11 June: YESSSSS REAL MADRID DEAL DONE! WE’RE GOING TO WIN THE WORLD CUP AND THEN I’M TAKING THE BIGGEST JOB IN CLUB FOOTBALL! NOT EVEN SORRY FOR PUTTING THIS ALL IN CAPS. EVERYTHING’S COMING UP JULEN!
12 June: Wow, didn’t expect them to announce it now! Haha! Gerard Pique gave me the right stink-eye at breakfast. Oh well; everyone loves Real Madrid really and I’m sure this will blow over in no time at all.
Julen Lopetegui, head coach of Real reacts during the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid
Image credit: Getty Images
13 June: KJsfjeif.kwbrfnkwle&$334*£$£dflkfejdnvl
16 June: 3-3 with Portugal. Hard to watch. But… Ronaldo: what a player. My player!
20 June: 1-0 against Iran. Do I want them to win this? Is “Julen Lopetegui: the man who cost Spain the World Cup” better than “Julen Lopetegui: the man who had to watch Spain’s glorious World Cup win from home”? It might be, actually.
1 July: RU-SSSI-YYAA! RU-SSSI-YYAA! JULEN LOPETEGUI: THE MAN WHO COST SPAIN THE WORLD CUP!
Piqué - Russia-Spain - 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup - Imago
Image credit: Imago
4 July: Just looked at my print-out of Zinedine Zidane’s CV again. It’s getting a bit dog-eared now. He really did win a lot here, didn’t he? At least replacing a historically successful manager is usually seen as an easy task. You got this, Jules.
11 July: F&£$ing Ronaldo! But I’ll definitely get a replacement in a few days’ time. This is Real Madrid! And I’m not-at-all-doomed football manager Julen Lopetegui!
29 July: Taking this Neymar magnet off my fridge now.
9 August: Taking this Nikola Kalinic magnet off my fridge now.
14 August: A European Super Cup! What a fantastic way to start. Feeling so positive. Sergio Ramos is actually looking me when I talk now and only making those explosion noises sometimes. Progress.
15 August: Christ, just looked at Atletico’s squad.
16 August: It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK. Stop shivering, Julen. It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.
Kevin De Broken
All together now:
♫ Injured for 1, 2, 3
♫ Months with a dodgy knee
♫ For Man City, yeah
De Bruyne could miss some crucial fixtures
Image credit: PA Sport
Yes, it looks as though Kevin De Bruyne faces a spell on the touchlines with – checks notes – a lateral ligament issue. And while The Warm-Up wouldn’t wish to make light of any injury, De Bruyne didn’t look overly concerned at the launch of Manchester City’s All or Nothing documentary last night and recovered well from a similar issue in 2016.
And sympathy for City as a team? We’re sure they’ll be fine with, erm, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden for now.
Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Phil Foden of Manchester City
Image credit: Getty Images
Groove is in Zaha
That ominous cracking sound? Don’t worry, that’s just Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish taking a pickaxe to his club’s wage structure. And look, instant results: he’s carved out a juicy new contract for Wilfried Zaha, who was linked with every team under the sun during the summer.
The forward is believed to be on £130,000 a week now, which really is proof that the best bargaining position in football is alongside Christian Benteke in a side desperate for goals.
IN OTHER NEWS
This just in from the Department of Gorgeousness: one of the prototype badges for David Beckham’s Miami MLS team.
If your insides just quivered, you’re not alone. The Warm-Up hereby renounces all previous affiliations to all other sports teams and bows down before the altar of the pink flamingos with interlocking legs.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Andres Iniesta
Let the record state that The Warm-Up is fully, fully behind this new pattern of Andres Iniesta masterpieces popping up on Twitter on midweek mornings.
“Here’s your post-coffee procrastination break, courtesy of your friends at the J-League.” Don’t mind if we do, although all this swooning isn’t exactly conducive to a productive working rout… hahahahahhahaha, sorry. Imagine thinking The Warm-Up had anything even vaguely resembling a working routine.
Honourable mention: Wayne Rooney. Let the record state that The Warm-Up is fully, fully behind this new pattern of Wayne Rooney masterpieces… etc etc.
Zero: Jermaine Pennant
If you’ve been following The Warm-Up over the last couple of weeks, you will know that Jermaine Pennant’s new autobiography is very much 2018’s gift that keeps on giving. Well, guess what? WE GO AGAIN.
Here he is on Rafa Benitez:
Me and Rafa never clicked. Too many instructions and the way he spoke, with that accent, just made it worse. I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying for 80% of my time at Liverpool.
Good start. But there’s more:
I remember an away game against Portsmouth. He was shouting at me at the start of the second half. Some garbled rubbish about their full-back being tired. Kept pointing to his foot and doing a weird motion with his hands, like he was stretching an imaginary elastic band. I thought he was telling me to boot it long and stretch the play. After 10 minutes of this, Xabi Alonso comes trotting over with a message from Rafa – tie my bootlaces. That’s what he was telling me!
Definitely sounds like him and not you, Jermaine. Definitely.
FOOTBALL Liverpool Pennant
Image credit: PA Photos
So Lorient did what they had never done before, fast-tracked Guendouzi from the academy towards a professional deal, which was agreed at the start of the 2016/17 season, to kick in on his 18th birthday. That season started awfully – seven defeats from the first nine games – and so coach Sylvain Ripoll decided to call on the precocious gangly 17-year-old, who was already nicknamed ‘David Luiz’. What most stood out for Ripoll was not the hair or even the technique but the personality. He loves football, he eats football, drinks football, sleeps football, he says.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy at Turf Moor? Must be a fuzzy replay of some Arsenal League Cup tie from a decade ago. Well no, friend: it’s 2018 and they’re playing for Istanbul Basaksehir – alongside Arda Turan, Emre and Gokhan Inler – in tonight’s Europa League qualifier against Burnley.
Sean Dyche’s men claimed a 0-0 draw in the first leg, meaning they’re very much in the driving seat. The same is true of Rangers, who take a 3-1 lead to Maribor, but Hibernian and The New Saints may have their work cut out against Molde and Midtjylland respectively.
The scarily flexible Tom Adams will be lead The Warm-Up on Friday, so start getting your hamstrings loosened up now.