The Warm-Up: Dani Alves, England needs you
Adam Hurrey battles through the heatwave to bring you some even hotter news from the weekend's football...
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
The Confederations Cup justifies its existence
We know the official rationale for the Confederations Cup: it swells the FIFA coffers a little more, while gently road-testing the infrastructure of the following year’s World Cup hosts. What we really care about, though, is some elite players (and less so) turning out for our mid-June pleasure when cravings for competitive football are traditionally at their highest.
Good show, confederations. Keep it up.
Guardiola seeks reunion with grand old Dani Alves
Gonzalo Higuain, Dani Alves, Paulo Dybala, Champions League 2016-17 (Getty Images)Getty Images
Who better to fill a void created by the departure of Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna than the apparently ageless Dani Alves? Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – apparently frustrated in his efforts to prise Tottenham’s Kyle Walker away from master price-tagger Daniel Levy – has reportedly turned his attentions to Juventus’ 34-year-old Brazilian.
Alves won virtually all there is to win under Guardiola with Barcelona and, at just £5m, would represent an ideal short-term fix if the Walker deal does go south.
Moreover, the Premier League deserves a Dani Alves. It yearns for a Dani Alves. Please can we have a Dani Alves?
Prepare yourselves: 90 minutes could be no more
You’ve heard of IFAB, right? The International Football Association Board? That dusty old meeting of the four home nations’ FAs plus FIFA that’s been going for about 150 years? Anyway, they decide the rules (sorry, sorry, LAWS, sorry) of football and their technical director David Elleray (yes, that posh one from the 1990s) has published a document proposing a few tweaks.
The highlights of that report include the suggestion of allowing free-kicks and corners to be dribbled, the awarding of “penalty goals” when a handball prevents a goal being scored and – most seismically of all – the reduction of the length of a football game to just an hour.
Relax, it’s fine. Numerous studies have shown that the ball is only in play for about 60 minutes anyway. Elleray proposes that referees will be able to stop the clock – viewable in the stadium by everyone, too – whenever the ball is out of play. Sounds good, sounds sensible, just sounds a bit….wrong. Anyway, expect it to be tested in the South American Under-14 Championship qualifiers before it ever sees the light of day.
IN OTHER NEWS
The phrase “it’s all going on in the Chinese Super League” could apply to pretty much any weekend at the moment, but this is something special. Former Chelsea man-child Oscar, who moved to the Far East for a bit more money and the opportunity to spark fifty-man brawls, has well and truly ticked the latter box now:
It’s quite something to watch, like something out of the Matrix. Never have so many angry young men come together without actually throwing a punch.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Ryan Bertrand
We’re used to the odd “nice touch” here and “classy gesture” there these days, as if it’s a huge surprise that footballers might be capable of empathy and emotion, but it is quite unusual to see an elite player go above and beyond mere words and printed T-shirts to try and make a difference. Step forward Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand.
Zero: Anyone engaging in debate about Video Assistant Referees
Don’t. Just…don’t, it’s really too hot for this nonsense. Look, they’re just testing it. No, they’re just humans watching video replays – they might still get it wrong, but it’s worth having a look and, yes, you might have to wait a minute to find out either way. We’re all going to moan about it whatever happens.
"The cycle includes denial and anger before you can start recovering. Left to your own devices it can take a long time to accept what is happening. You think about where you are in your contract, where you are in your career, if a new manager might come in who doesn’t know you – will he buy someone to replace you? That’s the worst thing about it. There is so much time to think."
24 years ago today, England were toiling away in the 1993 sort-of-equivalent of the Confederations Cup. Having already been humbled by hosts USA and Alexi bloody Lalas, they had to face some more familiar foes.
The good news was that England were in red, just like 1966. The bad news was Earl Barrett, Andy Sinton and Nigel Winterburn.
Two points of interest today: first, Germany will cruise past a game but limited Australia at the Confederations Cup, before England’s Under-21s struggle against Slovakia until a late winner keeps their European Championship hopes alive. You see if I’m wrong.