It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to feel sorry for El-Hadji Diouf, hopeless narcissist that he is. Today is one of them, though, as The Mirror stitch him up good and proper.
Given Diouf’s history of provocative remarks, particularly towards Steven Gerrard, the Mirror’s headline promises a bumpy ride. Buckle up.
‘El-Hadji Diouf says Liverpool bottled the Premier League and will struggle this season. ‘
Within three paragraphs, that’s been simmered down to a more moderate “they were very good last season. I don’t think they are going to be able to play like that this season”.
And by the end of the piece, Diouf is praising Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
“I think that both Mo and Mane are doing amazing and they are up there flying the flag for Africa,” he said.
“The facts are there for everyone to see that at the moment they are two of the best players in the world and their contribution to Liverpool both domestically and continentally cannot be underrated.”
As Mediawatch is fond of preaching, when the opposite of what’s expected occurs, then that’s the real story. With that in mind, isn’t this strangely calm and conciliatory Diouf the headline? Isn’t it more remarkable that he managed to pass comment on Liverpool without questioning Gerrard’s legacy/punching a child/spitting at someone?
But, sure, ‘bottled it’. That’s another player who would rather cut off his own balls than trust a journalist again. Nice work.
You may have noticed a proliferation of “I’ve had a wonderful 10 years at X, but now I’m off to…” tweets on social media recently. That’s because, as everyone surely knows by now, the entire football writing/reporting industry is decamping for REDACTED.
No, we don’t understand the strange omerta either.
Anyway, Buzzfeed have probably done the most complete report on the activity so far, printing a long (but nowhere near complete) list of names and the publications that they’re leaving behind.
Fine work by reporter, Mark Di Stefano, but just wait until you read the full list.
His article does include this quote, from an unnamed editor, which made Mediawatch smile wryly.
“The whole thing, it has set off a bomb. F—, it’s tremendous. Not just that there’s now 50 new jobs, but newsroom managers are trying to protect their teams. Reporters and editors are going to management to ask for more resources … and they’re giving them.
“It’s a journalist transfer window.”
Well, it sounds a lot like reporters and editors are going to management to ask for more resources, being turned down, and then heading out the door and into the arms of REDACTED.
And these 50 new jobs – are we sure about that? Is this now a world of graduate schemes and opportunities for young people from all sorts of backgrounds or, in actual fact, are these publishers going to cover their gaps by stretching existing staff even thinner and, if necessary, just rotating senior reporters in from elsewhere?
Remember that decade in the Premier League during which Mark Hughes, Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew seemed to fill every job that became available? Well that, but with typewriters.
It’s a journalistic transfer window of sorts, we suppose.
The Express have twisted themselves into a big knot with a story about Nicolas Pepe replacing Mohamed Salah.
That’s right: Salah is LEAVING, click me, click me, click me.
‘LILLE believe the only way that Liverpool will launch an official move for Nicolas Pepe would be if Mohamed Salah leaves the club further down the line, according to Duncan Castles.’
There’s at least one giveaway in that sentence, isn’t there.
It does get stranger, though. The premise seems to be that Liverpool have an interest in Pepe, but it will only become active should Salah leave Anfield. Which, they concede, is very unlikely.
‘The Egyptian King will not be leaving Liverpool anytime soon given that he signed a new bumper five-year deal last summer.’
Right, so we’re doing what here, exactly?
Pre-season football is bad, pre-season journalism is much worse.
Here’s a tip though, if you’re going to start a colour piece from an international friendly game with a disclaimer about not taking the summer too seriously – which the Manchester Evening News do – then don’t spend the next 600 words approaching a giddy crescendo after a win over a Championship team.
‘What is abundantly clear is that the formation would not nearly have been as successful without the brilliance of Pogba in the centre of the park, with the French midfielder adopting a quarter-back role which saw him quell attacks before starting them from deep.’
Let’s also pad with a quick laugh at the MEN’s players ratings from Manchester United’s friendly with Leeds United.
‘Paul Pogba. Back in totemic mode, Pogba was imperious in a deep role again and Leeds could not lay a glove on him. Exceptional pass for Wan-Bissaka. 8’
Totemic. Brilliance. Commanding.
PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.
Dave Hytner interviews Che Adams.
Miguel Delaney on Josh Kroenke