Rashford and Ten Hag brutally snubbed as Man United crisis deepens further

Editor F365
Man Utd forward Marcus Rashford and Erik ten Hag
Marcus Rashford and Erik Ten Hag

The last batch of international break nonsense sees Manchester United lurch ever deeper into crisis while England are supposed to have ‘moved beyond Belgium’ and a Man City title advantage is emerging…


Upson downs
The Sun have massively buried the lede in their important journalism about who Matthew Upson thinks should be in England’s starting XI at the Euros.

Former England star names Three Lions starting XI that should start Euro 2024 opener… with no room for Marcus Rashford

Just very odd, this. We’re not sure Marcus Rashford himself is currently including Marcus Rashford in an England starting XI ahead of Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden. It’s just a curious line of attack.

And that’s before we even get to the fact that the ‘former England star’ issuing this huge snub to Marcus Rashford is in fact 21-cap legend Matthew Upson.

And that’s before we subsequently get to the far more interesting and pertinent fact that Upson, speaking before last night’s game, has Kobbie Mainoo in his starting XI.

And that’s before we get to the real leftfield revelation.

He finished by naming an attacking trio of Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham and Ben Foden behind striker Harry Kane.

It’s a bold strategy, some real outside-the-box thinking, but sadly we all know dreary, predictable old Gareth Southgate is just far too set in his ways to pick a 38-year-old former rugby union international to play nominally from the left in a fluid front four.


Snub knows
Alas we must report yet more disharmony in the Manchester United ranks.

After that Rashford SNUB and yesterday’s sordid revelations about Diogo Dalot being a fan of his international and former club team-mate Diogo Costa, thus taking a proverbial p*ss on Andre Onana’s cornflakes, comes fresh woe for crisis-ridden United as Scott McTominay takes aim at Erik Ten Hag by… praising his Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

The Mirror report it thusly under the headline ‘Scott McTominay snubs Erik ten Hag as he pinpoints key role behind Man Utd heroics’

Reflecting on his improvement this term, the Scotsman has heralded the impact of national team boss Clarke. McTominay believes his change in attitude, and in turn his improved outfit (sic), all stems from a conversation he had with the Scotland manager.

“Yes. I’d say it did, to be fair,” the 27-year-old explained to the Telegraph. “That was the camp where the manager and I sat down and he said that I didn’t look happy, that I didn’t look like I was smiling about the place. I thought ‘maybe he’s right’.

“I went and spoke to my mum, my dad, my girlfriend at the time and they all pretty much said the same thing. Sometimes, you just need to enjoy football and play with a smile on your face and take it easy.

Helpfully, they’ve told us the interview was with the Telegraph, so we can go off to find some more clues. Unhelpfully, the interview was actually with The Times but never mind.

That little puzzle solved, we can read the whole original interview and the specific question McTominay actually answered.

Had this surge in form for club and country really come from an attitude change because Clarke took him aside?

It’s a small thing, but the ‘all’ which the Mirror’s version adds is important, isn’t it? That word isn’t there in the question he actually answered and that’s a tiny yet significant change that turns it from what McTominay is actually doing – complimenting Clarke – into a stick with which to beat Ten Hag.

We are once again asking people to realise that praising one person does not mean you are snubbing or criticising another.


Thrash meddle
This is incredibly petty of us, but we’re impossibly rattled by how bad John Cross’ description of Jude Bellingham’s equalising goal in last night’s Belgium draw is. And now we’re going to make sure you are too.

Eventually one came off as substitute James Maddison pulled back a low cross and there was Bellingham to thrash home from close range to save England.

That’s… that’s just not what happened at all, is it? Maddison’s contribution is wildly undersold by ‘pulled back a low cross’ given the way he flicked the ball back into Bellingham’s path with the outside of his right boot, but it’s the idea that Bellingham thrashed home from close range that has irked us most gravely.

It was a special goal from a special player specifically because, knowing that it was the very last chance England would get to take something from the game, Bellingham did the exact opposite of thrashing anything. He took a touch and set himself, ffs, before calmly side-footing the ball home.

Bellingham could be said to have slotted it home, or even tucked it home, or stroked it into the corner. But what he absolutely did not do was thrash it. It was far, far better than that.

And we’re really not having ‘close range’ either, while we’re at it.

That’s right, we’re still fighting our fight that words have meaning and we will not give up despite evidence mounting by the day that it is a forlorn, perhaps already lost, battle.


Emerge from nothing
Talking of which, here’s the dictionary definition of ’emerges’:

move out of or away from something and become visible; become apparent or prominent.

And here’s a Mirror headline.

Arsenal and Liverpool look to learn from mistakes as clear Man City title advantage emerges

So obviously that ‘title advantage’ for Man City must be specific to this season’s run-in, mustn’t it? It must be something that’s happening right now, mustn’t it? It’s still in the very presence of emerging, after all. It must be very, very new information.

One thing we know it definitely can’t be is that City have never lost a title race in the Sheikh Mansour era – missing out only when not in contention at all – or that none of either Arsenal or Liverpool’s three most recent titles were won on the last day of the season.

It can’t be that. Because that is all (in some cases very, very) old information that is absolutely not in any way emerging now. So it can’t be that, can it, Daily Mirror? CAN IT?


The English, the English, the English are best
England has a reputation for arrogance and exceptionalism and we just cannot for the life of us work out why that might be.

Apropos of nothing, here’s a line from Oliver Holt’s Daily Mail match report on last night’s game.

Belgium are not to be under-estimated, of course. They won their qualifying group without losing a game and on this evidence, Tielemans, Lukaku and Doku have the ability to unsettle any defence.

Quite right. Excellent side, Belgium. Lots of good players. Lots of them even making a go of things in the Barclays, so you know they must be good. Glad we’ve got that sor… Oh, you weren’t finished.

But England were supposed to have moved beyond Belgium by now.

What’s that now? Yes, England – ranked third in the world – should apparently have left the likes of Belgium – ranked fourth in the world – behind. We’re throwing them a bone just by deigning to play against them, frankly.


Needs must
The Sun have got themselves all worked up, which isn’t like them.

Kobbie Mainoo has played just 94 minutes for England… but Gareth Southgate MUST take wonderkid to the Euros

We’re pretty sure he WILL.


O Captain! My Captain!
The Daily Express come with the big news today.

Liverpool have secret weapon to stop Trent Alexander-Arnold joining Real Madrid

This sounds exciting.

…if there is any suggestion Alexander-Arnold is tempted by a move to Real Madrid, the Reds know that they have an ace card to pull out of the pack.

A secret weapon and an ace card to pull out of the pack? This is definitely going to be good and not a load of absolute stitched-together hypothetical b*llocks.

The secret weapon? The ace in the pack? Make Alexander-Arnold captain. Or more specifically yet also more vaguely ‘promising Alexander-Arnold that he can take the armband whenever the veteran Van Dijk does depart’.

This apparently, ‘would surely be enough to keep him on Merseyside’. And why? Because he once said he’d quite like to be Liverpool captain. Six years ago.

Liverpool’s actual ace in the pack is that Alexander-Arnold clearly loves the club, has shown no real desire to leave and will probably sign a new contract. But we’re guessing none of that really counts as a ‘secret weapon’.