The Warm-Up: The Italian job
Jack Lang sympathises with Maurizio Sarri, enjoys some vintage Stevie G and salutes a brave, unnamed French journo...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Thank u, next
We’ll get to the actual match in a second, but The Warm-Up would just like to state, for the record, that we are 1000% here for Maurizio Sarri now raising a pudgy middle finger to Chelsea, moving to Juventus and winning every title on offer for the next decade.
If ever there was a moment to bow out – preferably by spitting on the ground and muttering “vaffanculo“, then hopping into some vintage car like the climactic scene in an vintage Italo-crime caper – this is surely it. Sarri, the ex-banker whose old job is probably used as rhyming slang by his many detractors, is no longer a trophyless pretender.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: SEE YA.
Dressing-room factions: SEE YA.
The thousands of Chelsea fans who spent literally the entire season moaning about his every decision, asking for their club back, quoting pass stats like they were a list of crimes: ABSOLUTELY SEE YA.
Chelsea finished third in the Premier League. They reached the final of the League Cup. Last night, they won only the fifth European trophy in their entire history. The Warm-Up isn’t stupid enough to believe everything is perfect, but come on. The broad strokes aren’t bad, are they?
And yet still, his job looks about as secure as a prison made of breadsticks. “At the end of each season you have to sit down and talk,” he said last night. “In my opinion, I deserve to stay at Chelsea. But my opinion is not enough.”
Will Sarri jack it all in? Goodness knows. But he should.
On the other, we at least got to hear it from the horse’s mouth – and see, to some extent, the inner turmoil that comes with leaving a club you love in search of a new challenge. Yes, he had just run around for 90 minutes, but The Warm-Up is pretty sure he’s blushing.
Idiot wind chime
Good news for people who don’t like feeling so embarrassed that they want to dig out their lungs with their fingernails: the FA is launching a campaign aimed at rooting out anti-social behaviour at England away matches.
“Don’t Be That Idiot,” they’re calling it, and we can expect an advert featuring both Gareth Southgate and Harry Maguire to hit screens soon.
“It has been a great season for English football and England but we can’t ignore some of the antisocial and embarrassing behaviour that has crept back into the game,” said FA chief executive Martin Glenn.
“There are thousands of brilliant supporters wherever our teams go, but there is an increasing problem that must be called out. We all have a responsibility to represent the country in the right way and that is what we are trying to highlight.”
Let’s hope the flag-waving, racist-chanting, pub-annexing, punch-swinging minority take note.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: This French journo
The Warm-Up’s inaugural Speaking Truth To Power Award goes to the brave soul behind this zingy little exchange with France coach Didier Deschamps:
Not to labour the point about the appropriateness of Baku as a final host, but this is pretty grim stuff:
"In its soccer coverage, Great Britain is an experiment in post-access sportswriting, a term I first heard used by the academic Merryn Sherwood. It’d be one thing for Americans to shake their heads. It’s another to understand that the same fissures have already begun to appear over here, and that, with a few nudges, we could import Britain’s brand of media relations as easily as we have Sophie Turner. The way British sportswriters talk to athletes—or don’t—is both a nightmare and a cautionary tale."
Oh, and LOL:
Happy birthday to Steven George Gerrard, who turns 39 today. Now let’s hop in the old time machine and go back to 1992, when Gerrard was absolutely dominating matches for his youth team, Whiston Juniors.
This is – from the soundtrack to the explanatory text – is what YouTube was created for:
Another quiet day, although there is one mildly notable fixture on the slate: Turkey vs Greece, aka the Cyprus Clasico, kicks off at 7pm.