Row, row, row your boat…
Football? Why would anybody talk about football when you can claim there have been meltdowns and rows and strops? Mediawatch vaguely remembers a time when actual football featured on the back pages, but in 2019, conflict is king. So the national newspapers all sent two or three people to Old Trafford and the back-page headlines are all of the same ilk:
‘JURGEN STROP’ – The Sun.
‘KLOPP FURY’ – Daily Mail.
‘BORED STIFF’ – Daily Mirror.
‘SNOREY SNOREY MAN UTD’ – Daily Star.
Every tabloid (bar the Daily Express, who commit to parody and focus on tennis) leads on quotes from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with neither the Daily Mail nor The Sun mentioning the name of Liverpool’s actual goalscorer on their back page. Poor Adam Lallana came off the bench to score an equaliser – his first goal in 29 long months – but he does not even merit a mention because his manager had a ‘meltdown’ and a ‘strop’. Football? What football?
By midnight, the narrative had moved on again for The Sun, never not keen to kick Liverpool when they are down. The top story on their football homepage on Monday morning?
”F*** OFF’: Oxlade-Chamberlain involved in X-rated row with Man Utd fans as smiling star told to ‘f*** off’ and fist bump rejected’
Now, a row is – according to the dictionary – ‘a noisy acrimonious quarrel’, which would suggest to Mediawatch that more than one person would have to be involved. Which does not mean one man telling another to ‘f*** off’ while the other just smiles and walks away. What you are talking about there is ‘verbal abuse’.
The Sun know exactly what they are doing in calling it a ‘row’; they are attributing some blame to the Liverpool player, when actually what they are describing happens thousands of times in every single top-flight football match: A fan swore at a footballer. Full stop. Move on.
Over at the Daily Mirror website, they are not fanning the flames of a ‘row’, but instead quietly suggesting that there might be trouble afoot at Manchester United.
‘Ed Woodward arrives at Carrington following Man Utd draw with Liverpool’
As he often does on the day after a home game.
‘Ed Woodward has been supportive of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite United being 13th in the Premier League’
Indeed he has.
‘Ed Woodward has made a visit to Manchester United’s training ground following their draw with Liverpool.’
As he often does on the day after a home game.
It’s almost like there is absolutely f*** all to see here.
Gini in a bottle
Player ratings are funny things. One man’s ‘Liverpool’s best player’ (John Cross, Daily Mirror) is another man’s ‘one of those games when the bulk of the action passed him by’ (Daily Mail‘s Dominic King). Could Gini Wijnaldum have been simultaneously both those things? It appears so.
Ask the experts
Mediawatch is unclear how the Daily Mail can claim to be bringing ‘expert views on the big match’ if those experts – Mark Clattenburg and Chris Sutton in this case – entirely disagree, with one man saying that it was ‘debatable if Origi was fouled’ while Chris Sutton said ‘the replays showed Origi getting kicked in the calf’. If you are claiming either one is an expert, maybe back them by not printing a directly contrasting view above or below?
Par for the course
Anyway, how bad are this Manchester United side who have just halted a run of 17 consecutive Premier League wins from Liverpool? How bad are this 13th-placed Manchester United side? Let’s turn to the Daily Star website and their top story on Monday morning…
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on par with Ron Atkinson with latest woeful Man Utd record’
Well actually, Solskjaer’s win percentage is worse than Atkinson’s at United, so what is this ‘latest woeful Man Utd record’ of which you speak?
‘Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now equal to Ron Atkinson’s 1986/87 side as late Liverpool equaliser at Old Trafford condemns Red Devils to 13th place.’
Equal to the side that got Atkinson the sack in early November with United in 19th place in the top flight? Equal to a side that won just one of their first eight league games and lost 4-1 to Southampton in the League Cup? It seems unlikely but go on…
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now goes down in the Manchester United record books alongside Ron Atkinson.
‘Adam Lallana’s late equaliser for Liverpool condemned United to their worst start to a league campaign after nine games since the 1986-87 season.
‘Solskjaer’s side have just two wins and 10 points in nine games.
‘This time 33 years ago they had just five points.’
So neither ‘on par’ nor ‘equal to’, but actually twice as bloody good. Still, you got this click and doubtless thousands more with that bare-faced lie.
Meanwhile, in propaganda land…
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) October 21, 2019
Does somebody want to tell them that it ended 1-1 and Manchester United are still in 13th place?
The worst reveal of all time?
‘Adam Lallana’s dressing room secret revealed as Andy Robertson sends title message’ – Liverpool Echo.
Adam Lallana’s dressing room secret?
“He is one of the loudest.”
Bloody hell; he won’t want that coming out.
Mediawatch almost has to applaud this headline from ESPN. What’s the opposite of clickbait? Click repellent?
‘Don’t read too much into Man United’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool as both teams got a helpful point’
*Moves on quietly without clicking*
Recommended reading of the day
David Ornstein with essential Monday reading (£)
Jonathan Wilson on Manchester United v Liverpool
Seb Stafford-Bloor on Callum Hudson-Odoi