FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES

Three absolute shockers cost Tottenham dear

Jose Mourinho's modus operandi is to eradicate risk/mistakes. That's the philosophy. Strip it all back and that's the basis of Mourinho's football. However, there were mistakes aplenty in Spurs' 3-1 loss against Liverpool on Thursday.
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In the reverse fixture, the plan almost worked. Tottenham restricted Liverpool to two clear chances - they scored both - and had, including their goal, three gilt-edged chances. Hence, the quip from Mourinho post-match that the "best team lost.'
Mourinho was mocked for this. Liverpool played the better football, clearly, but Mourinho doesn't frame his analysis by the metric of who played the better football. That's just aesthetics. Mourinho's definition of the best team is the team who made the fewest mistakes. Thus, in the reverse fixture, Mourinho's comment was at face value. Tottenham were the better team when measured by the metric of fewest mistakes.
So, on Thursday's showing Tottenham were atrocious by Mourinho's measure. Three goals conceded. Three horrendous goals. Eric Dier, Hugo Lloris and Joe Rodon all made sizable errors. And that ultimately is on Mourinho, whose USP is the eradication of risk and thus mistakes.
However, Liverpool were fully deserving of their win. They looked - despite having next-to-no defenders - fairly solid at the back with Jordan Henderson at centre-half partnering Joel Matip and then Nat Phillips, and their attack appeared to click into gear. The title race is not over yet.

Jurgen Klopp hails his Liverpool players after 'brave performance' against Tottenham Hotspur

Let's get injured players off the pitch shall we?

Harry Kane first went down injured in the 13th minute in Tottenham's 3-1 loss against Liverpool. It seemed as though his ankle ligaments - knackered several times over the last several years - were in trouble again. Kane clearly wanted to play on. He played on. He went down again with roughly 10 minutes of the half to go when it now seemed abundantly clear that his ankle ligaments were knackered. Kane clearly wanted to play on. He played on.
The England captain was withdrawn at half-time. Injured.
Kane will now be out for an undetermined period of time. That period of time would perhaps have been reduced had Kane left the field of play when he first injured his ankle on 13 minutes. Mourinho would reveal post-match that Kane had, in fact, injured both ankles and added:
He is injured in both ankles. He says to cope with one pain, probably he could. But with both it is very painful, very sore and getting big both ankles. He just could not do it. He is a guy with a good sacrifice spirit and can fight against pain, but he just could not.
Players always want to play on. It is why they are players.
In the second half Joe Rodon and Thiago Alcantara clashed heads. The clash was so substantial that the Liverpool player left the pitch to have a couple of stitches. Both players played on, which considering the severity of the clash was a surprise.
This may or may not be related, but Rodon would go on to make a fairly rudimental mistake to allow Sadio Mane in for the visitors' third. There is a strong argument that Rodon should not have been on the pitch at that stage. He may have easily passed the concussion protocol. However, concussion is a complicated condition to diagnose - take for example Steve Smith's delayed concussion diagnosis during the Ashes back in 2019.
Players always want to play on. Kane was a marginal decision that backfired, head injuries should never be a marginal decision.

Mourinho on Kane - 'It is not a nothing injury'

Real Madrid and Barcelona pushing for European Super League still

Football must step forward in these new times. And Real Madrid will be there, as it always has been over its history. Everyone realises that the current competitive environment must be reformed as soon as possible. The great European clubs have thousands of followers all around the world. We have the responsibility to fight for this change, a change which we must take on, of course, from a basis of solidarity with the rest of the clubs. Our duty is to adapt to our new reality. The competitiveness and quality of our competitions must improve. It is a challenge for which we must be prepared.
The words of Florentino Perez in late December. It is quite the pitch. But utter nonsense.
Both Real and Barca are, according to the Athletic, interested in joining a super league because their finances are in a dire state. Part of this owes to the Covid-19 pandemic; part of it owes to financial mismanagement.
For example, the reports adds that Barca have debts of €1.2 billion, €19 million of which is owed to Bordeaux for Malcolm, a player they signed in 2018 for €41 million. Real, the report adds, have a hole to the tune of €300 million in their finances.
One wonders what could be drawing the aforementioned clubs to the European Super League? As an aside, and not related to the above - it is definitely related - The Times report that teams joining said league could receive a one-off payment of £310 million. Further, Joan Laporta, formerly a super league sceptic, told Cope:
The income for the clubs would be significant, between €700 million and €800 million for each club. The first three years it would be a closed system, then there is a proposal for promotion and relegation.
This has very little to do with competition and a lot to do with plugging financial holes.
The problem is a super league will not solve the problem. The problem is allowing clubs - some of which are state-backed - to operate outside their means. Some clubs - Manchester City, PSG for example - have access to limitless funds. A super league would only serve to inflate the market further, which would, again, lead to clubs without limitless wealth exceeding their means to compete with sides with limitless access to funds.
If only there were regulations in place that penalised clubs for spending beyond their means. The sort of spending beyond their means that put institutions such as Real Madrid and Barcelona at risk of financial meltdown.
There is, you say? And it is called Financial Fair Play. Nice.

IN THE CHANNELS

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And with that the game, friends, has officially and completely gone. The Warm-Up is off to shout at a cloud.

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The weekend. Well done everyone. Anyway, here on Monday will be Andi Thomas to take you through a weekend of football.
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