Mediawatch: The Sanchez exclusive that made us frown

Date published: Thursday 2nd March 2017 8:50

Sanchez: The exclusive
There are several journalists that Mediawatch would consult for reliable Arsenal news. The BBC’s David Ornstein, for example. Or the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence. Or the Daily Mirror’s John Cross. Or the Evening Standard’s James Olley.

Weirdly, none of those four have the same ‘exclusive’ as the Daily Star’s chief football writer David Woods, plastered across the back page of his paper on Wednesday morning. That exclusive is that Alexis Sanchez has decided to leave Arsenal and return to Spain.

‘Emerging force Sevilla are in pole position to land the Chile striker, who is a big fan of their boss Jorge Sampaoli, his former national team manager.

‘Starsport understands he’s instead become disillusioned at the lack of progress the club are making. Sanchez is 28 and feels he’s moving to the peak years of his career. With that in mind, he wants to be lifting silverware.

‘But the trophies he has won – at club level, at least – remain remarkably few and far between. He won La Liga with Barcelona in 2013 and the FA Cup in 2015. They remain the only two big honours Sanchez has taken.’

If you’re including the FA Cup, then we’re having the Copa del Rey, along with titles in Chile and Argentina, while the Super Cup and Club World Cup surely deserve a passing mention. But fine, Sanchez wants more trophies. You said it.

So the answer to that frustration is to join Sevilla? The Sevilla who last won La Liga in 1945/46 and haven’t finished in the top two since 1957. The Sevilla who haven’t reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup since 1958. The Sevilla who have only won the Copa del Rey twice since 1948. Is it Sanchez’s dream to win the Europa League?

Still, Sanchez likes their manager so Sevilla are ‘in pole position’. Never mind that Sampaoli is favourite for the Barcelona job. Never mind that Sevilla’s record transfer is £12m. Never mind that their highest-paid player is on comfortably less than £100,000 a week while Sanchez is pushing for £250,000 a week at Arsenal. None of that matters, apparently.

Forgive Mediawatch for its (constant) cynicism, but we strongly believe two things:

1) When Sanchez decides his Arsenal future and ‘makes no secret of his thinking within the camp’, more journalists than Woods will have that information.

2) Sanchez can decide which club he would like to join as much as he likes – and we’re blindly trusting Woods here that Sevilla is his preferred destination – but transfers aren’t that simple.

Still, the Daily Star got their back-page splash on a quiet day.


Make Everton great again
‘Everton want Wayne Rooney to make a return – and help make them No. 1 on Merseyside,’ begins David Coverdale’s piece on the back page of The Sun, setting Mediawatch alarm bells ringing.

‘Rooney looks set to leave Manchester United this summer. Goodison chief Ronald Koeman says that the striker, 31, could push his team past Liverpool into the top four.’

Except that Koeman didn’t say that, did he? He said nothing of the sort:

“I still think Wayne Rooney is playing at a high level and he made a good choice staying at Manchester United and in the Premier League. He still has two or three years in front of him to play at the highest level.

“What will happen at the end of the season, I do not know? In my opinion he’s one of the players who can make Everton stronger than they are now. It’s all about what the players likes, what Manchester United need to do and we are not involved in that project. Every player who we feel can make the team stronger is welcome at Everton.”

Mentions of (or even references to) Liverpool: 0.
Mentions of the top four: 0.

Slow news day, huh?


Take me home, and put me to bed
Did you hear about the new film ‘Don’t Take Me Home’ charting Wales’ Euro 2016 success and think ‘Well, this looks bad on Gary Neville’?

If you answered ‘no’ then congratulations, you are a reasonable person. If you answered ‘yes’ then commiserations, you are Charles Sale of the Daily Mail. You have a Sports Agenda column and a bitterness towards Neville:

‘A stunning film of Wales’ Euro 2016 heroics that opened this week should be compulsory viewing for England’s under-achieving footballers.’

Because nothing can be truly enjoyed without focusing on the negative connotation.

‘Don’t Take Me Home, which had its premiere in Leicester Square, graphically conveys the togetherness throughout the Welsh squad and backroom staff that was so utterly absent from England’s woeful performance in France.’

Okay Charles, we see how you’re doing it. Nice. Classic.

‘The open-door attitude of the Welsh at their base in Brittany, embracing the Euro adventure as a unit and bonding with their fans, came across vividly in the behind-the-scenes footage that included the squad’s delirious reaction to England’s humiliating defeat by Iceland.’

Yes, and…? Don’t make us wait, Charles. Do the Neville dig.

‘The Welsh approach was in stark contrast to the permanent guards on the door at England’s hotel base in Chantilly and the unwelcome feeling epitomised by the snarling presence of assistant coach Gary Neville with his ‘don’t give them anything’ approach to the media.’


