WEDNESDAY'S BIG STORIES

We're not creative enough, we're not positive enough

UEFA Nations League
Southgate 'puzzled' by Foden and Greenwood behaviour
08/09/2020 AT 21:56

Hello pessimism, old friend.

On the night that the nation was banned from hosting a BBQ for seven, when the government’s circular logic was brutally exposed again, England’s football team still found a way to make it about them.

No build-up to a major tournament is complete without cycling through the trusted quartet: hope, belief, despair, apathy. The shot-shy draw with Denmark means we’re locked somewhere between the final two, despair and apathy, which is precisely where you want to be nine months out from a European Championships.

There is context. Denmark are alright. England handed debuts to some promising youngsters. It’s pre-season, behind closed doors and the Nations League may yet prove as irrelevant as its wartime predecessor.

And anyway, England will turn it around in early 2021 and start serving up that sweet, sweet nectar of hope. Until then, bask in the unavoidable satisfaction that comes from bashing them. Slag off Southgate. Bemoan the negativity. Scream 'I can’t believe I thought you were actually good'. Consider supporting Norway, who will actually win Euro 2021.

Mostly, it’s just nice to know that even in these transient and uncertain times, England maintain that unique gift for ruining your day.

'Foden and Greenwood need to rebuild trust' - Southgate

Kevin De Bruy-nah

Rant alert.

His team lost NINE times in the Premier League and finished the season with a B-trophy, but let’s just pretend Kevin De Bruyne deserved to win PFA Player of the Year because he did some cute assists.

The folly of awards season was exposed on Tuesday night: just make sure you’re the best when the voting slips are rolled out. And that’s a big problem.

Because when the Premier League elite came to vote, they did not recall the exploits of Sadio Mane pre-lockdown. How he was comfortably the best player at the most important point in the season, when Liverpool were trying to wrap up the league by Christmas, how his goals and all-round play set them on an almost perfect trajectory until February.

And if not Mane, then PFA Young Player Trent Alexander-Arnold. His tally of 13 assists might be a distant second to De Bruyne (20), but he’s a RIGHT-BACK and was part of the league’s stingiest defence. And he actually helped his team win something proper.

And if not Alexander-Arnold, then Jordan Hen… just kidding. At no stage was Henderson the best player in the Premier League, you’ve just been swept along by the romance of it all. Oh well, at least Big Jord wins PFA Classy Tweet of the Year.

101, not out

Cristiano Ronaldo is back in the headlines again after breaking another milestone in Portugal's win over Sweden – the perfect tonic after seeing his nemesis grab all the column inches with his pretend campaign to leave Barcelona.

It's 101 goals for Ronaldo on Portugal duty now. One hundred. And one. He's made Ali Daei's insurmountable record of 107 international goals look, well, surmountable.

So much has been already been written about his age-defying exploits, and there’s a Tour de France to cover, so the Warm-Up will just add its congratulations and move on.

IN THE CHANNELS

To be fair, right now we would take an all-expenses-paid trip across Europe right now – even with the caveat that we can’t smuggle Miss Iceland into our hotel.

HAT-TIP

How many holding midfielders is enough holding midfielders? If one holding midfielder is holding the space, can a second holding midfielder hold the same space, or is there technically no space left to hold? And while we’re at it, how much more is there left of this?

Spare a thought for Barney Ronay, who travelled all the way to Denmark to see that drivel for The Guardian.

COMING UP

Interesting clash in the Football League Trophy as Salford City face Manchester United U21s. But not interesting enough to actually watch. Just check the score at full-time, perhaps.

Andi Thomas was voted PFA Warm-Up Writer of the Year last night, which I'm obviously furious about

UEFA Nations League
'Naive' - Southgate confirms Foden and Greenwood axed over quarantine break
07/09/2020 AT 12:52
UEFA Nations League
Reykjavík just the start of Foden's pivotal season for club and country
05/09/2020 AT 19:57