Mediawatch: It’s Man United vs Sheffield Wednesday for a winger

Date published: Wednesday 14th February 2018 12:04

A very weird new world
Last week, Mediawatch was confused by The Sun running a feature on how to dress like Dani Alves at the top of their football homepage.

The story was so obviously not written by a football fan and yet so prominent on their website that we suspected it might have been placed so highly in error. Exactly a week later, we know different. This is an actual thing.

‘Neymar fashion: How to dress like PSG’s slick Brazilian star but at a fraction of the cost’ reads their headline on Wednesday – exactly the same format as the Alves feature. Again, The Sun consider this the biggest story in football. Because of course there is no decent football this week.

It’s all just very weird, and leads to farcical forced lines such as ‘Neymar Jr. puts as much flare (sic) into his fashion choices as he does his fancy footwork on the pitch’ and ‘Looking just as slick as he does on the pitch, he wore head-to-toe black and glossy animal skins’.

For some reason, The Sun have chosen to enter into a relationship with fashion blogger Shiela Subyr, which clearly means that they are obliged to promote her tips on how to copy footballers’ fashion styles at the top of their football homepage. We’ll be honest, this isn’t where we saw the threat to sports journalism coming from.

Quick tip for The Sun and Shiela: Most readers of that website are unlikely to be shopping for ‘skintight leather trousers complete with racy lace-up sides’.


Take twice Dele
Now Mediawatch is not saying that The Sun’s Paul Jiggins went to Turin with the intention of pouring praise on Dele Alli, but his piece on Wednesday morning lays it on so thick that we do have to wonder. This comedy Cockney really does like a southerner.

‘For make no mistake, with just nine minutes played Mauricio Pochettino’s men were heading out of the competition after Higuain added to his quickfire second with a penalty seven minutes later.

‘As Tottenham stared into the abyss, their manager stared out onto the pitch at his players in front of him. You can only assume he was looking among them for a character to emerge to become their saviour – and in Dele he found it.

‘As from that moment, it was the like the reigning Young Player of the Year was a man on a mission to keep his club in Europe’s elite competition. Or at the very least, stop them from being humiliated.’

The ‘from that moment’ is interesting, because it skims over the fact that it was Alli who lost Gonzalo Higuain for Juventus’ first goal.

It’s worth mentioning too that Alli’s only mentions in Martin Samuel’s match report (the wordiest of the dailies) were for being fouled for Christian Eriksen’s free-kick and his mistake for the first goal. Almost every paper rated Eriksen, Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele more highly.

‘He got Pochettino’s men playing again as they went in search of a way back into this tie. Suddenly all of the flicks and passes that were either scuffed or went astray earlier in the campaign when Dele’s form was on the floor, were now coming off.’

It’s probably a little pissy to point out that Alli had the lowest passing accuracy of any Tottenham outfield player, but we can refer to the Daily Express’ summation: ‘Not at his best in possession but had a hand in both goals.’

‘The star’s chest was pumped again, his shoulders broad once more. Big nights at big arenas – like the magnificent Juventus Stadium – are meant for big players. And Dele showed he is one of those.’

Given that his chest was so pumped and shoulders so broad, Mediawatch presumed that Alli would also play a large part in Jiggins’ back-page lead on the game. Surely the ‘saviour’ would be front and centre of the coverage?

‘Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane hauled brave Tottenham back from the Champions League brink,’ that piece begins.

Pesky fact: It does not mention Alli once.


See what you want to see
‘Manchester United join Arsenal in race for Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic,’ reads the headline on the Daily Mirror website on Wednesday morning.

The story is attributed to ‘Football Spy’ but this is more Spy Kids 3-D than James Bond. Reading a story on a dubious website isn’t spying, it’s panning for guff.

‘Manchester United have joined Arsenal in the race for Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic,’ it begins. ‘That is according to TransferMarketWeb, who say the Red Devils are ready to rival the Gunners for the 21-year-old’s signature.’

