TUESDAY'S BIG STORIES
Ban them all
In a utopia governed by the Warm-Up, the ‘breakaway six’ would all be banned from Europe for a season – except those who don’t qualify this season (we’re looking at you, Spurs and Arsenal) where the suspension would roll over to the next time they make it.
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Not only would it make the new Champions League format more palatable – seriously, UEFA, what were you thinking – but it would also ensure that the two-day European Super League clubs aren’t immediately forgiven for rocking the boat. The idea that Manchester United, Liverpool et al. can attempt to destroy a competition, then expect to be welcomed back with open arms is obviously ridiculous.
Our flawless proposal would propel Leicester City, West Ham, Everton and Leeds into Europe’s premier competition next season (don’t worry Aston Villa and Wolves, you’re not out of it yet!) and basically everyone else into the Europa League. Otherwise we can look forward to the same fixtures being regurgitated until the ESL six inevitably have another go. Which they will, especially if the backlash goes soft after a single week.
'Iheanacho has come in and been absolutely incredible' - Rodgers
We’ll admit that without an intervention, we’re still not convinced Leicester will get over the line. Our worry radar was whirring when they went 1-0 down to already-on-the-beach Crystal Palace after 12 minutes on Monday evening. In the end, it took a salvage mission led by Kelechi Iheanacho to keep them on course – and leave them seven points clear of fifth place with five games remaining – but why not just save them the hassle and punish the ‘big six’ now?
In words we never thought we would write: Brendan Rodgers, we're counting on you to save football and remind the elites that the 'little teams' are alright.
'I told you, I told you!'
Remember when Tottenham sacked Mauricio Pochettino a few minutes into a flashy Amazon documentary, replaced him with Jose Mourinho and tasked him with winning a trophy, then sacked him six days before a final?
Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Argentine is doing somewhat better than his former club. Pochettino has offered a glimpse into life at Paris-Saint-Germain – and far from having a spoilt duo thrashing around in the pram, it sounds like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are actually decent players to work with.
“It’s so easy with Neymar because you don’t need to do too much,” Pochettino told the Guardian.
“From day one, he’s been very open to work. He’s very humble, he listens and always accepts all the instructions in a very good way. Brazilian players have something special inside. They love to play football because it’s like a dance.
They play like they are dancing. Ronaldinho was my teammate when I was a PSG player and now Neymar. They need to feel good, to feel happy to perform in the best way.
Not that they are likely to be in the French capital forever. Real Madrid fans will be delighted to hear Mbappe is fluent in Spanish – don't worry, Premier League elite, he speaks English too – but for now the 22-year-old seems insistent on helping Poch deliver in his debut season.
“He’s only 22 but very mature, confident in his talent and open," Pochettino said of Mbappe. "I speak in English and Spanish with him – more English than Spanish. I said to him the other day: ‘I need to practise my French with you, to improve,’ and he said: ‘Sure, but it’s better for me to talk in English.’ He loves to practise different languages.
“Before the first leg in Barcelona, I told him that I’d won there one time with Espanyol and he said, very seriously: ‘OK, tomorrow will be the second time.’ I said: ‘Are you sure?’ And he said: ‘Yes, don’t worry. We are going to win.’
He was laughing after the game and he said to me on the pitch: ‘I told you, I told you, I told you.’
For the last time, Spurs and Daniel Levy, you dropped an absolute clanger here. Actually, we can't promise it will be the last time.
We're always reluctant touching things that have a legal edge, but the developments around Zlatan Ibrahimovic are worth a quick mention.
The Swede stands accused of having an "alleged financial interest in a betting company" – something that FIFA and UEFA say is against their rules. According to reports in Sweden, he could be suspended and/or heavily fined if the case is proved.
We'll drop a statement below and move on before it gets us into trouble:
A UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector has today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of the UEFA disciplinary regulations by Mr Zlatan Ibrahimovic for having an alleged financial interest in a betting company.
Yes, we know this was yesterday, but we only saw it this morning so it still counts. Here’s Paolo Di Canio jinking and weaving through Goodison in 1998. Wonderful stuff.
So what he’s done at his house, he comes to do at my house and chases me round with fireworks. I couldn’t believe it!
The brilliantly exuberant Micah Richards confirms the Mario Balotelli fireworks story on Match of the Day's Top 10 podcast – and adds another layer to the tale…
Oh yes, the Champions League is here. Real Madrid of the European Super League face Chelsea of the soon-to-be European Super League at 20:00 BST.
Marcus Foley once wrote on this very website that Tottenham should sack Pochettino. He'll be here for more thoughtful reflections tomorrow
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