Actually, Merson and Thompson were right about Silva

Date published: Thursday 20th April 2017 8:55

British is best
“‘They didn’t do their homework about my career,’ sniffed Marco Silva of his doubters at the weekend, shortly before going down 3-1 at Stoke, a result one presumes will not be featuring highly in the CV circulating at better clubs than Hull come the end of the season,’ begins Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. You might sense a slight condescending tone? Well, strap in.

‘And yes, it is easy to mock observers such as Paul Merson and Phil Thompson, who both expressed surprise when Silva got the job in January. Silva looks a very able coach and may well keep a club up that many thought was doomed. He has done a good job. Yet those who questioned the appointment were making a wider point than the suitability of one man. It was about the opportunity afforded to British coaches.’

No, they were expressing their disgust that a foreign manager had got the job over an English manager – Gary Rowett in particular. Merson made this an argument over individuals as well as systems when he said “What’s he know about the Premier League? What’s he know?” about Marco Silva, before Thompson added “He’s not got a clue”. They were disrespectful, demeaning, rude and, most importantly, wrong.

Nobody was arguing that Hull City – or any club – should only appoint foreign managers, but that they should be free to appoint whoever they please, of whatever nationality they please, without retribution from those blindly championing Brits through little more than misplaced patriotism.

‘Do you know who has also done a good job? Chris Hughton at Brighton. A fantastic job, in fact. Brighton have the ninth highest wage bill in the Championship, but look like going up in first place. Bucking your position by almost half the league takes some doing.’

Yes, Hughton has done a wonderful job, but find us anyone who says otherwise. To use Hughton’s job as a stick with which to beat Silva and defend the ignorance of Merson and Tompson is bizarre. And Hughton wasn’t available when Hull appointed Silva, was he?

Also, a small point: Hughton is Irish.

‘Yet who has more chance of landing a Premier League job of significance if one becomes available this summer? We all know the answer. Silva’s five-month rescue mission would count for more than Hughton’s 20 years at the coalface in English football, doing a good job wherever he went.’

‘20 years at the coalface’ vs ‘five-month mission’ – the imagery used to make Hughton look like a brave soldier and Silva an untrustworthy foreign fancy really is superb. Newsflash: Silva’s career didn’t start when he came to England.

Hughton is appreciated and respected in the game with good reason, but it is true to say that his Premier League managerial record is patchy. That is why Championship Brighton were able to appoint him in the first place.

As for those 20 years, Hughton took his first permanent managerial role in 2008, three years before Silva was appointed manager at Estoril. He was coach at Tottenham between 1993 and 2007, but he is 19 years Silva’s senior – of course he has more experience. Samuel reducing Silva’s career to a ‘five-month mission’ is exactly the same mistake Merson and Thompson made, ignoring all the other things Silva had done before he arrived in Hull. They play football in Foreignland too, fellas.

As ever, Mediawatch is left frustrated at the manner in which Samuel, and others, frame this as a battle between good vs evil: British vs The Rest. Ultimately, clubs will choose between who is available, who fits their project and who they anticipate will be better at the job. To accuse anyone of an anti-Brit agenda is as ludicrous as asking “What’s he know?” about a man you know little about yourself.


Free love
‘Harry Redknapp accepts three-game challenge to keep Birmingham up – for free,’ reads the headline on the Daily Telegraph website, one that caught our eye. That claim that Redknapp is working for free is repeated elsewhere, too. Mediawatch smelled a rat.

Firstly, let’s see what Redknapp himself said:

“Birmingham is a proper club. It is a good club. They are in a precarious position and we have got the worst goal difference as well.

“I’ve gone in there and said I will come and do it. The money I am not interested in. I got fed up sitting around doing nothing. I will come and live up here until the end of the season. If I can keep them up then we can sit down and talk about going forward.”

Forgive us for the cynicism (Ed: Every day, or just today?), but when Redknapp says he “isn’t interested in the money”, that doesn’t mean he isn’t getting any.

