Look, it’s Deadline Day. We get it. The game’s afoot and everyone’s playing along. But the headline on The Sun website‘s deadline day blog – ‘DEADLINE DAY LIVE Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea latest as £100m Rashford is wanted at Real’ – is shameless.
Even their own sketchy story on a possible Rashford to Madrid move is very clear that this would be a summer deal. This is not a Deadline Day story.
The introduction to the blog only doubles down on the idea that this is something that could happen today – which even cagey old Mediawatch will happily bet its second favourite testicle it will not – saying with punchy present tense excitement.
‘It is transfer deadline day with Premier League clubs having until 11pm to get all their deals done.
‘Arsenal have already swooped for Denis Suarez, but could remain busy – while Real Madrid want Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford for £100m.’
You can understand the temptation, though, given the paucity of actual Deadline Day news. By 11am the headline had changed: ‘Transfer Deadline Day LIVE: Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea latest with Fellaini to China and Ozil transfer rejected’
Okay, tell us more about this £100m Rashford bid please.
No Coutinho? No Mata
There remains a concerted effort to make the Philippe Coutinho to Manchester United rumour a thing, with the Manchester Evening News‘ latest wheeze a sort of transfer story cut-and-shut in which a spurious Coutinho angle is bolted on to a Juan Mata update to confect a ‘swap’ story.
According to the MEN, Manchester United have been given a ‘huge boost’ in their Coutinho pursuit.
This sounds big. Well, huge even. What could it be?
‘SPORT report that Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has ‘given up’ hope of turning Coutinho’s fortunes around at the club, casting fresh doubt over his future.’
No prizes for guessing how many mentions of ‘Manchester United’ that SPORT report contains.
Still, the MEN must have some solid lines on United’s interest in Coutinho, otherwise this wou… what’s that?
‘Coutinho is surplus to requirements at the Nou Camp and there could be an opportunity for United to sign him – but there is absolutely nothing to suggest United will go for him or even have any interest in him.’
The Daily Star have come up with their own version of this, suggesting that if United want to sign Coutinho, they’ll have to throw Marcus Rashford into the deal.
‘Manchester United must “either shell out £125million or let go of Marcus Rashford” if they want Philippe Coutinho.’
Must have a good source at Barcelona to get this detail.
‘That’s according to football finance boffin Kieran Maguire.’
Oh for fu… go on, then.
‘Maguire said: “I think United would either have to shell out £125m for him or let one of the crown jewels go.”‘
Right, so that ‘must’ has already become a ‘think’.
‘”[Romelu] Lukaku isn’t the Barcelona type of player.
‘”But you could see [Anthony] Martial or [Marcus] Rashford being attractive to them.”‘
Now a ‘could see’.
‘”Of the two of them, I think the one with the most to gain would be Rashford.”‘
And finally another ‘think’. Even if we accept Maguire is a football finance expert – and the country has had enough of experts – this is just an opinion. Can we please just stop with this kind of bullwater?
We have plenty of sympathy for people who have to learn set numbers of things from football matches, but the Daily Mail lose their way early in learning 10 things from a gloriously bonkers midweek round of Barclays.
We’re only at number two when we get the question ‘When did the Emirates Stadium become a tough place to go?’
Arsenal are unbeaten in 12 Premier League home games, which is indeed impressive, but the suggestion that ‘It could be that the switch of manager is key’ is a bit of a stretch.
In answer to the initial question, the Emirates became a tough place to go in 2017/18 when, under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal recorded the second best home record in the league with 15 wins and just two defeats, winning their first seven Premier League home games of the season.
And it also became a tough place to go in 2016/17 when only the top two, Chelsea and Spurs, had better home records than the Gunners who again only lost twice in 19 home games. To be fair, Arsenal lost a whopping three away games in 2015/16 but still came third in the home table. They lost two home games in 2014/15 and one in 2013/14.
A better question, then, might be when did the Emirates stop being a tough place to go? When the Daily Mail had 10 things to learn, of course.
Recommended reading of the day
Marvin Sordell on what it’s like to be a January deadline day signing.
Andy Hunter on Jordan Henderson at right-back.
Sam Borden on Emiliano Sala.