MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
The FA Cup may be a diminished competition these days, but it still serves a useful purpose whenever two Big Teams reach the final. It sets the tone for the whole summer. One team leaves in a confident moment, ready to splash in the transfer market and consolidate their victory. The other learn that they are a total mess that needs drastic and heavy expenditure, else they’ll fade into nothing.
There is, of course, no possibility of a team not needing to go shopping. Going shopping is what football teams are for. The money must keep moving or it all falls over.
Arsenal’s victory came thanks to two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - the second a delightfully impish twist and chip - and so that means the club needs to give him as many wheelbarrows filled with cash as he asks for. After the game, Aubameyang was non-committal on his future, a sure sign that the wheelbarrows aren’t yet big enough. Or they will never be big enough.
Frank Lampard, meanwhile, was scathing about his side’s management of the game:
We started well for 10-15 minutes and we can only blame ourselves from that point. A final can never be a stroll and we allowed them back into the game. We were slow, we played back on ourselves, invited pressure.
Kepa Arrizabalaga, the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of the game, watched the final from the bench, and Chelsea have already been linked with André Onana, Nick Pope, and Dean Henderson as replacements. By the time you read this, we’ll probably be able to add Kasper Schmeichel, Gigi Buffon, and Preston Edwards to that list.
Lampard has since complained that the start date of next season’s Premier League will come too soon for his team, but honestly, a short summer might be doing everybody a favour. Three months of feverish speculation in this heat, and somebody would have spotted the ghost of Lev Yashin floating down the King’s Road in socially distant fashion.
No big buys at Barcelona
One club that won’t be spending big this summer is Barcelona. No Neymar, no Lautaro Martínez. At least not according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who probably knows better than anyone. He told Sport:
The conversations [about Lautaro] have been put on hold by mutual consent. The current situation doesn’t allow for major transfer fees. PSG don’t want to sell [Neymar] either, which makes sense as he’s one of the best players in the world. Last summer we tried really hard to sign him but this summer we won’t even try.
This comes just a couple of weeks after Lionel Messi called his team “weak” and “erratic”, and suggests that those problems aren’t getting solved immediately. Or if they are, it will be by the kids. Hey, maybe this weird multi-million swap deal between Arthur and Miralem Pjanić will sort everything out. At least Barcelona will have somebody to take free-kicks … oh.
With the exception of a few irritating over-achievers, the career of a football manager is one long exercise in postponing failure. Survive, survive, survive again, and if you’re very lucky, you might hang on to your job long enough to try and survive some more.
But almost everybody succumbs in the end. Eddie Howe’s time at Bournemouth has ended after 11 years (including a quick spell at Burnley). Those years have included survival after a 17-point deduction, three promotions, and five seasons in the Premier League, only the last of which was truly miserable.
Bournemouth will always be in my heart, but I firmly believe that now is the right time for the club to have a change. I have always ensured that every decision I have ever made as manager has been in the best interests of the club and its supporters, and this is no different.
Where Howe goes next is going to be one of the more intriguing questions of the next few months. Will the Premier League’s owners remember the over-achievement of getting there and staying in, and the occasional big scalp, or the meek, chaotic way they slipped out? Will they judge him on the over-performance of so many unheralded players, or the underperformance of his big-money signings? From where the Warm-Up’s sitting, it seems like you could pair him with a decent director of football, and things might go very nicely indeed.
IN OTHER NEWS
As the rest of the world falls slowly apart, it’s nice to see that Ross County are making more and more sense with each passing transfer deal.
What were you doing 21 years ago? Because whatever it was, Arsène Wenger has you beat: he was signing Thierry Henry for Arsenal. Didn’t score in his first eight games, you know. Did alright after that.
Over on the Guardian, Jonathan Wilson does double duty on the cultural references - The Great Gatsby and The Day Today - with his look at the “vast carelessness” of modern football’s superclubs.
In 2015, Max Allegri led Juventus to the double. In 2016, Max Allegri led Juventus to the double. In 2017, Max Allegri led Juventus to the double. In 2018, Max Allegri led Juventus to the double. In 2019, Max Allegri did not lead Juventus to the double, although he did lead them to an eighth straight Scudetto.
A quiet day today, but Ross County will get their 2020-21 season underway against Motherwell. Will Ross, Ross, or Ross be in goal?
Here tomorrow to answer all your Ross-related questions, Marcus Foley.