Why did no-one tell us about a Champions League play-off?

Date published: Saturday 20th May 2017 8:15

Take a chance on me
Tony Adams is having his new autobiography serialised in The Sun, which is always bloody fun.

You will surely have seen the most eye-catching quotes, those pertaining to Arsene Wenger, coaching and paper bags. But wait, there’s more…

Here is the first paragraph The Sun serialise in Friday’s newspaper:

‘Looking back, I believe there were a couple of major reasons why Arsene Wenger didn’t want me back at Arsenal.’

An inch or so to the right, The Sun introduce the section thus:

‘Tony Adams is convinced he will never get the chance to coach Arsenal’s first team while Arsene Wenger is manager.

‘The man who captained the club to ten major honours in a 19-year career, kept being rejected for a senior position before eventually spending a short time as Under-18 coach.’

What is not mentioned is that Adams’ ‘short time as Under-18 coach’ ended last summer when he rejected Wenger’s offer to stay, and instead accepted a lucrative contract to join Chongqing Lifan in a youth development role.

But of course, Tony, Wenger ‘didn’t want you back at Arsenal’, did he? Apart from the whole ‘offering you a job to return to Arsenal’ thing.


On paper

‘Arsene is so dominant that he was probably not going to like it if I said, ‘We’re conceding bad goals, I’m going to take the back four today and organise them’.

‘Because Arsene is essentially not a coach – and that is the second reason why I believe he didn’t want me. Back in the day I said in an interview coaching wasn’t Arsene’s strong point.

‘Actually in the original draft, I said he couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. And though I modified that in the final article, it didn’t go down well.’

Tony Adams there, describing a manager with 19 honours to his name, and who is often credited for revolutionising and modernising coaching in football.

How Wenger yearns for Adams’ managerial record at Granada, which reads: P6 W0 D0 L6 F2 A16.


Play-off? P*ss off
The Independent
had no idea what kind of monster they created.

It was back on April 30 that they published a story that would change football media over the following month. The headline to that piece was: ‘Manchester City and Liverpool could face winner-takes-all playoff for the Champions League’.

The following stories have all been published in the aftermath.

‘Manchester City and Liverpool could meet in one-off playoff match for the final Champions League spot’ – Daily Mirror, April 30.

‘How Liverpool and Manchester City could find themselves in an incredible play-off for the Champions League’ – Liverpool Echo, May 2.

‘Man City vs Liverpool at Old Trafford later this month? It could happen’ – Manchester Evening News, May 2.

‘The Liverpool, Manchester City, Swansea and Hull results that could produce two Premier League playoffs’ – The Independent, May 4.

‘Arsenal and Liverpool could meet in Premier League top four play-off in Champions League battle’ – The Independent, May 11.

‘Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal chase final UCL places, with playoff possible’ – ESPN, May 16.

‘Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal face play-off prospect for Champions League’ – BBC Sport, May 16.

‘How Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City could play in playoffs for the Champions League places’ – The Independent, May 17.

‘Champions League play-off: How Arsenal and Liverpool could be forced into another match’ – Daily Express, May 17.

‘How Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City could face a Champions League play-off’ – The Guardian, May 17.

‘Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal set for Champions League play-off?’ – Sky Sports, May 17.

‘Could Arsenal & Liverpool face a Champions League play-off?’ – Goal.com, May 17.

‘Liverpool could face Champions League play-off with Manchester City or Arsenal’ – Liverpool Echo, May 17.

‘Champions League play-off: Potential dates and venues if Liverpool and Arsenal cannot be split after 38 games’ – Daily Mirror, May 18.

‘Liverpool, Arsenal & Man City hold Champions League play-off talks: Chelsea affecting plan’ – Daily Express, May 19.

Thank to numerous outlets – some repeating themselves by doing the story more than once, which was extra helpful – we finally know that there could be a Champions League play-off if certain unlikely results happen on the final day. Delightful.


Don’t let The Sun go down on me
You might have noticed that there is the slightest of chances of the Premier League having to host a 39th game – a Champions League play-off – in order to settle who qualifies for Europe’s elite competition next season.

One particular website has ensured that this is news no-one will miss out on. The following are on headlines on The Sun‘s website over this past month.

‘Manchester City and Liverpool could face one-off play-off game for automatic Champions League spot… here’s how’ – May 1.

‘What results need to happen to force a Champions League play-off between Liverpool and Arsenal?’ – May 12.

‘Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City could play a three-way play-off to decide the final Champions League spot… and here’s how’ – May 16.

‘Champions League play-off priced at monster 1,268/1… even though Arsenal only need to draw 1-1 against Everton and Liverpool lose 2-0 to Middlesbrough’ – May 17.

