The Warm-Up: Pep's positive spin, tunnel bust-ups and plane madness
With Adam Hurrey selfishly taking a holiday, Jack Lang steps into the Monday breach...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Fair play to Pep Guardiola; the man knows how to dress middling results up in high heels and pretend they’re performances for the ages. Sometimes, his post-match quotes make you think the writers of Mad Men missed a trick by not casting him as Don Draper’s sophisticated, permanently-turtle-necked colleague from the European office. No, Peggy. What you’re selling is a story.
To wit, this latest contribution in the wake of Sunday’s topsy-turvy 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool: “You cannot imagine. It is one of happiest days of my career as a manager.” The only logical response to which, really, is no, you’re absolutely right, we cannot imagine.
City were fine. Good, even, in spells. They might have had a penalty or two had Michael Oliver been a little more switched-on. But they also failed to beat a side who had last won away from home in the Premier League before Christmas. That is underplaying Liverpool’s ability to step up on the big occasions, of course, but even then, this hardly felt like a gala afternoon for one of football’s most decorated managers.
In the end, as Chelsea celebrated another giant step towards the Premier League title and Tottenham tightened their grip on second place, it fell to Jurgen Klopp to have the last word on City’s master of sugar-coating: “He is Spanish. They are more emotional than the Germans.”
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp gestures to fans after the gameReuters
On your marks! Gestede! Fight!
Not even the comedic stylings of long-term Manchester United sleeper agent Victor Valdes managed to derail the Jose Mourinho performative misery roadshow on Sunday lunchtime. The Middlesbrough goalkeeper pulled out all the stops with a Chaplin-esque bit of slapstick in the closing moments at the Riverside, yet still Mourinho managed to maintain the demeanour of a child who has been told that the Tooth Fairy is not real. According to The Warm-Up’s notes, it has now been fully 745 days since the Portuguese last cracked a smile.
Britain Soccer Football - Middlesbrough v Manchester United - Premier League - The Riverside Stadium - 19/3/17 Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho reacts Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio,Le Buzz
It was a businesslike display from the Red Devils, sweetened by a lovely slow-burn feud between Eric Bailly and Rudy Gestede. The latter, who came on as a second-half sub despite clearly being a hamstring short, made a nuisance of himself and, after one scuffle, appeared to kiss/bite/nuzzle the neck of Manchester United defender, sparking a minor brawl.
There was more pushing and shoving in the tunnel after the game, but nothing that would tempt Mourinho to pass comment in his post-match press conference. No, that kind of fun and games is strictly off the menu for Captain Misery.
Rudy Gestede and Eric Bailly clashes during Middlesbrough vs Manchester United match – PUB NOT IN UK FRA NED ESP SWE POL CHN JAPImago
Gunner be a big summer
Another week, another fresh batch of misery for Arsenal. From tedious disagreements played out in the skies above the Hawthorns to a performance that was impossibly limp even by their own recent standards, it was a grim Saturday afternoon for the Gunners. Then, 24 hours later, even fifth place was snatched out of their possession. Yay!
The good/bad news for the fans is that everlasting genius/spent force Arsene Wenger has reached a decision about his future and will announce it soon. Maybe things will start to improve when Arsenal know which one of their two hypothetical futures they’ll be living out.
Arsen Wenger (FC Arsenal) – PUB NOT IN UK FRA ESP SWE POL CHNImago
IN OTHER NEWS
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Cesare Prandelli
Morals and football are infrequent bedfellows, so The Warm-Up was heartened to hear of an outbreak of principle in Europe over the weekend. Our knight in shining armour is former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, who says he was sounded out about the Leicester job a couple of weeks ago but refused to speak to the Foxes due to his outrage at their treatment of Claudio Ranieri.
“I immediately said no. You don’t accept a job like that,” Prandelli said on French television. “You don’t go there after seeing how Ranieri was treated. I am not going there. Full stop.” Loyalty in football? That’ll never catch on.
Cesare Prandelli, en su despedida como entrenador del Valencia.EFE
You eat a meagre breakfast so you’re hungry later. You get to the stadium nice and early. You go to your favourite chip stand and hand over your Euros. Your stomach rumbles with anticipation. You weave your way through the crowds to your seat. You settle down, pick up your fork and WACK, lunch ruined. Thanks, Rafinha. Thanks a lot.
IN THE CHANNELS
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! The first Monday of international fortnight? You must be joking, right?
Unless you live for photos of England players reporting for duty, you’re better off marking this down as a football-free day and doing something else entirely. The Warm-Up has heard that music and books are OK.
Tuesday’s Warm-Up will follow a recipe that has endured through the ages: all killer, no filler, Nick Miller.