You say it best, when you say nothing at all
“I felt it was a game of physically high intensity, I think we produced physically our highest performance of the season” – Arsene Wenger.
And that’s the real quiz.
The delusion is real
After watching Manchester City extend their lead in the Premier League to 16 points on Thursday evening by outclassing Arsenal, Mediawatch was reminded of the words of the Daily Mirror’s Stan Collymore, made in December 2016 when at the height of his weird anti-Pep Guardiola crusade:
‘If Guardiola thinks he’s going to turn up and outplay everybody in the Premier League, and that teams like Watford, Leicester, Bournemouth, Southampton and Crystal Palace are going to let his Manchester City side have the ball for 90 per cent of the time and pass pretty patterns around them so they can get a result, then he is absolutely deluded. In fact, he is beyond deluded.
‘If he thinks he doesn’t need to teach tackling or one-on-one combat in training then he’ll be going back to Spain with his tail between his legs. The great managers understand the unique circumstances the Premier League has. They realise it’s not just about playing the beautiful game for five or 10 games, but about grinding it out at times as well over the course of the full 38.’
Turns out that they can play those pretty patterns against pretty much anyone, Stan. But you were at least right that it isn’t ‘just about playing the beautiful game for five or 10 games’; they’ve done it for 28 and counting.
And while we’re talking about people being crudely dismissive and subsequently made to look silly…
…here is what Lothar Matthaus said about Leroy Sane when he joined Manchester City:
“Sane will make several times in Schalke wages at Manchester City and that has been decisive in his decision to make the move to the Premier League. I cannot come up with any other reason. He was playing at a real traditional club at Schalke.
“He will struggle at City. Pep Guardiola will be more than busy to impose his own philosophy at City. He will not have the time to give Sane extra attention when things aren’t going as planned.”
Looks like he found time after all.
The important statistics
If there are two things that England is obsessed with it’s the weather and keeping a stiff upper lip. The Sun excel even their normal level of rampant Englishness on Friday morning by producing a graphic counting the number of players in the Arsenal vs Manchester City game wearing long sleeves and gloves in temperatures best described as ‘p*ssing freezing’.
It’s good to see the ten outfield players wearing gloves named and shamed. If you can’t play football with freezing extremities, are you really a footballer at all?
The obsession continues
The Daily Mail have their second column of a week based purely on assessing Gary Neville’s commentary on Arsenal on Sky Sports. This one is headlined ‘Gary Neville vs Arsenal – The Rematch’.
Which is a shame. Because if you’re really going to commit to this bizarre angle of analysis, at least call it ‘Ian Herbert vs Gary Neville’s Gary Neville vs Arsenal: The rematch’. Everybody else saw it as Arsenal vs Manchester City (again).
You know it’s bad when…
Arsene Wenger has probably already realised that he was under pressure after a run of dismal form. But if he was under any illusion, ESPN are here to deliver the bad news. That’s right, Mark Ogden’s (otherwise perfectly good) piece on the situation is delivered as an… open letter.
Dun, dun, duuuuuun!
‘Arsene, This is not an easy letter to write, but things just can’t go on as they are,’ Ogden begins.
I sent two letters back in autumn, you must not have got ’em. There probably was a problem at the post office or somethin’.
It can be hard searching for news in 2018, desperately hunting for clicks in a difficult climate. The Daily Express have proven themselves to have lower standards than most, but on Thursday evening even those usual standards dropped.
Midway through Arsenal vs Manchester City, an Arsenal fan called David Frimpong with the Twitter handle @FrimponOnline posted a video of him telling Arsenal fans to leave the stadium. It pretty much reflected the mood.
— Frimpon (@FrimponOnline) March 1, 2018
A journalist at the Daily Express saw that video, and then published a story at 8.56pm with the headline ‘F**k off Wenger you’re s**t’ – Arsenal flop Emmanuel Frimpong in foul message – video’.
