Spirit in the sky
You really do have to admire the optimism of the headline on Neil Custis’ Manchester United piece in Wednesday morning’s The Sun. It reads ‘Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho agrees new five-year deal after bringing spirit back to club’. He doesn’t mean vodka.
Mediawatch can’t help thinking that ‘…after taking club back to the top of the Premier League’ would sound better than ‘bringing spirit back to club’. Hey ho.
‘While they finished sixth in the Premier League, the board accepted that a number of games had been sacrificed for the Europa League, which was seen as an easier route back into the Champions League.
‘Mourinho, 54, has United up to second now and they eased into the knockout stages of the Champions League. Most importantly, he has got a spirit back at the club.’
It’s weird that Custis is so impressed by this added ‘spirit’ at United that he believes it justification for a new five-year deal. Because Custis wrote as far back as September 2016 that Mourinho had already achieved that. By August 2017, he was aiming for a Champions League and Premier League double.
‘IT’S BEEN just three months but Jose Mourinho is already on his way to consigning the last three years of misery at Manchester United to the dustbin of history.
‘From the moment he arrived, the message has been positive, about winning the title. Nothing on philosophies or things taking time.’
Nothing about ‘philosophies’, but an awful lot about ‘spirit’. And that’s what counts.
‘Manchester United fear Jose Mourinho could resign at the end of the season as boss starts to cut increasingly detached figure at Old Trafford’ – MailOnline, January 3.
‘Jose Mourinho: Man Utd close to announcing new deal for manager’ – BBC Sport, January 16.
Room service improved at the Lowry over the last fortnight?
The dark web
You won’t find Mediawatch backing Arsene Wenger to the hilt for his recent (and non-recent) performance, but when reading Mark Irwin’s piece in The Sun you do wonder if Arsenal’s manager can ever win.
After years of lambasting Wenger and Arsenal for their lack of transfer ambition, Irwin is now critical of what he refers to as ‘a desperate last throw of the dice’.
‘Now he is prepared to risk everything with a reckless plunge into the financial madness of the January transfer market. And football’s great survivor knows that these next two weeks will make or break his managerial reputation.’
Oh so now buying players is ‘reckless’? Not just replacing departing players with other players?
As for breaking Wenger’s managerial reputation, Mediawatch thinks that some Arsenal supporters might remember the league titles and domestic trophies more.
Still, you really do have to admire Irwin’s hyping up of Arsenal’s transfer activity. Take this line, for example:
‘In all, NINE PLAYERS are potentially caught up in Arsenal’s transfer web.’
Nine seemed an awfully high number, so Mediawatch looked into Irwin’s list. First you have Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, which is fair enough. Then there is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Olivier Giroud, who could be swapped, plus Theo Walcott. Next comes Malcom, who probably won’t join if Aubameyang does.
Whether Jonny Evans would consider himself trapped in Arsenal’s transfer web is open to debate, but Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere certainly aren’t. Remember, Irwin is referring only to what might happen in the next two weeks.
Also, Arsenal moved 25 different players in or out of the club last summer. Didn’t hear much about those 25 players being caught up in a transfer web.
It looks increasingly like Henrikh Mkhitaryan will accept a deal to become a makeweight in Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United, which is not a sentence we thought we would be typing 12 months ago.
MailOnline have the inside scoop on why the deal will happen, and weirdly it’s not that Arsenal and Manchester United are both going to offer Mkhitaryan an awful lot of money to leave a place where he isn’t getting a game and isn’t happy.
‘Mkhitaryan revealed as an Arsenal fan ahead of Gunners move,’ their headline reads.
The Sun later followed suit: ‘Mkhitaryan reveals he is an Arsenal fan as Man Utd ace closes in on move’.
This might be the longest reveal in history, because Mkhitaryan said that he liked Arsenal – not that he was a fan – in 2009:
“My favourite team is Arsenal. I like their attacking play and fast style. Moreover, Arsène Wenger puts faith in young players while demanding results at the same time.”
Shame that Mkhitaryan isn’t a young player anymore, Arsenal don’t really have a fast style and Arsene Wenger doesn’t seem to demand results.
Eight years before is technically ‘ahead of Arsenal move’, we suppose.
Barkley’s Premier League
The Sun’s Dave Kidd doesn’t hold back on Ross Barkley in his column on Wednesday:
‘ROSS BARKLEY had a choice between Chelsea and Tottenham this month. That he snubbed Spurs, who have been the making of so many young English players, and opted for Chelsea — where they are often paid handsomely to disappear, tells you about the priorities of the player and his advisors.’
Now Kidd could be right, and his assessment of both clubs ia broadly right, but is that not a little harsh on Barkley? Perhaps he thinks that he has more chance of getting into an attacking midfield ahead of Willian, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko than Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Hung-Min Son. Which doesn’t sound so silly.
Football story of the day
“Maybe the [Sean Dyche] voice comes from eating rainworms [the Danish term for earthworms], because every time we trained, he used to eat rainworms.
“It was horrible, I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was like: ‘Whoops, there’s a rainworm,’ and then he ate it.
“It was a bit disgusting and very strange. He was a good player, and I enjoyed being around him, but the thing with the worms was really strange.
“There was always these worms around, and everybody always commented on it as being disgusting and complained a bit, so I think maybe it was as a kind of a provocation, and to show us that it wasn’t something, we should focus on or care about, he just ate one or two” – former Bristol City striker Soren Andersen.
Worst feature of the day
‘Seven top footballers’ cars you can buy online today’ – The Sun.
Two of the cars belong to Alex Baptiste and (the now-retired) George Boateng. It’s when they got to former Portsmouth chairman Alexandre Gaydamak that Mediawatch doubted the ‘top footballer’ tag.
Recommended reading of the day
Marina Hyde on Phil Neville
Nick Wright on Andreas Christensen.
Michael Yokhin meets Gelson Martins.