The Warm-Up: Arsene Wenger is back, baby!
A new job for Le Professeur, a new superstar in the Super League, and Manchester City are still complaining
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Wengerball for everyone
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?
In other words, Wenger has been appointed Chief Operating Archbishop of Football.
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.
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 …”
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.
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?
"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. "
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