‘Football’ headline of the day
‘Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has imported part of his supercar collection worth £850,000 and they’re parked outside luxury hotel that the striker is staying in’ – MailOnline.
Or ‘man moves belongings to place he lives’.
Shoulda woulda coulda
‘Manchester United reportedly set for summer clear out with Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Anthony Martial among NINE facing axe’ is the headline on the Sun online.
It is a pretty big claim. And one we are keen to investigate…
‘Luke Shaw is among a posse of players heading for the Old Trafford exit after his furious bust-up with the Portuguese boss…’
‘United will need to add to their midfield with Michael Carrick retiring, Marouane Fellaini set to leave and Ander Herrera’s future looking uncertain.’
‘Juan Mata has been in and out of the starting line-up this term and could fall foul of the Mourinho axe for the second time in England.’
‘Chris Smalling and Phil Jones could also be sold as the Portuguese looks to beef up his defence.’
‘Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind have hardly featured this term.’
‘Anthony Martial is another player who could be out the door this summer.’
1) That’s a whole load of ‘could’.
2) That’s TEN players.
But of course this is not The Sun’s own story, as evidenced by the ‘reportedly’ in the headline. So where has it come from? In this instance, it’s the Daily Mail.
And do they mention a NINE-player cull? Well no – they do mention that Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick could leave this summer. Which adds up to nine. Or NINE if you work for a tabloid.
(It is worth noting that the MailOnline’s football homepage headline says ‘Mourinho prepares for mass summer cull with up to NINE first-team stars including Martial and Shaw set to exit Old Trafford’, which absolutely does not reflect the tone of Chris Wheeler’s actual piece, but nothing gets clicks like a big old number.)
So The Sun took that list of nine players, randomly added Phil Jones and made, well, NINE. Top, top work.
Neil Custis, The Sun, March 14:
‘The major spend has just allowed United to keep in touch in their quest to reclaim their glorious past – but last year’s two trophies will not count as part of that…nor will Louis Van Gaal’s FA Cup.’
Neil Custis, The Sun, March 19:
‘Is he really doing such a bad job? The Portuguese won two trophies in his first season and has overseen a jump from fifth in the Premier League last season to second now. There is at least one trip to Wembley to look forward to with a place in the last four of the FA Cup.’
It’s amazing what a scratchy 2-0 home win over Brighton can do.
And exactly how much credit should a manager get for ‘overseeing a jump’ when they were responsible for ‘overseeing a fall’ in the first place. Oh and it was sixth. Actually, does that make him even more of a genius?
Legends of the ball
Mark Lawrenson has written a column for the Daily Mail in which he lists his choice of the ten most influential players in Liverpool history. This after several hundred words praising Mo Salah which end with these two paragraphs…
‘The biggest compliment I can give is you turn up at Anfield and expect him to do something magnificent. He is a joy.
‘If he carries on in this fashion and helps the teams win trophies, he will have a chance of becoming one of the club’s most influential players of all time – I can’t remember a better debut season – and these are the standards to which he must aspire.’
Headline in the Daily Mail: ‘Yes, Salah’s a wonder, but he is not an Anfield legend (yet).’
Couple of things…
1) No bugger said he was.
2) That’s a right bloody stitch-up.
Pieces of silver
Bizarrely, Jamie Redknapp does not make it onto Lawro’s list of the top ten influential Liverpool players. But he does have a regular column in the Daily Mail, so who’s the real winner here?
And here’s Jamie with some advice to Mauricio Pochettino that boils down to ‘win some trophies, you big dafty’:
‘I love Pochettino’s hunger and desire to win football’s biggest prizes – you can see it in his eyes – but he should not overlook the importance the FA Cup can have in turning his team into winners.
‘I reached the Cup final with Liverpool in 1996 when we faced Manchester United. These were two promising young teams – the Class of 92 were breaking through at Old Trafford, while we had the likes of Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.
