Much has been written about Manchester United’s shaky defensive set up, but Louis van Gaal has been really unlucky with injuries. Three central defenders – Jones, Evans and Smalling – have spent most of the time on treatment room which has made the task even harder for the Dutchman. Therefore, it may come as a no surprise, when defenders from top leagues all around the world are being linked with a move to United in January.
But, it raises eye-brow when one of the defenders linked with the club is a 33-year-old veteran Ashley Cole, who joined Roma in the summer transfer window from Chelsea.
The Daily Express has covered a story today where they claim Manchester United could make a shock bid for ex-Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole. The credibility of British tabloids were always in question, but what is more shocking here is the nature of journalism carried by them. The report says:
“Former Chelsea and Arsenal hero Ashley Cole could be set for a shock move to Manchester United after it emerged that the left-back looks certain to leave Roma in January.
According to reports in Italy, Rudi Garcia is not convinced that the ex-England international has the right attributes to fit in with his high-intensity methods, and has instructed the club’s hierarchy to find a suitable replacement.
It is also claimed that Cole has his heart set on a move back to the Premier League, where he enjoyed much success playing under the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.”
Few things are fundamentally incorrect here. Manchester United probably need a defender in January, as Louis van Gaal may opt for a short term fix, as they target to climb back into top four again. But, do they need a left back? They already have an exciting prospect in Luke Shaw, while Argentine defender Marcos Rojo can play in that position as well. Furthermore, if experience is what United are seeking for why at the first place they sold Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra?
Secondly, the report claim that Rudi Garcia is not convinced with Cole who joined this summer only from Chelsea taking a massive pay-cut to reignite his career. Recently, Cole has been heavily criticised for his poor performance against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but the Roma boss has defended him by saying it is unfair to put the blame on a single player, as it was a collective mistake that includes him as well.
“The defeat against Bayern wasn’t just down to one player. Everyone got things wrong, the Coach included,” Garcia told assembled journalists ahead of Roma’s midweek match with Cesena.
Ok, we can still give a benefit of doubt here. A manager should always back his player, therefore it was pretty obvious that Garcia would not put further pressure by criticising him in the press. The question is – how Express got this piece of info that Cole is unhappy at Roma and want to return back to England? Well, they seem to have got it from Italy (as they mention) but no specific source has been mentioned.
We checked almost all major Italian newspapers and websites and found many of them have covered the story. But in every such article relating to Ashley Cole, they have duly mentioned “Daily Express” as their source.
So basically, Express got it from Italy (with no source given) and the Italian press are recycling the story claiming Express as source. Good ploy to fetch hits.
For example, check Corriere dello Sport. They clearly mention: “The news comes from England, in the columns of the Daily Express”
This is from TMW: “The future of Ashley Cole could be elsewhere: it confirms that even today the Daily Express , after the rumors of last night, again in England.”
Even, a transfer-based website, Calciomercato reports: “In England, the ‘Daily Express’ launches a hypothesis for the future of this great player…”
In most cases, transfer related rumours go wide of the mark, but this art of manufacturing stories, adding hypothetical sources that do not exist and creating a rumour cycle, is setting a bad example to football journalism.