The Neym of the game
Last Thursday The Sun had a quite striking back page: ‘NEYM IN FRAME’ was the headline and the story was that ‘Neymar has put Premier League suitors on red alert after his dad revealed he could quit Barcelona. Manchester United lead the race for the Brazil superstar, with rivals City and Chelsea also monitoring the situation.’
As we pointed out at the time, Neymar’s dad said nothing of the sort. He actually said: “He has still two years left on his contract but you can all be calm as my son is so happy here.”
But no matter. ‘PREM GIANTS ON ALERT’ and all that.
On Wednesday, Neymar returns to the back page of The Sun, who are claiming ‘ANOTHER EXCLUSIVE’. They now say that ‘THE Manchester giants are going into battle for Neymar’. There will be a ‘£144m transfer war’, apparently. Quite how this differs from last Thursday is beyond Mediawatch. Except that this time Antony Kastrinakis is claiming an ‘exclusive’.
‘Barcelona’s star is the No. 1 target of new City boss Pep Guardiola,’ writes Kastrinakis.
Which is odd because he did not mention the Brazilian on February 2 when he wrote: ‘MANCHESTER CITY are ready for a £75million fight with Real Madrid over superstar Robert Lewandowski.’
And his colleague Duncan Wright did not consider Neymar an option when he wrote on February 1: ‘MANCHESTER CITY want Lionel Messi to join Pep Guardiola and turn the club into the giants of world football.’ In fact, he mentions Neymar as a key reason for Messi’s possible exit.
And nor did Wright mention Neymar (or Messi) on Tuesday when he wrote that ‘MANCHESTER CITY are planning a sensational bid to make Dimitri Payet the first signing of the Pep Guardiola era’.
Going back further, Shaun Custis’ ‘exclusive’ from January 6 listed Gerard Pique, Daniel Alaba, Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba as Pep Guardiola targets but no Neymar. Odd.
Mediawatch can only conclude that one of two things is happening here:
a) Several Sun journalists have an inside track to Pep Guardiola but the fickle bugger keeps changing his mind.
b) Not a one of them has a frigging clue.
Sins of the father
Kastrinakis quotes Neymar Snr as saying the following words ‘last week’: “There is no reason why he should sign a new deal at Barcelona.”
Bizarre then that that quote did not appear anywhere on the whole internet until Kastrinakis starting typing on Tuesday night, presumably just after his sports editor pointed out that they needed a back page as they hadn’t been to the BT jamboree and learned that Jose Mourinho to Manchester United is almost definitely a ‘done deal’.
Spot the difference
Joe Bernstein in the Mail on Sunday, February 7: ‘Pep Guardiola wants Barcelona superstar Neymar as his marquee signing at Manchester City this summer. With Lionel Messi considered unrealistic – partly due to his strained relationship with Guardiola towards the end of his time at the Nou Camp – attention has turned to Neymar, who would end up becoming the world’s first £100million footballer.’
Antony Kastrinakis in The Sun, February 10: ‘Barcelona’s star is the No. 1 target of new City boss Pep Guardiola.’
The difference is that the second is ANOTHER EXCLUSIVE. It’s ANOTHER something, alright.
The glitch is back
One more thing before we leave this. We promise.
Kastrinakis – with typical understatement – bills this Neymar fight as ‘the transfer battle that could shape English football for the foreseeable future’.
Then in the 17th paragraph: ‘One major glitch? That United may not be in the Champions League next year. That would be the end of that.’
Revelation of the day
— Express Sport (@DExpress_Sport) February 10, 2016
Can you simultaneously MAKE UP and REVEAL?
A lesson in banter
Kastrinakis was a busy boy on Tuesday night – taking time out from writing about the ‘BATTLE FOR A SUPERSTAR’ to learn five things from West Ham v Liverpool.
The fourth ‘lesson’ in full: ‘”AND coming on for West Ham – ‘the Ginger Pele’ James Collins” said the stadium announcer. That is top class. Where else would you get that sort of banter but at Upton Park? Classic.’
The only thing we ‘learned’ is that Kastrinakis is very, very easily amused.
Bizarrely impressed journalist of the day
The Daily Mail’s Neil Ashton describes Liverpool fans taking all their allocation for the West Ham replay as a ‘magnificent turnout’.
One of the country’s three biggest clubs selling fewer than 6000 seats at £20 each? Astonishing.
Non-sequitur of the day
‘Liverpool’s manager wears the club shop on matchday, with branded baseball cap on his head and scarf around his neck, plus the official jacket, but you wonder how long some of these players will wear the famous shirt’ – Neil Ashton.
Metro: Your home of Ozil stats
Metro, November 12: ’10 stats that prove Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil is having the season of his life.’
Metro, December 21: ‘Arsenal ace Mesut Ozil equals Eden Hazard’s Premier League assist record in 59 fewer matches.’
Metro, December 22: ‘Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has more assists than Chelsea and Manchester United this season.’
Metro, December 28: ‘Mesut Ozil created more chances for Arsenal v Bournemouth than any player has in a Premier League match this season.’
Metro, December 30: ‘Mesut Ozil breaks Thierry Henry’s Arsenal record with 20 assists in a calendar year.’
Metro, January 1: ‘Arsenal star Mesut Ozil created most Premier League chances in 2015.’
Metro, February 3: ‘Stats show Arsenal need new striker after 0-0 draw despite Mesut Ozil creating record amount of chances.’
Metro, February 10: ‘Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has created as many chances as Eden Hazard in 2014/15.’
The latter – we are told elsewhere – ‘has humiliated Chelsea’s Hazard’. Mediawatch suspects that a Premier League winner’s medal trumps this latest ‘record’.
Non-story of the day
‘Gary Neville will be in the dugout for England friendlies with Germany and Holland despite Valencia struggles’ – MailOnline.
Or ‘Man will do job for which he is handsomely paid’.
Recommended reading of the day
Swiss Ramble on anything – but this time it’s Crystal Palace
Marina Hyde on the Premier League bubble not being burst by fans
Sam Jackson on Stats v Intuition