Van Dijk is ‘ludicrously over-priced, over-paid, over-rated’

Date published: Friday 16th October 2020 11:55

Maguire and England sure are bad. But Van Dijk is 'ludicrously over-priced, over-paid, over-rated' too.

Virgil van Dijk Liverpool

Forget Maguire. Let’s lay into Van Dijk…

Snap back to reality

The media do not pass up their last proper chance for a few more weeks to stick the boot in on Gareth Southgate. Friday brings a classic of the genre: a hilariously brazen misrepresentation of actual quotes.

Here is what the England manager said:

“I think we’ve been pretty bold in many of our decisions over a long period of time really. Others might have a view. We’ve been top scorers in the World Cup, we were top scorers in the Euro qualifiers, we’ve been to two semi-finals. We’ve blooded any number of young players. We gave another two 20-somethings their debuts against Denmark alongside Mason Mount, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips who’s had four games in the Premier League, along with Kane and Rashford upfront.

“So I suppose I would point to that body of work but it’s for others to have that opinion. I’m not too concerned.”

Here is what the Daily Mirror heard:

‘Gareth Southgate snaps back at accusations he is being overly cautious as England boss’

Do “others might have a view” and “it’s for others to have that opinion” really sound like the words of someone who has ‘snapped back’ at anything?

Apparently so, as John Cross reckons Southgate ‘positively bristled’ – while saying “I’m not too concerned”.

Even the first paragraph is a strange one. Southgate never ‘insisted he should be known as a “very bold” England manager’ at all. He said he had ‘been pretty bold’ and offered numerous examples, which feels like more than a slight difference.


Smash hit

The Sun unfortunately suffered from the same problems in terms of listening to Southgate. He definitely didn’t ‘snap back’ at anyone but it’s safe to say he didn’t ‘hit back’ either. It really does read like he offered a measured response to a difficult question in acceptance that others may be of a differing opinion.

Southgate was presumably whispering while Dave Kidd and Charlie Wyett – for it takes two tabloid journalists to sensationalise the words of one man – were sat at the back of the room with Cross. That is the only viable explanation for reading those quotes and deciding that this is a man lashing out at criticism.


Dirty Harry

Jeff Powell, meanwhile, is still employed to write about football every now and then in the year of our Lord 2020 by the Daily Mail. And he has ‘diagnosed’ this England squad with the ‘virus’ that is ‘indiscipline’.

‘The lack of professionalism is as out of control as coronavirus in the northern powerhouse.’

His finger is on the pulse, you see. This is a man who watches the news. And then laces about 30 paragraphs with laborious crowbarred references to it.

Powell does actually rally against the majority of his colleagues by questioning Harry Magiure, ‘the epitome of the problem’. But then he gets a little carried away.

‘Certainly, Maguire is entitled to a qualified presumption of innocence while he appeals against a hat-trick of convictions in Greece. But that does not necessarily extend to his being selected for his country, nor his club for that matter, until that final verdict is brought down.

‘Which is where Southgate, as well Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, went sadly wrong. They could simply have left Maguire out on the perfectly reasonable basis that his mind cannot be fully concentrated on the game while the wheels of justice turn even more slowly than he does on a football pitch.’

‘That final verdict’ could take a couple of years to be decided upon. Are you literally suggesting Manchester United elect not to play their captain and England leave out the world’s most expensive defender for the next two seasons or so because ‘his mind cannot be fully concentrated on the game’ with the situation hanging over him?

This is the same Maguire who the Mail exclusively report elsewhere ‘is not considering taking a break from the game’. He could probably do with a few weeks off by the looks of it but good luck persuading a footballer not to do his actual job during a large portion of his theoretical peak years. And to convincing United they must keep paying all of his wages without ever playing him.


Powell outage

Also, referring to ‘spoiled boys with inflated egos’ and a ‘mutinous crew’ is a great look for an angry old newspaper journalist. Fight the good fight, fella.

Oh, and do you also still want an apology from that ‘twerp’ Sterling for honouring his late father? Honestly, kids nowadays.


Like a Virgil

Powell then obviously lays into Virgil van Dijk because why the ruddy heck not?

‘Picking [Maguire] sent the wrong message and how heavily his managers have been punished for their misplaced tolerance: sent off at Wembley; Manchester United 1, Tottenham 6.

‘The longer it goes the more Maguire is revealed as vulnerable to extreme pace on the turn. As is Virgil Van Dijk, by the way: Aston Villa 7, Liverpool 2.

‘The two most expensive defenders in the world, not just the Premier League, now look ludicrously over-priced, over-paid, over-rated.’

On the basis of one absolute aberration of a game – in which Van Dijk wasn’t particularly responsible for any of the goals conceded – a Premier League winner, European and world champion and former Players’ Player of the Year really is ‘ludicrously over-priced, over-paid, over-rated’. Definitely. Liverpool should drop Van Dijk for two years like United with Maguire.


Look of the draw

This headline from the Daily Mirror website is absolutely phenomenal:

‘Liverpool set for new look in Merseyside derby as Sadio Mane preferred to Mohamed Salah’

It quite heavily implies that Jurgen Klopp is considering dropping Mo Salah (at the same time as Van Dijk?!) for the returning Sadio Mane against Everton. And that is Mediawatch being generous: it literally says as such.

But this is actually Senior Online Sports Reporter Mark Jones – surely trained by Jake Polden – conflating two entirely unconnected things. He first notes that Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino have never started a Merseyside derby together but are likely to do so on Saturday. He then quotes Danny Murphy recently saying “if I had to prioritise keeping one over the other, I would keep Mane” instead of Salah.

Those Murphy quotes are from a podcast three days ago and that is only about the fifth worst thing with this whole story.


Lights, Cameron, Action

Congratulations are due to The Sun for managing to write a feature about a footballer and their significant other without referring to her as a ‘Wag’.

What a shame they feel the need to say Cameron McGeehan has ‘scored off the field’ and ‘bagged himself a worldie’ by… having a girlfriend.

For one, that isn’t football news. It’s hardly news. But also: does anyone really talk like that anymore, if ever at all?


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