FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES

Pep to pop off?

Hear that noise, rumbling in the distance? It’s the sound of a phalanx of Manchester City officials shifting nervously in their seats as reports continue to suggest that Pep Guardiola might actually be doing one this summer.
Champions League
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City might have just enjoyed the most complete domestic season in the history of English football, boasting an absolutely ridiculous tally of 198 league points over the past two seasons, but what until two days ago had the appearance of a football empire set to dominate like never before is now creaking. Ominously so.
Yesterday, it was even reported by Italian source AGI Sport that Guardiola has agreed a four-year deal worth £21m per season to manage the Italian champions. Seems drastically unlikely? Well, consider the following:
  • Juventus only recently sacked Massimiliano Allegri after his fifth successive league title, apparently in search of a coach with a clearer identity about attacking and entertaining football. No immediate replacement was in place. Suspiciously enough.
  • Guardiola appeared genuinely furious when he won the treble at the FA Cup final, only to be questioned about whether he had received additional payments from his owners. Having press conferences dominated by issues like financial fair play and human rights abuses in the UAE is not what he got into football for.
  • Guardiola has always said he wants to conquer Serie A too – and Juventus provide the perfect platform for him to become a league-winning coach in a fourth different country. In fact it would basically be a given.
  • And more than anything, the only thing Pep Guardiola needs to prove in football any more is that he can win the Champions League with another club other than Barcelona. And with the prospect of a possible Champions League ban at City….
The Warm-Up isn’t saying this is nailed on – but it’s probably a lot more likely than some people are assuming. People such as City board member Alberto Galassi. "This rumour is unfounded,” he told Sky Italia.
A club like Juventus would not have allowed such news to come out like this. Manchester City could not have been left out without knowing and being advised. It is unbelievable that the media pursue these kind of rumours. This is ridiculous. Guardiola wants to stay. He is a great professional and he can't believe his words are not listened to. He does not want to leave. Therefore, the problem does not exist because the whole matter does not exist.
Galassi also said he had spoken with Juventus vice-chairman Pavel Nedved about the matter.
"I have known him for a very long time," said Galassi. "We laughed at these rumours, and we realised that this whole issue had become ridiculous."
Yeah… he’s going isn’t he?

2. Robben linked with Leicester switch

Arjen Robben und Karl-Heinz Rummenigge vom FC Bayern München

Image credit: Getty Images

Premier League left-backs be warned: the most predictable yet unstoppable move in professional football could be making its way to England. Yes, Arjen Cutting-Onto-His-Left-And-Sticking-It-Into-The-Corner Robben is apparently set to sign for Leicester City on a free transfer!
Well, that’s at least the conclusion The Daily Mail draw from some betting data – but it’s a long old summer for The Warm-Up and we can’t be picky about these things. Treading the route previously trod by another Real Madrid alumni, Esteban Cambiasso, would be an intriguing switch for one of the greatest wingers of modern times.
Let’s be honest – it’s not going to happen. And as though to confirm that, Leicestershire Live runs an article entitled: ‘What we know about Arjen Robben to Leicester City transfer rumours’.
The opening line? ‘Leicester City are not trying to sign Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben.’

3. Arsenal and Chelsea return Europa League final tickets

Baku Olympic Stadium has proved a controversial choice of venue for the Europa League final

Image credit: PA Sport

In the latest development which only confirms that the Europa League final in Baku is the biggest omnishambles since the Fyre Festival, Chelsea and Arsenal are reported to have returned as much as half their ticket allocation for the match on May 29, having failed to sell even a paltry tally of 6,000 tickets each.
According to the Daily Mirror:
The Gunners have sold half of their 6,000 allocation, whilst Chelsea have only managed to flog 2,000. It was only earlier this week that Arsenal complained to UEFA about the proportion of tickets made available to them. But now both sides will return their unsold quantities, with UEFA set to sell them locally instead.
Can’t wait for this one!

IN OTHER NEWS

Love this. Love, love, love this.

IN THE CHANNELS

Parliament TV isn’t usually a hotbed of content for The Warm-Up (if someone commissions Parliament Fan TV, we might be talking – ‘she’s got to go fam, you understand me blud?’) but thanks to Labour deputy leader Tom Watson it does make our pages today. Watson used his platform in the House of Commons yesterday to condemn the situation which sees Henrikh Mkhitaryan prevented from playing in the Europa League final. Altough “match of a lifetime” might be stretching it…

HAT TIP(S)

I was in front of the unknown so you never know how you will respond to that situation. I started at 29 as a manager and I never stopped until I was 69, so that is 40 years. At first I thought: ‘Do I go straight back into that heat again?’ It is not so much the heat but once you go in there, there is nothing else. So I thought let’s take a bit of time.
Interviews with Arsene Wenger are rarely a let down and today’s with Amy Lawrence in The Guardian is no exception. One of the best journalists on Arsenal catches up with the great man just over a year since his final game in charge of the club.
Oh, and if you haven’t yet read Rob Smyth’s magnificent long read on Manchester United’s famous night in Barcelona in 1999, rectify that right now:

COMING UP

Slim pickings today but just a reminder we will have live text commentary on the German Cup final between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzg tomorrow – while you can also watch highlights of the League Two play-off final between Newport County and Tranmere Rovers on Quest!
The Warm-Up is strenuously denying reports that Marcus Foley has been tapped up by another hilarious football column and he'll definitely be back on Monday.
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