At around 9.30am on Tuesday morning, Mediawatch received a press release from a leading marketing group titled thus:
‘BT Sport commissions data giants to script 19/20 Premier League season and more’
The message was simple: BT had ‘commissioned’ Opta, Google and Squawka to ‘script’ – or predict – the entire upcoming season using ‘a computer super-brain’.
A what now?
Mediawatch was more than happy to ignore this e-mail, which imposed a strict 10am embargo. The Daily Mirror were much happier to leap upon it, publishing this article at 10.05:
‘Supercomputer predicts Premier League table and it’s bad news for Liverpool and Man Utd’
The predictions of a non-existent ‘supercomputer’ really ought to devastate two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
‘Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are in for disappointing seasons,’ the opening paragraph tells us with absolute certainty and authority. ‘But there will be silverware for Manchester City and Tottenham, according to a high powered supercomputer commissioned by BT.’
The supercomputer is ‘high powered’ now? The rise of the machines is upon us. Although said machines predict last season’s top four to finish in the top four, Arsenal to come fifth again, Manchester United to come sixth again, Everton and Wolves to swap between seventh and eighth, Leicester to stay ninth, and the two promoted sides to have spent the least to go straight back down.
It’s almost like the ‘supercomputer’ has just had a peek at the most recent table. And is not taking into account any signings or outgoings that might happen in the week or so before the transfer deadline. And is not meant to be taken at all seriously.
Anyway, how nice it is to see a bit of harmless, marketing-driven fun based on ‘artificial intelligence’ used by those who seemingly possess artificial intelligence for some lovely clickbait. Mediawatch cannot wait for Manchester City to ‘romp to glory as they are predicted to top the table by five points from Liverpool’…by finishing on 94 points to their 88.
To the Victor…
‘Victor Lindelof has piled more misery on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his agent claimed he is being targeted by Barcelona. With Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku already trying to quit Old Trafford this summer, and David de Gea so far refusing to sign a new deal, the Manchester United boss is fighting to hold his squad together’ – David McDonnell, Daily Mirror, July 10.
‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought the feelgood factor back to Manchester United in his first pre-season since taking charge’ – David McDonnell, Daily Mirror, July 30.
That David McDonnell article really is something to behold. After playing a small part in covering the utter shambles that was Manchester United three weeks ago, he is back to tell us that ‘so far, the signs are looking good’.
Four wins from four utterly meaningless pre-season games means that United ‘have established an attacking identity harking back to the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson’. And the inability to sell Romelu Lukaku has been cast as a positive, as ‘the ongoing saga of his future did not cast a shadow over a hugely encouraging trip’.
Just give them the title now.
Most importantly, the squad is ‘united behind Solskjaer in a way they never were under his controversial predecessor’. McDonnell even quotes ‘one senior club source’ comparing this summer to Jose Mourinho’s last pre-season as “like chalk and cheese”.
It sure is a low bar when you receive praise for not publicly calling your players sh*t. Looks like ‘the feelgood factor’ is back – as long as you forget they ended last season without a win in their last six games, culminating in a 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff.
Take a Luk
No wonder Lukaku has caused no problems. He has been too busy morphing into Paul Pogba…
Romelu Lukaku (bottom left) looks a little…different. New haircut? pic.twitter.com/s2uBNzQLrG
— Football365 (@F365) July 30, 2019
Safe as the Banks of England
The eagle-eyed among you might also have spotted Tony Banks referring to Nicolas Pepe as both ‘the France winger’ and an ‘Ivory Coast star’ within three paragraphs on the Daily Star‘s back page.
If in doubt, just go for both.
Writes Tony Banks elsewhere in the Daily Express:
‘So Barkley hopes that this new campaign will be a marked change from last year under Maurizio Sarri, when he made only 13 league starts and netted five goals, mired in “Sarri-ball’s” tippy-tappy possession game.’
Barkley started two Premier League games from May 2017 to May 2018. Barkley scored five Premier League goals from February 2016 to May 2018. Barkley made no England appearances from May 2016 to October 2018. The ‘tippy tappy Sarri-ball’ that he was ‘mired’ in rejuvenated a flagging career, Tony.
Khedira pin drop
‘Transfer News LIVE: Khedira spotted at Arsenal as Inter Milan step up Lukaku pursuit’ screams the headline on the Daily Mirror‘s live transfer blog on Tuesday. A reported target seen at Arsenal? That it’s not even in quote marks tells us this is more fact than conjecture.
Ah, ‘Emery plays down Khedira links’. That’s the one. This must be good: the update was at 5.02am and still adorns the main headline.
So the quote is two days old. Who cares? When was Khedira spotted at Arsenal? Did someone manage to sneakily film him heading into London Colney to undergo a medical? Do we have some grainy pictures of the back of his head?
Not quite. Khedira was indeed ‘spotted at Arsenal’…in the stands for their pre-season friendly against Lyon. That was on Sunday. It is now headline news on Tuesday.
Can you rescind a click?
Roll the Dyce
Said Sam Allardyce to talkSPORT:
“Way back in the early Bolton days we started our new season in the Premier League by not winning a pre-season game and then went about eight games undefeated at the start of the season.”
Said Mediawatch to Football365:
“The longest Bolton ever went unbeaten at the start of a Sam Allardyce season was five games.”
He’s a Kepa
‘Chelsea keeper Kepa ‘so good he could play in midfield’… here’s how Blues could line up with daring position change’ – The Sun.
Is it with Kepa in midfield and Willy Caballero in goal?
He’s a star, man
He played two minutes of a League Cup game almost 14 years ago.
— Football365 (@F365) July 29, 2019
Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Miguel Delaney on Romelu Lukaku.