The Warm-Up: Ross Barkley, VAR and your new favourite teenager

The Warm-Up: Ross Barkley, VAR and your new favourite teenager

18/09/2019 at 09:23Updated 18/09/2019 at 09:44

Ben Snowball dives into Ross Barkley’s penalty miss, the latest VAR shambles and everyone’s new favourite player: Erling Braut Haaland.


Oh, Ross

Words that nullify a dangerous situation, examples:

  • Donald Trump has the nuclear codes… but he’s no longer president.
  • A ferocious storm heads inland… but the evacuation is complete.
  • Chelsea have a penalty… and Ross Barkley will take.

It was inevitable that the ball would become a souvenir for one lucky/unlucky fan when the substitute stepped up. Was he the designated taker? Perhaps. Should he have been anywhere near it? Absolutely not.

But before we start slagging off the kid for having the audacity to volunteer to miss from 12 yards, consider how difficult it must be to prepare when you’ve got three ‘teammates’ bleating in your ear – whispering passive-aggressive support to heap unnecessary pressure on a man already best-known for squandering generation-defining talent.

Frank Lampard’s thoughts?

"Ross is a penalty taker. He scored a couple in pre-season and he was today when he came on and he missed it. I don't know what the conversation was. Jorginho and Willian were the penalty takers on the pitch and when Ross comes on, he becomes the penalty taker and he missed it."

Not exactly conclusive but we’re just about Team Barkley here. Anyway, keep an eye on eBay today for the listing 'Ross Barkley’s Last Kick In A Chelsea Shirt - Size 5'.

What's the point of VAR? - Edition DCXVIII

VAR isn’t a person. It doesn’t have feelings. When you scream 'f*** VAR' it’s a rare instance where no-one’s self-esteem is dented irreversibly. The problem isn’t the technology – basically a box that shows replays to reach better decisions – but the application of it.

However, those using it – or more fairly, the lawmakers handcuffing them – are morons. Just because the ball strikes a hand, doesn’t mean it’s a penalty. Just because a defender pokes out a boot and misses the ball, doesn’t mean it’s a penalty.

Valencia’s Daniel Wass (spared by Mr Barkley) and Andy Robertson (not spared by Dries Mertens) were among the aggrieved parties on Wednesday night, but it will keep happening, over and over again, until it is used properly. You know, to fix CLEAR AND OBVIOUS errors. That is all.

Remember the name... Erling Braut Haaland?!

"This is the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life."

Facts about Erling Braut Haaland, hat-trick hero from RB Salzburg's 6-2 demolition of Genk:

  • Age: 19
  • Becomes the first teenager since Wayne Rooney to score a treble on their Champions League debut
  • Has scored SEVENTEEN goals in NINE games this season

Oh, and he was also born in Leeds, meaning we’re one promotion away from Marcelo Bielsa having access to Europe’s greatest talent.


Hero: Dusan Tadic

For proving categorically that 'kissing it better' is an effective treatment for pain.

Zero: Lille/L’Equipe

Welcome back to the Champions League, Lille! OK, your return didn’t go quite to plan with a 3-0 defeat to Ajax, but let’s take a chance to commend them after a seven-year absence...



Confession time: we regularly drive around blaring out the Champions League anthem. Good to know we’re not alone:



Probably not retro enough to appease the rights lawyers, but we’ll gamble and flash Tottenham’s GOAT moment from the Champions League last season feat. Titanic soundtrack:


The Chaaaaaaaampions: Chapter II. Liverpool and the rest of the minnows have had their say, now it’s time for the big boys – Juventus, Manchester City, Dinamo Zagreb – to get involved.

What's the point of Andi Thomas... is a question that should never, ever be asked. The remarkable man is here tomorrow.