Mediawatch: Brendan bought these players

Daniel Storey

The most punderful time, of the year
Sit down for this one: Yaya Toure and Gael Clichy have put on Christmas jumpers. Not only that, but Manuel Pellegrini took singing lessons a decade ago.

Regained your composure? Good, because that’s not just a story if you’re The Sun newspaper, it’s back-page news. Oh yes.

‘Man Knitty… and boss Manuel can sing a ditty!’ reads the headline. Eesh.

‘Manchester City duo Yaya Toure and Gael Clichy have gone all Jingle Pells by dressing up in the club’s Christmas jumpers,’ a piece by Martin Blackburn begins.

‘And we can reveal City boss Manuel Pellegrini was once Manuel Pelle-croon-i to try and stay in harmony with his players while managing Villarreal.’

Two questions:

1) Can someone at The Sun come and clean up this pile of sick Mediawatch did after the ‘Pelle-croon-i’ pun?

2) Can The Sun really ‘reveal’ something that a) even they say is from a book, and b) was ‘revealed’ by everyone else over a month ago?

Incidentally, the Independent didn’t consider the story worthy of their back page on November 2. If only they’d have had the Jingle Pells/Christmas jumper angle.


Shoulda, woulda, coulda
When you look at Liverpool’s start under Jurgen Klopp, it might persuade you that the club made the right appointment at the right time. Not Steven Howard in The Sun, though. Oh no.

‘Somewhere Brendan Rodgers would have been watching and reflecting on the fact he had brought all these players to the club,’ says Howard on Liverpool’s form. ‘And believing that given more time he would have produced the same results.

‘Here we are talking of the 13 goals Liverpool have scored against Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton. Yet two seasons ago Rogers’ Liverpool scored four against Notts County, WBA, Fulham, West Ham, Everton, Swansea and Spurs. And five against Norwich, Spurs, Stoke and Arsenal. And six against Cardiff. Yes, a lot of it was down to Suarez but Liverpool were still as much a joy to watch as they were at St Marys this week…Fate is a strange business.’

Well, fate and failing to win enough football matches during your last 15 months in charge.

Mediawatch is amused by Howard’s assessment that Rodgers ‘brought all these players to the club’. Seem to remember people saying the opposite when he was sacked.

So when it’s bad, it’s the transfer committee’s fault, but when things went well Rodgers did all the ‘bringing’? Just so we know.


A Lawro, Lawro laughs
Friday means Mark Lawrenson’s BBC Sport predictions day. Is it really not a national holiday yet?

On Swansea vs Leicester – ‘I find Leicester’s style of play very refreshing to watch. They are so attacking and there is far more to them than just Jamie Vardy.’

Refreshing to watch for Lawro, but presumably not predict. He has picked Leicester to score six goals in their last ten league matches.

As for ‘there’s more to them than Vardy’, it’s not enough to persuade Lawro that they won’t lose this weekend. In fact, he has had Leicester taking a grand total of one point in their last ten matches. They sit 17th in his weekly table.

On West Brom vs Tottenham – ‘I have a feeling Tottenham’s impressive unbeaten run, which has lasted since the opening day of the season, might be about to end.’

And where better for it to end than at West Brom, who move above Spurs in Lawrenson’s table with this win.

On Everton vs Crystal Palace – “Everton have got a core of young players – John Stones, Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley – who have been excellent in the past few weeks. Now they need this form to last.”

Surely they need to pick up the firm first? Unsurprisingly, he has Everton on 14 points, level with Sunderland and Bournemouth having won twice since the opening day. A whopping 17-point gap to Liverpool is as natural as night following day.


Please release me
‘Not all that long ago Liverpool fans were up in arms about the club daring to release Steven Gerrard,’ opens Steven Howard in his piece in The Sun on Liverpool.

Erm, we’re not sure they were, Steven. Largely because Liverpool didn’t ‘dare to release’ Gerrard. He decided that he wanted to go and play in MLS, after the club had made him an offer. Gerrard did subsequently say that a coaching opportunity to shadow Rodgers would have kept him at Anfield, but only after he had announced his departure.

