Twit of the week
In the latest edition of Old Man Shouting At The Clouds/a Martin Samuel column, the Daily Mail stalwart is raging against the use of social media by players. Because of course he is.
As you might expect, Samuel is not happy that some Manchester United players have been on social media since the end of Manchester United’s terrible season. Why are they on Twitter when they should be indulging in some self-flagellation like the good old days? Roy Keane would have just smashed himself in the head if his United side had finished sixth.
Alexis Sanchez is the subject of much of his ire, after his Instagram post in which he apologised for his poor performances this season. Samuel writes:
‘It is all too easy now. It is all too pat. The excuses are in before the last man is out of the shower. Players like social media, they say, because it gives them the chance to talk to the fans directly, without the media and its agenda getting in the way – but players have an agenda, too.
‘What is more apparent than ever is that some dressing rooms contain spin doctors who would not be out of place in Westminster. What follows the match is the seizing of the narrative. Get the apology in before the reviews are out. Get the crowd on your side.
‘Sanchez couldn’t even make a United team that lost 2-0 at home to relegated Cardiff. If reports are correct, his club are ready to subsidise £12million of his wages just to be rid of him. Yet here he is, managing news in a way he couldn’t manage matches.’
But the point Samuel does not make – because it does not fit his agenda – is that this ‘spin doctoring’ clearly does not work. If Sanchez really wrote that Instagram post in a bid to ‘manage the news’, then he made a sodding pig’s ear of it. All he got was abuse from Manchester United fans and stories which referenced ‘the £500,000-a-week flop’ (see Samuel’s own newspaper).
‘Pogba is a smart operator, too. Manchester United talk about their players in terms of social media followings and hits, so it is no wonder they exploit the medium.’
Hmmm. The problem with lumping Pogba into this argument – because he is an easy target – is that the Frenchman has barely posted on social media in the aftermath of the season. In fact, the only Instagram post he has made since Sunday was a picture of him and Kurt Zouma in Mecca. Does that make him a ‘smart operator’?
And over on Twitter, the only thing Pogba has posted in a whole month to ‘exploit the medium’ is this:
⚠ PARTAGEZ AU MAXIMUM : Aide enfants migrants handicapés de Mekkah !
1 partage = PLUS de visibilité = plus de chances de trouver des donateurs !
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) May 15, 2019
Just look at him, manipulating the media by trying to raise money for disabled migrant children. The dick.
‘Performances reduce in importance. It’s no longer how you play, but how you sell it in the aftermath.
‘Time was, there was only one way to avenge a lousy result, or a sub-standard individual showing. Do better next match. Play poorly on Saturday and there could be a week to stew and work on improvement.
‘In that period, there was no way of influencing your standing. A player had to go out and show them; prove himself again. What took place on the field was truly all that mattered.’
Take a look at the replies to Sanchez’s Instagram post and see just how many Manchester United fans have had their opinions changed by his post. That would be the grand total of sodding none. Samuel seems to believe that football fans are so bloody stupid that they see an ‘apology’ from a player and immediately forget all of the actual football. This can only be the view of somebody who knows absolutely nothing about social media.
‘Suddenly, it’s no longer about the next 90 minutes, it’s 30 seconds on video, 140 characters, a picture caption. Posting it is so much less exhausting and pressured than waiting for the next game and putting on a show.’
And the worrying thing is that there are Daily Mail readers who actually believe this nonsense, that entire football careers can be built not on football but on Instagram. But who can we blame?
‘Jose Mourinho is right when he says Manchester United’s shortcomings are not just about Pogba – but the modern social media star has helped create a culture that affords a free pass in exchange for a few glib sentences.’
Yep. Of course it is all the fault of Paul Pogba, whose only tweet in over a month is to try and use his 6.8m followers to end the plight of disabled migrant children.
Billy goats rough
Silly season, you say? Nothing is quite as silly as taking a club statement from Manchester City – released on Thursday morning – and making it Friday morning’s back page on the basis that the UEFA investigations chief named in that statement really likes goats.
Yes, the fact that Yves Leterne likes goats has made the back page of The Sun. We are even told – just four paragraphs into a story purporting to be about football – that two of his goats are calling Trudy and Vikki, presumably because his Wikipedia page says as much (though Vikki is actually Vicky), though we have been left wondering whether Martin Lipton checked whether those particular goats are still alive; they were last referenced in a Belgian newspaper in 2010 and goats only actually live for around 15 years.
We would hate to think that they have brought back terrible memories of goat loss for Mon. Leterme.
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) May 16, 2019
The Frank and falters
The Sun’s Neil Ashton has nailed his colours well and truly to the mast (though this is Neil Ashton so it could all change next week) with his column saying that Frank Lampard ‘is one game away from the Chelsea job he so covets’. Now this is curious in itself, because if Chelsea want Frank Lampard to be their new manager, the result of one 90-minute game at Wembley against Aston Villa really should not make one iota of difference. It really should be irrelevant.
Ashton obviously writes about this ‘miserable season of stodgy Sarriball’ (in which Chelsea have actually scored more goals per game than Frank Lampard’s Derby but, you know, why acknowledge such facts when you are trying to get rid of a charmless foreigner in favour of Frank ‘Frankie’ Lampard?) and suggests that Lampard is the perfect antidote. He has ‘firm views on the way the game should be played’, which of course has gone incredibly well for Maurizio Sarri this season.
Mediawatch particularly enjoyed this snippet:
‘Lampard, 41 next month, wants to follow in their footsteps – and age should be no barrier. The Special One was the same age when he left Porto in 2004 after landing the Champions League to succeed Claudio Ranieri at the Blues.’
Yep, winning the Champions League with Porto (as well as two Portuguese league titles, one Portuguese Cup and a UEFA Cup) in two complete seasons of managing a giant Portuguese club is exactly the same as finishing sixth in the Championship in your first full season of management. Exactly the same.
Clue: It’s not his age that’s a barrier.
Said and Dunn
Over in the Daily Mirror, Andy Dunn writes in his Friday column that ‘of course a decent debut season, which would get better if Derby beat Aston Villa at Wembley, does not make Lampard the next Mourinho. But it will only be a matter of time’.
And we’re absolutely sure that Dunn was equally as effusive with praise about Slaviša Jokanović after he won a Championship play-off semi-final last season.
Desperate attempt for ‘likes’ of the year
Liverpool would have won the 2018-19 Premier League title if long-range goals were worth double. pic.twitter.com/dEEXnz0sUa
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 17, 2019
Straw man of the day
Over in the Daily Mail, West Ham fan Martin Samuel spends almost 250 words debunking myths, claiming that the ‘Tottenham title push just doesn’t add up’. Which is handy because we are of course surrounded by people who believe that Tottenham can make up a 27-point gap to Manchester City over the course of one summer.