Mediawatch: One rule for Klopp, another for Pep

Date published: Wednesday 7th December 2016 8:00

Pep talk
Stan Collymore does not like the cut of Pep Guardiola’s jib.

The pundit wrote in October how the Manchester City manager – winner of a gazillion trophies – was not as good as the legendary Brian Clough. City were top at the time.

He explained how the club belong in the same Champions League ‘tier’ as Wolfsburg and Malaga – a team who have reached the knock-out stages of the Champions League once, and another who have only competed in the tournament once. This was three days after City beat Barcelona in November.

He wrote in November how, if given the option between playing for Guardiola or Antonio Conte, he would ‘jump at the chance’ to sign for the Chelsea manager.

And ‘the man who always speaks his mind’ dedicates yet another column to Guardiola for the Daily Mirror on Tuesday. The headline gets us off to a strong start:

‘Guardola’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitude could see him toppled by both Conte and Klopp’

Collymore begins:

‘I’ve long questioned whether Pep Guardiola has a Plan B or not. Now I’m starting to wonder how good a man-manager he is as well.

‘Because even though the Manchester City boss is probably a slightly better coach than Antonio Conte or Jurgen Klopp, I can’t help but think their management skills could see them pip Pep to the title this season.’

So not only does Guardiola not have a Plan B – despite changing formation against Chelsea on Saturday in a game they often dominated, and where a Kevin de Bruyne open-goal miss was the only thing that prevented them from taking a two-goal lead – but his man-management must now come into question.

Why? Stan tells us why.

‘He got Joe Hart out the door when he would have probably been a better bet this campaign than Claudio Bravo. And he got into that battle with Yaya Toure and his agent when he’d have been better served keeping him as part of the group for the times he needed him.

‘City looked a different team when Toure came on against Chelsea on Saturday.’

That’s certainly one way of viewing a substitution that saw Toure come on with City 2-1 down, before going on to lose 3-1.

But why is Collymore not questioning Jurgen Klopp’s man-management skills? Did City miss Toure against Chelsea more than Liverpool missed actual defender Mamadou Sakho in the 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth? Both have been frozen out by their respective managers; how is Klopp’s treatment of his player more acceptable?

Guardiola looks ‘rattled’, ‘churlish’, ‘prickly’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘condescending’, Collymore adds. He really, really doesn’t like him, does he? It must kill him that City are third, four points behind Chelsea, and have qualified for the knock-out stage of the Champions League.


Life of Brian
One man Collymore does like is Brian Clough, former manager of Nottingham Forest and Derby. We know this because he makes no attempt to hide it, and nor should he.

But Mediawatch raised an eyebrow at the following line:

‘Great managers have the ability to walk into a dressing-room, scour it and say of a player: ‘Yes, he’s a little, fat dumpy beggar, and ideally he’s not for me, but in this league, in this set of circumstances, he might just be effective, so I’ll tap into that’.’

Does that remind you of anyone? Perhaps Clough, who once referred to Forest winger and talisman John Robertson as “a little fat guy”?

Our suspicions were confirmed within a matter of paragraphs.

‘He was also churlish in the sarcastic applause and cheering he aimed at referee Anthony Taylor.

‘Could you imagine Brian Clough, Bob Paisley or Joe Fagan doing that?’

If Guardiola’s biggest criticism is that he isn’t Brian Clough, he’s not doing too badly.


Call it a U-turn
Said Stan Collymore on December 6:

‘I’ve long questioned whether Pep Guardiola has a Plan B or not. Now I’m starting to wonder how good a man-manager he is as well.

‘Because even though the Manchester City boss is probably a slightly better coach than Antonio Conte or Jurgen Klopp, I can’t help but think their management skills could see them pip Pep to the title this season.’

Said Stan Collymore on November 7:

‘I know the Festive season is still a few weeks away but Chelsea and Liverpool fans be warned: I’m going to sound a bit like Scrooge here.

‘Because despite two fantastic performances from your sides over the weekend, I still think you’ll be battling it out for a Champions League spot come May but not for the Premier League crown.

‘I hear some pundits saying, ‘Oh, well last week I thought Manchester City were going to win the league but this week I’m going to say Liverpool’.

‘And that’s rubbish, it winds me up, because things don’t just change over a weekend or two.

‘I considered all those factors when I went for City before a ball had been kicked and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind.’


Fight the power
It’s not all bad news for Manchester City fans, despite what Stanley Victor Collymore would have you think. Sky Sports and their beautiful Power Rankings bring good tidings.

