The Warm-Up: Aston Villa odd-couple buddy movie edition
Jack Lang is angling for a scriptwriting job on The Crown if today's dispatch is anything to go by...
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Warm greetings, John.
who is this
Your humble friend, William.
The Duke of Cambridge.
omg. you’re on whatsapp?
I’m on everything, John. Now tell me, will we be blessed by your presence in the posh seats in the Championship play-off final?
i’ll be there
Excellent. I do so look forward to your company. I’m a bit anxious, to be perfectly honest with you, and I could use a dash of the old John Carew wit to help steady the nerves.
Wonderful. Until Monday, then.
i was just thinking
Thinking about what, old chum?
thinking about how we’re friends
Firm friends, John.
and it’s great. but it is also a bit… weird, isn’t it. i mean, you’re prince william. and i’m john carew
I don’t quite follow, dear boy.
well i haven’t checked, but i doubt your brother is mates with… i dunno, steve lomas
Oh, I see. A random former Premier League player and a royal: yes, I suppose that is quite the thing.
I don’t care what people think.
There is no rhyme or reason to the relationships forged through the medium of sport. You are not like my other friends. I am probably not like yours. Some cynical souls probably believe our bond to be a PR confection. Who cares? Let them talk.
I’ll see you on Monday, John. And I do hope you’ll arrange a babysitter in advance. I’ve got a 50-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich with your name on it if we go up.
Oh, and John? There’s just one more thing.
Up the bloody Villa.
Kane able etc etc
“If the final was tomorrow, I would be fit to play,” said Kane. “I feel good. I’m back with the team and there have been no problems so far. I’ve been in full training, doing everything. I’m at a place now where I’m ready to go for any game. The manager will assess it and decide.”
Good news for Spurs, and good news for England, too, with Kane confirmed among Gareth Southgate’s final 23-man squad for the UEFA Nations League finals next month. The Pizza Hut Kid did have to wield the axe on two Tottenham players, however: Kieran Trippier and Harry Winks will not be making the trip.
The last days of the giant mug?
Sportswashing klaxons at the ready, folks: Mike Ashley is reportedly negotiating the sale of Newcastle to Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
We’re not in Sports Direct anymore, Toto. And while there remains some way to go before any deal gets over the line, The Warm-Up can already hear a distant grinding emanating from Tyneside. That’s the sound of fan ethics rubbing up against the prospect of signing loads of good players this summer.
Still, it’s good news for the Geordie-accented trivia scene.
Q: Of which nation is Abu Dhabi the capital?
A: UAE, man.
IN OTHER NEWS
Jack Grealish has a reputation – deserved or otherwise – for going down easily under challenges. But for The Warm-Up’s money, the Villa midfielder showed remarkable grit to take this particular blow to the face in his stride:
Hashtag class. Hashtag fairplay.
And also, while we’re on Grealish, we probably need to talk about the state of these football boots:
“I came back from injury and obviously, these were like this,” Grealish explained, stretching the word ‘obviously’ to its very limits.
“I got a few goals and I got a few assists and thought these were my lucky boots. I had to keep them!”
Keeping them is one thing. The Warm-Up keeps every one of the 700+ fan letters we receive every week. But we don’t wrap them around our feet for protection when we play five-a-side, and we definitely wouldn’t do so in a play-off final.
On this day in 1980, Nottingham Forest beat Hamburg 1-0 to win the European Cup for the second time in a row. John Robertson scored the winner for the English side, who saw out the remaining 70 minutes with grim determination.
Better than the match itself, though, was Brian Clough’s pre-game interview, which was equal parts spiky, inspired and gnomic.
IN THE CHANNELS
In general terms, The Warm-Up is all for celebrities, institutions, companies and clubs laying into each other on social media. A bit of snark is welcome in this age of strict media management and banal platitudes.
But the rumbling Leeds United vs Derby County dispute (and, by an extension far too arcane and tenuous to explain here, that between Leeds United and Niall Horan) really does need to go in one direction: into the bin.
"I went into the operation in perfect condition: that was [emotionally] hard. It wasn’t like going in blind, knowing something had to be done. Instead, I’m thinking: ‘What if they touch something and then I can’t see?’ The tumour grows from the base of the cranium and the really dangerous thing is it presses nerves, other important things. When they remove it, release the pressure, you don’t know if you’ll be the same. That frightened me: I’m 32, wondering."
Nope, sorry. There’s Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia, with the riders going over the Mortirolo, or the French Open - both on Eurosport, of course. Or you could just count down the hours until Arsenal vs Chelsea…
Alternatively, you could count down the days until Ben Snowball's Warm-Up. He's here tomorrow...