TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Bring on Club World Cup 2.0

We’re not entirely sure of the merits of staging a Club World Cup during a global pandemic, especially when we could have saved y’all the bother by inscribing ‘Bayern Munich’ on the trophy the moment the final whistle was blown in the Champions League final.
Champions League
Giroud is an elite striker, get over it - The Warm-Up
24/02/2021 AT 08:58
It’s not quite UEFA Nations League levels of apathy but the inconvenience certainly outweighs the prestige. Right now, it’s just a chance for Europe’s best team to get some jet lag, winter sun and a new entry in the honours section of their Wikipedia page.
The fact Bayern Munich could spend Friday night stranded on a runway in Germany, forcing them to cuddle up together and sleep on the plane, and still stroll past Al Ahly in their opening match (and semi-final) 48 hours later is proof that any suggestion of competitiveness is a façade.
But we guess this is a good reminder that football, for all its selling points, lacks a quality global competition. And that’s why we endorse Gianni Infantino’s plans for a 24-team tournament every four years – even if it does mess up the rest of the calendar. Sure, a European team will still win but at least there will be other European teams to make it hard. Plus, with more teams from all continents, we boost our chances of seeing River Plate v Boca Juniors in a strange corner of the world. And that can only be a good thing.

Lay off Mike Dean

Mike Dean made two enormous mistakes this past week, there’s no denying that. Hell, Southampton fans would argue that the error count hit double figures. But despite building a reputation on flamboyance and celebrating Tottenham winners, none of this comes close to excusing death threats sent to him and his family.
Dean is a professional in the most unenviable job. Even when he gets a decision right, the murky nature of football, where decisions are often 50-50, will lead fans to shame you anyway with a rousing chorus of "the referee’s a...". Well, you know what.
But he’s also a very good referee. You don’t get to the top of the Premier League without being exceptional, even if it’s easy to say he’s terrible when a few mistakes are highlighted. His ability to thrive in the spotlight might be peculiar, but it is this ability that ensures he won’t crumble in the big moments. And even if he does, so what? It’s just a game of football.
If your life is so miserable that you resort to sending death threats to anyone, then get up, go and stand in front of the mirror, take your right hand and slap it as hard as you can across your face. Repeat until you realise what a colossal waste of space you are. After all, how can you despise a man that was part of this dance masterclass?

We were wrong. And so were you

We’re not quite ‘get him on the plane, Gareth’ but we will swallow our pride and say we (read: all of us) were wrong about Patrick Bamford. In our defence, he was useless during his other Premier League outings in previous years, but there can be no denying his abilities as a No.9 under Marcelo Bielsa’s tutelage.
It's 12 goals for the season after his strike in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Any more and he’ll be firing England to Euro 2020 glory this summer.

HEROES AND ZEROES

Hero I: Tony Collins (1926-2021)

Tony Collins, the Football League’s first black manager, died on Tuesday aged 94. He led fourth-tier Rochdale to the League Cup final in 1962, one of only two occasions a team from the bottom rung of the Football League has reached the final, and had scouting roles under Sir Alex Ferguson and Don Revie. Ferguson led the condolences, saying: "His family should be very proud of all he achieved.".

Hero II: Tomas Soucek

Not only is he propping up fantasy football teams across the globe, but Tomas Soucek is also a thoroughly decent human being.

Zero: Ben Chilwell

There has to be a villain of the piece and today it’s Ben Chilwell. The Chelsea man may seem like a likable bloke, but underneath the surface is a heartless killer. Just look what he did to former professional footballer Reece Lucas in 2013.
Just kidding, he’s alright really.

RETRO CORNER

Sure, he got the name but not the talent, but why not wish Jordi Cruyff a happy birthday by watching his eight-minute showreel from his Manchester United days? It’s worth it for the Adagio for Strings remix alone.
On second thoughts, the remix is the only reason to watch it. Sorry for wasting your time.

COMING UP

We’ll let you in on a secret: tennis is better than football. And that’s why you’ll be delighted to hear that you can watch EVERY MATCH from the Australian Open live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and eurosport.co.uk.
(OK, there’s also Burnley v Bournemouth and Manchester United v West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round.)
Marcus Foley, you can stop slapping yourself now, it wasn’t aimed at you. Save your hands for tomorrow’s Warm-Up.
Premier League
Arteta 'very, very happy' with win over Leeds
14/02/2021 AT 19:23
The Emirates FA Cup
Bielsa speaks of 'large sadness' after Crawley upset
10/01/2021 AT 16:41