The ‘U’ word
The image of Paul Pogba is on every back page on Tuesday morning – he earned and then missed a penalty, and that’s pretty big news – so it’s surprising to click on The Sun‘s match ratings and find that the Frenchman is given a 4. Which made him the worst player on the pitch. Even Juan Mata got a 5 and he touched the ball ten times.
‘Again deployed in a deeper sitting role alongside Scott McTominay and hardly involved.’
‘Hardly involved’ as he made more passes than anybody else on the football pitch. ‘Hardly involved’ as nobody had more shots. ‘Hardly involved’ as he won a penalty with a devastating run. Oh but they have that covered…
‘That was until he burst through after a neat one-two in the box and went down under Conor Coady’s dangling leg.
‘But Pogba controversially stepped up – rather than Marcus Rashford, who scored a penalty against Chelsea – and saw his penalty saved at a ‘comfortable height’ for Patricio. Epitomised his performance – underwhelming.’
It’s pretty damning that even in 2019, we are not surprised by anybody using the ‘N’ word to describe Pogba; but the ‘U’ word has shocked us to our core.
Pogba latest Pogba LIVE
On a morning when ‘Pogba’ is a very popular search term, of course the Daily Mirror changed the headline on their live transfer blog.
‘Transfer News LIVE: Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool gossip plus Pogba and Eriksen latest’
The ‘latest’ on Pogba was filed at 1am on Monday morning, based on a story published by The Sun on Sunday afternoon.
But why let that get in the way of clickety-click-click-clicks on Tuesday morning?
Obviously everybody wants a Paul Pogba exclusive, and talkSPORT are claiming one:
‘YIPS Paul Pogba’s record for missing penalties means Marcus Rashford should take them for Man United, talkSPORT told’
Which is one hell of a way to sell an interview with The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson, who ‘thinks it might be Rashford’s turn to take a few’.
Building a mystery
‘Why Manchester United did not make a substitution sooner vs Wolves’ – Manchester Evening News.
SPOILER: It’s because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not want to make a substitution sooner vs Wolves.
Ridiculous and embarrassing
Oh Stan. He is keen on a contradiction is our Stan. But even he usually waits a few weeks or months before doing a complete u-turn; it’s unusual that he manages to put forward two conflicting views on the same page, but that’s the danger when you are ‘the man who always speaks his mind’.
His Daily Mirror column is dominated by a piece on VAR in which he blames the ‘absolute joke’ of the new handball rule instead of technology. That the new handball rule has evolved to take the human element out of refereeing decisions to bring it into line with VAR seems to have escaped Collymore, but that’s for now immaterial.
He argues at length that the decision to disallow Gabriel Jesus’ goal on Sunday was ‘ridiculous’ and says City ‘should have won by virtue of the fact that wouldn’t have been handball under a common-sense law’. He describes what happened to City as ’embarrassing’.
Now that all seems very clear. But what’s this about Manchester City further down the page?
‘The only negative about City’s performance against Tottenham, though, was that Mauricio Pochettino’s men again exposed the fact that, if you’re brave and bold against them, you have a chance of getting a point or maybe even three.
‘It’s what happened when they had their little wobble last season and, while it didn’t hurt in the end, it did prove that when teams say, ‘We can have a go here,’ they can get results.’
So if you’re ‘brave and bold’ (and a ‘ridiculous’ and ’embarrassing’ decision is made in your favour), you have a chance against the champions. That’s the blueprint.
What a fine mess…
Arsenal have won their first two Premier League games, so of course Collymore has a massive pop at them. Of course he does.
He described Dani Ceballos as ‘fantastic’ but that is obviously A Bad Thing.
‘The fact their most aggressive figure was a player who has only just walked through the door speaks volumes about this squad.’
First, we’re not sure how he is measuring ‘aggression’ as Matteo Guendouzi matched him for tackles, Joe Willock committed more fouls and Nicolas Pepe matched his dribbles over just 45 minutes, but even if ‘aggression’ is measured in something less tangible, doesn’t it just mean that they made a good signing?
‘And, what’s worrying, is that they will only have him for one season.’
Maybe worry about that next season? When he might have helped them back into the Champions League? At which point they could afford and attract similar players on permanent deals?
But he’s not done.
“I know Unai Emery’s men have won two from two but I’m still concerned about their over-reliance on their front three.”
What ‘front three’? The Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Reiss Nelson and Henrikh Mkhitaryan front three that played against Newcastle, or the Aubameyang, Reiss Nelson and Alexandre Lacazette front three that played against Burnley? Where does the ‘fantastic’ Ceballos – with his two assists – fit into this ‘over-reliance’? And what of Nicolas Pepe, the £72m signing who came off the bench?
How nice of Stan to be ‘concerned’ on behalf of Arsenal. About a problem he has invented.
Claim of the day
‘SOKRATIS is relishing Arsenal’s visit to Liverpool on Saturday – and claims it will be EASIER than playing Burnley’ – Mark Irwin, The Sun.
Silly Sokratis. What did the big numpty say?
“Maybe it will be easier at Liverpool because we won’t have to fight too much physically.”
Oh. Let’s sort that opening line for you…
‘SOKRATIS is relishing Arsenal’s visit to Liverpool on Saturday – and wonders whether it might be easier than playing Burnley.’
Of course they are not the only ones…
‘Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos thinks it’ll be easier to defend against Liverpool than Burnley’ – Metro.
‘Sokratis: Arsenal will find Liverpool easier to defend against than Burnley’ – Evening Standard.
‘Arsenal star claims Liverpool are easier to defend against than Burnley’ – Daily Mirror.
Which leads here…
‘Sokratis, Suárez, Neymar: Why do opposition players keep underestimating Liverpool at Anfield?’ – Liverpool.com
It’s a wonder that any footballer still speaks to journalists…
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Cox on a masterful Kevin de Bruyne performance (£)
Andy Brassell on Bayern signing Philippe Coutinho
Nick Miller on Sheffield United and happiness