Mediawatch: The 13 who could leave United

Date published: Thursday 11th August 2016 12:10

Mesut and tie
Reporting rumours from foreign outlets is a wonderful business. In an era where transfer stories are king, any update is welcomed with open arms. And ‘according to Fichajes’ sounds sexy to an awful lot of people for reasons beyond anyone’s understanding.

The problem with reporting transfer rumours from foreign outlets is that they are so easily mistranslated – willingly or otherwise. Case in point, SportBild’s story on Mesut Ozil, which reached British shores on Thursday morning.

The story, for anyone with Google Translate, is easy to decipher: Mesut Ozil is likely to sign a new contract at Arsenal. Good news, certainly. But there is bad news. His ‘heart association’ is with Real Madrid, his former club.

The German newspaper tells us that a new deal for Ozil does not necessarily mean he will stay at the Emirates Stadium for life, which is obvious, and that he is eager to win trophies which, again, is obvious. But the crux of the story is positive, claiming that the German international will sign a new contract and simply wants to win more trophies.

Put that through The Sun‘s translation machine, and we get: ‘Mesut Ozil is ready to return to Real Madrid, according to reports in Germany.’ Already, ‘ready to sign a new contract at Arsenal’ becomes ‘ready to return to Real Madrid’.

Interestingly, Tom Sheen makes no mention of the contract talk – the lead on SportBild’s story – and also suggests that the 27-year-old wants to leave because he ‘is frustrated by the lack of transfer activity at the Emirates’.

SportBild suggest nothing of the sort in their article. But hey, foreign source, so you can say what you want.


The bad news only continues for Arsenal fans. Not only is Mesut Ozil leaving, but you have been DEALT A BLOW in Champions League terms too.

Atop The Metro‘s list of their most-shared stories sits not a transfer rumour or social media post, but this: ‘Champions League qualifying rules to change in 2018 and it could be bad news for Arsenal’. Clicking into the story, that headline immediately changes to ‘Champions League rule changes could see automatic qualification for four Premier League clubs every season.’

What is this change to the Champions League rules, one which brings ‘bad news’ for Arsenal? That the fourth place qualification spot for Europe’s elite competition could soon be decided on ‘historical merit’. The top three would automatically qualify for the group stages as they do now, but UEFA could opt to hand Liverpool a place because they have won the tournament before.

‘Still, this would be bad news for teams like Arsenal and Tottenham, who are regulars in the top four running, but who would be potentially denied a place in the Champions League for having never won the trophy itself.’

Of course, such rules will have seen Arsenal qualify automatically for the group stages in both of the past two seasons, and three of the past five. They have finished 3rd, 4th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the Premier League since 2011/12. But this is ‘bad news’.


Unlucky 13
Those of you with an excellent memory will recall the day, almost a fortnight ago, that Manchester United ‘brutally culled’ six players in one day. That figure then turned to seven. Then eight. Then nine. Those with a trademark over the term ‘clearout’ had never seen so much revenue.

On Thursday, the Daily Telegraph take a horse and try their very best to flog it, despite having beaten it themselves to within an inch of its life previously. It’s not six, it’s not seven, it’s not eight and it’s not nine players who could be leaving Old Trafford; it’s 13.

‘Man Utd transfers – the unlucky 13 who Jose Mourinho could flog this month,’ reads the headline, and two problems surface immediately: 1) ‘Could’. 2) It’s a gallery.

But Mediawatch does its best to deliver a service, and so we must click, click, click. And first up we have Bastian Schweinsteiger. Nothing exclusive, nothing revealed, just a player who is clearly not wanted.

Next is Marcos Rojo. The same Marcos Rojo who numerous outlets have reported as being one of Mourinho’s chosen 26-man squad for this season.

Then there is Daley Blind. The same Daley Blind who has featured heavily in pre-season, and who the Telegraph themselves categorised as ‘staying put’ in a similar gallery (obviously) earlier this summer.

Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian all follow. It would be a surprise if fewer than two of them were not still at the club come September.

Not content with that, the Telegraph up the online debate stakes by chucking in Memphis Depay. Of course. From there, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (‘staying put‘ in the aforementioned gallery), James Wilson, Paddy McNair (‘staying put‘), Andreas Pereira, Will Keane and Adnan Januzaj – but not Donald Love – are added to help us reach 13.

Will that revolving door at Old Trafford ever stop?


Keep it brief
Someone has briefed a whole bunch of journalists, judging by the headlines in Thursday’s newspapers. It’s difficult to work out who.

Adnan Januzaj feels ‘humiliated’ by Jose Mourinho for shoving him towards the exit door at Old Trafford’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Adnan Januzaj is set to complete a loan move from Manchester United to Sunderland but would have preferred to cut all ties with Old Trafford after being left ‘humiliated’ over his treatment by the club this summer’ – Daily Mail.

