Erik ten Hag has put Manchester United on the right track but things are still rubbish as Bruno Fernandes has slagged off Cristiano Ronaldo.
Every national newspaper back page feigns surprise at the booing to which Harry Maguire was subjected during Manchester United’s pre-season friendly victory over Crystal Palace. There is even, courtesy of the Daily Express, a reference to the notorious Australian ‘hate mob’.
In the Daily Mail, Chris Wheeler discusses a regrettable situation with absolute solemnity, saying it ‘must be a concern for the player and his club’ to see Maguire booed by his own supporters.
‘But after a year in which he lost his form and place at United, was jeered playing for England at Wembley and then had to evacuate his family from their Cheshire home following a bomb threat, this does not bode well for the United captain.’
Wheeler himself specifically notes that Maguire was only booed for the first half. Why? Because he was so unaffected by the reception that he played well enough to prevent them from carrying on after half-time. And that, if anything, bodes incredibly well.
Misery loves company
A similar point should be made to Neil Custis of The Sun, who says the Manchester United captain ‘suffered misery’ with booing that ‘started with his very first touch and continued with each of his next three’.
‘But after calmly ushering a ball out of play as Palace threatened other sections amongst the 76,499 cheered in his favour.
‘By the end of the first-half he was determined to prove a point by getting forward to grab a goal, curling a shot just wide of the right angle.
‘When his image then came up on the screen there were cheers.’
It definitely sounds like he was sent into a state of ‘intense unhappiness, discomfort, or suffering; wretchedness’.
Another impressive pre-season win does not lend itself to the usual ‘Manchester United in crisis’ narrative, so outlets have to search a little deeper for their click-friendly updates from Old Trafford.
Credit to The Sun website for mining this gold:
‘Bruno Fernandes fires back-handed jibe at wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo – suggesting Man Utd are BETTER without him’
It ticks every box: Manchester United, transfers, infighting, random capitalisation. And, of course, the wilful misinterpretation of relatively bland quotes.
“The three guys up front are really aggressive in the press. When they press they make the last line squeeze, and makes the midfield come a little bit higher.”
Here is how that translates:
‘BRUNO FERNANDES appeared to take a swipe at wantaway star Cristiano Ronaldo – by suggesting Manchester United are BETTER without him in the team.’
‘Fernandes hailed [Martial] for his work without the ball – hinting he, and therefore the team, is more effective compared to when Ronaldo plays.’
‘While the pair clearly have a friendship and the comments were not directly aimed at Ronaldo, they could suggest rumblings of further discontent in the dressing room.’
Sometimes you just have to stand/stay sat in your boxers and applaud.
Hot off the press
But as soon as someone blinks first…
‘Fernandes appears to hint Man Utd are better off without Cristiano Ronaldo’
Yes, the Daily Mirror website. He didn’t just say that everyone pressed higher. He actually called Ronaldo sh*t.
Don’t hate the players, hate the game
And then here’s Fabinho to stick the knife in…
‘Liverpool’s Fabinho brutally snubs Man Utd’s transfer business in title assessment’ – Daily Mirror website.
All because the midfielder said in an interview with The Athletic that “Manchester City are always buying new players, always reinforcing their team”, before adding: “Tottenham have bought some good players, Arsenal too with Gabriel Jesus going there, Chelsea too.”
So he didn’t mention Manchester United. Perhaps because when the interview was done they had only signed Tyrell Malacia and maybe Christian Eriksen. Truly brutal.
Everybody get up, singin’
Not that Arsenal should get used to Gabriel Jesus, because…
‘Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus reveals when he plans to LEAVE club just weeks after sealing £45m transfer from Man City’ – The Sun website.
‘Gabriel Jesus reveals how long he plans to stay at Arsenal after completing transfer’ – Daily Mirror website.
You know that player who just signed a five-year contract with his new club? He has spoken about his plan to stay for five years.
When in Rom
But where better to end than with the thoughts of Glen Johnson, as presented by The Sun website?
‘ROMELU LUKAKU is the single WORST signing in Chelsea’s history.
‘That’s according to ex-Blues star Glen Johnson, who reckons the Premier League is just too fast for the Belgian.’
1) Lukaku scored eight goals in 26 Premier League games last season, and 15 in 44 in all competitions. Andriy Shevchenko scored nine goals in 48 Premier League appearances, and 14 in 51 in all competitions in his first campaign. Adjust his £30m fee in 2006 for football inflation and he cost a whack more than Lukaku while performing worse in a better Chelsea team.
2) If Lukaku can score 121 times to rank 19th in the all-time list for Premier League goals by the age of 29, imagine how good he’d be in a division that isn’t ‘just too fast’ for him.