The Sun, November 30, 6.04pm:
‘Pep Guardiola called Nathan Redmond a ‘w****r’ during extraordinary on-pitch row, claims lip reader’
“Waiter”? “Walker”? “Weiner”? Fill in the damn blanks next time, guys.
Nathan Redmond, November 30, 7.44pm:
“Yes he was very passionate, intense and aggressive but he was only very complimentary and positive to me. He commented on my qualities as a young English player and how he wanted me to attack his team more during the game in a similar way to last season. I told him I was doing what my manager had asked me to do in the game. That’s it. Nothing negative or offensive was said towards me from Pep and that’s what makes him one of the best managers in world football. When one of the world’s best managers compliments you or gives advice in any way, you listen.”
At this stage, one would expect The Sun, a highly influential media source with presumed ethics, to change their story accordingly. At this stage, Mediawatch would remind you that this is The Sun.
Within half an hour, The Sun did indeed change their story. Not the headline, nor the first or second paragraphs, but still. They included a line to note that Redmond had disputed their claims in the third paragraph. And so the claims of an ‘expert lip reader’ were trusted over the claims of one of the only two people privy to the actual conversation.
An hour later, the story was finally changed in full. A new headline – ‘Nathan Redmond denies Pep Guardiola called him a w****r, despite expert lipreader’s claims’ – was born.
Is this journalism now? Reporting an ‘exclusive’ that unsurprisingly turns out to be a load of guff, then ‘exclusively’ and proudly revealing as such when it is publicly called out?
Toby Gannon’s story was top of The Sun’s football homepage for around 18 hours from 6pm last night top 11.30am on Friday. And yet the newspaper on Friday morning contains absolutely no mention of the article. Funny that.
As Redmond himself said (in quotes that The Sun weirdly proudly include at the bottom of their article): “Sadly this story is an example of lazy journalism and is a complete joke. It does no favours to the sports journalists in the game that I like, happily work with and genuinely respect.”
The captions to the pictures in The Sun‘s article remain untouched, and they are a bloody delight.
‘6secs… lip reader catches the end of Pep Guardiola’s sentence as ‘goes away”
‘7secs… Pep Guardiola shouts ‘what the f*** you playing at’ at Nathan Redmond’
‘9secs… Cultured Pep Guardiola shouts ‘and take me for a mug’ at Nathan Redmond’
’14secs… Pep Guardiola asks Nathan Redmond ‘you quit?”
’15secs… Pep Guardiola asks Nathan Redmond ‘you ready to stop playing?”
’16secs… Pep Guardiola turns to Nathan Redmond and asks ‘what were you going to say?”
’20secs… Pep Guardiola incredibly calls Nathan Redmond a ‘w****r”
How do you ‘incredibly’ call someone something? Why are The Sun still so insistent that Guardiola called Redmond a weiner? Are we really supposed to believe a 46-year-old ‘cultured’ Spaniard used the word ‘mug’ like a Cockney gangster from the 1950s?
How low can you go?
Apologies for flogging a horse that died long ago, but there is one final word from The Sun on the Redmond story. Kind of.
‘REVEALED: The real reason players cover their mouths on the pitch… and it’s not what you think,’ reads the headline to a story on their football homepage. This should be ruddy good.
The story is based on quotes from ‘renowned PR consultant’ Phil Hall, who tells us:
“A player once told me one of the main reasons they do it is, sometimes you are doing it when you are close to somebody, it amplifies your voice so they can hear you. There is a lot of noise around them in a stadium and on the pitch, they need to amplify the voice.”
If only Guardiola had covered his mouth, then this story wouldn’t be raging on into a second day.
Nat’s all, folks
Elsewhere in the land of the falling Sun…
"Boss, we've got some decent quotes about what Everton need to do in January. What picture do you want on the story?"
"Maybe Lukaku or Allardyce? Who are the quotes from?"
"YOU KNOW THE RULE." pic.twitter.com/h0HLazURTW
— Football365 (@F365) December 1, 2017
They would *definitely* do the same thing if Tony Gale had said that. And it would definitely be top of The Sun’s football homepage at Friday lunchtime.
Says Ray Wilkins to sportingbet:
“As far as I’m concerned, David Luiz can go to United tomorrow as a centre-half. David Luiz, as a centre-half, does not fit the requirements of a top level football club – he makes far too many errors.”
Must have been a different David Luiz starring as one of Chelsea’s best players as they won the Premier League title last season, then.
Fur god’s sake
Neil Ashton, The Sun, October 30: ‘This is yet another Tottenham team that is in danger of being remembered for being all fur coat and no knickers.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, November 2: ‘OH, my. Tottenham Hotspur have arrived. At times Mauricio Pochettino’s players looked like they had re-invented the sport.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, December 1: ‘Tottenham are heading the same way – all fur coat and no knickers.’
Probably Neil Ashton, The Sun, probably sometime in January: ‘Has there ever been a better club in world football history than Tottenham?’
Find a middle ground, Neil.
The big Revel
It is Friday, and so Paul Merson is here with his predictions for Sky Sports. But that is not the story, for the Magic Man has returned to one of his most glorious catchphrases.
Paul Merson, November 7, 2010: ‘Newcastle are doing really well at the moment. But they remind me of a bag of Revels – you never know what you’re going to get.’
Paul Merson, December 18, 2011: ‘Everton are literally a bag of Revels.’
Paul Merson, April 22, 2014: ‘Sunderland have to win, a draw isn’t any good. They’re a bag of Revels. One minute they’re alright – they were unlucky at Man City – then you watch them at Tottenham.’
Paul Merson, November 20, 2015: ‘Stoke had a good result a fortnight ago against Chelsea but, like Everton, they are neither here nor there this season. They lose at home to Watford then go and beat Chelsea, they’re a bag of Revels at the moment.’
Paul Merson, December 29, 2015: ‘It depends on what Liverpool turn up, if we get the side that beat Leicester, then Sunderland have their work cut out to get anything. They are a bag of Revels at the moment, though.’
Paul Merson, January 31, 2016: ‘They are going well in the league and Shrewsbury are inconsistent – they conceded seven against Chesterfield and then beat Burton away. They are a bag of Revels.’
Paul Merson, February 5, 2016: ‘Which Everton are going to turn up? They’re like a bag of Revels, you just don’t know what’s coming.’
Paul Merson, April 2, 2016: ‘If Man City don’t win on Saturday then this is a big game for United, but it depends what Everton side turn up – they are a real bag of Revels’
Paul Merson, January 21, 2017: ‘Everton are like a bag of Revels, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.’
Paul Merson, April 7, 2017: ‘Bournemouth are a real bag of Revels because you don’t know what you’re going to get from them.’
Paul Merson, December 1, 2017: ‘Liverpool are a bag of Revels.’
He is Paul Merson, we love him, and he is most certainly not like a bag of Revels – you know precisely what you’re going to get.
Recommended reading of the day
The Guardian’s World Cup 2018 guide.
Ian Watson talks to John Barnes.
Barney Ronay on Gary Lineker.