Salah ‘danger’, Thiago ‘overheard’ and more nonsense

Sarah Winterburn
Mo Salah Liverpool

Danger! Danger!
Spot the difference.

The Daily Mirror back page: ‘MO SALAH wants to stay at Anfield for the remainder of his career.’

The Sun back page: ‘MO SALAH has hinted that Liverpool are in danger of losing him unless talks start on a new contract.’

Hmmm. Wonder which newspaper is never bought by Liverpool fans? Could it possibly be the one suggesting that the Egyptian forward could leave the club even though he said these pretty unequivocal words: “If you ask, I say I want to stay here as long as I can. But as I have said before it is in the hands of the club.”

What Salah has described there is the basic nature of footballer contracts – the club decides when they are extended and the club decides when players are sold; footballers can only really say yay or nay. Liverpool are ‘in danger of losing him unless talks start of a new contract’ but they’re not in danger of losing him until his contract expires in 2023 unless they choose to ‘lose’ him.

Salah is clearly angling for a new contract but he is in no position to issue ultimatums and Liverpool are in no danger of anything at all. But where’s the fun in that when you can say that a star player pledging his future to the club is ‘an extra cloud over the club’?


Just as hate knows love’s the cure
Talking of clouds over Liverpool…

‘Thiago Alcantara’s remark to teammates overheard as he’s blamed for goal drought’ – Mirror website.

This is a clever headline because it heavily implies that Thiago has made a remark to his teammates about being blamed for Liverpool’s goal drought. That’s the power of that very small word ‘as’.

Regular Mediawatch readers will know that the headline actually promises no such thing; what it actually promises is some remarks from Thiago (in this case, the incredibly banale “guys we need more. A draw is not enough”) in the same very vague timeframe as somebody (in this case, John Barnes) suggesting that he might partly be blamed for a goal drought.

While the actual dictionary defines ‘as’ as ‘used to indicate that something happens during the time when something else is taking place’, the new football journalism definition of ‘as’ should be ‘used to indicate that something happens within 24 hours of something else taking place or perhaps just being vaguely talked about (esp. Liverpool)’.


Luk who’s talking too
On the one hand, Stan Collymore writes in the Daily Mirror that ‘Manchester City, when we get to May, will be crowned champions of England’ and then on the other – literally a few inches to the right, he wants credit if City sign Romelu Lukaku this summer:

‘It would also prove me right about how Guardiola wanted to play lightweight, technical players when he first came here but now knows that, to compete for multiple trophies, a physical presence is a must. especially in the Premier League.’

So to summarise: Manchester City will win their third Premier League title in five seasons under Pep Guardiola but if they then buy Romelu Lukaku, it will prove Stan Collymore right that they need a physical presence to win the Premier League.

Seems fair.


To be Frank
Mind you, this is the same Stan Collymore who is so insistent that Frank Lampard is the greatest young coach of his generation. He writes that Saturday’s 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Fulham – who had been reduced to ten men – ‘was a testament to persistence and hard work’. Apparently, Chelsea are a ‘young team, a work in progress, with the right manager finding his way to turn them into winners’.

Mediawatch will sit and patiently wait for evidence beyond ‘he knows the club’.


Frankly speaking
But Stan Collymore is not alone in believing Frank Lampard is a great manager just waiting to emerge from the current mediocrity; Karen Carney writes on the BBC that ‘Chelsea need to give Frank Lampard more time’. Why?

‘When you are given a war chest, there’s a demand to get results. Expectation shifts but sometimes it doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like. You have to be patient, believe in that someone and trust they will come through in the end.

‘When Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola came in, he spent a load of money but didn’t win anything in his first season. It takes time to add culture.’

Two things.

First, Pep Guardiola had won six league titles and two Champions Leagues in an astonishing career so Manchester City had plentiful evidence to suggest that things would improve. Second, Guardiola won the Premier League in his second season with City; Chelsea are currently seventh.

‘The players Lampard has brought in are young and from abroad, and they need time to adapt to the Premier League and a Covid-19 world.’

Young and from abroad like Ruben Dias and Wesley Fofana? Things seem to be going okay for them at their new clubs.

Any more excuses?

Everybody else has had the same issues but the managers at the other big clubs have been there longer so already have a culture built.

‘Guardiola (February 2016) and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp (October 2015) have had several seasons with their teams, while Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers were both brought in for the second half of the 2018-19 seasons.’

Yes, those five months Rodgers (February 2019) has on Lampard (July 2019) are clearly a major factor here. How bizarre that Lampard has not used that time advantage to get ahead of either Jose Mourinho (November 2019) or Carlo Ancelotti (December 2019).

One thing left…

‘Those teams that win titles know what their best XI is and have consistency with that. Lampard hasn’t really had that.’

Poor Frank. We take it all back. Any idea who might be able to fix that problem?


Mesut Moratorium
Arsenal beat Newcastle on Monday night, taking their impressive run to six games unbeaten in all competitions. So how does Sami Mokbel begin his match report in the Daily Mail?

‘Arsenal swaggered around the Emirates like a team who have had a substantial weight lifted off their shoulders. Around £350,000-per-week’s worth.

‘Of course, Mesut Ozil wouldn’t have featured in this win over Newcastle – his time as an Arsenal footballer ended way before the deal to terminate his contract last week, allowing him to sign for Fenerbahce, was struck.

‘But for the avoidance of any doubt, Arsenal proved emphatically here that there will be life without Ozil.’

There was no doubt; Mesut Ozil has not played all season.

Can we please, please, please stop this now?