To be Frank
Above a Sun back-page headline that just barely makes sense (‘Thanks but no Sanch!) is Neil Ashton bringing us the latest on events at Stamford Bridge.
‘Frank Lampard insisted his kids can win the Super Cup ahead of their daunting clash with Liverpool tonight.’
Be weird if he ‘admitted’ they ‘couldn’t’. That would be newsworthy.
‘Lampard has a bridging job, muddling through his first season in charge before he is able to make signings of his own when the club’s transfer ban is up.’
For those keeping count, it took just a single game for sections of a media which hounded Maurizio Sarri for finishing third and winning the Europa League to exonerate Lampard of any Chelsea blame for whatever happens this season.
He couldn’t sign any players (except for a £40m midfielder, while inheriting a £57m winger and loads of returning loanees)! Of course he’ll be ‘muddling’ (the action or process of bringing something into a disordered or confusing state) through his first season!
That aforementioned Sanchez story is something else, too. Neil Custis tells us that Alexis Sanchez ‘faces being banished’ in Manchester United’s reserves if he doesn’t agree to join a European club before the various transfer windows close at the start of next month.
They will surely, definitely, absolutely let a player on reported £505,000-a-week wages just play with the U23s and not actually find a worthwhile way of using him until trying to sell him again in January. Yep.
As Custis himself writes, ‘Sanchez’s constant moaning started within weeks of him arriving. He was bringing people down. Young players who needed him to set an example were being shown the wrong one.’
United’s apparent, exclusive solution? Force this supposed unhappy, disruptive influence to play day in, day out with the kids – and Marcos Rojo – for a few months.
In a further article taking aim at the Chilean, Custis adds that ‘when Solskjaer talked of where the goals would come from now Lukaku had left, he did not namecheck Sanchez’.
‘It was as if he had forgotten he was there. In truth, he virtually has, for his planning for this new season was done without him on the tactics board.’
Well he might not have ‘namechecked’ him then, but he certainly did when saying this a couple of days before the Chelsea game last week:
“He’s four or five weeks behind the boys and has not played apart from the one behind closed doors here, so I think he’ll see this as an opportunity as well to make his mark. I do expect him to stay, there’s a striker there we think is going to be able to score some goals.”
Sounds an awful lot like he’s been on the tactics boards, there.
The piece also contains numerous digs at how much Sanchez has earned to be admittedly woeful at Old Trafford. Take the headline – ‘Sanchez hasn’t taken his chance…just the money’ – for example.
‘As of this week, Alexis Sanchez will have banked £41MILLION in wages from Manchester United. That works out at £8.2m for each of the five goals he has scored since switching from Arsenal in January 2018.’
Just to clarify, we’re blaming the sensible human who accepted this ridiculous contract rather than the corporation who offered it?
‘To say Manchester City dodged a bullet is a real understatement. Alarm bells should have been ringing at Old Trafford when it was clear Sanchez was going to the club that would pay him the most.’
‘Unfortunately, it seems to have been cash first and worry about the badge later for Sanchez.’
In short, fella’s a mercenary.
So it must have been a different Neil Custis (there’s a thought) that said the following on Sunday Supplement back in January 2018:
“I think all Manchester United fans will be very pleased because it is what they need. I think this is a very, very good Manchester United team. The problem is, set against this Manchester City team, it is not recognised as that.”
From “what they need” to expensive mistake that should have been avoided all along. Glorious.
“It’s interesting that Manchester United make these moves and have these moments in history where things can change, obviously Cantona being the classic example, the Class of ’92 coming through and what have you, and this can be another one. And particularly the fact that they’ve got him when it looked like he was going to Manchester City.”
From comparisons with Cantona to ‘forgotten’ money-grabber in just over a year and a half. Impressive.
“I wouldn’t say Manchester City have been blase about this, but it’s almost bordering on it, as if to say ‘Well, we’re so far ahead, we’re playing so well’. I’m not saying they’re going to catch them up this season, but this is a major move for Manchester United, and Manchester United have not suddenly become mugs overnight. They’re not going to go away. They’re not gonna become Arsenal and be happy with fourth. They are still gunning for Manchester City, and will be next season.”
From ‘a major move’ to ‘a player Solskjaer does not want in the first team’. Wonderful.
“They’re gonna be six months ahead of schedule in those plans by getting Sanchez now. I just think he’ll give what is already a good team that extra little lift. You’ve got to remember that Lukaku is still an excellent striker, Martial’s still only 22 and is getting better under Mourinho, Lingard’s getting better under Mourinho, Rashford’s had a dip but will come back. And when all those things click with Sanchez in it, they’ve already got the base to become a good team. It’s a spectacularly good signing.”
From “a spectacularly good signing” to one where ‘alarm bells should have been ringing’ from the very start. Beautiful.
