Manchester United should try and copy Newcastle in the transfer market, especially before Erik ten Hag’s ‘baptism of fire’ against Liverpool.
The obvious currency in football journalism on Friday morning is Erik ten Hag and the signings he might pursue to reshape Manchester United. It is fun to imagine the players he might bring in to fit with those he will keep. It is also harmless. And it is definitely b*llocks.
‘How Man Utd could line up under Ten Hag with SEVEN new signings transforming team after he is announced as manager,’ screams The Sun website of how the Dutchman might use his ‘£200million transfer war chest’.
It is excellent stuff, featuring a line about how Declan Rice and Ruben Neves are key midfield targets but ‘both could, however, cost an absolute fortune’. So into this ludicrous XI they go regardless, along with free agents Noussair Mazraoui and Antonio Rudiger, 26-year-old PSG regular Presnel Kimpembe (who has two years left on his contract), £62m-rated forward Christopher Nkunku and Harry Kane, who Tottenham famously do not value highly.
Those seven players will definitely only cost £200m. Their wages and signing-on fees can also easily be factored in. And £80m captain Harry Maguire will certainly be dropped, with Raphael Varane similarly sidelined. Should be great to watch all that happen this summer.
The Daily Mirror website is not about to miss out on all that action, as they reveal ‘Man Utd’s most likely line-up next season as Erik ten Hag splashes £200m transfer budget’.
It’s a little more sensible, with only four new signings in Jurrien Timber, Ruben Neves, Antony and Darwin Nunez. But Maguire remains dropped and Scott McTominay continuing as a midfield starter after a £200m squad overhaul is both hilarious but actually probably genuinely probable.
With that said, there has still been no explanation as to how that £20m budget became £200m in less than a fortnight.
Toon up the band
On the subject of signings, Ian Herbert writes the following in the Daily Mail:
‘There is a director of football, John Murtough, a soon-to-be appointed deputy head of football operations (whose emphasis will be on sports science) and a technical director – Darren Fletcher. But none in this roll call has grasped the fact United are locked in the past, failing to spot the players Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle and others have seen.’
Manchester United need someone who can unearth Dan Burn and Chris Wood.
He is obviously talking about Bruno Guimaraes but come on, are we really already lumping Newcastle in with Liverpool and Manchester City as masters of the transfer market after one January window in which they managed to ‘spot’ three Premier League players, relative unknown Kieran Trippier and a Brazilian midfielder who was being linked with many of Europe’s leading clubs?
The next best thing to speculating over an incoming manager’s transfer plans is to get the scoop on what the current players think. The Sun website has the big news:
‘Van de Beek hails Ten Hag’s Utd arrival and eyes revival under old boss’
Congratulations to them for gleaning literally all of that information from the midfielder liking this Instagram post:
And then, of course, there is an opportunity to mix this with a football journalism favourite: looking through a Getty Images subscription of the most recent training session and leaning things from them.
The Daily Mirror website brings us ‘5 things spotted at Man Utd training with Erik ten Hag confirmed as new manager’.
They are, in order:
1) Cristiano Ronaldo trained.
2) Hannibal Mejbri ‘tussled with Bruno Fernandes’.
3) Bruno Fernandes ‘vowed that United will “compete until the end”‘ after the Liverpool defeat, ‘and competing is certainly what he did during training on Thursday’.
4) Nemanja Matic ‘went about his business’ by talking to Ronaldo ‘at length during the session’.
5) Paul Pogba was injured so didn’t train. And they spotted him not doing so.
None of which relates to Ten Hag being confirmed as manager. But still. It’s going to be an incredibly long four months until his first game.
Or is it? The Sun do not think so because they reckon ‘Ten Hag faces baptism of fire at Utd with first game set to be versus LIVERPOOL’.
They have not consulted the fabled fixture computer. They have simply noticed that Manchester United play Liverpool in a prestigious ‘The Match’ Centenary Cup pre-season friendly in Bangkok in July.
It is apparently the fixture ‘that will be causing the most anxiety’ of all their bitter pre-season matches.
Can a game called ‘The Match’ Centenary Cup, held in Thailand a month before the start of the actual campaign, ever be a ‘baptism of fire’?
Shocked, appalled and dismayed
And can everyone manage to read all those many words of The Athletic‘s inside story about Ten Hag’s appointment? Apparently not.
‘REVEALED: Mauricio Pochettino ‘was shocked to read Man Utd had snapped up Erik ten Hag’ after nobody at the club told him in advance – even though ‘his reps held recent talks with United and he had spent months studying the city, club and players” – MailOnline.
‘Man Utd forgot to tell Mauricio Pochettino about Erik ten Hag contract talks’ – Daily Mirror website.
In both instances, the rehashed articles are based on these two paragraphs from Laurie Whitwell, David Ornstein and friends:
‘As talks advanced to Ten Hag’s contract and logistics around the proposed deal, news broke of United’s intentions. The timing was awkward, as Pochettino had yet to be informed of the developments.
‘Two months before, Pochettino had been properly gathering information about Manchester as a city, the structure of the club and the personality of United players. As late as April, his representatives even held a Zoom call with Judge over possible contract finances, with PSG relaxed about the situation. However, senior PSG sources insist that United at no point this season made direct contact with the French club’s hierarchy to discuss extricating Pochettino from Paris. United planned to call Pochettino to inform directly of their decision before the announcement came.’
From that to ‘forgot to tell Mauricio Pochettino’. The only thing anyone forgot here is what quote marks are meant to denote. That is awful from the MailOnline.
Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd wages set to break record as new Old Trafford boss announced’ – Daily Mirror website.
Hopefully the plaque for becoming ‘the highest-paid Dutch coach in Premier League history’ will be delivered to Old Trafford soon.
Game recognise game
‘New Man Utd boss Ten Hag looks UNRECOGNISABLE in 1993 Panini sticker’ – The Sun website, whose astonishment at a person’s appearance changing over the course of 29 years is enjoyable.
Mediawatch is not entirely sure what women’s football ever did to offend the Daily Mail‘s Martin Samuel but the bloke has long enjoyed using the privileged platform of his newspaper column to mock their attendances. And Friday is no different.
He scrutinises the recent complaints from Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, who suggested the selection of Manchester City’s Academy Stadium and its 4,700 capacity for Euro 2022 was indicative of a lack of “respect”. She claimed that Iceland’s two group games at the venue selling out showed that the tournament organisers were “not prepared that we will sell more than 4,000 tickets” for matches.
But Samuel remains unconvinced and says that ‘if Gunnarsdottir was across her sport as she feels the FA should be, she would have heard about something called the Arnold Clark Cup.’
What follows is a scoffing rundown of that competition’s attendances – as little as 119 watching Canada v Germany at the 27,359-capacity Carrow Road – and a dismissive swipe at Gunnarsdottir’s quote that “women’s football’s exploding”.
‘The logistics around football, particularly in the women’s game, are never straightforward, because like any work in progress sometimes it explodes, other times it barely pops,’ Samuel concludes, presumably rather happy with that particular zinger.
But if chief sports writer Samuel was across his sport as he feels Gunnarsdottir should be, he wouldn’t compare an inaugural invitational tournament to the actual Euros. And that punching down from his lofty position at a burgeoning sport which had its development purposefully stunted for half a century is a really awful look.
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