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Jose strikes again

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It can be hard to derive meaning from a world which changes so quickly around us. What can we latch onto when nothing is certain any longer? When old traditions, norms and customs collapse and the very fabric of our life is transformed so fundamentally? Yes, how can we have any concept of what life truly is any more when a court in Ireland has officially ruled that Subway bread is not bread?

Thankfully there are some constants in this world in flux, one of which being the fact that Jose Mourinho can always be relied upon to make a managerial war of words as petty as possible. When it’s coupled with his team scoring seven goals in a match, as it was last night, you can be pretty sure that you are witnessing the best Jose. Peak Jose. Pure, uncut Jose. Jose living his best life.

A bit of context first. The rather unlikely spat between the forces of good and evil (aka Gareth Southgate and Mourinho) has taken place around the use, or rather overuse, of Harry Kane. Mourinho started off by publicly imploring Southgate not to use his captain in all three of England’s upcoming games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark. A not unreasonable request given Spurs are about to play their seventh game in 17 days on Sunday.

“When Kane is fit he should start every game for Tottenham but he didn’t [against Chelsea],” Mourinho said. “So I think this is the point. When you have such a player and you want to win every match, you play him, but you just can’t do it. I believe that Gareth [note use of first name here] and Steve [Holland, the assistant manager] care about the players and I don’t think they want to be connected with something that can be a consequence of this week and the three international matches.”

Which prompted this rather cutting response from Southgate: “Jose was great, wasn’t he?” Southgate said. “He was on good form. I heard him. He won’t phone but he’s going to stand at the top of Tottenham’s stadium and tell us, so that was good. We are certainly not looking to start players in three games. We’ve got to be responsible. The season as a whole is a huge challenge for clubs and national teams so we’ve all got to work together. And all Jose needs to do is make sure that in April and May … he’s got to look after Harry Kane for us because there will be 55 million people relying on that so that obviously works both ways.”

Well, you come at the king, you best not miss, as the old saying goes. And Mourinho let Southgate know exactly where he stands in this hierarchy of pettiness by quite beautifully misnaming him after seeing Spurs put seven past Maccabi Haifa to make the group stages of the Europa League.

"What I can promise to my friend Steve Holland and for Gary not to be jealous, for my friend Gary, I can promise that until the end of the season I don't play Harry Kane one minute of any friendly match."

Gary!... Gary!

For any other manager you’d give them the benefit of the doubt here. High emotions. Late night. Seven goals banged in. Sweet, sweet Europa on the way. But not Mourinho.

Not a man who frequently called Manuel Pellegrini, Mauricio Pellegrino when he was a threat to his empire. Or made jokes about Antonio Conte’s hair plugs. Or called Arsene Wenger a voyeur. Or took a dig at Rafa Benitez’s weight and his wife, all in one go.

Gary!

It’s going to take The Warm-Up some time to get over this.

Maitland-Niles and the coolest penalty ever

Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties last night to reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup after a largely uneventful 0-0 draw in normal time.

We could dwell here on Bernd Leno’s superb performance, making seven saves in the match and another two in the shootout, but instead, this section of the The Warm-Up will devote itself entirely to appreciation of Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ penalty, possibly one of the coolest spot-kicks you will ever see, as he sauntered slowly to the spot and absolutely belted it in. And rounded off with a cheeky smile in Adrian’s direction after he did it.

He’s been linked with a move away this summer but you simply can’t sell a player who can take penalties like that and play in about seven different positions.

And by the way, the full quarter-final draw is:

  • Everton v Manchester United
  • Arsenal v Manchester City
  • Brentford v Newcastle
  • Stoke v Tottenham

Phenomenal Fati

Ansu Fati of FC Barcelona celebrates 0-1 with Jordi Alba of FC Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Celta de Vigo v FC Barcelona at the Estadio de Balaidos on October 1, 2020

Image credit: Getty Images

There are many, many things wrong with Barcelona at the moment. The Camp Nou is basically in ruins, it’s a dumpster fire of a professional football club. And yet. And yet.

And yet, when you have at your disposal a talent as luminous as Ansu Fati, things can’t be too bad. Even if Lionel Messi is sick to death of the president and desperate to leave. Even if Luis Suarez is immediately looking amazing at Atletico Madrid. Even if Manchester United still won’t actually take the plunge and sign Ousmane Dembele. There’s always Ansu Fati.

Football’s next big superstar scored his 10th La Liga goal last night at the age of just 17 – the quickest Barca player ever to reach that mark. And what a lovely goal it was too, kicking off the scoring in a 3-0 win away at Celta Vigo.

IN OTHER NEWS

Just feast your eyes on this…

It’s basically if this became a football team:

IN THE CHANNELS

Fulham’s awful start to the season showed no signs of getting any better last night. Just days after vice-chairman Tony Khan was moved to start tweeting public apologies for how bad his team are following a 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, he must have had his finger hovering over the ‘send tweet’ button last night as Scott Parker’s side were seen off 3-0 again, this time by Brentford in the Carabao Cup.

Still, at least Scott Parker and his team had the best seats in the house for this peach of a goal by Said Benrahma.

HAT TIP

Yesterday there was a big moment in the strive for equality of all forms in sport as San Diego Loyal after one of their players was subject to alleged homophobic abuse from an opponent from Phoenix Rising.

Leading 3-1 at the time, their walk-off ended their hopes of reaching the play-offs but acted as a beacon for those who want to see far more substantial measures taken by players and teams to fight against discrimination of all kinds.

TV cameras picked up the remarkable exchange between the two managers, showing Landon Donovan to be a great, great man, and his opposite number Rick Schantz to, well, judge for yourself…

COMING UP

The pick of tonight’s matches sees PSG take on Angers, which you can follow live with us from 8pm. Of course, across the day you can watch every point of every match of the French Open live on eurosport.co.uk – and just a heads up that the Giro d’Italia starts tomorrow! That’s all live and exclusive with us as well.

Don't miss Monday's Warm-Up, brought to you by Andi Thomas, a man who loves first names so much, he got two of them.

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