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TV Wrap - Even without any football, the Premier League continues to exasperate

Graeme Souness is critical of Paul Pogba and another club is sold as an item of sportswashing – it’s as if nothing has changed.
Apr 16th 2020, 9:30 PM 9,636 7

EVERY NOW AND again the contours of our old lives reappear, like some hidden land emerging from beneath a thinning tide.

Thus it was possible to watch Sky Sports News this week and briefly pretend that nothing has changed.

Look, there’s Graeme Souness talking about Paul Pogba!

And look! There’s a Premier League club being taken over by the sovereign wealth fund of a medieval regime!

Let’s take them in order. Souness’ eternal seething burbled to the surface again on Tuesday, when Pogba’s comments about him on a United podcast were put to him on Sky’s remotely-conducted football show.

“I didn’t even know who he was, really,” Pogba said of Souness. “I heard he was a great player and stuff like that. I know the face but [not] the name.”

“The oldest saying in football comes to mind: ‘Put your medals on the table’”, responded Souness before rounding it out in true, Partridge-with-an-extender-style: “I’ve got a big table.”

Source: Sky Sports Football/YouTube

Souness’ comments were also discussed by Andy Gray and Richard Keys over on Bein Sports, who are currently broadcasting from Gray’s Qatari balcony at a social distance.

Both knowingly chuckled at Keys’ preface that “we have all said things we wish we hadn’t at different times”, from which point Keys called Souness’ response “undignified” and lamented that he wasn’t in place on Sky to offer some friendly advice.

“Had I been able to speak to him in advance, I’d have said, ‘Graeme, your response has to be ‘I’m not surprised he hasn’t heard of me, I’m a Football Man.’”

Gray, supposedly hearing Souness’ comments for the first time, plunged his face into his hands and called the medals line “the professional way of belittling someone.”

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Sky Sports News rightly weren’t going to allow this Actual Newsworthy Event to go to waste, and so they ran the comments a few times every hour along with a tale of the tape in which they compared the pair’s respective medal haul.

We hope they stick to this template for the world’s other ongoing feuds, including Donal Trump vs Reality and Conor McGregor vs Stena Line.

(Although this column isn’t sure which of the latter pair carry the most baggage.)

Also on Tuesday, Sky reported on the prospective takeover of Newcastle United by a group called PCP Capital, which is largely backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Jarringly, the presenter referred to Mike Ashley’s tenure as “controversial” without passing any comment on the club falling into the hands of the Saudi royal family, one of the few prospective buyers on the planet who, if told the club would cost an arm and a leg, might have the stock to take that quote literally.

Newcastle fans are understandably keen for Ashley’s miserly reign to end, but is his penny-pinching really worse than seeing the club at the heart of a working-class community becoming just another thing that can help Saudi Arabia wash its face?

While Amnesty international have said the deal is Saudi Arabia’s attempt to “use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football as a PR tool to distract from the country’s abysmal human rights record”, the Football Men haven’t been too outraged by it all, given the Premier League haven’t engaged in too many moral arguments since they had to decide how long a man deserved to be banned for biting.

Jamie Carragher did at least raise the subject on Sky this morning.

I think we can all be morally realistic at different times but when it’s our own club and our situation with a chance of success we may be all a bit blinded to it really. Listen, it’s not perfect and it’s not right, but I am not going to sit here and ruin the news for Newcastle supporters.”

The takeover is still subject to the Premier League’s approval, although all signs are that there won’t be an issue. 

And so the Premier League beats on against this crisis, borne back ceaselessly into its exasperating past.

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Gavin Cooney


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