Hold the back page
Mediawatch loves those bleak days when there is no obvious back-page football story, leaving sports editors scrabbling around on the floor for stories that could possibly, maybe, be stretched, massaged and fluffed to make a back-page story. The alternative is rugby. Unthinkable.
The Sun go for a ‘CHELSEA EXCLUSIVE’ from Blues fanboy Rob Beasley. A CHELSEA EXCLUSIVE, you say? Is it about Jose Mourinho’s future? Will Stoke defeat see him sacked? Or has a Chelsea player spoken out about Jose? Has there been a bust-up?
Nope. The ‘CHELSEA EXCLUSIVE’ is that Stoke manager Mark Hughes ‘is ready to send Jose Mourinho closer to the axe at Stoke tomorrow’. The ‘CHELSEA EXCLUSIVE’ is that ‘football manager wants football team to beat Chelsea’. And that’s the biggest story in football today.
The Daily Mirror go for Roy Hodgson’s ‘amazing put down to Premier League hot-shot Jamie Vardy’. And what is this ‘amazing put down’? Has he said something about his mother? Has he suggested his face is a little ratty? Nope. He has said: “When you have only played two games, you are in no position to go to the coach and say, ‘I will play for England but only in this position’. That is the point I am trying to make.
“I am just trying to defuse hype and make one very important point which is very, very obvious to anyone who has been following England for a long time. That is: An England shirt is a very valuable commodity. I think Jamie Vardy can play in any of the front three positions. Jamie has only played a couple of games from the start. He should be happy at the moment a) to be in the squad and b) even happier if he makes the team.”
It should be noted that at no point has Jamie Vardy insisted that he plays up front; he probably is very happy indeed to be in the England set-up at all. Indeed, he has variously described it imaginatively as a ‘dream come true’.
And at no point did Hodgson suggest that Vardy had insisted that he play as a striker.
Hodgson was simply trying – unsuccessfully – to defuse a situation where the media are preparing for a quiet international week by putting pressure on Hodgson to play the Premier League’s in-form striker as a striker. Despite the fact that Vardy has only ever scored 16 Premier League goals, never played in the Champions League and has looked overwhelmed on each of his four England appearances.
‘WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, VARDY?’
A decent striker on an astonishing run of form who is probably a little bit embarrassed right now?
The Daily Mail have actually led on rugby but make space for Sami Mokbel’s story that ‘Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be able to communicate with his backroom team during tomorrow’s stadium ban’. Two uses of the word ‘likely’ in the opening two paragraphs tell you everything: The story is basically that Mourinho has a mobile phone and he will ‘likely’ use it.
The back pages of the Daily Star and the Daily Express are ALDI’s Christmas fayre featuring their famous ‘five bird roast’. Which features rather less turkey than the other tabloids.
‘England squad for the next two games is very weak. Due to injuries, either Ashley Young or Nathan Redmond should have been included’ – a tweet from The Sun’s football editor (and Norwich fan) Charlie Wyett.
Is that the same Ashley Young who has started just one Premier League game since the opening day of the season? At left-back.
And the same Nathan Redmond who has started just two of the last five Premier League games for a bang average Norwich side?
No squad is that weak.
Last week we brought you Mark Lawrenson’s five rules for making Premier League predictions.
We are disappointed to report that he has broken one rule this week by predicting defeat for West Brom (fourth in Lawro’s league table) at Manchester United (ninth in Lawro’s league table), but all other rules have been followed to the letter.
Liverpool will of course be victorious, Everton will of course fail to be victorious, the big game will (on this occasion, the north London derby) end 1-1. As will four other games.
Lawrenson has now predicted 39 1-1 draws this season; so far there have been eight.
Lawro, lawro highlights
* Lawro notes that ‘in their past three league games, Bournemouth have scored twice and conceded 12 goals’, so what does he predict? 1-1. Of course.
* ‘I don’t see many goals in this Canaries team…’
This is a Norwich side that has scored more goals than every other side in the bottom half barring Chelsea, more goals than Liverpool and the same number of goals as Manchester United. That Lawro then predicts them to win 2-1 is pure genius.
* ‘That was just what the Toffees needed because, before then, they had been on a losing run having played some of the top teams.’
Do two defeats constitute a ‘losing run’? Perhaps it does if it’s Everton, currently 16th in Lawro’s league table – below Sunderland and above Leicester.
What a difference a Klopp makes
Harry Redknapp, August 2: “No danger, I could pick the top five, I don’t know what order…the top five will be Liverpool with the other four, Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal.”
Harry Redknapp, September 2: “I don’t fancy Liverpool at all. I think it’s the worst Liverpool team I have seen in years. They look bang average. They are lucky to have any points. I think they will do well to finish in the top five. I am not with Liverpool at all this year.”
Harry Redknapp, November 5: “I think it’s between Tottenham and Liverpool for that fourth spot.”
Did you ever really care about me?
Ian Herbert’s nonsense piece in The Independent – headlined ‘Arsenal in Champions League: Do the Gunners actually want to progress in Europe?’ – might have carried more weight if Arsenal had not clearly made a monstrous effort to beat Bayern Munich at the Emirates, almost like they actually wanted to win the game and thus progress in Europe.
Arsene Wenger had this to say on Friday: “I want to stay in the Champions League and will do absolutely everything to stay in it.”
But forget that, Herbert thought he ‘appeared mildly indifferent’ on Wednesday night. It seems ‘shellshocked’ looks a lot like ‘mildly indifferent’.
Insult to injury
Wonderful (and when we say ‘wonderful’, we mean…) logic from Steven Howard in The Sun, whose dislike for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger addled his mind a long time ago.
‘Arsenal fans will point to a position joint top of the table with Manchester City and four points clear of United,’ writes Howard.
‘City, though, are playing well without Sergio Aguero and David Silva, their two best players.
‘United can hardly score a goal. Both teams can only improve. Can Arsenal, especially with players sidelined?’
Yes, Steven. Especially with players sidelined.
As per usual
Headline in the Daily Mirror: ‘OUR TITLE BID IS ON THE LINE.’
Standfirst in the Daily Mirror: ‘Mertesacker fears Gunners’ Munich mauling could lead to a meltdown in North London derby and crush Premier League dream.’
Opening paragraph in the Daily Mirror: “Per Mertesacker has warned Arsenal’s title challenge could crumble in the North London derby.”
Actual quotes from Per Mertesacker: “We will learn a lot from this game, we must learn a lot and we have to play better against Tottenham. We need to switch on, put away negative energy and fight back. But if we are to beat Tottenham then we have to recover quickly.
“We have played well recently, defended well and that’s what we must focus on. We must remember those games, try to move on from this performance and focus on beating Tottenham. We have to analyse quickly and get players back quickly.”
Mentions of title bids/Premier League dreams: Absolutely f*** all.
Quote of the day
“I am a facilitator of beauty in man” – Arsene Wenger.
‘Write your own Mediawatch’ tweet of the day
The Sun using those Esquire photos of Arsene Wenger to make him seem pathetic because he's getting divorced. Classy. https://t.co/mlbXZIzXWC
— James McManus (@JamesMcManus1) November 6, 2015
No sh*t headline of the day
‘Sam Allardyce: I never want to concede six goals again’ – Shields Gazette.
Worst headline of the day
‘Butland is no ‘Mir reserve’ – The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on Harry Kane and Olivier Giroud.
Adam Bate on Erik Lamela.
Andi Thomas on truly appalling corner-kicks.