‘Arsenal and Liverpool could play 39th Premier League game play-off to decide who qualifies for Champions League spot… here’s how’ – May 18.

‘Arsenal and Manchester City could face play-off to decide who qualifies for the Champions League… here’s how’ – May 18.

‘Manchester City and Liverpool could face one-off play-off game for automatic Champions League spot… here’s how’ – May 18.

‘Premier League start planning for potential Champions League play-offs with dates and venues to be decided’ – May 18.

As a note, that final story was reported as an ‘EXCLUSIVE’. That makes us smile ever so much.


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Howe’s that?
David Woods has noticed something in the Daily Star: British managers don’t receive as much praise as they should. Oh yes, that drum is being banged once more.

The thing is, Mediawatch doesn’t necessarily disagree with Woods’ belief that five English bosses – Eddie Howe, Craig Shakespeare, Sam Allardyce, Paul Clement and Sean Dyche – have had their achievements “overlooked” this season. Each have either done excellently to secure a mid-table finish or avoid relegation.

But the whole article begins to eat itself as Woods nears his conclusion.

‘Let’s face it, if – as Allardyce has often pointed out – Howe had a foreign name, at the age of 39 he’d be hailed as a young coaching genius.’

Would a manager with two years of top-flight experience and one trophy to his name over a nine-year managerial career really be ‘hailed as a young coaching genius’ if he ‘had a foreign name’? Or, as is the case with Howe, would he be considered a very good manager who has the potential to be great?

‘Look at the attitude towards and plaudits given to Marco Silva after he failed valiantly, but still failed, to keep up Hull.’

Marco Silva took over a Hull side who were bottom after accruing 13 points in 20 games. They earned 21 points in the subsequent 17 games (Bournemouth earned 20 in that time), and almost stayed up. They were relegated, of course, but that upturn in form suggests that Silva was worthy of the ‘plaudits’.

Also, Silva features only in the betting for next Southampton manager, for which he is favourite. Howe is in the betting to become next Arsenal manager, for which he is fifth favourite at 14/1. Silva is offered at 28/1 for the same job. Perhaps those ‘attitudes’ aren’t quite as opposed to the Englishman as you are led to believe.

‘It would be great to see if Howe, who is a year younger than Silva, could cut it at an even higher level.

Agreed. It would also be great to see if Silva could cut it at an even higher level. It would be great to see if every manager who shows more potential than most could cut it at an even higher level, regardless of nationality.

Oh, you’re not done?

‘But unlike Brexit, it seems the Premier League elite still want to look abroad.’

Sheesh. We think it’s probably best to leave that where it is.


Me and Mr Jones
Writes Richard Tanner in the Daily Express:

‘Phil Jones is set to get the nod from Jose Mourinho for the Europa League final.

‘With Eric Bailly out suspended and Marcos Rojo injured, Mourinho has to decide between Jones and Chris Smalling to partner Daley Blind in the centre of Manchester United’s defence for the clash with Ajax next Wednesday.

‘Jones was an unused substitute in last season’s FA Cup final and missed this season’s EFL Cup final win because of injury, so is desperate to play in Stockholm against Ajax.

‘And he is understood to have put himself in pole position with an impressive performance in the goalless draw with Southampton on Wednesday, following solid shows against Arsenal and Tottenham.’

Someone wasn’t at either the Emirates or White Hart Lane, were they?


Sam Allardyce had some rather pointed comments to make with regards to the Premier League’s new plans to eradicate diving from the game.

“Rubbish. It’s utter rubbish. What about the lad that gets booked that didn’t dive? What are they going to do with that?

“They’re going to say ‘That’s unlucky, next time we’ll try and get that right. So the lad that dives gets punished but the lad that didn’t dive…you’ll then have to reverse that somehow.

“So bring technology in, let us look at it on the day. Then bring a sin bin in so we can put him in that for 10 minutes and then put him back on.

“Let’s stop paying all these people money to do [sic] rubbish situations in the game. That’s utter rubbish.”

Allardyce’s message is clear: This new plan is “rubbish”. But why is he so irate about it?

The Daily Mirror publish these quotes in a two-page spread, with a handy graphic featuring players who have been booked the most times for diving since the start of last season. Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling are joint-second, both having been yellow-carded twice for simulation.

Which player has received the most bookings for diving since the start of last season? Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, with three.



Headline of the day
‘Amsterdamned United’ – Daily Mirror.


Recommended reading of the day
Jason Humphreys
on Philipp Lahm.a

Iain Macintosh on Rooney, Terry and Wenger.

Adam Bate on Chelsea’s title defence.

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