MONDAY’S BIG STORIES
Greenwood for the Ballon d’Or
It’s early days, but after that double against Bournemouth, we’re calling it. Congratulations to Mason Greenwood on breaking the all-time goalscoring records for both Manchester United and England. And for scoring exactly half those goals with one foot, half with the other. No headers. Weird.
Think we’re getting carried away? Just listen to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the man currently in possession of both those records …
I have seen Wayne Rooney at the same age and Mason is a specialist finisher and specialist goal-scorer […] He knows exactly what to do with the ball when he’s on the pitch. If he shoots, he’ll score. He’s going to get better and his general play has improved.
… see? It’s an absolute certainty. Oh hang on, Solskjaer hadn’t quite finished …
I don’t want to compare him to Rooney or Ronaldo, as that’s not fair, and he’ll create his own career.
… ah. Well, this is embarrassing. Still, at least we can all agree that the kid’s the business, right? Right. Euro 2021, here he comes.
James Rodriguez poised for cut-price deal to Premier League - Euro Papers
To win while not playing well is the hallmark of champions, so they say. But getting some helpful refereeing decisions doesn’t hurt. Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao because they defended stoutly, rode their luck, and were awarded a borderline penalty while Athletic weren’t. This enabled Sergio Ramos to keep them on track for the title.
Not that Zinedine Zidane is having any such slander.
We are giving everything on the pitch and we deserve everything we are achieving. I don’t like to get involved in these discussions but what I cannot accept is hearing that we are top of the table because of referees’ decisions. We deserve more respect for what we are doing and I’m tired of people saying we are winning because of referees.
Now, far be it for The Warm-Up to offer Zidane advice, but if you want people to stop accusing you of benefiting from refereeing decisions, maybe try benefiting from refereeing decisions a bit less? Just spitballing here. A penalty here, another penalty there, a weird handball decision or two. People are going to talk.
He’s got the germ of a point, though. If Madrid are getting some soft decisions, then they’re defending those ill-gotten gains phenomenally well. Since coming back from the corona-break they’ve conceded just twice, and both those came with the game as good as won. For all the big names up at the other end of the pitch, if Madrid do win this title, it will belong to Sergio Ramos. And to Sergio Ramos’s beard.
Zinedine Zidane admits James Rodriguez asked not to play for Real Madrid
The unstoppable Old Lady
Meanwhile in Italy, Maurizio Sarri appears to have found the trick to unlocking Paulo Dybala. The Argentine began this season (about 23 years ago) being offered to Tottenham and Manchester United; he’s ending it in simply delightful form for Juventus.
But as nice as it is to see Dybala thriving, Serie A as a whole is looking increasingly cursed. Not only are Juventus the biggest and baddest around again, but every other club seems to be strongly allergic to the very idea of a title race. Consider Inter, who somehow threw away the win against 10-man Bologna.
Or Lazio, whose tonking at the hands and feet of AC Milan included this miserable moment.
And so, however well the Old Lady are playing, it’s almost beside the point. As soon as anybody else comes within touching distance of the top, they are immediately struck with a swooning headache and need to have a lie down. Handy for the defending champions, of course. Not great for the spectacle.
IN OTHER NEWS
Oh hey, it looks like Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann can play together after all. How lovely.
IN THE CHANNELS
Fair to say the people at Southampton quite enjoyed Ché Adams opening his account against Manchester City. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Over to the Athletic (£) for a fascinating, confusing, and terrifying look at the mysterious shenanigans that have driven Wigan Athletic into administration. This includes the remarkable revelation that a fan contacted the EFL to point out that something weird was going on, and was apparently ignored.
In recent months, there have been warnings of possible trouble ahead. The Athletic has seen correspondence from a Wigan supporter to the EFL on May 12 warning that the 104-page document published on May 8 did not include evidence of future funding and asking whether the EFL had carried out due diligence. […] It is understood the information was passed to the relevant people but that Au Yeung passed the Owners’ and Directors’ test.
All about the second legs today. Oxford take on Portsmouth in the League One playoff semi-final, with the game nicely poised at 1-1, while Werder Bremen complete their relegation playoff — and possibly their miraculous escape — against Heidenheim. That’s 0-0 from the first game. Also Spurs are playing Everton, if Jose Mourinho looking miserable is relevant to your interests.
Marcus Foley will be here tomorrow to bring you news of wins for *rolls dice* Pompey, Heidenheim, and Everton? Interesting.