A Man United Jadon Sancho U-turn exposed, plus CASH GUZZLERS Arsenal and Jordan Henderson overhead. But first…
Weight for it
To be fair to The Sun‘s Neil Custis, he has absolutely straight-batted his interview with Luke Shaw, leading on the full-back’s opinion that Manchester United now have a ‘belief…he has never known since joining the club’. If anything, it is a little dull.
So what did The Sun subs do with this earnest but slightly dull story? Well they read glassy-eyed – through well-meaning quotes about the togetherness of this Manchester United squad – until the 18th paragraph…
‘He has come a long way since being criticised for pictures that appeared to show him looking overweight on holiday in 2018.’
…and then decided on a headline that the poor journalist might have to explain the next time he speaks to Shaw or the Manchester United press office:
‘LUKE AT HIM NOW…United on to Shaw thing after long weight’
And of course they include that picture from 2018. Because how else would you treat England’s best left-back?
EIGHT for it
Over at The Sun website, the biggest story in football on the morning after Liverpool lost 1-0 to Brighton is a big REVEALED by digital sports reporter and West Ham fan William Pugh:
‘CASH GUZZLERS: Arsenal make profit on just EIGHT transfers in ten years, including Giroud, Martinez and Oxlade-Chamberlain’
Had there been no CAPITAL LETTERS in that headline, we would have had no clue whether eight transfer profits in ten years was a brilliant or terrible return because zero context is offered. But we know we are supposed to be disgusted because they have made just EIGHT transfer profits in a decade, which officially makes them CASH GUZZLERS.
Just wait until The Sun discover that Manchester United have made profit on just THREE transfers in ten years. Suddenly eight sounds a little more lower case.
A lesson in how to harness Jadon Sancho clicks from The Sun website as this March feature:
‘Man Utd wonderkid Shola Shoretire has been likened to Jay-Jay Okocha and played for the Under-19 team aged just 14’
…became this October feature:
‘Man Utd wonderkid Shola Shoretire could be the answer to missing out on Jadon Sancho and plays like Jay-Jay Okocha’
…and then this February feature:
‘Man Utd wonderkid Shola Shoretire, 17, is the ‘next Jadon Sancho’ and snubbed Barcelona and Juventus to sign new deal’
And who has called Shola Shoretire the ‘next Jadon Sancho’, thus justifying those quote marks? Well, nobody. Nobody at all but The Sun themselves.
What a (Jon) Boon.
Shock and awe
And then to MailOnline, where this is the leading football story at 11am on Thursday morning, just hours after champions Liverpool were beaten by Brighton and hours before Tottenham and Chelsea face each other:
‘Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes heap praise on Man Utd exile Jesse Lingard after his stunning brace on West Ham debut… as fellow outcasts Tahith Chong and Diogo Dalot also laud display’
Did they ‘heap praise’ or did they post replies on his Instagram which consisted of such complexities as ‘‘Congrats bro!!” and, bizarrely, ‘Uauuuu’ followed by a shocked and a fire emoji?
And is this really the biggest story in football? You know their hearts are not really in it when they cannot even find a random word to CAPITALISE.
Head it on the grapevine
Over at the Mirror website, they at least lead on Liverpool’s defeat, with a match report, ‘5 talking points’, player ratings and quotes from Andy Robertson and Jurgen Klopp front and central.
But the clicks on all those five stories in total are unlikely to breach the traffic created by this absolute doozy of a headline:
‘Jordan Henderson’s criticism of Xherdan Shaqiri overhead during Liverpool defeat’
Yes, ‘overhead’. And no, that’s not a slip of the keyboard because in the same story, we read that:
* ‘Xherdan Shaqiri failed to make a major impact as Liverpool again struggled in attack against Brighton with Jordan Henderson overhead being critical of his team-mate’
* ‘But things did not click against Brighton with captain Jordan Henderson overhead expressing his frustration at Shaqiri.’
* ‘Jordan Henderson was overhead expressing his frustration with Shaqiri’s lack of movement’
But anyway, what exactly was overhead? Tell us what Henderson said that was so damning. Tell us. Tell us. Tell us.
‘According to beIN Sports at half-time, Shaqiri was a particular focus of Henderson’s frustrations as he was typically vocal and expressed criticism of his lack of movement.’
Oh. You don’t have a clue. Not a scooby. All you have is that somebody else said that Shaqiri was a ‘particular focus’ of Henderson’s frustrations. That’s it. Excuse us for thinking that overheard/overhead suggested that there might actually be some knowledge about what was said. Silly Mediawatch. All these bloody years and still so naive.
Indeed, Mediawatch is so naive that we see a headline like this on the Liverpool Echo:
‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Alisson Becker latest, Mohamed Salah claim, RB Leipzig game ‘moved”
And we think that it might contain a ‘Mohamed Salah claim’. Or indeed anything about Mohamed Salah at all.
Having it all ways
Jack Otway, Express website, February 2: ‘Man Utd star Amad Diallo may have ended Jadon Sancho transfer hopes once and for all.’
Jack Otway, Express website, February 3: ‘Manchester United transfer news: Borussia Dortmund slash Jadon Sancho price to new low’
Incidentally, that first Jack Otway piece is entirely conjecture; the rather hefty clue is the ‘may’ in the headline.
He then writes that ‘while he’s yet to kick a ball for the Red Devils in a first-team match, he’s already made a sensational impact behind the scenes – potentially ending the club’s pursuit of Sancho once and for all’. Potentially.
And ‘Diallo’s rise suggests United may not go back in for the 20-year-old and will give the teenager every chance to fulfil his potential on the right wing’. Suggests.
Otway himself claims to have no inside knowledge; the poor lad is just try to crowbar ‘Diallo’ and ‘Sancho’ into the same headline and hit his click target.
But we have absolutely no sympathy for the writers of these shameless stories:
‘Man Utd’s two summer transfer target priorities set after U-turn over Jadon Sancho’ (Daily Star)
‘Man Utd make Erling Haaland and Jules Kounde transfer priorities and ‘made Jadon Sancho U-turn over Amad Diallo form’ (The Sun)
‘Sancho off the radar, as Haaland and surprise name make up Man Utd’s summer targets’ (TEAMtalk)
They all ignored the ‘may’ and the ‘potentially’ and the ‘suggests’ to claim themselves a bone fide transfer story. Because there’s no blindness like transfer click blindness.