REVEALED: Proof that Man United might still win the league

Date published: Wednesday 5th December 2018 11:58

No way, Jose
When The Sun are one of the few outlets not to sensationalise Jose Mourinho quotes, you know something has gone wrong somewhere down the line.

In his press conference on Tuesday, the Manchester United manager was asked whether he still felt he had the full backing of his players. His response was unequivocal:

“I still don’t understand that story. If you think a player only plays when he is, in your words, behind the manager, what I have to call these players or, in this case, what you are calling them, is dishonest.”

He said much, much more – and you can read it all here.

As mentioned, The Sun play a completely straight bat, with Neil Custis saying Mourinho ‘blasted talk of a Manchester United mutiny – claiming no player would down tools because they didn’t like him’.

But Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail says the Portuguese ‘avoided a direct answer’ in a ‘message to failing United stars’.

He literally said “I disagree totally with that question,” and that “you shouldn’t go in that direction because you are calling the players dishonest”. That seems pretty direct.

David McDonnell similarly completely misunderstands the point of what Mourinho actually said. His first paragraph for the Daily Mirror‘s back-page story reads:

‘Jose Mourinho has accused any Manchester United player not putting in maximum effort for him and the club of being “dishonest”.’

He hasn’t. At all. He has said that people who believe a footballer is not playing for their manager is accusing them of being “dishonest”. He was speaking in general terms, not about ‘any Manchester United player’.

The Mirror Online headline for that piece is an absolute doozy: ‘Jose Mourinho calls out “dishonest” Man Utd players not giving him everything’.

So, to summarise:

  1. Mourinho is asked a leading question about whether he thinks he has the backing of his squad.
  2. He answers honestly and sensibly, saying he doesn’t “understand” the question and “disagrees totally” with suggesting that players might down tools – lines that both the Mail and the Mirror omit. He answers in general terms, not speaking about any specific player.
  3. We are told this was a ‘message to failing United stars’, with Mourinho ‘calling out “dishonest” Man Utd players’.

There completes the vicious circle of football journalism in 2018.


Mail order
‘It is understood Paul Pogba was not the only player in Mourinho’s sights during the Portuguese’s 10-minute rant after Saturday’s draw against Southampton, in which he accused his squad of being responsible for a ‘virus’ running through the club’ – Chris Wheeler, Daily Mail.

‘Paul Pogba was not the only one in Mourinho’s sights during the 10-minute rant in which he accused his squad of being responsible for a ‘virus’ running through the club’ – Chris Wheeler, MailOnline.

Spare a thought for those who only read the website version of the story, and have been led to believe Mourinho dug Pogba out in a 10-minute press conference rant on Tuesday, not an alleged post-match team talk on Saturday.

Postman stat
Forget all that though; the Daily Mail have proof that United ‘could still pull off miracle title win’. Considering they have 22 points from 14 games, this had better be a bloody good omen.

‘In the eyes of many, Manchester United are a club in crisis under Jose Mourinho right now with hopes of a top four finish fading by the week,’ writes Nathan Salt, already desperately trying to drag this over the word count.

‘The current crop are experiencing the club’s fourth worst start to a Premier League campaign since the competition was launched back in 1992.

‘With just six wins from 14 matches, United sit in seventh and are majorly low on confidence – but all hope should not yet be lost.’

Go on, let’s have it…

‘Legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson won his first league title with the club having accrued fewer points after the opening 14 games than Mourinho has.’

He’s not wrong, you know. United had 21 points after 14 games of the 1992/93 Premier League season, and went on to win the title.

The only problem? They were just six points behind leaders Blackburn, which is only marginally less than the 19 points separating them and Manchester City this season.

But still: ‘Stat shows Man United could still pull off miracle title win.’

Lies, damned lies and statistics. And a single meaningless and out-of-context example of something happening 25 years ago that bears no relevance to the current day.


United front
Also in that article:

‘While that season marked the ultimate turnaround, Ferguson has other examples in his portfolio of rallying his players following a below-par start to the domestic season.’

When literally your only other example (despite the plural) is of them finishing third after having 21 points after 14 games in 2001/02, you have to wonder quite why that bodes well for a completely different Manchester United side 16 years later.


Silva fox
From John Cross’ Daily Mirror player ratings:

‘Silva: New hair but same old Silva, class act as he pulls all of the strings – 7’

Can something be ‘new’ 18 months after it first happened?


Evening, guv
According to the Manchester Evening News

‘Jose Mourinho might have to resort to a Louis van Gaal tactic vs Arsenal’

‘But they already play like utter sh*te,’ we hear you say. Well, dear reader, the ‘tactic’ in question is actually to possibly call up a youth-team player amid an injury crisis.

Because Louis van Gaal is famously the only person to have ever done that.


The ‘that doesn’t quite work’ intro of the day
‘Leroy Sane was chest amazing as Manchester City went five points clear at the top’ – The Sun.


One last thing…
On Tuesday, Mediawatch raised a single eyebrow at Martin Samuel’s plea for Manchester United to appoint Eddie Howe. He said the Bournemouth manager would ‘be a perfect fit’ at Old Trafford, someone ‘doing an impressive job in inauspicious circumstances’ who wouldn’t ‘get so much as a cursory second glance’ if United were in the market for a new coach.

‘Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe would be the perfect fit for Manchester United… if he wasn’t English,’ screamed the Daily Mail headline, while draping a Union Jack around itself and shouting something about Brexit meaning Brexit.

On Wednesday, Mediawatch raises its other eyebrow. The discovery of this Martin Samuel article from April 2014 changes everything.

‘Appointing a manager without experience in the elite pool was a leap of faith and it has not been supported by results,’ he said.

‘He didn’t have Champions League experience…’ he said.

‘He didn’t have title-winning experience…’ he said.

‘He had never won a trophy…’ he said.

‘The job was, as predicted by a number of fearful United fans, too big for him,’ he said.

‘And Moyes throughout his career has never spent anywhere near the sums that are set aside to revive Manchester United this summer,’ he said.

‘And the overhaul of United this summer is a task for a high-end coach,’ he said.

‘The presence of Moyes does not speak of ambition, not while he still has an L-plate attached to his jacket,’ he said.

‘It is pointless pretending Moyes carries the same clout as his contemporaries at the major European clubs,’ he said.

‘He has no profile among players beyond these shores,’ he said.

If Moyes didn’t have enough experience, trophies, ambition, clout or profile after being appointed from sixth-placed Everton in 2013, what makes sixth-placed Howe any different whatsoever five years later?

Answers on a postcard. Preferably an English one.


Recommended reading of the day
Barney Ronay on Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Arsenal.

Musa Okwonga on the wide forward.

More from Planet Sport: EXCLUSIVE: Tommy Haas makes bold prediction over Roger Federer’s future (Tennis365)

With thanks to Jose Miola. If you spot anything that belongs on these pages, send an email to with ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field


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