Whilst sleeping in Gatwick Airport on Sunday night, I found myself deep in football conversation with someone else in the same hotel room as I talking about how Liverpool probably have a better chance of winning the Champions League than the Premier League.
In my sleep-deprived state, I must have completely forgotten that last season’s beaten finalists have completely forgotten how to play away from Anfield in Europe. A few weeks back they were tepid at best against Napoli and last night, well last night they disappeared down a rabbit hole in Serbia.
Red Star Belgrade, one of those famous old European teams that were unlikely to ever be seen at the top table again following the redistribution of European football wealth shocked Kloppo’s men by doing them 2-0. Not only were Red Star eating at the top table, albeit briefly, they nicked Liverpool’s chips and refused to pass the salt. They fully deserved their win and Liverpool, naturally, fully deserved their defeat.
King Klopp called Liverpool’s record-breaking third away European defeat in a row ‘too easy’ and suggested that if his team don’t improve then they will be out of the competition. This is why Jurgey lad gets paid the big bucks, clearly. He understands how these group stages work. Lose too many and you are out. Liverpool face quite important matches against PSG and Napoli to reach the knockout stages.
A couple of weeks ago the Poch was saying it was all over for Tottenham in the Champions League. Today, he believes that they could actually make it through the group stages following their comeback over PSV at Wembley. Inter’s draw with Barcelona means that (we think) if Spurs beat Inter in the next match and then get a better result than Inter on the final matchday (which means Spurs beating Barca and hoping Inter draw with PSV, basically – oh, in the Camp Nou) and then Tottenham will go through. Poch, it ain’t happening son. Get on the phone to Madrid.
‘We want to follow the rules’, said Peppy G yesterday. Pep, my dear man, I think that horse might have already bolted. UEFA are opening up another investigation after it has been claimed that Manchester City worked their way round some FFP stuff by setting up a company to pay player image rights or something. Look, we are not FFP experts here but the leaked memo from CEO, Ferran Soriano, seems to say that the club decided that they needed to fight financial fair play but ‘do it in a way that is not visible, or we will be pointed out as the global enemies of football’. Will City be found guilty? Hell, no.
It’s been a while since we’ve had an update on the Paul Pogba/Jose Mourinho relationship and according to Pogs it is ‘healthy’. This claim came up after Pogba was quizzed (or some might say baited) over how he felt having the vice-captaincy stripped so publically. Pogba played the kind of straight bat England could use in Sri Lanka currently so we can all move on and find some other rubbish to focus on.
So, riddle me this Batman. The FA are going to give Wayne Rooney a nice big freebie of a cap as an emotional send-off (and, probably to make sure they actually sell out Wembley for a pointless game against the USA). They are going to call it the ‘Wayne Rooney Foundation International’ which is the new style of testimonial. But, the foundation won’t receive a penny from the gate receipts? How does that work then?
The FA have said that Rooney’s charitable cause will receive funds from other fundraising initiatives but this all feels a bit off to me. Give a cut of the gate to the foundation if you are going to give the match that name or, better still, don’t do it at all. I have nothing against Rooney’s work off the field at all, it is very commendable. And this probably wasn’t his idea. But if you give one of these matches away, where does it end? Will Becks get called up for a proper farewell? Did we give Sir Bobby Charlton the send-off he deserved? Peter Shilton got 125 caps, surely he could do with some money and a better farewell than that 4th place match in Italia 90? The list could go on.
There’s been a few transfer rumours over the last 48 hours too, aren’t you lucky?
Jose Mourinho’s £100m war chest might not actually go that far so he is already checking out the defensive bargain bin. Lurking in there is Juventus substitute Mehdi Benatia who has barely kicked a ball this season. But, his contract is also up in 18 months meaning that even Ed and Jose will struggle to overpay on this deal.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has completed almost 10 whole good performances for Crystal Palace meaning that he is now ripe for talk of both an England call-up and a silly money move to a bigger club where he will sit on the bench for the next phase of his career. You might be thinking United should go for him but no, it is Everton who are thought to be dangling the carrot of Cenk Tosun and Ademola Lookman plus some cash under the nose of Roy Hodgson.
Barcelona clearly don’t have enough defenders with a mistake or six in their lockers and are considering moving for Chelsea’s David Luiz and Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny. Sod it, get both and we can all have a laugh.
Either Aaron Ramsey’s agent is the finest salesman in the world or the biggest fib-maker in the world. I am still undecided, but if the latest rumour linking Rambo to Bayern Munich is true then it could be both.
We’ve had a surprising lack of managerial movement so far this season but the rumours are getting stronger. Fulham must be wondering if Slav is ever going to focus on defending better; losing 1-0 away at Huddersfield, a team that hadn’t scored a goal at home since Mo Salah had a fully working shoulder, is a sackable offence on its own.
But, more likely, is the chat that Southampton are finally waking up to the fact that appointing Mark Hughes was not the greatest idea they have ever had and they are ready to complete the full transition from the best-run club in the Premier League to being just like everyone else and hitting the panic button by replacing him with either Big Sam or David Moyes. Southampton fans though, educated souls that they are having hounded out Claude Puel after an 8th place finish and a trip to Wembley, would like to see Gordon Strachan return. I kid you not.
Arsene Wenger could be back in football by the end of the month. AC Milan is the likely destination where he could get the chance to finally manage Zlatan. Considering they are both way past their prime, this will not be a happy ending.