Question, tell me what you think about me
Why, when The Sun website published a feature in November revealing David de Gea as Manchester United’s ‘top earner’ on £350,000 a week, is Paul Pogba the player chosen to illustrate a story about how Premier League players ‘are likely to be concerned about a deferral’ of their wages? Just wondering.
At least the Daily Star make a vague attempt to disguise their red-top cynicism.
— Helen Miller (@MsHelicat) March 25, 2020
Fear no evil
Although it is time to defend John Cross, the author of that story. The Daily Mirror have done him over with the headline on their website.
‘Premier League stars fear wage cuts amid coronavirus crisis as PFA seek urgent talks’
Mentions of ‘fear’ exhibited by ‘Premier League stars’: Zero.
Mentions of any other negative emotion ‘Premier League stars’ have over the looming prospect of pay cuts: Zero.
Quotes from a source literally saying “the Premier League players will probably accept it as their club is no different in being affected by this”: One.
Attempts to make ‘Premier League stars’ seem unsympathetic and merciless: One, but only in that bizarre headline.
Back in July, a particular email dropped into an inbox not a million miles from here. The same message was received by pretty much every member of the wider football media and subsequently disregarded by most.
The Daily Mirror, however, saw #content.
So a press release from a leading marketing group was put through the click machine and the following headline spluttered out:
‘Supercomputer predicts Premier League table and it’s bad news for Liverpool and Man Utd’
How is any of this relevant now, in these uncertain times of March? Well…
‘Premier League top four predicted by document before coronavirus outbreak suspended games’
Talk about recycling.
The use of the word ‘document’ would lead many to believe this is something official, not just a harmless press release from seven bloody months ago.
And it’s all well and good that the research ‘considered everything from a mathematical standpoint…to determine the most likely outcome from each game’. But suggesting ‘it makes for interesting reading’ now is a stretch.
For a start, Liverpool are indeed ‘destined to win a first Premier League title’. But The Script (not the band) said back in July they’d finish second. And Leicester ‘are predicted to finish third’ – except they were predicted to finish ninth in the summer.
As for Sheffield United ‘battling it out for fourth spot’, they were backed to be relegated. And that quite neatly sums up the obvious problem in combining actual results with the remaining games that were predicted before the season started; they ‘suffer a sudden dip in form’ because ‘a computer super-brain’ said they’d go down, not be so good.
The worst thing about trying to use this ‘document’ to confuse people who are desperate for any sort of information on how the Premier League plans to end the season? The exact same author pulled the exact same trick on March 17.
‘Premier League outcome predicted by document – what it means for Liverpool and Man Utd,’ wrote Jake Polden then. And it means the same for Liverpool and Man Utd as it does for everyone else: f**k all.
It is no coincidence that the resumption of the season was pushed back to April 30 in between the two stories being published; why capitalise on the uncertainty for clicks once when you can do it again little over a week later?
Slight difference of opinion
‘United are one of only a handful of clubs with the financial power to meet that valuation, with Chelsea also undeterred by a price tag that could reach £120m’ – James Robson, Evening Standard.
‘But with Liverpool and Chelsea understood to have been put off by Dortmund’s valuation, that has left United – who tried to sign Sancho last summer – as his likeliest destination’ – David McDonnell, Daily Mirror.
Can you be simultaneously ‘undeterred’ and ‘put off’?
The Sun are asking the big questions the only way they know how: with imaginary line-ups based on transfer rumours:
‘How Man Utd will line-up with Jadon Sancho next season but how will Solskjaer replace Paul Pogba in midfield?’
Maybe the same way they’ve been coping all season? He hasn’t played since December.
Sorry, no, of course they’re signing Jadon Sancho. And Jack Grealish. And Kalidou Koulibaly. Thus spending about £280m and breaking the record for biggest spend of any club in a single transfer window. Silly us.
And here they are again:
‘How Arsenal could line up with James Rodriguez, Odsonne Edouard and Dayot Upamecano alongside William Saliba in defence’
James Rodriguez is a midfielder and Odsonne Edouard is a striker. They won’t be playing ‘alongside William Saliba in defence’ any time soon, regardless of whether Dayot Upamecano joins, too.
They’re obviously petty enough to not pick Mesut Ozil in this fantasy XI. And magical enough to fix the broken Kieran Tierney.
Making Emile of it
Let’s play a game of ‘guess the player from the Daily Express website description’.
‘Aston Villa icon predicts Jack Grealish ‘will join Man Utd’ this summer’
Why yes, Emile Hesley is the ‘Aston Villa icon’ who scored nine goals for them in 92 Premier League games.
I can transform ya
Reads the headline atop the MailOnline football home page:
‘How Ole has overthrown Jose’s failed regime: From investing in youth to discarding big names and rejuvenating Anthony Martial… Solskjaer really HAS transformed Man United after Mourinho left’
A seemingly necessary reminder that they are 5th and as close in terms of points to Everton in 12th as they are to Leicester in 3rd.