The Warm-Up: Over-hyped Liverpool v Manchester United match is a disappointment, nation shocked
Plus, the FA gets a grilling, the world's first mood-lighting football match and Keith 'Mysterious' Curle
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Red Monday thrills the nation
Well, that was definitely all worth the hype. Big games like Liverpool v Manchester United are very rarely as exciting as the anticipation and build-up suggests they might be, but the latest effort, the 0-0 draw on Monday night, was almost impressive in its tedium.
If football teams really are extensions of their managers’ personalities, then that 90 minutes was two blokes droning on at length about council parking regulations. Football is not necessarily part of the entertainment business so we should not apply the same rules to a game, no matter how high profile, as we do to a film or a concert or a play, but…y’know…c’mon guys. We’re just hard working ladies and gents wanting to kick back and enjoy ourselves of a Monday night.
Jurgen Klopp at least had the decency to look a bit embarrassed after the final whistle, admitting that his Liverpool team had not played either a) well or b) to the plan. Jose Mourinho on the other hand seemed entirely unapologetic, a man absolutely content that everything had gone exactly as he had foreseen, and indeed had the stones to accuse Liverpool of being too defensive. “They were very cautious,” he droned. “They kept always Can and Henderson in position. They had only one player behind the three more offensive players. I think it was their intention to try and control us, which they also did well.”
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic misses a chance to scores as Liverpool's Loris Karius attempts saveReuters
The question of whether a Manchester United team assembled at such stomach-churning expense should really be playing spoiler to Liverpool, a team they finished above in the league last season, is certainly one worth asking. Mourinho is an adaptable manager, capable of putting out teams that thrill you one week and bore the bottom off you the next, but such paucity of ambition is vaguely depressing. It certainly isn’t going to make your average viewer, in a week when it was revealed Sky’s viewing figures are down 19%, tune in for the next big event.
The FA gets a grilling
POW! That’s a parliamentary committee accusing the FA of institutional failure. BOSH! That’s them declaring giving a manager who took charge of one game then slunk of in semi-disgrace a £1m pay-off as “extraordinary”, and we don’t think in a good way. KAAAAAAAAABLAMMOOOOOO! That’s the same committee repeating, with parliamentary privilege, the accusations made by Jason Puncheon made against Neil Warnock regarding appearance bonuses.
Yes, football is in the dock. Or, more accurately, the chairman of the FA has been appearing in front of MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee to be told off for various things they have done wrong, including appointing Sam Allardyce then sending him on his way a couple of months later with a fat wedge for his trouble. And rightly so, in some respects, although one wonders exactly what this is going to achieve, beyond making the FA look a bit silly. Which, granted, isn’t an entirely worthless exercise.
Sam Allardyce lost his job as England manager last weekPA Sport
“The FA appointed a manager who was a central figure in the biggest ever investigation initiated by football into improper payments and bungs,” said Damian Collins, the acting committee chair. “I don’t believe the FA spoke to Quest or Lord Stevens before the appointment and to not be able to ascertain whether it was discussed with him before the appointment was made – I think a lot of people would find that astonishing.”
Well perhaps. But if he believes incompetence by those in charge of the game really is ‘astonishing’, then perhaps Mr Collins isn’t a football fan of long standing.
IN OTHER NEWS
Hats off to Torino and Palermo, who brought a spot of much-needed romance into football by playing what was perhaps the world’s first football match by mood lighting. Towards the end of Monday’s Serie A game, which Torino won 4-1, half of the floodlights failed in Palermo’s Renzo Barbera, forcing the players to complete the game in semi-darkness. Some illumination was provided by fans putting the lights on their phones, as if they were at a Coldplay concert, which seems to be happening a bit more recently and is one of those things that’s easy to be sniffy about, but actually looks quite cool if you’re in the ground. Still, well done to both teams for ploughing on, earning the sympathy of anyone who has played on a dodgy municipal five-a-side pitch at 10pm on a Monday.
We really, really must take issue with Monday’s Warm-Upper Adam Hurrey this morning, not for something he said but something he did not. For Mr Hurrey, usually such an aficionado of Mike Dean’s ouevre, missed this absolute classic of the ‘picking the ball up off a plinth that your hero and ours pulled off on Sunday, clearly after sharing some absolutely double-plus good banter with his colleagues. Come on, Hurrey – you’re losing your touch.
"So why “Mysterious Curle” you may ask? There have been one or two eccentricities along the way and questions from supporters about his regular tinkering with the team and formation. That, in part, explains why Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl has been adopted as “Mysterious Curle, I wanna play 3-5-2”."
What with their Champions League campaign continuing this evening, it’s worth taking a look back at Leicester’s previous forays into Europe. When they qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1997/98 after winning the League Cup, they faced Atletico Madrid in the first round. In the end they lost rather handily, 4-1 on aggregate, but it’s worth savouring the first leg if only for the sight of Ian Marshall, perhaps the least footballery-looking professional footballer of all time (although we note with disappointment he’d shorn his trademark locks for this one) scoring in the Vicente Calderon.
Big, big, big, big, big night of red hot Champions League action, as Tottenham travel to face Bayer Leverkeusen in what almost nobody is describing as the Heung-min Son derby, while Leicester try to give the ultimate Second Season Syndrome a kick in the pants as they face Copenhagen. Elsewhere Lyon host Juventus, Sporting square-up to Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Zagreb and Sevilla duke it out. Also, if grittier fare is more your cup of chai, there’s a (nearly) full slate of Championship and League One action – Brighton v Wolves, Reading v Aston Villa and Bury v Wimbledon probably the pick there.
Wednesday’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by Alex Chick, who’ll be busily telling you that actually Liverpool v Manchester United was an intriguing tactical battle and you really should appreciate these things, actually.