Maybe, and it’s a left-field idea, the Welsh squad and coaching staff were more open to the media because they weren’t subject to tactics being leaked by cameras with long lenses, the semi-constant invasion of their private lives and a lengthy period of post-tournament victimisation and player-shaming that has happened in one form or another after each of the last four or five major tournaments.

Still, you keep using a national newspaper column to express your personal dislike of a member of that backroom staff nine months after the tournament ended. That’ll definitely help.


The super computer is back
Regular Mediawatch readers may well remember the Daily Express’ ‘super computer’, a weekly 20-page gallery predicting the Premier League table come the end of the season.

Mediawatch spotted the potential flaws in the algorithm when, on September 30, their table predicted that Stoke would score eight goals all season and fail to win a single match. The Express promptly dropped the idea.

Well good news, because it’s back! Having decided that enough time has passed to make slightly more realistic predictions, the Express bring back Mediawatch’s favourite feature from 2016. Do they use the phrase ‘the stats geeks’? Of course they do.

Wonderfully, the Express’ predictions table still manages to stuff things up. We’re not saying that your algorithm is flawed, guys. but we’re struggling to trust any model which predicts that:

– None of the current top eight teams (Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton or West Brom) will lose another home game this season.

– No team outside the current top six will win another away game this season. Sorry Everton, West Brom, Burnley, Southampton, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Stoke, Leicester, Swansea, Crystal Palace, Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland – no more away wins for you.

It’s almost like football is more complex than ‘they’re above them so they can’t lose’.


A growing list
– ‘5 non-league strikers who could play for England: Who will be the next Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Mirror, May 22, 2015.

They were Omar Bogle, James Norwood, Sean Geddes, Gareth Bainbridge and Jack Sowerby.

– ‘Finding the next Jamie Vardy: Non-League’s top strikers – could they do a job for YOUR club?’ – Daily Mirror, October 10, 2015.

They were Moses Emmanuel, Kristian Dennis, Omar Bogle, Brendon Daniels, Aaron Williams, Elliott Buchanan and Danny Mills.

– ‘West Ham consider January move for non-league wonderkid dubbed the next Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Express, January 6, 2016.

That was Dumebi Dumaka.

– ‘Norwich plot move for striker dubbed the next ‘Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Express, April 3, 2016.

That was Ashley Nadesan.

– ‘Leicester believe they have already found the ‘next Jamie Vardy’ – The Sun, April 6, 2016

That was Charlie Coppola.

– ‘7 players from outside the Football League that could be the next Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Mirror, September 3, 2016.

They were James Hardy, Jonathon Margetts, Elliott Buchanan, Dan Wishart, Michael Nottingham, Daniel Nti, Kieran Glynn,

– ‘Leicester City take striker on trial in quest to unearth the next Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Mail, October 8, 2016.

That was Ibrahim Meite.

– ‘The next Jamie Vardy? The 11 non-league stars who could make big moves in January’ – Daily Star, December 15, 2016.

They were Ricky Miller, Oliver Hawkins, Ricky Korboa, Alex Reid, Alfie May, Fabio Saravia, Blair Turgott, Corey Whitely, Adam Coombes, Byron Lawrence and Sean Raggett.

– ‘Non-League footballer dubbed next Jamie Vardy’ – ITV, February 10, 2017.

That was Ashley Flynn.

– ‘Leicester are trying to tie up a deal for the next Jamie Vardy’ – Daily Mirror, March 1, 2017.

This one is Josh Gordon.

Conclusion: This is never, ever going to end. Casino staff should be warned.


Statistics, with the Daily Mail
‘The Championship has more fans than La Liga,’ shouts out the headline in the Daily Mail on Wednesday morning. It’s catchy, you’ve got to admit.

The flaw here is that the figure they use is gross attendance rather than average. There have been 405 matches in the Championship this season but only 241 in La Liga. You’re comparing apples with oranges.


Statistics, with the Daily Mail
An inch below that headline are the following statistics, again used to emphasise the interest in the Championship:

‘826,000 – Viewers who tuned in to watch Newcastle vs Leeds on Sky Sports in November. By contrast, just 584,000 watched Bayern Munich’s Champions League clash with Arsenal on BT Sport earlier this month.’

Also by contrast, close to six million people have a Sky Sports package, dwarfing the number who have access to BT Sport through their television (and thus are included in the above figures).

Third time lucky?


Casual stereotype of the day
“They have been vindicated – Leicester’s owners – for getting rid of the manager, because of that performance. But it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I am sure that there was pizza and red wine flying somewhere wherever Ranieri was watching” – Martin Keown.

Jellied eels and London Pride flying around London at hearing Keown’s latest foray into culture.


Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on Manchester United.

David Conn on Chelsea and Vitesse.

Adam Bate on Manchester City’s defence.

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