For the most part, the rankings are fair: Alexis Sanchez is top; Diego Costa is second; Christian Eriksen is third.

It is in the club-by-club breakdown where things begin to get a little weird. You see, Christian Benteke and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were Crystal Palace and Manchester United’s best players over the weekend respectively, which is accurate. West Brom’s is Matty Phillips; Liverpool’s is Emre Can.

Who was Manchester City’s best player against Chelsea? Nicolas Otamendi, of course.

A line within the story reads: ‘The Power Rankings methodology reflects a player’s performance by awarding points to players for 32 different matchday stats.’

Mediawatch can only assume that being really awful, conceding three goals and having to be surgically removed from Diego Costa’s pocket are not included in the ’32 different matchday stats’.


Fowl play
A full seven days after he scored his first goal for Liverpool, and teenager Ben Woodburn remains a talking point in the media. He has not played a game at any level since scoring against Leeds in the EFL Cup last month, but why should anyone let that stop them?

To be fair to Robbie Fowler, he can only answer the questions asked of him. But the least he can expect is for the Daily Express to report what he actually said, not what they wish he did.

‘Wonderkid Ben can go all the way to top at Kop,’ reads the headline to their story. The first paragraph is similarly conclusive: ‘Robbie Fowler says teenager Ben Woodburn has all the tools to make it to the top’. The implication is clear: Fowler says Woodburn can become Liverpool’s best player.

So what was it the former striker actually said of the 17-year-old?

“I’ve heard he’s a really level-headed lad and it helps when you’re a good player.

“He’s been prolific in all the age groups he’s played, but it’s important now that he gets well looked after.

“The players and staff at Liverpool know that and they stop you from getting a bit too big for your boots.

“Jurgen Klopp is very astute when it comes to handling young players and doing what’s right for them.”

Fowler is clearly a fan of Woodburn’s, but his comments are sensible and realistic. Claiming that he can ‘go to the top’ is not, nor is it close to what Fowler actually said.

If this is the ‘building-up’ process, the ‘knocking down’ will not be pretty.


And it’s live
With January approaching, our best friend the ‘live transfer blog’ has returned.

The Daily Telegraph have some juicy gossip for us on Tuesday. ‘Live Arsenal transfer news and rumours – Manager Arsene Wenger issued ‘hands-off’ warning by Liverpool,’ they say.

Now, it would be churlish of Mediawatch to suggest that a supposed clause in Roberto Firmino’s contract preventing Arsenal from signing him does not exactly equate to ‘Manager Arsene Wenger issued hands-off warning by Liverpool’, but we move on.

That is but one update in this story, however. Remember, this is a ‘live Arsenal transfer news and rumours’ blog. It must be full of gossip. Right?

The blog begins with the first update at 6.47am. This is a recap of Monday’s rumours.

The next update follows at 7.07am. ‘Wenger ready to fight off Guardiola’s advances’ is the story. ‘Wenger talks about Alexis Sanchez’s contract’ is admittedly a less eye-catching headline.

The update after that comes at 8.44, which is the Firmino story. And that is it. One ‘live transfer news and rumours blog’ with three stories by lunchtime, one of which is an update on yesterday’s news. Top work.


Fonte of knowledge
The Sun have some transfer news, and it regards Jose Fonte of Southampton.

‘Southampton face a battle to keep Manchester United and Everton target Jose Fonte after new contract talks broke down.’

It is sold as an exclusive. Which is weird, because The Guardian reported that Fonte would be ‘allowed to leave’ on Monday evening, a full nine hours before The Sun exclusively revealed he might go.

Not only that, but the Daily Record reported on Monday that ‘Manchester United target Jose Fonte has been given the go-ahead to leave Southampton’. That was almost 48 hours before The Sun got their exclusive.

Duncan Castles 1-0 Everyone else.


Ruud boy

‘Athletic and composed, with his hair in dreadlocks and scoring goals in a black and red striped shirt, Nathan Ake rekindles memories of a young Ruud Gullit from the golden years at AC Milan’

Were the Daily Mail the only ones who witnessed a defender concede three goals before scoring a dramatic late winner and think ‘two-time European Cup winner and one-time European champions with Netherlands’?

Yes. Yes they were.


Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on Jurgen Klopp and Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool.

Nick Miller on the Premier League’s goalkeeping problem.

Adam Hurrey on Richard Keys vs Ron Atkinson.

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