The Warm-Up: The Burt Locker
Jack Lang looks into Tottenham's future and enjoys the musings of Bolton's resident David Brent...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Making plans for Nigel
“Have you seen the team news, Nigel?”
“No Sergio Aguero!”
“Oh my God. So who is actually playing?”
“Some lad called Muric in goal. And this ‘Eric Garcia’ they’ve got at centre-back doesn’t even sound real.”
“You know, we might actually…”
“Hang on. That’s the good news.”
Manchester City and Gabriel Jesus (left) were ruthless against BurtonPA Sport
“Kyle Walker starts.”
[Clough grips his thighs so hard that veins pop out in his calves]
“Gabriel Jesus starts.”
[Clough’s personal secretary looks concerned as her boss lets a guttural groan seep from his lungs]
“Riyad Mahrez starts.”
[Clough shoves his little finger into his office pencil sharpener and begins to turn the handle, slowly yet purposefully]
“Leroy Sane starts.”
[Clough opens his laptop and starts Googling ‘medieval torture methods’]
“David Silva starts.”
[Clough pours himself a nice, tasty glass of bleach]
“Kevin De Bruyne starts.”
[Clough slowly rises from his desk, locates the central fuse box at whatever Burton Albion’s training ground is called, smashes it open with a hammer, pulls out as many wires as he can, and calmly plugs himself into the mains]
Yes, sorry about that, Nigel, old chap. Things got a bit real back there, didn’t they? Still, there’s always the second leg. And you know what they say: a 9-0 lead is the most dangerous scoreline in football.
“He said: ‘Come in for a glass of wine.’ I hope he’s got more than a glass,” said Clough after the game, proving once again that it’s the spirit that is the last to die. “They were shouting: ‘We want 10’. And we stopped them. That’s a positive for us.”
Rambo: primo sangue
Throw in the all-but-guaranteed titles, and it sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the Welshman. Although you do wonder whether he has a masochistic streak: it’s only been a year since he escaped the searing glare of serial team-mate-chewer-upper Alexis Sanchez (“I can’t believe you didn’t pass the ball to me when I was marked by seven men”) and already he’s off to join Cristiano Ronaldo’s pit crew.
Aaron Ramsey, ArsenalGetty Images
How soon is now?
[News report flickers directly into the brains of the cyborgs of New London]
“Legacy sport bulletin now, and Tottenham Hotspur Sponsored by Amazon-Facebook-Apple Corps Ltd have belatedly confirmed that their new stadium will now not be in use until May 2150 at the earliest. The latest delays have been caused by unforeseen issues with the mainframe: key components have been scarce since the Twitter Wars, forcing prices up. ‘I’ll be worth the wait,’ insisted the Daniel Levy hologram that runs the club.
“Next: Brexit news. Will the reanimated corpse of Theresa May be able to get her latest deal over the line?”
Tottenham Hotspur New Stadium ConstructionPA Sport
IN OTHER NEWS
To Bolton Wanderers, where heads are being lost at a rate experts are labelling “deeply amusing”. Although to be more accurate, it’s more a case of one single head being lost repeatedly, with chairman Ken Anderson the careless owner.
If you’re new to this story, you have a lot of catching up to do, but what you need to know for now is this: Anderson is so good at making enemies that Forest Green Rovers – A WHOLE DIFFERENT FOOTBALL CLUB – have started selling “No Ken Do” t-shirts, with profits going to Bolton’s Supporters’ Trust. Chairman Dale Vince is also offering every Trotters fan a free pint if they come to watch Rovers play at home next week.
Punchy stuff, which drew a 1,145-word response from David Brent – sorry, from Anderson – on Bolton’s website.
Take it away, maestro: “As regards Dale I can only say that during my several telephone discussions with him, I have found him to probably be one of the strangest people that I have ever come across in football – and in my 20 plus years in the game, I have met hundreds of players, managers, directors and club owners, so that’s saying something!
“We are thinking about printing our own [shirts] which will say, ‘Yes We Ken’ and we will donate all proceeds to those employees of Ecotricity who were made redundant. That said, I am not sure where his offer of a free pint of beer fits in with his green philosophy.
“He’s probably achieved more air time and press coverage over the last few days than ever before. Good luck with that and well done.”
The Warm-Up will spare you the rest, but suffice it to say that our man quotes both John Lydgate and Winston Churchill, before signing off with the following masterpiece: “I believe I have said everything I need to on the FGR matter and I won’t be making any more comments.”
The slowest of slow claps.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Vinicius Junior
Vinicius Junior impressed for Real MadridPA Sport
At least someone at Real Madrid is enjoying life at the moment. After this encouraging display in the cup against Leganes, the young Brazilian now has two goals and seven assists for Los Merengues – one every 59 minutes or so.
Zeroes: The New Saints
And the award for Most Carefully Crafted and Weirdly Public Cease-and-Desist Notice goes to…
Other famous 9-0 wins for Manchester clubs, you say?
Couple of things that stand out here, with the benefit of hindsight. Firstly, that eighth goal is an absolute joke. Straight from the Refereeing Sadism Handbook.
Secondly, United just used to play all the attackers, didn’t they? Andy Cole, Mark Hughes, Brian McClair all in the same starting XI, plus Ryan Giggs and Andrei Kanchelskis for variation: daring. And Lee Sharpe on for Roy Keane at half-time, as if to ram the point home.
"Lederman didn’t satisfy any of those criteria. FIFA began investigating, and Tammy recalled that the family was made aware of the problem soon after they relocated to Barcelona. But it wasn’t until 2014, when Ben was 14, that FIFA dropped the hammer and ruled that the Blaugrana had violated the statute relating to 10 youth players, including Lederman. Among the penalties, the players involved were forbidden from playing games for Barcelona youth teams, though they were allowed to train. For one year, Lederman was in limbo, consigned to practices and the occasional friendly, as the club fought FIFA’s decision."
Soccer – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – Second Leg – Barcelona v Arsenal – Barcelona Training – Nou CampPA Sport
What better way to end a big week of cup action than with a Copa del Rey double bill? Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla is your starter course, at 6.30pm, before Barcelona take on Levante. Ernesto Valverde might just see that as an opportunity to rest a player or two, but it’s not likely to be dull: the last 11 meetings between the sides have produced 54 goals.