MONDAY'S BIG STORIES
Bread is Bread, Cheese is Cheese, Spurs are Spurs
And José Mourinho is José Mourinho, VAR is VAR, and Manchester United are still, just about, despite their own best efforts, Manchester United.
West Ham revive interest in Lingard - reports
Sunday's meeting between United and Tottenham felt heavy in the build-up. The promise of crisis was in the air. The last team to sack Mourinho visiting the next; the post-miserable visiting the currently miserable. Although, to be fair to Spurs, they were the better team in the first half, as United laboured and everybody shouted at VAR.
But United, who spent the first half getting wound up by their opponents (lads, it's Mourinho) and the officials (lads, it's VAR), calmed down over half-time and remembered - or were reminded - that they are decent, talented footballers and that they could try passing the football around a bit. Edinson Cavani delivered another masterclass in striking movement, Fred scored (!), and once again we go to enjoy both of Mason Greenwood's feet. He assists with his left, he scores with his right. Unfair, really.
Spurs, on the other hand, decided to do that weird thing where they play no football and just try to defend a one-goal lead. Then, as usual, they realised too late that they aren't very good at that. Three points turned into less than three points. Again.
Now, when something like this happens, a manager has two options. First, they can analyse the defeat, identify their side's weaknesses, and devise new strategies where appropriate, all while working to restore and improve morale around the club. Or they can try to cause a mighty kerfuffle in the press, such that everybody ends up talking about something else.
It is very, very sad. I think it's really sad that you don't ask me about it. It's really sad that you don't have the moral honesty to treat me the same way you treat others.
Sigh. You can really see the plan here, can't you? Mourinho, delighted that Solskjaer has made a weak joke about Son being sent to bed without his tea, barrels into the press conference all prepared. He's got his line. He's got his comeback ready. He's got a big trump card marked "Speaking As A Father" tucked up his sleeve. And then he doesn't get asked. He has to bring it up himself.
In relation to that, I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father - I am a father - you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do. If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal. I am very, very disappointed, and like we say in Portugal, bread is bread and cheese is cheese.
When the master of mind games has to start delivering his own set-up lines, you know something's going wrong somewhere. And of course we know where: on the pitch. Tottenham, as a collective, are consistently less than the sum of their parts, and nobody's enjoying it: not Harry Kane, not the rest of the players, not the fans, and apparently not Mourinho either. The bread may be bread, and the cheese may be cheese, but both are tasting pretty stale at the moment.
'Jose and I are friends' - Solskjaer on Mourinho spat
J. Lingz Is Inevitable
The best story in English football right now is Jesse Lingard, and it's not even close. A few months ago it was, "Well, maybe he'll be able to restart his career at West Ham" and "He'll be a nice option for David Moyes off the bench".
Now it's all, "Which other 10 players will Gareth Southgate be picking this summer?" and "You know, they could give him the knighthood before the tournament. Might be easier that way."
Two more goals against Leicester, as the scrap for the top four gets murkier. The second was a calm tap into an empty net, but the first was really quite something. The ball comes across, he meets it at the edge of the box on the half volley, and sort of… flips it? Up and down, around the defender and past a clearly quite confused Kasper Schmeichel. Sort of like a table tennis shot, if that makes any sense. But with his foot.
Very much the shot of a man on top of his game, on top of the world. Naturally this has led to another round of speculation about a return to Manchester, which seems to the Warm-Up rather the wrong way round to be thinking about this. What we want to know is: why hasn't he been doing this for the last two years?
Presumably Manchester United's powers-that-be are asking themselves some serious questions at the moment, about working environments and player confidence and… no, no, you're right, their eyes have turned into pound signs and they're trying to work out if they can get Declan Rice back the other way. But truly, can you put a price on Lingard right now? On the simple pleasure of watching somebody enjoy their work? On a man we feared might never dance again, dancing?
We can be sure of one thing. Come the summer, plenty of people will give it a go.
One Good Point, Two Dropped Points
Everybody looks knackered. That's a given. That's the season we're having. But in a world where everybody looks knackered, Atletico Madrid look double knackered. Triple knackered. With a wheezing cherry on top.
When they kicked off against Real Betis, late Sunday night, Atleti would have been looking for a win to restore a gap, however tiny, at the top of La Liga. By the time 90 minutes rolled around, the draw looked decent value. Luis Suárez and Moussa Dembélé both missing. Thomas Lemar injured just before kick-off. João Félix just after half-time. Simeone was one more tweaked hamstring from throwing himself up front.
Also, Kieran Trippier hobbled off holding his back. He's not a forward so it doesn't quite fit the pattern, but we reckon it was definitely annoying regardless.
So yeah: get the point, get the lead back, get out again. Except… all of a sudden, right at the end, Atleti forced Claudio Bravo into one, two, three good saves. And so the game that had gone from "three points, please" to "one point! one point!" swung back again. Turns out, if a team looks tired protecting a lead, they look really tired having just missed the victory. Ángel Correa may still be lying on the ground now.
Atleti are top, just about. By a single point. That's good; that's enough to win a league title. But they've take just 17 points from the last 33, as their lead has dwindled from impressive to almost imperceptible. That this is now the most exciting title race in Europe, with Real Madrid one behind and Barcelona just one more, probably isn't much consolation for Simeone and his shattered squad. Nice for the rest of us though.
IN OTHER NEWS
Some goal this. Makes the defenders look like training cones. Well, okay, their shirts do a lot of the work there. But still.
Happy birthday to Marcello Lippi. Here, Italy's World Cup-winning coach tells FIFA how he did it, what he was up to with his glasses, and reveals which members of Italy's team spent the night before the World Cup final sat up with a cigarette.
IN THE CHANNELS
Tremendous noise on this video. Sounds like the poor thing was taken out by a sniper. Back and to the left. Back and to the left.
Last time West Brom took to the pitch they put five past Chelsea, which means they should score at least nine tonight against Southampton. Wonder if that's ever happened before. After that, Everton's bid to crash the European party continues away at Brighton.
Ben Snowball is Ben Snowball, tomorrow is tomorrow, and the Warm-Up is the Warm-Up.
Ten Hag plans clearout with 10 players to leave Man Utd – Paper Round
Mourinho: I was never close to taking over at Barcelona in 2008
Share this article