WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES
£27 million plus Danilo for João Cancelo is theft
07.08.2019: The day Manchester City committed daylight robbery (sans the violence, of course). It was the day the club managed to persuade Juventus to part with João Cancelo for £27 million and Danilo.
Opinion: Kane's departure is inevitable, and he is a risk worth taking at £160m
Surely £27 million plus a full-back capped 20-odd times for Brazil for a full-back capped nine times for Portugal seemed like a good deal for the Italians? Nope.
Cancelo is not a full-back. What he is remains open to debate, but a bog-standard defender he is not. Nominally, his position on the teamsheet is full-back - either flank - but, truth be told, he is a marauding, playmaking creative midfielder who just happens to start the game in an area where defenders do. Despite appearing to bear little relation to a defensive player, his contribution at that end of the pitch remains impressive.
He, in many ways, is representative of this City team. Fluid in the extreme - to the point that they appear to be applying some, read a lot, of the principles of five-aside (!) to the professional game (!) - but defensively organised and diligent. City's downfall in recent years has been a porous defence.
Yet, the 2-0 win against Borussia Monchengladbach in their last-16 second leg encounter - securing a 4-0 win on aggregate - was City's seventh clean sheet on the bounce in Europe's top competition. Pep Guardiola's side go into Friday's draw as overwhelming favourites to win the Champions League. Ruben Dias has been the recipient of wide praise for his role in the firming up of City's backline, but Cancelo is owed much of the credit too. Guardiola himself touched on this after the game when asked the reasoning behind Cancelo's new, even more advanced role this year.
"We defend with the ball," said Guardiola. The basic concept is that City have, as outlined by their boss to the club website, returned, following a fractured start to the season, to the long-held Guardiola principle of ball retention. Cancelo's deployment as a hybrid defender/attacker is crucial to that.
Yes, he has made City an even more threatening team going forward - in effect, giving them an additional ball-player - but has also given them more defensive rigour too through both ball retention and a complete commitment to the defensive expectations of a normal full-back. It is that defensive sturdiness that has seen them assume favourite status for the Champions League.
All for £27 million and Danilo. Complete and utter theft.
'We have no time to train' - Guardiola
Real Madrid are not vulgar. Repeat: Real Madrid are not vulgar
Today's award for absolutely not holding back goes to journalist Carlos Carpio, who has called Real Madrid vulgar without Toni Kroos or Luka Modric earlier this week.
His opinion piece in Marca has quite the opener:
Playing without either of Toni Kroos or Luka Modric isn't just insufficient to overcome the challenge of Elche, it's not even enough to win a training match. Add the hypothetical absence of Karim Benzema and they wouldn't even manage a draw.
However, thankfully for those of a Real Madrid persuasion, both Kroos and Modric played against Atalanta on Tuesday, where they won 3-1 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate to make the last eight.
Yet, Carpio has a point. Real Madrid will at some stage need to move on from Modric, 35, and Kroos, 31, and it is quite the void that will need filling. In non-Covid times this would be a summer of renewal but Madrid have shown - bar the expected acquisition of David Alaba - little appetite to add to their squad.
Simon Jordan appears not to know who Jose Mourinho is
Simon Jordan clearly has no idea who Jose Mourinho is. Because if he did, he certainly would not have said the below in reference to Tottenham's north London derby defeat to Arsenal.
“When does it become the responsibility of the highly-paid, highly-trained professional footballers at the highest level to be able to change the game themselves?" began Jordan on talkSPORT.
“The manager sets them up, but if something different happens on the pitch – these are players who can see the game in front of them, so why aren't they able to make decisions? Are we saying that all players are a product of a manager’s coaching? Aren’t they individual? Aren’t they capable of being able to assess a game and change things themselves?
Surely these top-level players are capable of adapting without someone telling them what to do in every second.
“Why is it wrong for Mourinho to call out their performance? If you’ve set a team up with four front-line offensive players and they stink the place out, is that just the manager’s responsibility? When does it become that players are culpable?”
Capable to and allowed to are too very different things.
Jordan is literally describing the profile of Paul Pogba and Dele Alli. Brilliant, creative and instinctive players with a deep understanding of the game. Players that, to be generous, Mourinho has made it clear through deeds and actions that he does not appreciate.
For players to change games, their manager has to foster an environment that empowers players to make in-game changes. Mourinho doesn't, so, yes, Simon, the boss is culpable for his side's inability to affect the rhythm of games.
IN OTHER NEWS
Former Arsenal player Stephan Lichtsteiner is now training to become a watchmaker.
Has anyone made the joke linking this to the current Arsenal captain's inclement timekeeping?
Everyone has? Okay.
Well anyway, Stephan Lichtsteiner is training to become a watchmaker.
THIS MAN IS 39
That is impressive. The social media/god/lion business? Not so much.
More, as the kids call it, Gazprom, with Lazio taking on Bayern and Chelsea facing off against Atletico Madrid.
Bringing home tomorrow's Warm-Up, the ever excellent and multi-faceted Andi Thomas.
Man City cancel Troyes friendly after UK confirm Covid-19 rules
Roma score 10 in Mourinho's first game in charge