The Warm-Up: Ajax are going to win the whole thing
Plus… Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones: The End.
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Dear God, let Ajax win
Just before you tuck yourself into bed tonight, mutter a four-word prayer to the football gods: ‘Let Ajax win it.’
Remember when the Champions League was properly fun? When the tournament saw nine different winners in a row from seven countries, a run starting with Red Star Belgrade in ’91 and finishing with ‘And Solskjaer has won it!’ in ’99.
We pretend to be excited by Atletico v Ronaldo IV, by the Premier League’s return to dominance, but we’re locked into the safety of Game of Thrones: Season 7 (a reference solely shoehorned in to boost our SEO ranking), when deep down we’re craving the unpredictability of Season 3. And it might finally be back.
Ajax – conquerors of Juventus, slayers of Real Madrid – are on the cusp of immortality. Despite being captained by a 19-year-old and assembled for less than Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Turin, they are comfortably Europe’s most attractive team. And make no mistake: they can win the whole thing.
In 76 days, this glorious side will be decimated in the summer window à la Monaco 2017 and tedium will resume. Barcelona will land Frenkie De Jong and (probably) Matthias De Ligt. English clubs will sweep up the rest. But we can postpone those sad thoughts for now. Tottenham or Manchester City await in the next round and, on the compelling evidence of this season, they can rip either apart.
Just imagine what it would mean to Marc Overmars…
Young, Smalling, Jones: The End
Lads. Thanks for the corners that failed to clear the first man’s shin, the flailing arms that impaired the GOAT, the faces that only you could make. But as Andrea Bocelli famously said while wearing a Leicester shirt, it’s time to say goodbye.
The trio were up to their usual tricks against Barcelona. Young produced an incredible three-error combo in 10 seconds as Lionel Messi danced through for the opener, Smalling was allergic to Philippe Coutinho as the Brazilian rifled home a beaut and Jones was retired three times during one mazy dribble from You Know Who.
But let’s pause and be serious for a second. Is it really their fault?
Manchester United have proved incapable of signing anyone significantly better and until they do, you can hardly blame them for playing football. What, we can? Oh right. As you were.
The Great Escape?
There’s a high probability that you aren’t fussed about analysis of Brighton 0-2 Cardiff City. Which is a big relief, as we didn’t realise it was even happening until long after the full-time whistle.
Brighton’s remaining games:
- Wolves (away): L
- Tottenham (away): L
- Newcastle (home): D
- Arsenal (away): L
- Manchester City (home): L
Cardiff’s remaining games:
- Liverpool (home): L
- Fulham (away): D
- Crystal Palace (home): W
- Manchester United (away): L
Cardiff finish on 35 points, Brighton finish on 34 points. Brighton are doomed. As is this bloke’s torso:
HEROES & ZEROES
Actually, just zeroes.
ZERO I: Wayne Henne-Not-A-Nazi
Defendant: ‘But your honour, I didn’t know murder was illegal.’
Judge (to the jury): ‘You must find this man innocent.’
What is more lamentable: not knowing what a Nazi salute is, or believing someone who says they don’t? Unbelievably, that’s the situation involving the Football Association and Wayne Hennessey, who was cleared of wrongdoing after mounting the following defence:
"From the very beginning, he has said that he was simply raising his right arm to attract the attention of the waiter taking the photograph whilst at the same time cupping his left hand around his mouth to make his voice carry as he shouted to the photographer to get on with it."
We take it all back. Clearly innocent.
ZERO II: Robert Snodgrass
Footballers often attract unnecessary stick. This is not one of those occasions.
Robert Snodgrass decided to welcome a UK anti-doping official to West Ham by saying, “Haven't you got anything better to do, you f***ing c***?”
The Warm-Up is delighted he’s been banned for one match.
IN THE CHANNELS
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The question 'is the Warm-Up better without Jack Lang?' was answered long ago - and that's why he's here with tomorrow's edition.