Champions League

The Warm-Up: Wham! Bam! Amsterdam!

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino celebrates during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena on May 8, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByJack Lang
09/05/2019 at 06:33 | Updated 09/05/2019 at 08:17

Jack Lang looks back at a stirring night for Tottenham, which brought Mauricio Pochettino to tears and seemingly healed Harry Kane's ankle, and bemoans Theresa May's attempts to make football relevant to Brexit in any way whatsoever...


Dutch courage

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Look at Harry Kane! He’s sprinting across the pitch! His ankle is being held together by bubblegum and spit, and he’s sprinting across the pitch!

Mauricio Pochettino is bawling his eyes out. They say the human body is two-thirds water, but his must be pushing 80% with all those tears. He’s meant to be doing an on-pitch interview, but it’s not happening. “He’s too busy crying at the moment,” says Des Kelly.

And the Ajax players… they’re strewn all over the pitch like geometry. 45 minutes ago, they were Europe’s darlings. Now they’re a footnote.

Honestly, what has happened to football over the last few days? Did we miss some announcement from the show-runners? After Kompany’s Rocket and Liverpool’s Redmontada, there didn’t appear to be any more juice left in the drama tank. Especially when Ajax went 2-0 up.

But then… oh hi, Lucas Moura! What a time to prove that your left leg isn’t just for balance. THREE goals with your swinger: bravo.

It wasn’t just him, either. Think about Fernando Llorente, with his chest like a giant magnet from a Loony Tunes short. Or Moussa Sissoko, who is now unironically great at football. Or Jan Vertonghen, playing with his nose in pieces.

Amazing, historic stuff.

Really, there was only one loser on the night (apart from Ajax, obviously). It’s time to retire the adjective ‘Spursy’.

Hero worship

“It’s difficult with words to describe my feelings and my emotions. I think it’s one of the most important nights in my life. It’s impossible to live without the type of emotion football brings. A lot more is in my head but the most important thing I want to say is to congratulate my players. They own the football, they delivered a great job. I’ve told you over the last six months that they are heroes. I think they are superheroes now.”

Poch says he will quit, win or lose in Madrid; walks out after Kane question


Good point, Poch. With the MCU now done and dusted (he said, pretending to have a vague grasp of youth culture), there’s probably room for a new band of caped crusaders in our lives…

Roar power

Not sure whether you’ve heard the news. There’s been a lot going on, in fairness, so there’s a small chance you may have missed it.

But there’s something you really should know:

It’s coming home.

That clip was somewhat slicker than some of the squad-announcement videos recorded by various members of the celebrosphere. Prince William and (Prince) David Beckham clearly got proper camera crews in for the occasion, but some of the other missives look like they were recorded on a Nokia 3210. At gunpoint.

(We’ll leave aside the fact that The Warm-Up only recognises about 40% of these “famous people” – a fact that probably says more about us than them.)


Let the record state that The Warm-Up is very much in the market for whatever quantity of industrial-strength pesticide – or Dettol, or sulphuric acid, or holy water – it takes to scrub this video and its contents off the list of human contributions to 9 May 2019.

No, Theresa. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.



It’s Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock’s birthday, so here’s an endearing little double-act interview with Alan Shearer from back in 1992.

Love, love, love Shearer correcting Ruddock about the length of his goal drought.


This failure suggests that there were flaws in that analysis, that seeing this in physical terms was mistaken, that the root cause was not found, that this may be more conceptual. Here the debate about Barcelona’s footballing identity is raised again, cutting to the core of their being; this is a club, some feel, that has lost its religion. And in times of pressure, when a team like Liverpool are thundering at you in all their fury, a clear identity, a defined model, offers refuge and security. Barcelona didn’t really have that shelter.

That’s Sid Lowe with the only Barcelona post-mortem you’ll need, over on The Guardian.


Please open your Underrated Interview Techniques textbook to page 45 and read Chapter 3: Showing Players Videos of Their Own Achievements With Emotive Commentary From Their Home Country.


Does reverse psychology work on football matches? It’s worth a try, so here goes: Surely – surely – the Europa League semi-final second legs can’t live up to what we’ve already seen this week. There’s just no way that Valencia have a stirring comeback in them. And Eintracht Frankfurt got absolutely tanked in the Bundesliga at the weekend. So no, we won’t be expecting any… oh, I don’t know, nine-goal thrillers tonight. Oh no. That would be silly.

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FootballChampions LeagueTottenham HotspurAjax
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