Mediawatch: Man Utd, Liverpool, money and Stan…

Date published: Tuesday 14th January 2020 12:00

Manchester United Liverpool tunnel

Money, money, money…
The football media has an obsession with big numbers, which explains The Sun’s back-page headline of ‘BRUNO £26M PAY DAY’. Now that sounds like an awful lot of money. Too much money for one pay day, certainly.

Their maths is that Fernandes will be offered a £100,000-a-week contract (which puts him a lowly 13th on a list of United earners, according to The Sun’s own numbers) over five years.

Well, for a start that is incredibly unlikely as any deal will run to the end of June in any particular year; he will not be given a five-year contract. And anyway, what are the chances that Fernandes will be at Manchester United for exactly five years without either leaving or being offered a new deal? Pretty much slim to none.

So actually, Fernandes will receive pretty moderate wages by United standards and he is unlikely to be on those same wages for a length of contract that United would never offer at this stage of the season.

But yes, it’s definitely a £26M PAY DAY.


Never shy about telling its readers about the brilliance of Liverpool as opposed to the decline of Manchester United (boo, hiss, boo), the Liverpool Echo are very happy to crow about the latest Deloitte Football Money League which has seen the Reds rise from seventh to, erm, seventh. Headlines include:

‘Liverpool on course to leapfrog Manchester United in financial table’

‘Liverpool are coming for Manchester United’s financial perch.’

Pesky fact oddly not mentioned in those headlines: Liverpool are actually behind Manchester City in said financial table.

The Echo do get round to relaying that pesky fact in the eighth paragraph of that first story:

‘Liverpool’s other rivals, Manchester City, earned around £5million more than the Reds last season to make them the second-ranked English side in Deloitte’s table.

‘But it remains to be seen where the clubs will end up for 2019/20, with much riding on who can progress furthest in Europe, as well as who will ultimately lift the Premier League trophy.’

It ‘remains to be seen’ what happens to a club’s finances in a season barely halfway done but Liverpool are ‘on course to leapfrog Manchester United’. Because – and it is always vital to remember this – they are absolutely brilliant.


Blow by blow
The only thing better than a transfer boost is a transfer blow, and the Liverpool Echo are trailing one on Twitter for the magnificent Reds…


‘Liverpool transfer news LIVE – Xherdan Shaqiri bid rejected, Fabinho boost, Ousmane Dembele blow’

Now it’s not a ‘report’ but bona fide ‘transfer news’ (LIVE).

And the ‘transfer news’ is that Luis Suarez is injured so Barcelona will not sell Ousmane Dembele, and that apparently counts as a ‘blow’ to the team 14 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Of course, the Echo absolutely know this is utter bollocks as they end their update thus:

‘We’ll just ignore the fact that Liverpool were never really in for him and certainly weren’t going to sign him this month.’

Indeed you did, guys. Indeed you did. Was it worth it for all the clicks?


Rage against the spy machine
What we know about birthday boy Declan Rice on this rainy Tuesday morning:

1) According to the Daily Mail, Manchester United sent a scout to watch him face Sheffield United on Friday night.

2) Rice was not happy that his handball saw a potential West Ham equaliser ruled out in that game.

Put those two things through The Sun website’s tabloid spin machine and you get…

‘Declan Rice explodes with rage in front of Man Utd scout as Solskjaer sends his spy to watch West Ham star at Sheff Utd’

It’s one of their ‘most read stories in football’. Can’t think why.


Blunt tools
Mediawatch is a great admirer of Roy Hodgson’s work with this Crystal Palace side but we would have to take issue with Stan Collymore’s claim that they ‘now have the tools to unlock even the best defences’.

No Premier League club has scored fewer goals this season.


Stuck in the middle with you
But the real Stan Collymore juice is to be found in his main column in the Daily Mirror, in which he ‘always speaks his mind’, even when his mind is full of nonsense.

In this column he argues that Rashford’s form means that England need not panic too much about Harry Kane. The theory is sound enough, but the reasoning is disastrous. For Stan does not seem to have noticed that Rashford does not actually play as an out-and-out striker.

More than that, he is so convinced that Rashford is playing as a striker that he believes that he has been busy proving all Stan’s own doubters wrong.

‘He continues to prove wrong everyone who tells me he is a wideman and not a central striker.’

Mediawatch’s brain hurts because we know that Rashford is not playing as a central striker. Not as a winger, either, but definitely not a striker. He plays ‘from the left’. Or, as Rashford himself puts it – and we should probably trust him on this – he is “not really left wing and it’s not number nine”. He calls it his “favourite position”.

‘I’ve banged the drum for the Manchester United man to get his chance – and by chance I mean a proper run, not a game here or there – through the middle.

‘He’s getting it now, finally, under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his remarkable rise this season should silence those doubters once and for all.’

It really won’t. Because he really isn’t playing ‘through the middle’. He hasn’t played a Premier League game ‘through the middle’ since October. Since then he has had a ‘proper run’ from the left and scored ten goals in 13 games. If Rashford’s ‘remarkable rise’ should silence anybody, it is Collymore. Some chance.

‘Nineteen goals in 30 games in all competitions are the sort of numbers that tell you he is a reliable centre-forward.’

Or alternatively the sort of numbers that tell you that he is a goal threat from the left.

‘Now I’d love to see Rashford up top, with Raheem Sterling just off him, in some of the prestige friendlies in the coming months.’

Unlikely, Stan. After all, England coach Gareth Southgate said in September of Rashford:

“A lot of his development at United was as a ‘wide raider’ and I think he isn’t as strong as Harry with his back to goal and holding play up, so if he plays as a nine, he will play it differently to Harry, but a lot of his best work is in that inside-left channel coming in off the line.

“I don’t think that’s a problem, we just have to be aware that that’s probably his profile to get the best out of him, they’re the areas on the pitch that he needs to get in.”

Or is Southgate one of the ‘doubters’ who has been proved wrong by this phantom spell as an out-and-out striker?


Six feet under
We do have to credit Collymore with wonderful comic timing as he writes that he ‘can never fathom strikers being bit-part players’.

‘Too many teams want to be possession-based sides that share the ball equally across the positions.’

Coming two days after Sergio Aguero touched the ball fewer times than any of his Manchester City outfield teammates and still scored a hat-trick to become the highest-scoring foreign striker in the history of the Premier League, that is simply delicious.

Fathom that.


The worst of all the intros
‘GABRIEL JESUS loves life as the Score-ceror’s Apprentice’ – The Sun.


Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Liew on Tottenham

Jessy Parker Humphreys on Southampton

Kevin Williams on Barcelona

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