If you notice that this is a rather short Mediawatch, then you might think that it is because the newspapers are full of mostly sensible reaction to England’s win over Slovakia. You’d be right, too.
Yet it’s also short because Mediawatch has just spent 25 minutes laughing at Dele Alli’s middle finger being blurred out on Skysports.com, despite everybody seeing it in its full, obscene glory the previous night, and therefore ran out of time.
We can still tell what he’s doing, guys.
Blurring out fingers! pic.twitter.com/GtVnvCdsx9
— Football365 (@F365) September 5, 2017
Look out, because Arsene Wenger is cracking down on Arsenal’s under-performing players. Oh boy. This isn’t just another desperate PR attempt from a club trying to win back its fans with talk of resilience and serious investigation. Oh no. No siree.
‘Arsene Wenger “to read riot act to Arsenal flops after international break” after shocking start to season’ reads the Daily Mirror’s headline on Tuesday morning. Sounds spicy.
Mediawatch has cogitated for ten minutes about what on earth those speech marks are doing in the headline, and we’re still stumped. Because the Daily Mirror actually take their story from The Sun, who don’t once use the phrase ‘read the riot act’. So you made that up and whacked it in speech marks for effect, then?
In fact, The Sun’s headline labels these forthcoming events as ‘showdown talks’, which sounds a little more like both sides might be angry, not just Wenger.
The dilution doesn’t stop there. By paragraph six of Daniel Cutts’ exclusive (we know), ‘Wenger will sit his squad down for a clear-the-air talk’. So nobody is predicting a riot at all.
Mediawatch does like the idea of the Daily Mirror, who employ one of the closest journalists to Arsenal in the industry as their chief football writer, using an exclusive from Cutts that doesn’t even make the print copy of The Sun and subsequently hyping it up to generate online hits. Fine work.
In the Daily Telegraph, Paul Hayward makes a valid point about the strained relationship between England supporters and the national team. Yet Mediawatch can’t help but think there is some revisionism going on.
‘This Wembley crowd was small by England standards,’ is Hayward’s biggest lament. ‘Dull friendlies used to pack this stadium. And this was England’s biggest home qualifier for Russia 2018.’
It was also a match played on a Monday evening and the first day of the academic year for many areas of the country, including most in London, thus likely dissuading many from taking children. Tickets were priced at £55 for adults, and England had 67,823. Also, if you think Slovakia is a bigger game for England than Scotland, Mediawatch would suggest you have your football history very many kinds of borked.
That 67,823 figure is important, because it is higher than the highest attendance for almost every other country in World Cup qualifying, at cheaper prices and more audience-friendly times of the week. There were even 8,000 empty seats in the Bernabeu on Saturday evening as Spain beat Italy 3-0.
Secondly, ‘dull friendlies used to pack this stadium’. Well, England got 83,716 for their last home friendly. That’s their highest friendly attendance for four years, the Football Association’s 150th celebration match against Germany.
Still, remember the good old days when England got to the semi-finals of major tournaments and Wembley was packed to the rafters? No, nor us. England’s first home friendly post-Euro ‘96 saw 48,076 people in Wembley’s 82,000 seats. We did at least get 51,459 in for the friendly three months after Italia ‘90.
All that hand-wringing wasted…
Mediawatch has very little (no) interest in Wayne Rooney’s marriage, but we couldn’t help but burst out laughing when we read the quote from Laura Simpson, who was being chauffeured by a squiffy Rooney when he was arrested:
“I can understand [Coleen] being mad with him over the arrest, that was stupid and on reflection he should never have driven my car but he didn’t seem to be over the limit.
“But she can’t blame him for anything that happened with me because nothing did really, although we would have ended up shagging no doubt.”
We think you’ve probably made it worse.
Unsurprising opinion of the day
When will decision makers realise that Glenn Hoddle shouldn't be in a commentary box – but the dug out when England play?
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) September 4, 2017
When he has had a coaching job in professional football in the last decade?
Tackling the big issues
‘It does not say much for the Delaware North Company who have the in-house catering contract for Wembley that tenants Tottenham import their boardroom food on match days from super plush London restaurant Mosimann’s. A Spurs spokesman said Mosimann’s were the VIP caterers at White Hart Lane and the contract has been carried over to Wembley’ – Charles Sale, Daily Mail.
What it says is that Mosimann’s were the VIP caterers at White Hart Lane and the contract has been carried over to Wembley, Charles. As you say yourself.
Truly the most meaningless story Mediawatch has read in a long while. And we read Sale’s column regularly.
I know best
‘It’s time for Gareth Bale to pick up the phone when Premier League clubs call,’ says Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail on Tuesday.
Because if there’s one person who truly knows what’s best for Bale, it isn’t Bale himself.
‘Jose Mourinho wants more from Henrikh Mkhitaryan – sources’ – ESPN.
Manager wants one of his key players to play well against the best teams. Knock us over with a feather.
‘Good Evans..It’s Jonny: Baggies star puts Irish on verge of finals’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Verge of the finals’ is a bit of a reach. Northern Ireland are on the verge of the play-offs. Play-offs where they could face Portugal, Sweden or Italy.
Line of the day
‘The relationship is strained. And we are not talking Wayne Rooney here’ – Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph.