You know it’s a slow news day when…
…the top story on Sky Sports’ football homepage is ‘Antoine Griezmann’s move to Man Utd not cut and dried, says Terry Gibson’.
Doha, so good
In the Daily Mirror,
Judith Chalmers Sam Matterface chooses to pen his column on the benefits of the Qatar World Cup. And Mediawatch did a double take.
‘Why Qatar 2022 might just be the best World Cup you ever go to,’ reads the headline to Matterface’s column. Just so long as you’re heterosexual eh, Sam. Do carry on.
‘Last week, I visited the capital Doha and the surrounding area which will host most of the games. I have heard a lot about Qatar and so have you. “It’s gonna be too hot….it’s not a football country! Why on earth are WE having a tournament there?!”
‘Firstly, I was marvelled by the newness of everything. From the recently built airport, to the business district with its shimmering skyscrapers that have quadrupled in number since my last visit. It’s quite breathtaking to see a city that is designed for the present.
‘Everything, from the doors you walk through, the malls you shop in, the cabs you hail are designed for convenience, safety and aesthetics.’
This goes on for several paragraphs, Matterface providing sterling work on behalf of the Qatari tourist board while ignoring the several elephants filling the room. However, he does eventually at least wave a hand in the air while muttering something about big, grey animals.
‘There’s no point in me trying to pontificate on the controversy of how the tournament was bestowed upon them, or the associated moral issues. There are people more qualified than me who will give you their opinion. I can only talk about logistics, football and my experiences. Of course it will not tick every box.’
Sorry Sam, but that’s just not right. If you decide that you aren’t qualified enough to talk about the moral aspects of the tournament, then you also aren’t qualified enough to opine in a national newspaper that it might be the best World Cup ever.
As for ‘of course it will not tick every box’, human rights agencies estimate that 4,000 construction workers will die building the stadiums and infrastructure in Qatar. There are widespread bribery allegations over the tournament’s award, the government has been accused of treating migrant workers as slave labour, the tournament is being moved to winter to accommodate the climate, it is reportedly going to cost approximately $200bn to host, entire cities that will host the tournament have not even been built yet and – we’ll say this loudly for emphasis – HOMOSEXUALITY IS ILLEGAL THERE.
Mediawatch will be generous and assume that Matterface has simply had a holiday or worked for a few days in Doha and had a lovely time. That’s fine, plenty others have and will continue to do so. But to make the leap from good logistics and good weather to ‘this could be the greatest World Cup’ without even bothering to detail the list of controversies is one-eyed to the point of propaganda.
‘It will be a very different cultural experience, but surely there is opportunity in that. It is the “World” Cup,’ is the piece’s big pay-off line. It’s certainly one way to assess a woeful human rights record, the deaths of thousands of workers and the mistreatment of people on the grounds of their sexuality.
To reiterate, nobody thought that Qatar wasn’t clean or opulent; it’s the rest we have a problem with.
Mediawatch isn’t sure about its favourite part of The Sun’s story about Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus getting a taxi 600 yards in the rain, so we’ll let you take your pick.
Was it this introduction?
‘GABRIEL JESUS may have Manchester City fans worshipping him like a God – but he would rather take a cab than walk on water like his namesake.’
Was it this abomination of a paragraph?
‘And the 19-year-old appears to want to keep his look as sharp as his finishing skills as he paid a visit to Close Male Grooming in Manchester for a trim.’
Was it this over-analysis of Gabriel’s sartorial style?
‘Donned in black jeans, a black hoody and a cap, the ex-Palmeiras frontman clearly wanted to keep a low-profile.’
Was it this cocked-up caption?
‘And he wasn’t going to let the Manchester rain stand in his rain, as he opted for a cab to make the short journey.’
Is it this evidence that the piece’s author went on the hairdresser’s website? No room for lazy journalism here…
‘It’s still unknown what he opted for, but he could have had a ‘chop, wash and finish’ for £24.50, or just the ‘maintenance cut’ for £14.’
Or, like Mediawatch, do you not have a favourite part, preferring instead to shake your head at the state of this industry?
Still, at least Raheem Sterling got a day off.
We Kidd you not
Mediawatch largely agrees with Dave Kidd in The Sun that Arsene Wenger deserves to leave Arsenal with dignity, but Kidd just couldn’t help put have a pop at the use of data analysis in football. Bloody air conditioning.
‘On the internet, there is a fashion for number crunchers to sit in their parents’ box rooms and compile alternative league tables, based on statistics other than actual football results, in order to prove whatever they want to prove,’ Kidd writes with obvious disdain.