Still, they’re probably not reading.


99 problems but the pitch ain’t one
From Paul Merson’s predictions on the Sky Sports website:

On Chelsea vs Bournemouth – ‘If he [Diego Costa] doesn’t play I think Bournemouth could get something. Eddie Howe could set them up to squash the play and force Chelsea into playing it long… Bournemouth will be buoyed by the late goal they got against Everton. It was a big goal and something they can build on. If Howe can get his tactics right and press Chelsea they will cause Jose Mourinho’s side a few problems.’

Result? 2-0 to Chelsea. Not that many problems, then.


Terms of endearment
“I’d never look at it from a long-term perspective. What training session am I doing on Wednesday, on Sunday that’s what I’m thinking about” – Gary Neville, December 3.

“The owners are fully committed to long-term success and I can only think in the way of long-term” – Gary Neville, a few minutes later.


Feel my wrath
‘Chelsea stars Diego Costa, Ramires and Kenedy risked incurring the wrath of Jose Mourinho by partying into the early hours on Thursday morning at a London nightclub’ was the first line of a MailOnline story from Thursday. Uh oh, the boys from Brazil were going to be in trouble.

Or not, as the case may be, because Costa ‘rolling out’ of a club at 3.15am wasn’t part of a naughty boozy binge, but a club evening out.

Let’s let the Daily Mirror take up the story from here:

‘Chelsea’s underachieving squad enjoyed a team-bonding evening out on Wednesday night – with full permission from Jose Mourinho.

‘Diego Costa and Ramires were among the Blues allowed to paint the town red and were spotted leaving a London nightclub in the early hours of Thursday morning with recent addition Kenedy. They were joined by the entire first team squad ahead of Saturday’s Premier League home game against Bournemouth.

‘The Blues first went out to a restaurant for dinner, then onto a couple of clubs with some of them leaving trendy venue Libertine at 3.15am. Every player reported on time for training or treatment at the champions’ Cobham HQ on Thursday morning.

‘The squad were given the green light for their midweek night off as Mourinho and the club feel there are very few opportunities for them to go out as a group between now and Christmas as fixtures start getting tighter. It was felt that Wednesday night was a significant enough distance away from the Bournemouth game for the players to be allowed to let their hair down.’

Still, think of those delicious Thursday clicks.


Manic Monday
Sky Sports are presumably a little deflated by losing Gary Neville as their flagship pundit, but Paul Merson is there to keep the PR machine ticking over.

Monday night’s televised match is Everton vs Crystal Palace. See if you can spot Merson’s subtle hints to watch the game, despite Neville’s absence:

‘This will be an excellent game!…backing Everton to come out on top in a Monday Night Football thriller… I think there will be loads of goals in this one. I’m going 3-2 Everton in what will be a great Monday Night Football.’


Make your minds up
‘Ancelotti to Arsenal would be perfect. Why have the wheels not already been set in motion?!’ – Daily Mail, March 2015.

‘Liverpool make contact with Carlo Ancelotti as pressure mounts on Brendan Rodgers’ – Daily Mail, September 2015.

‘Chelsea plan for Jose Mourinho exit with Carlo Ancelotti waiting in the wings’ – Daily Mail, October 2015.

‘Carlo Ancelotti has now set his sights on his next coaching role. He wants the Bayern Munich job if Pep Guardiola decides to leave’ – Daily Mail, December 2015.

Hope he’s paying them commission.


Tweet of the day

Never change, Keysey. Apart from all those things.


Ballsy line of the day
‘This is a big game for both sides. In my opinion it’s the biggest game of the weekend. It’s a cup final for the two teams’ – Paul Merson.

He’s talking about Watford vs Norwich. As if you didn’t already know.


Headline of the day
‘El Plates’ – The Sun. Very good.


Worst headline of the day
That dreadful ‘knitty’ effort effort from The Sun. It certainly rhymes with knitty.


Recommended reading of the day
Rob Smyth on Gabriel Batistuta’s goal against Arsenal

Jonathan Wilson on the Ballon D’Or

Raphael Honigstein on Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach


Thanks to none of you. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field.