England, England, England – we’ve been here before, haven’t we?
Not quite good enough to convince me we might win it but not so bad I am convinced we won’t. Then I realise how bad we are in goal and at centre-back and remember thems the reasons it’s not coming home.
Earlier in the week, and shortly after Gareth Southgate had confused the football world by selecting what appeared to be four right-backs, England played Austria and won 1-0 – the classic warm-up match that delightfully tampered hope and expectation in equal measure to drawing criticism and questioning. I mean, “how on Earth could Jesse Lingard be picked given he wasn’t even in the squad” @completeidiot ranted on Twitter, seemingly ignorant to the fact that none of the Chelsea or City boys had rocked up yet due to their European final escapades.
The most important thing about pre-tournament friendlies is not picking up any injuries, and it wouldn’t be England if someone didn’t pick up a campaign-ending-before-it-got-started knock. After all the fuss about Trent Alexander-Arnold and whether Southgate would leave out a player some consider to be the best right-back in the world (those people are wrong, by the way, he’s not even the best right-back in England), TAA pulled his thigh and will miss the tournament. In fairness to Alexander-Arnold, the way he played after Southgate left him out of the squad shows there is way more to come from him in the future but having got himself back in, he’s probably a little gutted.
Ashley Cole should watch out for performances that might have struck his eye – that does sound very Tyrone Mings (a very lucky boy that his forearm smash in the Austria match wasn’t spotted). In a game against Romania that had almost nothing riding on it, the pundits built up some kind of faux-audition between James Ward-Prowse, Ben White and Ben Godfrey to replace TAA.
My notes from this one are pretty simple – Ben White is better than Tyrone Mings, Connor Coady and Harry Maguire, yet he isn’t in the squad. JWP takes a very decent set-piece and would have had a brace had he not been subbed and, as it stands, isn’t in the squad. Jordan Henderson looked absolutely done in as he grabbed the ball for the second penalty and missed it. Credit to DLC for not having a word, like. Jack Grealish is the player that makes me think we might have an Italia 90 punchers chance of doing something.
Rashford scored the penalty after Grealish was fouled again, this time in a much more convenient area of the pitch. DLC and Sancho had already rattled the bar and young Bellingham should have notched up his first England goal about 50 caps sooner than Hendo. I mean, imagine grabbing the ball because you’ve got the armband and then missing. Swap him out for that alone, Gareth. And if you are not going to do that, give that final place to JWP, please.
Of course, all Euro 2020 is really doing is getting in the way of all the transfer rumour-mongering that accelerates at will the moment the Premier League season ends. And, this time around, it’s not just players that are on the move.
You might have noticed that the last week has seen one or two changes – Carlo Ancelotti’s mobile had barely stopped ringing before he’d agreed to leave Everton to return to Real Madrid. Don Carlo is the man Florentino Perez believes can turn his team back into winners – leading Everton to 8th can be quite attractive to the big clubs, you see. Imagine being James Rodriguez right now – he came to Merseyside to play for the one manager capable of getting anything out of him and now he’s stuck at Goodison on his tod. You suspect Big Dunc, who turned down following Ancelotti to the Bernabeu because he’d like the gig, won’t be as much of a J-Rod fan as the Italian.
Who will be next at Everton? Ferguson might well end up with it, if Nuno turns it down, if Eddie Howe can’t bring his Bournemouth backroom team, if the club forget that Rafa Benitez still owns a house just up the road, if West Ham refuse David Moyes a move back to the club he managed for a decade and if Paulo Fonseca’s name has been forgotten since last time.
Gareth Bale was giving big thoughts to baling out after the Euros – pocketing about £19m for calling it a day but saving Madrid about double that again (something that both sides would consider a win, I suspect). But as Ancelotti was the last person to get a tune out of him in Spain, does he now fancy one last crack? Of course, he doesn’t. And Carlo would rather take Richarlison with him anyway – sorry, James.
Down in London, Pochettino asked nicely if PSG wouldn’t mind letting him go home to Tottenham. When PSG made it clear they weren’t too excited by that idea, Daniel Levy started eyeing up Antonio Conte before running a mile once it became clear Conte wasn’t coming unless he was given a lot of money to spend on winning the league – and, we all know how that went last time for Spurs.
Ajax’s Ten Hag is back in the frame, which would be a bad move for both, as is Jurgen Klinsmann which is so mental it will probably happen – especially if he then takes Teddy Sheringham, Nicky Barmby and Ilie Dumitrescu as his assistants.
Nuno, linked to Everton and Tottenham, apparently spent three days talking to Crystal Palace about becoming their new gaffer. Really, Nuno? I hope for your sake that was more a case of them calling you non-stop for three days and you refusing to answer the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I like Palace, but I think you can set your sights a little higher – just ask Wilf Zaha, who has told the club (again) he’d like a transfer this window, please.
Tommy Tuchel got his new contract for winning the Champions League and would really, really like Romelu Lukaku to spearhead his attack next season – the only problem with that is, Rom would rather stay at Inter where he is very happy. This won’t please Roman Abramovich or Inter at all – the club lost Conte because they need to sell £80m of players this summer which is basically one Lukaku.
Eden Hazard has suggested he’d be very open to heading back to Stamford Bridge, the last football pitch on which he smiled. The last thing Chelsea need is another wide player, however – especially one that looks a little overweight, very expensive and is always injured.
Thiago Silva saw his contract extended as did, unbelievably, Olivier Giroud – putting the kibosh on him partnering Zlatan at AC Milan.
Sergio Aguero’s old man called Pep out quite publicly, expressing some surprise that Guardiola was so visibly upset at Aguero’s departure given that he hardly ever spoke to his son and told him to leave. Aguero is certainly winning the PR campaign around this – giving out raffle tickets to the City staff to win his top-of-the-range Range Rover and handing 60 key people a Rolex watch as a thank you as he left for Barcelona.
City’s young central defender Eric Garcia also joins him there on a free but Barca have let the Gini out of the bottle as Wijnaldum is joining PSG at the request of the Poch.
Peppy G has decided that the gap between him and the Champions League can be closed by Jack Grealish and Aston Villa seem to be preparing for life without their skipper – hilariously pipping Arsenal to the Emi Buendia from Norwich post. Buendia joins Villa for about £40m and Dean Smith would also like to bring in James Ward-Prowse too.
Arsenal will be licking their wounds by signing Andre Onana from Ajax to replace Bernd Leno and then fending off offers for Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka – the only two pieces of family silver worth keeping. Atletico would like Hector Bellerin to replace Kieran Trippier who is possibly off to United having been seen house-hunting in Manchester. Trippier joining United would see OGS go all funky and experiment with Aaron Wan-Bissaka as a central defender rather than going out and buying an actual central defender.
Liverpool have been offered Philippe Coutinho back – Barcelona basically chucking the keys in because they cannot afford to keep up with the repayments.
Steve Bruce would like to sign Tammy Abraham and Billy Gilmour from Chelsea – that sounds like Mike Ashley is pretending someone might have some money to spend this summer.
Finally, Jeremy Clarkson claims he was punched in the face by a boozed-up Man City fan after the Champions League Final. It takes a lot to make me warm to City fans, but this could well have done it.