“I think Ed Woodward deserves praise for it. Mourinho does as well. But we have to remember that it’s not like he’s gone to Wycombe for massive money: he’s gone to Manchester United. Manchester United is still a big pull. You could argue it is a bigger pull than Manchester City for some people. It’s still a massive pull, Manchester United, and always will be. This is why, when this opportunity came, Sanchez has gone.”
Wait, *that’s* why Sanchez joined? Because United were arguably “a bigger pull than Manchester City”. Didn’t he move to United because it was ‘cash first and worry about the badge later’, a case of simply ‘going to the club that would pay him the most’?
Remind us again why ‘Ed Woodward deserves praise’ for seemingly saddling Manchester United and their “massive pull” with a player who was only ever in it for the money (after he turned out to be not that good)?
Don’t let The Sun go down on me
‘Solskjaer insists Sanchez IS part of his plans despite his dips in form since arriving from Arsenal and his determination to bring young talent through’ – Mike McGrath, The Sun exclusive, August 13.
‘Last season after Solskjaer took charge in December, Sanchez scored just once in his 16 appearances. It is why all of Solskjaer’s planning for this new season has been done without Sanchez in mind’ – Neil Custis, The Sun exclusive, August 14.
The MailOnline have found a new key on their collective keyboard. See if you can spot it based on these headlines from their football homepage:
‘MORE trouble at Los Blancos! Now Luka Jovic ‘could leave Real Madrid on loan after falling out of favour with Zinedine Zidane’… TWO MONTHS after they spent £62m on him’
‘Bittersweet! Daniele De Rossi scores on Boca Juniors debut… but Argentine giants suffer shock Copa Argentina defeat’
‘The kids are alright! Frank Lampard hits back at his Chelsea critics and says he has ‘no fear’ of playing youngsters against European champions Liverpool in formidable Super Cup test’
‘Former Man United boss David Moyes reveals he scouted £80m Harry Maguire… but didn’t sign him because of his size!’
”Go and get a club!’: Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder says transfer-listed players refusing to leave annoys him ‘immensely’ as he tries to enforce a squad clear-out’
‘Manchester United sign Norwegian 14-year-old wonderkid Isak Hansen-Aaroen in £90,000 deal – two years after he had a trial at Liverpool!’
”It was no trolley dash!’: Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow defends their incredible £145m spending spree after signing 12 new players this summer’
‘The best XI in the world right NOW: Our reporters name their picks for the top players on the planet including Messi, Ronaldo, Sterling (and one vote for Bayern’s Muller!)… but who makes YOUR team?’
‘OUCH! New Zenit signing Malcom hits referee in the face with ball…but the official sees the funny side’
WHY ARE WE ALL SHOUTING?!
Says former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan to talkSPORT, discussing Daniel Sturridge:
“Not in any parallel universe would I sign Daniel Sturridge. Not for me. I wouldn’t even give him a pay-as-you-play deal.
“I wouldn’t want Sturridge in my dressing room or at my training ground around younger players.”
What are you on about, fella?
“I think the conventional wisdom in the game is that Daniel Sturridge is a troubled, problem player.
“He’s a very, very, very talented footballer but he’s a divisive influence. Jurgen Klopp has never had him since day one he arrived at Liverpool.”
He was such “a divisive influence” that he was part of a dressing room that only won the Champions League and missed out on the Premier League title by a point last season. Steer clear.
“He’s come out of a club like Liverpool, been marginalised by them and nobody wants him. Nobody is picking up a free option. He is a free player!”
He wasn’t “marginalised by them” at all. His contract expired and he was hailed as “a modern-day Liverpool great” by his manager.
But Jordan wonders why this free agent is attracting no obvious interest.
“There is a clear message – it’s nothing to do with his betting or any of that, it’s to do with his performances and his propensity to not be fit.”
Well exactly. So why are you making him out to be a “troubled, problem player”?
“Whenever I watched him as a player I was horrified by him, I thought he was useless at the 2014 World Cup, a complete and utter waste of time at Euro 2016.”
He was certainly “useless” when assisting half of England’s goals at the 2014 World Cup. And “a complete and utter waste of time at Euro 2016” when scoring the winner against Wales.
“I wouldn’t take him, but I’m sure there is someone out there foolish enough to take him.”
Indeed, who would possibly be “foolish enough” to sign a 29-year-old free agent and England international who scored almost a goal every other Premier League game at Liverpool, with one league title and two Champions League winner’s medals to his name?
Mediawatch is not sure whether to trust chairman-turned-hyperbolic-pundit Jordan or title-winning manager Klopp, who said this of Sturridge in June:
“He is one of the best finishers I have ever seen in my life. He scores goals you think could and should not be possible. Without them we wouldn’t be the team and club we are in this moment.”
Toughie, that one.
Recommended reading of the day
Rob Smyth on brilliance with the outside of the boot.
Miguel Delaney on Chelsea.