Mediawatch: Wrighty’s Wembley u-turn and more…

Date published: Wednesday 23rd August 2017 8:25

Wright rubbish
Mediawatch was amused by Ian Wright’s insistence in The Sun that Tottenham’s clash against Chelsea (which they lost) proved that they can win games at Wembley.

‘IT doesn’t take much to set off football’s doom merchants.

‘So it wasn’t a surprise to hear the comments after Tottenham lost their first Prem game at their Wembley lodgings.

”It will wreck their chances of of a serious title push’, sniped the cynics.

”The Wembley curse will prove a mental block they won’t be able to get over’, according to all the amateur psychologists.

‘Well, after seeing their display in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea, I’ve got news for them – that’s absolute rubbish.’

Which is odd because this is what Wright had to say last September when Tottenham were preparing to play their Champions League games at the same venue…

‘I KNOW Tottenham had no choice but they could regret playing their Champions League ties at Wembley.

‘Spurs had to go elsewhere because they have the builders in, working on improvements to their ground.

‘But it’s a pity because moving to a neutral venue, even one just a few miles away, puts you at a disadvantage.’

Wright then explained exactly why Tottenham would struggle (and he was right), ending with…

‘On top of that, you deprive your own players of playing in familiar surroundings, with an intimidating atmosphere for the opposition to contend with.’

Doom merchant. Cynic. Amateur psychologist.


Spinning around
In the Daily Mirror, master tactician Stan Collymore is urging Liverpool to switch to a back three. Bizarre timing just after Liverpool have kept a clean sheet with a back four, but he is ‘the man who always speaks his mind’ and we are ‘the column that always listens’.

‘I won’t be convinced by my old club until they keep three or four clean sheets on the spin and that’s not looking likely at the minute.’

Presumably he was convinced by his old club as long ago as May when Liverpool ended the season with exactly four clean sheets on the spin.


New for old
‘MARTIN SAMUEL’S UNMISSABLE NEW TUESDAY COLUMN’ is the tease on the back page of the Daily Mail.

Erm, new? The bulk of Samuel’s new column is a diatribe against the clubs who are busy still buying players while simultaneously saying they want the transfer window closed early. He suggests – with tongue firmly in cheek – that they should all just agree not to buy players off each other.

‘This control is completely within our grasp. If the owners, even the managers, got together and said they would not poach players from other English clubs after a week before the season started, that would be it.

‘There would be no need for limiting legislation, no risk of being left depleted if Barcelona make off with your best player – because an agreement between the clubs would be as good as black and white regulation.’

Mediawatch thought that all sounded a little familiar, so we cast our minds back a full four days to Samuel’s column in Friday’s Daily Mail headlined ‘Closing the window early would be the dumbest idea… it would not stop Barcelona niggling away at signing Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho’. Samuel wrote:

‘So this is completely within the grasp of English football. It doesn’t require legislation; it requires a little self-control. If most club owners seem to think this is a good idea it is because, left alone, they cannot be trusted.’

Samuel’s column is unmissable simply because he keeps writing the same bloody thing and it’s really quite difficult to avoid.


Eni update?
One view from Martin Samuel’s Friday column not repeated on Tuesday is his opinion that the FA were wrong to compensate England striker Eni Aluko after she alleged bullying and discriminatory behaviour by coach Mark Sampson.

‘In an organisation that positively aches to be seen to do the right thing, this was British Cycling and Luis Aragones rolled into one: a PR PC disaster.’

Samuel then called the case against Sampson ‘extraordinarily flimsy’ before suggesting that ‘England’s coaching staff are perfectly entitled to have a view of Aluko and if this is that she’s ‘lazy as f***’, then it’s their call’. His column ended thus:

‘Ultimately, there is little evidence here of bullying or racism, but there is a case for misuse of funds.

‘Barristers do not come cheap, and Newton’s verdict should have been the end of it. Whoever then authorised £100,000 to keep Aluko quiet shouldn’t be let near a budget again.’

Oddly, there is no update in Tuesday’s ‘new’ column after Aluko claimed that Sampson suggested that her Nigerian family could be bringing Ebola to an England game.

But as it was Samuel who once wrote that John Terry calling Anton Ferdinand a “f***ing black c***” was ‘ultimately meaningless’, maybe it is best that he keeps his counsel.


Hughes the genius this week?
Last Wednesday, Jese joined Stoke City; on Saturday, he played against Arsenal and scored the only goal. Well done, Jese.

Or alternatively, well done Mark Hughes, because picking his best player was – according to Garth Crooks on Monday – ‘a stroke of good management’.

On Tuesday, that view is repeated by the Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel, who writes:

‘Mark Hughes got exactly what he deserved from Stoke’s match against Arsenal on Saturday. Before the game he was asked about the decision to start Jese Rodriguez, just four days after joining on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

‘Hughes said the player needed to get used to English football, and the quicker the better. No ego-stroking pretence about needing time to fit into Stoke’s system; no self-indulgent belief that his was a gameplan so sophisticated a simple footballer could not absorb it in three training sessions.

‘Hughes identified a superior player, recruited a superior player and put that superior player straight into his team. He was rewarded with the winning goal against Arsenal. All credit to him; and Jese, of course.’

Oh so we are giving the player some credit? That’s nice. Mediawatch was labouring under the illusion that Mark Hughes – a manager who had lost all 18 of his most recent fixtures against last season’s top six – had no real choice but to play his best players against Arsenal at home, but it seems picking Jese was pure genius.


Miss thing
The Daily Mail’s Manchester correspondent Chris Wheeler did not even come close to hiding his disdain at being on ‘Five things you might have missed’ duty at the Etihad while Chief Sports Writer Martin Samuel took match report duty. Among his five things we might have missed had we not been blessed with either eyes or ears were that Jose Mourinho was there (we saw this on the telly), Ross Barkley was not there (he was injured), Leroy Sane produced two foul throws (seen by anybody who watched the actual football) and that Everton had lots of English players (which they never stopped sodding going on about on Sky).

Mediawatch is just surprised that he didn’t go the full ‘f*** it’ and simply write down the scoreline. We might have missed that.


Recycling bin
The first clue that the Daily Telegraph had just taken an old gallery feature entitled ‘Bargain hunting: 21 players Premier League clubs could try to sign from the EFL during the transfer window’ and made it ‘Bargain hunting: 19 players Premier League clubs could try to sign from the EFL during the transfer window’ is in the URL that still says ’21’. Though the introduction actually promises ’20 players that could ease the financial pain of Premier League clubs’, so this has clearly been a feature of diminishing returns.

The second clue is that on Tuesday morning, the list contained former Leeds striker Chris Woods (sic).

There is no longer any sign of Wood or Woods, but there has been a similar amount of care taken in the editing…

Nottingham Forest’s Zach Clough is described as not ‘quite at Premier League starting XI level yet’. Or not quite at Championship starting XI level yet, it seems, as Clough is not currently in Forest’s first team.

Aston Villa’s James Bree would be an ‘unlikely transfer target for Premier League clubs seeking a right-back’, apparently. Damn right. The Telegraph tell us that Bree ‘has already slotted in well to the first team’ at Villa’. He has played 26 minutes.

And that’s just the first two proffered names of 21/20/19.

At 12.08, Mediawatch had to reluctantly stop reading, stop laughing and start publishing.


Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe on Girona
Jacob Steinberg on the familiar problems at Tottenham
Dave Usher on Liverpool’s wing problem


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