Mediawatch: Never change, Harry Redknapp

Date published: Friday 22nd April 2016 12:00

Stones throw
Having the football media on your side can be a powerful asset. Some managers enjoy the benefit of an easier ride from tabloids if they are happy to provide them with a soundbite, such as Sam Allardyce. Players are no different.

John Stones is a prime example of a player who benefits from a comfortable and flattering media approach. The Everton defender has endured a difficult season, but his backers are unperturbed.

It is not difficult to notice such a trend in Friday’s newspapers:

The Guardian lead the front page of their sport edition with the headline: ‘Chelsea target Stones again in squad overhaul.’

– The Daily Star tell us ‘Chelsea are plotting a £90million swoop’, with Stones wanted alongside Romelu Lukaku.

– The Sun report that incoming manager Antonio Conte is ‘in for £40million Stones’.

The Times claim that Chelsea are ‘set to fight City for Stones’.

But Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror takes top prize for Stones propaganda. ‘Chelsea to launch summer bid for troubled Stones,’ reads his back-page headline. He writes:

‘Stones has been vilified in some quarters this season for his refusal to compromise his elegant passing game during the talent-laden Toffees’ slump to just 11th in the Premier League with four games to go.

‘And he found himself in the firing line once again on Wednesday as his side were crushed 4-0 by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

‘But Chelsea do not share that lack of faith in him.’

Criticising a player for continued poor performances does not directly correlate with a ‘lack of faith’. Stones can be questioned without having to be referred to as Bobby Moore’s successor.

‘The player was so desperate to move to the Londoners last summer and work with their then-manager Mourinho that he handed in a transfer request.’

Yeah, “accidentally”, remember?

‘Everton have tried to commit him to a new contract, without success.

‘They now have little chance of succeeding, with the youngster being made a scapegoat for the many defensive deficiencies within Martinez’s side.’

That might just happen when you make three mistakes directly leading to conceded goals – the joint-most in the Premier League this season.


Youth hostile
Michael Emenalo has been saying words about Tottenham. In particular, Chelsea’s technical director has been questioning their production of youth.

“We try to remind them it’s not just a Chelsea problem,” Emenalo said. “That’s what they hear. But with all the hoopla around Tottenham, it’s the one player.

“The one key player is Kane, Dele Alli they bought from MK Dons, Tom Carroll is a peripheral player and Eric Dier they bought.”

Harry Kane is indeed both a) a Tottenham academy product, and b) rather good. Dele Alli was indeed bought from elsewhere, as was Eric Dier. Tom Carroll is also a ‘peripheral player’ – although his 27 games this season is more than Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ten) has been afforded.

Is Emenalo not forgetting England international Ryan Mason, with 65 Spurs appearances to his name? Or Nabil Bentaleb, who delightfully has also played 65 games for Spurs? Maybe Josh Onomah, who has played seven league games this season? Don’t forget Andros Townsend, an academy product sold for £12million recently.

But no, Spurs have only produced Harry Kane, a striker who has scored 58 goals in 97 games, is reportedly wanted by Europe’s top clubs, and is firing Tottenham to a Premier League title challenge. Even if it was only him they have developed, that isn’t a bad record.


Double trouble
Harry Redknapp narrowly missed the Mediawatch deadline with his article for the London Evening Standard on Thursday. Fortunately for him, it is simply too good to ignore. You see, the former Tottenham boss has the inside track on how Spurs are challenging for the title this season. Is it the relationship fostered between Harry Kane and Dele Alli? The successful partnership between Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen? Is it the Redknapp-refined tactic of ‘running around loads’? Is it double training sessions?

It certainly is not the latter, ‘writes’ Redknapp. ‘The key hasn’t been Mauricio Pochettino’s double training sessions everyone keeps banging on about – if it was, Rochdale would fly up the divisions.

‘Mauricio has done a great job but their success has been the emergence of good players exceeding all expectations.’

And of course, double training sessions are nothing to do with ‘good players exceeding all expectations’. No siree. You are a fraud, Pochettino.


The wrong Alli

‘I scouted Dele Alli several times as did a lot of other clubs, but with a view to the future’ – Harry Redknapp, April 22.

Hardly an outlandish claim from Redknapp in his Evening Standard column. Alli was one of the country’s most promising prospects, surely watched by most clubs. But Harry. Oh, Harry, Harry. The below is from his Evening Standard column dated November 19.

