One of the stranger developments around Liverpool this season has been the PR. If you’ve noticed, you’ve noticed.
It’s wearing. It’s no longer enough to applaud the football and admire what Jurgen Klopp has achieved. Now, there has to be unwavering celebration of the people involved as well. Any suggestion that they’re just average football folk, prone to good and bad behaviour, seems to draw a response which proves otherwise.
Mediawatch is old and cynical, and certainly raised an eyebrow at the timing of a recent Daily Mail interview with Andy Robertson. Days before, Robertson had given that salty post-game reaction to the first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid, and by Sunday he was in a national paper, giving – let’s call them ‘charitable’ – explanations for some of the nastier moments of his career.
Sample quote (re. the Tom Davies elbow):
‘It looked worse on the video. It was a complete accident. I fell over.’
Well…that’s one way of putting it, yes. Was it a coincidence? Maybe – and the interview itself is decent – but there’s more than a hint of a quick correction.
Anyway, Robertson’s manager didn’t cover himself in glory on Wednesday, playing the old Mourinho deflection trick with that criticism of Atletico Madrid’s style of play.
Don’t worry though, because here – with a piece entitled “Jürgen Klopp’s sly dig at Atlético Madrid shows why he is ultimately a football fan at heart” – are Liverpool.com to circle the wagons:
‘On the one hand, it sounds like sour grapes to take a dig at Atlético’s style of play after they beat Liverpool in both legs of the tie, rather than reflecting on why his own team ultimately didn’t do enough to get the job done.’
It doesn’t just sound like sour grapes, though, does it? It is sour grapes. And there’s really nothing wrong with that, because show Mediawatch a good loser and we’ll show you someone we don’t want working at our football club.
But that doesn’t mean that every little outburst needs a justification. It definitely doesn’t mean that any time Klopp screams in the face of a fourth official or moans his way through a press-conference it actually makes him more of a hero.
‘There was also some truth in his words, even if borne out of immense frustration, because Atlético are by no means easy on the eye (to put it kindly), and have a number of technically gifted individuals who could surely offer so much more in a more expansive system.
It comes down to the fact Klopp shares a mentality supporters can directly relate to, because he is ultimately a diehard lover of football, too – albeit, one with a much deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the game than most. It’s the same reason why he celebrates big goals so vociferously on the touchline, just like he would if he were in the stands.’
Klopp is due all the praise in the world for what he’s achieved. That will be true whether this season is completed or not. But with over-embellishment comes mockery and the worshipping tone of the coverage is coming very close to parody now.
He is a football manager. A brilliant one. What he is not – and it’s really odd to have to make this distinction – is a different breed of coach who is actually, under all circumstances, beyond reproach.
Another corner turned
For a long time now, Man United have been the club of tiny positives which actually – secretly – mean something very significant. Or at least they do to those who work for the Manchester Evening News.
So, colour us less than shocked by this headline:
‘The Manchester United moment that might have made bizarre game key for the future’
So – and try to follow along, because this might get tricky – the logic seems to that Odion Ighalo scoring an (admittedly excellent) goal in an empty stadium in Austrian has a deeper significance.
Who would have thought it!
‘It seems likely that the Europa League will be placed on hold next week and the Premier League will surely follow suit at some point. That could spell the end for Ighalo’s loan spell if Shanghai Shenhua want him back, but there is a way for United to sidestep any such issue. Sign him permanently.’
Right. Okay. Fair enough, because he has been much better than expected and the arc of his personal story has been moving and sweet.
‘That would have seemed an absurd suggestion on January 31 but four goals in eight games and a goal in every game he’s started is an impressive record. Even when he comes off the bench Ighalo usually manages to find a chance. His hold-up play has also been excellent, a facet of the game United have struggled with this season.’
A deal for Ighalo would allow United to focus on other areas of the squad this summer, notably out wide and in midfield.’
But wasn’t that true in January? Wouldn’t it be fair to say that signing a forward and that forward playing well would prevent the club from having to sign another forward at a later date?
Yes, our head hurts too.
Headline of the Day
Man United win will mean little if return leg is suspended.
That’s right, ESPN – thanks for that.
Well done to The Sun, who have surely hit a new low with this:
‘HELP AT HOME. Daniele Rugani’s Wag Michela Persico: Juventus star who has coronavirus’ wife is stunning Italian TV presenter’
PHWOAR. I’D SELF ISOLATE WITH HER. Etc.
Sense the mood, lads.
Outside the captions, Michela Persico isn’t actually mentioned by name until paragraph nine. Still, there’s lots of pictures of ‘the soccer obsessed beauty’.
Michela in a bikini.
And again. And again. Michela with a donkey. In a bikini. Her, not the animal. A solemn Instagram post from Daniele, disclosing his diagnosis. Michela with Daniele (in the tightest pair of speedos you’ve ever seen). Etc.
Making Coronavirus sexy. Good for you.
Now football has been suspended, imagine what The Sun’s sport section will look like in a couple of weeks?
Kristian Walsh on the prospect of Liverpool being denied the title
Jonathan Liew on the criticism of Diego Simeone
Seb Stafford-Bloor in Leipzig
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