‘How Man Utd could line up under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – if he lands his targets’ is the enticing lead headline on the Daily Mirror website on Friday morning.
Listen, if Solskjaer ‘lands his targets’ and he’s still playing Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku in his starting XI – with Marcus Rashford shunted wide again – then United might have just made a monumental mistake.
Tony Cascarino has been ‘writing’ about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s potential signings in The Times. You will be utterly shocked to discover that he only suggests that Manchester United should buy British players. We are reeling here.
After advising that they sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka and David Brooks because United should sign ‘young players who will want to prove themselves at the highest level, who can add something to United’s squad’ – which sounds like a description of literally every young player in England – he then moves on to Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, who might necessitate the breaking of their transfer record. So far, so good-ish.
But why stop there? Because ‘most importantly United should go for players who are desperate to play for them, not those who are using them as a negotiating tool’. Mediawatch is not sure that signing ‘desperate’ players is the answer but carry on, Tony…
‘Solskjaer should be looking at the potential Financial Fair Play problems that Manchester City and Chelsea may be having and try to sneak in to pinch the best young talent in Europe.’
And when he says ‘Europe’, you know he doesn’t really mean Europe.
‘Why not go to Phil Foden or Callum Hudson-Odoi and say “Look at Marcus Rashford, look at Tahith Chong – we are going to give young players a chance, come and play for us”.’
Erm, because that would be utterly bizarre.
Firstly, Stockport-born lifelong Manchester City fan Phil Foden – known as ‘Pep’s lad’ at City – is unlikely to be ‘desperate’ to play for United.
And secondly, Tahith Chong is six months older than Foden and yet he has played just three games for United, totalling 39 minutes. That’s 39 minutes. Meanwhile, Foden has played 33 games for City, totalling 1234 minutes. Somehow, we don’t think ‘look at Tahith Chong’ is an argument that will wash.
Even Hudson-Odoi has played 972 minutes for Chelsea. But look at Tahith Chong, Callum! You too could play ten minutes at the end of a game when literally everybody else is injured!
After two weeks of desperate attempts to fill space, MailOnline have reached that juncture where their only remaining option was to e-mail all their writers and ask them to name their own choice for the most underrated Premier League player. This idea hits a snag when it quickly becomes apparent that some of their writers are not sure what ‘underrated’ actually means.
First, step foward Mike Keegan, who cites the little-known and little-appreciated Fernandinho. Yes, the same Fernandinho who almost everybody in the whole western world acknowledges is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. That Fernandinho. We would say that he is the exact opposite of underrated, if the exact opposite of underrated was not overrated. So we’ll just call him ‘rated’.
We then move on to Dominic King, whose nomination begins: ‘I’m not sure underrated is the right word but I like Lingard every time I see him play.’
We’ll stop you there Dominic, because what you’ve done there is answered an entirely different question. This international break filler feature is entitled ‘Who is the most underrated player in the Premier League? From Jesse Lingard to Troy Deeney and Ruben Neves, our reporters name the players who don’t get enough credit’, not ‘Who does Dominic King like to see play’. Even in a dull international break, that would be a shit feature.
Mediawatch was tutting long before we reached Jack Gaughan and his suggestion that Bernardo Silva – available at shorter odds than every other player barring Raheem Sterling, Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Aguero for the PFA Player of the Year award, remember – is ‘underrated’. By which idiot?
Pog days are not over at all
‘Real Madrid eye stunning £125m transfer bid for Man Utd midfielder Pogba after revealing his Zidane ‘dream’’ is the headline on the latest ‘exclusive’ from The Sun Online’s Daniel Cutts. That boy loves a flyer.
So Mediawatch particularly enjoys the shade thrown by MailOnline’s Spanish correspondent Pete Jenson in Friday’s follow-up to that story…
‘Paul Pogba flirted with Real Madrid during international break and says working with Zinedine Zidane is a ‘dream’, but will the Spanish giants really cough up to sign the Manchester United star this summer?’
To his credit, he takes a few hundred words to say ‘will they f***’.
Paul Merson on Newcastle v Arsenal: ‘Newcastle are a dangerous side; they’ve been really good recently, are hard to beat and have a couple of match-winners in their team. But these are the kind of matches Arsenal finish off. If Liverpool had Arsenal’s remaining fixtures they would win the league, but you just know that Arsenal won’t win all of these games and that’s why they are not a shoo-in for the top four.’
So these are the sort of matches Arsenal ‘finish off’ but these aren’t the kind of matches they win. What the actual…
THREE little birds
That prediction – copied above in its entirety – of course prompted this Daily Star headline…
‘Newcastle tipped to cause Arsenal problems in THREE ways by pundit – ‘They are dangerous”.
…because this is 2019 and everything really is going to sh*t.
Name and shame
‘Virgil van Dijk explains who deserves credit for Liverpool’s defensive record’ – Daily Mirror website.
Who? Who? Who?
“I think everyone has played their part in it.”
Thanks. For. That.
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) March 28, 2019
Hands up if you think this is ‘hilarious’?
Congratulations, for you are Ian Tuckey and you write for The Sun Online.
It’s a lovely life being a football writer for a national tabloid.
Step One: Read Simon Johnson in the Evening Standard, who writes that Chelsea ‘will consider’ offering Callum Hudson-Odoi a £100,000-a-week contract.
Step Two: Spot that the sixth paragraph of that piece reads as follows: ‘Chelsea’s last offer to the player, who has yet to start a Premier League game for the Blues, was rejected in January despite being £85,000 a week.’
Step Three: Write your own story claiming that there has been a ‘stalemate’ in negotiations as there have been ‘no contract talks since January and none planned’.
Step Four: Call it an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ and get your name on the back page of The Sun.
Step Five: Sit back and have a lovely cup of tea.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on Liverpool v Spurs
Tom Williams on life as a journeyman footballer