‘Adnan Januzaj feels humiliated at being frozen out by Jose Mourinho’ – The Sun.

‘Adnan Januzaj has accused Jose Mourinho of ‘humiliating’ him as he prepares to leave Old Trafford’ – Daily Star.

‘Adnan Januzaj wants a permanent move away from Manchester United as he feels that has been humiliated by Jose Mourinho’ – The Times.

‘Adnan Januzaj was close to joining Sunderland on a season-long loan last night after being left “humiliated” by Jose Mourinho’s decision to axe him from Manchester United’s first-team squad’ – Daily Telegraph.


Stones throw
Chris Sutton is not too impressed with Manchester City’s signing of John Stones. The former striker takes to the Daily Mail to tell us that they have signed ‘a defender whose strength is not his defending’.

Sutton’s piece includes plenty of throwaway comments – ‘He’s a stroller, not a stopper’, ‘He relies too much on recovery’, ‘If in doubt, stay on your feet’ – and the general tone is that his £47.5m fee is inflated. ‘So, is he really worth £47.5m?’ reads the headline to a nifty little graphic.

A short message here: Asking whether a footballer is ‘worth’ a particular fee is a) boring and b) pointless. But we digress.

‘I can imagine Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be among those licking his lips with anticipation,’ Sutton continues, ‘because Stones does not have the physicality to deal with a player like Zlatan and that would worry me’.

Now, Stones is a pretty slender, slight individual on first viewing. Heck, so was Cristiano Ronaldo at 22. But he has proven himself adept at dealing with ‘physical’ strikers. Harry Kane, Graziano Pelle, Andy Carroll and Troy Deeney are among those who failed to score a single goal against Stones and Everton last season. Ibrahimovic’s ‘physicality’ would not pose a problem; his career record of over 400 goals might.

‘It’s interesting that City have kept the Stones fee below the £49m they paid for Raheem Sterling,’ adds Sutton. ‘The price will go up with bonuses for success paid to Everton, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had deliberately kept the fee at £47.5m for now. There is enough pressure on Stones already.’

Ignoring the fact that Sutton says ‘there is enough pressure’ on the England international a few short paragraphs after mentioning he would be ‘a target’ and provides ‘a weakness’ for opponents to exploit, something else stands out here. The Stones fee is explicitly not ‘below the £49m’ paid for Sterling. They paid £44m to Liverpool upfront for the winger – less than the initial £47.5m Stones fee – and, with add-ons, it could reach £49m – less than the £50m for his new teammate.


City breaks
Of course, John Stones could struggle with the physicality of any striker if Trevor Sinclair was his manager. Because Trevor Sinclair apparently despises defenders.

Yes, that is Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy providing the bread in a John Stones three-man-central-defence sandwich.

Yes, that is David Silva at right wing-back.

Yes, that is Kevin De Bruyne as left wing-back.

Yes, that is everyone praying Pep Guardiola has the balls to do it.


Hoddle twaddle
Mediawatch cannot lie: an ‘oh for fu…’ was uttered in the office as it opened Thursday’s edition of the Daily Express.

‘Glenn Hoddle has renewed calls for an English manager to be installed at one of the Premier League’s top clubs – if only to act as peacemaker among what promises to be the biggest clash of foreign egos in football history.’

Seriously, Glenn. Are you not aware Sam Allardyce – as English as English can be – has been appointed England manager. You know, manager of the national team, the supposed pinnacle of football in the country? Come on, man.

But what is it Hoddle actually says? “Antonio Conte wears his heart on his sleeve and kicks every ball,” he begins. “Pep Guardiola is very animated,” he continues. “Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho…” he adds, hoping the football world can understand his hidden message.

“It’s just a shame we are not talking about an English coach in the middle of it all to sort them all out.”

Give Pardew Guardiola’s wages (and job).


Rome wasn’t built in a day
Wednesday, August 10, 5:15pm:

Just over four hours later…


Obscene Jack
What’s this on the back page of The Sun? ‘JACK BACKS BOOS’ is the headline. Consider Mediawatch intrigued. Here is the opening paragraph:

‘Jack Wilshere admits England’s flops deserve to be booed when the Prem returns this weekend.’

Wait, did they all buy their mother a house or something? Don’t tell us they all have personalised headrests? Because if they do… *shakes fist*


Least convincing statement of this or any other day
“I know my body better than ever. I know what it can do and can’t do.”

We want to believe you, Jack Wilshere. We really do.


Recommended reading of the day
Xavi on Pep Guardiola.

Adam Hurrey on Big Duncan Ferguson.

Richard Jolly on Ronald Koeman.

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