King of the bungle
The back page of The Sun features that rarest of things: A back-page leader. They call – under the banner of ‘SunSport SAYS’ – for ‘FA Chairman Greg Clarke to stop English football ripping itself apart’.
They say that ‘Clarke has the trust of top-flight clubs’ so is perfectly placed to sort out this mess.
‘Now he can be a voice of reason and measured intent in order to prevent irrecoverable damage to the game.’
Is that the same Greg Clarke described by The Sun’s chief football reporter Neil Ashton (now in charge of Ed Woodward’s PR) last year as a ‘bungling FA big-wig’?
Writing about racism after problems in Podgorica, Ashton wrote:
‘Great leaders take the initiative, asserting their authority in stressful and testing situations.
‘Instead chief exec Martin Glenn and chairman Greg Clarke left Southgate to deal with this disturbing issue on his Jack Jones.’
A year later, the same newspaper wants the ‘bungling FA big-wig’ to be the ‘voice of reason and measured intent’?
On the inside pages of The Sun, Martin Lipton brings us the ‘EXCLUSIVE’ that ‘The Big Six could be the victims of a sponsorship cash crisis if the worst virus fears are realised’.
Suspicions are always roused by any ‘EXCLUSIVE’ claim including the word ‘could’. It sounds like conjecture because it is conjecture.
But what really amuses Mediawatch is that the six richest clubs in the Premier League are being painted as ‘victims’ but then the final two paragraphs read thus:
‘Broadcast money represents a far higher slice – up to 80 per cent – of total revenues for the smaller top-flight clubs such as Bournemouth, Norwich and Brighton.
‘So they have proportionately more to lose if next season is curtailed in an attempt to get this term finished.’
But we’re guessing that nobody gives a shit that the poorest clubs will actually be hit the hardest. It certainly doesn’t sell newspapers or generate clicks.
Football journalism, indeed all journalism, is weird in 2020.
Sun journalist Martin Blackburn writes about Liverpool fans’ reaction to their furlough decision in Monday’s newspaper and notes in the fourth paragraph that Manchester United ‘are expected to’ follow Manchester City in ruling out the same tactic.
By 10am on Monday, his own newspaper’s website is carrying this headline as their top story:
‘Man Utd not expected to furlough staff as Liverpool hit with backlash from own fans for accepting government money’
Not unusual until you notice that the story is ‘according to the Daily Mail’.
Is ‘reading your own newspaper’ too bizarre a concept in 2020?
‘Wayne Rooney told off by police for breaking coronavirus lockdown with repeat offender Kyle Walker’ – The Sun.
And The Sun are absolutely not trying to suggest that Rooney was involved in a sex party. Oh no. They would obviously never do that. That would be underhand.
On the contrary, it’s utterly clear from this headline that the Rooney family merely bumped into neighbour Walker and his children on a walk.
And where one leads, the others follow. So the top story in football at 11am on Monday morning, according to the Mirror, is this:
‘Wayne Rooney ‘told off by police for breaking lockdown rules’ with Kyle Walker’
Yep. He went for a walk and spoke to a neighbour.
This surely must be particularly galling for Chief Football Writer John Cross – the hardest-working man in football journalism – who has five bylines in the actual Mirror newspaper on Monday morning. But sod Cross and his well-sourced exclusives because a footballer went for a walk and spoke to a man who has recently had a sex party and that is pure SEO gold.
Also given big billing on the Mirror website is this ‘story’:
‘Premier League outcome predicted by stats gurus Opta – as Man Utd discover top four fate’
Can you ‘discover your fate’ in a made-up Premier League table? We’re not sure you can. Surely that kind of language should be reserved for actual Premier League tables.
Oh and you will all be astonished to discover that ‘stats gurus Opta’ predicted that the top four and the bottom three will all remain the same. So that whole thing was basically f***ing pointless anyway.
Good week, great week
But that predicted league table has clearly arrived to news-strapped journalists like an Amazon delivery of a Breville toaster you had drunk-ordered three weeks ago…
‘Opta predict final Premier League table with scientific simulation and Liverpool will love it’ – Liverpool Echo.
Yes, Liverpool – currently under fire from fans, ex-players and the media for furloughing their low-paid staff – will definitely ‘love’ that Opta have predicted that they would have won a Premier League title they had practically already won before a worldwide pandemic struck.
This has truly been a great week for Liverpool after all.
Poor, poor Liverpool
‘Manchester United defender Luke Shaw wants Premier League decision that would deny Liverpool title’ – Liverpool Echo.
Or alternatively, Luke Shaw was asked whether the season should be scrapped if the campaign could not be finished and he responded like 99% of the world’s population.
What a curious coincidence that on the day that Axel Tuanzebe gives an exclusive interview with Manchester Evening News man Samuel Luckhurst, these words appear in another article by the same author:
‘Some talents transcend managers and Tuanzebe is one of them.’
That is certainly true in so much as none of Manchester United’s last three managers has played Tuanzebe more than ten times. In fact, he has played more times for Villa boss Dean Smith than any other manager.
Still, thanks for the interview, Axel.