Kobbie Mainoo, dressing-room unrest and a very modern Manchester United headline

Editor F365
Carragher Mainoo Man Utd
Jamie Carragher is confused by the obsession with pigeonholing Man Utd star Kobbie Mainoo.

The Reach titles have hit on a powerful new way to get even more housery into their headlines, while Liverpool get another boost and the Daily Mail use Kalvin Phillips by not using him. It’s another busy and perplexing old day for Mediawatch.


Reach around
Mediawatch exists in a permanently vexed state in which headlines across the Reach stable of websites simultaneously leave us sickened to the core, lamenting the demise of a once-proud industry, yet also undeniably if grudgingly impressed at the sheer levels of housery on display.

Something they’ve hit on recently as an absolute licence to sh*te is doing a round-up of any old stories connected with a particular club and then using the headline to tie them all together in the most misleading manner possible.

It is, in its own despicable way, enormously clever.

This morning’s Manchester United round-up on the Mirror website is a true classic of the genre, and goes straight on the Reach Mt Rushmore of Headline Housery. Strap in.

Man Utd news: Sir Jim Ratcliffe battles dressing room unrest as Kobbie Mainoo claim made

Now to a novice reader, that might look like there’s some dressing-room unrest at Manchester United, might it? And further, that this unrest involves Mainoo in some way.

Obviously, none of that is remotely the case. You already know that. But the extent to which it’s not the case is spectacular even by Reach standards.

Let’s deal with the dressing-room unrest first. The clue here is that it’s Sir Jim Ratcliffe facing the unrest. The nature of a round-up means they can chuck the ‘Man Utd news’ kicker in at the start right before that, and that’s really where the genius lies.

Because the unrest in question is at Nice, who lost to relegation battlers Nantes at the weekend. Nice are also owned by INEOS. Ergo, Sir Jim faces that unrest.

And, tenuously but just about legitimately, it can have a couple of hundred words in a United news round-up for the sole, specific purpose of enabling a dramatic and entirely misleading headline about a club firmly back in crisis mode after drawing a game at the weekend.

Now to the Mainoo claim being made ‘as’ all this unrest is going on several hundred miles away in a whole other country.

It’s good this. The claim comes from Jamie Carragher. And that claim is that he would take Mainoo at Liverpool, because Mainoo is a young player who is very good at football. That’s it.

Clicked, though, didn’t we? But we did it so you don’t have to.


Decisions, decisions
You’ve got to admire this bit of mischief from the Daily Express.

Man Utd players ‘hold meetings with Sir Dave Brailsford’ as Erik ten Hag decision made

Obviously – obviously – you’re meant to think/hope the Erik ten Hag decision concerns his United future. But equally obviously, it isn’t about that at all. The Erik ten Hag decision that’s been made is that Brailsford decided not to discuss the manager in meetings with the players. And why did he decide that?

However, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s trusted confidant omitted Erik ten Hag from the agenda to prevent applying further unnecessary pressure on him.

Quite right; that’s the media’s job.


Port in a storm
We share with our media brothers the disappointment at the sudden and dramatic end to the Xabi Alonso Liverpool-Bayern tug of war that we all hoped would carry us through those tricky post-season, pre-Euros weeks. It’s gutting for all of us that he is selfishly staying at the club where he’s performing actual miracles.

But the game goes on. Now we must all start speculating anew, because one thing is certain: Liverpool will have a new manager this summer. It’s got to be someone.

The Mirror have spotted a hint. Look it says so right in this headline.

FSG’s latest Liverpool appointment offers hint over Jurgen Klopp’s successor

Oh, go on then. We’re listening.

Now The Athletic reports that another piece of the jigsaw is close to falling into place, with Benfica technical director Pedro Marques set to join FSG. Marques has a few ties to Liverpool, having worked on the deal which sent Darwin Nunez to the Reds in 2022 and having worked alongside the club’s former sporting director Julian Ward at Manchester City.

Okay. Those are some tenuous ties, but fine. Where’s this going, though?

He is being hired for his expertise in player recruitment and scouting – but it is another part of his CV which could prove instructive.

Already sounds like you’re reaching, but benefit of the doubt still just about there.

Marques is Portuguese and, while he is currently at Benfica, he previously spent six years working at Sporting Lisbon before joining City in 2010.

Now all becomes clear. Portuguese? Worked at Sporting a lifetime ago? This is a Ruben Amorim hint, isn’t it?

Sporting are currently of interest to Liverpool due to their interest in hiring Amorim this summer. Like Marques, Amorim has crossed the divide in Portugal, having spent nine years playing for Sporting’s rivals Benfica.

Brilliant. A Portuguese man with links to two of the three big clubs in Portugal? They’re basically twins. There’s no point dwelling on the fact Marques’ time at Sporting ended a full decade before Amorim’s began or that the two have literally never worked together at the same place at the same time. They’re both Portuguese, you see.

Frankly, we’re just disappointed in the Mirror for not making this a Jose Mourinho hint. He was at Benfica once, after all.

It would still be nonsense, but it’s far more entertaining nonsense than concocting a non-existent connection to the manager Liverpool probably will hire anyway.


Speed boost
Not a day goes by now in the title race without one contender or other getting a boost. Liverpool’s turn today in the Express.

Liverpool boost as strange ‘Erling Haaland plan’ may block Arteta and co from huge job

Brilliant how this headline manages to get all three title contenders in. We’re just going to rattle through this nonsense, because it doesn’t deserve our time doing it in any detail.

The boost is this: Barcelona might maybe try and convince Xavi to stay on as manager. If they do that thing (which they probably won’t, but might), it would give Liverpool a clear run at Roberto De Zerbi if they want him, which they probably don’t. Unless someone else comes in for De Zerbi, which they might.

The ‘Erling Haaland plan’ is that Barcelona would quite like to sign him, placing them in a small group of ‘every football team ever’. The Arteta bit is that Barcelona might also want him as their manager (but might not) if they can’t convince Xavi to stay. It’s all just absolute noise, signifying nothing.

But we do enjoy this sniffy line.

The Italian has also been linked with Manchester United, but that speculation appears tenuous given Erik ten Hag remains in position at Old Trafford.

Yes, the absolute last thing you’d want to base a whole f***ing news story on is some tenuous speculation. Heaven forbid.


Matt finish
Full sympathy for the Daily Mail’s Matt Barlow here, who has been done dirty by the Mail Online headline monkeys after writing a perfectly decent match reaction piece on West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Spurs.

It first caught our eye when it was trailed on the sport homepage with ‘David Moyes is rewarded by Kalvin Phillips decision’ which struck as an odd primary takeaway from a game in which Kalvin Phillips played zero minutes.

This curious angle is doubled-down upon by the actual headline on the story itself.

Spurs fizzled and disappointed again at the home of West Ham, writes MATT BARLOW, as David Moyes takes a well-deserved point after resisting the urge to send Kalvin Phillips on

Why on earth is Barlow mucking about, we wonder, writing a match feature about a player who might tickle the algorithm but spent the entirety of it sat on the bench? What an odd thing that would be for a proper journalist to do.

Of course, he hasn’t actually done that at all. You can probably already guess the precise number of mentions Barlow gives Phillips in the 827 words he writes on the game. And while that classic Mail headline is only very slightly shorter than 827 words, it’s nevertheless weird for it to contain more mentions of a particular player than the article below.

Although technically we guess Barlow’s article contains three mentions of Phillips whether he likes it or not. One in the headline, one in a picture caption, and one in a tag. And those three things are far more important than 827 carefully crafted words could ever hope to be because this is journalism in 2024.