The Warm-Up: Who ate all the spies?
Jack Lang runs the rule over last night's play-off madness and shivers at the very concept of the 'post-season friendly'...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Double o heaven
I spy with my little eye, something beginning with P.
Patrick Bamford diving? Close! Passion? I can see it, but it’s not what I’m looking for! No, it’s a play-off final berth for Derby County, of course, after a wild, wild night at Elland Road.
Having lost the first leg at home to Leeds, the Rams needed something special. They produced it, too, in the kind of match that makes neutrals and part-time Championship observers (hi!) on Twitter say things like “HOOK IT TO MY VEINS” and “IMAGINE NOT LIKING FOOTBALL!”
Leeds went further ahead. Frank Lampard threw on Jack Marriott, who scored with his very first touch after a hilarious defensive mix-up. Mason Mount added another shortly thereafter with a finish that looked like an elaborate breakdancing move. Harry Wilson, he of The Left Foot, slotted home a penalty for 3-1. Stuart Dallas reduced the arrears again. This was football doing its best basketball impression.
What else could we ask for? Oh, red cards! Gaetano Berardi was dismissed for high idiocy, and would later be joined by Derby’s Scott Malone. But not before another Marriott goal, which took the game away from Leeds once and for all.
Derby’s celebrations at full-time were… enthusiastic. And rather espionage-flavoured, predictably.
Wembley next, then. Will the momentum be enough to, erm, Le Carré them into the Premier League?
Blue is the colour
Aston Villa vs Derby. John Terry vs Frank Lampard, with a side order of Ashley Cole. The Warm-Up is launching a formal petition for the match to be refereed by Didier Drogba, with Paulo Ferreira and Eidur Gudjohnsen as linesmen.
Chelsea reunion tour at Wembley, here we come. Now, which big name are we missing?
Master of puppets
Of course! The prince of darkness himself! Except Jose Mourinho appears to be having way too much fun as an uzi-wielding pundit to be lured into even the most far-fetched fictional scenario.
Here he comes, in off his long run-up, to scatter some Manchester United-themed truth bombs in today’s L’Equipe: “Generally, the players can feel a certain erosion, especially when you ask a lot of them. When I say that the second season was fantastic, I say it because the potential and the objectives were met.
“I really squeezed, like an orange, to achieve them. When you have a very professional group of players who are ambitious, hard-working and talented, at a structured club, you don’t have that erosion.
“When you are almost alone, in that you don’t have the support of the club close to you, while certain players go somewhat against the coach, who is the nice guy? I don’t want to be the nice guy, because the nice guy, after three months, is a puppet and that doesn’t end well.”
More on this promising new feud just as soon as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finds an appropriate retort in one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s books.
IN OTHER NEWS
Trophies! Congratulations to Lazio, who won the Coppa Italia by beating Atalanta last night:
And to Ajax, who put the pain of that gruelling Spurs defeat behind them to seal the Dutch title. Great celebrations after their 4-1 win at De Graafschap, although The Warm-Up is just the slightest bit concerned at how funny Dusan Tadic finds the concept of drumming.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Heroes: The Leeds fans
It didn’t get their team over the line, but the atmosphere at Elland Road last night ranked high on the Support-O-Meter.
“Post-season friendlies” – yes, these actually exist now. Just ask Ruben Loftus-Cheek, taken off injured in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over New England Revolution in Massachusetts. Well at least they don’t have a big European final coming up, that he’s now a major doubt for. OH NO WAIT.
Nilton Santos, one of football’s greatest ever full-backs and owner of a solid-gold nickname (‘The Encylopedia’, after his incredible knowledge of all aspects of the game), was born on this day in 1925.
Despite being a right-footer playing in the left, and taller than most in his position, he was elegance personified.
"As far as Manchester City or any rule-breaking European club goes, then, Uefa needs to think beyond what are basically parking ticket fines. Either it enforces an effective deterrent – a monster fine or competition ban – or it essentially becomes a helpful employee of those same clubs."
OK, Soccerway, what have you got for me? Vietnamese second division… Suomen Cup in Finland… Congolese Ligue 1… Belarus Reserve League… yeah, this definitely feels like a “call your parents and actually cook a meal” kind of evening.