This week’s reporting on England and Kylian Mbappe is enough to make us want a France thrashing in the quarter-final. But Gareth Southgate is going all out.
Kylian me softly
Following incredibly hot in the footsteps of ‘we have put an England flag and scarf around a waxwork of Kylian Mbappe lol’ and ‘haha this kid from Leicester has the same name as a French footballer!’, The Sun complete their hat-trick of groundbreaking, phenomenal journalistic build-up to the World Cup quarter-final with aplomb.
As Mediawatch wrote earlier this week:
‘We are genuinely giddy to discover what is exclusively coming on Friday. That England fan who looks like Steve McClaren exclusively posing with a brolly? Hanson exclusively pledging to change the lyrics of 90s seminal classic MMMBop to MMMSaka if England win?
‘At this point, Mbappesolutely nothing would surprise us. Except perhaps The Sun realising that France have more than one player.’
That second bit was, of course, always fanciful. The Sun have now ‘produced jeans emblazoned with three lions and the name Kyle Walker Jeans Co.’, which feature Kylian Mbappe peering out of the back pocket. Do you get it? DO YOU? DO YOU GET IT?!
Ha and, indeed, ha.
This stunning piece of ‘jean-ius’ – the words of Nick Parker and Robin Perrie, for this majestic prose obviously requires the minds of two writers – includes the following lines:
‘A sure sign the French will be legging it from the tournament after an England stitch-up.’
‘While Kyle and his team-mates ironed out their plans…’
‘…and hopefully a march to the final.’
Because trousers and legs.
But hey, at least they aren’t pretending a 16-year-old boy told them that, “I’d pick a sausage roll over a croque monsieur any day”. Nope, now we are being expected to believe that 50-year-old building contractor Paul Elliott said: “I’d love a pair of these.”
It really is enough to make you want Mbappe to score every goal in a 5-0 France win on Saturday.
We woz Robb’d
Mediawatch has never highlighted an error in football reporting more egregious and offensive than this.
The Sun have produced a Robbie Williams World Cup XI, which features such classics as Morocco DJ, Judebox and Jack For Good. All harmless nonsense. Absolutely fine.
But ‘Rule The World Cup’ at right-back is a f**king joke. For starters, it’s against the spirit of a pun-laden XI. But most importantly, Robbie Williams left Take That 12 years before the release of Rule The World, and would not re-join the group until three years later.
The Press Complaints Commission have been notified.
This is also pretty dreadful from Charlie Wyett of The Sun, mind.
‘Gareth Southgate is ordering his England stars to avoid a silly red card which could KO their World Cup dream.’
It feels as though that kind of warning is implicit: don’t get sent off at a major international tournament, fellas.
He has been somewhat stitched up in a headline which suggests Southgate has told his players ‘to avoid World Cup meltdown like Rooney and Beckham in France quarter-final,’ despite the fact England’s manager never once mentioned Rooney or Beckham.
But yeah, this ‘order’ and claim that Southgate ‘has put his team on red alert’ is hogwash based entirely on Kieran Trippier saying “it’s important you keep 11 on the pitch” and “it’s important not to give silly yellow cards away and have important players missing massive games”.
Important stuff, but not really an ‘order’ at all. And not even Southgate actually speaking.
Trippier went on to describe England as “a disciplined team” and considering they are the only one at the World Cup yet to even pick up a booking, that seems fair enough.
But there is a) no Southgate ‘order’, b) no actual mention of Rooney and Beckham’s World Cup ‘meltdowns’ and the need to avoid a repeat, and c) no actual mention of red cards. Only “not wanting to miss a game by picking up stupid yellows for throwing the ball away or stuff like that”. A problem which England have specifically avoided by *checks notes* yep, not receiving any bookings whatsoever.
Something Southgate has actually said is that England will “without a doubt” retain the approach which has seen them score 12 goals in the tournament so far.
“There is no point going into a game like this and just covering up and sitting on the ropes,” he said. “We believe we can cause problems with the ball and we intend to do that.”
To any sensible person, the implication is that England won’t change much against France. They will defend when they need to defend and attack when they need to attack. If it ain’t broke and all that.
But to newspaper journalists, Southgate was pretty much saying: “We’ll go all-out attack and absolutely batter these pretenders.”
These are a select few headlines:
‘Southgate hints at daring England XI for huge quarter-final clash vs France – here are THREE ways they could line up’ – The Sun website, who pretend Kane, Saka, Grealish, Foden and Bellingham might all start in ‘an incredibly gung-ho approach’ which Southgate absolutely did not hint at.
‘Gareth Southgate hints at England lineup vs France with vow that speaks volumes’ – Daily Mirror.
”Positive’ Gareth Southgate hints at attacking England formation despite Kylian Mbappe threat’ – London Evening Standard.
Mbappe has got no chance when Southgate definitely absolutely just plays all his forwards.
‘Man Utd call ‘spotted’ on Louis van Gaal’s phone amid Cody Gakpo transfer push’ is a wonderful example of how outlets use words like ‘amid’ to drag unconnected stories together.
The Daily Mirror website is responsible for this one, with Simon Mullock telling the tale of how a journalist from De Telegraaf found Van Gaal’s phone in a Doha bathroom and, in trying to discover who owned it, they found ‘two missed calls – with a caller ID that said ‘Manchester United”.
Did those calls have anything to do with Gakpo? Who knows. Does it matter? Nope. Does Van Gaal actually have a contact in his phone under the name of ‘Manchester United’? Probably not. Did someone get their clicks? As always.
What a delight it is to see Roy Keane double-down on his Brazil dancing ridiculousness while talking to Sky Bet:
“The game is about respect. Dance afterwards in the dressing room, or in the nightclub, that’s not a problem. But why is it okay for Brazil to do it during the game? If everyone has a dance after a goal, the games will be going on for three days.”
They scored four goals against South Korea and celebrated each with glee yet somehow managed to finish the match on the same day so one thinks they’ll be alright.
It’s never too late to try
‘Gareth Southgate has insisted England are ready to make the whole nation “proud” with a fearless, attacking performance against France’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror.
How surprising that Gareth Southgate didn’t ‘insist’ World Cup top scorers England are ready to make the whole nation ashamed instead.