Mediawatch: Merson nails size of Europe

Date published: Friday 19th February 2016 1:14

Late developer
‘Should you be out on a school night?’ asks The Sun under a picture of the Manchester United bench from Thursday night.

Will Keane is 23.


Every day’s a school day
One of the FOUR things (was the fifth that ‘when Chief Sports Writer Martin Samuel fancies a trip, the Manchester United correspondent always has to do the grunt work’?) Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail ‘learned from LVG’s nightmare’:

‘AS if seeing their team humbled by the Danish underdogs was not bad enough, the 800 United fans here had to pay £71 for the privilege even though the same tickets usually cost £15. No wonder they sang ‘We are f****** s***’ as their team left the pitch at the end.’

Because of course absolutely nobody has been talking about that £71 ticket price this week. We needed Wheeler to first ‘learn’ and then impart that knowledge.

It’s time these tiresome features were re-named ‘things we wrote down before the match started because it’s difficult to do this properly while also doing match ratings and then quotes’.


Honourable exceptions
Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail, p86: ‘This will go down as one of their greatest humiliations in Europe. Roto Volgograd, Olympiakos, Galatasaray, there have been a few. Not too many like this, though.’

Except for the ‘5 UNITED HOOROR NIGHTS IN EUROPE’ detailed on p87 of the Daily Mail featuring humiliating defeats against Videoton, Gothenburg, Zalaegerszeg, Lille and Basle.


Timeline of an ‘exclusive’
February 17: Details of a Chinese Super League offer for Wayne Rooney are posted on the Red Issue forum.

February 18: The Manchester Evening News headline reads ‘REVEALED: Manchester United considering Wayne Rooney offer from Chinese Super League.’

February 18: Every other outlet reports the ‘reports’ in the Manchester Evening News.

February 19: The back page of the Daily Mirror claims an ‘EXCLUSIVE’: ‘WAYNE ROONEY is at the centre of a £100million deal to lure him from Manchester United to China this summer.’

February 19: Mediawatch labels the Daily Mirror utterly sodding shameless.


Contact lenses
Neil Custis, Exclusive, The Sun, December 20: ‘LOUIS VAN GAAL is on his way out of Manchester United after contact was made with Jose Mourinho.’

Neil Custis, Exclusive, The Sun, February 8: ‘MAURICIO POCHETTINO could wreck Jose Mourinho’s dream of becoming Manchester United’s next manager. SunSport understands United chiefs have spoken to representatives of the Tottenham boss about succeeding Louis van Gaal. Similar conversations are on-going between Old Trafford chiefs and Mourinho, who is desperate for the job.’

Neil Custis, Exclusive, The Sun, February 18: ‘JOSE MOURINHO HAS turned down job offers from Italy and China while he waits for the call from Manchester United.’

Jose Mourinho Phil Cadden, The Sun, February 19: ‘MANCHESTER UNITED risk losing out on Jose Mourinbo to Inter Milan – unless they act now. Mourinho is fed up of waiting for Old Trafford chiefs to make their move and offer him the chance to replace Louis van Gaal.’

But surely they made their move two months ago?


Lawro, lawro smugness
‘We saw the quality of Arsenal’s squad with Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck both coming off the bench and scoring important goals against Leicester. I don’t see the manner of that win as being a turning point in the season because I was backing Arsene Wenger’s side to win the title anyway,’ says Mark Lawrenson on BBC Sport. Smug. Except, well…

1) He actually backed a 1-2-3-4 of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United at the start of the season.

2) His weekly predictions actually make Manchester City the Premier League leaders.

3) He wrote last week that Leicester would draw 1-1 at Arsenal as ‘this will be one of the easiest games they have between now and the end of the season’.

Aside from all that, he’s absolutely nailed it.


The best of the rest of Lawro
* ‘I am sure Baggies boss Tony Pulis will juggle his squad to some extent but I don’t think a cup run will damage their survival prospects, because I don’t think they are going down anyway.’

Well, no, you currently have them seventh and battling for a Europa League place.

* ‘I think everyone has realised that West Ham are a very good team – now they just have to keep going.’

Well, everyone but you, Lawro. You have backed them to win one of their last 12 Premier League games.

* ‘Pochettino’s side do not create loads and load of chances but they are very hard working and, even with Jan Vertonghen out, they are still very difficult to break down.’

Fact: Only Manchester City have more attempts on goal per game than Tottenham in the Premier League.


Hanging tough
Paul Merson predictions, Sky Sports website, February 12: ‘It proved to be another tough round of predictions last time out with the Magic Man managing just one correct score and two correct results.’

Paul Merson predictions, Sky Sports website, February 18: ‘It proved to be another tough round of predictions last time out with the Magic Man predicting just three correct results.’

Sky Sports: Where ‘tough’ is a synonym for ‘sh*te’.

How was he to know that Aston Villa would not beat Liverpool 1-0? That was tough.


Geography with Merse
Expert Paul Merson on Tottenham on Sky Sports: ‘Foreign managers usually like the Europa League, but I don’t think they should go for it.

‘They should be careful in Europe. It’s quite a big place.’

He’s not wrong.


Trojan horsesh*t
Headline on the back page of the Daily Express: ‘Deeney must go to Euros.’

What fool has said that?

Well, nobody of course. Because it would be mental.

This is what Watford manager Quique Flores actually said: “He has the characteristics to play at the high level of the national team. His season has been completely amazing and we have the hope that he goes on the list for the Euros.”

Ah. Not so mental.


No Rooney, less chance
There’s an awful lof of guff being written about how a Wayne-Rooney less England could see young players like Harry Kane and Ross Barkley thrive. The latest comes from David Woods (IN THE KNOW, INSIDE THE GAME) in the Daily Star:

‘There is a real vitality about the squad now, not just Vardy and Kane, but the exciting midfield talent that is Tottenham’s Dele Alli, his midfield rock of a team-mate Eric Dier and the Paul Gascoigne-like impact Everton star Ross Barkley has been having.

‘Maybe without former Toffees striker Rooney, this potential ‘Famous Five’ will feel less inhibited, less aware of the presence of a player who, rightly or wrongly, is always expected to turn a big game but has all-too-rarely done so for England.’

If only we had a recent example of England playing without Wayne Rooney (Spain 2 England 0, November 13) and then with Wayne Rooney (England 2 France 0, November 17) to get an idea whether Woods’ theory holds water.


When the first comment says it better than we ever could…

Recommended reading of the day
Amy Lawrence on refugee football in Calais

Adam Hurrey on football’s unwritten rules

Alex Hess on Mike Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle

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