No , no problem for Man United…
We are all getting used to a new normal – kids dropped off at school in a one-way system, queues outside shops, w**king in the bathroom because you are not the only one at home during the day. And yet the football media continues to be utterly astonished by the smallest changes. Footballers have to wash their own kit!? They are being asked not to spit at each other?! Football clubs are being instructed by ‘snoop squads’ to wash their massive metal gates!?
And now, the back page of The Sun brings us the ‘exclusive’ news that ‘LIVERPOOL could celebrate winning the Premier League – in a cabin stuck out in a car park!’. We know we are supposed to be astonished because there is an exclamation mark!
The problem with this ‘exclusive’ (beyond it not being remotely shocking in 2020) is that it’s not an exclusive at all. In fact, Mike Keegan wrote in the Daily Mail three days ago that ‘Liverpool could celebrate lifting the title in a temporary structure on a Goodison Park car park’. He literally wrote the same story except he did not land on the word ‘cabin’ so there was no back-page pun. And he does not write for The Sun so his whole reason for existence is not to wind up Liverpool fans.
How galling that the Mail have now done a version of The Sun story despite them paying a man to break the story several days ago. The new normal indeed.
Seamless segue of the day
‘Man Utd stars arrive at training ahead of Spurs clash with Solskjaer to decide on Pogba and Bruno selection’ – The Sun.
Is he judging them on their parallel park?
According to MailOnline, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already made up his mind on Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, with this headline adorning to the top of the football site on Monday morning:
‘Paul Pogba ‘set to be benched’ for Manchester United’s Premier League return against Tottenham – as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer puts his new partnership with Bruno Fernandes on hold’
Can you ‘bench’ somebody who has not actually played since Boxing Day?
Meet the new Jadon Sancho
Mediawatch has not previously been familiar with the work of Jack Otway of the Express, though a quick search of Twitter was enlightening…
well, Jack Otway of the Express is an utter shitheel. pic.twitter.com/nblm0yBGnv
— Damio (@dcb72) March 4, 2019
But now we are fascinated by the man. Here are a selection of some of his latest headlines:
‘Man Utd chief Ed Woodward thinks he’s found ideal Juan Mata successor’ – June 15.
‘Man Utd have another David Beckham and Bryan Robson ready to play for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’ – June 7
‘Man Utd have finally replaced Ryan Giggs – and it hasn’t cost Ed Woodward a penny’ – June 6.
‘Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may sign his own Zinedine Zidane this summer’ – June 4.
He definitely has a ‘type’. And it’s definitely catching because the trending headline on the Express this Monday morning is this:
‘Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found his own Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva’
And what’s better than an emerging or new player to replace a great footballer than an existing player to act as an ‘alternative’ to a potentially great player who has not actually signed?
‘Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have already signed perfect Jadon Sancho alternative’ – June 15.
Well he definitely hasn’t. Otherwise he would not be pondering the £100m-plus purchase of Jadon Sancho himself; he would save that money for a rainy day. You would think he might have noticed if he had already signed someone from this list.
So here we go…
‘Manchester United, according to recent reports, are willing to wait a year to land Jadon Sancho. The England international is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top transfer target but, with Borussia Dortmund demanding big money for their star asset, the Red Devils may have to change tact. And, in Daniel James, United may have already signed the perfect alternative.’
Yes, we should think that a player who has scored three Premier League goals (all in August) and notched six assists (none since December) is a pretty obvious alternative to a player who has claimed 17 goals and 17 assists in the Bundesliga this season. We see no colour here at Mediawatch so if we squint, they are basically the same person.
But Otway is not daft; he knows their records do not match.
‘And while the Wales international hasn’t performed in the same way as Sancho this season, he’s certainly warranted the club’s faith in him.’
Yes, as a £15m stop-gap. So not an ‘alternative’ but the equivalent of those people who are paid to go and sit in the seats of film stars at the Oscars when they go to the toilet.
‘James is a raw talent. He’s got astonishing speed and it’s his end product that is currently lacking, not the obvious threat he possesses.’
Right. Such a relief that it’s only the football side of things that is letting him down.
‘But now it’s a case of nurturing the obvious talent he possesses. Like Cristiano Ronaldo when he first arrived, his inconsistency and decision-making can be infuriating.’
Ah, so now he is not only an alternative to Sancho but a successor to Ronaldo. Which is odd because Otway has previously told us that James is not even a right-winger and they are ‘making do’ with him there.
‘With a three-month break, James can get back to the same player he was at the start of the season. He could even get better, especially given the coaching he’s received throughout the campaign.’
Yes, we see absolutely no reason that a player who has been coached by the Manchester United staff all season – and seen his output nosedive – should not get ‘even better’ under those same coaches. And then for the realistic challenge of getting ‘even better’ than Sancho and Ronaldo.
The Daily Mirror’s golf and occasional football man Neil McLeman was given an audience with Gary Neville this week as he promotes Sky Sports and their coverage of the Premier League. He did a solid job, eking five separate stories out of one conversation, including this one:
‘PEP GUARDIOLA and his “angry” Manchester City will be desperate to knock Liverpool off their perch and return to the top of English football next season’
Pretty anodyne stuff so it’s hard to see why it is currently the ‘MOST READ’ story on the Mirror website. Unless…well, could it be something to do with this headline?
‘Gary Neville fears Man City could force Liverpool into making same mistake as Man Utd’
Well he clearly does not ‘fear’ anything of the f***ing sort.
‘Out of ideas’ idea of the week
‘Leicester’s Premier League title winners of 2015-16: Where are they now?’ – ESPN.
It’s four years ago; nine of them are in exactly the same place.
Football365 Shithouse of the Day
‘Gossip: Man United target £111m PL duo amid Sancho ‘fears’’
They’re only a ‘duo’ because you put them together in that headline, Matt Stead, you cheeky sod. They’re not Wham!
Recommended listening of the day
Rory Smith and Miguel Delaney on Second Captains
Recommended watching of the day