You know how a player ‘refuses to confirm’ speculation over his future if he doesn’t literally state in no uncertain terms that he isn’t leaving? Mo Salah did it last week by declaring himself “happy” at Liverpool and adding, “I just want to enjoy today and enjoy the moment”, but also stating “no-one knows the future and what will happen”. Which is just a patently true statement rather than a cryptic transfer message.
But if you don’t spell it out, someone out there will construe it as a ‘hint’ or a ‘tease’.
Which brings us neatly to The Sun, who have a doozy of an exclusive for us on Thursday.
‘FA refuse to confirm if Premier League champions Liverpool will take part in Community Shield’
‘LIVERPOOL’S participation in the Community Shield is surrounded in mystery.
‘The FA refused to say if the Premier League champions have committed to the annual curtain-raiser to the new season, telling SunSport the competitors will be announced next week.’
When both will be known after the FA Cup final. Fair enough.
‘An initial draft press release confirming the game on August 29 was changed to remove Liverpool’s name.
‘SunSport learned last week there were questions over whether Jurgen Klopp’s side would be involved, something Liverpool and the FA denied at the time.’
But now the FA have ‘refused to confirm’ Liverpool’s participation after the club’s ‘name did not appear on the official announcement of the game’.
‘The statement only made reference to “the winners of the Premier League” but named both FA Cup finalists.’
Oh, so it ‘only made reference to “the winners of the Premier League”‘. And that could, of course, mean more than one club. If you are being wilfully obtuse.
If the FA had said Arsenal or Chelsea will play in the Community Shield without a mention of their opponents, then fair enough. But the identity of the other team is only ‘surrounded in mystery’ if you are a really sh*t detective.
When one clickbaits, the others must follow…
‘FA cast doubt over Liverpool’s participation in Community Shield’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Liverpool’s participation in Community Shield shrouded in mystery with latest FA response’ – Daily Star.
Celebrate good times, come on
Speaking of the FA Cup final…
Arsenal presumably get to host a massive orgy on the pitch if they win it. pic.twitter.com/93E2jH3WL5
— Football365 (@F365) July 30, 2020
Since U Been Gone
By ‘Chelsea are eyeing a first FA Cup success since 2018,’ do you literally just mean they didn’t win it last season?
How does The Sun’s website react to this news?
With a headline of ‘Arsenal and Chelsea can have extra players at Final but Wags and pals banned’, and an excuse to publish an article with Instagram pictures of Bernd Leno, Mesut Ozil and Andreas Christensen with their partners.
Credit to Mark Irwin for not writing ‘Wags’ or a variation thereof at any point in his story. How unfortunate that the subs showed no such inclination to leave 2006 behind because they could post some pictures of pretty women instead.
That story is from the Daily Mirror, who proudly display this atop their website. It really is the biggest thing happening in all of football as of Wednesday lunchtime.
‘5 things we noticed from Arsenal training as four youngsters drafted in ahead of FA Cup final’
It is a classic of the genre, featuring: some youth players trained; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ‘was pictured looking relaxed’; Lucas Torreira ‘was pictured training hard’; Bernd Leno ‘was pictured back in training’; and Mikel Arteta was ‘seen barking out orders to his players and being typically active in the session’.
More fool Mediawatch for expecting the ‘5 things we noticed’ to amount to more than a literal five things they noticed from what was available through their Getty Images subscription and prioritised over actual exclusives, news and insight.
The Daily Mirror website, meanwhile, promise to tell us ‘How Trent Alexander-Arnold started the Jadon Sancho to Liverpool secret charm offensive’. This should be good.
‘It appears Trent Alexander-Arnold was in someway responsible for kick-starting Liverpool’s secret charm offensive to entice Jadon Sancho to Anfield.’
See, you’ve already gone from a definitive ‘how’ in the headline to a flakier ‘it appears’ by the first paragraph. That does not bode well.
‘United secured Champions League football on the final day of the campaign, making them an even more attractive proposition to the England international.
‘But a report from Germany claims Sancho isn’t all that keen on a move to Manchester United after all, and would remarkably rather turn out in the red of Liverpool upon his long-awaited return to the UK after three years abroad.’
Player with no real ties to either club ‘would remarkably’ prefer to join Premier League champions who finished 33 points higher.
Enough with the exposition; where does Alexander-Arnold come in?
‘Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold took part in an Instagram Live a couple of months ago, where he spoke to actor Michael Dapaah.
‘The Dortmund forward was watching the video and heard the Liverpool right-back say: “If [Sancho] he came to us, he’d make our team better.
‘”So I’d be more than happy for him to come. I played with him for England and he’s a special, special, special, special talent.”
‘Responding to Alexander-Arnold’s comment, Sancho posted four sideways eyes emojis, to make sure the Liverpool star knew he heard what he said.’
So a teammate praised a teammate. Great. That leaves us with just one question: can public comments ever be part of a ‘secret charm offensive’? Surely the point is to keep everything under wraps…
The boy who cried Wilf
Mark Irwin of The Sun tells us that Wilfried Zaha ‘fears being priced out of’ a move from Crystal Palace again this summer.
The exclusive goes on to say that while Crystal Palace are ‘ready to listen to offers’ for him, they ‘are expected to demand as much as £70MILLION’ because Manchester United are due 25% of any fee, and so Zaha and his team ‘worry that will scupper hopes of a move’.
The Daily Mirror website just so happened to publish a Zaha story of their own, albeit hours later. They make no mention of The Sun but it is far too much of a coincidence for them not to be linked.
Their headline? ‘Man Utd set for significant transfer windfall as Wilfried Zaha clause close to being triggered’.
No club interested in Zaha is named, not least a side willing to sign him for £70m on the back of an underwhelming season. So how is this a Manchester United story? And in what possible way is any ‘clause close to being triggered’?
Still, at least you got ‘Man Utd’, ‘significant’ and ‘transfer’ in the URL. Shame there was no room for ‘Crystal Palace’, ‘Zaha’ or ‘b*llocks’, mind.
Recommended reading of the day
Simon Burnton talks to Paulo Dybala.