There’s something a little sad about the Daily Mirror sending one man all the way to Ukraine and another all the way to Greece to cover Champions League ties, but then by 11am on Thursday morning, the lead story on their Mirror football homepage is a re-write of some 15-hour-old Manchester United gossip from the Evening Standard.
Penny for the thoughts of actual Manchester correspondent David McDonnell.
Can’t buy me love
Mediawatch thought the days of endless references to Alexis Sanchez and his Manchester United wages might have disappeared along with the man himself to Italy, but Brian Reade of the Daily Mirror wants another jab.
He quotes Jose Mourinho as saying that Sanchez was “not a happy man”. Obviously he doesn’t quote the rest of the interview in which Mourinho admitted that it was perhaps his fault “as a manager sometimes you have the capacity to get the best out of the players and other times you are not successful in that approach”. Of course not. For Reade is about to talk about money, which is entirely – and we mean entirely – irrelevant to the question of Sanchez’s happiness.
He describes talk of Sanchez’s unhappiness as ‘a depressing blow for those of us who occasionally defend highly paid football people when their wages are compared unfavourably with nurses and teachers’, which is a pretty unfortunate, flippant use of the word ‘depressing’ when we are talking about a man’s unhappiness, but please do continue…
‘Because if Sanchez was unhappy about earning £500,000 a week to play for one of the world’s biggest clubs…’
Well he clearly wasn’t unhappy about that. He was unhappy despite that, thus proving that money really has no link with happiness, barring the very obvious connection between poverty and stress.
But Reade is not done…
‘…and Mourinho didn’t do his research to uncover that basic flaw in his character, despite United paying him £12million a year to do so, I’ll have to admit I was wrong. The pay gap is beyond all comprehension.’
Unhappiness + money = ‘a basic flaw in his character’.
Welcome to old man mathematics.
Catch of the day
‘Neymar and Kylian Mbappe caught laughing in the stands as PSG thrash Real Madrid’ – Daily Star website.
Mediawatch awaits the official confirmation about just how much happiness is the right amount of happiness when you earn a lot of money.
We admit we were pulled in by the headline – ‘The only reason Virgil van Dijk will swap Liverpool for Real Madrid or Barcelona’ – long before we realised that the Daily Star were merely quoting Shaka Hislop, who has literally no connection with the Dutchman and freely admits that he ‘doesn’t know’ how Van Dijk feels. Why would he?
But now we’re here – what is the only reason Van Dijk would swap Liverpool for Real Madrid or Barcelona?
“The only way I can see Virgil van Dijk leaving is if Liverpool go on and win the Premier League and he says ‘I have done everything I can here, I want a new challenge’.”
Yep. That’ll be it. He definitely wouldn’t want to leave Liverpool if they failed to win the title, dropped out of the Champions League and sacked Jurgen Klopp. The only possible scenario in which he would leave Liverpool is if they were just so bloody brilliant that he needed to be somewhere slightly less brilliant.
Liverpool lost in the Champions League this week, but Jurgen Klopp still emerged as a legend and a genius because, well…
‘Diego Simeone is mimicking key aspect of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool style for Atlético Madrid’
Expert propagandists Liverpool.com then proceed to tell us that Kieran Trippier is Atletico Madrid’s most important player (he’s not) and that La Liga-winning manager Simeone must have got this idea from Klopp, who is officially the first ever manager to play attacking full-backs, which might come as something of a surprise to anyone who has ever coached Dani Alves or Cafu.
‘Trippier made a match-high seven key passes against the Italian champions, including a perfect corner assist for Hector Herrera to head into the net for a stoppage-time equaliser. His 96 touches of the ball were 18 more than his nearest teammate, Koke, and 42% of Atlético’s attacks came down his right hand-side. He was his team’s main set-piece taker too, delivering eight corners across the course of the ninety minutes.
‘Simply put, Kieran Trippier was the most influential player on the pitch, despite being a right-back.
‘Does that remind you of anyone?’
It reminds us of Kieran Trippier in the World Cup.
Wrong answer, apparently.
‘Ever since his breakout performance at Old Trafford against Manchester United in 2017, Trent Alexander-Arnold has been more than a full-back for Liverpool. His vision, technique, and composure render him the team’s most creative player. The 12 assists he made in the 2018/19n league season were the most ever recorded by a defender, and the 56 crosses he has made so far this season, meanwhile, are 12 higher than any other player in the Premier League.
‘Alexander-Arnold is, in essence, a central midfielder. His job is to do everything which central midfielders are asked to do, but from a different position on the pitch. He is not defined by tackles or interceptions, but by how many chances he creates for Liverpool’s attack.
‘Trippier is now being asked to do the same by his new manager. Previous Atlético players who operated at full-back under Simeone, including the likes of Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, and Juanfran, were defenders first and attacking influencers second. Now, he has altered his system, and part of the reason why cannot be ignored.’
Well it apparently cannot be ignored if Liverpool lose and you bizarrely want to credit Liverpool’s manager with the performance of a right-back in another country for another manager.
At this point we would usually point out the pesky fact that Trippier has actually only created four chances in four La Liga games (and that the ‘defensive’ Juanfran actually created more chances per 90 minutes from right-back last season), but actually, the only thing we really need to say is ‘f***ing hell, this is now getting really very weird’.
We had this coming sadly.
Erling Haaland’s hat-trick in the Champions League has sent the rumour-mongers into two-plus-two overdrive. He’s Norwegian, so is Manchester United’s manager, therefore… etc.
Which is all the justification the Mirror need to reheat the feud between Roy Keane and Haaland’s father, Alfie-Inge.
‘Erling Braut Haaland’s dad reveals his thoughts on his son signing for Man Utd’ shouts the headline.
‘Alf Inge Haaland once say (sic) of the Red Devils: “I really dislike United and I can’t stand their players”‘ screams the sub-headline.
What he actually ‘reveals’ is that his son’s career is his own business and that like any player in the world the Premier League is attractive to him, and that – he, Alfie-Inge – has no real thoughts on any of that, really.
Good parenting, bad journalism.
Boring, boring Michael
Further bad journalism from the Mirror, who have looted Michael Owen’s Europa League preview to pad out their Thursday morning.
As you’d expect, it’s gold. Completely beige, but gold nonetheless.
‘Owen reckons that the Premier League sides will be celebrating with all three points and he admitted that it would “be disappointing” if United didn’t get off to a winning start.’
It sure would. It would be disappointing. As in, if they failed to win, United’s players would sit on the plane home thinking ‘I am so disappointed, my performance was so disappointing and, when I get home, my friends and family will correctly reason that I will have been disappointed with that performance’.
Ex-footballers of the world: learn another word.
‘Regarding Wolves, the Super Cup winner hoped they “extend their excellent European record”, after winning all six Europa League qualifying round games to reach the Group Stages.’
It’s not often you get elegant variation and useful trivia at the same time. But, yes, Michael Owen did win the Super Cup.
‘In terms of the Scottish powerhouses, Celtic and Rangers, Owen believed both would have to “settle” for a point in their opening games.’
Good stuff. Mediawatch feels fully prepared to ignore the Europa League until February now.
Incidentally, how’s Michael Owen’s re-brand going?
Headline of the day
‘Come Acropolis’ – The Sun on Tottenham. Hat tipped.
Recommended reading of the day
Stuart James on Fernando Ricksen
Rory Smith on PSG v Real Madrid