The Warm-Up: The Jose Mourinho guide to pantomime villainy
Here's Jack Lang with talking dogs, biblical names and abysmal penalty calls
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
It’s behiiiiind you!
Hello, my name is The Warm-Up and I am an addict. My drug of choice? Well I dabble in all sorts of football-related paraphernalia, but I mainly enjoy mainlining Jose Mourinho being a pantomime villain.
I’ve been clean for… well, to be honest, I had a bit of a relapse last night. I hadn’t had a hit of purest Jose for a few weeks, but his hand-to-the-ear gesture towards the Juventus fans was just too… potent. Christ, what a rush. The man really is my heaven and hell. What a ludicrous, marvellous idiot.
Mourinho, obviously, has been in decline. His convictions have wavered, and results have followed suit. The 24-carat charm has given way to a sneering nastiness. He may still get sacked before the end of the season. These are just the facts.
But nobody does righteous fury like the Setubal sulker. And when it’s actually warranted – or at least when events on the pitch are going his way – it’s a real pleasure to behold.
José Mourinho, Leonardo Bonucci, Paulo Dybala, Juventus-Manchester United, Getty ImagesGetty Images
It was the kind of comeback to inspire greater things. And yes, granted, there have been more false dawns at Old Trafford than a French and Saunders look-a-alike conference, but still. Juventus, away from home. Two goals in the last five minutes. And that scowling, swaggering fire-starter of a manager.
Can you hear it? That’s the sound of vintage Jose making himself at home again.
Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates after scoring their fourth goal from the penalty spot during a UEFA Champions League group F football match between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, nortGetty Images
Kylian me softly
More fun and games courtesy of the latest batch of Football Leaks, with revelations of some of the… elaborate requests made by Kylian Mbappe when he signed for Paris Saint-Germain.
Here’s a crib sheet if you missed this, although fair warning: we have completely fabricated one of them.
– If Mbappe wins the Ballon d’Or he automatically becomes the best-paid player at the club. (DENIED)
– Mbappe gets to use a private jet for 50 hours per year. (DENIED)
– Mbappe receives €30,000 per month to pay three personal employees and rent. (APPROVED)
– Mbappe is greeted at the training ground every morning by a dog who has been trained to speak, who tells him: ‘You’re worth it.’ (APPROVED)
Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain)Getty Images
IN OTHER NEWS
To the minor leagues now, and specifically to outskirts of Bristol, where Bradley Stoke Town FC have really pulled out all the stops in the transfer market. Yes, friends, you guessed it: they’ve only gone and signed a player called Bradley Stokes.
Although actually, that formulation of things places the credit in the wrong place. For it emerges that Stokes himself, a 23-year-old centre-back, is the real author of this story for the ages.
Take it away, maestro: “I knew there was an area called Bradley Stoke, so I googled it to see if they had a football team because I thought that would be cool.”
And his news team-mates? What did they make of it all? “Most of them just started laughing at me, to be honest. They couldn’t believe it. I suppose it is a bit weird.”
A very happy birthday to Joe Cole, who – it says here – is actually still playing out in the USA, for Tampa Bay Rowdies. That seems like a clerical error, because it’s now five years or so since he drifted out of view. But what a player he was at his best:
And to start getting you in the mood for the weekend’s big Copa Libertadores final, here’s a little BBC clip about the Superclasico – the biggest fixture in Argentine football.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: This guy’s parents
Seriously. Take a bow, Mr and Mrs Vlachodimos (whose surname is already, in itself, pretty bloody strong).
Zeroes: Raheem Sterling & Victor Kassai
The Manchester City man should have (a) not made such a mess of this shot, and (b) come clean to the referee instantly. Obviously Kassai and his assistants haven’t covered themselves in glory, either. Weird and utterly incomprehensible. But also pretty funny, let’s be honest.
" The decision to play Rooney can only – only! – be read as a fantastically pointed insult to the Americans, who may not have qualified for the last World Cup but against whom we are openly fielding a novelty player. You could not send a clearer message to the US, even if you made sure pitchside advertising hoardings throughout the match read ELECT SH*T GET BANGED."
Wayne Rooney has not played for England in almost two yearsPA Sport
Look, The Warm-Up knows a few half-decent adverbs – he wrote, coquettishly – but there’s only so much that can be done when presented with the same fixtures we talked up two weeks ago. Arsenal vs Sporting, BATE vs Chelsea, yadda, yadda, yadda.