Paulo Dybala and Liverpool: A murky rumour
There were plenty of headlines regarding the future of Juventus striker Paulo Dybala on Tuesday morning (including on Football365), with The Sun linking Liverpool with a £90m move. However, drill down into the story a little and it begins to get very murky indeed.
‘LIVERPOOL want £90million-rated Juventus forward Paulo Dybala as their long-term replacement for Philippe Coutinho, according to reports,’ the Sun story begins. ‘Italian media claim the Argentine star, 24, sits top of Jurgen Klopp’s summer wish-list to finally replace the now-Barcelona ace.’
‘Italian media’ is a particularly vague source, so let’s scout about. The first mention of Liverpool interest in Dybala actually came on Sunday, on the Express Sport website. They said that Dybala could leave Juventus, and that Liverpool wanted a blockbuster signing after the departure of Philippe Coutinho.
Yet Express Sport only took their lead from Transfermarketweb.com, an Italian transfer website. They wrote (on April 6):
‘Heavily linked to A-listers, such as Barcelona FC, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, Argentinian international forward Paulo Dybala (24), according to Sport Mediaset, has now been targeted by Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, and Tottenham.’
Poor Tottenham got left out of all this. Shame. Still, it’s onto Sport Mediaset, an Italian news outlet.
Unfortunately, the only mention on Sport Mediaset regarding Liverpool and Paulo Dybala is from this morning. It reads:
‘As reported by the Sun, Liverpool could invest £90 million, part of the proceeds from the sale of Coutinho to Barcelona in January, for the purchase of Paulo Dybala. A very complicated affair: Juventus has no intention of surrendering the Argentine and the competition is fierce.’
They said that they said that they said that they said that the first lot actually said. And that’s how conjecture becomes headline news.
The real reason they lost
What do you think was the reason that Manchester City lost to Manchester United on Saturday teatime? Was it Raheem Sterling’s profligacy? Martin Atkinson’s inability to give two penalties? Manchester United’s own resurgence? Or because Pep Guardiola doesn’t understand the importance of local rivalry?
Sorry, but it’s none of those. Samuel is back again to explain in the Daily Mail:
‘Manchester City blew a two-goal lead against Manchester United on Saturday. That happens in football. By far the strangest event of the afternoon occurred before kick-off, however, when Pep Guardiola allowed his team out with their kids as match-day mascots.
‘Some players were scrambling to keep lively tots under control, while Vincent Kompany, the captain, met his opposite number juggling a small child in his arms. Lovely – but was it entirely appropriate for such a big game against a rival? Did it not smack a little of complacency, of thinking the job done?’
Isn’t it a little odd that the complacency caused by having their kids out on the pitch with them didn’t manifest itself in the first half, when City could have scored four or five goals and outclassed Manchester United? Or is this a more latent complacency, that only comes out an hour later?
If anything, given that City struggled in the second half when the children didn’t warm up with them, perhaps that was the mistake? Either that or the whole thing was entirely unrelated to City’s performance in any way.
When Stan met Pep, part 427
We thought this story had a happy ending. After kicking Pep Guardiola regularly in his Daily Mirror column over the last year, Stan Collymore had thawed. He’d fallen in love.
‘Manchester City’s 14-game winning streak, a new record in a Premier League season, is fantastic and I doff my cap to Pep Guardiola and his team,’ wrote Stan in December. ‘Having the bravery to say: “This is my philosophy and it’s what I believe” is something all the great managers have. Whether it’s long-ball, counter-attacking, pass and move, or keeping it on the deck, the best managers, the best football bosses, believe their way is the best way to win matches.’
Even last week, Collymore was on the charm offensive, writing that ‘I’ve always been quick to praise Guardiola for the things he has done well.’
But you might have noticed that since that column was published, Guardiola’s Manchester City lost to Liverpool in the Champions League. And you know what that means – Collymore is coming in off a long run-up.
‘The fact remains he [Guardiola] has struggled in the latter stages of the Champions League when he hasn’t had Lionel Messi at his disposal.’
Well, before now he’s only ever failed to reach the Champions League semi-finals once as a manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich. So he has at least got to the latter stages. But fine.
