WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Pochettino to Tottenham
Mauricio Pochettino may become Spurs' next manager. He may not. However, the rumours that he might have merit. Had he wanted to, Pochettino could have shut this story down. He has chosen not to. It must be said that a Pochettino return to Spurs makes limited sense. And, yet, that doesn't really matter. What matters is what his return would represent.
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Tottenham needed a painful rebuild when he was - to this observer's eye - incorrectly sacked. That rebuild was largely required as Pochettino's messaging was failing to resonate with the squad. The club had a choice to back the manager or refit the squad. It chose to sack the manager and hand out contracts to players whose abilities were on the wane.
They still require a painful rebuild meaning the squad that Pochettino left behind - the squad that stopped responding to his messaging and methods - remains largely the same. A lot of the problems that led to Pochettino's sacking, therefore, remain. Hence, the re-appointment of Pochettino makes little logical sense.
Yet, here we are: the Argentine has, according to reports, asked PSG to be released from his contract as Daniel Levy pursues a deal to bring him back.
In a game marked by greed and gluttony, there is something remarkably refreshing about the potential return of Pochettino, and the reaction to it. In a game lathered in empty platitudes, and teeming in glib declarations of love, there remains a bond between Pochettino, Tottenham and its fans.
Pochettino may not return to Spurs and, if he does, it could be a disaster, but in a sport marred by cynicism and greed, obsessed with winning at any cost, there is something quite reassuring that Pochettino is considering returning to a club he, well, for want of a better description, likes the feel of. It might not work, Tottenham might not win, but, as Danny Blanchflower once said:
The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.
Football is more than winning - it is about community and belonging. And that matters.
Yes, he selected four right backs
Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kyle Walker all have, do or can operate as a right back. They have all been selected for England's Euro 2020 squad. This is quite a lot of right-backs. This has been noted by a lot of people. England can't play four right-backs at the same time seems to be the consensus. For balance, it is important to note that England have also, as per the rules, named three goalkeepers, which, despite being the rules, seems excessive when it is considered that England can't play three goalkeepers at the same time.
Anyway, lost amongst the England-name-three-right-backs furore is the fact that Gareth Southgate has named himself quite the squad. A squad loaded with talent that could do serious damage this summer. As previously noted - here and elsewhere - they have some excellent right-backs but also some excellent left-backs, centre-backs, midfielders and forwards. This is an excellent squad. Excellent.
However, if the squad numbers meted out by Southgate are an indication of the team the England coach intends to pick, then the focus should not be on the excessive number of right-backs and instead on Southgate's intention to name some out-of-form / injured players.
Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire will be nowhere near match fit when England open their tournament against Croatia on June 13. Further, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, while absolutely excellent, are not in great form, with Jadon Sancho surely a better option to start than either. Sterling, in particular, has had a torrid few months and looked woefully short of form and confidence in the Champions League final.
Of course the squad numbers may bear little reflection to Southgate's starting XI come June 13. However, if his tenure has shown anything it is that he is remarkably loyal; if he remains loyal during tournament football to more than one out-of-form player then it will be his and England's undoing.
Ramos is getting a proper strop on
Spanish radio station Onda Cero have it that Sergio Ramos is not happy. The injury prone 35-year-old defender, who, let's be frank, isn't a particularly good defender, but, to be fair to him, is an excellent leader, is raging.
The reason? Well, money, as Florentino Perez will tell anyone who can be bothered listening any more, is tight at the Bernabeu. Thus, Perez is unable to pay Ramos the monies Ramos wants. Ramos, whose abilities are diminishing, wants to renew his contract on the same terms he is currently on. Those terms were agreed when Ramos was significantly better at his job.
Given his diminishing returns it does not seem particularly unfair that he should be offered reduced terms. Ramos' negotiating position has been significantly weakened by the fact Luka Modric has agreed a new deal on reduced terms. Modric remains a crucial and consistent cog in the Madrid system.
However, Ramos is having none of it. He expects to be paid what he feels he is owed, which, to be fair, must be respected. And if Real's captain does leave, his exit will be "loud" claims Onda Cero. The reason? Ramos thinks the reduction put to players such as himself and Modric has little to do with the impact of Covid-19 and more to do with siphoning off finances to sign Kylian Mbappe.
IN THE CHANNELS
Disappointing lack of Harry Maguire doing backing vocals during the England squad announcement.
One imagines Jacob Harry Maguire has the voice of an angel.
England play Austria in a friendly at, for the old school amongst you, the Cellnet Stadium in Middlesbrough.
Depending on the result, it may or not be coming home. Andi Thomas will confirm on the morrow the status of the coming homeness.
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