C-c-c-c-called a u-turn
Oh Stan. Mediawatch very much enjoyed his Daily Mirror column about things looking up at Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After calling for his sacking as recently as November, Collymore is now firmly aboard the Ole train. Choo-choo.
‘Some were saying fairly recently that United might not get back on their perch for another 30 years. I doubt they’d say that now.’
Indeed. We also doubt that ‘some’ would now say that ‘United will always be in with a shout of winning a domestic cup but the tide has turned in the past four or five years’ or that United ‘are like a block of Emmental cheese – there are holes everywhere’, as ‘some’ said as recently as mid-January.
But back to mid-March, when Manchester United are *checks notes* fifth and so everything is so very rosy…
‘They can buy players even when at their lowest.’
Which is really bloody odd because it is literally less than two months since someone (we’ll stop this; it’s Collymore) said that ‘the only possible reason you’d plump for United now would be the mystique of following in the footsteps of such legends as Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law’. What changed?
All is not as it seems
The language of newspapers is just bizarre. The Sun‘s back page focuses on Jude Bellingham’s visit to Manchester United, with Sir Alex Ferguson apparently called in for a ‘charm offensive’. This is the third paragraph:
‘But when leaving with his parents, Bellingham seemed to stay out of sight in the back seat.’
First, he didn’t ‘seem’ to stay out of sight; you have a picture which shows nothing more than his shoulder. He absolutely did stay out of sight in the back seat.
And of course he sat in the sodding back seat; he is 16 years old.
Meanwhile, the back page of the Daily Mirror features a £100m ‘BRUM DEAL’ for Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish, with Jeremy Cross (Manchester) and James Nursey (Midlands) forced to share a story and a byline.
Nursey’s Grealish story appears in full online and begins:
‘Manchester United are preparing to pay up to £70million to land Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish this summer.’
Now if you read that sentence and immediately thought ‘Manchester United unwilling to break club transfer record for Jack Grealish’ then congratulations, for you probably work for Metro sport.
Is there any suggestion that United should pay more than £89m for Jack Grealish? No.
Is there any suggestion that Aston Villa want more than £89m for Jack Grealish? Is there balls.
Has that stopped them? Hell no.
Ashton of the day
The Manchester United PR machine is truly whirring into life. After Monday’s revelation in the Evening Standard that Ed Woodward would ‘relish’ talks with Daniel Levy over Harry Kane comes Tuesday’s ‘exclusive’ in The Sun that – wait for this – Bruno Fernandes is not wearing gloves or skins, even though it is cold. What a bloody hero. What a bloody club.
Over at MailOnline, the Fernandes love affair continues apace. But it’s the headline that is making us cry a little…
‘Fiery, bossy, and with a FEROCIOUS desire to win… Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew he was getting a born-winner in Bruno Fernandes, but his £68m man could have the same impact on Manchester United as Eric Cantona’
‘Born-winner’? What the frig is going on with that hyphen?
Laying down the flaw
But what’s this? Over at the Daily Star, ‘Luke Shaw admits Man Utd team-mates are aware of Bruno Fernandes flaw’. Oh shush. We all know the man is flawless: HE DOESN’T EVEN WEAR GLOVES.
Of course, it turns out that it’s not a flaw at all as ‘Shaw and the rest of the United squad know that the 25-year-old will occasionally give the ball away’.
For f***’s sake.
The Manchester Evening News is positively giddy. Not just with Bruno Fernandes but with the club as a whole. We are told that ‘The Manchester United squad rebuild is becoming ruthless before the transfer window’, which is shorthand for ‘Jesse Lingard was not even on the bench!’.
‘Sunday went so swimmingly for Manchester United a pertinent question went unanswered: where was Jesse Lingard?’
It went unanswered because it is entirely uninteresting. The man has played 20-odd minutes of Premier League football in Manchester United’s last eight games. We would ask more ‘pertinent’ questions if he was involved.
Miaow of the day
From Dave Kidd in The Sun:
‘STEVE BRUCE has guided Newcastle to virtual Premier League safety with nine games to spare and a first FA Cup quarter-final in 14 years.
‘Imagine the 5,000-word ‘deep dive’ tributes about the genius of former boss Rafa Benitez had he ever achieved the same.’
In your court, Caulkin.
You can take the man out of the Mail but…
If EFL clubs are truly suggesting they will go under without five games of gate receipts (most teams have five at home left), it is proof of a poor business model and a broken sport, rather than a reason to continue letting people in during CV threat.
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) March 10, 2020
Meanwhile, this was a tweet from Gary Neville, who has never written for a right-wing newspaper:
I do NOT support matches played behind closed doors. If it’s necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive.
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) March 10, 2020
And this is the resultant URL from the Daily Express website:
That’s right: CANCELLED Liverpool.
A week’s a long time in football
Pardon us if we don’t entirely trust The Sun‘s coverage of coronavirus and its effects on football as they tell us that ‘CHELSEA face playing Bayern Munich behind closed doors on Wednesday – the latest Champions League tie to fall victim to the spreading coronavirus’.
That would be next Wednesday.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Liew on Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa
David Squires on football’s reaction to the coronavirus