Mediawatch: From Gerrard and Souness to ‘cannot run’ in 21 days

Date published: Friday 15th June 2018 10:39

Mr Buzz Killington
The Daily Mirror’s Andy Dunn, ‘Britain’s best sports writer’ has no time for your England buzz. Let start today’s Mediawatch with him explaining why England’s team is actually really crap:

‘Let’s look at how the team seems to be shaping up in Gareth Southgate’s mind: Pickford – Walker, Stones, Maguire – Trippier, Henderson, Alli, Young – Lingard, Kane, Sterling.

‘That’s a goalkeeper, with a relatively ­recent relegation to his name, who has done little but fish the ball out of his net in the last two seasons.’

So that’s Jordan Pickford = rubbish.

‘A back three that has one player out of position , another who is fourth in a pecking order of four for his day job, and a third who was at the last major tournament two years ago as a pint-loving punter.’

Even if you consider John Stones as Manchester City’s fourth-choice central defender – which we don’t – criticising Harry Maguire for being an England fan two years ago is bizarre, as if improvement is somehow a bad thing. Kylian Mbappe had only scored once for Monaco in 2016, the sh*t bastard.

‘A midfield that has as its linchpin a player who Sir Alex Ferguson says cannot run properly, and a strike-force spearheaded by a captain with a poor, if brief, record in tournament football.’

Yes, that d*ck move from Fergie has really killed Henderson’s career.

Cheer up, Andy.


Guessing game
Given the rampant negativity from Dunn above, we’ll let you guess which of Britain’s best sportswriter (oh bugger, only one option), wrote the following on Jordan Henderson:

‘In Henderson, Klopp has a captain who could soon be entitled to rank himself alongside Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard. Defying expectation, he has emerged as an inspirational leader.’

From Gerrard and Souness to ‘a player who cannot run properly’. A lot changes in 21 days.


Oh man
England’s World Cup 2018 campaign has been assisted by a number of psychological boosts. Last week, the Sun claimed Pep Guardiola managing Manchester City to the title in World Cup year was an ‘omen’. The week before, the Metro wondered whether a cloud that looked like a hand was the perfect World Cup omen (no, we’re not joking).

Nothing will ever beat the Daily Mail in 2010, who believed that an archaeologist discovering an old badge with three lions on it was an omen, helpfully ignoring the fact that those lions are literally the coat of arms of England and so are likely to feature on some old stuff.

‘It has to be a sign that England will go all the way in the World Cup,’ they said. Well, that or getting shat on by Germany and Wayne Rooney having a pop at supporters live on TV. One of the two.

On Friday, former England striker Chris Sutton has another omen. Get in.

‘Russia’s emphatic victory is a good omen for England,’ he writes in the Daily Mail. ‘Russian fans I’ve been speaking to have been very negative about their team but the lack of pressure helped them thrive. I hope England will benefit from lower expectations too’.

So Russia being better than everyone thought means that England are more likely to succeed? It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coooooming…


A complete 180
‘They also had a darts competition in front of the press which Cahill won. It is all a far cry from the last Euros when Joe Hart refused to say who won their arrows challenge’ – Charlie Wyett, The Sun.

‘Two years ago, England players were blocked from talking about their own darts tournament to the media. At this World Cup, England players are playing the English media at darts.’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror.

And, of course:

‘The England players’ bizarre unwillingness at Euro 2016, encouraged by goalkeeper Joe Hart, to reveal anything to the media about their in-house darts competition has since become a notable example of what went wrong on and off the field. So fair play to a far more progressive FA media team in Russia for setting up a three-shot darts competition between the press and the players before every press conference at the England media centre in Repino’ – Charlie Sale, Daily Mail.

Even if you consider it a bit silly to not talk about a darts competition when asked (and Mediawatch takes that point), using it as ‘a notable example of what went wrong on the field’ is sodding ridiculous. We reckon losing to Iceland might have done that by itself.


Look at his face. Just look at his face

Yes that’s Charlie Sale in the left of shot, exorcising the demons of 2016. It really is *that* easy to make a national newspaper columnist support you.


Beep! Beep! Beep!
‘SOON enough, another international tournament will slide by. England, struggling to come up with 27 names for prestige friendlies against Holland and Italy, are slowly fading away’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, March 2018.

‘Their tails are up, full of conviction and confidence after a decent set of results against Holland and Italy in March, plus the farewell victories over Nigeria and Costa Rica’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, June 2018.

‘England can prove Germany wrong with World Cup holders dismissing Three Lions,’ is Ashton’s new take, because Germany’s players think Spain, France and Brazil are more likely to win the World Cup than England.

Quite the turnaround, we hope you’ll agree.


Wonder lust
Writes Martin Keown in the Daily Mail after Russia’s victory over Saudi Arabia:

‘After that performance, you’d have to wonder whether the best 32 teams are at this World Cup.’

Russia are ranked 70 in the world and Saudi Arabia 67, Martin. And the World Cup never has the best 32 teams in the world present. So only a fool would spend any time before or after the game wondering that.


‘England have not won the opening game of a World Cup since 2006, when an own goal by Paraguay defender Carlos Gamarra after just three minutes gifted Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side victory. They were a quarter-final team then, guaranteed to get to the last eight of a tournament’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun.

England’s record in the six major tournaments prior to 2006:
Group stage
Did not qualify
Group stage

Three out of six. Guaranteed (half the time).


Twisting the words
‘Sergio Ramos said he felt like he was at a funeral as he tried to pick his way through one of the biggest crises in Spanish football history,’ writes Neil Custis in Friday’s Sun. The headline follows suit: ‘Feels like a funeral’.

Pesky fact: Ramos actually said he felt like the coverage of Julen Lopetegui’s sacking made it feel like a funeral.

As someone else who was present says:


‘Liverpool transfer news’
You really do have to admire the whacking brass balls on Express Sport.

Take the following headline on their website. We’ve put numbers in brackets as pointers, because we’re lovely:

‘Liverpool transfer news (1): Nabil Fekir suffers another blow (2) after medical disaster (3)’

1) At what point does every news story about Fekir stop being Liverpool transfer news, given that he clearly isn’t signing anymore? Is it ‘Liverpool transfer news’ if Igor Biscan goes on holiday this summer?

2) So what is this blow? Well, you see Fekir will not start France’s first game at the World Cup, according to L’Equipe.

Fekir has started one game for France since September 2015. If this has ‘taken his week from bad to worse’, he needs to alter his expectations.

3) Really clever this. ‘Suffers another blow after medical disaster’ makes it sound like Fekir’s bloody leg has fallen off in training. Using ‘medical disaster’ to refer to failing the medical is top, top, top clickbaiting. Played.

And the URL? ‘Liverpool-transfer-news-Nabil-Fekir-World-Cup-France’.



Weird intro of the day
The abbreviation for Saudi Arabia is KSA, but to be fair Russia might have got a better game out of KFC’ – Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.

Would this match be against the employees of all 21,000 restaurants, several buckets of fried chicken or a game of 11 vs 1 against the Colonel. Mediawatch must know.


Recommended reading of the day
Donald McRae with Joshua Kimmich.

Rupert Fryer on Edinson Cavani.

James Montague and Tifo Football on Iran’s road to Russia.

More from Planet Sport:

EXCLUSIVE: Andy Murray makes further plans to prepare for Wimbledon (Tennis365)

Ranking Russia’s World Cup squad by how easily they could beat you up (Planet Football)

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