WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes... no more

Is there a sweeter sound than a stadium falling to a hush, a pause, and then the triumphant ascending strings bouncing around the terraces to signal another night of Champions League action? Players worth millions fixed in a trance by a song whose lyrics never waver from “the main event” or “the champions” in various languages.
Premier League
Premier League name 23-man Hall of Fame shortlist
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Well put down your bows, orchestra fans. That tune is about to die. The dawn of the European Premier League is upon us.
Life evolves. If you think football is the most thrilling sport our species can conjure, you’re probably wrong. The technological arms race will inevitably produce a replacement that future generations prefer, even if we cannot comprehend it now.
All the signs of football’s demise are already there – fans treated as customers, £15 pay-per-view matches, half the Football League tiptoeing extinction, redundancies of club staff (and mascots) to enable big-money moves, an alarming apathy among certain high-paid players. And now a proposal for a lucrative breakaway 18-team European Premier League to replace the Champions League from 2022.
Liverpool and Manchester United, not content with destabilising the English football pyramid, obviously have their grubby mitts in the plans. And it does sound fun… until you remember that it's a money grab, that the founding teams will likely be exempt from relegation for 20 years, that teams outside the elite are destined to wither away.
When the Romans funnelled into the Colosseum to see gladiators battle, did they think blood sports would die out? When spectators lined a jousting arena in the Middle Ages, did they ever think it would not be considered entertainment? Now association football is at the tipping point. Its expiry date may not come around until the 2100s. But its best before date? Quite possibly October 2020.

Neymar ‘worried’ about PSG future – Euro Papers

…penalty to Manchester United

So for potentially the penultimate season, lets really embrace that beautiful tune and… sorry, what’s that? Over to Manchester United – we hear there’s a penalty.
As the dust settled on Andy Burnham’s cry for the north, uncertainty swilling around as England stood on the brink of a civil cold war, the comforting sight of normality came in Paris as Bruno Fernandes jinked up to take a spot kick. Even when he missed for the second time in three days, it didn’t matter. Have another go, Bruno, said UEFA. And he did, this time making no mistake.

Rashford and Mbappe can be 'top strikers for 10, 15 years' - Solskjaer

Of course, United’s 27th penalty since the start of last season isn’t the main story. Paris came to the rescue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again as he masterminded another win in the French capital, with Axel Tuanzebe masterfully deployed to foil Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba demoted to the bench.
But given we’ve lurched from United being Premier League contenders, to relegation fodder, and now back to European giants in the space of a month, forgive The Warm-Up for not jumping on the ‘United are BACK’ bandwagon just yet.

Pray for Nigeria

After that win in Paris, United and Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo used his platform to shame the Nigerian government, accusing them of killing their own citizens.
The African nation is awash with violence as people protest against police brutality, with activists killed in the latest night of fighting in the capital Lagos as soldiers reportedly opened fire.
"I'm not the kind of guy who talks about politics - but I can't keep quiet anymore about what is going on back home in Nigeria," said Ighalo.
"I would say to the Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world - for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets, to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their rights. It's uncalled for.
"Today, 20th of October 2020, you people will be remembered in history as the first government to send military to the city to start killing their own citizens.
I am ashamed of this government. We are tired of you guys. I can't take this anymore.
"I'm calling the UK government, calling all those leaders in the world to please see what is going on in Nigeria and help us - help the poor citizens.
"The government are killing their own citizens. We are calling [the world's governments], the United Nations, to see to the matter.
I want to tell my brothers and sisters back home to remain safe. Be indoors, please don't come [outside]. Because this government are killers and they will keep killing if the world does not talk about this. God bless you all. Remain safe. One Nigeria.

IN THE CHANNELS

Jamie Carragher has taken the European Premier League in his stride.

RETRO CORNER

What better way to start your Wednesday than by celebrating Nemanja Vidic's 39th birthday, in a video with the inflammatory title: "Van Dijk is Good...But Vidic was a BEAST!"

HAT TIP

How Manchester United must wish they could play Paris Saint-Germain every week. Of course, given the current mood within the game, one imagines the Glazers are probably sitting down with the relevant European stakeholders to make that prospect an imminent reality. Yet at a deserted Parc des Princes, United conjured up a triumph that in many ways was more impressive than their great heist of 2019.
The Guardian's Jonathan Liew charts the opposing fortunes of Neymar and Bruno Fernandes on that night in Paris.

COMING UP

More Champions League action as Bayern Munich host Atletico Madrid, Liverpool travel to Ajax, Manchester City play Porto and Real Madrid *gets the thesaurus out* tackle Shakhtar Donetsk.
Rumours that Andi Thomas will create a breakaway Warm-Up are unfounded. We hope.
Football
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Football
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