Mediawatch: Play injured or you’re a bottler

Date published: Tuesday 19th January 2016 1:09

When Adrian Durham truly became a parody of himself
Mesut Ozil was injured for Arsenal on Sunday, and therefore played no part in the match against Stoke City.

“He had an inflammation on his foot and yesterday morning we looked and he was not very well,” Arsene Wenger explained. “He was not 100% at Liverpool so I decided to leave him out. I think he should be back for next Sunday.”

Put that simple piece of news through the Adrian ‘what’s the most outrageous opinion I can have to provoke outrage’ Durham filter on MailOnline, and what do you get? Ozil’s a bottler, of course.

‘Arsenal’s best outfield player this season missed the game with ‘a slight foot injury’. Now either this injury is worse than ‘slight’, or you have to question the player’s commitment to the cause, especially as there is a full week until the next game.’

You only have to question his commitment to the cause if you’re a fan of utter drivel. He was injured. The manager decided not to risk him. End of.

‘Arsene Wenger had no problem putting players in his team who were in the ‘red zone’ in the past, so how come a player nowhere near the red zone with only a slight injury missed such a crucial game?’

The ‘red zone’ Wenger refers to is not a byword for the tactic of playing players when they are injured, but risking players who are showing high levels of muscle fatigue.

‘Ozil has enough credit in the bank with Arsenal fans to escape criticism but those of us who look objectively on such matters can’t help but question why such a player would put his slightly injured foot up, rather than play through pain and give everything to the cause as Arsenal go for their first title in 12 years.’

Thankfully, Mediawatch has enough wherewithal to understand the difference between ‘those of us who look objectively on such matters’ and ‘those of us with a massive drum to bang with a very sh*tty stick’.

We’ll stop kicking Durham there. We don’t want to risk a ‘slight foot injury’.


Company man
The Daily Express’ Jim Holden really likes BT Sport. We’re talking ‘holding hands, walking into the sunset, happily ever after’ love.

‘There was something else which made this [Liverpool vs Arsenal] a memorable match – the superb coverage last Wednesday evening by BT Sport,’ Holden writes, and very much doesn’t stop there.

‘This was the night when they proved their live football broadcasting can be the equal of the brilliance for so long provided by Sky.

‘When the action began, and it never stopped for 90 minutes, the radical decision by BT to have two analysts talking about the match alongside the commentator worked a treat.

‘The use of World Cup Final referee Howard Webb to give instant verdicts on contentious or surprising decisions by the officials is another bonus from BT Sport.

‘It takes time, and it has taken time, for a new TV station to develop its coverage and win the loyalty of viewers at home across the country. In my experience, that hurdle has now been jumped by BT Sport. They are a serious player.’

Wow, big words. And words that partly lose their impact when Mediawatch discovered this webpage.

Please sir, can I have some more (column work)?


Makes you w-Ince
Every now and then, Mediawatch glances over an article and a broad grin comes across its face. There are easy chances to finish, open goals and Paul Ince rating the 18 Premier League teams from the weekend on Strap in for the highlights.

– ‘So how did your team fare? Did they get an ‘A’ or an ‘F’?’ the introduction asks. The answer is that nine of the 18 teams who played this weekend were awarded an ‘A’. Which is absolutely absurd.

– That list of ‘A’s includes Liverpool, who you might remember lost to Manchester United. Ince describes them as ‘absolutely fantastic’ during the first half. Fair enough.

‘Jurgen Klopp clearly has them at it and playing the right way, but the only negative for them regarding the performance was the wasted chances.’

Well that and conceding the only goal of the game.

– While Liverpool are awarded an ‘A’ for losing at home, Tottenham are awarded a ‘B+’ for beating Sunderland 4-1. Manchester United, winners at Anfield, only get a ‘B’.

– On Southampton:

‘The win over Watford was massive because it calmed everybody down, and this was another much-needed win, and a convincing one too.’

It’s almost anti-analysis.

– On Leicester:

‘Claudio Ranieri’s side always perform well, and they seem to do it consistently home and away.’

Apart from when they draw to the bottom club in the league? Fear not, for Leicester were awarded an ‘A’ for their 1-1 draw. As were Aston Villa, naturally.

– On West Brom:

‘It’s hard because you set your team up not to concede, and then you’re one-down after five minutes. That changed the game at Southampton.’

Remember kids, the first goal changes the game. Ince knows.

– On Crystal Palace:

‘I expected more from Palace. The last two years they’ve been to the Etihad Stadium, they’ve done very well.’

Oh yes, ‘very well’ indeed. Since returning to the Premier League, Palace have played three games at the Etihad in all competitions. They’ve lost 1-0, 3-0 and 5-1.

