The Warm-Up: Two more years for Pep, Mourinho makes peace
Pep Guardiola is so happy at Manchester City, Jose Mourinho is moving his sights away from Antonio Conte, and France have axed two big names for the World Cup.
FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Two more years
“I am so happy.”
It’s the verbal tic which has accompanied Pep Guardiola throughout Manchester City’s glorious, all-conquering, record-breaking Premier League season. Just won 18 games in a row? “I am so happy.” Kevin de Bruyne’s just played the pass of the season? “Guys, I am so happy.” Benjamin Mendy just got #SharkTeam trending on Twitter? “Believe me, I am so happy.”
Guardiola is a manager who needs to feel he has the right atmosphere around him; that all the preconditions for continued success are in place; that he still commands the awe of his players; and that he still has the fire burning inside himself.
City’s stated preference for a more ‘holistic’ approach when they swapped Roberto Mancini for Manuel Pellegrini has been roundly mocked but they’ve clearly created the perfect environment for the best coach in football to do his best work – with chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain letting Pep get on with the business of perfecting his Pep-ness.
“I am so happy and excited. It’s a pleasure to be able to work here,” Guardiola said.
" I enjoy working with our players every day and we will try to do our best together in the coming years. As a manager, you have to feel good to be with the players – and I feel good. I will focus on the desire of my players to become a better team and every day that’s what I will try to do – to improve on the pitch and improve our players. We have a young squad with an average age of 23 and we want to keep taking steps forward and maintain the levels we’ve achieved this season."
It’s terrible news for City’s Premier League rivals of course. Particularly Jose Mourinho, who has to shoulder unflattering comparisons with his old sparring partner every day and will probably self-combust before suffering that indignity for another three seasons. But it’s great for English football. Not only are City setting new standards, Gareth Southgate spoke yesterday about the impact Guardiola has had on young players across the country – as well as on his own England team.
“Who coaches our youngest players? It's dads and parents who coach junior teams,” he said at a press conference yesterday.
" The impact of seeing that Barcelona team five to seven years ago was enormous. He's been an innovator. When I watch kids' football now, when they can get on pitches that aren't flooded or frozen, I see them playing out from the back. I don't see [coaches] with heads in their hands saying 'get it forward'. I think that's an impact of his team, with the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Now he's having an impact with his [City] team playing in a manner which is different to anything else we've seen at the top end of the game. I always talk about us not getting off the island, so it's great we've had coaches coming on to the island to help us."
Here’s to three more years. The Warm-Up is so happy this morning.
Peace in our time ahead of FA Cup final
Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea (L) and Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United. Chelsea and Manchester UnitedGetty Images
“It’s okay. It’s okay,” said Mourinho on Thursday. “He stretched out, I stretched. We got bored. After the game here in Manchester, I invited him to come to my office. We talked. Nothing’s wrong.”
Mourinho being Mourinho, though, there had to be some vehicle for the infinity war raging inside his head and fuelling his ego. And it turns out that Gary Neville was the random name produced by the Mourinho aggro algorithm.
" Some of the high-profile people in football have gone from players to weak and frustrated managers, and they return to football with the status of high-level pundits. People remember more of what they were as players and not of what they were as managers. They are voices that influence public opinion. There are clubs where the old legend doesn’t want the glory of the new. The old legend who thinks he’ll only continue to be one if the club isn’t, without him, what it was with him."
Please Jose, just have a lie down after the season finishes.
Lacazette, Martial miss out for France
Anthony Martial of Manchester United reactsGetty Images
But when you’ve got Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and, well, Olivier Giroud in your ranks, some decent players are going to miss out. I mean, just look at this team of players who didn’t make the French squad:
IN OTHER NEWS
A nice promotional stunt from the British Museum and Adidas, to show due deference to the goalscoring feats of Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah ahead of next week’s Champions League final.
Well, until everyone started talking about colonial plunder in the comments at least.
" The chosen trope, repeated often by those around Messi, is that soccer is the way Messi likes to express himself. And sure, fine, fair enough. Maybe there is some charm in that. Maybe there is sincerity that someone who is so skilled that on multiple occasions police have busted drug traffickers and seized bricks of cocaine that the dealers named after him (because, naturally, it was the best) wants to limit himself to sport and nothing more. Maybe there is some simplicity in wanting to go through public life engaging only with that which is beautiful. But is that admirable? Or is it just weak?"
What do you do when you have secured an interview with the best footballer in history for your magazine’s World Cup issue but, for no apparent reason, he cancels the face-to-face meeting just weeks before. Worse, he’ll only respond over email, and even then will simply decide not to answer many of your questions. Well, if you are ESPN reporter Sam Borden, you spin a very interesting feature out of the fact Lionel Messi simply doesn’t like speaking.
We cast our minds back 24 years to the 1994 FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United. 0-0 at half time, United then score three goals in nine minutes, including two identical penalties from Eric Cantona, before Paul Ince lays on a fourth for Brian McClair to seal the Double. If you don’t have time for the full thing, just find and admire Eddie Newton’s thumping foul on Denis Irwin for the first spot kick.
And as a little bonus for you…
It’s the second leg of the League Two play-off between Notts County and Coventry - so why not take the night off, spend a bit of time on making a proper dinner for once, get onto that HBO box set you’ve been meaning to start and, why not, spend some time with friends and family. Because tomorrow it’s all about the FA Cup final.
Adam Hurrey will be here on Monday to explain how quickly and how spectacularly the Mourinho-Conte truce fell apart in Saturday's FA Cup final.