WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Ralph Hasenhüttl won't get sacked...
...and yet has conceded nine goals for a second time as Southampton boss. Now, first up a confession, the Warm-Up did not see all of Manchester United putting nine past Southampton. The reason, well, it read a tweet that said spinach can now send emails and needed a lie down. A lie down turned into a nap and that turned into a full-on sleep, and thus some goals were missed.
However, Southampton have been here before. For this is not the first time that the Saints have shipped nine under Hasenhüttl. Nope, they took the same level of shooing off Leicester back in October 2019. United have also been here before: handing out the same level of pasting to Ipswich Town in 1995. It felt like Groundhog Day yesterday. Though that had nothing to do with the nine-goal filleting. It was Groundhog Day yesterday.
Anyway, Hasenhüttl is unlikely to get sacked. Remarkably, his reputation was arguably burnished the last time the Saints were hit for nine following an impressive resurgence thereafter. On Tuesday, like against Leicester, there were numerical mitigating factors as the Saints - as they did against the Foxes - finished the game with fewer players on the pitch than their hosts.
Alexandre Jankewitz made a nightmare full Premier League debut, getting dismissed after two minutes at 0-0 and then Jan Bednarek received his marching orders for a foul on Anthony Martial inside the box with United already six to the good. VAR probably should have overturned it but... it is VAR.
However, despite that mitigation, it must be said, Southampton have shown themselves to be mightily naive on occasion under Hasenhüttl. The Tottenham game earlier on in the season - one they lost 5-2 - was a clear example of the Saints' unwillingness to change their approach when it clearly was not fit for purpose. However, it must be said, he remains the best candidate for the job and won't be sacked or shouldn't be.
Hasenhuttl: It’s a little bit different to the first 9-0…
Get the spinach up to Stockley Park
Look. VAR doesn't work. The reason is two-fold: it does not fit with the spirit of a game whose USP is emotion and excitement, and also the lot running it don't know how to run it.
It was billed as removing human error but is run by humans. Early red flag there. By definition human error can't be removed. The Warm-Up has a solution: get the aforementioned machine learning, email-sending spinach up to Stockley Park [NB: the spinach's talents may have been oversold on the socials but point stands].
Think a bit of spinach can't do a better job than a human? Well, answer this: would the spinach have allowed the decision to send off David Luiz in Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Wolves stand? Absolutely not.
Anyway, that decision stood and it proved pivotal as the Gunners' recent run of good form came to a halt. Unfortunately for those of an Arsenal persuasion, Mesut Ozil has left his role as social media editor and moved to Fenerbahce to start playing association football once more. Ergo, there was a gut-wrenching lack of positivity around Arsenal twitter.
The Gunners sit 10th on 31 points after 22 games. Wolves are 14th. The biggest shame about VAR dominating the headlines is it has taken some of the glean off João Mourinho's absolute hit and a half.
Arsenal, btw, finished the match with nine men, like Southampton, after Bernd Leno was sent off for either handball or stupidity - can't quite work it out.
Lionel Messi and Barca: The End
The transfer window meekly shut approximately 36 hours ago. It was, as transfer windows go, drab. This was understandable: money was tight due to the coronavirus pandemic, work permits are now more difficult to come by, but most disappointing of all there were no purple sex toys flapping around the gulls of discombobulated journos trying to do their job.
And, yet, less than two days after that damp squib came to a stuttering halt, Ronald Koeman has placed renewed focus on the future of Lionel Messi. The Barca boss spoke to Alan Shearer of The Athletic about his time at the Camp Nou, which invariably landed on the impending expiration of Lionel Messi's contract. This is what he said:
It was a difficult time because he’s still the best player, but he was angry about some situations in the club. And he was not happy that he was in a team who lost 8-2 against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League. Of course, he was angry, he had to leave, he wanted to leave the team. First of all, what I said to the club was, ‘OK, it’s not my problem. It’s a problem between the club and Leo Messi. And you have to resolve that’. Finally, the club said, ‘We don’t make a transfer for him. He needs to stay’. It was a difficult time for Leo but he finally accepted it.
Lovely stuff there Ronald, you've answered the question, now move on to some banality and close this down.
Next up, here is what he said:
I spoke to him in his house before we started the season and I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic. I knew that he had some problems with the club and I was out of that. I said to Leo, ‘I’m really happy if you stay. If you don’t stay, it’s your decision and it’s what you have to handle with the club. If you stay, you will be part of the team and this will be your position to get all the best out of yourself’. Little by little, he accepted that situation. And look how he is playing in the last few weeks, he is really involved in the club, in the team.
Probably too much detail there but you haven't put your foot in it. Well done. Move on.
Next up, here is what he said next:
But, nobody knows what will happen in the future.
Oh dear. Messi is off, isn't he? Someone get Ronald some media training.
Here is Manchester United beating Ipswich 9-0.
FIVE Premier League games, you lucky souls. Burnley v Manchester City (18:00) and Liverpool v Brighton (20:15) are the highlights for fans of a title race, while we'll have an eye on the juicy clash between Leeds United and Everton (19:30).
Andi Thomas - unperturbed by the arrival of our spinach overlords - will be here tomorrow to preview Tottenham definitely not scoring any goals against Chelsea.