The Warm-Up: It’s never coming home
It’s time to admit the sad truth: football is never coming home. Not that Tottenham fans will care after their biggest transfer window day in a long, long time...
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Football's not coming home, not coming home, not coming...
It’s 2066. The letterbox creaks open. A quick shuffling sound is replaced by a soft thud. You sneak into the hallway to find an invitation on your doormat:
Dear Loyal Supporter,
The England football teams and Football Association request the pleasure of your company to mark the centenary of our only major international trophy. Events will be held across the nation to commemorate that famous day on July 30, 1966.
Managers Phil Foden and Steph Houghton Jr. will appear via hologram to lead the remembrance and spread a simple message: it will come home again.
But none of those came close to one incident from Tuesday night's harrowing defeat to the United States. With England chasing an equaliser and injury time flashing by, Phil Neville's Lionesses won a throw in just inside the opposition half. A basecamp for a final assault. Demi Stokes rushed over to take it, cradling the ball in her hands before tilting it over her head...
...and into her hair bun as it awkwardly spilled from her grasp. Truly iconic:
You see, for all their good vibes and plagiarism of Liverpool's famous slogan 'this is our year', England are incapable of delivering when it matters across the gender spectrum. Score a stunning free-kick in a World Cup semi-final? Lose. Qualify for a four-team tournament in dramatic circumstances, building seemingly unstoppable momentum? Crash out immediately. Awarded a late penalty by VAR to salvage extra time? Kick it to the goalkeeper.
It's not all gloomy. If women's football wasn't already 'on the map' (whatever that means), it is now. A new generation will hopefully grow up bidding to emulate Harry Kane AND Ellen White. Lucy Bronze could challenge for the Ballon d'Or and people might care. Steph Houghton could yet return to manage England after having her own 'Gareth Southgate moment' and prevent the above centenary from becoming reality.
Wasn’t VAR for this ‘clear and obvious’ lark?
Look, the Warm-Up is fully aware that offsides can be proven to within a millimetre with omniscient video assistance. But is that really our beautiful game, pausing for three minutes to determine whether Ellen White’s shoulder strayed an inch beyond the last defender’s standing leg?
Attackers can no longer say with certainty they are onside unless they consciously give the defender a half-yard head start. There has to be a small amount of leeway, otherwise it won’t be long before a goal is ruled out by VAR due to an untrimmed afro.
Sir Daniel Levy
Remember when Danny Rose said he wanted Tottenham to sign some big names in 2017, "not players you have to Google and say, 'Who's that?'"
It was fitting then that when his 29th birthday rolled around on Tuesday, Spurs had bought him the perfect gift: two new teammates he (probably) wouldn’t have to type into his search engine of choice.
The first was confirmed shortly before lunchtime as Jack Clarke of almost-helping-Leeds-win-promotion fame dropped in for a few photos before departing back to the Championship club on a season-long loan. Then came the big’un: Tanguy Ndombele arriving from Lyon for a club-record £53.8m. Given Manchester United are prepared to spunk £70m on Harry Maguire, and Arsenal are contemplating how many pound coins to stick on the end of a follow-up bid for Wilfried Zaha, it appears Daniel Levy has worked his magic again.
Just look at this highlights reel:
IN OTHER NEWS
The US are proper mean
Oh well, at least England have acceptable chants...
HEROES & ZEROES
Hero: Steph Houghton
OK, you go and take a penalty under those circumstances. Bet you miss.
Ellen White and Steph HoughtonReuters
Zero: Steph Houghton
Then again, all things considered, it was a pretty bad penalty...
Steph Houghton of England misses a penalty during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Semi Final match between England and USA at Stade de Lyon on July 02, 2019 in Lyon, France.Getty Images
IN THE CHANNELS
It's pretty unforgivable that Wednesday has rolled around and the Warm-Up is yet to feature the week's viral-est (definitely a word) video. Thiago Silva is our tenuous link to football.
We revisit the last time England won a semi-final. No, not 1966 – do your research! It’s 2009, England v Netherlands at Women’s Euro 2009 (they lost in the final, obvs).
Netherlands and Italy battle it out for who will lose to England in the third place play-off at the Women's World Cup.