The sheer absurdity of a one-sided d*ck-measuring contest

Matt Stead
Paul Pogba Manchester United

Greatest hits
Paul Pogba was a guest on the latest Manchester United podcast this week. He was, by all accounts, a fascinating, engaging and helpful interviewee. But you would be forgiven for thinking he came across as a bit of a d*ck.

Why? Because in football website speak, one can only ever ‘hit back’, ‘aim digs’ or ‘blast’ those they have a manufactured rivalry with.

As proof:

‘Paul Pogba finally hits back at Graeme Souness criticism with ultimate put-down’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Paul Pogba hits back at former Liverpool great with scathing put-down’ – Liverpool Echo.

‘Paul Pogba hits back at Liverpool FC great Graeme Souness after Manchester United criticism’ – Manchester Evening News.

‘Paul Pogba hits back at long-term critic Graeme Souness by declaring: ‘I didn’t know who he was’ – Metro.

‘Paul Pogba aims dig at Graeme Souness as Man Utd star reveals he ‘didn’t know’ who Liverpool legend was’ – The Sun.

”I didn’t even know who Souness was’ – Man Utd star Pogba hits back at his critics’ –

‘Paul Pogba in withering Graeme Souness putdown as Manchester United star finally digs back at Rangers legend’ – Daily Record.

It’s big news, clearly.

But what is it Pogba actually said? Has he told Souness to get a new haircut? Has he dabbed on him? He’s not said that his moustache was sh*t, has he?

Well it came after he was told: “If I was you I’d have sent Graeme Souness a picture of myself with the World Cup trophy, just saying ‘Thanks, Graeme!'”

Did he take the bait? Hardly.

“I didn’t know who he was really. I didn’t know he was. I heard he was a great player and stuff like that. The name, the name. I know the face but the name…”

That sounds more respectful and understandable than anything. Particularly considering the sort of stuff that “great player” has been saying about him.

The answer takes up about 20 seconds of a podcast that lasted an hour and three minutes. He did not dwell on it. And don’t make the mistake of thinking a French boy who did not play outside of his home country until 2009 and was born when Souness was Rangers manager is despicable for not knowing about his playing career.

If Souness idolised André Strappe or Oscar Heisserer growing up or can name the captains of Reims, Lille or Nice in the 1950s then good on him. But let’s not pretend everyone has to know about him regardless or where or when they were born, and that it’s a ‘dig’ or a ‘withering putdown’ if they don’t.


Carra on goading
Whether Sky Sports had Souness on their show on Tuesday with the intention of bringing Pogba’s quotes up is not for anyone to say. But they obviously did.

Jamie Carragher was the rather mischievous culprit, the Scouser who was six years old when Souness lifted the European Cup for Liverpool suggesting that Pogba’s comments were “below the belt”.

He is presumably also an expert on 1970s French football.

The response? “The oldest saying in football comes to mind: put your medals on the table. I’ve got a big table.”

And you have 15 medals to Pogba’s 11. But why is that relevant? Pogba has never said anything against you and yet this bizarre grudge continues. He has never claimed to be a better player, nor a more successful one.

Hell, when you had just turned 27 you had no more than a Second Division title with Middlesbrough, and two First Division championships, a European Cup and two Charity Shields at Liverpool.

That’s not bad in itself, of course. It’s just weird that Souness is so desperate to enter a d*ck-measuring contest with someone who seems justifiably content with their own impressive size.

It takes a brave man to ask a World Cup winner to “put your medals on the table”. Or a very silly man being goaded into some quite misguided comments as part of the most one-sided rivalry in recent memory.


Lamp post
In The Sun, Frank Lampard is setting out his Premier League title stall.

‘Frank Lampard believes his Chelsea kids can challenge for the Premier League title in the future.’

Tell us more, Andrew Dillon.

“I don’t want to jump the gun because what Liverpool and Manchester City have done in the last two or three seasons is very clear.”

Well either you are jumping the gun or your quotes have been misrepresented. Don’t tell us the nation’s best-selling newspaper would do such a thing?

“I think I would be a bit of a fool to make a claim we could bridge that gap very quickly.”


“So we have different versions of plans going forward and how it looks depending on what happens. Going into this break I certainly felt we were moving in the right direction.”

Hold on. This sounds like we’re getting towards some sort of title declaration.

“With potentially bringing in some players in key areas we think could help us bridge that gap, I have a strong belief we can challenge for titles in the future.”

Right. So ‘Frank Lampard believes his Chelsea kids can challenge for the Premier League title in the future…as long as they make some new signings too.’

Much better.


Referral scheme
‘A 12.5 per cent cut would have saved Arsenal about £25million although the players were not interested and will only consider a referral’ – Charlie Wyett, The Sun.

What for, a collective doctor’s appointment? You’d think they’d only consider a deferral.


Kidd jokes
‘Some light relief arrived with news Unai Emery used Google Translate to woo his English girlfriend while managing Arsenal. Many journalists wish he made an effort to speak English so fluently with the media’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.

But he did make the effort. That’s one thing he can’t be accused of not doing. He literally held press conferences and interviews in English. Are we really going to chastise or poke fun at a non-native speaker for failing to master the language with perfect syntax?


The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.