The Warm-Up: Manchester United officially great again after stirring League Cup success
Jack Lang watched 90 minutes of the purest tripe at the Olympic Stadium last night, then came home and took all his anger out on the Warm-Up.
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Manchester United: Officially great again
Phew, well that’s a relief. It turns out that Manchester United’s miserable sequence of results was Only A Blip™ – one now firmly in the rear-view mirror after an imperious victory over Northampton Town.
After giving squad players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba a run-out in the unavoidable defeat to Premier League powerhouses Watford at the weekend, Jose Mourinho recalled his key men at Sixfields Stadium. The sight of Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo and Memphis Depay understandably struck fear into Northampton hearts and underlined the seriousness with which Mourinho is approaching the League Cup. It is believed only the Europa League occupies a similar place in his heart.
Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera celebrated their imminent demotion to the bench to accommodate Marouane Fellaini by scoring with simple tap-ins, but it was Marcus Rashford whose goal will really live in the memory. The boy wonder showed great composure to resist a world-class Andy Smith challenge but still had a lot to do when he lined up a powerful shot. Thankfully for United, the ball nestled in the back of the net.
The victory should ease a little of the pressure on Mourinho, allowing him to rotate again at the weekend. After all, he will want to name his strongest XI, Rojo and all, against the mighty (Hotel) Zorya next Thursday.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hugs Northampton Town manager Rob PageReuters
Oh God, it’s happening again
Hey, remember when Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were managing in Spain and faced each other a million times in the space of a season and everybody lost the will to live? Halcyon days.
Well here’s some good news for you: it’s happening again! Only closer now and even less avoidable. Soon, you won’t even remember a time when 90 per cent of the football pages in the national newspapers weren’t about Jose and Pep!
Wait, why are you crying?
While England was pretending to enjoy the DFS Cup, the entirety of continental Europe was tucking into a smorgasbord of league action. Brexiters: is this what you wanted?
In Spain, there was frustration for Barcelona, who were held at home by Atletico Madrid and saw Lionel Messi limp off after an hour, which will be a worry with a Champions League trip to Monchengladbach on the horizon next week. Luckily, Real Madrid fluffed their lines against Villarreal, so no great harm done in the table.
Lionel Messi is forced off injured.AFP
But perhaps the biggest story of the night came in France, where a Mario-Balotelli-inspired Nice put in-form Monaco to the sword in sensational fashion at the Allianz Riviera. The Italian scored twice in a 4-0 win for Les Aiglons, which put them clear at the head of the standings. Super Mario indeed.
Nice's Italian forward Mario Balotelli (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Nice and MonacoAFP
Peter Brackley. In a recording studio. Making a series of increasingly confusing noises that would never make the final Pro Evolution Soccer 2 commentary package. If this does not have you in stitches, The Warm-Up cannot be friends with you.
It’s definitely fair to say that this is a battle Guardiola didn’t really need to enter. City have been so commanding on the field that he is already well on the way to Premier League immortality and, as Alex noted, there had been relatively little adverse press over the axing of Toure.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Yaya Toure as he is substituted as Raheem Sterling (L) prepares to come onReuters
But the Warm-Up, famously, has a deeply split personality and is now not sure about this bit:
"Are you really holding Yaya Toure responsible for what his agent says?"
Erm, yes? If not in the micro, then very much in the macro, given that Toure continues to work closely with Seluk despite his tendency to run his mouth and make mountains out of birthday cakes.
Naturally, Seluk has every right to do what he believes is best for his client. That is his prerogative. But that doesn’t mean we have to like him, nor does it protect the man who tacitly endorses his methods (by, y’know, paying him) from our scrutiny.
IN THE CHANNELS
Union of Lesser Media Professionals
to: The Warm-Up
date: Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 6:33 PM
subject: Jobs at risk as United media push continues
We thought that Juan Mata’s blogging was only a one-off, but a new threat to our livelihoods has surfaced. Ander Herrera looks intent on muscling in on the photo-editing world, as evidenced by masterwork above.
Just look at the camera angle and the lettering. We cannot compete with this. The hashtag, erroneous though it may be, suggests he is also experimenting with advanced social media techniques.
Something must be done. Emergency meeting: Thursday, 1pm, usual place.
Roll up, roll up! Feast your eyes upon… well, to be honest, there’s nothing at all going on domestically. Thank goodness, then, for La Liga, which has laid on a modest spread to keep us out of trouble until Friday.
There are three games taking place tonight, the pick of which is Valencia v Alaves at 9pm. Los Che are newly managerless after the not-at-all-predictable departure of Pako Ayestaran and desperate to secure their first points of the season after four defeats on the spin. But it could get worse before it gets better: their visitors are unbeaten and have already bloodied the noses of Atleti and Barca.
Friday! Friday! Tom Adams has gotta get down on Friday! No, seriously, he has to. It’s written into his contract.