The Warm-Up: The Mauricio Pochettino guide to League Cup team talks
Jack Lang brings news of training-ground wonder goals, painful celebrations and plenty more...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
A game of two halves
The hosts walked off the field with a two-goal advantage, Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli having found the net in an opening 45 minutes that would have made an afternoon nap seem energetic by comparison. The danger of them messing things up appeared to be precisely zero.
And then… well. We know Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t like losing football matches, but we also know he’s not that fond of the League Cup, having admitted as much a couple of months ago. So while The Warm-Up certainly isn’t insinuating that Spurs just tanked it, the team talk didn’t exactly push them onto greater things in the second period.
In fact, as Angelo Ogbonna netted West Ham’s third goal in a frankly nonsensical goal blitz, it was tempting to wonder whether there had been a team talk at all. The following options would better explain things:
– Pochettino came in, put on a DVD of Disney’s Bambi, and vaped.
– Pochettino came in and challenged Danny Rose to a game of pétanque, using rolled up socks. This freaked Eric Dier out because he had never even heard of pétanque.
Eric Dier joined Tottenham from Sporting Lisbon in 2014PA Sport
– Pochettino came in and sang the whole of Wonderwall, apparently unironically, moving three or four members of the squad to tears.
– Pochettino never came in, instead sending in two small children disguised as a fully-grown man, stacked one on top of the other within a vintage, Soviet-era greatcoat, to deliver a short discourse on contemporary Dutch architecture.
– Pochettino came in and just mumbled something about how the opening segments of snarky football blogs never have convincing endings.
England's team celebrates their winReuters
England being good in major international tournaments? That will never catch on. Unless you’re talking about youth football, in which case YES, FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME ALL OVER THE BLOODY PLACE.
That was a fine, fine win over a highly-rated Brazil side and now England face familiar foes in Saturday’s final. Spain were the victors when the two sides met in the final of Euro 2017 back in May, getting the job done on penalties after an absorbing 2-2 draw, so revenge will surely be the order of the day for Steve Cooper and his players.
Will any of the England starlets progress to senior football in the years ahead? The chances must be good, especially for the likes of Phil Foden of Manchester City and Liverpool’s Brewster, who is the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals.
Although on the other hand…
From Shakey to Shhhhhh
Foxes fans would perhaps be forgiven for being a touch underwhelmed, given that Puel only lasted a year at Southampton and was not universally popular among supporters or players. But in a sport that insists on turning everything up to 11 at all times, there’s something charming – even rebellious, at a stretch – about his low-decibel press conferences.
We wish him well. Or, as Puel himself might say…
ᵂᵉ ʷᶦˢʰ ʰᶦᵐ ʷᵉˡˡ
Claude Puel, Manager of Southampton looks on prior to the Premier League match between Southampton and Stoke CityGetty Images
À propos of very little, here’s Thierry Henry taking a halberd to Danny Mills’ self-esteem. “Sometimes I just do what the game asks me to do,” muses the Frenchman, and in this instance the game instructed him to embarrass Mills to such an extent that standing there for a couple of seconds, hands on hips, was the only possible reaction.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Raphael Guerreiro
OK, so the camera angle could be better here. But The Warm-Up encourages you to get your squint on for this ridiculous training-ground strike by the Portugal international. It looks more like a Tekken special move than any regular kind of volley.
Zero: These people
Inspired by Brewster, here are some people absolutely going to town on their knees in the name of goal celebration. It’s an ongoing series, so if you can think of any more, please do send them to me on Twitter (@jacklang).
" Quagliarella’s mind was at war with itself. On one side, there remained the fantasy of Quagliarella, the hometown hero, hoisting the Italian Cup as Napoli’s captain, fireworks exploding around him and his team-mates in the background, the fans roaring their love and appreciation. On the other, his reality: Someone close to him—someone he loves?—is actively tormenting him and his family in the most insidious fashion. For what possible reason? What did he do to them? When will this end?"
Over on the Bleacher Report, Kelly Naqi dives into the story of Fabio Quagliarella, the former Italy striker who, unbeknown to all but his closest confidants, was tormented by a stalker during his time at hometown club Napoli. It’s football meets true crime, over two parts, and is very good.
Fabio Quagliarella Torino Udinese 2015LaPresse
Hablas Español? Good, because your best options for some live football today are in the Copa del Rey, with five games on the schedule. Real Madrid travel to play Fuenlabrada, and while Zinedine Zidane can be expected to rest a number of his big hitters, it will be a good chance to take a look at some of the talented younger players in the squad.
Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernández, Borja Mayoral and Marcos Llorente should all be involved, and Fuenlabrada – second in Segunda – should provide enough of a challenge for it to be interesting.