They think it’s all over…
The Sun’s Neil Ashton continues his own quite spectacular trick of acting as though every game he sees is football’s first, last and everything, making sweeping statements in his customary short sentences.
Neil Ashton, The Sun, November 2, after watching Real Madrid lose to Tottenham: ‘Real Madrid, Champions League winners in each of the past two seasons, have run their race. Tottenham are the big noise after this breathtaking performance against one of European football’s powerhouse.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, February 15, after watching Real Madrid beat PSG: ‘This was Real’s night, a brutal reminder that the Champions League still belongs to them. And it will take something special to take it off them.’
Mediawatch looks forward to PSG winning the return leg and Madrid’s race once again being run.
The MailOnline are one of several outlets who bring us the news on Thursday morning that ‘Manchester United have lost their battle to tie Maroune Fellaini to a new contract at Old Trafford with the midfielder reportedly agreeing a move to Turkish side Besiktas ahead of this summer’.
‘Reportedly’? It is at this point that Mediawatch gets interested. According to who? Well ‘according to Turkish outlet Foto Mac‘, actually.
So off we go to FotoMac and find a story dated February 14 entitled ‘Fellaini agrees with Besiktas’. So is this a local source? Is it balls.
‘Commenting the news in the4thofficial.net…’
So off we go to the4thofficial.net, which had previously escaped our notice, and find an article dated February 12…
‘Besiktas are plotting a move for Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini next summer.’
Plotting? It doesn’t sound like Fellaini has agreed a contract with Besiktas. We read on…
‘According to a report by Talksport, the Turkish club are planning to reach an agreement with the Red Devils midfielder in the summer transfer window.’
Ah, Talksport. Now we are back on February 9. So what insight do they have?
‘Besiktas are preparing a summer swoop for Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini.’
Preparing? Is that less than plotting? We’re not sure anymore. So where did Talksport get their story?
‘According to Fotomac…’
At this point, Mediawatch does not know whether to laugh or cry.
The headline on that Fotomac story – from February 7 – is ‘Operation started’.
Make that ‘Bullshit started’. Where will it end?
My kingdom for a Shaw
It’s not quite Duncan Castles and Jose Mourinho but the Daily Mirror’s James Nursey is on a mission to get justice for Luke Shaw, presumably because he has a relationship with Shaw (and Gareth Bale) agent Jonathan Barnett that he would quite like to maintain.
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, March 2017: ‘Luke Shaw is set to quit Manchester United this summer – and could be offered an escape route by Tottenham, if Manchester City also splash the cash.’
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, April 2017: ‘Spurs have slapped a whopping £50million price tag on Danny Rose to scare off Manchester City and dent Luke Shaw’s prospects of a summer move…Liverpool and Man City are also keen on Shaw and need new left-backs.’
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, May 2017: ‘Luke Shaw expects to learn if he has a future at Manchester United after their Europa League final…But he still has suitors including Spurs, Liverpool and Man City chasing his services.’
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, September 2017: ‘Luke Shaw is stepping up his bid for a first team return at Manchester United where he may only have until Christmas to rescue his Old Trafford career…Shaw established himself at Southampton under Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who remains a big fan.’
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, February 2018: ‘Luke Shaw is in line to win a new long-term deal at Manchester United before the end of the season.’
James Nursey, the Daily Mirror, one week later in February 2018: ‘ARSENAL and Chelsea are both monitoring Luke Shaw’s contract talks with Manchester United.’
BINGO. We have a full house of big six clubs who want Luke Shaw. Except, unfortunately Manchester United. Try again, James.
Mediawatch is torn about our favourite line from the latest Luke Shaw update from James Nursey. Is it…
a) ‘Mourinho has been publicly critical in the past but has handed the fit-again defender five starts in United’s eight games so far this year.’
Alternative fact: Luke Shaw has started one of Manchester United’s last four Premier League games. Or…
b) ‘The delay has alerted both the Gunners and Chelsea who are likely to be in the market for a new left-back this summer.
‘Nacho Monreal will have just one year left on his Arsenal contract this summer, while Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso is tipped for a return to Spain.’
Pesky facts: Arsenal have already brought in Monreal’s successor in Sead Kolasinac, while Chelsea have literally just spent £17m on a young left-back.
It’s this kind of thing that you miss when you’re the Midlands man.
Against all odds
A reminder to the football media: An e-mail from a bookie’s PR company is not ‘news’. Especially when that e-mail is received two days before.
The Manchester Evening News tell us on Thursday morning that ‘Arsenal are the favourites to sign Manchester United defender Chris Smalling – according to the bookies’.
Yes, we had that e-mail from BetStars on Tuesday too.
It’s all pretty filthy, but even filthier when you consider that you cannot actually bet on that market on BetStars and the only bookies currently offering odds on Chris Smalling’s next club – Coral and Ladbrokes – both make Everton the 11/10 favourites.
But of course Everton are really not good for those delicious clicks.
‘Sadio Mane’s priceless reaction when asked if he’s quicker than Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah’ – that’s quite the promise from the Daily Mirror website.
Sadio Mane’s priceless reaction in full:
“I think Mo is unbelievable. Maybe I am but…Mo is crazy faster.”
We literally cannot put a price on that.
‘Kevin de Bruyne has surpassed Manchester United greats, insists Michael Owen,’ is the perfect clicky headline for the Manchester Evening News.
De Bruyne better than title-winning legends Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham? What the bloody hell is Michael Owen thinking?
‘Michael Owen insists Kevin de Bruyne has surpassed Manchester United legends Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.
‘Comparing him with United’s greats, Owen said: “De Bruyne, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham would be my order.”‘
What the MEN fail to mention (accidentally, of course) was that Owen was responding to a very specific question when he placed those particular players in that order.
Over to the Premier League official website:
‘”De Bruyne, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham would be my order,” the former striker responds when asked to rank the four for passing.’
It’s almost like he didn’t say that De Bruyne has surpassed those Manchester United greats at all.
Hypocrite of the day
Claude Puel on Manchester City’s pursuit of Riyad Mahrez: “We need perhaps some others’ respect. To make solicitation just one or two days before the end of the transfer window, I don’t know if it is normal.”
That would be Claude Puel, manager of Leicester City, who last summer missed the deadline to sign Adrien Silva by 14 seconds. One or two days is ‘normal’; one or two hours not so much.
Dean Saunders, talkSPORT, September 2017: “If Liverpool want to win trophies, if they want to get to that next level, they need to improve their defence. One way around that would be to sell Coutinho next summer for £130million and buy three new defenders and a defensive midfield player…and maybe a goalkeeper as well.”
Dean Saunders, talkSPORT, February 2018: “Can they win the Champions League? Yes – with that front three playing the way they are at the moment. I think they could beat anyone.”
We obviously missed Liverpool buying three new defenders, a defensive midfield player and a goalkeeper.
Headline of the day
‘Kloppwork orange’ – The Sun. Solid work.
‘No shit’ headline of the day
‘Joe Hart cannot be England’s No 1 as long he is second choice at West Ham’ – Daily Telegraph.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on Neymar.
James Gheerbrant on Ostersunds.
Dan Clark on Eric Abidal.