The Warm-Up: Spurs dismantled a five-year project... for this?!
Why did you sack Mauricio Pochettino again?
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Admit it, sacking Poch was definitely wrong
Jose Mourinho wasn’t recruited to salvage a sinking ship, he was simply entrusted with one that had entered choppy waters for the first time in half a decade. And under his stewardship, Spurs are no closer to discovering the blue sky.
Mourinho isn’t responsible for Eric Dier’s self-destruction, Harry Kane’s latest spring sabbatical or Paulo Gazzaniga’s incapacity to save anything outside a four-inch radius. But when you change a manager during a mediocre, but not horrendous, period you expect more from the new regime.
Only one of Mourinho’s 14 games in charge (the 5-0 scalping of Burnley) has delivered 'more'. The other 13 games were no better or worse than the sad end to Mauricio Pochettino’s reign, save for that explosive first period at West Ham back in November. It’s not that Mourinho has shamed himself – far from it – it’s just there’s no evidence that the dugout change was necessary.
Pochettino repeatedly impressed on supporters the elevated status of the big two: the Premier League and Champions League. He knew FA Cup success would not stop the taunts, nor elevate Spurs to the realm of champions. But Mourinho’s team selections against Middlesbrough suggest he is all in to end the trophy drought at Wembley in May.
And there’s obviously nothing wrong with that. But one question remains: even if Spurs do march to that elusive trophy, will axing Poch still have been worth it?
Christian Eriksen = £8.5 million
In a parallel universe, Christian Eriksen has just stroked home the winning penalty for Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa final. The Dane, having moved from Tottenham for a reasonable £40 million due to his fast-evaporating contract, has slotted in seamlessly alongside ex-Spurs duo Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
Instead, he’s become an icon of unhappiness in a Spurs squad that is sapped of smiles. And all for what? A handful of 4/10 performances and, according to reports this morning, an incoming £8.5m bid from Inter Milan.
Daniel Levy remains the shrewdest of negotiators but his summer valuation of Eriksen has backfired spectacularly. Spurs are now holding out for just £17m. On last night’s evidence, they won’t even get that.
The Uber driver you didn’t know you needed
Next time you hail an Uber in the United States, keep your eyes peeled. There’s a (very small) chance that the person in the front seat is none other than Turkey legend Hakan Sukur.
As you can imagine, it's not a happy story. These are his words:
"Then the hostility started. Stones were thrown at my wife's boutique, my children were harassed on the street. I received threats after every statement I made. When I had left, they locked up my father—and everything I owned was confiscated. I have nothing left anywhere in the world. Erdogan took everything from me. My right to freedom, the right to explain myself, to express myself, the right to work... I moved to the United States, initially running a cafe in California, but strange people kept coming into the bar. Now I drive for Uber and I sell books."
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Aaron Pierre
For sending League One's Shrewsbury Town into the FA Cup fourth round with a beautiful late strike against Championship side Bristol City. Get the Titanic music out - this goal secured a tie with Liverpool:
Zero: Bristol City
For not signing Aaron Pierre after a trial in 2017.
It’s 20 years to the day since Ipswich Town’s Gary Croft became the first professional footballer to play wearing an electronic tag. Sadly there's no footage of Croft's 19-minute run-out, so you'll have to take our word for it, but you can watch the goals from that game below if you fancy…
"Shilton sighs at the reality that, for all his records and successes, he is often remembered most for being the victim of Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God goal in a 1986 World Cup quarter-final in Mexico City. 'For me', he says, 'it’s remembered for the wrong reasons. I did everything I could and the famous photo shows that I’m closer to the ball than his head. That’s why he punched it in with this hand. You always have people saying: ‘Oh, he out-jumped you.’ He didn’t out-jump me. He cheated. So to be associated with that moment' …"
Park the football this morning and watch 'Rally for Relief' on Eurosport as a host of the world’s top tennis talent help to raise money for the Australian bushfire relief efforts.
Swing by tomorrow as Andi Thomas becomes the first person to write the Warm-Up wearing an electronic tag