So it’s to TransfermarketWeb, the English version of TuttoMercatoWeb, an Italian transfer rumour site. Here is their story, as quoted by the Daily Mirror, in full:

‘Recently scouted by Arsenal, Benfica and Serbian NT rising star attacking midfielder Andrija Zivkovic (21), according to Portuguese news, has been targeted by an increasing number of clubs: one more from Premier League (Manchester United), one from France (PSG), one from Germany (Borussia Dortmund), Sevilla FC from the near Spain, and as much as four Italian Serie A ones (Juventus, AC Milan, Sampdoria, Torino).’

Luckily, it didn’t take much Mediawatch digging to work out that ‘according to Portuguese news’ means ‘O Jogo’. And here’s what their story (when translated) from two days ago actually said:

‘Returning to the midfield, Zivkovic remains in Arsenal’s sights. They went to Portimao on Saturday to scout him.

‘They were accompanied by scouts of other big clubs, like PSG, Juventus, Manchester United, Dortmund Milan and Sevilla.’

So from Manchester United having scouts watching a player, which happens all the time, to them ‘joining Arsenal in the race’, via a website passing on two-day-old information. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.


Selective hearing
The best thing about that Andrija Zivkovic story in the Daily Mirror is the information that they have chosen to leave out. To repeat, the Mirror’s line is:

‘Manchester United have joined Arsenal in the race for Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic.’

Clubs also mentioned by O Jogo as scouting Zivkovic in the last fortnight: PSG, Juventus, Manchester United, Dortmund, Milan, Sevilla, Newcastle, Torino, Sampdoria, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Betis, Alaves, Braga, Belenenses, Chaves, Eibar, Kansas City and Sheffield Wednesday.

‘Sheffield Wednesday have joined Arsenal in the race for Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic.’


Miss me
Mediawatch has a morbid fascination for the Daily Mail’s ‘SIX THINGS YOU MISSED’ (their capitals, not ours) feature after football nights. In the attempt to squeeze as much content as possible out of everything, it really is a bold move to tell people what they missed when you don’t know if they missed them.

So on Tuesday evening, did you miss? (Mediawatch’s answers in brackets)

1) Harry Kane scoring a goal? (No.)

2) Juventus playing loud music and flashing bright lights before the match? (No.)

3) Tottenham fans singing ‘One Ryan Mason’? (No.)

4) Manchester City’s subs kept warm? (No.)

5) Juventus have supporters who face the crowd to start chants? (No.)

6) A fan in Basle made a sign with his hands towards a player? (Yes!)

And you thought this was meaningless content for its own sake. Fools.


It’s the remix to admission
The Daily Express have found themselves a new word. And incredibly that word isn’t a synonym of ‘foreigners’, ‘heatwave’ or ‘Diana’. The following headlines are all taken from the last few days:

‘Barcelona news: Philippe Coutinho makes Chelsea admission’

‘Real Madrid news: James Rodriguez makes Bayern Munich admission’

‘Chelsea news: Alvaro Morata makes shock injury admission’

‘Arsene Wenger makes brutally honest admission about Alexis Sanchez’

‘Chelsea news: Thibaut Courtois’ agent makes shock Real Madrid admission’

‘Arsenal news: Arsene Wenger makes key admission about Harry Kane’s winning goal’

‘Makes key admission’ might just be the clunkiest headline trope yet.


‘Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho set to make Liverpool return just five months after quitting with Brazil’ – The Sun.

For a friendly. With his national team.


Misphrased football headline of the day
‘Love is in the air! Sanchez, Neymar and Gerrard lead tributes on Valentine’s Day as WAGs and fans are hailed’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Lead tributes’? Suppose Saint Valentine has technically died.


Recommended reading of the day
Andy Brassell on Vincent Aboubakar.

Rory Smith on Real Madrid.

Rich Jolly on Liverpool vs Porto.

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