FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES

Oh, Jose

Premier League
Mourinho says Real Madrid need to answer questions on Bale's fitness
3 HOURS AGO

Somehow, somehow, Tottenham are still not out of the race for the Premier League’s top four, but it feels like they very much are after losing to Chelsea on Thursday night. A lacklustre performance left their fans in a dour mood, and Jose Mourinho in no mood to answer the simplest of questions either.

Why did Gareth Bale remain on the bench with his side chasing an equaliser? “Good question, but you don’t deserve an answer,” Mourinho told one reporter.

Unsurprisingly, this response has gone down like a lead balloon on social media. The man deemed “box-office” is producing performances few fans would pay to watch, and at this rate it is difficult to see Mourinho seeing out 2021 in charge.

Would a League Cup win change all that? For the chairman, possibly, but even a taste of silverware and a sup from the Carabao Cup is unlikely to reignite Spurs fans’ belief that he is the right man going forward. Regardless, the League Cup seems pretty unlikely anyway given they face perennial winners Manchester City.

There's always togetherness, at least.

"Togetherness is very easy to show when you're on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing,” Mourinho added. "But in difficult moments it's more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me."

Hmm. Not sure about that.

'I'm doing my best' - Mourinho on bizarre Bale situation

No match in Liverpool for Germany

Liverpool cannot play their Champions League tie against a German side in Germany. Travel restrictions prevent them from doing so against RB Leipzig later this month, and so alternatives are being looked at.

Liverpool must play their last-16 tie vs Leipzig elsewhere

Image credit: Getty Images

It is the first headache ahead of a potential summer migraine which UEFA are still persisting with, a European-wide tournament which still plans to be held across 12 cities, from Dublin all the way over to Baku.

If one Champions League game cannot take place in one location, is there much hope for a smooth-sailing Euro 2021 as players traverse the continent?

Honestly. Let’s hope so, but this news of Liverpool’s inability to play in Germany feels like a prelude to more problems to come.

You play in the Champions League, you play in the Champions League, everybody plays in the Champions League

Okay, that's a long sub-heading, but we're keeping it.

Sticking with the Champions League, then, imagine our shock to read plans to revamp the tournament could see the number of Premier League participants increase to six per year.

The Champions League trophy

Image credit: Getty Images

Adopting a “Swiss model” which you can read about here, there is talk 32 could become 36 come the 2024-25 season, with one giant league potentially avoiding dead-rubber matches.

Oh, and generating more revenue given each club would play 10 different opponents before the knockouts in the proposed plans.

The Telegraph’s report that two Premier League clubs could feature based on “historic performances” is ghastly yet not surprising given other literature put forward in the past year. A meeting today between Europe's leading leagues will make matters a little clear.

RETRO CORNER

Quite unbelievably it is Cristiano Ronaldo’s, Carlos Tevez’s AND Neymar’s birthday today – so let’s combine two of them, and say if you have a spare FOURTEEN minutes, watch all 79 goals from Manchester United’s 2007-08 season from Ronaldo and Tevez and Wayne Rooney. What. A. Trio.

HAT TIP

What might you have been doing with your life when you were 17? Thinking about university or a job perhaps? It probably wasn't working for a football club. For Ashwin Raman, it's been a dream come true since starting a role as a scout and analyst at Scottish club Dundee United.

This lad is getting the airtime he deserves again – a 17-year-old who is already getting paid to watch football. Read his interview with the BBC here.

COMING UP

Perhaps there’s a glitch in the Matrix, for there isn’t a game of Premier League football today. Ah, but there are five tomorrow, four on Sunday and one on Monday. You still enjoying it? The highlight is Liverpool v Manchester City on Sunday, and of course Eurosport will be across that and plenty more with live blogs and reports! We’re still enjoying it.

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