There really is only one place to start on this bright Tuesday morning – with ‘the man who always speaks his mind’, even when it might be better to keep quiet.
Stan Collymore’s latest Daily Mirror column demands to be examined in some detail. It is extraordinary. And please do remember that ‘extraordinary’ is not necessarily a compliment.
Let us begin…
‘I know Pep Guardiola has said he’ll prioritise a full-back and a defensive midfielder in the summer.
‘But if I was him the first person I’d be targeting is Virgil van Dijk.’
It’s a strong start for many reasons – firstly, because Manchester City’s multiple title-winning manager probably (and we’re being generous with the ‘probably’ here) knows more about what Manchester City need than Stan Collymore. And most of us would agree that a long-term replacement for Fernandinho should be a priority over a new centre-half, where they already have Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and, erm, Eliaquim Mangala.
Oh and they allow fewer shots than any other Premier League side by some margin, so there isn’t an awful lot wrong with their defence.
Secondly, Virgil van Dijk plays for Liverpool. They can ‘target’ him all they want (and they don’t want, which seems important) but Liverpool do not have to sell.
‘I’d offer John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi plus £150million for the Dutchman and I wouldn’t stop until Liverpool accepted my offer was simply too good to turn down.’
Wow. Just wow.
Yep, the perfect response to conceding fully five more goals than Liverpool this season in the Premier League would be for Manchester City – who beat Liverpool 2-1 just last month, remember – to smash the world transfer record to buy a centre-half. That would make perfect sense.
This is a club whose transfer record is just £60m; this is a club whose manager constantly preaches about the need to be sensible and stable when it comes to transfer spending; this is a club that – and again, this does seem important – does not really have a defensive problem.
Keeping all that in mind, does anybody else think spending over £200m on a centre-half might just be a tad excessive?
Talking about inflated spending, this was the response of one Stanley Victor Collymore when Liverpool agreed to pay £75m for a certain Dutchman:
‘£75m. Too much money burning too many big holes in too many pockets. Even the biggest clubs will be pricing themselves out of the market soon. Absolute madness.’
And now ‘even the biggest clubs’ should agree that his value has tripled in little more than a year? Absolute madness, indeed.
What is more ridiculous? That Manchester City should formulate such a plan, or that they should just simply batter Liverpool into submission until they accepted the offer? What does that entail exactly…standing outside Anfield with a ghetto blaster like John Cusack in Say Anything? Or just ringing every seven minutes like a particularly persistent PPI cold caller?
We’re pretty sure football transfers don’t work like that.
Oh and we’re pretty sure that Liverpool would still say no. And that at least one of Van Dijk, Stones and Otamendi would also object. It takes an awful lot of people to agree to a basically ridiculous plan that nobody actually needs to happen. Apart from that, it’s flawless.
‘Van Dijk is one of those incredibly gifted athletes and would make any defence on Planet Earth significantly better.
‘And if City want to become the dominant force they say they want to, then going all out for him would be a no-brainer.’
City conceded 27 goals en-route to winning last season’s Premier League at a canter, and they are on course to do the same again. They have already won the League Cup this season and are the favourites to win both the FA Cup and the Champions League. We cannot stress enough that not having Van Dijk is not holding them back in any way. How much better could one man possibly make them? Enough to make a £200m-plus transfer fee a ‘no-brainer’?
‘Van Dijk has to be worth at least £175m of anybody’s money and, while it’s easy to throw around statements such as ‘best in the world’, I really believe he is.’
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why one club should spend money they do not have on a player they do not really need and who does not really want to leave a club that really does not want to sell.
‘PRESSURE PILES UP ON KOP BOSS’ screams The Sun as Liverpool drop fully one point behind Manchester City.
‘Klopp’s starting to look like a very fraught Messiah,’ they bellow from a white van, alongside a picture of Jurgen Klopp hilariously mocked up as Kevin Keegan in his ‘love it’ headphones. For this is the kind of nonsense you can print when no Liverpool fan reads your newspaper.
The German is then referred to as a ‘manic touchline preacher’ because he has been complaining about the wind, got a little bit annoyed with a cheeky child and used the ‘f’ word. By those measures, Mediawatch is also a manic preacher. Though in the absence of a touchline, we will patrol the street.
Dave Kidd – for it is The Sun’s Chief Sports Writer who has penned this classic – then writes the most wonderful paragraph you will read today:
‘This isn’t a complete meltdown - the Reds have not conceded a single goal in 8½ hours of football and have still lost only one Premier League game all season, an unlucky 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.’
We like it when they Mediawatch themselves.
Taking the BATE
Mediawatch will leave it to others to point out the ridiculousness of Martin Samuel using his Daily Mail column to suggest that Celtic are pretty much exactly the same as BATE Borisov. Yes, that’s former European champions Celtic with a global fanbase estimated at around nine million, pretty much exactly the same as BATE Borisov, who play in a stadium that holds just over 13,000.
It’s a dick move from Samuel and we won’t rise to it.
But we do question Samuel equating Brendan Rodgers with former BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko, who left the Belarus club for Russia club Kuban Krasnodar in 2013. ‘Brendan Rodgers syndrome’ apparently. Even though Brendan Rodgers had an entirely different career path that had already involved two Premier League jobs, while Goncharenko’s role at BATE was his first. Just details though, because Samuel has a point to make…
‘Where is Goncharenko now? He is the manager of CSKA Moscow, the second-best team in Russia last season, and currently third in the table. CSKA were desperately unfortunate not to progress beyond the Champions League group stage after beating Real Madrid home and away.
‘And where is Yermakovich, BATE’s second most successful manager? He is his assistant.
‘The move into mediocrity at Kuban worked for them, the way Rodgers hopes swapping Celtic for Leicester will benefit him.’
What Samuel neglects to mention: Goncharenko failed at Kuban Krasnodar. And then at lower mid-table Russian side FC Ural Yekaterinburg (where he lasted just six games). He then had to go and work as an assistant at CSKA Moscow before getting another Russian job with mid-table FC Ufa before finally getting the job at CSKA.
We call that omission ‘Martin Samuel syndrome’.
The Sun’s back-page exclusive about an altercation between Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku is a wonderful illustration of conflict resolution. Watch how the words lose their power; marvel at the scaling-down of conviction.
In the opening line it’s a ‘dramatic bust-up’. We’re thinking swords and Shakespearean garb.
By the second paragraph it’s just a ‘row’. The swords have been sheathed.
Ninth paragraph? It’s a ‘stern conversation’. Tidy your room.
The paragraph not included by The Sun? The one where Romelu Lukaku said that it was all made up.
When the hate don’t work they start telling lies…
— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) March 5, 2019
The big news
‘Smalling picks up the dry cleaning and Dalot visits beauty salon as Man Utd stars enjoy afternoon off before crunch PSG clash’ – The Sun online.
It’s almost like they are people.
How low can you go?
Where to start? pic.twitter.com/k9girs7msv
— James Dart (@James_Dart) March 5, 2019
With a well-placed ‘just f*** off’?
Book of revelations
‘Jose Mourinho reveals why he could not get the best out of Paul Pogba at Man Utd’ – Daily Mirror website.
And cleverly, he does this without actually mentioning his name.
‘No sh*t’ story of the day
‘MAURIZIO SARRI faces a battle to persuade Chelsea he has a long-term future at the club’ – Daily Mail.
It’s Chelsea; of course he bloody does.
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith talks to Marco Reus