Jurgen Klopp probably loves the international break as much as I do – Sadio Mane picked up a knock for Senegal and Jordan Henderson did something that meant he wasn’t going to San Marino, something more than just not wanting to go to San Marino, you’d presume.
International football – the bain of my life. I’ll moan about it, I won’t watch and you can bet your last euro on the fact that as soon as Qatar 2022 kicks off I’ll be all about international football again. I’m not expecting the Scottish or Welsh folk amongst my 17 readers to understand – I am sure you are very excited about the prospect of yet another international match in the near future, being a playoff to qualify for an already bloated World Cup.
Anyway, it still exists so I still have to comment – England smashed Albania 5-0 with Harry Kane helping himself to a hat-trick that got Spurs fans all excited that “class is permanent” and all that. Please do adopt your very best Roy Keane accent and repeat five times, “lads, it’s Albania”. Try having a shot on target in the Premier League and then we can talk.
Speaking of Keano, he’s really not much of a Harry Maguire fan, is he? Southgate calls it “staying relevant”, Gabby Agbonlahor calls it being a “bully” and I think I call it knowing an inconsistent central defender when one is staring you in the face.
England will qualify for Qatar by getting a point in San Marino, and taking them very seriously according to Gareth. So seriously, that half the squad have decided they don’t need to be there. Still, maybe we will see Conor Gallagher become the latest cap. Nothing like making your debut knowing that there’s been 23 players pull out ahead of you.
At least we had lots of managerial stuff to keep us going in the last seven days. Last week, Norwich City earned my respect by sacking Daniel Farke in advance of my deadline. Frustratingly, they failed to announce Dean Smith in time for this one. Typically, it’s a very bad idea for a manager to jump at the next job that comes along – presumably the reason why Frank Lampard is still unemployed. Yet, Smith to Norwich seems like a very good idea – especially if the players christen him ‘Delia’ upon arrival.
Stevie G had a decision to make – did he want to be overlooked for the Liverpool job when Kloppo goes by staying in Scotland or did he want to be overlooked for the Liverpool job because he’d failed at Aston Villa? Ultimately, Villa probably paid more so he may as well be overlooked for the Liverpool job and earn more money out of it.
It’s a big gamble for Gerrard – I mean, what does he actually need to achieve at Villa to pass this so-called Anfield managerial audition? The best he can hope for this season is avoiding a relegation battle and finding a more effective way to hide the fact Tyrone Mings isn’t anywhere near as good as his reputation says he is. If he can get a tune out of Emi Buendia, even better. But after that, what is good enough for Liverpool? Getting Villa into the Champions League? Well, that’ll be a long wait. Europa League? That sounds like a future relegation battle waiting to happen? Conference League? I don’t think Liverpool will be shopping in that aisle, Stevie – no matter how nostalgic they might be feeling. Why not stay at Ibrox and try and get Rangers to go a little deeper into the Champions League each season? That would be slightly more relevant, but hey.
Eddie Howe has taken the fact he was second choice for the Newcastle job very well indeed and is setting about making sure they avoid relegation. There’s been changes to training already – the players are being expected to train rather than getting umpteen days off a week. It’s a cunning plan, Ed and you know, it might even work.
According to various sources, Manchester United have searched high and low to decide that Zinedine Zidane (probably suggested by Cristiano), Mauricio Pochettino (still hasn’t been rubbed off the shortlist since last time) and Brendan Rodgers (they probably haven’t realised he used to manage Liverpool) are the best options to replace Ole when they finally get around to giving him the boot. The Poch is still keen on a return to England, so it is probably only a matter of time.
Jesse Lingard will be following Solskjaer out of the Old Trafford door in January – he’s most likely off to Newcastle for £10m where he could be joined by (deep breath): Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, Nathan Ake, Dominic Solanke and, er, Eden Hazard.
Naturally, Gerrard rocking up at Villa Park means he is being linked to Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent and Glenn Kamara. It’s unlikely James Tavernier is expecting a call, though.
Leeds have noticed they aren’t really scoring enough so would like Eddie Nkietiah to return to Elland Road after it went oh-so-well last time.
Chelsea are preparing for life after Toni Rudiger so would like Real Madrid’s Eder Milito to replace the Bernabeu-destined German.
They also want to go young, in a move that will thrill all their talented Academy kids, and sign Monaco’s Aureliin Tchouameni and Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz – a duo with barely 40 years between them.
They could well fund this by flogging Christian Pulisic to Barcelona who are as broke as ever.
On that note, Xavi would like to sign Liverpool’s Thiago Alacantra – clearly not put off by the Eric Garcia returning to the Camp Nou debacle then. He’d also like Mo Salah to cut inside and stick it top corner for him next season – Xavi clearly does follow the Peppy G blueprint of coaching then.
Alisson is still bleating on about that goal he threw in against West Ham. Move on, Ali – and be stronger next time.
Tottenham want Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic, suggesting they are not as convinced that a treble against Albania means that Kane is the best striker in the world once more. This will please Arsenal who, apparently, are struggling to get through to Vlahovic’s agent.
The Gunners should probably focus their time and effort on helping Nicolas Pepe out of the exit marked “failed record signings”. They’ll let him go for £25m. Has anyone let Amanda Staveley know?