The Warm-Up: Mourinho masterplan clicks into place as Man City seal title
Jack Lang reveals the EXCLUSIVE (and entirely fictional) email that shaped the last fortnight's events...
MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
The José Mourinho guide to minor victories
From: José Mourinho
Date: 5 April 2018 11:46
Subject: Fwd: Masterplan
To: All players
Rui and I have been thinking about the best way to approach the so-called ‘business end of the season’. I know Sevilla was disappointing, but you are all by now aware that strategy is the key to long-term success, and we must keep on planning ahead. We never look back, unless it’s to make some oblique point about my own record.
Obviously we have the derby coming up. And of course the table does not lie: we are going to finish second. People will respect that, especially when I repeatedly insist that they do so, but it’s the reality.
There is an ancient Mongol saying: “He who cannot further maximise his own pleasure must minimise the pleasure of his enemy.” It is beautiful; Rui has it tattooed across his chest, above the portrait of me.
Of course, in our current situation, our pleasure is already finite. And Manchester City is the enemy. (Phil, we can talk in my office later if this is a bit conceptual.) So the next objective is to annoy them.
Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United)Getty Images
Here are my proposals:
(1) Be terrible at the start of the derby. I’m talking laughably, Moyes-era terrible. Really make them think they’re going to lord it over us at the final whistle. I can see their stupid little blue flags now.
(2) Be really good at the end of the derby. Paul, this is you. This is where it all pays off, all our mind games. Dye your hair blue for this. It’ll be funnier.
(3) Hope that City win at Spurs.
(4) LOSE AT HOME TO WEST BROM. Hahahahahahhahaha! So they win it, but when they’re all at home, or on the golf course! They’ll have to do Periscopes, like this is 1992 and they’re all round at Lee Chapman’s house, and Gary McAllister is dressed like a car salesman.
Hahahahahhaa! This is it, guys. We win… in the most minor way possible.
See you this afternoon for double training and gruel.
Bow down for the champions
At which point it’s probably worth saying: a big, big well-done to Manchester City, who are such worthy champions that people in the future won’t even use phrases like ‘title race’ to describe this season. They were heads, shoulders, knees and toes above the opposition from start to finish, and have played some of the best football ever seen this side of the barrier between fiction and real life.
Great stuff, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that there is more to come. Scary stuff for everyone else.
Gigi doubles down
Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus argues with the referee Michael Oliver during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final scond leg match between Real Madrid and Juventus at Estadio Santiago BernabeuGetty Images
Apparently not content with unleashing a tidal wave of idiocy upon Michael Oliver’s family with his deluded midweek ravings, Gianluigi Buffon went back to the well over the weekend, issuing the least convincing character defence of the season so far.
“I don’t have to make up for anything,” the goalkeeper said on Italian TV. “This is me, I am Gigi Buffon. Even if I expressed these feelings in an exaggerated way, they were still logical thoughts. I’d say them all again.
" A referee with more experience would not have blown his whistle and decided not to become the protagonist of the match. He would’ve left it running, turned around and let the two teams fight it out in extra time. Let the pitch do the talking. I’m sure Oliver will have a great career in future, but he’s too young to officiate a match like that. The beauty, the imponderable nature of football, means that unfortunately this young man found himself in a situation that was too complex, too garbled and too big for him to deal with."
The only garbled thing here is your sense of right and wrong, amico.
IN OTHER NEWS
Hey! How are you? I hear you’ve got plans to dig up a hoary old Kanye West tweet about fixing wolves and tweet it when Wolverhampton Wanderers get promoted back to the Premier League! Sounds absolutely brilliant. Definitely, definitely do it!
All jokes aside, hearty congratulations to Nino Espirito Santo and his charges. There are lots of ways to get into the Premier League, but Wolves deserve credit for being the first club to really go down the “befriend a transfer-market puppet master and sign a load of Champions-League-quality players” route.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves have sealed a return to the top flight after a six-season absence (Nigel French/PA)PA Sport
HEROES AND ZEROES
Goal of the weekend by a long distance was this piledriver from the Schalke defender, which sealed victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby. Do make sure you turn up the volume for this; the sound of the ball hitting the net is pure, unadulterated [gif of chef kissing his fingers].
Zero: Wagner Reway
The Brazilian top flight started as it is likely to go on, with a refereeing decision for the ages. Rio giants Flamengo took the lead inside 20 seconds in their season opener against Vitoria, only for winger Everton Ribeiro to see red for a handball on the goal line.
Except… well, watch for yourself:
So that’s a penalty (scored) and a red card for a brave clearance. And to add injury to insult, poor old Everton even had a bloody nose as he trudged off the field. Long live South American refs!
IN THE CHANNELS
Questions The Warm-Up never expected to even think about, let alone pose on a public forum, No.524: is Thierry Henry… putting glitter in his beard?
That picture doesn’t quite do it justice, so take it on trust that there was more than a little extra sparkle to Henry’s showing on Super Saturday. And, this being 2018, you can be sure that the impromptu fairy-light show didn’t escape the attentions of eagle-eyed viewers at home…
Good news for fans of Marko Arnautovic doing aggressive goal celebrations: it’s West Ham vs Stoke at 8pm! The Austrian has already done his look-what-you’re-missing-you-short-sighted-scumbags routine a couple of times this term – once at the Britannia Stadium and against Southampton, because Mark Hughes – and it would be no major surprise if he completed his hat-trick tonight.