Mediawatch: Alexis Sanchez, ‘drastic decisions’ and more…

Date published: Monday 20th May 2019 11:11

How great thou art
Manchester City won the Carabao Cup final on penalties after 120 goalless minutes.

Manchester City won the Premier League by one single point.

Manchester City did not even reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, losing to an English club.

Manchester City beat Watford 6-0 to win the FA Cup.

Quite why everybody in the media has seemingly decided to ignore the first three facts on the basis of the fourth is confusing and infuriating Mediawatch in equal measure. Apparently, beating a mid-ranking team – who finished 48 points behind them in the Premier League – for the 11th successive time has signalled the end of days. We are now firmly entrenched in the endgame of football.

‘ENGLISH football has 76 days to get its act together,’ writes Neil Ashton in The Sun. Of course, he has already forgotten the greatest title race in Premier League history; it did end a whole eight days ago, after all.

‘City make no apology for defending the Premier League title, for back-to-back Carabao Cups, plus the FA Cup after this hopelessly one-sided final.

‘They want more and they will get it.

‘In the summer recess it is down to their rivals to work out a way to stop City crushing teams in showpiece finals.’

Because Mediawatch has a memory that stretches back more than a mere 90 minutes, we can remember a whole three months ago when Chelsea stopped Manchester City crushing a team in a showpiece final, with 120 minutes of football ending 0-0.

We also remember that Tottenham are in their own showpiece final because they stopped Manchester City over two legs just a month ago.

So of three showpiece finals Manchester City could have contested this season, they won one 6-0, edged one on penalties and failed to reach the other.

How, oh how will ‘their rivals work out a way to stop City crushing teams in showpiece finals’? It’s one of football’s great unanswered questions.


Broken Britain
‘Manchester City’s sky blue smashing of Watford proves football is broken’ is the headline in The Guardian. Because of course this is the first time that a very good team has beaten a middling one 6-0.

Jonathan Wilson writes:

‘There is no point pretending any more. Watford may have finished 11th in the Premier League but they were 48 points adrift of the champions. City and Watford are not playing the same game any more.’

Well if football is broken in 2019 then it was broken in 2009 too, when Manchester United finished 45 points ahead of Wigan in 11th. Had United played Wigan in that season’s FA Cup final, they may well have tw*tted them 6-0. After all, they faced seventh-placed Fulham earlier in the competition and won 4-0, and they beat 12th-placed Stoke 5-0 in the Premier League.

Wilson may indeed be right that ‘without major structural changes in the finances of the game, or the arrival at Vicarage Road of a sheik, oligarch or nation state looking to enhance its global reputation, there is no prospect of them being able to challenge over any sort of sustained period’, but maybe he should spare a moment of thought for Tottenham, who finished 39 points behind United a decade ago and are now preparing for a Champions League final that inexplicably does not feature football-breakers Manchester City.


Holiday hell
‘Man Utd misfit Alexis Sanchez to cut holiday short to get fit in hope of forcing transfer to end his Old Trafford hell,’ is the headline on a Daniel Cutts exclusive on The Sun website.

There follows the usual talk of a ‘dreadful season’ and massive wages before we get all the way to the 11th paragraph and a quote from a United source:

“We are also expecting Luke Shaw and Phil Jones towards the end of June, which is again purely off their own back.”

Are they both ‘cutting their holiday short to get fit in hope of forcing transfer to end their Old Trafford hells’ too? Or does that only apply to the click-machine that is Alexis Sanchez?


And where one leads…
‘Alexis Sanchez’s ‘desperate attempt’ to seal transfer away from Man Utd’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Alexis Sanchez: Man Utd star makes transfer decision on future and Premier League move’ – Daily Express.

‘How Alexis Sanchez is trying to force transfer away from Man Utd after horror season’ – Daily Express again. Why not? This sh*t can run and run.

‘Man Utd flop Alexis Sanchez makes drastic decision in bid to END Old Trafford career’ – Daily Star.

Or ‘Man goes back to work early along with at least two other keen colleagues’.


Tracing the transfer rumour
‘Transfer News LIVE: Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd gossip plus Alexis Sanchez latest’ is the headline on the Daily Mirror transfer live blog thing, because anybody who works in online football journalism knows that the key words to crowbar into any headline are transfer, live, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and gossip. Throw in some Alexis Sanchez – he ‘is ready to cut short his summer holiday to force a move away from Manchester United’, don’t you know – and you have pure gold.

So what is happening at Arsenal? Let’s read on…

‘Arsenal are reportedly eyeing a shock raid on Real Madrid as Unai Emery eyes defensive reinforcements…’

Oh wow. *click*.

‘Arsenal transfer news: Gunners target ‘next Raphael Varane’ to shore up defence’

It would seem bizarre if Real Madrid were selling a player they considered the next ‘Rafael Varane’. We are intrigued…

‘Arsenal are interested in bringing Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba to the Emirates Stadium this summer, according to reports.’

Ah, so not a ‘shock raid on Real Madrid’ but a ‘pretty predictable raid on Saint-Etienne’? Not quite so sexy. But a whole lot more true.

The report that the Mirror cite is from Goal, who make absolutely no mention of Saliba being the ‘next Raphael Varane’, presumably because Goal know that Saliba has never been compared to Varane except by people at The Sun, Metro and other such publications.

So where did this idea that Saliba is the ‘next Raphael Varane’ stem? For the answer to that question, we have to go back to March and a report in Spanish newspaper Sport about Real Madrid’s apparent interest in said player.

‘Real Madrid are keeping tabs on young Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, an upcoming talent from the 2001 generation in France.

‘A move for William would be similar to the one the La Liga side did for Raphael Varane, when they signed him as a 17-year-old who was starting to make his name at Lens.’

So Real Madrid’s move for Saliba would be similar to the move Real Madrid made for Varane because they are both young and from France; there is no suggestion in that report that Saliba is anywhere near the same class as Varane, or even that he plays in the same style.

And from there it’s a short two-month hop, skip and a jump to Arsenal ‘reportedly eyeing a shock raid on Real Madrid’.


Modern man

Don’t fight social inequality…except if you are a woman and you want to appear on Sunday Supplement.


Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on football being broken

Tariq Panja and Aleksander Ceferin on Champions League and Manchester City


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