Football

The Warm-Up: Arsene Wenger is back, baby!

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Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger of France

Image credit: Getty Images

ByAndi Thomas
14/11/2019 at 08:31 | Updated 14/11/2019 at 08:36

A new job for Le Professeur, a new superstar in the Super League, and Manchester City are still complaining

THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES

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The question of Arsène Wenger’s future has been a hot topic for some time. Bayern Munich? Manchester United? Or, perhaps, a return to Arsenal, to relieve the misery of his successor, the flailing Unai Emery?

None of those, it turns out. Instead, Wenger is going corporate. He’s been appointed FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, which certainly sounds extremely important. And doesn’t he look pleased?

What will this Chief of Global Football Development do? Well, er, he’ll be “overseeing and driving the growth and development of the sport for both men and women around the world”, of course. He’ll be “the leading authority on technical matters”, of course. Naturally he’ll have “a particular focus on coach education”, as well as making “invaluable contributions to an executive programme […] tailored to encourage former professional players to enter management”.

In other words, Wenger has been appointed Chief Operating Archbishop of Football.

'Training should be more efficient' - Wenger starts as FIFA's new chief of football development

00:01:21

It’s hard not to worry, just a little, that we’re losing an interesting voice into the great technocratic churn of FIFAdom. There aren’t that many people at the very top of the game that you’d trust to tell Gianni Infantino he’s doing something noxious. Now one of them works for him.

But when it comes to his purview, it’s hard to think of somebody better for … well, for whatever this job actually is. When it comes to football, Wenger’s heart and brain are usually in the right place. Even when you couldn’t say the same for his centre-backs.

Sam Kerr does want to go to Chelsea

Of the four cardinal quarters of London, the West is easily the worst, a distant fourth behind South, East, and North (in that order). This is uncontroversial and the Warm-Up will not be taking questions. But clearly, nobody told Sam Kerr, who has rejected interest from basically the entire world of women’s football to join Chelsea.

To call this a coup is almost an understatement: Kerr is the absolute business. Captain of her country, all-time leading scorer in both the USA’s NWSL and Australia’s W-League, and top scorer in the last three NWSL seasons. Some are hailing this as a paradigm shift; others as the beginning of an arms race.

We’ll have to wait to see if Kerr can transform Chelsea into continental challengers, as Chelsea aren’t in the Champions League this season. But in the short term, it certainly spices up the race for the Super League. Even without a top-class striker, Chelsea are top of the table after five games. And now they’ve got one to rival Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedama. Exciting times.

“Dear Mr. The Premier League. I am writing to complain …”

guardiola

Image credit: Eurosport

Manchester City lost to Liverpool at the weekend. You might have noticed. It was in all the papers. And they had a couple of penalty shouts turned down as well. They were quite peeved at the time, and have apparently remained so, as the club have reportedly made a “formal complaint” about referee Michael Oliver.

Hopefully they let Pep Guardiola calm down a little before drafting the letter. Otherwise it’ll just be the words “Two times! Two! Handball! Two!” in green ink across 23 close-lined pages.

According to reports, City are “baffled” by the fact that two handball shouts were waved away, then not VARred, or at least not VARred to their ultimate benefit. On this The Warm-Up has some sympathy: for something so theoretically simple — use your feet! not your hands! — the handball rule has developed into something strange, arcane, and twisted.

Look at the rule for too long and you’ll start to get a headache; look for even longer, and you might go quite mad.

Quite what response City are hoping for isn’t clear. It seems unlikely that they’ll be awarded the penalties at this point. Perhaps they’re hoping that this will concentrate minds in the future; perhaps this is just one of those complaints made for the catharsis of having complained. To placate an angry manager, still stalking around the training ground shouting “Two! Two!”

IN OTHER NEWS

Oh hey, Scott McTominay scored a goal.

Wait, Scott McTominay scored a goal at one minute past five, on a Wednesday? For Manchester United? In an international break? How does that— oh, United. You big teases, you.

Never do that again.

RETRO CORNER

Time marches on, we’re all getting older, and one by one the footballers that we thought would last forever are deciding: that’s enough. The latest memento mori retirement comes from David Villa, currently playing for Vissel Kobe in Japan, who will call it a day in January when the season ends.

Here’s ten minutes of him scoring goals. Wasn’t he good?

HAT TIP

There’s a new film out about Matt Busby. To mark its release, The Guardian have got this interview with Wilf McGuinness, the man who succeeded, and failed to succeed, Busby as manager. (And who probably deserves more than to be remembered for just that.)

I thought [Munich] was the end of the world. I felt that’s it. United are finished now. We can’t carry on. We haven’t got a team. I also thought Matt was on the dying list at that stage. And I knew we had lost Duncan Edwards. What a great, great player he was.

COMING UP

Some football! England play their 1,000th international ever against Montenegro, and will be hoping to celebrate by qualifying for Euro 2020. Everybody else will be watching to see if the Joe Gomez-Raheem Sterling stramash has permanently shattered the nice-guy spirit of Gareth Southgate’s England.

Also looking for a win to secure their place at next summer’s floating party: France, Turkey, and the Czech Republic.

Here tomorrow, to take you deeper into the international break than you ever wanted to go, Ben Snowball

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