Mikel Arteta is ‘furious’, Ralf Rangnick and Jurgen Klopp ‘disagree’ and Pep Guardiola is calling strike…
We’re not saying it’s a slow news day but the top story on The Sun‘s football website is that ‘BRUNO FERNANDES and Nemanja Matic poked fun at Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo after coming out on top in a training game’.
Merry f***ing Christmas.
The sound and the fury
Over on the Mirror football website, they have the big story. The really big story. The absolutely massive bollocks of a story.
‘Mikel Arteta furiously defends Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang approach amid Piers Morgan row’
You already know that the word ‘amid’ is doing an awful lot of work there because of course Mikel Arteta did not mention Piers Morgan, and neither did whoever asked him the question in the press conference. Piers Morgan is entirely irrelevant to Arteta and pretty much everybody else.
As for the ‘furiously’…judge for yourself:
🗣 “I don’t establish my authority but being dictatorial or trying to be ruthless. I just ask for one thing. It’s respect and commitment, that’s all.”
Mikel Arteta response to him being uncompromising and sticking to his principles too much regarding Aubameyang situation. pic.twitter.com/RzZsxacWeY
— Connor Humm (@TikiTakaConnor) December 23, 2021
He does measured, calm fury like nobody else.
You Rang, my lord
They say sex sells but in football churnalism, getting Liverpool and Manchester United into the same headline is what really sells. That’s difficult when Liverpool are not playing on Boxing Day but the Express website are nothing if not innovative:
‘Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick disagrees with Jurgen Klopp over Liverpool manager’s angry rant’
Apparently, ‘RALF RANGNICK is excited to be a part of his first festive period in England, in drastic contrast to Jurgen Klopp’.
Which is odd because this is what Klopp said after being scheduled to play on December 26 and 28:
“I have no problem with the Christmas games; Boxing Day is a wonderful game. Nobody wants to cancel that. Just 26th and 28th is absolutely impossible; it’s a joke that they still do it. [There is] no problem to play 26th and 29th.”
And this is what Rangnick said after being scheduled to play on December 27 and 30:
“You know better than I do what a big tradition it is to play on Boxing Day and the 27th. And I think we should stick to this and respect this tradition.”
So they both like the Christmas games and neither want to cancel those games; it’s just that Klopp quite understandably did not want to play two games in three days.
Have they really ‘publicly disagreed’ or is somebody pretending for the sake of a headline? The latter, of course.
Doing their bit to widen the chasm between the public and the overpaid footballers and managers of the Premier League are The Sun, who happily paint Pep Guardiola as the Arthur Scargill of football with a back page bearing this bombastic headline:
Boom. They claim that Guardiola ‘called on Prem stars and bosses to consider going on STRIKE to force change’.
Did he? Seems a bit strong. Let’s check out the quotes:
“It should be the players and managers all together make a strike or something because if it is just words it is not going to be solved.”
Seems pretty unequivocal. Except, well he didn’t say that, did he? This is what he actually said:
“Should the players and the managers be all together and make a strike, or something, because just through words it’s not going to be solved?”
That question mark makes a massive bloody difference. It changes the whole tone from a call to arms to a ponder. But ponders don’t make back pages so the question mark disappeared.
It’s also worth noting that Guardiola was then asked if there could be a strike and this is what he said:
“No, I don’t think so because we want to play. We want to continue – to make the people happy going to the stadium on the 26th, 27th, 29th, 31st and 1st, and play games, because we love to do that.
“I’m not saying there’s a reason to make a strike.”
So he didn’t ‘call on Prem stars and bosses to consider going on STRIKE to force change’ at all. In fact, he did pretty much the opposite and said that there was no reason to strike.
Oh and Daily Mirror, he did not say ‘an all-out strike over festive fixtures may be the only way to protect player welfare’; he simply asked the question.
And Daily Mail, he did not ‘say stars could refuse to play over fixture pile-up’; he literally said it would not happen.
Still, you all got your back pages.
Meanwhile, Kalvin Phillips has said he is “very happy” at Leeds United so obviously…
‘Leeds star Kalvin Phillips responds to Manchester United transfer interest’ – Metro
‘Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips responds to Man Utd transfer interest’ – Mirror
Did he mention Manchester United? Did he balls.
The Guardian’s top 100 footballers is a wonderful read and it’s largely difficult to argue with the order because it is the work of 219 judges. But thanks to The Guardian releasing the breakdown of the votes, you can spot a few anomalies.
Judge 102 a Manchester United fan.
Ronaldo, Cavani, De Gea, Shaw ahead of Mo Salah. A further five make their top 40.
Nguyen Tien Linh of Vietnamese club Becamex Bình Dương in 24th.
— Omar Chaudhuri (@OmarChaudhuri) December 24, 2021
The Guardian keep their judges anonymous but we think we might have identified this fella. Quite why the Guardian asked a man with 29 followers and a Manchester United obsession for his votes – and gave them equal billing to Luiz Felipe Scolari – is a question for another day.
Thankfully, Salah still made it into third and an international incident was averted.