Mediawatch: Man City ‘closing the gap’ on Man United

Date published: Monday 2nd October 2017 5:13

Garth invader
As ever, here are the best bits from Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week for BBC Sport:

On Saido Berahino (as part of selecting Maya Yoshida): ‘Berahino never looked confident as he waited to take the spot-kick. It is hardly surprising Berahino was nervous given he hasn’t scored for 30 Premier League games. So why did he, or anyone else for that matter, think converting this penalty was going to be easy?’

He probably didn’t. He probably just wanted an opportunity to score.

On Marco Silva (as part of selecting James Tarkowski): ‘However, if Everton were to dispense with the services of Koeman they should get hold of Watford’s Marco Silva. He is perfect for the Toffees.’

Silva probably fancies the chance to lead the sixth-placed team he has helped build, as opposed to the troubled one down in 16th.

On Liverpool’s defence (as part of selecting Philippe Coutinho, to be fair): ‘I’ve been banging on about Liverpool’s defence for 12 months and nothing has been done about it.’

The absolute cheek of Jurgen Klopp exposed in one short sentence. How can you ignore Garth?!

On Kevin de Bruyne: ‘The one-two De Bruyne played with Gabriel Jesus which set up the Belgium midfielder’s goal was so inviting I felt like getting off my couch and giving the ball a whack myself.’

There’s an image.

And we finish with another classic Crooks anecdote, in his selection of Harry Kane:

‘An Arsenal fan said to me, almost in desperation that “we weren’t playing anybody”. Quite why he insisted making ‘me’ part of the ‘we’ I wasn’t entirely sure, but the point he was trying to make was that Huddersfield are not a Manchester United, Manchester City or even an Arsenal for that matter.’

It’s not quite going home after his uncle Ben took his glass of champagne off him after telling him Wayne Rooney would be Player of the Year, but it’s up there.


The wrong Toon
Charlie Wyett is not the first person to make the easy comparison between Newcastle’s great ‘Entertainers’ side of the 1990s and this current Liverpool outfit. He also won’t be the last. But his comparison is wide of the mark in The Sun on Monday.

‘In 1995/96, the Magpies became the greatest team never to win the Premier League. They were terrific going forward and absolutely terrible at the back.

‘And the similarities are striking with that Newcastle team – a great scorer of goals, a scorer of great goals…but not very good at defending.’

Newcastle conceded 37 goals in the 1995/96 season – just two fewer than champions Manchester United, and better than all but four sides.

Liverpool have conceded 12 goals in seven games this season. Only West Ham and Crystal Palace have conceded more.

Newcastle’s strength in the 1990s was certainly not defending, but this Liverpool team makes John Beresford look like Paolo Maldini.


Shear cheek
As impressed as Alan Shearer was with Manchester City’s victory over Chelsea on Saturday, he cannot hide his contempt for one factor in The Sun.

‘Gabriel Jesus has proved he can play with or without Sergio Aguero, who was missing on Saturday after being involved in that car crash in Amsterdam,’ he writes.

‘What on earth was he doing at a concert in Amsterdam on Thursday night when he had training back in Manchester the next day? It was his day off and you should spend it at home resting.’

The concert Aguero attended was at 11pm on Thursday evening. Manchester City training was at 11am on Friday morning. That is a sizeable 12-hour gap, and it takes approximately one hour to fly via private jet from Amsterdam to Manchester.

Also, taxis crash in England just as they do in the Netherlands. Would you have been annoyed with him if he broke a rib travelling back from Lidl in Manchester city centre at midnight after realising he had run out of toilet paper?

Oh, and it was his day off.


Let it Stu
Did you watch the game at Stamford Bridge and think: ‘Wow, City really are catching up with Manchester United, aren’t they?’

No? Well, that’s because you are sane; City did not need to catch up with United. They finished three places higher last season, and are top of the Premier League this campaign.

That does not stop the Daily Express going with the following headline:

‘Man Utd news: Man City have closed gap but Jose Mourinho will still win title – Pearce’

Followed with the sub-headline:

‘MANCHESTER CITY have closed the gap on rivals Manchester United by improving the defensive side of their game.’

The actual article does contain quotes from Stuart Pearce, who is more than happy to discuss the Premier League title race.

“For Manchester City, the big question mark is can they keep the ball out of the net?” he asks of a side who have conceded three goals in 10 games in all competitions.

“On Saturday it showed to me that maybe they are a vastly improving defensive outfit as well,” he does add in mitigiation, before saying that City have “evened the playing fields a little bit” on United. Again, they did not need “levelling”, at least not for City.

