Everyone but Liverpool is rubbish…even Sheffield United

Date published: Tuesday 4th February 2020 12:07

Chris Wilder Jurgen Klopp Sheffield United Liverpool

Kepa of the light
Reads the first paragraph of The Sun‘s back-page exclusive on Tuesday:

‘KEPA ARRIZABALAGA fears he is paying the price for Chelsea’s defensive problems.’

Tomorrow’s exclusive: Unai Emery is scared that he was sacked by Arsenal for being a bit sh*t.


Poor patrol
As Mediawatch is a team player, it often ventures outside its little bubble to places such as the Mailbox. And the recent discussion there has concerned the overall standard of this Premier League season.

Stan Collymore has clearly been sending in his thoughts under a different alias, as he is here in the Daily Mirror to always speak his mind about how ‘Liverpool are brilliant, but the Prem is getting worse, especially their so-called rivals’.

‘With the exception of runaway leaders Liverpool, the Premier League has been poor this season.’

Well that depends wholly on how you define ‘poor’. Leicester will disagree. So too Sheffield United, and possibly even Wolves, Everton, Newcastle, Southampton and the like. They all seem to be doing better than expected.

Mind you, Southampton ‘are the epitome of an average team’. Right, Stan?

Silly coach of the reigning European and world champions, who said this on Saturday:

“First and foremost, I really have to say, wow, Southampton – what a team that is. I am so long in football and never saw a turnaround like that. When I saw them playing at home against Chelsea months ago, I was really worried. Doing that kind of turnaround is just exceptional. The set-up they have is constantly causing you problems, if you do the wrong things – which we did in the first half in some moments. Their defending is really good and then their counter-attacks are exceptional. Ingsy and Long, what they do there up front, how they got supported by the midfield and the wingers, is just exceptional.”

Oh, Jurgen. They’re ‘the epitome of an average team’, pal.

And as for Wolves and Sheffield United, Stan is prepared for that argument. Obviously.

‘People will say the performances of Sheffield United this season and Wolves last season disprove my theory.’

Is that because they disprove your theory?

‘And the fact our teams are all through to the knockout stages in Europe surely shows how strong our sides.’

Well now you’re making this too easy…

‘But Liverpool are the only team who haven’t lost at least six games already – City have lost as many as Wolves – and there’s no way the Blades or the Molineux men will finish in the top four, they’re just teasing us with the prospect right now.’

They are five and six points off fourth respectively. And as you say yourself, ‘the bigger teams aren’t as good as they were’. So why are they ‘just teasing us with the prospect right now’? On what are you basing the idea that they will fall away?

‘The problem is that too many clubs these days have the mentality of ‘Let’s stay in the Premier League and no more’.’

We don’t necessarily disagree, but what does that have to do with Sheffield United?

‘Sheffield United are a decent team but they shouldn’t be anywhere near the top five or six.’

Why? Because they’re Sheffield United? They’re really quite good…

‘In the mid-to-late 90s, they would have been 12th or 13th, and that would have been seen as a good season.’

In the mid-to-late 90s you’d have tripped over your own shoelaces trying to keep up with overlapping centre-halves. See, you’re not the only one that can make random suppositions based on absolutely nothing.

Next, Stan implies that this Aston Villa is not ‘as good as the side that was relegated in 2016’. And that really is hilarious. The current team is on 25 points with seven wins and 32 goals after 25 games; the side that went down four years ago did so with 17 points, three wins and 27 goals after 38.

‘A competition, by its very definition, is something in which everyone involved has at the very least an outside chance of winning when it begins, but that’s not the case any more and in truth hasn’t been for a while.’

Leicester pipped that bloody incredible Aston Villa team to the title literally four years ago.

‘Barring one or two exceptions, you could pretty much predict these days who will finish in the bottom half at the start of the season. And you could nail down the top eight as well.’


Everything you’ve written in February made it sound like you saw this coming in August. You clearly did not.

You really did nail Everton, mind. Let’s just forget the whole Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester and Watford thing. Sheffield United were presumably 12th or 13th in that projected table, too…


Reddy, steady, go!
The scale of research that goes into that most ridiculed of journalistic exploits – the dreaded ‘long read’ – should not be underestimated. They require a painstaking amount of work in terms not only of collating information, but distilling it into an interesting format.

Take Melissa Reddy’s latest offering for The Independent as an example. It is 1,743 well-informed words of insight into how Liverpool approach and operate in the transfer market.

Then take the following headlines:

‘Marcus Rashford and Heung-min Son ‘admired’ by Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool transfer team’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Liverpool’s transfer team and Jurgen Klopp are ‘big admirers’ of Marcus Rashford and Son Heung-min’ – The Metro.

‘Man Utd shock transfer target, Liverpool’s Rashford stance, Chelsea plot two summer deals’ – Daily Express.

Each of which are based on a line buried in one of the 47 paragraphs Reddy has written:

‘The recruitment team and Klopp are big admirers of Heung-min Son and Marcus Rashford, as examples, but that interest is immaterial given neither are available to them.’

So from an in-depth feature we have a story based on 28 of 1,743 words (about 1.6%) that essentially boils down to ‘Liverpool think two of the best forwards in the Premier League are good but know they can’t sign them’.

Thanks. For. That.


Why does it always reign on me?
‘City risk becoming one of the worst reigning champions in Prem history’ – The Sun.

Sure, but by the metric you’re using – the number of points a former champion has finished behind first place the following season – Manchester United’s 2013/14 defence stands alone.

After all, they finished seventh with 13 more points than City have accrued after 25 games. It doesn’t *feel* like they were better reigning champions.


Mount doom
‘Mason Mount welcomes the fight to hold on to his England shirt’ – Graeme Bryce, The Sun.

Mason Mount has never started consecutive England games. Mason Mount was a substitute in England’s most recent match. Mason Mount should welcome the fight to have an England shirt before he ‘holds on to’ it.


Wilder at heart
‘The more Sheffield United keep winning, the more you realise that if Chris Wilder looked like Marco Silva, he’d be managing a big-six club by now’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.

Mediawatch appreciates the variation of suggesting a British manager would be higher up the proverbial coaching ladder if he looked continental, rather than the laboured Sam Allardyce point of having more opportunities if you sound foreign or have a different name.

Chris Wilder probably won’t be too bothered about ‘managing a big-six club’ while he’s in charge of a top-six one, mind.


Taking the Mik
The Sun website‘s headline: ‘Arteta’s appalling win ratio at Arsenal WORSE than Ljungberg and Emery and Spaniard has second-worst record since WWI’

Alternative headline: ‘Mikel Arteta has won as many of his first ten games as Arsenal manager as Unai Emery did in his last 13, having taken over a struggling squad that wasn’t his, in his first ever senior coaching role. And he has lost literally once. And has been in charge for about a month and a half.’

Sure, it’s a longer headline (although not for the MailOnline). But it’s less ridiculous.


Child’s play
‘Theo Walcott has scored in 15 consecutive seasons now, he’s a lovely kid and a great pro’ – Stan Collymore, Daily Mirror.

He’s 32 next month, Stan.


Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on post-Brexit football.

Melissa Reddy on Liverpool’s Marcus Rashford and Son Heung-min plans.

Graham Hunter on Real Madrid.


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