‘It would be interesting to see all the reports on Alli from the so-called good judges who work for the Premier League clubs. Tottenham paid £5million for him in the end, which is nothing. It is an amazing buy. He’s worth at least £20m now if not a lot more. And Spurs had a clear run at signing him!

‘Why didn’t anybody else go for him? I bet if you went and asked these scouts or recruitment heads, they would trot out the line: “Oh, well I told the manager he was a top player but he didn’t want him.” But in truth those reports must have been full of negatives.’

And that is not all…

‘As I’ve said before, my goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock at QPR went to watch his son play at MK Dons last year and came back every week telling me Alli was an absolute genius. He scored goals, made assists and was League One Player of the Year. Tottenham stole him for £5m.

‘I never tried to sign him then because we were struggling all year and were just in for short-term fixes.’

So, Harry, just to clarify, you claim to have scouted Alli ‘several times’, but actually your goalkeeping coach just went to watch his son play a few times. And if you were watching Alli ‘with a view to the future’, why do you admit to never trying to sign him because you were ‘just in for short-term fixes’?


Leave it to the experts
The Daily Mail‘s ‘experts’ have named their alternative PFA Teams of the Year. Here are the best bits:

– Rob Draper selects Ryan Shawcross in defence alongside Toby Alderweireld. So that’s no centre-half from the league leaders, and a nod for a player who has played 16 games for a team in ninth.

– Anthony Martial has been wonderful this season, but a member of the Team of the Year? Only if you are Joe Bernstein.

– Same too for Heurelho Gomes, who gets the nod from Jack Gaughan. David and Hugo will not be pleased.


Watch me trip, watch me Elneny
Writes Matt Barlow in his Arsenal 2-0 West Brom match report for the Daily Mail:

‘They missed the reappearance of referee Jon Moss, who allowed Mohamed Elneny to escape with a dive which was possibly more blatant than Jamie Vardy’s on Sunday.’

Writes Graham Poll in his ‘official line’, found inches to the right of Barlow’s piece: ‘All went well for Jon Moss last night. Moss was right not to book [Elneny] for a dive as the midfielder slipped.’


The Real deal
‘Real want Ronaldo till he’s 35,’ the Daily Mail tells us. The Spanish giants are set to offer their talisman a fresh four-year deal.

Which is weird, because back in November Pete Jenson told us that Ronaldo ‘will play his last home league Clasico’ the following Saturday. His ‘slow divorce’ was heading towards an ‘inevitable conclusion next May’, Jenson added for the same newspaper.

Jenson discussed Real’s ‘desire to cash-in on a player who will be 31 by the end of the season’, as well as the problems in his relationship with the club. Fast-forward five months, and he is signing a new deal.

The unattributed story in Friday’s edition does add that ‘Real were planning to sell’ Ronaldo, but that the 31-year-old ‘has broken the 30-goal barrier for the sixth straight season’. Were they really expecting him not to?


Same difference
The following two stories are from the same quotes from England manager Roy Hodgson.

‘Roy hails skipper Wayne and drops biggest hint that he WILL start the Euros’ – John Cross of the Daily Mirror.

‘Roy: I might drop Rooney at Euros’ – Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail.


It’s a kind of magic
– Paul Merson on Liverpool: ‘With a Europa League semi-final with Villarreal coming up, they may rest players – that said they still turn in decent performances when they do change their team. This is where luck in the relegation fight comes in because if Liverpool were challenging for the top four they would play a full-strength side, and that may help Newcastle’s cause.’

Prediction: Liverpool win 2-1.

– Paul Merson on Crystal Palace: ‘When the game starts to open up Palace have got more match winners and I expect them to just edge a tight contest.’

Crystal Palace and their match winners, helping them win five matches out of 20 this calendar year.

– Paul Merson on Chelsea: ‘Chelsea could have conceded six against Man City on Saturday, their season is over, they’ve got players going to the Euros and they can’t win a game.’

Except the one they won two games ago. Aston Villa might be terrible, but you can’t just ignore them. Yet.


Your Key to sports
The following Twitter exchange between Richard Keys and one of his many fans is excellent.


Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe on La Liga title race.

Raphael Honigstein interviews Javi Martinez.

Andrew Flint on the lovely Herve Renard.

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