Mediawatch: The dangerous game of ‘insults’

They come over here
‘Walter Mazzarri is an insult to the Premier League,’ tweeted the Daily Mirror’s chief football writer John Cross on Tuesday morning. ‘He has been in England for a year and not bothered to learn English. Really poor.’

Now there may be a point in all this, if you dig down. Mazzarri has hardly inspired during his time in the Premier League – although he comfortably kept Watford up – and perhaps his inability to forge a relationship with the media plays a small role in that. There are also points to make about Watford’s continuous cycle of managers and the unwillingness of the English to learn new languages in comparison to their European counterparts.

Still, ‘insult to the Premier League’ is an absolutely bonkers assessment. Mazzarri moved to Manchester before he even got the Watford job in order to start the process of learning the language, and speaks to his players in English.

“I know Manchester very well – I used to walk around the city a lot,” he said in an interview in February. “When I go back, I can’t really call it my home… but almost. For three or four months last year, before I came to Watford, I travelled back and forth between Italy and the UK. I stayed in Manchester and I enjoyed it very much – it gave me an understanding of life in Britain because, from a personal perspective, I wanted to understand the culture. I chose Manchester because it is not as cosmopolitan as London, which helped me to settle in the environment of life in England faster.”

It’s odd that Cross doesn’t remember that information; the interview was conducted by his own newspaper.

However, in order to avoid mistakes in front of the media that would almost certainly be highlighted, Mazzarri chooses to use a translator. This is much the same as Mauricio Pochettino, who used an interpreter for the entirety of his time in charge of Southampton. Presumably he is also an ‘insult to the Premier League’?

Well no actually, because Cross had an answer on Pochettino: ‘I was critical of Poch but he was learning and trying at Saints.’ Just as Mazzarri has at Watford. To accuse the Hornets coach of being a slow learner might be more accurate, although Mediawatch cannot begin to fathom how difficult it is to learn something so new and complex as an adult. But to imply that he hasn’t bothered to even attempt to learn English is simply untrue.

So Cross got it wrong. He falsely accused Mazzarri of something, and got roundly called out on it. End of story. Ish.

‘Think it’s sad when journos throw insults at each other,’ was Cross’ response when the validity of his claim was reasonably questioned by a colleague. ‘I’ll be courteous and send thanks to your publishers for a review copy of your book.’

But presumably it’s fine to throw insults at managers (and label them with that exact same word), even if those insults are inaccurate?


Moral injustice
Fresh from explaining why finishing outside the top four was not a disaster, Arsene Wenger took the opportunity during his pre-match press conference before the game against Sunderland to attack those teams he believes are taking it easy as the season winds down.

“Some teams once they are safe have a breather, which didn’t happen 10 years ago,” Wenger said. “The league has changed mentally. Morally it has changed a lot.” We can presume Wenger was referring to West Ham, who lost 4-0 to Liverpool on Sunday when Arsenal really needed them to get a result.

A few things, Arsene:

– West Ham may have indeed been utter crap against Liverpool, but that is hardly a rare occurrence. Where were the accusations of Bilic’s side taking it easy when Arsenal were thumping them 5-1 in December at the same stadium?

– Another way to guard against your rivals beating weaker teams towards the end of the season, and thus scuppering your plans to finish in the top four, is to collect more points yourselves. This is hardly masterful attention deflection. As Pep Guardiola said: “If you don’t want that, win more games yourself.”

– As for teams not coasting at the end of the season in the past, and therefore sticking to Wenger’s moral code, you might want to tell that to the Manchester City fans who saw their team lose 8-1 at Middlesbrough in May 2008. Or the Stoke fans who saw their team lose 7-0 at Chelsea in late-April 2010. Or the Everton fans who saw their team lose 7-0 at Arsenal in May 2005.

Thought Wenger might have least remembered that last one.


And so it begins…
“I believe finishing outside the top four will not have any influence on how the club will be led and how we will operate on the transfer market. We have a very big squad at the moment that is already difficult enough to manage. A bigger squad is impossible.

