Statue of David
“I would love to see David Unsworth get the Everton job on a permanent basis and it riles me when I see him described as not having enough experience. Unsworth has done the hard yards as a coach and has done a fantastic job with the Everton Under-23 side, where he has done everything that was asked of him. The next step now is for him to go and do that at first-team level in the Premier League and hopefully that is at Everton, because it seems the perfect match” – Phil Neville, October 29.
“I would give him the job on a permanent basis. If you cut him open, he bleeds Everton blue. That’s what the fans want, someone with passion for the club” – Paul Merson, October 27.
“I would give it to him. I think he has two very obvious advantages over anybody else. He knows the club inside out. He knows who’s coming through. He’s an Everton man” – Graeme Souness, October 26.
Three games, three defeats, seven goals conceded and one goal scored later, would anyone like to review their thoughts?
Reads the Daily Mail headline:
‘Arsenal reserves limp into knockout stage’
…with two games left to play, having gone unbeaten in their first four.
Gareth Southgate named his latest 25-man England squad on Thursday. Seven players from the previous squad were dropped by Southgate, who is obviously described by Neil Ashton as ‘the axeman’.
But Mediawatch has one problem: Of those seven players, why does Ashton use the following sentence – ‘He will carry the scars from this savage decision, skulking around and shaking his head after being discarded’ – to describe only one of them?
Daniel Sturridge is the man in question, and Ashton has previous with the striker. He even used his column for The Sun in early August to question Sturridge’s ‘low pain threshold’ and ‘laissez-faire attitude’, as well as the need to ‘massage his ego’. Ashton also expressed ‘doubts’ over whether he ‘has the minerals’.
It seemed like a series of really weird, misplaced criticisms then, but now it feels like an agenda. Suggesting that only Sturridge will be ‘skulking around and shaking his head’, not Fraser Forster, Aaron Cresswell, Chris Smalling, Jake Livermore, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Jermain Defoe, is just bizarre.
Jack the lad
Question: Which was the only newspaper to list Jack Wilshere as the first player of many to have ‘missed out’ on Southgate’s latest England squad?
Answer: The one who employs their Arsenal correspondent as their Chief Football Writer.
A message to John Cross of the Daily Mirror: Wilshere has ‘missed out’ on every England squad since Euro 2016. When he hasn’t played for England for 17 months, is it really still news?
No way, Jose
Back to Ashton, who has ‘the inside track on football’s big stories’ of course, and so has spotted that Jose Mourinho has recently clashed with sections of Manchester United’s support.
In the piece, Ashton claims that ‘the reverence and respect Mourinho should command’ is ‘already ebbing away’, that ‘he was doing a decent enough job until this latest outburst’, and that Mourinho ‘is sucking the life out of the place’.
Manchester United are second in the Premier League, almost certain of qualification to the Champions League knock-out stages after four wins from four, and into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. They have lost just two of their last 20 matches, and only last week beat a side you claimed ‘looked like they had reinvented the sport’ on Wednesday. They’re doing alright.
Completing the perfect hat-trick of nonsense, exaggeration and obliviousness, Ashton has also dedicated a few words to Raheem Sterling.
‘RAHEEM STERLING is a soft target for England fans — but his form for Manchester City has certainly picked up.
‘He already boasts seven Premier League goals, one behind everyone’s favourite forward Harry Kane and level with Sergio Aguero and Romelu Lukaku.
‘Now Sterling, wanted by Arsenal during negotiations for Alexis Sanchez, gets another chance to prove his international pedigree against Germany and Brazil this month.’
‘A soft target for England fans’? ‘For England fans’? A reminder that Ashton is chief football reporter for The Sun, who:
* Ran a front-page headline of ‘OBSCENE RAHEEM’ in June 2016, criticising the winger for buying his mum a house.
* Accused him of ‘insulting fans’ by ‘flaunting wealth’ and ‘showing off blinging house’ – which, again, he bought for his mum.
* Published this:
— The Sun (@TheSun) June 30, 2016
* And this:
Story about a drug dealer who was a semi-professional footballer? Why not use Sterling as the picture. Holy f**k. pic.twitter.com/0hMWiXfbe9
— Football365 (@F365) June 30, 2016
But no, it’s the ‘England fans’ who think he is ‘a soft target’. Definitely.
As a man who proudly bears his Sports Agenda in his Daily Mail column, one would expect Charles Sale to have his ear to the ground, ensuring not to miss a single beat in the football world. On Friday, he brings us perhaps the biggest news story of 2017.
‘Broadcaster Alan Green was slammed on social media and criticised by Match of the Day colleagues during a blundering return to the BBC on Wednesday evening.
‘Green, who has been working as the in-house TV commentator for Atlanta United in the USA’s Major League Soccer, was given the showcase Tottenham v Real Madrid Champions League match for his comeback on Radio 5 Live.
‘But Green caused immediate upset by wrongly pronouncing the name of Real Madrid’s Marcelo, arguably the world’s best-known left back, calling him ‘Mar-chelo’ rather than ‘Mar-selo’.
‘Among those to be hugely unimpressed were Match of the Day mainstay Steve Wilson, who tweeted – obviously referring to Green – ‘You’d have thought after more than 10 years playing for Brazil and Real Madrid everyone would know how to say Marcelo’s name.”
‘Match of the Day colleagues’ being the singular Steve Wilson, whose ‘slam on social media’ comprised 22 words on Twitter. More as we get it.
‘The BBC made no comment,’ reads the final line of Sale’s piece. It’s almost as if they have slightly more important things to do.
It would not be a Friday without the Magic Man. Paul Merson offers his predictions on Liverpool’s game with West Ham to Sky Sports.
“I am going to go for Liverpool to win here. I just think they will have too much firepower for them defensively. So I am going to go 3-1, as how are Liverpool ever going to keep a clean sheet?!”
Pesky fact: Manchester United (10) are the only Premier League club to have kept more clean sheets in their last 15 matches than Liverpool (8).
Recommended reading of the day
Stuart James interviews Charlie Daniels.
Tony Evans on Manchester City v Arsenal.
Sean Cole interviews the newsagent who became an FA Cup hero.
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