The opening paragraph of Alan Shearer’s column in the best-selling newspaper in England…
‘THERE is one way the England players can silence the boo boys that follow them and that is by playing a darn site better than on Friday night.’
And yes, as of 11am on Monday, it is the same on the websight.
You Cescy thing
Mediawatch gave Football365’s award-winning writer Daniel Storey ten guesses as to the identity of ‘the best player in the Premier League so far this season’ – as decided by The Sun’s Chief Football Reporter Neil Ashton – and he foolishly reeled off a list of Manchester United and Liverpool players with the odd left-field choice of Aaron Mooy and Harry Maguire.
Having been given another ten guesses and instructions that it was a big club player but crucially from neither Manchester United nor Liverpool, he still did not come up with the ‘correct’ answer.
How could he have possibly known that being sent off against Burnley, being suspended for the win over Tottenham and playing quite well against Everton would make Cesc Fabregas the ‘best player in the Premier League so far this season’?
But maybe Ashton was particularly impressed with Fabregas in the Community Shield? No, he called him ‘anonymous’.
And maybe Ashton believed that Chelsea had been unlucky against Burnley? Well no, he – and this is Mediawatch’s choice of the best hyperbole in the Premier League so far this season – wrote that ‘there is something sinister going on at Stamford Bridge’.
So he has basically anointed Fabregas the nascent season’s best player because he was impressive against Everton (and because he wanted to make a point about Fabregas not even getting in Spain’s squad).
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Emre Can and Roberto Firmino all want a word.
We three kings
Talking of Romelu Lukaku, he is – according to MailOnline – one quarter of an ‘awesome attacking force’ which they feel compelled to compare to all the other awesome attacking forces of past Manchester United teams.
After three whole Premier League games against West Ham, Swansea and Leicester City, Adam Shergold has given this 2017/18 strikeforce a ‘danger rating’ of 9/10.
Which makes them loads better than the 7.5-rated double title-winning strikeforce of 1992-94 which featured Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes, miles better than the 2002-04 vintage that featured a 44-goal season from Ruud van Nistelrooy (they were only 7/10 dangerous), marginally better than the Robin van Persie/Wayne Rooney/Javier Hernandez trio of 2012/13 (8/10 dangerous) and already equal to the 2007-09 strikeforce featuring Ronaldo (68 goals across two seasons), Wayne Rooney (32) and Carlos Tevez (34).
After three games. He definitely hasn’t got carried away.
As Shergold writes…
‘While Ibrahimovic won’t have a chance to replicate his stunning form of last season until December at the earliest, the other three have made flying starts…Rashford and Martial offer lightning pace, skill and a decent chance conversion rate, while Ibrahimovic really needs no introduction.’
Marcus Rashford has scored one goal from nine shots.
The Daily Mail’s Charles Sale is a man with an agenda. An unstintingly negative agenda.
This is him on former sports psychiatrist Steve Peters no longer working with England, and it is his lead item on Monday under the heading of ‘Are England mad to ditch mind coach?’
‘England footballers have given up travelling with a dedicated sports psychiatrist at the very time when they look as if they could do with extra support for their mental attitude.
‘There are plenty of unappetising games, such as Friday’s dire match in Malta, when it proves difficult to inspire maximum performance from the players – just where a trusted psychiatrist could prove useful.’
As Sale points out later in the same piece: Peters ‘has disappeared from the set-up since the Hodgson regime ended in abject failure at Euro 2016’.
So it turns out that England footballers actually have given up travelling with a dedicated sports psychiatrist at the very time when they they proved that extra support for their mental attitude was not working.
And here is Sale on Ryan Giggs snubbing Malta:
‘Ryan Giggs is well known in Malta due to the time he has spent on the island, starting from his early days at Manchester United.
‘He also invested in a hotel group there with Gary Neville.
‘Nevertheless Giggs, along with ITV colleagues Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle, chose to return home from Malta as soon as possible after the game on Friday – even if it meant a 5.30am exit from their hotel on Saturday.’
It took about 93 seconds for Mediawatch to find out that Giggs had come home early to attend the 2017 FAW McDonald’s Community Awards. But why would Sale do any research when he can remain ignorantly pompous?
Summing up Southgate
“I was having some interaction with Julen Lopetegui at a game where he was saying how lucky I was to have Harry playing.”
Two words: Middle and management.
You know it’s international week when…
The Daily Mirror’s back-page headline is ‘NOW YOU’RE GURNER BELIEVE US’ because they have some pictures of England players pulling faces.
Kane and unable
Mediawatch is enjoying the big talk about Harry Kane being world class after his two goals against Malta, with The Sun’s Charlie Wyett among those writing that ‘with ten goals in 20 games, Kane has compared his scoring record to that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the early stages of their international career’.
Tiny point: Ronaldo and Messi had – in the early stages of their international career – scored semi-final goals to reach the finals of a European Championship and a Copa America. Meanwhile, Harry Kane played four games at Euro 2016, scored no goals and looked generally pretty pony.
Let’s hold those horses, eh.