“If we finish outside the top four, it will maybe be down to one point. One point would be difficult to swallow but that should not as well change the judgement on the quality of the team to a way where you think you have absolutely to change everything” – Arsene Wenger.

But what about that ‘warchest’ and ‘overhaul’ that was promised a month ago?


Look at my record
“I came here knowing exactly what the task was going to be. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen behind the scenes. In football, sometimes you win games. I have said it, I’m saying it to defend myself – I have a great win record at nearly all the clubs I have been at. This is the only anomaly where it hasn’t happened” – David Moyes.

Well apart from Sunderland, as you say. And there was Real Sociedad, where you had a win percentage of 28.6%. And there was the whole Manchester United thing, where your win percentage was 52.3% but you massively underachieved and got sacked after ten months.

But hey, Preston and Everton went fine.


The names are nearly the same!
Congratulations to the Daily Mail, who have noticed that Tottenham have players called Kyle Walker and Walker-Peters on their books. ‘There’s only two Kyle Walkers!’ reads their headline on page 77.

Walker-Peters joined Tottenham in July 2013, and was named in the same Premier League matchday squad as Walker 15 months ago. Top sleuthing.

Still, nothing beats The Sun’s line in their ‘Who is Kyle Walker-Peters?’ feature from November:

‘Somehow 19-year-old Tottenham academy right-back is no relation to the first-team right-back who has the same blistering pace, minus the Peters.’

Somehow. You’ve answered your own question there, guys.


Run for cover
We have to admire Garth Crooks for several things, but you can add these paragraphs to the list. They were presumably said before running away to hide:

‘A lot has been said about Mesut Ozil. Love him or hate him – and I love him – there is no denying he is a wonderful footballer. Is he in the right team? Probably not. A player with his talent would be more appreciated at a club like Tottenham. Now at this moment I may have Arsenal fans foaming at the mouth at the very thought of Ozil defecting to White Hart Lane but frankly it is a better fit.

‘When Sol Campbell decided to move to Arsenal from Spurs it was because the player was desperate to win trophies. A perfectly acceptable position for a professional footballer to take and a fact that Spurs fans have never been able to come to terms with. However, Ozil’s style of football is perfect for Spurs and he has already won things with Arsenal. His overall performance against Stoke, which is always a hard nut to crack, was superb while his goal was sublime. Only at Spurs will the fans accommodate players like Ozil. You see, at Spurs it is all about the football while at Arsenal it is all about the winning.’

Good luck with that.


From a site not a million miles from here

It was 1997. And May 18. But apart from that…


Headlines from 2014
‘Is Rooney falling off a cliff at United?’ – Daily Mail.


Least surprising news of the day
‘Wolves keen on Karanka’ – The Sun.

Is that the same Aitor Karanka whose agent is Jorge Mendes? And the same Mendes who has overseen Wolves’ transfer activity, having sold a stake in his Gestifute agency to a company owned by Fosun, Wolves’ owners?

You literally could write a script like this…


Cultural reference of the day
‘He has been a lion at the heart of Chelsea’s defence – and a pantomime villain to boot. So it was fitting that John Terry bore a striking resemblance to Prince John from the 1973 Disney movie Robin Hood’ – Daily Mail.

He had a crown on his head. And it’s not wrong to think that the fox in that film is a handsome little bugger.


Recommended reading of the day
Ewan MacKenna on Diego Costa.

Stuart James on Swansea City.

Barney Ronay on John Terry.

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2 thoughts on “Mediawatch: The dangerous game of ‘insults’

  1. Hey Bro,
    I really loved your article. Keep up the good work.
    Well as u are talking about insults I think it is the biggest insult that Paul Clement did not get a manager of the season award. Now it sounds funny but ya its true, surviving with Swansea City and also after January when they were in the 20th place is much tougher than winning the Premier League with Chelsea.
    I have written a small article on him. It will be good if you update your article with my link.

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