Kiss from a Rose
Premier League football is back on Saturday. England’s two most successful and most popular clubs play each other in the early game. The international break is over and, with it, the need to dream up a back-page story from absolutely nothing is gone. Unless you are The Sun.
— Allie Hodgkins-Brown (@AllieHBNews) October 12, 2017
The story is precisely as it appears: Manchester United are going to bid £50million for Danny Rose…after he was not included in Tottenham’s official 2018 calendar.
The transfer bullsh*t tour de force of Neil Custis and Paul Jiggins team up for this exclusive. This is a story as big as Watergate, so clearly needs just as many journalists.
‘The England star was left out of Spurs’ official 2018 calendar, adding to fears his days at the club look numbered,’ the second paragraph reads, with Custis and Jiggins presumably writing every other word. Or was one of them checking a Tottenham 2018 calendar while the other one wrote ‘Special One’ over and over again?
There are a few problems with this ‘exclusive’:
* Davinson Sanchez, Erik Lamela, Michel Vorm, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Moussa Sissoko, Fernando Llorente, Juan Foyth, Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters and Ben Davies are not on the official Tottenham 2018 calendar either. Are they all being sold along with Rose? And what about their entire youth team?
* The 12 players on the official Tottenham 2018 calendar are Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier, Heung-min Son, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks. In which case, Mediawatch expects The Sun to not report a single transfer rumour regarding any of them until January 2019, because they are clearly staying until then at the very earliest.
* In the official Tottenham 2017 calendar, Kyle Walker is the player chosen for November; Vincent Janssen is December. It’s almost as if being included on a calendar means the approximate square root of f*** all.
Remember when the Manchester Evening News took a stand against ‘fake news’ in early May? Here are a few excerpts from a piece detailing why ‘Trust is name of the game in sports journalism’:
‘Supporters and lovers of sport crave authenticity.’
‘To be trusted by the people who go to games and know our teams inside out is a great privilege. Plenty changes in sport, but that remains the same. When you see a sea of headlines about your club, looking out for the title based closest to the club in question in the best way to ensure you’re getting the real story from your clubs.’
‘It’s a matter of trust. That trust has been built and sustained by, above all, superb journalism.’
‘Fake news is fly-by-night, being a fan is for life. We know what fans want because we are them ourselves. But we also know that fans want facts – no matter how much we’d all want to believe that Ronaldo is about to sign for our club. That’s what sets us apart from those organisations who just want your click. We want your trust.’
Keep the above in mind when visiting their website on Friday. Their Manchester United homepage includes the above story from The Sun – ‘Tottenham drop huge Manchester United Danny Rose transfer hint’ – and yet there are further depths to plunge.
‘Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho preparing record bid for Harry Kane and more transfer rumours,’ reads the headline on an article from Thursday evening, and the eagle-eyed among you may recognise its origins. What was that about ‘online gubbins’?
‘It’s a matter of trust. That trust has been built and sustained by, above all, superb journalism.’ And rehashing terrible transfer rumours from hardly the most reliable of sources. Don’t forget that.
At Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal press conference on Thursday, he was asked about the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. At every Arsene Wenger Arsenal press conference for the past two years, he has been asked about the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
When questioned as to whether Arsenal could sell either player in January to avoid losing them for free next summer, Wenger made one simple mistake: he answered honestly.
“Once you are in our kind of situation we have envisaged every kind of solution, yes,” Wenger said of a January sale. “It’s possible.”
Anyone would read those quotes and simply conclude that the Frenchman is not ruling anything out – that anything is “possible” and “every kind of solution” has been planned.
But then the Daily Mirror have a back page to fill, and so Wenger has ‘effectively tried to start an auction’ with his comments. John Cross reports that bids – from Manchester City – will start and end at £20million.
‘GOING CHEAP’ reads the back-page headline. Mediawatch has done the maths and £0 – what Sanchez can leave for in the summer – is actually cheaper than £20m.
Still, that is better than the Daily Mail‘s back-page offering of ‘SANCHEZ IS OFF’.
‘Wenger admits star man set to go in January’, reads the sub-headline. The first paragraph is as follows: ‘Arsene Wenger is resigned to Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal in the January transfer window.’
From ‘it’s possible” and “we have envisaged every kind of solution”, to ‘SANCHEZ IS OFF’ in the space of just a few hours. Wenger will not make the same naive mistake of speaking honestly (and subsequently being completely misquoted) again.
‘Could Jurgen have avoided Mane blow?’ asks Martin Keown in the Daily Mail. ‘No’ is the obvious answer. No he could not.
But Keown, as is his wont, ploughs on regardless.
‘Romelu Lukaku will have left Manchester to join up with Belgium last week with strict instructions from Jose Mourinho: ‘Don’t get injured.’
‘Did Jurgen Klopp say the same to Sadio Mane?’
Did Jurgen Klopp tell one of his players not to get injured? What kind of ungodly powers does Keown think Klopp possesses for him to believe that a simple reminder would have prevented Mane’s injury? And the idea that Lukaku avoided injury only because Mourinho reminded him to do so is wonderful.
‘Klopp is different to Mourinho. He has an emotional connection with every one of his players and you feel he really wants them to be happy. As he left Liverpool, was Mane told that he must return fit?’
So that’s settled then: Klopp is to blame for Mane’s injury because he forgot to remind him not to pull his hamstring.
At this point, it is important to note that Lukaku played 24 minutes of a possible 180 over the international break in two meaningless games, with Belgium already qualified for the World Cup. Mane, as Senegal’s best player, played all but one minute against Cape Verde in a fixture his country had to win to have any chance of making it to Russia. There is a slight difference. And it is not simply that Mourinho reminded Lukaku not to get injured.
Winter is coming
The trope of interviewing former players regarding their old clubs is as well-established as it is understandable. Readers are interested in hearing the thoughts of those who used to feature for the club, and that is fine.
But Mediawatch cannot help shake the feeling that the shark has been jumped when Henry Winter (1.24m Twitter followers) is interviewing Nick Tanner (4,636 Twitter followers, and more appearances for Bristol Rovers than for Liverpool) for The Times.
Was Jon Otsemobor not available?
Charles Sale is back with his Sports Agenda in the Daily Mail on Friday. And this is huge news.
‘Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish, whose team are still without a point or a goal in the Premier League this season, must be fearing the worst. He is using social media to advertise two large commercial properties in Clerkenwell available for rent on flexible terms.’
More as we get it.
Recommended reading of the day
Gregor Robertson on football’s painkiller problem.
Steven Pye on when Arsenal lost twice to Watford in two days.
Michael Cox previews Liverpool v Manchester United.