Just when Mediawatch believes it has seen it all – every misleading headline, every piece of thinly concealed racism, every blatant attempt at harnessing SEO – and can never be shocked again, we see that Sun front page.
We spent a good six or seven minutes laughing uncontrollably before the delirium passed and we could calmly check that it was indeed 2018 and Britain’s best-selling newspaper had actually – not in Black Mirror but in actual reality – ‘urged its patriotic readers to bring England luck…by kissing skipper Harry Kane’s boot’.
As ever, the devil is in the detail and the fact that this unbelievably patronising nonsense is written by ‘NICK PARKER in Volgograd’ has tickled us beyond compare. Because of course he could never have written this shit from London.
It’s almost impossible to comprehend the thought process behind this ‘story’ but we suspect it must be rooted in the unstinting belief that all their readers are f***ing idiots who believe that kissing a newspaper could actually make a difference to a football match. And that if you don’t believe that kissing a newspaper could actually make a difference to a football match, then you are somehow unpatriotic. Because that makes sense.
What is utterly bizarre is that The Sun at no point suggest that there is anything remotely ridiculous about this request; there is no acknowledgement that it is not absolutely normal to ask grown adults to kiss a picture of a football boot in order to somehow make it score goals.
Indeed, they seem convinced that it might work, writing: ‘To help him and his fresh-faced teammates in their hunt for glory, we’re urging readers to snap themselves kissing the lips on our page one picture of Harry’s boot and post the images on social media.’
They even quote a showbiz reporter saying: “If everyone does this today, it might just give them the encouragement they need to give Tunisia a hiding.”
Or it might just make them think that England is a nation of lunatics who they really do not want to represent.
Mediawatch feels like somebody should remind The Sun that this is the first game of England’s campaign. If you are spunking superstitious boot-kissing, psychic meerkats and back-page headlines citing St George on June 18, what on earth are you saving for a quarter-final?
Neil Ashton, The Sun, March 15: ‘SOON enough, another international tournament will slide by. England, struggling to come up with 27 names for prestige friendlies against Holland and Italy, are slowly fading away.’
Neil Ashton, The Sun, June 18: ‘THE England team-talk will be short. This Three Lions side, built to Gareth Southgate’s exacting specifications, really believe they can win this thing.’
From ‘struggling to come up with 27 names’ to ‘built to exacting specifications’ in three short months. That really is World Cup fever.
How very Daily Mail that Martin Samuel has written a length, balanced piece about Gareth Southgate being ‘the most radical national manager for two decades’ despite being a natural conformist, and yet the headline they use begins ‘Grandad was a royal Marine’.
Which begs the question: Why send a Chief Sports Writer to the World Cup at all?
Jamie Redknapp: Expert
What went wrong for the Germans, Jamie?
‘Germany made a huge mistake leaving Leroy Sane at home.’
What does Brazil result mean for England, Jamie?
‘On the one hand this World Cup now seems up for grabs…but on the other we now know that the underdogs are not to be taken lightly.’
What will happen in England v Tunisia, Jamie?
‘This is going to be a difficult game. Tunisia will be fired up by Mexico’s victory over Germany and will be determined to cause an upset of their own.’
And that’s why the Daily Mail pay him the big bucks.
Daily Express website headline: ‘World Cup 2018: Tunisia will use this SHOCK tactic to beat England – masterplan revealed.’
Actual story: Wahbi Khazri has occasionally scored directly from corners, though there is absolutely no suggestion at all that he will try to do so against England, or that this has even been discussed in the Tunisia camp.
Raheem the dream
Now we’re not saying that the Evening Standard are trying to misleadingly harness some clicks, but Danny Murphy first mentions Raheem Sterling 14 paragraphs into his 16-paragraph column.
The headline? ‘Time for Raheem Sterling to answer his critics, says Danny Murphy.’
He does say (kind of) say that, but he says some other really sodding dull stuff first.
A reminder that not having World Cup TV rights is no barrier to excellent broadcasting…
M8 . Please end me. pic.twitter.com/3C2oOHGvl4
— Dragan|Kuruzović (@MovesLikeDragan) June 18, 2018
“And now let’s go to Aidan Magee at Whipsnade Zoo…”
— Sean (@backpostasassin) June 18, 2018