Manchester United have won the Carabao Cup so obviously they will win three more trophies, starting with the FA Cup – which is practically in the bag.
The Quad game
No sooner have Manchester United won one trophy, but we all have to pretend that they might now win four. Because narrative.
The Telegraph try and list ‘The five factors that will decide Manchester United’s quadruple bid’.
It’s a 150/1 shot, guys. There are more than five factors but the first and second should be that both Arsenal and Manchester City have a collapse in form in the Premier League. They both won at the weekend, by the way. They are eight and six points ahead of United.
And yet, the Telegraph are trying to convince us that ‘spirit and high standards’ are number one on any list of factors that ‘will decide Manchester United’s quadruple bid’, because obviously that alone will see both Arsenal and Manchester City drop a whole raft of points.
Mikel Arteta will presumably have watched Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes arguing good-naturedly after the final whistle, thrown his hands up in the air and conceded that their eight-point advantage means practically nothing.
The second factor is Erik ten Hag. Obviously. Now we agree that the Dutchman is clearly a gifted coach, and has an eye for a substitution, but what the f*** has that got to do with a quadruple bid that is a 150/1 shot? You know what we’ve heard? That Pep Guardiola is also rather good and his Manchester City side are still in the Premier League title race and the FA Cup.
Then there’s Fortress Old Trafford, because ‘United have the second best home record in the league behind champions City and the third best away record’. The end of that sentence should be ‘behind Arsenal and Manchester City’, which perfectly illustrates why United are the third best team in the Premier League. What it absolutely does not illustrate is that United will win a quadruple.
The fourth factor concedes that ‘Fatigue remains one of the biggest threats to their hopes of more success’. Not as big as Arsenal or Manchester City, guys.
The piece ends by asking whether Manchester United have the squad strength to win four trophies.
‘The concern is the squad could be pushed to breaking point and the cover in certain positions may not be good enough.’
The concern is that you are over-invested in something that absolutely will not happen.
If Manchester United do not win another trophy this season and finish third, it will have been an excellent first campaign for Ten Hag. Please stop trying to claim that their chances of winning four pieces of silverware are remotely affected by Harry Maguire being their fourth-choice centre-half.
Over at MailOnline, they ask: ‘Erik ten Hag ended Man United’s six-year trophy drought with glory in the Carabao Cup and now they have an outside shot of winning the QUADRUPLE… but what are their chances of a clean sweep?’
Mediawatch’s answer of ‘pretty f***ing slim’ would be a whole lot shorter than the question, but let’s at least hear them out…
No, actually, we can’t get past them rating Manchester United’s chances of winning the FA Cup at 8/10. We’re only at the last 16 and Manchester City are still in the competition but yes, their chances of winning the actual FA Cup – which they have won once in the last decade – are 8/10. That would make them 1/4 shots. Mediawatch will lay that bet, thanking you.
The quadruple is practically in the sodding bag. Why is anybody else even bothering?
Adhering to the ‘no headline cannot be improved by mention of Ronaldo’ principle, The Sun‘s big football story on Tuesday night focuses on the imaginatively named The Best FIFA Football Awards, which we merrily forget exist every single year until the media try and pretend we should give a shiny shit.
‘Lionel Messi equals Cristiano Ronaldo tally as he wins Fifa The Best Men’s Player award for 2022 after World Cup heroics’
He also equalled Robert Lewandowski’s tally too, but that oddly does not deserve a mention. And is two a ‘tally’? Technically it might be but Mediawatch instinctively feels like a tally is more than two. It feels like you should need more than one hand to count a ‘tally’.
We learn from the captions to the many, many accompanying photographs, that ‘Lionel Messi was joined by his wife Antonela’, but somebody clearly could not be arsed to look up the name of Casemiro’s wife (Anna Mariano) because he apparently ‘jetted to Paris for the ceremony with his Wag’. His wife and girlfriend? Is this Casemiro or David Haye?
Obviously, there is more hot content to be mined from this awards ceremony, with The Sun trawling Twitter to come up with this doozy:
‘‘Did Garth Crooks pick this team?’ – Fans baffled by Fifa’s ‘horrendous’ FIFPRO World XI’
As always, the concept of democracy is entirely lost on Twitter and the tabloid press. The FIFPRO World XI is voted for by professional footballers, so throwing your hands up in the air in wonder is utterly ludicrous. It also rewards performances over a period that covers August 2021 to December 2022, so how Johnny Dipsh*t played last Sunday is largely irrelevant.
‘FOOTBALL fans have been left puzzled by the ‘horrendous’ FIFPRO World XI.
‘The Best Fifa awards were held on Monday with Lionel Messi picking up the main prize to equal Cristiano Ronaldo’s haul of two.’
‘Haul’? Now a ‘haul’ is definitely more than two.
‘The Paris Saint-Germain star was a shoo-in for the award following his World Cup win and he was also included in the FIFPRO World XI.
‘But he had to be shoehorned into a line-up that included three other forwards, including team-mate Kylian Mbappe.
‘Fans were left confused by the strange 3-3-4 formation that was used to fit in Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland.’
They used the exact same formation last year to shoehorn in Ronaldo, Messi, Haaland and Lewandowski so fans should perhaps be a little less confused. And also, fans should give less of a shit.
‘Many also took aim at the defence and the decision to pick Thibaut Courtois in goal over World Cup hero Emi Martinez, despite the latter winning the Fifa Best goalkeeper award.’
Well, the voting systems are different; the Best goalkeeper was the choice of captains, coaches and journalists; the FIFPRO World XI was picked by professional footballers worldwide. It takes about three seconds of research to explain that phenomenon.
‘The presence of Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk in defence also baffled some supporters.’
Did it ‘baffle some supporters’ who forgot that Liverpool reached the Champions League final last season, almost won the Premier League and won two domestic trophies, before Van Dijk reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup with the Netherlands?
Football is confusing, isn’t it?
Better than all the rest
There is no shortage of hot content to be mined from the worst of all Best awards, with the Mirror website very much opting to walk the well-worn Ronaldo/Messi route despite the former being quite rightly nowhere near these awards.
‘Kylian Mbappe finally changes his tune on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi debate’
Has noted Ronaldo acolyte gone on record as saying that he now acknowledges that Messi is a better footballer? Frankly, has he f***. But what he has done – after his teammate won The Best award – put this on Instagram: ‘Another trophy at home. Big congratulations to @leomessi you are #TheBest.’
So man congratulates colleague on winning an award = man ‘finally changes his tune’. Or at least it does when there are sweet, sweet clicks to harvest. And that click count really will be both a tally and a haul.
And it’s the top story on the MailOnline football page:
‘Lionel Messi only named Kylian Mbappe THIRD for The Best award, while Harry Kane snubbed France star in top three and Cristiano Ronaldo DIDN’T vote as captain and coach choices are revealed’
Only THIRD? Out of all the footballers in the entire world? He obviously hates him.
Do Ron, Ron, Ron
‘Manchester United and Man City stars named in FIFPro World XI – but Cristiano Ronaldo misses out’ – Manchester Evening News.
Yes, Al Nassr forward Ronaldo ‘missed out’ on the World XI. Which is absolutely relevant to a Manchester audience.