Four ‘first-team stars’ are missing in Madrid for Liverpool, who face a midfield crisis and also a three-goal-deficit crisis, while wacky Pep Guardiola has fans in stitches.
Good things always come from journalists spotting things at training sessions. And you just know that if a journalist spots one thing at a training session then he will go on to spot four more, because five is the number of things that are spotted at training sessions.
There’s a slight departure from the conventions in Mirror man Mark Jones’ five things he spotted at Liverpool training before they flew to Madrid to try and overturn a 5-2 first-leg deficit against Real Madrid, because some of the things he spotted were in fact at the airport. We’re happy to allow that, though, because they still clearly meet the definition of ‘things that have been spotted’ and are potentially significant. Easy to see why someone being on the flight could be newsworthy, just as there are obvious reasons why someone’s absence could also be a notable thing to spot.
But surely we can’t allow ‘Liverpool probably won’t overturn this large deficit away from home against Real Madrid’ to pass as something ‘spotted’ at either Liverpool’s training ground or John Lennon Airport? If this fairly trite observation could be said to be spotted at all, it was surely at Anfield three weeks ago? We paraphrased a bit there, but that really is the entire essence of the very first thing the Mirror claim to have spotted yesterday, under the header ‘They couldn’t, could they? (Spoiler: probably not)’
Never mind spotting that overturning a three-goal deficit against Real Madrid is unlikely, mind. There’s bigger news from the Mirror. Liverpool face a ‘midfield crisis’ as well as a three-goal-deficit crisis with ‘FOUR first-team stars ruled out’.
Remember the words ‘four’ and ‘first-team stars’ as we go through them. The first two we’ll tick off quickly. Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic. Yep, fine. Their absences are newly confirmed, while Henderson certainly and Bajcetic more shakily but on recent evidence justifiably meet the definition of ‘first-team stars’.
Who else? Thiago Alcantara is the next one. Fine, first-team star. But he’s been injured for a month now, and Jurgen Klopp confirmed last week that he was not back in full training and wouldn’t make the Madrid game. But technically, sneakily, it’s allowable. He is a first-team star and he is ruled out. The headline made no claim about the recency of the news.
The last one, though? Arthur Melo. The Liverpool first-team star who has played a grand total of 13 minutes for the club (in the 4-1 defeat at Napoli) and is ruled out here because Liverpool chose not to name such a first-team star in their 25-man Champions League knockout squad.
The word you were looking for was THREE.
In the hood
One good thing about the imminent demise of Elon Musk’s Twitter 2.0 is that the end of Twitter will mean the end of one of the most baffling sub-genres of British football journalism, whereby a tiny handful of tweets – and sometimes even just one single tweet – from absolute nobodies can be lazily flipped into an entire story about quite literally nothing.
Take this classic example of the genre from The Sun, after Manchester City beat RB Leipzig 7-0 last night. Now you, like Mediawatch are presumably not a churnalist with absurd story quotas to hit, so you, like Mediawatch, might be thinking that Erling Haaland scoring five goals in the blink of an eye in a 7-0 Champions League win gives you more than enough content opportunities without the need to resort to a single keystroke of tish or fipsy.
Oh, my sweet summer child.
Did you, like Mediawatch, not really notice that when the weather was quite bad Pep Guardiola put the hood of his coat up? Were you, like Mediawatch, too easily distracted from the real story unfolding in front of us by the sight of all those goals flying in?
We have so very much to learn.
‘Football fans were left in stitches after seeing Pep Guardiola take cover from the Manchester weather.’
How did mad, wacky Pep Guardiola take cover from the weather in such wildly amusing fashion? He put the hood up on his coat, because there was sleet falling. That is literally it. Madman!
He put his hood up when it was sleeting, Stew. He did, Stew. Pep Guardiola. He put his hood up, during the football match. He put his hood up, Stew… yes, because of the bad weather. He put up his hood, Stew, and it was the funniest th… No, it was, Stew, it was the funniest thing. He put up his hood, Stew. Pep Guardiola. He put up his hood, and then Haaland scored a goal. He put up his hood, and it was the funniest thing that has ever happened, Stew.
Anyway, you get the idea with that. To Twitter we go in search of great wisdom.
‘One wrote on Twitter: “Pep with his hood up looking like Anakin.”’
Well, not every tweet is going to hit. Someone must have done a good funny, though. Because stitches.
‘Another joked: “Pep’s hood is huuuuge it looks like he’s going into the woods to perform a spell.”’
Wouldn’t open with it.
‘A third said: “He thinks he’s a character in Hogwarts.”’
Does he, though? Or does he think he’s a man outside in bad weather?
‘And a fourth quipped: “Bro’s a wizard.”’
The journalistic alchemist who spun the base metal of those four tweets into the pure gold of a news story containing 188 words, four photos and three links to Cheltenham betting offers certainly is.
Especially with this killer line, which has genuinely had us giggling like a lunatic – in stitches, even – for the last 25 minutes: ‘Guardiola then took his hood down when the sleet subsided.’
More on this breaking story as we get it. Also, and we acknowledge we are more than a little rattled here because this feels weirdly important to us: it really wasn’t even that big a hood. Also, if what you were looking for from last night was an example of Pep being weird, then… well.
There’s going to be a new typeface for the names and numbers on Premier League shirts next season, as well as a redesigned sleeve badge featuring a standalone Premier League lion.
It’s an interesting enough story, but that’s really all there is to say about it alongside some pictures of the new badge and the nice new lettering. Our interest was piqued, and the new badge and the new letters and numbers look… absolutely fine.
But that won’t do, will it? How can you make this legitimate if rather dry story pop?
If you’re The Sun, like this:
‘Arsenal to sport GOLD ‘champions’ badge on kit next season after major Premier League overhaul if they hold off Man City’
And if Man City beat Arsenal to the title, they’ll wear a gold – sorry, GOLD – champions badge on their kit next season.
Just like they are this season, and just as Arsenal did in 1998/99, 2002/03 and 2004/05, because Premier League champions always get to wear gold sleeve badges the following season and have done since Manchester United had them in 1993/94 after winning the very first Premier League. The ‘overhaul’, such as it is, is a slightly different design, not the goldness (or GOLDness).
(Incredibly Long) Headlines That Precede Unfortunate Events
‘Josko Gvardiol is the £115m defender wanted by Guardiola, Klopp and Chelsea… his release clause kicks in next year and ‘Little Pep’, a boyhood Red, can show why he’s so in-demand against Man City’
We’ve all been there, Mail Online. Generally more pithily, but we’ve all been there.