THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Fair play to Pep Guardiola; the man knows how to dress middling results up in high heels and pretend they’re performances for the ages. Sometimes, his post-match quotes make you think the writers of Mad Men missed a trick by not casting him as Don Draper’s sophisticated, permanently-turtle-necked colleague from the European office. No, Peggy. What you’re selling is a story.
To wit, this latest contribution in the wake of Sunday’s topsy-turvy 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool: “You cannot imagine. It is one of happiest days of my career as a manager.” The only logical response to which, really, is no, you’re absolutely right, we cannot imagine.
City were fine. Good, even, in spells. They might have had a penalty or two had Michael Oliver been a little more switched-on. But they also failed to beat a side who had last won away from home in the Premier League before Christmas. That is underplaying Liverpool’s ability to step up on the big occasions, of course, but even then, this hardly felt like a gala afternoon for one of football’s most decorated managers.
In the end, as Chelsea celebrated another giant step towards the Premier League title and Tottenham tightened their grip on second place, it fell to Jurgen Klopp to have the last word on City’s master of sugar-coating: “He is Spanish. They are more emotional than the Germans.”
On your marks! Gestede! Fight!
Not even the comedic stylings of long-term Manchester United sleeper agent Victor Valdes managed to derail the Jose Mourinho performative misery roadshow on Sunday lunchtime. The Middlesbrough goalkeeper pulled out all the stops with a Chaplin-esque bit of slapstick in the closing moments at the Riverside, yet still Mourinho managed to maintain the demeanour of a child who has been told that the Tooth Fairy is not real. According to The Warm-Up’s notes, it has now been fully 745 days since the Portuguese last cracked a smile.
It was a businesslike display from the Red Devils, sweetened by a lovely slow-burn feud between Eric Bailly and Rudy Gestede. The latter, who came on as a second-half sub despite clearly being a hamstring short, made a nuisance of himself and, after one scuffle, appeared to kiss/bite/nuzzle the neck of Manchester United defender, sparking a minor brawl.
There was more pushing and shoving in the tunnel after the game, but nothing that would tempt Mourinho to pass comment in his post-match press conference. No, that kind of fun and games is strictly off the menu for Captain Misery.
Gunner be a big summer
Another week, another fresh batch of misery for Arsenal. From tedious disagreements played out in the skies above the Hawthorns to a performance that was impossibly limp even by their own recent standards, it was a grim Saturday afternoon for the Gunners. Then, 24 hours later, even fifth place was snatched out of their possession. Yay!
The good/bad news for the fans is that everlasting genius/spent force Arsene Wenger has reached a decision about his future and will announce it soon. Maybe things will start to improve when Arsenal know which one of their two hypothetical futures they’ll be living out.
IN OTHER NEWS
Arjen Robben was not best pleased at being taken off in the dying stages of Bayern Munich’s win over Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday. His team-mates, though, found it utterly side-splitting:
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: The Warm-Up: Pep’s positive spin, tunnel bust-ups and plane madness