‘If Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Jock Stein, Brian Clough and Carlo Ancelotti, or any number of managers, had had Guardiola’s Barcelona team, with Messi in it, they would have won the European Cups he did.’
Interesting that Collymore doesn’t mention those ‘any number of managers’, isn’t it? Also interesting that Barcelona have only reached the Champions League final in one of the six years since Guardiola left, even though Messi has been there throughout.
Also, when Carlo Ancelotti won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2014/15, Cristiano Ronaldo did score 17 goals. Managers of the best teams tend to have good players. Or is it just having Messi that counts as a cheat card in Stan’s eyes?
‘Now Liverpool have a 3-0 first-leg lead in their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City, which is why the factual evidence does not say to me, “That, right there, is one of the all-time greats of coaching.”
And by ‘factual evidence’, he means ‘selected evidence’.
‘It says to me that his Barcelona was one of the all-time great teams with a very good coach at the helm.’
And do you think the coaching might have helped to make them such a great tea…oh forget it.
‘Of course, I’ll start to think differently if Guardiola can mastermind one of the great comebacks at the Etihad on Tuesday.’
Mediawatch can’t help but think that changing your opinion of a manager’s ability and entire career based on the result of one match might be the issue here.
Blowing a Gale
There are plenty of takes surrounding West Brom’s capitulation this season, but you have to hand it to Sky Sports News pundit Tony Gale for finding a piping hot one.
Asked to explain who was at fault for the club’s relegation, Gale argued that there was “nothing Alan Pardew could do”. Pardew was appointed with 23 league games remaining by a club outside the relegation zone.
When pushed to apportion blame if Pardew didn’t merit any, Gale had his answer:
“The West Brom fans are the reason they are going down”.
As we said, piping hot.
‘Yes, Manchester City have the firepower to damage anyone, but you couldn’t back them with anything more than blind faith to keep a clean sheet’ – Phil Thomas, The Sun.
A reminder: Manchester City have kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions this season. That’s more than every other team in the Premier League.
Eat my car!
If Mediawatch told you that The Sun’s ‘features guru’ – his words not ours – had written a feature for The Sun website, would you guess it was about a) actual football, or b) cars. That’s right; strap in. Literally.
‘But, when you drive a Ferrarri, Lamborghini or Porsche the temptation is always going to be there to put your foot down,’ writes Jon Boon, like a real man of the people. Yeah, we all know that bloody feeling.
‘In the recent aftermath of Lee Catermole (sic) getting a driving ban for accumulating too many points on his license (sic), join SunSport in sharing other offenders.’
Aside from the two spelling mistakes (‘licence’ is spelled incorrectly seven times in the feature. You’d at least think to reach for the dictionary), enjoyably combining both footballers and car-related things, Mediawatch does like to picture the conversation with the editor “I think we need a spin-off feature from Lee Cattermole’s driving ban. It’s really captured the zeitgeist”.
The faux-banterous schtick is enough to make anyone feel bilious, but (again) doing them in an Alan Partridge voice makes it bearable:
‘Amusingly enough, some of these lads aren’t best known for their pace on the pitch…’
‘The ex-Arsenal forward has always thrown caution to the wind, but here he was caught driving faster than a gail force one.’
‘How his team wished they could convert his driving points to their league form… well, they’d be out the relegation zone!’
‘There must be something about the A3 that just makes footballers go wild.’
‘The darling of Anfield can do no wrong with Liverpool fans. But with the authorities, Robbie certainly has some beef.’
‘The one scoring record Barcelona star Lionel Messi is unlikely to break – Mirror Football.
Top Premier League goalscorer? World Cup record goalscorer? Europa League record goalscorer? Most penalties ever? Most goals ever in a game?
No, no, no, no and no. The ‘one’ record Messi won’t break is the most goals from free-kicks. Apart from all the other ones he won’t break.
Hyperbole of the day
‘For a bloke who’s staring down the barrel of a gun, Pep Guardiola sounded pretty damned bullish’ – Dave Kidd, The Sun.
Unless that gun is loaded with streamers to congratulate him for winning the Premier League title at a canter, that metaphor is probably a bit much.
Recommended reading of the day
Daniel Taylor on Manchester City vs Liverpool.
Simon Hughes on Virgil van Dijk.
Robert O’Connor on Kosovan football.
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