Mediawatch: Of course Messi isn’t leaving…

Date published: Tuesday 12th January 2016 12:56

Out of Toon
Newcastle are a club in disarray, largely down to one factor: A damaging rift between supporters and club. Fans believe that Mike Ashley has starved the life out of a social institution, through a combination of poor recruitment decisions and wilful neglect. It’s tough to see a resolution until Ashley sells his stake.

Don’t worry though Newcastle supporters, for the Independent’s Mark Ogden has the solution: Move the club’s training base 200 miles down to London. Because if there is one way to appease those who feel their club has lost its connection with a city, it’s by moving the training base 200 miles away from that city. Ogden himself calls the solution ‘radical’; he’s right.

‘When Bournemouth can attract the likes of Juan Iturbe from Roma, at a time when Newcastle and Sunderland are struggling to convince any player of note to play in the football hotbed of the north-east, what does it say for two of the game’s most historic clubs?’ Ogden asks.

It would perhaps suggest that geography might be a slight factor in the north-east’s struggles, but Newcastle missing out on Juan Iturbe to Bournemouth is only a thing if Newcastle even tried to sign him. There is no evidence for that. Instead, they appear to have targeted Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey, and got them both.

‘So what if Mike Ashley considered shifting Newcastle’s training base and playing set-up to London?’ Ogden continues. ‘Steve McClaren’s squad would train as they do on Tyneside, but rather than finish their training and then head off to the Metro Centre, they could instead stroll through Knightsbridge, play golf in Surrey or even take their family around the sights of the capital. So many clubs now train behind high walls or in unreachable, out-of-town complexes that contact between players and supporters is already limited to staged community events or brief glimpses from behind a barrier at home games.’

Yeah, fans don’t get to watch players training much nowadays, so they might as well sack the whole thing off and move to London. Mediawatch is (almost) speechless.

An ability to buy marquee players is one factor in a club’s success, but it’s not as if Newcastle have been forced to sign unheard-of nobodies. Since June 2012, they have signed 14 full internationals.

Call Mediawatch an old fart if you like, but a club’s connection with the local community, communication with supporters, standards of coaching, recruitment of capable managers and investment and trust in its academy system are all far more important than the ability to sign players for high fees on high wages, if Newcastle even do have that problem. None of those issues would be solved by moving the club’s base to London. In fact, most would be irrevocably damaged.

Sometimes, a solution is so ‘radical’ that it’s not a solution at all.


Lee-n on me
As the pay off line of his bold Newcastle suggestion, Mark Ogden uses a story about Rob Lee and his move to Newcastle in 1992.

‘Yet maybe it is not a new problem for clubs like Newcastle,’ Ogden writes. ‘When Kevin Keegan persuaded Robert Lee to leave Charlton Athletic for St James’ Park in September 1992, it was a straight fight between Newcastle and Middlesbrough, then a division higher in the newly formed Premier League for the midfielder. Keegan got the deal over the line, however, by informing the trusting young Lee that Newcastle was the place for him because it was closer to London than Middlesbrough.’

Nice story, but not actually true. Here’s Lee himself to explain: “What he actually said, after I’d spoken to Middlesbrough, was ‘Newcastle’s a much bigger city, it’s got more planes and trains and I can get you down to London quicker than if you’re at Middlesbrough’.”

Also, if Lee left London to join Newcastle (with Middlesbrough the other option), doesn’t that example entirely negate the need to move the training base?


First. Fast. Later
‘Liverpool looking at Steven Caulker for defensive cover,’ read the Daily Express’ Paul Joyce’s tweet at 9.16am on Wednesday. You can doubt much of the Express’ transfer bulls*t, but Joyce knows his onions on Liverpool.

Tweet from Sky Sports News HQ at 10.13am: ‘BREAKING: Sky Sources: Liverpool approach QPR about signing defender Steven Caulker on loan until end of season.’

More broken, than ‘BREAKING’. Which might just be the operative word.


Joyful and triumphant
‘REVEALED: Wenger’s triumph at the Ballon d’Or’ reads the headline on on Wednesday morning.