But who will win the title, Stuart? Get down off that fence, you slippery bugger.

“I’ll still go with United because of Jose Mourinho.”

Well fair enough.


Castles and crooks
On Friday, Eva Carneiro took part in an interview with French newspaper L’Equipe, in which she discussed, in part, her legal battle with Chelsea and Jose Mourinho.

Carneiro was forthright in talking about the situation, and she opened up about the effect it had on her marriage, adding that “the death threats have stopped now”.

Thankfully, the entire interview was dealt with in the most respectful manner possible by the wider media. Until Jose Mourinho’s lickspittle waded in.

Carneiro’s point, as Castles knew only too well, was that she was a single low-ranking employee taking on an entire club and manager in a complicated and bitter legal battle. A complicated and bitter legal battle which, it should be added, Carneiro won, with Chelsea apologising “unreservedly” for the distress caused.

“I found myself in the middle of a storm, but I feel very proud of the way the British press handled the case,” Carneiro added in the L’Equipe interview. “Journalists have a very important role because by presenting the truth ethically they are informing public opinion and that has the power to bring about change.”

Castles apparently didn’t get the memo.


It’s a Pard-knock life
To describe Alan Pardew’s column in the Daily Mail as ‘Manager’s Notes’ is generous – he was sacked by Crystal Palace in December 2016 and hasn’t coached since – but some of the article itself reads delightfully like an excerpt from an excitable teenager’s diary:

‘After watching the Manchester United game I went to see Sir Alex Ferguson and we watched the first half of the Man City game in the company of Sir Bobby Charlton! Living legends of this game we love.’

It’s endearing, in a way.


Blind Alli
Elsewhere in his ‘Manager’s Notes’, Pardew believes England ‘really can take on the world’.

‘It is World Cup year and I am getting excited about how promising the England team could look.

‘The strikers in particular are bang in form. I was at Old Trafford on Saturday and Marcus Rashford was magnificent.

‘Harry Kane’s record speaks for itself and then you can add the likes of Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling — who is holding down a place in one of Europe’s best teams — and Adam Lallana when fit, so these are exciting times.’

Kane is certainly playing well, as are Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Jamie Vardy has been fine, and Adam Lallana has been injured. The praise seems a little misplaced, but there’s nothing wrong with optimism.

‘Dele Alli also seemed fresher on Saturday, more like his old self. We forget how young he is and he was due a dip in form, but he is coming out of it.’

Will that be the same Dele Alli who has one assist and no goals in his last four matches, the most recent of which saw him booked for a dive at 3-0 up? That Dele Alli? When even Jamie Redknapp is admitting the 21-year-old is ‘not playing to the best of his ability’ a few pages back, you know there’s a problem.

If that was ‘more like his old self’, England should be worried.


Merse code
It is a day of the week ending in ‘y’, and so Paul Merson has embarked on an embittered rant about foreign managers in the Premier League. But of course he has.

“I look at foreign managers and I think ‘do they grab it’? Like [Mauricio] Pochettino playing [Heung-min] Son at left wing-back against Swansea. You telling me he would have played Son at left wing-back if they were playing Man City at Wembley last weekend?

“Some of these managers put a team out and go: ‘I’ll put him out, I can play him there and I can make six changes. We’ll beat these, they’re Burnley, they’re Swansea.’ It doesn’t work like that.”

The managers at the top of the league are Spanish and Portuguese. The manager in third is Argentinean. The manager in fourth is Italian. The manager in fifth is French. The manager in sixth is admittedly English, but the managers immediately below him are German, Portuguese and Spanish.

The manager at the bottom of the league is English. The manager in 19th is English. The manager in 18th is English. The manager in 17th is English.

Mediawatch just looks at English managers and thinks ‘do they grab it?’.


Under lock and Keown
Martin Keown, Daily Mail, October 2:

‘If the PFA Player of the Year award was handed out now, Kevin de Bruyne would win. He is the most influential player in the Premier League. I call De Bruyne the locksmith.’

Martin Keown, BT Sport, September 30:

‘I call De Bruyne the locksmith as he unlocks defences.’

Martin Keown, MailOnline, September 14:

‘Guardiola has called De Bruyne one of the best players he has seen, but I call De Bruyne the locksmith, because he can unlock any defence.’

We get it, Martin. Everyone gets it.


Dirty Harry
Said Harry Redknapp to BT Sport:

“If I said to you name six Watford players, you’d probably struggle.”

And the definition of ‘football expert’ is stretched further.


Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on the tactics used in Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City
Jeremy Alexander on flying Shrewsbury
John Hyde on Gareth Farrelly swapping football for law

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