‘Wenger will soon stumble across one of these algorithms which claims Arsenal have rightfully won seven titles since 2004 and decide to extend his contract beyond the summer.’
Mediawatch greatly enjoyed discovering this headline after a quick Google search: ‘Revealed: Real Premier League table shows Arsenal should be champions and Leicester runners-up.’
So, which ‘number crunchers sat in their parents’ box room’ came up with that in May 2016? The Sun, that’s who.
Keep your friends close, Dave.
‘For Swansea to hire him as their manager is a mistake. Although he is English, Clement has done most of his coaching as second in command to Carlo Ancelotti in leagues that their teams have been expected to walk. This is a completely different code of football – the bottom six of the Premier League.
‘He won’t have to dig into his coaching manual or what he learned taking his Pro Licence. He won’t have to recall the ideas he put forward of how Real Madrid should get the better of Barcelona, or Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror, January 3.
‘Credit to Paul Clement for giving Swansea hope of staying up. Prior to their appointments most people had pretty much decided they are down and out… From his Derby experience which didn’t go well, Paul Clement seems to have learnt what it takes to deal with individuals and the collective as a manager.
‘There is still a long way to go and football is moveable but I am happy to eat a bit of humble pie on that one. Obviously if you’re coaching at Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern you must have something about you’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror, February 7.
Classic Collymore: Write something opinionated to court controversy, say you are ‘happy to be wrong’ when you’re being proved wrong, use your previous evidence for one opinion as evidence for the completely opposite opinion.
False optimism, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Mediawatch was surprised to read the Daily Mail’s headline above Oliver Todd’s piece on Zlatan Ibrahimovic: ‘United can make up the 14-point gap, claims Ibra’.
Given that Jose Mourinho had already ruled Manchester United out of the title race (and rightly so, they are out of the title race), it seemed strange that Ibrahimovic would say the opposite. Well, he didn’t.
‘The 36-year-old still has designs on prime silverware at the end of the season despite the gap at the top and manager Mourinho writing off his team’s hopes.
‘”We have missed (out) in a couple of games by not winning them. If we had won them the situation would have been totally different,’ Ibrahimovic said. “We are working hard and we really want to reach the top four and the Champions League.
‘”To be champions it will be hard but this is our aim and we don’t give up. I think we are back in the hunt. It was a big gap couple of months ago but it is smaller now.'”
It’s interesting that the Mail chose to put Ibrahimovic’s quotes in that order, because that isn’s matched anywhere else. Instead, they report this story as Ibrahimovic quotes on United’s fight to finish in the top four, not to win the title.
The Mail get caught out when Ibrahimovic says “it was a big gap couple of months ago but it is smaller now”, because the gap between Manchester United and first place has never been as big as it is now. He was talking about the top four guys, and you know it.
Switch around the order of the quotes to sell the quotes as claiming something they weren’t. Naughty, very naughty.
Speaking of Daily Mail headlines that surprised us, we come to ‘Kane: Let’s finish Liverpool off’.
Harry Kane doesn’t strike Mediawatch as the type of person who says anything other than a variation of “we’ll take each game as it comes”, so the Mail’s claim that Kane is ‘determined to knock Liverpool out of the Premier League title running’ jarred. Did they get him riled?
No, they didn’t. Those Kane quotes in full:
“It is an important game for us. We want to build the gap on Liverpool and if we beat them next week then we go seven points clear of them. That is what we want to try to do.
“We want to catch Chelsea and it’s important that we stay as high up the table as possible. If we can build gaps over other teams behind us, that is the important thing.”
‘Man wants to win football match’ shock horror.
Suitable for recycling
On Monday, the feature at the top of the Daily Telegraph’s football homepage was ‘Five areas behind Arsenal’s malaise’. The list included ‘Mental block’, ‘Midfield mess’, ‘Tactical rigidity’ and ‘Big players go missing’.
On Tuesday, the feature at the top of the Daily Telegraph’s football homepage is six ‘things Arsenal and Arsene Wenger must do to salvage this season’. The list includes ‘Cut out the mental aberrations’, ‘Find a central midfield partnership that works’, ‘Try something new tactically’ and ‘Pick players on merit’.
You could have just got Jeremy Wilson and Charlie Eccleshare to talk to each other, guys.
Recommended reading of the day
Spurs Report on the club’s transfer dealings.
Gregg Bakowski on Nieciecza.
David Squires on Frank Lampard.