In fact the Daily Mail report a very different story, revealing that Redknapp will collect a ‘six-figure bonus’ should Birmingham stay in the Championship. They are three points above the bottom three with three games remaining. At a bare minimum (assuming the six-figure sum means £100,000 exactly), Redknapp would effectively be paid £25,000 per week for a month’s work.

‘I’d do it for free’ does not mean ‘I’m doing it for free’. Particularly when ‘Arry is around.


China in your hand
‘John Terry’s one-man tour of China – does this suggest the Chelsea legend is heading east?’ asks the Mirror Football headline.

Couple of things, guys:

1) Elsewhere on your website, your chief football writer reports that Bournemouth are in pole position to sign Terry. Yesterday, another of your writers claimed that West Brom were leading the chase. Make your minds up.
2) Of all the indicators of Terry’s next move, him going on holiday to China two years ago is pretty weak.


What a difference a defeat makes
‘Is this the team who Jose Mourinho clumsily alienated last season — a team of would-be world-beaters, who will deliver two titles in three seasons when settled and happy? Or are they a collection of flatterers and pouters, who inexplicably disappeared last year, and did so again in the face of a disciplined, intelligent United performance on Sunday? A team who couldn’t handle man-marking, combative defending, youth or pace?’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.

Erm, somewhere in between those two extremes, but far closer to the former? Do we get a shiny penny for being right?

A reminder, Chelsea have a four-point lead at the top of a Premier League they weren’t expected to win; it’s going OK.


C-c-called a U-turn
‘The final nail in the magic of the FA Cup’ – Dave Kidd, Daily Mirror, February 2013.

‘Man City’s strop was a new low for the mortally wounded FA Cup — it needs a radical overhaul’ – Dave Kidd, Daily Mirror, February 2016

‘IF the romance is dead, then whodunnit? If the dear old FA Cup has lost its magic, then who shot Bambi’s mum? Premier League bosses like Eddie Howe and Jurgen Klopp, who toss off the world’s oldest competition by making 11 changes? Or club owners who share their priorities? Clueless FA suits who do not know how to market their own flagship competition? Or greedy TV executives who would rather screen Manchester United 55 times than opt for a potential giant-killing?’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun, January 2017.

‘It is not hard to see why when the so-called ‘magic’ of the competition is undermined by managers fielding weakened sides who then claim they still respect it’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun, January 2017.

So the FA Cup is dead, then. ‘The final nail’, ‘Mortal wounds’ and Bambi’s mum bleeding on the floor. Sorted.

‘It promises to make Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final between the top two such gripping theatre. And by the way, the dear old Cup will look more alive than ever when four of the ‘big six’ contest the semis as if their lives depend upon it’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun, April 2017.

Back from the dead so soon after Easter. Jesus would be proud.


Breaking news
‘Jack Wilshere’s ankle is not broken but Bournemouth face anxious wait on full extent of injury to Arsenal loanee’ – Daily Mail, April 17

‘Scan shows Wilshere has fractured leg’ – Daily Mail, April 18.

Just what did they do to him in that X-ray room?


Answering your own question
‘Rarely can BBC 5 Live have produced a worse radio show than the desperate Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy,’ writes Charlie Sale in Wednesday’s Daily Mail. ‘The current series of 20 programmes — also available as a podcast — features the former cricketer and ex-footballer with journalist Matthew Syed, and doesn’t work on any level. It is not amusing, nor informative, and amateur host Syed just allows Savage and Flintoff to talk inanely.’

Mediawatch does not disagree with much of that scathing assessment, though it is only an opinion. Yet the kicker comes in the final line of the section.

‘A BBC spokesman said the show had been well received and the podcast was top of the sports chart on iTunes.’

And therein lies the answer, Charlie: It probably isn’t aimed at you. Or us. Or anyone we know.


Quote of the day
“I drove to London, had a meeting for ten to 15 minutes, sat down and said ‘Yeah, sure, I will come and do it no problem’” – Harry Redknapp on his appointment by Birmingham City. It was ever thus.


Headline of the day
‘Saul Over’ – Daily Mirror.


Recommended reading of the day
Amy Lawrence on youth football.

That piece accompanies this extract from Michael Calvin’s new book.

Ed Aarons on Kylian Mbappe.

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