The Warm-Up: Will anyone notice if Man City are banned from the Champions League?
Plus, the complicated feelings about Chris Hughton's sacking, Alexis apologies for his form but not his moustache, and Mike Dean
TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES
Are Manchester City going to be booted out of the Champions League? And will anyone notice?
Those of a cruel persuasion might suggest that the Champions League without Manchester City will be no great loss. After all, this is a club who have spent gazillions on their team in the last 11 years and have one semi-final in the biggest pot to show for it. Not letting them in would be a bit like banning Reading from the FA Cup.
"An investigation into accusations that Premier League champion Manchester City misled European soccer’s financial regulators in pursuit of its success on the field is expected to recommend that the team be barred from the Champions League, European soccer’s richest competition and the trophy the club covets most. English soccer authorities and officials at UEFA, European soccer’s governing body and the organizer of the Champions League, have for months been investigating Manchester City amid allegations of rule-breaking revealed in damaging leaks over much of the past year…The investigatory panel’s leader, the former prime minister of Belgium Yves Leterme, will have the final say on the submission to a separate adjudicatory chamber, which could be filed as soon as this week. The body is expected to seek at least a one-season ban."
And if they are found guilty – remember this would be the second time – then being hoofed from the Champions League seems appropriate. Of course it will come with the usual spittle-flecked accusations of conspiracy from the spicier end of the Manchester City support, but it might at least serve as a warning to others that they cannot simply financially bully the rest of football.
Plus – and we cannot stress this enough – it will be really funny.
What does Chris Hughton’s sacking say about football?
Football is full of complicated characters, capable of good things and bad, and it’s up to the individual to decide which side they focus on. But when there is someone as uncomplicatedly good as Chris Hughton, there is always a danger that we allow their goodness to get in the way of logical decision-making.
Particularly when not good things happen to good people, which is where we found ourselves yesterday when Brighton announced they had dismissed the man who brought them to and kept them in the Premier League, after a near-calamitous second half of the season.
On the face of it, with cold logic, the decision makes sense. Brighton really only survived because there were three more incompetent teams than them in the Premier League, and the word around the campfire was that players were unhappy with his style of football and people at the club were concerned his methods were not getting the best from their new signings. If you think things are going south, better to make a decisive change now than to dither and write next season off too.
But then again, this not only feels like a gamble – for every ‘smaller’ club who thrived after they sacked a stalwart manager in search of something better, there are a couple who plummeted – but it’s a symbol of how much football treats individuals as pieces of meat, cogs in the system rather than genuine human beings. Hughton didn’t quite perform miracles with Brighton, but he’s brought success they could only dream of a few years ago, and this is the thanks he gets?
There’s also the issue that one of the depressingly few BAME managers in the country is now out of work, following Darren Moore’s dismissal from West Brom earlier this season. Nuno Espirito Santo is the only BAME manager in the Premier League, while there are only three others in the top four divisions.
"We are now at worse than square one. What people don’t understand is the real difficulties for black managers getting through the bottle neck at the top of football. We are talking about measly numbers. It’s so shabby. What are the expectations of Brighton? Surely it is to stay in the league. You are 4th from bottom and you have got to an FA Cup semi-final. I don’t get it. They must have been planning it for some time. Look at how Chris has been treated at Newcastle and Norwich and now Brighton? Being nice is his nature, but I know behind closed doors he is a different guy, he knows how to get his teams going. He has given Brighton another year of Premier League football and he gets repaid like this? Really?"
Football isn’t just a results business. It has heart, it has compassion, it has goodness, and a bit of that disappeared when Hughton was sacked on Monday.
Alexis Sanchez apologises for him, United being so rubbish
The Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan transfer will go down as one of the all-time worst deals because it was one in which somehow absolutely everyone lost. Both men are out of their respective first teams, both teams have expensive flops on their hands and aren’t getting rid of them anytime soon, and what’s more Alexis appears to be sporting an absurd moustache these days too.
"It was a very tough season…the fan are the ones who deserve an apology as they always support you no matter what happens. Personally, I didn’t perform as much as I was expecting because of unpredictable injuries. Press and people were speculating of things that were not even true. I was always a professional in all aspects. I apologise to the fans for not be able to achieve our goals, Nevertheless we are Manchester United! Players and Staff are questioning if we were doing the right thing and if we were giving our best for this football shirt … I’m certain that Manchester United one day will return to be the club, as it was in the old days with Mr. Alex Ferguson."
Well, if nothing else, we can see that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s “This is Manchester United, we used to be good you know” message is getting through. So that’s something.
IN OTHER NEWS
Everybody loves Son-Heung min, and here’s why.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Mike Dean
Look at this, Mike Dean, a Premier League referee, the rule-enforcing robots of football, expressing some genuine human emotion as Tranmere reach the League Two play-off final. Lovely to see.
Zero: Mike Dean
Look at this, Mike Dean, a Premier League referee, in a completely out of character moment as he tries to bring the most attention to himself and make absolutely everything about him. Awful to see.
"After a downturn precipitated Rodgers’ exit, Klopp’s appointment in 2015 was the missing piece. “Jurgen fits the plan because he fits the club,” says Ayre.“With him you had someone who trusted and believed in it. It makes me laugh whenever I read something saying, ‘the recruitment strategy changed with Klopp’. There is no difference in the system now than there ever was. What is most important is that everyone believes in it, and he does."
The second leg of the first Championship play-off semi-final is tonight, and it’s going to be spicy. It’s West Brom v Aston Villa for a start, so all the requisite local rivalries are in place, but also both managers have said they’re going to attack, so it might also be complete chaos. It’s going to be great fun, tune in.
Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by the always fun Ben Snowball.