I pity the fool
Credit to Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail, who wants to spare the feelings of Marouane Fellaini. He describes it as a ‘particular pity for’ the Manchester United midfielder that he was unable to prevent Anderlecht midfielder Leander Dendoncker scoring from a header.
When did they change the meaning of the word ‘pity’ to ‘predictable that United conceded a header within ten minutes of Fellaini’s introduction as a substitute as he loitered on the edge of the area instead of doing what he was presumably brought on for’?
The joys of sixth
Credit to Neil Custis of The Sun, who wants to spare Manchester United’s feelings overall. He claims that they have ‘been banging on the door of the top four all season’, which roughly translates to: ‘They were sixth for literally more than 100 days straight.’
‘Could Everton’s Ross Barkley represent the missing link between man and beast?’
Above is a caption to a composite picture to a piece by Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun. On the left of the picture is Ross Barkley; on the right is a gorilla.
Mercifully, that is only the start of MacKenzie’s latest hateful diatribe. He goes much further in his attempts to vilify the people of a whole city.
‘PERHAPS unfairly, I have always judged Ross Barkley as one of our dimmest footballers. There is something about the lack of reflection in his eyes which makes me certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home.
‘I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo. The physique is magnificent but it’s the eyes that tell the story.
‘So it came as no surprise to me that the Everton star copped a nasty right-hander in a nightclub for allegedly eyeing up an attractive young lady who, as they say, was “spoken for”.
‘The reality is that at £60,000 a week and being both thick and single, he is an attractive catch in the Liverpool area, where the only men with similar pay packets are drug dealers and therefore not at nightclubs, as they are often guests of Her Majesty.
‘However, 23-year-old Mr Barkley will have learned a painful lesson. He is too rich and too famous to be spending his time in local hangouts where most of the customers have only just broken through the £7.50-an-hour barrier.’
Remarkable. Mediawatch simply has to stand and applaud MacKenzie for his impeccable timing; the latest in a long line of deplorable comments against the city of Liverpool comes just one day before the 28th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why The Sun’s apologies to Liverpool mean absolutely nothing, certainly not for as long as MacKenzie and ‘journalists’ of his ilk are employed.
Further into the depths of The Sun than Mediawatch would ever care to venture, eight of their journalists have named their pick for PFA Premier League Player of the Year.
Five writers choose N’Golo Kante; Neil Custis is one of two to choose Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
‘Big Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been incredible for Man United,’ he writes. ‘He has single-handedly lifted the gloom of the Van Gaal era,’ he adds, for it is impossible to discuss the ongoings at Old Trafford without referencing their former manager.
Mediawatch was particularly interested to hear how ‘incredible’ Ibrahimovic has been for United, considering Custis wrote this back in November:
‘‘United are having a lot of shots but not enough of them are finding the back of the net. The problem is they do not have a top-class striker at the very peak of his powers. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is doing a job of sorts but is 35.’
No way, Jose
Neil Ashton is here to tell you that ‘Outcast Joe can’t live with the full Conte’ in his column for The Sun. The man with ‘the inside track on football’s big stories’ writes:
‘Whatever ‘Judas’ has to say about the three titles he won in his two spells at Stamford Bridge, he belongs in the past now.
‘His reaction to Manchester United’s defeat in the FA Cup at Chelsea has made damn sure of that.
‘Mourinho went on the pitch that night, thumping the United crest on the pocket of his club suit in front of their travelling fans in the Shed.
‘It was another provocative gesture – an emphatic message from Mourinho to Chelsea’s supporters that he is no longer one of them.’
Silly Mediawatch, assuming it was an emphatic message from Mourinho to thank Manchester United fans for their support. We do forget that anytime the Portuguese breathes it is simply a part of his mind games.
Elsewhere in the world of Ashton – again, he has ‘the inside track on football’s big stories’ – he has a solution for ‘the constant bickering between Premier League benches’.
‘Diego Simeone’s dugout is about 40 yards away from rival coaches,’ he writes.
‘Although he did not shake hands with Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare at the final whistle, at least they did not get into the sort of petty squabbles seen each week in English football.
‘It also saves the fourth official constantly getting his ear chewed off.’
It must have been a different Atletico Madrid who complained that Leicester sports scientist Tom Joel encroached in their area on Wednesday. Joel faces a UEFA charge for the incident after being reported by the Spanish side. But at least there were no ‘petty squabbles’.
And if Premier League managers did not shake hands before and after every match, would anyone write about the actual football anymore?
Life of Ryan
You are the Daily Telegraph. You employ Ryan Giggs as a columnist; as a pundit, Ryan Giggs does not have a solid track record of offering excellent insight.
But it is awards season, and so you ask him to compile a PFA Team of the Year. That makes sense.
- Compile the XI in a simple article that requires just one click to find and read in full.
- Compile the XI in gallery format with different URLs for each player?
Again, you are the Daily Telegraph; you obviously choose 2).
But that is not the most salient point here. Instead, it is Giggs’s pick as his goalkeeper of the season.
‘He is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, and although Courtois and Lloris have kept more clean sheets, I would still take him on his ability to pull off the game-changing save.’
Ten gold stars for whoever reads the above and believes that Giggs is describing David de Gea, who has endured one of his poorer seasons at Manchester United.
Bravo, kind sir
Pep Guardiola discussed Claudio Bravo on Thursday. Pep Guardiola tends to discuss Claudio Bravo rather a lot, because people keep asking Pep Guardiola about Claudio Bravo.
The Daily Mirror listened intently at the Spaniard’s press conference, and John Richardson emerged with a big old scoop.
‘Pep Guardiola cut short Claudio Bravo’s birthday celebrations by telling the £17million former Barcelona star he is not his No. 1 keeper,’ he writes. ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLAUDIO…YOU’RE DROPPED,’ reads the headline.
And there you were thinking Bravo had been dropped on February 1, and had been on the bench for ten of the club’s last 14 games in all competitions. Oh, and had only started one Premier League game in the last nine.
It’s a kind of magic
Struggling for inspiration on your Premier League betting slip this weekend? Let Paul Merson help you in his Sky Sports predictions. Here he is on Crystal Palace v Leicester:
‘This may come back to haunt me but I’ll say it anyway, the biggest cert of the whole weekend is Crystal Palace winning this game.’
Leicester win it is.
It’s still a kind of magic
Here is Merson on Sunderland’s game with West Ham:
‘You might as well turn the floodlights off if they lose.’
It’s a 3pm kick-off on a Saturday in mid-April, Paul. They might not be on in the first place.
Lawro, Lawro laughs
Time for an update on Mark Lawrenson’s Premier League predictions for BBC Sport. The update is that Liverpool are top by five points, still unbeaten. Congratulations to them.
‘Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is ready to join the race for Virgil van Dijk’ – The Sun.
‘Liverpool join race to sign Virgil van Dijk’ – Daily Mail.
Fight the Powell
‘Nick Powell finally showed why Sir Alex Ferguson once paid £6m for him with a stunning 11-minute hat-trick’ – Daily Star.
We doubt Ferguson had Powell scoring three goals for a Wigan side battling Championship relegation in mind at the time.
Recommended reading of the day
Sheridan Bird on Silvio Berlusconi.
Michael Cox on Jose Mourinho’s search for revenge.
Louise Taylor on Newcastle.