The Warm-Up: It's all gone wrong for Sane; Welcome to Miami
Jack Lang tries to liven up the international break with Thursday's Warm-Up, featuring the latest quotes from Toni Kroos and the Miami unveiling...
THURSDAY'S BIG STORIES
Left out of Germany's World Cup squad, already dropped by Pep Guardiola just a couple of games into the season... it's tempting to wonder where it's all going wrong for Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.
And that's before we even come to the horrendous tattoo of himself that spans his entire back.
Well here's one potential answer (about his form, not that body 'art'), courtesy of national-team colleague Toni Kroos:
" Sometimes you have the feeling with Leroy’s body language that it is all the same whether we win or lose. He has to improve his body language. He’s a player who has everything you need to be a world-class player but sometimes you have to tell him he has to perform better."
Well you'd have to consider that message sent, Toni. All of which leaves The Warm-Up wondering if there are a few out-takes from All Or Nothing knocking around in the City vaults, with Guardiola – not usually a man who skimps on honesty – offering Sane his own views.
As people who take cruel pleasure in seeing sublimely talented people get a verbal kick up the backside – surely there's some German word for that – we live in hope.
Welcome to Miami
After much whispering, it's finally official: David Beckham's MLS club is called Inter Miami and has a badge that instantly slots into The Warm-Up's mental Top 10 Football Badges list.
Just look at the thing! (Warning: unless your brain is missing the bits that recognise beauty, you'll want to be sitting down for this.)
Also noteworthy in yesterday's all-singing, all-dancing launch: Beckham's impressive Jony Ive impression. All together now: "This bespoke, curated interface creates deep, meaningful relations between user and environment, elevating the new iPhone... sorry, I mean Inter Miami, into untapped strata."
Slovakia v Denmark - City Arena Trnava, Trnava, Slovakia - September 5, 2018 Denmark team huddle before the matchReuters
The Warm-Up assumes you're all fully across the exploits of the Denmark national team since the World Cup. But just in case you're not, well, it's fair to say things have all gone a bit... dumpsterfire.gif.
A dispute between the FA and footballers' union over commercial rights meant that precisely none of the Denmark players you've actually heard of played in last night's game against Slovakia. Instead, it was pretty much a butcher here, a baker there, and a candlestick maker in goal. And yes, that's an exaggeration, but not much of one: every single one the starters was a debutant, with futsal players drafted in to help.
In the end, a 3-0 defeat must be regarded as something of a success. Although not for the game of football. "It was tough to get motivated for a match like that," said Slovakia star Marek Hamsik.
IN OTHER NEWS (I)
Having spent a good portion of the last three days watching video explainers about the new UEFA Nations League, The Warm-Up feels well-placed to confirm that, yes, it is really is pretty arcane. And you know who else shares that view? THE FOOTBALLERS WHO ARE ACTUALLY PLAYING IN IT.
"It is quite confusing," said Harry Maguire, a man who hardly lacks storage space for brain processing power. "The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could the other day. I think he has got his head around it now, but it took a lot of studying.
"It is confusing, but we are trying to get our heads round it. For us players, we just go into each game trying to win it and see where it takes us. So we will see after the game."
Two seconds while The Warm-Up runs that through the 'footballer cliche' setting on Google Translate... and voila: "Haven't got a clue, mate. We'll just try and score more goals than the other lot and Gareth will take care of the rest."
IN OTHER NEWS (II)
The universe is a warm and lovely place.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: N'Golo Kante
OK, so just to reiterate: N'GOLO KANTE IS NOT IMPRESSED BY YOUR CHILDISH HORSEPLAY.
Zero: Per Mertsacker
"I have never experienced racism or discrimination in the national team. Mesut's accusation therefore surprised me."
The Mesut Ozil Doesn't Know What He's Talking About When He Talks About Racism Club has an unexpected new member.
23 years ago today, this happened:
That was probably the most striking moment of madcap inspiration in Rene Higuita's career, but it certainly wasn't the only one. Here are a few more of El Loco's greatest hits:
" It was a feast of legs, a joy for the eyes, an ever-changing dance that invented its own music."
If modern art has taught us one thing, it's that you don't have to understand something to enjoy it. And the same handily applies to this Nations League lark, which gets underway with a couple of standout games tonight. Wales vs Republic of Ireland is the pick if you're after local flavour, although the real fireworks – looking at you, Leroy – might occur in Germany vs France.
There are also a few good, old-fashioned, meaningless friendlies, including Netherlands vs Peru and Portugal vs Croatia. There's a disappointing lack of part-timers and futsal players expected to be appearing in those games, but we can't have everything.
Tom Adams will be here on Friday to see you into a long, bleak weekend without domestic football.