Man City advanced in the Carabao Cup but it was Liverpool who claimed the moral victory. And Kylian Mbappe has reacted to Emi Martinez. But not really.

Dig site

Manchester City’s Carabao Cup tie with Liverpool was pretty bloody good. Over that there should be an absolute consensus. No debates there.

But this story from the Liverpool Echo, top of their website at the busiest time of day for website traffic, is most certainly questionable:

‘Pep Guardiola loses his cool after Man City aim subtle title dig at Liverpool’

First thing’s first: it’s a fairly basic conflation of two completely separate stories. Pep Guardiola lost his cool; Man City aimed a subtle title dig at Liverpool. The insinuation is that the former happened as a consequence of the latter but it didn’t.

It’s harmless stuff and something most outlets – definitely including one not far from Mediawatch – indulge in.

But let’s look a little deeper at those composite parts. Guardiola did indeed ‘lose his cool’ when he ‘couldn’t contain himself’ over an offside  not given’. All managers, players and fans do it. That’s standard.

How about that ‘subtle title dig’ that Man City subjected Liverpool to? Take it away, Ian Doyle:

‘The home team also couldn’t resist a dig when Ilkay Gundogan was announced as the player who had scored the goal that won the Premier League title last season – when Liverpool were beaten into second place. Stay classy, City.’

The main character energy is real. It was a) a home game, and b) absolutely nothing Liverpool themselves wouldn’t do in the same situation.

Honestly, ‘stay classy’ is a whole load of nonsense. Even when they lose there is a pretend moral victory to celebrate.

Admission impossible

The desperation to keep stoking those fires of rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool extends to the Daily Mirror website:

‘Riyad Mahrez rubs salt in Liverpool wounds after Andy Robertson admission’

That headline is giving Mediawatch heart palpitations – there has been enough coverage of Gianni Infantino’s pitch-invading mate recently – so let’s just get straight to the point here.

How did Mahrez ‘rub salt in Liverpool wounds’? Well he ‘suggested Pep Guardiola’s side aren’t prioritising Carabao Cup success over other competitions despite eliminating holders Liverpool from the competition’.

And that will come as a shock to those who thought Guardiola would start resting Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne in the Champions League to make sure they’re fresh for some more Carabao.

So no, Mahrez never ‘admitted this cup isn’t their biggest priority’. That is not something he would have to ‘admit’ anyway. It’s an obvious fact. But all he actually said in the first place was, “we’ll take it game by game and concentrate on the next Premier League game, which is the most important one for us at the moment”.

‘The next game is the most important’ is banal, platitudinal footballer speak, not salt-rubbing.

But again, there’s an ‘after’ in the headline. What of this ‘Andy Robertson admission’?

“We wanted to stay in this cup, we know how much joy it brought us last season.”

Footballer ‘admits’ he would have preferred to retain chance of winning trophy. More as we get it.

The start to the next line is phenomenal, mind…

‘Robertson admitted City’s dressing room will be “a lot happier” than Liverpool’s after the result, even if this competition isn’t their main focus.’

It’s the worst ‘admission’ of the lot in a bizarrely crowded field: winning team is happier than beaten team.


Wrong said Fred
‘PSG ‘are considering a shock £30m move for Manchester United midfielder Fred’ – despite the Brazilian signing a one-year contract extension at Old Trafford just three DAYS ago’ – MailOnline.

Why is ‘DAYS’ capitalised and not ‘three’, as is standard?

And that is before getting into the misrepresentation of club-triggered contract extensions. Fred had no choice in that matter so whether he signed something or not is immaterial; it was Manchester United‘s choice to add another 12 months onto his deal.

That decision was also made to protect the club’s asset and maintain Fred’s value in the transfer market. So PSG or anyone showing interest in the player is entirely in keeping with what one might expect to subsequently happen – be that in a matter of DAYS, WEEKS or MONTHS.

Spotted dick

The Manchester Evening News ‘spotted’ four things during the club’s recent training session and unfortunately none relate to Fred.

Three things they saw were that Kobbie Mainoo ‘was seen taking part in drills’, as was Rhys Bennett and Alejandro Garnacho. The other thing they noticed was that Alejandro Garnacho had a hat, gloves and some sort of face covering on in late December.

That Getty Images subscription pays for itself.

Emi award

Mediawatch does not normally plumb to the depths of Birmingham World but this is incredible work:

‘Kylian Mbappe reacts to ‘disrespectful’ Emi Martinez antics as Aston Villa star comes under fire’

You can have the spurious claim that it’s a story at least vaguely relevant to the website. But it’s weird that no-one else seems to have reported on this Kylian Mbappe reaction. That would be huge news if the Frenchman had come out and said something…

‘Mbappe has made quite the statement today which may or may not be somewhat inspired by the taunting he has been the subject of, to prove a point.’

Oh wow. ‘A statement’. Very official. Very professional. Very interesting.

‘His club side, Paris Saint-Germain, released images of the global superstar making his way into the training ground, just three days after the crushing 4-2 penalty loss in Qatar – and more importantly seven days ahead of schedule.’

Ah. So specifically not a statement. And absolutely not a reaction to Emi Martinez’s antics. But they already knew that.

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