Except that the video wasn’t posted by Emmanuel Frimpong, which is pretty obvious if you actually watch it. Because Emmanuel Frimpong has 716,000 followers, has the Twitter handle @IAMFRIMPONG26 and is playing his football in Cyprus.
The link to the video remains, although sadly the story has been deleted, even erasing the giveaway URL after a couple of hours.
Tip when desperately checking for viral news: Check that you have the right person. Or criticisms like this are probably fair enough (if with a little NSFW language).
LOOOOOOL YOU PRICKS 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/b3QcOtbu8S
— Frimpon (@FrimponOnline) March 1, 2018
WAG culture: Stop it
Mediawatch half admires the manner in which outlets like The Sun dripfeed WAG culture to their readers under the guise of sports news. That’s a lie, we hate it, but we were trying to be civil.
‘Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heads home from dinner with girlfriend before jumping in custom £150,000 gold Range Rover,’ was their headline on Monday, for example. It’s not news, of course, but it does mean you can focus a story around the girlfriend of a player and claim it is related to sport. Which is absolutely mental, really.
On Friday, The Sun plumb to new depths on this issue. ‘Man City and Chelsea’s Brazilian Wags: As the two teams prepare to face off in the Premier League, meet their gorgeous other halfs,’ is the headline to a feature written by Jon Boon. They’re not even pretending that it’s sport-related anymore, though of course it is prominent on the football homepage.
‘MAN City and Chelsea is the game of the weekend, as last year’s champions play this season’s expected title-winners,’ it begins. ‘And one thing that will standout is the amount of Brazilian footballers on display. As the two teams prepare to face each other in the Premier League, SunSport celebrates the Wags behind these skillful South Americans.’
And so you get lines like:
‘Willian has been married to the incredibly smart Martins since 2011. The Brazilian beauty is actually a lawyer by trade.’
They even let them vote and drive cars these days.
‘David Luiz has scored himself a beautiful Wag in model Bruna.’
Mediawatch understands that ignorance is bliss, and ignoring stuff like this would be easier. But, actually, this matters. This horrible branch of ‘news’ needs to stop.
It sells women as deserving of no better than being known as the partner of a footballer, as if there could be no greater honour. It also emphasises a letching culture that leads to the treatment of women as objects and acquiesces misogyny (at best) and the normalisation of sexual harassment (at its worst). And it’s also really sh*tty ‘journalism’.
Get that Palace legend a job
Mediawatch has no strong opinion on Steve Coppell not currently working in English football, although Crystal Palace supporter Neil Ashton may have a horse in the race when it comes to his anger at Coppell’s lack of opportunities.
But we are a little suspicious of Ashton’s reasoning:
‘It remains a modern-day scandal that a man with Steve Coppell’s acumen and intelligence has been lost to the English game.
‘The 62-year-old’s new team, thrown together at the start of the season, are within striking distance of a play-off spot in the Indian Super League.’
Mediawatch is not entirely convinced that winning seven of your 17 league games in a division in which 35-year-old former Elche striker Coro is the top scorer is the strongest argument for getting a job in England. Other managerial luminaries in the league include John Gregory, Avram Grant and David James.
A ‘modern-day scandal’ in football? We can think of others.
It’s a game of opinions
Mediawatch feels for George Boateng. We’ve all been asked a question and come up with a bullsh*t answer, only to unexpectedly been called out on it and asked to back it up with evidence.
“I’ve done lots of jobs round the house recently” and “We’ve done lots of things with your friends recently” are two classics. The panic that sets in can do funny things.
Still, if you were asked on Sky Sports News to pick the four Arsenal players who would get into this Manchester City team, these probably aren’t the four to go for…
What is going on. pic.twitter.com/YmiR4hjakV
— Macca (@The_Paris_Angel) March 2, 2018
‘Doesn’t work’ headline of the day
‘The Sane old story’ – Daily Mail.
Look, if he plays here he has to have his name said like we’d say it.
Recommended reading of the day
Miguel Delaney on football and geopolitics.
Nick Miller on Crewe and blind tribalism.
Sid Low on Quini.