Football

Busby, Shankly, Fergie, Pochettino, Klopp, Howe…

We’ve go the power!
On Thursday, Mediawatch thought the Daily Mail might have been too embarrassed to print/publish an ‘exclusive’ from Mike Keegan about the Premier League being ‘powerless’ to stop players speaking with their hands over their mouths.

It turns out it’s still a massive story and they were simply saving it for Friday.

Oh and they really aren’t ‘powerless’…

Howe the hell?
Eddie Howe has done an excellent job as Bournemouth manager. But to argue that Eddie Howe’s excellent job as Bournemouth manager qualifies him to manage Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea is something of a stretch, even for The Sun’s Neil Ashton.

He writes that ‘the powerhouses of English football – Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – should all be keeping an eye on him’ and it’s at this point that we wonder whether he left Liverpool off that list by accident, and also whether Tottenham qualify as a ‘powerhouse’; after all, it’s only five years since they did actually appoint an Englishman.

Indeed, we are pretty sure that if Mauricio Pochettino did leave Tottenham, Howe would be a strong candidate for that job. But Tottenham are a very, very different club to Champions League favourites Manchester City.

‘Howe’s name should be part of the boardroom chatter, a contender to land one of English football’s most prestigious jobs the next time one of them comes up.

‘Sure, he is not one for self-promotion, one of those types who needs recognition for past successes or tactical triumphs.’

Now Mediawatch does not want to p*** on anyone’s chips but the truth is that Howe has won just five of his 41 games against the Big Six, has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of a cup competition and it’s a mere three weeks since his Bournemouth side were beaten 4-0 by Burnley. He’s done well, but Manchester City well? Liverpool well? Actually, it seems so…

‘Howe is not one to get carried away, well beyond that after years of fighting to establish himself as one of English football’s leading managers.

‘He has earned the right to be in that category, to be named in the same breath as managers who have yet to win a trophy with some top clubs.

Jurgen Klopp is three years down the track at Liverpool and is yet to get them back on the honours board.

‘Mauricio Pochettino, despite his obvious star qualities, is routinely reminded that he has yet to win a trophy with Tottenham.’

Woah there. You believe Howe has done similarly well to Klopp and Pochettino? The same Klopp who took Liverpool to an actual Champions League final? And the same Pochettino who has led Tottenham to three consecutive top-four finishes?

It’s worth remembering – because it’s funny – that Ashton wrote this in February:

‘EVERY once in a while, English football enters a golden age.

‘Think Busby Babes, the great Liverpool side built by Bill Shankly or Sir Alex Ferguson’s swashbuckling United teams.

‘At this rate, in years to come, everybody will want to say they got to watch Tottenham live.’

And then presumably say that actually, Eddie Howe deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as their manager. Does that make him the new Busby? The new Shankly? The new Fergie?

As for Klopp, it is perhaps important to note that the German did actually twice win the Bundesliga with a club other than Bayern Munich.

That might put him just ahead of Eddie Howe. On everything but passport anyway.

Warning of the day
Talking of Jurgen Klopp, the Manchester Evening News tell us that ‘Liverpool FC boss Jurgen Klopp issues Manchester City warning’.

And what is this ‘warning’?

It’s pretty bloody chilling so prepare yourselves.

Apparently he wants to win the title.

*sharp intake of breath*

The weirdest conversation ever?
Here’s ‘Britain’s best SportsWriter’ (ever?) Andy Dunn on Paul Pogba in his Daily Mirror column:

‘It is high time Manchester United, whether that be Jose Mourinho or Ed Woodward or the Glazers or the wolves of Wall Street or all of them, called Paul Pogba’s bluff.

‘Sit him down, put a new contract on the table and ask him what he wants to be.

‘A man, or an emoji-loving, social media mouse. A legend, or a video-game totem.

‘A player, or a poser. A footballer, or a fraud. A leader, or a follower.

‘A peerless performer, or a prancer. The bald truth, or just another haircut.’

He would then presumably ask them what the f*** they were talking about. And why they were talking in such short staccato sentences. He would probably then sign a new contract on better terms.

Silent retreat
Top marks for the headline – ‘Shhhhh ground, no fans’ – but The Sun’s attempt to engineer a back page out of Gareth Southgate’s comments on playing in an empty stadium is close to desperate.

The problem with using a picture of Harry Kane covering up his mouth and a sub-headline of ‘STARS TOLD: MIND YOUR LANGUAGE’, while writing that ‘Southgate has also urged his players to try to avoid using extremely offensive swear words’ is that the England manager made a point of saying exactly the opposite.

In fact, he said: “We have spent two years encouraging them to speak, so to stop them from speaking now would be slightly against what we’ve been working on.”

Or – as the Daily Mirror write on their back page – ‘Southgate warns that he can’t stop his England stars turning the air blue as they play in empty stadium’.

Did they go to the same press conference? Did one of them drop off?

Smells like desperation
The biggest story in football on Friday morning at 10am, as judged by The Sun football website, is surprisingly not Gareth Southgate’s benign quotes on playing in a quiet stadium but this…

‘OWN GOAL Morata given shooting help by England coach Russell…just before Spain clash.’

Couple of things…

a) It’s a promo filmed to advertise a deodorant.

b) It probably wasn’t filmed ‘just before Spain clash’; that’s not really how these things work.

c) Spain have scored ten goals in their last two games; we’re not sure this is the moment when Spain became dangerous.

Still, it could be worse, MailOnline believe the biggest story in football on the day that England play Croatia is that non-footballer Usain Bolt scored twice while on trial for Central Coast Mariners. And the scary thing is that they might be right.

Recommended reading of the day
John Ashdown on Luton Town’s Manager Idol

Nick Wright on Jadon Sancho

Richard Jolly on England’s greatest weakness


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