The Warm-Up: Everyone’s a winner at the European Community Shield
Plus, Daniele de Rossi still loves you, Ivan Perisic gets a promotion, and some shocking news about Paul Pogba
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
The Super Cup/The European Community Shield
Quite the night in Istanbul. Quite the two nights, in fact. For while Liverpool were notching up another European trophy, and Jürgen Klopp was inducting another goalkeeper into his feel-good cult of cool, Chelsea were coming through a glorified training session with a really encouraging performance. Result? What result?
In some ways, the Super Cup is the perfect game of football, since both sides involved are absolutely entitled to take whatever they want from it. Come out of a Champions League final having just lost on penalties, making noises about your positive performance, and nobody will take you seriously. The catch in your voice will name you a liar.
But here, everybody gets to take what they want. Liverpool can revel in an early statement of intent, and in the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and in their never-say-die attitude, and in all the other things that football teams enjoy after winning penalty shootouts. Spirit! Concentration! Destiny, maybe? If you like.
Kicking the ball so hard that the opposition goalkeeper can’t stop it even when he gets his hand to it! That’s the good stuff.
And Chelsea get to think about their learning curve. They were decent against Manchester United, at least to start with, and then they got picked apart. Here they again started the better, but crucially managed to mark that dominance with a goal, and then not fall apart when the opposition started running really fast past their defenders. Also N’Golo Kanté is a tiny wee titan.
James Milner of Liverpool and Ngolo Kante of Chelsea during the UEFA Super Cup Final fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea at Vodafone Park on August 14, 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey.Getty Images
Indeed, perhaps Chelsea won’t be the only side taking some positives from the game. This might have been Liverpool’s wobbliest defensive performance since Virgil van Dijk arrived, and if Chelsea were just a little more attentive to the offside line, we might never have seen penalties at all.
But then, hey. It was just a friendly! Positives for all!
Father to a broken ankle. Husband to a studded calf.
A theory: there has never been a footballer that has looked more correct, more like themselves, more aggressively on brand, than Daniele de Rossi.
We don’t know exactly what he tells his barber, but we’re guessing it’s something like: “One of those incidental characters from Gladiator. You know the type. Arena fighter. Has a sword but no shield. And there he goes, ignoring Maximus’ instructions — “Single column! Single column!” — trying to take on horses, chariot, and archer all by himself. And … yep, now everybody’s dead.”
It’s almost comforting, in a way. To know that somewhere out there, in this chaotic and sometimes upsetting world, Daniele de Rossi is still doing his thing. Comforting for everybody except his opponents, maybe. The Warm-Up thanks them for their service to the greater good of planet-wide psychic stability.
Can he cut inside and shoot?
All good things must come to an end, and this season will be the first since 08-09 that Bayern Munich will be without the portmanteau-tastic partnership of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Robbery is finally over. What on earth are they going to do now?
Spend some money, obviously. They’re Bayern Munich. Anyway, having spent January chasing Callum Hudson-Odoi (young, exciting), and then this summer chasing Leroy Sane (likewise, ditto), Bayern have finally got their man. Come on down, Ivan Perisic!
Okay. So he’s definitely not young, as footballers go, and he’s not all that exciting. Unless you’re Jose Mourinho, of course. If you’re reading, Jose, we’re enjoying the punditry. But we’re a little worried that Graeme Souness is going to lunge at you soon, if you carry on not wearing a tie. Keep a weather eye. All the best.
Ahem. To return to the point: zero out of two ain’t bad.
We can probably assume Bayern will loop back around for Hudson-Odoi or Sane once their respective injuries have cleared up, and Perisic will certainly do a job until then. And, of course, he does have one great advantage over the younger players. For when it comes to replacing Robben and Ribery, you don’t just need skill, creativity, and an eye for goal.
You need those seen-it-all eyes. The lingering aura of utter exhaustion. The flickering scowls of players that have played too long. You need to look, frankly, at least 75% knackered all the time. And Perisic, whatever his other virtues, has all of that down.
IN OTHER NEWS
"There is not one single part of me that wakes up and thinks ‘I want to be on the training field’. I had my foray into management in Valencia and it was probably one of the best learning curves I have ever had. It was a clip around the ear, sometimes you need one in life."
The dream is dead. Of all of the Class of ’92™, Neville the Elder always seemed the most destined to become a manager, thanks mostly to the assumption that chippy busywork and time spent with Alex Ferguson might somehow alchemise into something useful. Turns out there’s more to it, and GNeville has realised that whatever it is, he doesn’t have it. Presumably Tracey and Phil will be enjoying themselves in the family Whatsapp.
IN THE CHANNELS
In news that could shake the professional game to its very foundations, Manchester United’s Twitter account has sensationally revealed that Paul Pogba is not, as you might have assumed, a typical footballer, but is in fact brought to you by stop motion animation. Nick Park did not respond to The Warm-Up’s request for comment.
Anyway, while it’s quite sweet watching United try and love-bomb their wantaway midfielder, we’re not sure this clip is the way to go about it. He is literally taking his eye off the ball. We weren’t there, of course, but we can be fairly sure that between frames one and two, somebody off to the left has said “Real Madrid”.
"I can’t tell you what it is like, watching your best mate score goals in a big stadium and the whole place singing his name. Incomparable. We left the game and went for a beer. It was just my pal Emi. And everyone wanted his autograph, his picture. "
Lots more lovely Europa League qualifying this evening, and some big questions will be answered. Can Rangers rub a teensy bit more salt into Celtic’s wounds? Can Aberdeen overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit? And will their away goal be enough to see Gent past AEK Larnaca?