Dear reader, will football and ‘opening ceremonies’ ever be happy bedfellows? Those of us that are a certain age will recall Diana Ross’ missing a penalty in USA ’94 (a tournament that ended, ironically, with Roberto Baggio attempting to recreate that moment). And the current generation will look back on last night with their own feelings, I am sure.
Personally, I find a good opening ceremony is often best performed to a full house – something that Tottenham Hotspur failed to achieve last night with a mere 59,215 kicking about to watch a tenor bustle past the Tottenham backline with Danny Rose daydreaming (insert your own joke here) and fireworks that didn’t quite match up to your average Premier League evening kick-off at Molineux.
And, another thing. The fact this stadium cost £1bn isn’t something to shout about. It wasn’t supposed to cost that much. If you pay almost double the amount for your Ford Fiesta, you don’t go around talking about your £50k car, do you? No. You’d look silly. This is a £600m stadium that cost £400m more than originally budgeted for.
But boy, this stadium is impressive. These NFL and Premiership rugby fans are going to be in for a right treat. And all those concertgoers. And fans of anyone else that Daniel Levy can convince to use the stadium and help him clear the overdraft.
I suppose we should mention the match, really. Spurs let me down a bit last night, truth be known. Obviously, I was hoping they’d lose so we could dance around with the ‘Spursy’ narrative once again but they beat Crystal Palace 2-0, leading the Poch to exclaim, ‘tonight we touched glory’.
Glory? Poch, you beat Palace 2-0. Granted, Spurs are now third and with United slipping up can have confidence once more in their Champions League hopes for next season. But glory? That’s going to take a little bit more.
All Spurs beating aside, the pressure they were under to actually deliver given the nature of the opening ceremony that, in the words of Palace’s James Tomkins, ‘went on a bit’ was intense so to come away with a win and a half-decent performance that might now kick start a good run in is a job well done.
And boo to that.
As Sue Smith insightfully alluded to on Sky’s Soccer Special last night, Cardiff were in for a long night against Man City. City, predictably, had 79% of the ball but only managed to turn that into two goals; scored in the first half by Kevin de Bruyne and Leroy Sane. I’d imagine Neil Warnock will take that, leaving the Etihad with minimal damage done to the goal difference and no major refeering howlers to moan about. Of course, City could have run up a cricket score but they didn’t need to. They’re probably keeping their powder dry for the FA Cup against Brighton.
The aforementioned Brighton probably had their eye on Wembley in their 3-0 defeat at Chelsea but they really do need to find a few points between now and the end of the season to make sure they are still a Premier League side next time around.
Chelsea fans were treated to a sighting of the lesser-spotted Callum Hudson-Odoi and it was the unknown Englishman who set up the opening goal for the almost as infrequently selected World Cup winner, Olivier Giroud.
Sarri also gave Ruben Loftus-Cheek (who scored) and Andreas Christensen (who defended like a defender) a runaround and would you believe it? Chelsea played alright.
The Manchester United rebuild will be a consistent topic between now and the moment they actually win the title again and it could get underway with a proper demolition job this summer.
Alexis Sanchez has been told that he might want to consider alternative employment, bringing an end to one of the biggest transfer flops in modern day football. With Ander Herrera looking to go round kicking people in Ligue 1 and Juan Mata longing to get many more assists by simply giving the ball to Leo Messi instead of Romelu Lukaku, there is going to be quite the Old Trafford exodus. Also heading out the door are Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia for pretty clear reasons. Mind you, if we are using pretty clear reasons of not being very good anymore then I am surprised there is no mention of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
More worryingly or, alternatively, a blessing in disguise for United fans is the shift in policy around David de Gea. Rather than being held to ransom once more by the goalkeeper, United are preparing to sell him rather than lose him for nothing. Makes sense, I mean he has been pretty average if you take out the Spurs performance. No, he really has.
United might need to sign a few too, but I am sure there will be more on that over the coming weeks.
Jurgen Klopp is pretending that it is OK that Mo Salah hasn’t scored in eight games and could be in danger of being the Steven Gerrard of this season’s failed title bid. Klopp claims that Salah’s ‘career isn’t over just because he hasn’t scored for a while’ and reminded us that the Egyptian has 60 goals in two seasons. Yes, Jurgen. But you didn’t win anything then, either.
The Premier League jig could well be up for Theo Walcott, now 30 and, frankly, out of favour at Everton. And if you are out of favour at Everton and on £120k a week, where do you go next? Who shouted West Ham from the back? Yeah, you’re probably right. Everton want younger and (probably) better players nowadays so Walcott will be sold the minute someone finds someone stupid enough (West Ham) to pay the asking price.
Wolves have been quite impressed by Raul Jiminez this season and would like to give Benfica £30m to make his loan signing permanent. Once again, Wolves are keeping Liga Nos in business one deal at a time.