Mediawatch: Breaking news – Neymar cannot play for France

Daniel Storey

Insight of the day
‘France can’t suddenly drop £200million and buy Neymar but PSG can’ – The Sun.

Mediawatch suddenly feels very stupid about all those angry letters to the FFF.


The pinnacle of European football
Now we aren’t saying that BT Sport’s takeover of the Champions League has caused a general lack of interest in the competition, but at 11am on the morning of the competition’s return, the top story on the following websites are as follows:

Daily Mail: ‘Chelsea’s karaoke club! New signings perform initiation songs as Rudiger’s rendition of Lil Wayne hit leaves Kante in stitches’

The Sun: ‘Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City reveal stylish new camoflague (sic) third kits’

Daily Mirror: ‘”They’re all the same!” Fans fume as £90 Nike Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham third shirts are released’ ‘FIFA 18 new features: The end of the pace era?’

BT Sport: ‘Crystal Palace turn to former England boss Hodgson’

Crystal Palace? Come on guys, all the games are on your own bloody channels.


Maths, with The Sun
Still, The Sun haven’t completely ignored the Champions League. They bring you seven reasons why they love the Champions League. We’re trying not to cry that No. 1 is ‘the music’. Now onto the second reason…

‘For the first time ever, there are five English teams in the competition. Now we get to watch the best of the Premier League take on Europe’s finest, over and over again.

‘And statistically we have a much better chance of an English club actually winning it. With five teams out of the 32 in the group stage, it gives us a one in six and a bit chance.’

“Shall we work it out exactly or just put ‘six and a bit’?”

“Shall we note that not every team has the same chance, and therefore that our maths is nonsense?”

Never has the word ‘statistically’ been more deserving of inverted commas.


It’s back!
We’re not saying that The Sun are stretching for their Champions League anticipation, but if you thought ‘the music’ was a bad reason…

‘It’s better than the World Cup.

‘For starters, it’s a better trophy. Bigger and has proper handles.

‘Plus all the top players in the world play in one competition.’

Apart from those that play for clubs not in the Champions League, you mean?

Still, we all love handles. At least that’s what Mediawatch keeps telling itself about the extra weight.


The Jong ones
Mediawatch can see why Alvise Cagnazzo might give up doing transfer stories for The Sun. ‘Thibaut Courtois will go to Real Madrid if they can’t land David De Gea, then Jan Oblak to Chelsea and Pepe Reina to Atletico Madrid head summer goalkeeping merry-go-round’ was our favourite of his summer exclusives, but there were a few.

Still, we didn’t expect him to go from spurious transfer stuff to dictator news. ‘Kim Jong-un is a Manchester United fan who believes North Korean footballers will eventually be flooding to the Premier League’ is Cagnazzo’s latest exclusive. It’s the inside source they all want.

Still, it certainly is an exclusive. As long as you forget that Manchester United fanzine Red Issue said exactly the same thing in September 2012.

And if you forget that the Daily Mirror said the same in October 2012.

And if you forget that the Independent said the same in August 2014.

And if you forget that the Daily Mail said the same in April 2017.

Still, baby steps. At least Cagnazzo is more likely to be right if his exclusives are five years old and copied from other people.


Cherry picking
Given that Bournemouth have lost their opening four games of the league season, you have to hope that Eddie Howe has bought a copy of the Daily Mirror on Tuesday. Because Stan Collymore has some advice:

‘Eddie Howe has a philosophy about the way football should be played and we can all admire him for that.’

‘But when your team is in the position Bournemouth are in it’s all about clean sheets and doing whatever it takes to get them.’

Mediawatch is putting its neck on the line here, but we reckon that Howe might have worked out that not conceding a goal might be a good way out of trouble.

‘Whether it’s playing with three centre-halves, with two wing-backs, whatever, Cherries boss Howe has to do it now – even if it’s for five or six games to get some confidence and a few points on the board.’

Firstly, we’re not sure that it’s quite as simple as just changing shape and watching the points roll in. If it was, every manager in trouble would be doing it.

Also, Howe already has changed formation to exactly the shape Collymore suggests. Bournemouth played a back four in their first two games, and a back three since then.

The Crowdfunder for a tactical bible penned by Collymore, titled ‘three centre-halves, two wing-backs, whatever’, starts here.


Welcome Big Sam
Tweet from The Sun’s football account:

Interesting, Mediawatch must have missed that bit of Monday Night Football.

Actual quotes from Allardyce:

“I’m enjoying my life too much without the pressures of the Premier League. He didn’t offer me the job but asked me what my thoughts were.”

Click into the actual Sun article (yes, that’s what they want), and you get:

‘Allardyce took a phone call from Palace chairman Steve Parish – who was involved in a Twitter spat with Eagles fans – seeking his thoughts on what the club should do next.’

So not a call about taking over, then?


He’s coming for you
Joey Barton has a regular slot on Talksport, and he used that slot to talk about his expectations for Harry Kane. There was some big talk.

“You look at everything about him [Kane] – his link-up play, he knows when to play simple and early, he knows when to pull the trigger. Kane’s record is scary. He’s scored 80 Premier League goals, the majority of them in the last three years. It’s early days but, if I was Alan Shearer, I’d be worried about Kane maybe coming and taking that Premier League goals record.”

Firstly, Mediawatch finds the ‘football didn’t start in 1992, y’know’ discussion as tedious as everyone else, but it’s relevant to point out that Shearer scored 23 league goals before the Premier League even began. It’s hardly his fault that the competition started when he was already 22.

Still, even if we do go for Shearer’s Premier League total of 260 rather than his career league goals total of 283, Kane needs to score another 181 goals to beat it. Or, in other terms, 20 league goals a season in every season from now until the age of 34.

Not sure Shearer is having kittens just yet.


Analogy of the day
“It’s like getting a one-legged man to run the 100m and expecting him to do it in 10 seconds and then telling him off for not doing it. You know he can’t do it” – former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan on Palace and Frank de Boer.

It’s not exactly like that, is it?


False accusation of the day
‘Manchester United squad greeted by bomb sniffer dog as they arrive at Lowry Hotel ahead of Champions League opener’ – The Sun.

Mediawatch has seen the picture exclusive, and we’re on the dog’s side. He did no ‘greeting’, kept his mind and nose on the job and anyone who suggests otherwise is a liar.


Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on the Premier League.

Paolo Baldini with Gonzalo Higuain.

Robert O’Connor on Qarabag.