And we thought using ‘shoot’ as a tactic was Ince’s nadir.


Don’t just write down everything he says
‘If it was a Pulis team, it might have been 1-0 to City, but the way Alan Pardew is doing it, and he’s doing a fantastic job, he went and had a go at them. It’s not the be-all and end-all, though. If you go to City and get something, that’s great. If not, it’s on to the next one’ – Paul Ince, Sky Sports.

It’s like a stream of confusing consciousness.


Cliche counter
Finally on Ince (we promise), play a game of count the cliches:

‘But on the day (1), it’s a six-pointer (2) and you know all about (3) Bournemouth from the Championship, and to go there (4) and not compete (5) will disappoint Alex Neil. It was one-way traffic (6) at times.

Insight(ing violence)


Exodus, all right!
‘cHELLsea’ shouts the headline on the back page of The Sun. ‘Chelsea are ‘fearing an exodus’ of their biggest players this summer,’ is Rob Beasley’s big fear.

Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Oscar and Thibaut Courtois are the four players named by Beasley as contemplating their futures at Stamford Bridge. A mixture of poor results, uncertainty over the manager and a lack of Champions League football could see all four leave, Beasley says.

Beasley has a source, naturally. Unnamed, even more naturally: “Yes, they’re tied into deals but those contracts won’t stop rivals moving in at the end of the season. And they won’t stop our players considering their futures either. Contracts don’t count for a lot these days.”

What? ‘Contracts don’t count for a lot these days’? Is this source under the impression that the four aforementioned players can just down tools and quit, then move to a different club with no repercussions?

The Sun’s back page states that Chelsea fear these players ‘may quit’. Will Hazard be ripping up the remainder of his five-year contract? Courtois, Costa and Oscar all have three-and-a-half-years left on their deals. They can’t just leave without Chelsea’s say, and if they do it will be for enormous transfer fees.

Is this Chelsea ‘fearing a summer exodus’, or is this Chelsea fan Rob Beasley ‘fearing a summer exodus’?


Strike a pose
In the Daily Mail, Ian Ladyman has continued a regular recent theme, namely that top strikers are hard to find. Recent comments from Arsene Wenger (included in the piece), are certainly interesting, but Mediawatch is left confused by a couple of paragraphs.

‘Current coaches tend to expect goals from all areas,’ Ladyman writes. ‘United went into this season expecting returns from Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial while City reduced their strikers’ department from four to two hoping that they would get goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

‘So far, those four players have scored 17 league goals between them, which would appear to be flimsy evidence to support the argument that traditional number nines belong in the past.’

1) Is expecting goals from other areas of the pitch anything new? When Manchester United won the title in 1993/94, seven different players scored five or more goals, with the top scorer only scoring 18. When Nottingham Forest (the last new team to win the title) won the league in 1977/78, John Robertson and Martin O’Neill scored 31 times from midfield.

2) Criticising Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne’s arrival for hurting Manchester City’s goal prowess is all very well, but City have only scored two fewer goals than at this stage last season.


To the right of Ian Ladyman’s ‘Where have all the strikers gone?’ piece in the Daily Mail is a feature by Simon Jones.

The title? ‘Alexandre Pato, Edinson Cavani and nine other strikers who could be set for Premier League move in the January window’.

At least it’ll put Ladyman’s mind at rest.


Look after the pennies
‘Cup cash can fuel Bolton’s fight for survival’ reads the headline in the Daily Mail.

Bolton are £172.9million in debt. Mediawatch isn’t sure that getting through to the FA Cup fourth round is going to make it all okay.


Snub it out
Mediawatch loves a good snub. There, we’ve said it. Yet even snubber lovers can’t endorse the Daily Record’s story about new Celtic signing Erik Sviatchenko.

‘Erik Sviatchenko last night snubbed Serie A and Manchester United to seal his £1.5 million move to Celtic,’ the piece begins.

We’ll give you Serie A, given that his agent said there was interest from Italy. But why were Manchester United snubbed? Did they also submit a bid?

‘Sviatchenko’s decision also meant he had to forfeit participation in Midtjylland’s glamour last 32 Europa League showdown with Louis van Gaal’s United next month.’



Ballsy call of the day
Martin Keown has picked Alexis Sanchez in his Premier League team of the season so far.

We assume he means the team of last season.


Misleading headline of the day
‘Hawking warns on ‘own goal’ disaster’ – BBC News.

Is he a boffin or laptop guru?


Metro-style Metro headline of the day
‘Mesut Ozil’s new boots will put him in the Premier League record books’ – Metro.

The record is for wearing boots without laces. Someone dig up Norris McWhirter.


Recommended reading of the day
Rob Smyth on managers and patience

Swiss Ramble on Chelsea

David Squires on the weekend’s football

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