Can you dig it?
The national media has always struggled with one thing when it comes to Liverpool and Manchester City being England’s two greatest teams: the lack of those precious, lucrative mind games between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
There is simply too much mutual respect – and shared distrust of those reporting their every word – between the two managers. This is not Sir Alex Ferguson v Kevin Keegan or Rafa Benitez, nor Arsene Wenger v Jose Mourinho. There are no ‘feuds’ or ‘barbs’. These are just two coaches who seem to hold one another in incredibly high regard. Like adults.
But that simply does not sell papers nor generates clicks. So the Liverpool Echo have to manufacture controversy.
Their biggest story on the morning after Liverpool extended their lead atop the Premier League table to 19 points, breaking yet more records in the process?
‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Pep Guardiola’s Jurgen Klopp dig, Divock Origi injury, West Ham reaction’
Oh wow. This should be good.
‘Pep Guardiola appeared to aim a dig at Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after Manchester City booked their place in the Carabao Cup final.’
‘Appeared to’ is never a good sign. That’s journalist speak for ‘we really wanted him to say this so we will just imply he did without stating it outright because then we cannot be blamed’.
Anyway, go on. What’s this ‘dig’?
“People say we are complacent about what we have won. You don’t try to diss the humble competition of the season, if you are not able to [win the Premier League] three times in a row with big games in the Premier League and Champions League and everyone there. When you win a lot, they say this competition does not matter, but with me this does not happen. It doesn’t matter, we try to do it.”
F**king hell, Pep. Put that spade away, fella.
Yes, they can!
And where one leads, others blindly follow. So the following can also bow their collective heads in shame. Or carry on unabated.
‘Pep Guardiola appears to take aim at Liverpool rival Jurgen Klopp over FA Cup stance’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Guardiola aims sly dig at Klopp’s FA Cup snub: I won’t diss the humble competition’ – Goal.com.
‘Pep Guardiola aims timely cup barb at Jurgen Klopp’ – TEAMtalk.
Can you dig it?
Oh, and here was Guardiola last week appearing to actually defending Klopp for *precisely* the thing he’s supposed to be having a ‘dig’ at him for now.
Yes, they can!
That same Liverpool Echo ‘transfer news LIVE’ blog also contains the following update.
‘Jurgen Klopp appears to have taken a subtle dig of his own at Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, insisting he doesn’t need to set artificial targets to motivate his side.’
Oh Christ. Mediawatch appears to have lost the will to live.
‘The German is just focused on winning the Premier League this year rather than going unbeaten or reaching 100 points and has revealed that his side do not care for such records and, unlike City, don’t need any extra motivation.’
Now, press conferences are recorded nowadays. They provide a context that the written word often cannot. So watch the following video – including how the only mention of Guardiola or City is made the by the journalist asking the question – and decide for yourselves whether it’s a ‘dig’.
Spoiler: it isn’t.
One last thing…
Guardiola neither “had to set motivational targets”, nor “made a big deal” of City getting to 100 points – as per that unnamed journalist. He played down its importance in early March and first mentioned 100 points as a target in May, the title having long been won.
So stop playing silly beggars in search of a soundbite and get over the fact that the two best managers in the Premier League can’t really be bothered to play your games.
Sticking the Cout in
Sorry if this seems a little repetitive, but the headline atop that Liverpool Echo live blog at Thursday lunchtime is now:
‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Philippe Coutinho blow, Pep Guardiola’s Jurgen Klopp dig, Divock Origi injury’
The ‘Philippe Coutinho blow’? That a man who left Liverpool two years ago is not part of Quique Setien’s plans and Barcelona want to sign Richarlison or Willian.
It is, by definition, considered by one of the biggest Liverpool outlets to be the biggest Liverpool story at the busiest time of the day. Good lord.
If I was a Rich girl
Does Mediawatch find it more than a little curious that Sky Sports remain literally the only outlet reporting first-hand that Barcelona had an £85m bid for Richarlison rejected?
It has been described as ‘nonsense’ by the Daily Mail‘s north-west correspondent, with Sky’s own former Spanish football expert stating that it was ‘not true’. Paddy Boyland of The Athletic claimed that ‘sources at both clubs are denying that an offer was made’.
Still, a corporation that relies on generating excitement and buzz to justify constant coverage of an otherwise quiet transfer window has succeeded in its aim. Hurrah.
I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
Writes Charlie Wyett in The Sun:
‘This was Klopp’s 38th fixture in all competitions – the length of a Premier League campaign – which gives you some idea of Liverpool’s slightly crazy season.’
Manchester United have played 38 games. And if you think that’s ‘slightly crazy’, wait until you find out that Wolves have played *40*.
Optimistic exclamation mark of the day
‘The Red Devils confirmed they had agreed a four-and-a-half-year contract for the Portuguese midfielder, who turned up wearing a Simpsons T-shirt.
‘Fernandes, 25, is due to have a medical today – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope he is in better shape than his TV idol Homer!’ – The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Mark Critchley on Bruno Fernandes.
James Pearce on the Liverpool transfers that never happened. (£)
Ben Fisher talks to Swansea’ Conor Gallagher.