Editor: “Don’t forget to keep the word count to around 1250 words, please. You know the readers don’t want too much of your drivel”.
Well, it’s a bit of luck not much has happened since the last time I scribbled my drivel for you then, isn’t it?
Let’s be honest, we could probably do twice that just on the events of 23:23 Sunday through to about 19:16 Tuesday – otherwise known as the rise, fall and death of the European Super League. Oh, and Jose got the boot. And Mr Ed quit. And fans, all over the world, patted themselves on the back for a job well done as if the owners of those clubs had actually listened and reacted to their outrage.
Personally, if I was to launch a plan to take over the world, I’d probably do it late on a Sunday too. After all, there’s always a chance the news might get missed, right? Given the collective intelligence of the people behind the grand plan, that might have been part of their ploy.
For anyone that has been living under a rock for the last seven days in football and who, frankly, could blame you if you had – twelves football club owners got together and decided that they wanted more of their cake and wanted to eat it as well. That took the form of “The Super League”, a new breakaway competition where 12 teams (including United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea and – try not to laugh – Spurs and Arsenal) would be in there with eight others and could not be relegated no matter how bad they were and would still qualify no matter how badly they performed in the Premier League. Which they still wanted to be part of, you understand. This was much more a two-fingers up at Uefa than the Premier League.
City, Chelsea and Real Madrid were to be kicked out of the Champions League meaning Neymar and Mbappe would be celebrating PSG’s first title by default. West Ham were not sure whether they should be celebrating or commiserating – were they or Leicester now the Premier League champions-elect? And Wolves awarded themselves the title from two seasons ago.
Gary Neville nearly self-combusted as the realisation that rich men are typically in things for the money.
The football world united at pace to condemn these greedy men wanting even more and a plan that was certain to bring the end to football as a credible sport – you know, just like football died when the Premier League was invented and the European Cup became the Champions League. Fans were up in arms, players and coaches furious at the expectation of playing even more matches. Uefa went loopy over another organisation coming up with a way of milking the football cash cow dry in a different way to how they planned to milk it dry themselves.
And then they started to crumble – Chelsea first, then City. Then United and Liverpool. Sure, Arsenal and Spurs hung around for as long as they could in the hope they might actually win something just by being there. Then the Italians and Atletico Madrid quite too – meaning only Barca and Real were standing.
It was “over” except it wasn’t – it’s been paused folks, and there’ll be more fallout to come over all this. Uefa will hammer it as hard as they can, secretly relieved that their almost-as-awful plan for revamping the Champions League now looks half-decent (if you compare it to the ESL).
There’s still talk of the clubs being punished, though nobody really knows how. And really, given the state of everything else in the world does it really matter?
Even if it did, where were these voices when the bad men owners took over their clubs promising to deliver global superstars and silverware? It didn’t seem to bother people that much back then, did it?
Let’s look at the positives – it’s led to Ed Woodward calling it a day at Old Trafford. It’s shown that if there is an issue big enough, people will get together and kick up a fuss. Just a shame none of the actually important issues of the day get such traction, eh?
I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t all a ploy for Daniel Levy to sack Jose Mourinho in the hope it got lost in the furore. It didn’t, Daniel – we are coming on to that.
The biggest crime in all of this, though – nobody asked the Dulux dog what he thought of it all.
Back to Jose – £25m he’s getting for failing at Spurs. 17 months or so, a very brief flirtation with a title-bid before regressing to his mean. And boy, was he mean. Given how much Jose loved totting up the little trophies to inflate his overall career haul, he’ll be fuming at the fact he wasn’t leading Tottenham out at Wembley, even if defeat was pretty much guaranteed.
Rumours were swirling that Mourinho had refused to take the players out to train in protest at the ESL news. These rumours were false, it was purely that Jose was doing a terrible job and that football had moved on. I think I apologised for getting it wrong about him in-and-around December. Turns out that I was wrong about that and right about the fact he’s yesterday’s man. A very rich yesterday’s man.
Ma-Son got off to a good start against Southampton. We now have a Premier League manager born in the 1990s as Class of 92’s Ryan Mason takes temporary charge of Spurs – and his half-time team talk saw the side come back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Southampton.
We’ll leave the potential new manager chat for another day.
Ed Woodward is going to go full Sir Alex at Old Trafford and choose his replacement – United really never learn, do they?
Bruno won’t be signing a new deal until Pogba does. That’s how much they love each other now.
Leeds, having set the moral tone against Liverpool, took a point off United meaning they are currently unbeaten against any of the ESL founding clubs.
If there was one club guaranteed to keep the blunders coming until much later in the week, it was Arsenal. Bernd Leno managed to tuck home Richarlison’s cross in a hilarious manner, keeping Everton interested in the top four finish that might still mean something. Post-match, it emerged that the Spotify CEO was interested in taking the club off the hands of the Kroenkes – something that you wonder if football fans had cottoned on to. It’s all very well wanting these billionaire owners out of your club, but the only people that can afford to buy them now are other billionaires who might know even less about football.
Liverpool took to the field for the second time since the ESL news broke and ended up with exactly the same result as against Leeds – minus the t-shirts, that is. That said, Newcastle can probably feel a little disappointed not to have pinched all three points given how much of a farce the handball law is. Callum Wilson bundled his way towards goal, Alisson blocked the ball and it bounced up from approximately 15 centimetres and touched Wilson’s arm before he got the ball over the line. Don’t blame VAR for this one, blame the lawmakers.
Newcastle bounced back instantly, Joe Willock scoring once again – King Klopp admitted that the ESL might actually be a good idea after all as at least they’d qualify for that even playing like this.
According to Jorginho, Frank Lampard was a club legend and all that but wasn’t ready to manage the club. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy feels that Tommy Tuchel has transformed the club’s ability to defend. All that Tuchel love meant that there could only be one winner against West Ham and so it was – Timo Werner of all people slipping home the winner. Controversy didn’t pass the game by completely, however – Fabian Balbuena was sent off for kicking a ball, slipping, and catching Ben Chilwell with his follow-through. Even though the ref saw it perfectly the first time, those ‘above’ suggested he should have a look on the video and you know what happens next – the Moysiah called the decision “rank and rotten” and you can only be grateful it wasn’t Roy Hodgson uttering that statement in disgust.
At Wembley, 8,000 fans suffered a match that both the owners of City and Spurs would happily do away with in an ESL future. Mind you, given how bad a game it was they might have a point. Ryan Mason need not have worried too much about Harry Kane’s fitness given he wasn’t really needed in the first 45 minutes.
Spurs managed to restrict City to just three shots on target in the 80 minutes before conceding – something Jose would have loved, of course. Not that they’d have done that for Mourinho, you understand. Tottenham would have scored early, sat back and then eventually conceded twice in the last ten minutes. Instead, the goal came from a set piece – something that would have never happened on Jose’s watch. Oh. Should Laporte have been on the pitch? Probably not, but it would have been very unfortunate to have picked up a second yellow for stopping Tottenham’s only first-half counter.
Wolves slumped to a 4-0 home defeat against Burnley. It’s quite difficult to play football with your flip flops on, you know. Nuno had already ruled himself out of the Spurs running, but made double sure with this result.
Brighton could have also started to plan their holidays, but a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United – such a Brighton game to lose – means they are not safe in the mathematical sense just yet and these league tables do get judged in a mathematical sense. Well, until that lot get their way.
1600 words. I’ll be getting my ‘Daniel Levy call’ on Monday without the payoff. It’s been nice knowing you. Maybe I’ll have to release a video apology taking all the blame.