The Warm-Up: Lampard starts as he will have to continue at Chelsea
A loose collection of youngsters and off-cuts begin Frank Lampard's time as Chelsea manager. Get used to it, Frankie...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
Lampard out! Frank begins Chelsea tenure with limp draw at Irish minnows
We jest, of course. The Frank Lampard era began in extremely low-key fashion, with a 1-1 draw in their first pre-season friendly of the summer against a Bohemians in Ireland that featured a 14-year-old, with a fairly loose collection of youngsters and off-cuts making up the Chelsea team.
The thing is though, this is probably a microcosm of how things will be at Chelsea this coming season, their transfer embargo meaning Lampard will have to make do with what he has, which is a fairly loose collection of youngsters and off-cuts with a few stars thrown in to make things respectable. The team at Bohemians was rather more rag-tag than his first XI when things start getting serious (unknowns like Ian Maatsen, Jamie Cumming and Tiemoue Bakayoko will not get too many minutes in the first-team), but it will probably be the general vibe.
“We have high standards and we have brought that here,” Lampard buzzworded after the match, in which Michy Batshuayi scored an early opener only to be pegged back by a late leveller by triallist Eric Molloy. “We need intensity in our game, and I am pleased with the way they have worked and their attitude. Fitness was our issue.”
“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” japed the Bohemians fans after the game, which is not an absolutely outlandish gag given the way Chelsea have operated over the last decade or so. The Lampard era is here, but to stay? Who knows.
Oh, bloody hell, Newcastle
Make sure you’re sitting down for this one, for it will come as a frightful shock: it turns out that Newcastle didn’t actually have a grand plan for the future when they allowed Rafa Benitez to stroll off to China. You could forgive them for cutting the best manager they’ve had since Bobby Robson loose if they had something terrific lined-up, a manager to similarly warm the hearts of their fanbase and mitigate the broad awfulness of how the club is run.
Hmmm. Ah. Yes. About that. Turns out the grand plan was to approach Sam Allardyce, radio pundit and erstwhile football manager, who is basically semi-retired at this stage. And if there’s anything worse than signalling your own desperation by offering the job to Sam Allardyce, it’s being turned down by Sam Allardyce.
What now, then? The bookies’ favourite is Steve Bruce, a man who hasn’t managed in the Premier League since 2015 (relegated with Hull) and, while he did a solid job at the back end of last season with Sheffield Wednesday, it wasn’t so long ago that Aston Villa fans were throwing cabbages at him.
So yes, as it turns out, Newcastle are still a piping hot bin of a football club, and it would take a real optimist to think they’ll survive comfortably in the coming season.
Nigeria into the AfCon semi-finals after goalkeeping brain fade
Getting knocked out of an international tournament – particularly a fairly open international tournament – is always a kick in the pants. But for South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, his pants will have been booted all over Cairo after his calamitous error gifted Nigeria a late winner in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, allowing William Troost-Ekong to seal the 2-1 win.
Our old friend VAR had played a part earlier in the game, the machines taking what seemed like an hour and a half to confirm that Bongani Zungu had in fact equalised Samuel Chukwueze’s opener, and it looked like penalties were inevitable until Williams dashed off his line to wave at one.
In the other quarter last night, Senegal stamped on the hopes and dreams of upstarts Benin, a goal from Everton’s Idrissa Gueye settling a stodgy old contest, that saw Sadio Mane have two goals chalked off for offside. They will face either Tunisia or the romantic’s romantic choice, Madagascar, in the semi-finals.
IN OTHER NEWS
The important things to note here are obviously that Klaus Fischer, who made his name with Schalke in the 1970s and was part of the West German team that were runners up at the 1982 World Cup, is not only nailing scissor kicks aged 69, but he’s doing it in slacks and a formal shoe, too.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Megan Rapinoe
Zero: Pontus Jansson
Maybe we’re gnarled old cynics, but if you believe that when it seemed time was up at Leeds, Pontus Jansson really did say to his agent “Get me Brentford!” then you’re a better, purer soul than us.
"History has not judged Pierre van Hooijdonk kindly. The original footballing “striker” was castigated by his manager, team-mates and the media for downing tools for Nottingham Forest ahead of the 1998-99 Premier League season. Twenty years on, that mud has largely stuck. Yet for better or for worse, Van Hooijdonk revealed a newfound nuclear option for many of his 21st century contemporaries to force moves from clubs"
Happy Marco Tardelli day everyone: 37 years ago, Italy beat West Germany to win their first World Cup since 1938. Which, chillingly, is nearly as close to then as 1982 is to now.
Can the great Madagascar fairytale continue? They’ll be underdogs in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against Tunisia later tonight, but then again they can probably barely remember a game when they weren’t underdogs, so you wouldn’t think that will bother them too much. In the other quarter, Ivory Coast and Algeria will be duking it out to join Nigeria and Senegal in the semis.
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by our very own fairytale success, Tom Adams.