‘Eric Cantona’s late volley won it for United to seal a second Double for Sir Alex Ferguson and for us, that final is remembered more for the awful white suits we wore beforehand. Had we won, I felt it would have had a galvanising effect on our squad and given us a great platform to challenge United.’
So does this argument only work for the FA Cup? Because what Redknapp does not mention is that Liverpool (with him in the side) won the League Cup in 1995. And winning that trophy gave them a ‘platform’ to win exactly zero more trophies over the next six years. Awkward.
The kids are alright
We can all agree that Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad is a tad underwhelming. But that’s largely because English footballers are a tad underwhelming. The words ‘Jake’ and ‘Livermore’ fill us with twin senses of apathy and dread. Actually, make that triplet senses as there is a decent dose of anger in there too. So what is the solution? Well, according to the Daily Mirror’s Andy Dunn – Britain’s best sports writer, remember – on Sky Sports, the solution is to take the kids that cannot get near their club sides. Excellent.
“How long ago was it that we were talking about our successful youth teams and talking about those players in them? Why not take a gamble in a squad of 27 and take Phil Foden, who has won the World Cup and scored two goals in the final for the U17 team, or Jadon Sancho, who is playing for Borussia Dortmund.”
Why not indeed? Because Phil Foden has played a total of 18 minutes of Premier League football? Because Jadon Sancho is not actually playing for Borussia Dortmund? Because Jadon Sancho has actually not started a game since January because of a ligament injury? Because the idea is absolutely sodding mental?
Do you know who else won a World Cup last year? The England Under-20s, that’s who. And do you know where their captain will be this week? With the England squad, that’s where. And do you know why? Because he is actually playing top-flight football.
Bizarre glove triangle
Wondering how Gareth Southgate’s four goalkeepers will become just three by the time the World Cup kicks off in June? Well wonder no long because the Daily Mirror’s John Cross has the big scoop…
‘GARETH SOUTHGATE is planning to stage a World Cup audition to solve England’s keeper crisis.’
Thanks. For. That.
Ten thousand spoons
From David Anderson of the Daily Mirror on Mark Hughes:
‘It is ironic that after 14 years as a club manager at five previous sides, he has finally made it back to Wembley in his first match in charge of Saints.’
No it isn’t. It’s mildly interesting.
Utterly pointless detail of the day
Thanks to the Daily Mirror’s Simon Bird for this gem:
‘Townsend, ordering a steak baguette as he boarded the team bus, said…’
But did he have sauce? The public need to know. This is what you get from having the honour of being a club’s media partner.
Orange is the new red or yellow
Headline in the Daily Mail on the match report from Stoke v Everton: ‘Should this tackle have been punished with an ORANGE CARD?’
We do have an answer to this question and it involves the words ‘there’s no such thing as an orange card’. But do carry on…
Here’s Laurie Whitwell:
‘There will be those who say Charlie Adam’s foul on Wayne Rooney was an obvious red card. Then there are others who judge it a yellow.
‘And so, like most arguments with two sides, there ought to be an option for compromise, certainly when the stakes are this high.
‘Could anybody seriously complain had referee Martin Atkinson shown an orange card?’
Well, they would certainly be confused. What with there being no such thing. And I think Everton might have had cause for complaint if Martin Atkinson had suddenly wielded an entirely different card that does not exist within the laws of the game, yes.
Thankfully, Whitwell has not completely lost his mind…
‘It is a hypothetical scenario, of course. No official has such a colour in their possession.’
The best thing about this piece? The column from former referee Graham Poll in the corner of the same page that begins thus:
‘THE idea that this could have been an ‘orange card’ tackle is wrong.’
We think that’s your answer, fellas.
Recommended reading of the day
Nick Ames on Skenderbeu.
JJ Bull on Southampton under Mark Hughes.
Planet Sport interview: Federer conqueror Del Potro on how he nearly quit tennis in 2015 (Tennis365).