MONDAY'S BIG STORIES
On behalf of everybody at Warm-Up head office, a huge thank you to Crystal Palace for waiting until a tournament rest day to appoint their new manager. Proper football clubs think of the content generators first, and we're here to say: we appreciate it.
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Oh, sorry. It's Patrick Vieira. Probably should have led with that.
Our first thought was "Interesting. Bit of a departure from Roy Hodgson." But then we realised: everybody's a bit of a departure from Hodgson, the last man standing of a bygone generation. Hodgson began coaching in 1976; that year, Vieira was busy being born. We're guessing Roy announced his first job with a short telegram: TAKING OVER HALMSTAD STOP HERE WE GOOOO STOP.
The four years Vieira spent as manager of Manchester City's reserve team — sorry, Elite Development Squad — are probably the big clue here. Taking a position as an "elite development squad" is probably the most sensible business model for any mid-table Premier League club at the moment: recruit young, sell high, repeat until football eats itself.
To support this project, Palace are currently building a very shiny new youth training facility down in south-east London. The Warm-Up actually lives not far from the building site, and if you walk past it at the moment you'll see a huge hangar emblazoned with the Palace eagle but no actual football pitches, which does rather make it look like Steve Parish has gone supervillain. If a fleet of red-and-blue zeppelins emerges over Beckenham, you'll be the first to know.
Of course, the big question begins with "What" and ends with "is going to happen with Wilfried Zaha?" Palace's most exciting player has two years left on his contract and the logics of the selling club would suggest that this is a good time, perhaps the last good time, to make the biggest pile of money possible. However, Palace's second-most exciting player, Eberechi Eze, is injured. If Zaha does go, that's a lot of excitement missing.
But hey, Vieira is pretty exciting in himself. Again, that may just be a question of following Hodgson, a manager who guaranteed a solid defence and good hard graft but few fireworks. But Palace are gambling now. And they kick off pre-season in just... hang on, 11 days?! It never stops!
Bounce Bounce Bounce
International tournaments are all about coaching, preparation and squad management. That's what the nerds will tell you. But we know, and you know, that really they're about feelings. Whichever side keeps their mood on an upward curve across a really weird month, is going to be the one that takes the trophy home. In possibly-related news, England have brought back the inflatable unicorns.
If any one object symbolises the ambient pleasantness of this England generation, it's these unicorns. Take a moment to imagine the state of the papers if, say, pictures of the 2006 squad larking around on inflatables had emerged from Baden-Baden. BOO-NICORN. Or probably something better than that. It was all much more suspicious then, much more self-regarding. The very idea of the England team was impossibly heavy and serious.
Now they're a meme. And a happy, self-encouraged meme, the team talking directly to their online supporters: here we are having fun, have fun with us.
Obviously this may all end in tears, real or figurative, but even then, you get the feeling that the inflatable unicorns will abide. They'll be let down — LIKE THE COUNTRY, sorry — and deflated — LIKE THE NATION, no, sorry — and packed away for the next time around. This England team have asserted their right to enjoy themselves while being an England team, and this weird and twitchy country has gone along with it. That's more remarkable than any semi-final. Arguably, that's more remarkable than an actual unicorn turning up to training.
New Saga Just Dropped
In case you were wondering what the transfer market will be doing over the next few days, it's this:
We don't pretend to be an expert on Camavinga, but lots of people who are experts keep saying words like "the business" and "mustard" and "hoo, buddy". And we don't pretend to be an expert on what any of those words mean, but we think they're broadly positive.
And look at that price! €30m is obviously a life-changing amount of money for anybody outside elite football's dangerously overheated economy, but inside the bubble it's loose change, a rounding error. Barely half a Fred. What we're saying is, if we know anything about the transfer market — and, to be clear, we do not — then we might be about to see a thoroughly undignified scramble, as every superclub starts rooting around behind the sofa cushions. On your marks. Get set. Go!
IN OTHER NEWS
Diving goalline clearances are pretty special things at any time. But this one is quite terrifyingly calm. Precise, even. There's the goalpost. Just needs to go past it… there. And we're done.
It's the birthday of both Gianfranco Zola and Hernán Crespo today, which makes the 5th of July the official day of the backheel flick. Here's Crespo's five best goals in Serie A, which includes two of the cheeky finishes.
Over to Jamie Fahey and the Guardian for a fascinating piece on the history of Iranian women's futsal, and their inspirational coach Shahrzad Mozafar.
A more collective form of defiance dismantled a huge barrier to women in 1993, a little over a decade after the political earthquake had deposed the Shah. The gamechangers were the sport-mad students at Alzahra University in Tehran, the only all-female university in the country. With a soaring number of women becoming educated in the Islamic republic, the students compelled the university’s administrators to allow a groundbreaking unofficial futsal tournament that attracted nine other college teams. It was nothing short of a cultural revolution.
The first Copa América semi-finals kicks off at midnight UK time, with Brazil strong favourites against Peru. And that's more or less your lot.
And Ben Snowball will be here tomorrow with all the details of Neymar's big day out.
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