That ‘triumph’ was being named as the highest-ranking Premier League manager in the Ballon D’Or. Not only is that entirely underwhelming, but it becomes even less of a thing when you realise that they’re not even counting Jose Mourinho, who actually won the Premier League.

What a triumph.


I choo-choo-choose you
The Ballon D’Or ceremony was a difficult gig for English media outlets, given the distinct lack of Premier League recognition. Fear not, however, for MailOnline has the answer.

‘Wayne Rooney’s picks for coach of the year at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony were for the three managers most strongly linked with replacing Louis van Gaal at Manchester United,’ a piece by Jack Bezants begins.

Three small points:

1) Rooney chose Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jorge Sampaoli. Maybe he just chose the best managers of 2015? Which was, y’know, kinda the point. Had he picked Ryan Giggs, you would have got yourself a story.

2) Is ‘best managers linked with big club’ really that surprising?

3) Not only is Jorge Sampaoli categorically not ‘one of the most strongly linked with replacing Louis van Gaal’, he’s not even currently quoted with a price by any UK bookmaker.

Still, Mediawatch is at least smiling at the thought of Rooney using his Ballon D’Or votes to make a subtle dig at his club manager. That’ll teach him.


Lion back and thinking of England
Mediawatch has some sad news. Put down your pen/sandwich/member for a minute and show some respect.

‘The Premier League’s logo of a crowned lion is going to be replaced as part of their major rebranding exercise,’ Charlie Sale writes in the Daily Mail. ‘A creative agency will be appointed after a tender this month, with the brief to link all the PL’s various work under the new branding. And the dated logo, based on the original tie-up with the FA’s three lions, is going to be culled.’

So soon after Cecil the Lion, too. Another brave lion lost. This one didn’t even have a name.


This could get Messi

The Daily Mirror’s chief football writer says what we’re all thinking on Lionel Messi announcing that he will never leave Barcelona.

Wonder what Cross thinks of the following headlines, then, all taken from the Daily Mirror and Mirror Football in the last three months:

– ‘Pep Guardiola promised Messi and Pogba at Man City?’

– ‘Lionel Messi and Manchester City ‘open talks over £800,000-a-week deal’ – report’

– ‘Lionel Messi ‘ready to quit Barcelona as Man United, Chelsea and Manchester City step up interest’

– ‘Man United news and transfer rumours: Red Devils pondering sensational £180m Lionel Messi move?’

It was just banter online debate.


Attack. Attack. Attack
Can we all take a minute to look at the wonder of Daily Mirror scribe Darren Lewis’ current World XI, please?

Are Gareth Bale and Neymar the world’s most expensive wing-backs?

Even Garth Crooks wouldn’t do that. Would he? Would he? He bloody would, you know.










Question time
Can you tell that Sky Sports News HQ value interactions on Twitter as a source of currency?

– ‘It’s that time again! First question – Would Jonjo Shelvey be a good signing for Newcastle? Use #SSNHQ to tell us’

– ‘How does Louis van Gaal make Manchester United more exciting? Use #SSNHQ to get your tweets on screen!’

– ‘Have @afcbournemouth spent wisely? Let us know using #SSNHQ’

– ‘Keep tweeting! Would Jonjo Shelvey be a good signing for Newcastle? #SSNHQ’

– ‘How much do Chelsea need a striker? Let us know using #SSNHQ’

– ‘Are Watford European contenders? Use #SSNHQ to get your tweets on screen!’

There’s clamouring after social media success, and there’s a news outlet beginning a tweet with the phrase ‘Keep tweeting!’

Desperation across the nation.


Modern headline of the day
‘What if Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi swapped clubs? Football Manager reveals what would happen’ – Mirror Football.


Headline of the day
‘It’s Doye story 2’ – The Sun. All day long.



Recommended reading of the day
Barney Ronay on Lionel Messi

Archie Rhind-Tutt on Roma and Totti

Craig Hope on ‘the great entertainers’

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