The Neville Bothers
Back in November 2018, Mike Keegan of the Daily Mail wrote an almost satirically dull story about how ‘Manchester United are set to swerve Gary Neville’s Hotel Football as their attempts to put an end to their transport shambles continue’. It elicited this response from Gary Neville on Twitter:
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) November 16, 2018
So when Keegan got hold of another almost satirically dull story about Manchester United opening a food kiosk on their own land (‘which will be manned by four staff’), he did not make the same mistake again, and called Neville himself.
Presumably after stifling a laugh, Neville seemingly told Keegan he had no problem at all with Manchester United using their own land to open a food kiosk. After all, why would he?
Neville obviously considered this such a non-story that he did not even want to be seen to be making a comment…
Hey @MikeKeegan_DM you rang me yesterday and made me aware of this. My exact words to you were that I wished the club developed the whole of their land and built a community. I said I welcomed it! How the hell do you get from that it could ignite a row? Pathetic work! https://t.co/4O601EDXKS
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) August 16, 2019
It is at this point that Keegan should have probably backed away, but instead he tried to argue his case, almost as if he actually had one.
Your exact words to me included ‘everything I’ve said is off the record and not to be used’ and ‘bring on the competition’. I’d have been more than happy to use what you told me had you not stopped me from doing so yourself.
— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) August 16, 2019
Now it’s been a while since Mediawatch was involved in the old-fashioned journalism of actually ringing people for comments, but we are pretty sure that “this is off the record” is not code for “write what you want”. From their conversation, Keegan would know that there was no ‘potential re-igniting of a seven-year-old row dating back to the construction of the 10-storey hotel’, and he did not need to quote Neville to make that abundantly clear. Having been told there was no beef, he merrily went to the butchers.
This is all very amusing for those watching on Twitter, and definitely distracts from the nonsense of a national newspaper publishing this story in the first place. In what world is the opening of a food kiosk considered an actual football story? In this one, apparently. And this is how it begins:
‘Manchester United want to build a food kiosk yards away from the Class of ’92’s hotel — in a bid to hoover up trade outside Old Trafford.’
‘Yards away’ is excellent. Everything is ‘yards away’ from everything else. France is ‘yards away’ from England. And in this case, it’s probably about 100 yards…over an actual canal.
‘The club have applied for planning permission to install a food and drink facility which would intercept visitors before they can head over the bridge to the £24m facility owned by Gary Neville and fellow members of the Class of ’92.’
Yes, because the people who set off to pay £14 for their burger or pie – off a plate, and served by a waiter – are definitely going to be distracted by a kiosk, even if it is ‘manned’ (their word, not ours) by four people.
‘Some may view the move as an attempt to take cash from the club’s legends and the potential re-igniting of a seven-year-old row dating back to the construction of the 10-storey hotel.’
Some? You mean you, Mike. No bugger else gives a sh*t. And that includes Gary Neville.
Long haul of Mirror
Now we knew that Frank Lampard would get an easy ride from the English media, but what we didn’t expect after just two games – both of which actually ended in defeat – was this headline in the Daily Mirror on a column from the self-appointed ‘Britain’s best Sports Writer’ Andy Dunn:
‘Hamstrung Lampard’s done enough to secure his dream job for the long haul.’
Because of course we saw enough in a 4-0 defeat to a flawed Manchester United and a penalty shoot-out defeat to Liverpool in a glorified friendly to basically give him a job for life.
That’s perfectly logical.
The most wonderful line in this quite magnificent column?
‘That is why serious judgement has to be restrained until after he has had a chance to recruit extra personnel to suit his style.’
Indeed. So definitely give him ‘his dream job for the long haul’.
Snub of the day
Manchester United are doing a splendid job of trying to create a narrative around Harry Maguire as the talismanic figure to take the club into a glorious new era, as evidenced by Neil Custis’ back-page story in The Sun about him ‘already emerging as Manchester United’s leader’. Apparently “the team feels stronger defending set-pieces now”. That will be the massive head.
Mediawatch was amused by Custis’ final line, in which he reveals: ‘United want him to partner Victor Lindelof, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw as full-backs.’
That’s literally the defence that played Chelsea on Sunday, fella. Excellent source you have there.
Over to the Daily Mirror and Jeremy Cross has an ‘exclusive’:
‘Harry Maguire snubbed £278,000-a-week Man City offer to join rivals Man Utd’
Now that’s one pretty big flaw in this story and that is that Manchester City never actually agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, so any ‘offer’ – if indeed, any was ever made – is absolutely irrelevant. You cannot ‘snub’ an offer that is utterly impossible to accept. But presumably Cross addresses this in the piece…
‘Harry Maguire turned down an eye-watering £278,000-a-week contract offer from Manchester City for a move to their fierce rivals Manchester United this summer.
‘The staggering contract offer from the Premier League champions would have seen the England international net a whopping £70million over five years.’
In an alternate universe where Manchester City thought Harry Maguire was worth £80m, perhaps.
We were also interested to learn that ‘the Sheffield-born star had already decided to join United, who he supported as a boy’, because we have previously read that he supported both Wednesday and the Blades. At the current price of replica shirts, pity the parents.
The Sun’s Neil Ashton writes that ‘it is credit to the Red Devils players that they put it behind them by starting the season with a thumping 4-0 victory over Chelsea’.
Put what behind them, we hear you ask.
Well, the fact that Alexis Sanchez is ‘going through the motions’ in training, of course.
Words cannot express how hard it must have been for those poor Manchester United players. It’s a bloody good job they have a new ‘leader’.
Over in the Daily Mail, Chris Wheeler is revealing ‘the staggering terms of Alexis Sanchez’s contract’, for what we believe might be the 427th time. If ever you are short of a Manchester United story, the safest option is to reveal the terms of Sanchez’s contract, calculate how much he has cost per goal and generally call him out as an extremely well-paid workshy fop.
The new figure cited as an example of this ‘astronomical deal’ is £560,000 a week, which appears once in the sub-headline and twice in the copy.
The key lines for Mediawatch?
‘It’s understood the club inserted a £5m clause into the deal, payable if Sanchez makes 30 starts in a single season – even though he started only 13 times in all competitions last term.
‘Additional bonuses and employers’ national insurance payments take the potential overall figure to £560,000 a week if Sanchez is successful.’
So Manchester United not paying £560,000 a week at all? And if they were, they would probably be relatively happy to be paying £560,000 a week, as that would mean he would be delivering exactly what they expected and thus promised.
Still, you got yourselves a really, really big number.
Admission of the day
‘VIRGIL VAN DIJK admits his last 18 months with Liverpool have been a whirlwind’ – The Sun.
A reminder: Sometimes people just ‘say’ things.
Recommended reading of the day
Raphael Honigstein on the return of the Bundesliga (£)
Toby Moses on the ‘woke’ footballers
Daniel Storey on a refereeing crisis