Jadon Sancho, Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo are in the news, while Leeds struggling means Marcelo Bielsa is hit with the same old stick.

Jaded Jadon

Jadon Sancho is in the news again
and Neil Custis has noticed.

‘So far in five starts and three substitute appearances he has yet to produce a goal or assist in 403 minutes for United,’ is his take in The Sun. And while entirely accurate, it should probably be pointed out that he was substituted before half-time of one of those five starts because someone else got sent off. That also happened to be the only start he has made in his most effective position: on the right wing.

‘When United were struggling for a goal against Aston Villa on Saturday, struggling to get the ball to Ronaldo and create anything, Sancho stayed on the bench.’

And that clearly worked ever so well. Perhaps it should be noted that in Manchester United’s previous Premier League game, Sancho was brought on at 1-1 with 17 minutes to play and they went on to beat West Ham 2-1. That unfortunately does not fit the narrative.

But Custis might be right to say that, against Aston Villa, ‘Solskjaer clearly believed that he was not going to alter nothing’. Mind you, if he thought Sancho ‘was not going to alter nothing’ then you do wonder why he didn’t bring him on.

As is the habit of a national newspaper writer, Custis then somehow conflates Sancho’s poor form with the fact he doesn’t talk to the media much, bringing up apparent attitude issues from his time with Borussia Dortmund. Mediawatch does have to question what relevance returning late from international duty in October 2019 and having ‘a gold covered £268 steak’ in January 2020 has in October 2021, but still.

‘His performances in the second half of last season remained top draw [sic], but were Dortmund happy to let him go?

‘If not why was an asking price of £110m at the end of the 2019-20 season as United pursued him then reduced to £73m by the time they finally got his signature this summer.’

Presuming that is a question, let’s have a crack at the answer: a global pandemic which is continuing to have a debilitating impact on finances across every sector.

But it is always funny to be reminded of that ‘asking price of £110m’. Remember when Manchester United ‘forced the Germans’ to accept £70m instead?

Fresh Leeds

Leeds are yet to win a Premier League game this season and Andy Dillon has noticed for The Sun. His solution? Their fans should turn to hooliganism and the players must start kicking lumps out of the opposition. Obviously.

‘The image of Leeds as snarling, menacing and tough to beat is fading away,’ he writes. ‘Not many people really hate Leeds anymore and it is a pity because it means something is going badly wrong.’

Not many people really hated Leeds last season and they seemed to do alright.

West Ham fan Dillon goes on to point out that David Moyes ‘has changed the outlook and the culture’ at that club.

‘Marcelo Bielsa has done the same but by turning his back on what made Leeds feared by opposition teams and police forces up and down the land.’

They finished ninth last season. Not too many teams enjoyed playing against them. And why should they or Bielsa actively want to be ‘feared’ by ‘police forces up and down the land’? Why are you being weird?

‘Don’t hold your breath waiting for Patrick Bamford to bully defenders into submission.’

Well he is injured. But how many defenders did he bully when scoring 17 Premier League goals last season?

Dillon then concedes that Kalvin Phillips can hold his own ‘despite the man-bun’ – welcome to the year 2021 – before his pièce de résistance:

‘And when the manager still cannot utter a word of English more than three years after arriving in a flurry of orgasmic gasps from the broadsheet hipsters, things really are looking down.’

He can ‘utter a word of English’. Ask Kalvin Phillips, if you can manage to ignore the man-bun. He just chooses not to speak English to journalists – ‘broadsheet hipsters’, tabloid children or anyone in between – who continue to belittle his mastery of the language and who would absolutely twist his words if he did it more often.

What is it about this time of year that brings out these lazy tropes?

Tinpot takes

‘Bielsa is either losing perspective or is not getting the backing he deserves from above. Against Fulham in the Carabao Cup ten days ago, the Championship hosts rotated their entire starting XI from the previous game. Bielsa made just four changes from the side which fought out a draw at Newcastle – subjecting the spine of his team upon which survival depends to an extra shift in a tinpot competition. That kind of overwork is only going to sap what fight there is in Leeds to stay up over the long haul’ – Andy Dillon, The Sun.

So rotating in the League Cup should be actively encouraged now? Isn’t it the worst and most disrespectful thing a manager can do? Or is it just because Bielsa didn’t do much of it that he is now ‘losing perspective’?

Good to see the idea that Leeds players might suffer from being ‘overworked’ is still prevalent. And well done for managing to mention the game but not the fact Leeds won. Top work.

Luckily charms

Nuno Espirito Santo is not foolish enough to think that any margin of Europa Conference League victory over NS Mura was going to boost his stock as Tottenham manager. But Paul Jiggins of The Sun was perhaps a little too unimpressed by a 5-1 home win on Thursday evening:

‘In the end Nuno had to send on big guns Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura to save himself and Spurs from any further embarrassment.

‘Luckily for the Portuguese it paid off as Kane hit a 19-minute hat-trick to give the scoreline a more respectable look.’

Did he accidentally bring them on? Since when have a manager’s substitutions been described as ‘lucky’ when they have quite patently had the desired effect?

Irate out of ten cats

‘Cristiano Ronaldo was ordered off Man Utd training pitch by irate Sir Alex Ferguson’ – Daily Mirror website.

Oh lord. What on earth had he done? It is at this point that Mediawatch lists three humorous but nonsensical possibilities but REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED.

Let’s be safe and just take a look.

‘Cristiano Ronaldo was so obsessed with perfecting his game on the training pitch that former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had to order him off it.’

Well this is already a massive let-down. Just how ‘irate’ was Ferguson? Nicky Butt tells us, for it his exclusive interview in The Sun that the Mirror use:

“We would be having lunch in the canteen or getting ready to go home and you could hear the voice of Sir Alex bellowing across the training fields at two or three o’clock in the afternoon, shouting at Cristiano that it was time to get off the pitch as ‘we have a game in two days – enough now’!”

The dictionary definition of ‘irate’ includes the words ‘great anger’. Think that might be a bit of a stretch here.

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