TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Winning a Best FIFA Player award after missing out on the Ballon d’Or is like scoring a screamer in a 6-1 defeat. Like this.
Son, Messi and the Man Utd dressing room - The Warm-Up’s end of season awards
Which is a shame because unlike the France Football equivalent, the FIFA gongs are actually voted for sensibly with the power shared equally between national captains, national coaches, select journalists and the fans. So while Robert Lewandowski didn’t win the one he really wanted, in many ways this one should matter more. It doesn’t. But it should.
Then again, the ceremony in Zurich was a bit naff. Terrible, actually. Stunted questions from famous faces, Erling Haaland on mute and a tempo that Per Mertesacker could have eclipsed in an Arsenal shirt, it didn’t really do justice to the two main winners – Lewandowski and Alexia Putellas.
In a ridiculous twist, Putellas and the two other finalists – Jenni Hermoso and Sam Kerr – were overlooked by their fellow professionals from the Women’s World XI. Captaining a team to an unprecedented treble is enough to scoop individual awards, but don’t you even think about stepping foot in the combined team, Alexia.
Lewandowski was included in the men’s equivalent, big relief, but only after being shoehorned into a maverick 3-3-4 formation that inevitably featured Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Then again, with N’Golo Kante in the team it might just work. Mohamed Salah finished third in the overall vote, but could not nudge his way into this obscene attack.
There was also the latest instalment of “Messi didn’t vote for Ronaldo, Ronaldo didn’t vote for Messi” – although to be fair, this time it was probably not out of spite. But it does make you wonder why FIFA and the Ballon d'Or went their separate ways – together, they could be so much stronger.
Just play the kids!
It’s every youngster's dream to be called upon in their club’s time of need – “we need you, son” – and if any good can come from this wretched pandemic, then let it be the emergence of some new talent.
Instead, Burnley have become the latest team to slap the word “Covid” into a press release and hide. So what if a team is missing a load of players? If there are enough people at the club – whether that’s the Under-23s or the kitman – then the game should go ahead. Since Burnley sold their best bet of survival to a rival, their own fault for putting in a low release clause, they haven’t kicked a ball in the league. And they aren’t the only team taking advantage of the rule. The whole thing has been a shambles.
Any more postponements at Turf Moor and Burnley could find themselves bottom of the Premier League with a hatful of games in hand, simultaneously in a relegation fight and a battle for Europe.
IN OTHER NEWS
What’s that? Dusan Vlahovic with his hands in the air during Fiorentina’s game last night? Unequivocal proof that he’s bound for the Premier League? Spicy.
(He also missed a penalty and is probably just apologising for that, but that’s not as juicy so let’s run with the first explanation please)
HEROES AND ZEROES
Heroes: Leeds United social team
For this excellent tweet which piled on the misery for TOWIE star and West Ham fan Mark Wright – who ‘famously’ came off the bench during Crawley Town’s shock FA Cup win over Leeds last season.
Zero: Erik Lamela
Only a Tottenham player could score a rabona in the derby, win the Puskas, and still end up on the losing side. *Insert your favourite Audi Cup joke here*
Look, we love this rabona. But given Erik Lamela’s moment of magic came in a 2-1 defeat to their arch-rivals, behind closed doors, means it’s hard to say this is worthy of Puskas status. Apologies, Erik.
…the most pressing, is football’s complete inability to promote Black coaches. That’s an issue throughout the game, and seems to be the modern version of Black players not being trusted in some positions.
If you’ve got two minutes, this Twitter thread from New York Times supremo Rory Smith is a powerful and worthy use of your time.
Brighton or Chelsea try and get their match postponed at the last minute – or failing that, they actually play at 20:00 GMT – while there are four games in AFCON: Malawi v Senegal, Zimbabwe v Guinea (both 16:00), Gabon v Morocco and Ghana v Comoros (both 19:00).
Marcus Foley is trying to postpone tomorrow's Warm-Up because he's got a poorly leg. Don't let him to do it, Eurosport chiefs.
Chelsea want Lewandowski, Newcastle could tempt Mourinho - Paper Round
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