Sancho does not quite make the world’s top 100’ – first paragraph of Andy Dunn’s Daily Mirror article.
‘And one of those is Sancho…whatever those computer boffins might think’ – final paragraph of Andy Dunn’s Daily Mirror article.
Fight the good fight against those nerds, old man shouting at clouds.
‘It must be the international break’ story of the day
‘Sir Alex Ferguson’s 11-word reaction to Man Utd winning the Champions League in 1999’ – Daily Mirror.
That will be the “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell,” post-match interview. Which is fine and a lovely line, but…
a) His reaction was far more than 11 words.
b) Why is this ‘news’ on a random September day 19-and-a-half years after the event?
‘It must be the international break’ story of the day
‘Arsene Wenger’s brutal comment about Jose Mourinho after their very first meeting’
What are you doing, Daily Mirror?
Most misleading opening paragraph of the day
‘Two interesting facts about Gareth Southgate…he never gets to a match late and he never leaves early’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Sam Lee talks to Stephen Ireland.
Miguel Delaney on Kosovo.
Graham Hunter on Samuel Eto’o.