The Warm-Up: Anthony Martial leaves Manchester United ('s pre-season tour for a bit)
Are you ready for proper football to start now? Nick Miller is getting that way, if only to escape the nonsense...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
MARTIAL LEAVES UNITED (‘s pre-season tour to attend the birth of his child)
You suspect that most footballers are always on the lookout for excuses to get them out of these interminable and presuambly quite tiring pre-season tours they go on. Even more so when they’re being led by the joy blackhole that is Jose Mourinho. Anthony Martial has come up with a doozy: the birth of his child.
Anthony Martial may move abroad if he leaves Manchester UnitedPA Sport
The forward has flown home from Manchester United’s jaunt around America to attend this happy event, but the question is: will he be back? Probably not, if he has anything to do with it, and not just because he wants to get away from Mourinho’s misery.
Martial wants out, so go the reports, and United have grudgingly agreed to sell him, as long as it’s to a non-Premier League club. The problem there being that not too many foreign clubs are especially keen, with Chelsea and Tottenham the only consistent suitors mentioned in the gossip columns.
The transfer window only has a couple more weeks to run, so we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that this is unlikely to develop into a huge saga. In theory, that is. It’s almost enough to make you want proper football to start again so we don’t have to listen to all this nonsense for a bit.
Shurrle not! Don’t call me Schurrle! Schurrle some mistake!
Pun-lovers assemble, your king has arrived at Fulham.
Quite a coup for the newly-promoted side, this. Or, at least, another coup: after bagging midfielder Jean-Michael Seri, Fulham have completed a loan deal for World Cup-winning forward Andre Schurrle, signed on a season-long loan deal from Borussia Dortmund.
“I’m so happy to be here, I can’t wait to get started,” Schurrle said. “Fulham were the first club that showed interest in me — that was something that I appreciated a lot, and one of the reasons I wanted to come here.”
We’re sure he didn’t mean it quite like that, but that does sound a bit like Fulham were the only club who showed interest in him. Which makes the whole thing a little less romantic…but still – puns!
Burnley off to Europe (well, Scotland. For now)
The last time Burnley played in Europe, England had just done really well at a World Cup. What strange, distant times they w….oh, hang on – almost easy to forget all that isn’t it? Remember the World Cup? England in a semi-final? Good larks.
Anyway, for the first time since 1967, Burnley are in European competition, and they’ll face Aberdeen tonight as they try to qualify for the Europa League proper. Sean Dyche in Europe, eh? What days. What a time to be alive.
Sean Dyche is relishing the challenge that lies ahead next season (Anthony Devlin/PA)PA Sport
“It’s just another historic marker for me personally,” Dyche said. “We’ve had so many since I’ve been here with the different groups we’ve had, for the players, myself.
“This is another one. I don’t focus on these things now, these are the things you look back on in 20 years time and remember them for me. I’m aware that it’s an historic marker, but beyond that I just want to win. I’m not too gushy about that sort of stuff, I just want to win.”
IN OTHER NEWS
‘What the hell is this?’ you might reasonably ask. Well, it’s a hot dog kit, obviously. North Riding Football League Division One champions AFC Bedale have revealed their new kit, and once again it’s sausage-themed. This time they’ve gone with the bun as well as the meat, but inevitably the whole exercise is for a good cause: it’s to raise money for Prostate Cancer research, as well as providing some red hot internet content.
“I like it better than last year because it is worse,” said chairman Martyn Coombs, comparing this year’s kit – which has ‘You’ll Never Pork Alone’ written on the back – with last season’s. “I think this one certainly stands out more. Last year’s kit looks like an orange shirt with pink shorts from far away and as you get closer you can identify the sausages. This one looks 11 hot dogs running around on the pitch, it’s certainly more significant and noticeable.”
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappé; Antoine GriezmannGetty Images
Remember how brilliant Kylian Mbappe was at the World Cup? Remember how he scored a goal in the final? Well, it now seems he managed all of that after displacing three vertebrae in his back in the semi-final.
“It was essential not to alert our opponents, otherwise they could have taken advantage of that and targeted this sensitive area,” he told France Football magazine. “That’s the reason why with the staff and the players we kept it hidden, even for the final.”
Zero: Jose Mourinho
We don’t really need a reason, but sheesh…Jose…cheer up man!
What stage of mourning are you at for the World Cup? Do you think watching a clip of Belgium v Japan will help? Either way, you probably should. Why, why, why didn’t they take a short corner? What a game.
Welcome to the remarkable story of Carlos Kaiser, the man who – so goes the title of this new documentary about him – was the Greatest Footballer Never To Play Football. Looks like a belter, this one. Seek it out.
Actual, meaningful football? Mercy. It’s the Europa League qualifiers, which have obviously been going on for a bit, but English teams are involved now so people are paying attention. Burnley get their first European campaign for 51 years underway against Aberdeen. Tune in. Or don’t. Probably best to save yourself actually. Marathon not a sprint and all that.