Mediawatch: Now that’s ‘experimental’…

Date published: Friday 13th November 2015 1:09

Now that’s what we really call an ‘experimental’ line-up. Is Garth Crooks working for the Irish Independent?


The ‘come on now, this has gone too far’ headline of the day
‘Jamie Vardy denied chance of impressing Real Madrid and Barcelona scouts during friendly in Alicante due to groin problem’ – MailOnline.

Get to f***.


The ‘sorry, but what the f*** is this’ tweet of the day


SEO-tastic headline of the day
‘Lionel Messi to England? Man Utd, City, Chelsea and Arsenal’s chances revealed’ – The Daily Star.

More ‘randomly guessed’ than ‘revealed’ but the Mediawatch hat is still off.


Experiment songs
‘It has to be seen as an experimental line-up,’ writes John Cross in the Daily Mirror of the XI that will face Spain. Does it? Or is it a line-up massively impacted by injuries? When you have pork pie and egg fried rice because it’s the only food left in the house, is that an ‘experimental meal’ or simply ‘making do’?

(Definitely never done that.)

‘So, step forward Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ryan Bertrand, Raheem Sterling, Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley and Harry Kane,’ writes Cross, naming an XI that’s something of a disappointment after the thrilling headline of ‘Roy Hodgson to field experimental England XI against Spain as he looks at options for Euro 2016’. After that billing, we were hoping for Lee Cattermole and Simon Francis. Or Kevin Theophile-Catherine.

So this is an ‘experimental line-up’ that features England’s undisputed No. 1 keeper (Hart), a right-back who was England’s first choice before injury (Walker), two centre-halves who have played in almost every England game for which they have been available since the World Cup (Smalling and Jones), one of several left-backs vying for the position after injury to Luke Shaw (Bertrand), a £49m winger and England fixture (Sterling), a central midfielder with caps spanning 14 years (Carrick), two midfielders who have featured six times each in qualifying (Delph, Lallana), another who has started three of England’s last four games (Barkley) and the highest-scoring English striker of 2015 (Kane).

Of the England players to have featured in at least half of England’s ten qualifying matches, the only players NOT playing in this ‘experimental line-up’ are Nathaniel Clyne, Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney. Five of those are injured.

‘It’s very much about trial and experimentation for England at the moment,’ writes Cross. Alternatively, it’s very much about using established England footballers who are not injured, with a view to not asking players to complete 180 minutes in the middle of the season.


‘Hodgson was always likely to make changes for the clashes in Spain and at home to France on Tuesday,’ writes Charlie Wyett in The Sun. So why does it say on the back page that Wayne Rooney has been ‘axed for tonight’s friendly in Spain’? It can’t possibly be to crowbar in a painful ‘reign of Wayne is waning in Spain’ headline, could it?


Lemon squeezy
England won all ten of their European Championship qualifying games, conceding only three goals in the process. No other country qualified so convincingly. It’s important to remember this when reading Harry Redknapp’s latest column in the Evening Standard, which could be sub-headlined ‘It should’ve been me’.

‘Thank God England are playing someone good,’ begins Redknapp’s column. ‘The whole Euro 2016 qualifying campaign was a formality from day one. Okay, Switzerland aren’t a bad team but it would have been an absolute disaster had England not topped their group.’

Yes, it would truly have been ‘an absolute disaster’ if England had finished second behind a team that fared better at the World Cup, thereby qualifying automatically.

‘I want to see a proper football match. Scotland playing Poland and Ireland against Germany were enjoyable qualifiers to watch but it has been a while since England were involved in a really competitive, testing game.’

Damn you England, and your dull ‘cruising through qualification’ schtick. And damn you for being seeded highly because of previous cruises through qualification. Redknapp would presumably prefer to be Dutch; they had some proper football matches.


Jobs for the Moyes
Harry Redknapp also has insight on David Moyes. It takes a fellow former manager to know that his ‘target after being sacked at Real Sociedad has to be to come back to England and win a trophy’. Thanks for that.

‘He’ll come back to England and manage, I’m sure,’ says Redknapp, confidently predicting that a man who has been in football management for 17 years will continue to be in football management.

‘It might not be a top-five club at the moment but he will be in the running for all the Premier League jobs that come up outside of that.’

Mediawatch will be generous and assume that Redknapp means Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool rather than the current top five. But still. Poor Tottenham. And Southampton. And West Ham. And Crystal Palace. And…


Harry’s game
Can anybody spot the sliver of irony in Redknapp’s two statements on his specialist subject: The relentless persecution of English football managers.

* ‘I’d like to see more lads given the chance to manage abroad. We have a lot of foreign managers here so why shouldn’t English managers go overseas?’

* ‘If you go abroad, it is very difficult to get your message across if you don’t speak the language.’



Exclusively repetitive
Neil Custis, The Sun, Exclusive, September 13: ‘DAVID DE GEA has a £30million buy-out clause in his new contract…it will allow Real Madrid to come back for him next summer with the minimum of fuss if they meet the buy-out amount.’

Neil Custis, The Sun, Exclusive, November 13: ‘REAL MADRID will trigger a £30million release clause next summer to land David De Gea.’

We heard you the first time, Neil.


Stamping on Memphis
Just when we thought the whole ‘Memphis Depay and his crazy hat’ nonsense had been truly exhausted, the Daily Mirror’s David McDonnell arrives looking all dishevelled and clutching a bottle of 20/20; he’s late to the party.

‘The consensus is that Memphis has become too flash for his own good and needs a sobering reality check after starting to believe his own hype,’ writes McDonnell.

So what are the tell-tale signs that a 21-year-old is behaving like a 21-year-old ‘causing a stir for all the wrong reasons’?

The charge sheet, according to McDonell:

* ‘He has splashed out on a new Mercedes.’

* He ’employs a personal chef’.

* He ‘was told by Dutch coach Danny Blind to tone down his flamboyant dress sense’.

* ‘He has developed a penchant for Manchester’s nightspots.’

* He has ‘put on a stone in weight since joining United’.

A fancy car? A cook? A hat? Nightclubs? Putting on 5kg (really not a stone) of muscle?

Hanging’s too good for him.


Oh dear BBC. Not only have you included John Terry going to the theatre in your gossip (if there’s an Instagram picture, it’s probably not gossip), but you have fallen into the oldest trap in Shakespeare.

‘Wherefore art thou John Terry? At the Royal Opera House watching Romeo and Juliet, judging by the pictures the Chelsea defender posted on his Instagram account.’

Let’s consult Wiktionary:

‘A common misconception is that wherefore means where; it has even been used in that sense in cartoon depictions of Romeo and Juliet, often played for comedic effect. In Romeo and Juliet, the meaning of “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” (Act 2, scene 2, line 33) is not “Where are you, Romeo?” but “Why are you Romeo?” (i.e. “Why did you have to be a Montague?”).[1]’

So ‘Why are you John Terry?’ Now there’s a question.


Question of the day
At what point in a conversation are you officially ‘having talks’? Mediawatch suspects it might have ‘had talks’ with a man on the train this morning, but would like to be sure.


Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe on Spanish players in the Premier League

Thore Haugstad on Mesut Ozil and destiny

Adam Bate on Roy Keane ten years on


Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotters Joe Miles, Robert Murphy, Chris McCearney and Brendan Ahern. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at

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