Guess who’s Haal(and) over the back pages on transfer deadline day

·6-min read
Erling Haaland scores for Manchester City Credit: PA Images
Erling Haaland scores for Manchester City Credit: PA Images

Haaland puns a-plenty, a piece of very old news indeed, and a headline writer in search of inspiration all feature in today’s Mediawatch…


Haal Haal, the boys are here
It may be transfer deadline day but there was one face peering out from the back pages of this morning’s newspapers more than any other. Erling Haaland scored his second hat-trick in four days for Manchester City against Nottingham Forest, and this achievement was marked in true tabloid fashion, with lame puns based on his name.


HAAL THE BEST (The Daily Mirror)


ALL HAAL CITY’S KING (The Daily Express)

Steady on there, lads. This baby-faced Nordic goalbot is likely to be doing something like this once or twice a week for the next nine months. Don’t use up all your puns before the summer’s even out.


Haal the news that’s fit to print
Of course, there’s plenty of space for analysis of Haaland as well as these headlines, and in the Daily Express there’s some cognitive dissonance between their headline and the body text of their reporting on Manchester City stomping all over Nottingham Forest.

‘Haaland has second treble in a week and he hasn’t gelled yet’ is the headline, based on Pep’s post-match comments that the striker still has room for improvement. Now call Mediawatch old-fashioned, but we rather feel that his nine goals in five games including two consecutive hat-tricks suggest that, while he may have room to improve further (he’s scoring a goal every eleven touches and, well, that could be reduced), to interpret this as ‘he hasn’t gelled yet’ might be taking Pep’s comments a little too far.


This land is Haaland
Still on the subject of Erling Haaland, Jeremy Cross in the Daily Star was waxing lyrical about him in his match report on the match between City and Forest. ‘Give him the Golden Boot now’, shouted Cross in his first sentence, apparently unaware that this award – which yes, let’s all be realistic for a moment here, he will almost certainly be winning – is given for the the number of goals scored throughout the course of the entire season, rather than just August.

In this race for superlatives, it’s already starting feel as though some will likely to start to run out of steam before too long. ‘The only shock at the Etihad last night was that it took him 26 minutes to score his hat-trick in four days, when his first against Crystal Palace took just 19’.

Well, no, not quite. It is an exceptional achievement to have done this. It is an even more exceptional achievement to have done it twice, and it is an even more exceptional achievement to have done it twice in successive matches. But Mediawatch doubts that City fans were checking their watches after he scored his second goal against Forest and fretting about how late his third might be.


 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images


Ronning for the exit
The summer’s funniest transfer story has definitely been Cristiano Ronaldo’s attempts to leave Manchester United because he loves the Champions League more than he loves United. It had been hoped that if he was touted around enough clubs somebody would eventually bite, but this doesn’t seem to be happening so all concerned now need to start their back-pedalling.

Most of the tabloids jump on this story, focusing on Erik Ten Hag’s comments about how his plans had always included the middle-aged Iberian forward, but there was a tiny difference in tone on the back page of the Daily Express with their headline, ‘RONALDO: I’M GOING NOWHERE’.

Well, we all know that, Cris. It doesn’t seem – and yes, this remains open to debate until 11.00 tonight – that anyone really wants to pay half a million quid a week for a player who turns 38 in less than six months time. But the Express framing this as his choice is somewhat perplexing.

Not only is ‘I’M GOING NOWHERE’ not a quote from him in any way whatsoever, but there is nothing whatsoever in the story to suggest that he’s even spoken publicly on the subject. The Sun was getting its knickers in a twist on the same subject yesterday.

But whereas the rest of the papers report this story from the angle of Ten Hag being prepared to offer him this chance, the Express instead chooses to try and frame as if it’s completely, 100% his decision. Course it is, Ron. Course it is.


Smoked out
In The Sun, meanwhile, it’s Lipton Day, but with transfer rumours largely being covered elsewhere there are pretty slim pickings. But there is one story that does draw Mediawatch’s attention:

Life really will be a drag for bosses at the World Cup – because FIFA are banning them from having a crafty fag in stadiums.

Official regulations for Qatar 2022 ban ‘smoking, vaping and the use of any tobacco-related product’ in  technical areas or places like the dressing rooms. The clampdown also applies to training grounds.

It is bad news for smokers like Portugal boss and Poland gaffer Czeslaw Michniewicz.

This is all well and good. Smoking is very bad for you and most people who don’t are repulsed by the smell of it. Nothing wrong with banning it inside their facilties. But haaaaang on a minute, there. Is this really news? Because after all, so far as Mediawatch is aware smoking has been banned inside stadiums for a very long time indeed.

Here’s a story from 21 years ago about smoking being banned inside them for the 2002 World Cup. This is hardly a new development, and it’s a slightly strange one to raise when there are plenty of other, umm, ‘issues’ that could be raised in conjunction with the hosting of this particular tournament, at this particular time, and in this particular country.


And finally, spare a thought for the person who was writing this morning’s Football Confidential page in The Sun, who had twelve transfer rumours to gather together and six headlines to write. Mediawatch applauds their dedication to the craft, even if these appear to have been done after approximately 400 cups of coffee.

– ‘STEALY DAN’ – About Dan James possibly going to Spurs which references 1970s yacht-rockers Steely Dan, which will make zero sense whatsoever to anybody under the age of 50 (and quite possibly 90% of people under the age of  60).

– ‘HE’S STILL AARS’ – About Norwich rejecting a loan offer from Borussia Moenchengladbach Max Aarons, but is that really saying what you intended to say?

– ‘FOXES JOIN THE DAWSON HUNT’ – About possible Leicester interest in signing Craig Dawson from West Ham. Does Mediawatch really need to point out that foxes are just about the very last things that would want to join a hunt?

It’s a good job that Erling Haaland isn’t going anywhere today, because that particular well of puns is already running very dry indeed and we don’t want them Haal to have been used by the end of the season.


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