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Paper Monitor

11:36 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It is of course perverse that the England football manager's reputation should hinge on the success of a team playing an utterly different sport, but the recent upswing in the fortunes of the England rugby squad provide a easy counterpoint for Russia's 2-1 victory in yesterday's Euro qualifier.

Couple that with the time-honoured trick of morphing the England football boss's face to match a headline - Graham Taylor as a turnip, Sven as a Swede etc - and the cover of today's Sun was all but inevitable.

"KICK HIM INTO TOUCH" runs the headline, underneath Steve McLaren's face squeezed into an oval ball.

There's plenty of hand wringing inside – "Mac under attack", "How did it come to this?", "41 years of hurt" and so on. To exacerbate the contrast between our footballers and rugby players, a few pages further on readers are urged to send the England rugby team "victorious" in the World Cup final match on Saturday.

Of course, it wasn't always thus. You only have to go back two weeks to find the Sun was somewhat less fulsome in its praise for McLaren's rugger equivalent, Brian Ashton.

"Ash has lost the plot" topped an opinion piece in the paper the day before England's remarkable victory against Australia – a stance that was only slightly offset by the paper's printed "apology" to England and "Brian 'Bonkers' Ashton" a few days later.

So cheer up Steve, if Bonkers' boys disgrace themselves on Saturday and Andorra thrash Russia in the football, things could again be looking up. Just don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, over at G2 – the Guardian's pull-out bit – there's a worrying sign that the "binarisation" of feature ideas, noted in yesterday's Paper Monitor, is in danger of becoming an obsession, thanks to a piece about the brothers who run Polish politics.

Excuse Paper Monitor for taking a little artistic licence in summarising the piece thus: "Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Lech Kaczynski are the prime minister and president of Poland. They're both white, male and middle-aged. They went to the same school. And their politics are almost identical. What does this tell us about Polish politics today?"

To which the all too obvious answer would have been: they're twins!

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