A message to The Sun. Saturday lunchtime’s game is not ‘Jose v Pep’, ‘Pep v Zlatan’ or ‘Jose v Kevin De Bruyne’. It’s the bloody Manchester derby; it’s Manchester United v Manchester City.
Not-so-bright Sun: The sequel
Another message to The Sun: It really isn’t ‘Marouane Fellaini v Pablo Zabaleta’ either.
In discussing the four grudge matches which prove the derby ‘will be a hate fest’, Phil Cadden lands at the clash we will all be watching at Old Trafford: The massive Belgian versus the Argentinean who might not even play.
‘Fellaini and Zabaleta have got history dating back to the Old Trafford derby in March 2014,’ Cadden writes. ‘United midfielder Fellaini escaped a red card after elbowing Zabaleta in the face in City’s 3-0 win.
‘He also got off scot free despite appearing to spit chewing gum at the Argentine as he lay on the floor.’
Forget Jose v Pep. It is all about Marouane v Pablo.
…and the trilogy is complete
And a final message to The Sun; it really, really, really isn’t the ‘Manchester Wags derby’.
Mediawatch would like to think that Toby Gannon died a little inside when writing the following, but we just are not sure:
‘Stars on show at Old Trafford on Saturday could easily be the supporting act if stunning wives and girlfriends turn up.’
By the first paragraph, there is no hair left to tear out.
‘The Manchester derby promises to deliver sexy football from two of the Premier League’s hottest teams.
‘An incredible array of talent will grace Old Trafford including the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, David Silva and Raheem Sterling.
‘The clash is too close to call and could be determined by the masterful minds of United boss Jose Mourinho and City gaffer Pep Guardiola.
‘But off the pitch, which set of players already boasts bragging rights when it comes to their stunning Wags.’
This is terrible. The piece includes lines such as:
– ‘We’d rather see his girlfriend Michele Lacroix light up our TV screens,’
– ‘It is obvious why new Man City stopper Claudio Bravo fell in glove with Carla Pardo,’
– ‘Gorgeous Sam – an ex-Sun Page 3 girl – could well prove to be a distraction for her fiance if she turns up in the stands at the derby’
The article comprises 396 words and 41 images; that’s an image every 9.6 words.
It’s really, really, really bad. Really bad. Bad.
One has scored 458 goals in 797 career appearances; the other has scored 106 goals in 379 career appearances.
One has won 29 trophies at club level; the other has won three trophies at club level.
One has been named in four UEFA Teams of the Year and a FIFA FIFPro World XI; the other once posed almost completely naked for a photo while sunbathing, with only a bikini top covering his penis.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Nicklas Bendtner are not exactly two peas in a pod. Unless of course, you are Ian Holloway.
“I nearly signed Nicklas Bendtner at Crystal Palace,” Holloway tells Sky Sports. “I actually really liked him as a person. If we had got the deal done, I reckon I could’ve got something out of him.
“He’s a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-type of player in terms of ability, the only difference is Ibrahimovic keeps himself fit and is able to keep scoring.”
The only difference between two strikers is that one is “able to keep scoring”? That’s quite a big difference, Ollie.
Also, since the beginning of 2014 Bendtner has suffered four injuries; Ibrahimovic has also suffered four. None of Bendtner’s kept him sidelined for longer than three weeks, his last ailment was a bout of flu earlier this year, and before that he had not been injured since October 2014.
But yeah, aside from an injury record which is actually quite impressive, and, y’know, the whole “able to keep scoring” thing, Bendtner is basically the same as Ibrahimovic. Kinda.
Credit must go to Paul Merson of Sky Sports and Mark Lawrenson of BBC Sport. Both are Mediawatch regulars, but there is little to complain about in their respective prediction columns on Friday.
Well, almost. You see, Lawrenson seems to have an aversion to Everton. Why the former Liverpool player would take a particular dislike to their city rivals is unknown, but still.
‘Everton have started very brightly and I think everyone likes the look of them under Ronald Koeman so far,’ Lawrenson begins. So far, so good.
He continues: ‘The only position in their team I have any doubts about is at goalkeeper, because Maarten Stekelenburg struggled at Fulham and I am not convinced by Joel Robles.’
That will be the same Maarten Stekelenburg who has conceded only two goals in three Everton games so far this season. Only Manchester United (one) have conceded fewer goals than Ronald Koeman’s side.
Lawro reckons that the goalkeeper, who joined this summer, will concede another against struggling Sunderland when the two sides clash on Saturday.
‘Sunderland made a few signings before the window closed, and they should be solid enough – but I am still not sure about where their creativity will come from in midfield.’
Their creativity must come from somewhere; he predicts a 1-1 draw.
How about this for an eye-catching back-page world exclusive from the Daily Mirror?
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) September 8, 2016
‘A World Super League is now “unstoppable” and could see English teams playing midweek games in China within five years,’ writes John Cross. This is massive.
‘That is the predictions of one of European football’s leading powerbrokers, who claims top clubs are plotting a breakaway league of the wealthiest teams from around the globe.’
Here is the first problem: This is undoubtedly a ‘world exclusive’, but the ‘exclusive’ is the interview, not the accuracy of the claims. This is a back-page story based on one (well-connected) man’s opinion, not on any inside knowledge, as ‘WORLD LEAGUE BREAKAWAY’ suggests. Given Swart’s other recent comments regarding the Eredivisie’s potential loss of Champions League place, he is predictably keen to scaremonger.
And what of Swart’s actual influence? Cross writes in the article that Jacco Swart is ‘head of the European Professional Football Leagues,’ which is a grand old job title.
Yet that simply isn’t true. The official website of the European Professional Football Leagues lists Swart as an ‘EPFL Board Member’ only, as part of his role with the Eredivisie. Tellingly, he is relegated from ‘head’ of the organisation in the newspaper to a mere ‘director’ in the Mirror’s online story.
But anyway, Swart, and his role as ‘EPFL Board Member’. There are nine other members, all overseen by a chairman and deputy chairman above them. Even this board is powered by a general assembly, a legislative body that determines general policy.
In short: Maybe this is bad news, but don’t hold your breath on one man’s anger at his nose being firmly put out of joint.
From Sky Sports, September 8 at 6pm:
‘The iconic stadium now has a capacity of 54,074, up from last season’s 45,362.’
From Sky Sports, September 9 at 9:42am:
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) September 9, 2016
‘Jose Mourinho is sweating on the fitness of a number of his Manchester United stars ahead of this weekend’s derby,’ the Daily Mirror tells us.
‘United will also wait to assess Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero…’
Mediawatch would be stunned if Mourinho even slept, what with worrying about Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero’s fitness.
What’s £21.6m between friends?
‘Anthony Martial: Man Utd sign Monaco forward for £36m’ – BBC Sport.
‘Anthony Martial signs for Manchester United for £36m from Monaco’ – The Guardian.
‘Manchester United complete £36m Anthony Martial transfer on four-year deal’ – Daily Mail.
Each of the above headlines are from September 2, the day United signed Martial. Why then do The Sun still insist on claiming he cost £57.6m a year later?
Says Ray Wilkins to Sky Sports News HQ of David Luiz:
“We are coming up to Christmas and he loves giving presents away.”
It’s September 9, man.
‘Manchester United send dog experts to train Marcus Rashford’s new French bulldogs after noise complaints from neighbours’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun exclusive.
Somehow, we have survived international week. Barely.
Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on Leicester’s future.
Paul Doyle on Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner.
Dominic Bliss on Torino and River Plate.