The Warm-Up: Kylian Mbappe joins the Manchester United-beating greats
Plus: Angel Di Maria's suspiciously frothy beer; Jadon Sancho's passport gaffe; and goodbye Gordon Banks.
WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Considering Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unapologetically models himself on Sir Alex Ferguson, we probably should have seen this one coming.
Nothing says Fergie more than slaying domestically, then getting completely depantsed in the Champions League. It’s a tradition dating back 25 years, to when a Barcelona Dream Team inspired by Romario and Stoichkov caned them 4-0 at the Camp Nou.
Mbappe produced another astonishing burst of pace to score PSG’s second. At moments like these – as with his sprint against Argentina at the World Cup – the Frenchman is playing a different game to everyone else.
Players with extreme speed normally turn out to be one-dimensional disappointments. Even the good ones, like Dennis Rommedahl who parlayed a sub-11 second 100m time into 126 caps for Denmark.
What’s amazing about Mbappe is he marries this pure gas with the skill and intelligence of an ‘average’ world-class player. Take away his pace (and please Kylian, look after those hamstrings) and you’d still have one of the best footballers in the world. Not since OG Ronaldo has that been true.
Solskjaer’s 53 days of smiles might be over, but such is his stock that this result won’t do him too much harm. If anything, a brutal reminder of United’s true place in the world only enhances the dramatic turnaround in their league form.
PSG have three key injuries, but also the luxury of multiple international class players in every position. United have just handed a five-year contract to Phil Jones. Levels.
Farewell Gordon Banks
In 2019, the accolade ‘Best English Goalkeeper Ever’ doesn’t sound so great. You might as well call it the Better Than Chris Kirkland Award For Not Lighting Your Own Boots On Fire.
Don’t laugh, but there was a time when England’s goalkeepers were the envy of the world.
David Seaman was probably the last off the production line of great keepers; the heir to Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence and the finest of them all, Gordon Banks, who died yesterday aged 81.
Banks was one of perhaps three genuinely world-class players in England’s World Cup-winning squad along with Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore.
And the moment he succumbed to a stomach bug at Mexico 1970 signalled the end of England’s reign as world champions.
They don’t make them like Gordon Banks anymore.
IN OTHER NEWS
Some people were taken aback by the hostile reception given to Angel Di Maria at Old Trafford last night. Turns out joining a club for £58 million then not really putting much effort in won’t endear you to a fanbase. But the Argentine had the last laugh, setting up both PSG goals and enjoying some beery larks with the irate home fans.
The Warm-Up is just glad he didn’t drink any. Literally anyone’s guess what was in there. (OK, so it was either beer, or second-hand beer.)
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Nicolo Zaniolo
Last night he Roma teenager became the youngest Italian to score two goals in a Champions League game.
However we’re so in love with his first Serie A goal, scored in December, we’re just going to look at that again.
Looks like someone’s due an upgrade on FIFA.
Zero: Jadon Sancho
This would never had happened in the Warm-Up’s day. Leave your PE kit at home? You play in your pants. Forget your passport? No school trip to Calais for you, young Jadon.
Thankfully, Borussia Dortmund are rather more enlightened, and Sancho made it to London for tonight’s game against Tottenham.
We might not get too many more weeks of David Squires’ Maurizio Sarri, so enjoy him while you can.
Imagine a time when football’s most famous referee was more than a viral content generator.
Imagine someone universally respected for his natural authority; admired for his sharp-eyed decision-making and praised by players and managers for his constant communication.
If the evolution from Pierluigi Collina to Mike Dean isn’t some sort of Brexit metaphor, the Warm Up doesn’t know what is. Happy 59th birthday, Pierluigi.