Mediawatch: Dele Alli, Xavi and that ‘world record bid’

Date published: Wednesday 26th April 2017 8:20

Stop. Look. Listen
At 11am on Tuesday morning, the top headline on The Sun’s football homepage read as follows:

‘WINDOW SHOPPING: Anthony Martial bizarrely produces his best mannequin challenge pose while waiting for stunning girlfriend to finish shopping.’

A few things that immediately sprung to Mediawatch’s mind:

1) Is Anthony Martial going shopping really the biggest story in the game?

2) Even in your world, where everything is dominated by celebrities and social media, ‘standing still’ is not the same as ‘producing a mannequin challenge pose’.

3) Isn’t everybody still in a photograph? That’s kind of how they work.

Still, fine work on somehow turning a ropey picture of a Manchester United player going about his life into the biggest football story on a day when actual matches are being played.


Like meeting an old friend
‘Is Jose proving himself to be Manchester’s real giant?’ – Daily Mail.

Fifth now, you see. Perhaps ‘tallest dwarf’ might be a better description?


If in doubt, just fib

‘Xavi claims Pep is planning a world record bid for Dele Alli’.

Actual quotes from Xavi:

“I speak with Pep, and I know he thinks it is important to sign English players. I am sure in the summer he will look also across Europe for players to improve the squad, but also I expect him to look in the Premier League as well.

“At the moment the best English player there is and also one of the best in Europe is Dele Alli. We are looking at a very special player. Technically he is the sort of player that Pep likes, the sort of player that suits the style of game that Pep likes his teams to play.

“I am sure it is not going to be a player that Tottenham will want to let go, but we know Manchester City have big resources.”

So no concrete mentions of Pep Guardiola and Manchester City planning a bid (merely liking Alli – who doesn’t?) and certainly no mention of a world-record fee. But hey, you got them to click and that’s more important than accuracy.


Those Xavi quotes were given to The Sun, who claim a back-page exclusive despite not using the words ‘told SunSport’ in the piece (that always makes Mediawatch’s alarm bell ring). Still, nice to see Daniel Cutts’ famed transfer exclusives make the jump from online to print.

Even they reported the ‘record bid’ line: ‘MANCHESTER CITY boss Pep Guardiola wants to sign Tottenham star Dele Alli in a world record deal this summer, according to Barcelona legend Xavi.’

Didn’t you even listen to what he said, guys?


What a difference a ‘the’ makes
In The Guardian‘s ten talking points from the FA Cup, Scottish Cup and Premier League, Jamie Jackson mentions how big the Manchester derby is for Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. He even quotes Wayne Rooney on the pressure facing Manchester City.

‘As Wayne Rooney said: “It’s two great teams and it’s massive for City. There’s a fight for the top four and we’re both in the fight. We’ll be ready.”’

Seems a bit odd for Rooney to claim it’s “massive for City” when it’s surely just as big for United, at least in Premier League terms? Of course, then you read the actual quote from Rooney:

“On Thursday, it’s two great teams in a massive game for the city. It’s a fight for the top four – we’re both firmly in the chase. It’s a big game for both teams and we’ll be ready.”

Rooney was actually pointing out how it was a massive game for Manchester (the city) and not Manchester City. Top marks for using the (amended) quotes to make your point though.


Pep Guardiola: You ain’t worth s**t
Stan Collymore is no fan of Pep Guardiola, and has been happy to repeat that opinion for the Daily Mirror throughout this season. There’s no issue with that, of course; it is Collymore’s opinion. Yet Mediawatch can’t quite get on board with Stan’s assessment of where Manchester City should go next with Guardiola, and how to attain success.

‘The reality is that football managers are judged on results. And based on the results Pep Guardiola has achieved at Manchester City with the players at his disposal, I’d give him no more than a three or four out of 10 this season.’

Agreed. The mark might be slightly harsh, but the point is spot on.

‘There’s no way City should be scrabbling for a top-four spot with their squad and resources – the fact that they are is all down to boss man Guardiola.’

‘Scrabbling for a top-four spot’ is a bit much, mind. Win their games in hand and Manchester City will be third in the table, at least four points ahead of fifth with four games remaining. And as for pinning all the blame on Guardiola, well…

‘Now I’m reading that Sheikh Mansour will throw north of £250m at a revamp of the squad in the summer. But if I was him, I’d be more inclined to tell Guardiola he has to work with what he has got.

‘I’d be saying, “You’re supposed to be the world’s best manager. Go and make these players much, much better, in the way Claudio Ranieri did with Leicester and Antonio Conte has done with Chelsea”.’

Firstly, telling Guardiola that you won’t spend any money on an ageing, thin squad because he hasn’t won a trophy in his first season would be a stupid cutting off of nose to spite face.

Also, Conte did make Chelsea’s players better; agreed on that. But he also spent £113m on new players last summer. Guardiola spent £135m, so let’s not pretend one of these managers went transfer mad while the other resisted the temptation to spend.

However, it’s Collymore’s final dig at Guardiola that makes Mediawatch sigh most:

‘I’ll go back to a point I’ve made before — only if Guardiola took a Blackburn, a Swansea, a Hull and made them a success would I fully buy into his hype.’

It is not the first time that this simplistic view has surfaced – Harry Redknapp said that Guardiola should go and manage Dagenham. The deliberate ignorance of the expectations and impatience that come with management of elite clubs, and pressure that comes with that, is ludicrous. Come on, guys.

Guardiola has underperformed this season, of that there is no doubt. Yet given a weight of evidence and asked to convince the court, Collymore has still managed to stuff up the prosecution.


Express yourself

“[Any updates on your future?] No. [Any idea when you will tell us?] No. [Will this season decide it?] No. Of course [I am still looking for transfer targets]. I work until the last day of the season for the present and the future.”

That was Arsene Wenger flat-batting all questions over his future on Tuesday morning, before giving the standard answer to the question on transfers.

The Daily Express’ headline?

‘Arsene Wenger drops huge hint over Arsenal future in summer transfer admission.’


Do you think you might be reading too much into this?
‘Arsene Wenger, 67, could be found in the hotel gym at 8am on the day of Arsenal’s FA Cup semi final, which the club say is a regular occurrence on the road or at their training ground. Hardly the regime of someone planning to call it a day’ – Charlie Sale, Daily Mail.

Even if Wenger hadn’t already announced that he intends to carry on managing even if he leaves Arsenal this summer, did anyone really think that he would simply sit down in a chair, pour himself a Pernod and wait for death? He’s 67, not 142.


Simple Simon

Former chairman of Crystal Palace Simon Jordan, there.


Straw man of the day
‘You don’t build a 60,000-seat stadium and charge three grand a pop for season tickets to say to people we’ll give you an FA Cup victory in which we might beat Sutton and Lincoln en route to the final in return’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.

Literally none of these things happened.


Recommended reading of the day
Alex Hess on London’s economic dominance over the north.

Tom Williams on N’Golo Kante.

Sid Lowe on El Clasico.

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