This story is literally top of The Sun’s football homepage at 11.18am
‘Dani Alves fashion: How to dress like PSG’s flamboyant Brazil star but at a fraction of the cost’.
We’ve jumped the shark, people.
With the service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster taking place on Tuesday afternoon, you might have thought that any subsequent stories would at least have the decency to be respectful and leave tittle-tattle to one side. You would have been wrong.
‘Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson had something to tell Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford,’ reads the headline on the Manchester Evening News website. By ‘at Old Trafford’, they mean ‘during a service for the dead’.
Deliberately vague headlines like the one above are nothing new, for they hide the true content of the story and just invite further inspection. ‘Conte names two players he wants to see more from’ to use an example. Everyone is doing it. Including occasionally us.
But this one is a little different. Because ‘Alex Ferguson talking to Jose Mourinho’ is actually the entire story. They use that to share a couple of conspiracy theories. From a memorial service.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have rarely been seen together since the latter was appointed Manchester United manager but they shared a warm exchange during the memorial service on the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster,’ a piece from the Manchester United editor begins. Truly salacious stuff.
‘During their brief exchange, Ferguson was filmed pointing out McTominay and some United supporters have speculated the former United manager was telling the incumbent to play McTominay more often.
‘It is near impossible to make out exactly what Ferguson said amid the rendition of ‘Forever and Ever’. Others have suggested Ferguson advised McTominay to choose to represent Scotland, since the midfielder has yet to choose his international team.’
So nobody has any idea what Ferguson was saying, then? Even the MEN themselves say it is ‘near impossible’ to know. And therefore the entire story is based on the conjecture of some Manchester United supporters?
It was a memorial service. Was there really any need to start a Chinese whisper?
We read this story, and our reaction was
And so to the Daily Mirror, big brother of the Manchester Evening News. They take what is a fluff story about a former Manchester United manager talking to the current Manchester United manager and add several layers of ‘oh no you f**king haven’t, have you?’.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson ‘tells Jose Mourinho which Man United star he needs to play more’ – and his reaction is priceless’, reads the Mirror headline. And it’s one that stinks, quite frankly. The subheading: ‘He may no longer be Manchester United boss but it seems Mourinho still has a hold over this team.’
‘McTominay quickly departed in the direction of his fellow Manchester United team-mates, as Ferguson greeted Mourinho,’ the piece reads.
‘And the Scot could be seen pointing in the direction of the 21-year-old, as he began chatting to the United boss in an animated fashion.
‘It cannot be determined what Ferguson said to Mourinho, but the fact he was pointing at McTominay while talking suggested he was singing the youngster’s praises and telling the Portuguese he needs to play him more often.’
Does it suggest that? Does any of what you have written suggest anything of the sort? Or are you doing everything a purported serious newspaper shouldn’t and just guessing to drive clicks. Again, this was in the aftermath of a memorial service, for goodness sake.
To recap, someone has:
1) Seen a story on the MEN website.
2) Used the ‘some United supporters’ line in that piece and used the conjecture of these unnamed fans as the source in your headline.
3) Clickbaited the headline with ‘tells Mourinho which United star needs to play more’.
4) Offered you own conjecture in the article.
5) Finally admitted that ‘it cannot be determined what Ferguson said to Mourinho’.
At 11am on Wednesday morning, that story is top of the Daily Mirror’s football homepage. It is the unholy grail of sensationalism.
Do as I say, not as I… say
‘HARRY Kane and Dele Alli should be called out for what they are after their antics at Anfield on Sunday – and that is cheats’ – John Aldridge, Irish Independent, February 7.
‘I’m not sure referee Jonathan Moss knew what was going on when he allowed Kane to run through on goal from an offside position, fall over keeper Karius and try to win a penalty. If I was in that position in my playing days, I probably would have gone down as well, but I’d have made sure the keeper clattered into me if I was going to go looking for a penalty’ – John Aldridge, Irish Independent, February 7.
So you’d have ‘done the same’, but you weren’t cheating and Kane definitely was?
…Or as I said
It’s funny that former Liverpool striker Aldridge is so vehemently against diving now, to the point where he wants to label players as cheats. Because here is what Aldridge said about then-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in 2014:
“There may be some people who want to turn their back on him but I think the club will try to stick by him because in a Liverpool shirt he’s been impeccable all of last season. They’ll have to work with him whatever clicks the buttons to kick it off, make sure it can’t happen again.”
At that point Suarez was banned for biting at the World Cup, had previously been banned for biting Branislav Ivanovic, been banned for racially abusing Patrice Evra and been condemned by his own club manager for diving.
Mediawatch can fully understand the hypothesising over Chelsea’s managerial short-termism, but we can’t quite get on board with the strength of Ian Ladyman’s conviction in the Daily Mail:
‘Whenever Chelsea have seemed set to take strides forward on the back of a season of success, they allow themselves to be dragged backward towards everybody else.
‘Since Abramovich bought Chelsea in June 2003, the club have won five Premier Leagues, one Champions League and seven domestic cups.
‘That is a successful run whichever way you look at it but would that quintet of league titles have been even more had Chelsea not seen so many managers come and go? Almost certainly it would.’
‘Almost certainly’? How can we possibly know that when it’s pure hypothesis?
Chelsea are hardly the only financially bloated club in the league and haven’t even been the richest since 2008. They have won five of the 14 Premier League titles since Abramovich took over – no other team has more. Using those titles as a stick with which to beat them is slightly odd.
On the same page
‘He will do well to make it that far – but Chelsea are determined to keep Conte until the end of the season’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, page 55.
‘If the Blues plummet outside the top four, jeopardising Champions League football next season, owner Roman Abramovich will wield the axe’ – Andrew Dillon, The Sun, page 56.
Surely you can be a little more determined than that?
Yeah, about that
February 2: “This new contract is recognition of Paul’s hard work for the last two seasons. Coaching and development is a large part of our model as well as targeting young players so we need to have a Head Coach who embraces this philosophy and knows how to develop these players, while competing in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
“This new contract shows his commitment to the project that the Club is embarking on. He believes in the plans we have in place at Barnsley Football Club like we all do. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Paul as we go into a really important last few months of the season” – Barnsley chief executive Gauthier Ganaye.
February 6: Paul Heckingbottom agrees to become manager of Leeds United.
Ask a simple question
Shouldn’t somebody at Man City be taking some responsibility for this and tell Mahrez to get himself back to work? pic.twitter.com/yWjvkEnhPb
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) February 7, 2018
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith on Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Matthew Hall with Hope Solo.
Simon Burnton on Dario Dubois.
More from Planet Sport: Bigger isn’t better in rugby, says Johnny Nic. (Planet Rugby)