We start – because where else would you start? – with the back page of The Sun, which exclusively claims that ‘JESSE LINGARD is facing the Manchester United axe’. Apparently Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is ‘so annoyed’ that Lingard will be replaced by Juan Mata this weekend against Norwich.
That’s quite the decision from Solskjaer. Ruthless, even. After all, Lingard has started a grand total of nine Premier League games this season; he has actually been ‘axed’ more times than he has played. And he has actually started only one of Manchester United’s last three Premier League games – the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.
In fact, Ashley Young has played more Premier League minutes than Lingard this season, and we literally cannot remember Ashley Young playing any Premier League minutes this season.
DROPPED a bollock
More annoying than that Sun back page are the copy-cat stories that then flood the internet, with no regard for the fact that this is patently not an actual story. Because nobody gives a shit about that anymore.
MailOnline go for ‘Jesse Lingard set to be DROPPED by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Norwich clash’ after Manchester United midfielder was hauled off at half-time during defeat by rivals City’.
Yes. Actual capitals even though Lingard is literally DROPPED more often than he is NOT DROPPED.
And on The Sun’s website, they go for the wonderful ‘Solskjaer to axe Lingard as patience finally runs out with misfiring Man Utd flop’.
Yes, ‘patience finally runs out’ on a player who literally started no Premier League games in October or November.
Mbappe, ba duba dop
A reminder – should it be required – that Jurgen Klopp has unequivocally ruled out a move for Kylian Mbappe, saying recently that he is “too expensive for us” and that Liverpool had “absolutely no chance” of signing him.
And yet here is a selection of headlines from Thursday morning:
‘Kylian Mbappe drops transfer hint when asked about PSG contract as Liverpool eye deal’ – Express.co.uk
‘Kylian Mbappe responds to claims over new PSG contract amid Liverpool link’ – Mirror.co.uk
‘Kylian Mbappe addresses PSG future amid Real Madrid transfer link and Liverpool rumours’ – Liverpool Echo
‘Liverpool-linked Kylian Mbappe speaks out over new PSG contract rumours’ – Dailystar.co.uk
‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Kylian Mbappe future decision, Jadon Sancho targeted, Leon Bailey linked’ – Liverpool Echo
Mediawatch despairs amid a right load of crap about Mbappe and Liverpool.
Not worth the hassle
It’s a bit of a bare Thursday for news so the MailOnline of course turn to the latest from the CIES Football Observatory, who have been using their algorithms to fill slow news days for as long as we can remember.
One glance at their latest player valuations tells you that their algorithms are more than a little dodgy – Mason Mount worth over £80m? The £81.5m-rated Dele Alli worth more than Virgil van Dijk? Marcus Rashford the seventh most valuable player in world football? – so to make those latest player valuations the biggest story in football is frankly bizarre.
Even if it does mean that you can crowbar Mbappe into a headline without pretending he is about to join Liverpool…
‘Kylian Mbappe is Europe’s most expensive player with Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho just behind… but who else makes the top 20 most-valued stars and which EVERTON star makes the cut?’
Well, the EVERTON star who makes the cut is probably the one with 19 caps for Brazil. Though the suggestion that he is somehow worth more than Neymar is seriously flawed. Try offering PSG just £85m for the actual most expensive player in the history of football. Try offering Tammy Abraham (£88m) in a straight swap deal.
These are numbers created by algorithms that are ridiculously weighted in favour of youth. Hence, we are supposed to believe that Jadon Sancho is currently ‘worth’ more than Sadio Mane or Harry Kane. You get the picture; they are seriously flawed.
Which makes it a little curious that we then open the MailOnline story to see these numbers being presented as fact.
‘Kylian Mbappe is the world’s most valuable footballer with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling second and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool third.’
They use the phrase ‘extensive research’ three times, so we know for sure that this is actually based on extensive research and is not just an educated guess.
Now excuse Mediawatch while we go and tell Jan Oblak that he is now worth less than Dwight McNeil.
‘Transfer news LIVE: Man United and Arsenal make Cavani bids, Chelsea eye Diop, Liverpool latest’ – The Independent have all the LIVE transfer news on Thursday morning as they report the news from Spanish sources that the Metro were quoting on Tuesday.
Mind you, it’s talkSPORT that take the biscuit with that kind of tomfoolery as they promise LIVE with this headline:
‘TOP GOSSIP Transfer news and gossip LIVE: Grealish tipped for Man United move, Chelsea in for £55m midfielder, Tottenham looking at Serie A striker’
How handy that Jack Grealish is being ‘tipped’ for a move just after another headline-grabbing performance for Aston Villa.
So ‘tipped’ by who? Is it ‘news’ or is it ‘gossip’? Or is it day-old quotes from Neil Warnock saying that Grealish would “strut his business” at Manchester United?
Laporte is closed
The Sun appear to have forgotten about Aymeric Laporte in their ambitious ‘how Manchester City will line up next season’ graphic. pic.twitter.com/WUtjuSwwh5
— Football365 (@F365) January 9, 2020
And Bernardo Silva, who was really rather good against Manchester United two whole days ago.
David Conn on the latest betting scandal.
Seb Stafford-Bloor on the Saudi Spanish Super Cup.
Mark Critchley on Marcus Rashford.