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The Warm-Up: Who has the cash to buy Bale? Watch Pep dance to Madonna 🕺

The Warm-Up: Who has the cash to buy Bale? Watch Pep dance to Madonna 🕺

21/05/2019 at 08:34Updated 21/05/2019 at 10:06

Plus: Guardiola dances to Madonna, and could Gabriel Batistuta really become Middlesbrough manager?


What next for Gareth Bale?

Sometimes, footballers earn too much money to play football. Those contracts worth mega-millions must be great in most possible ways, allowing comfort and luxury beyond the dreams of most and securing the financial future of your entire family, as long as you’re not an idiot about it.

But just occasionally a colossal contract becomes a burden and prevents you from actually doing the thing you signed that contract to do. Take Gareth Bale: his current situation appears to be a rather tough one, in that his current club Real Madrid don’t want him, and while other clubs might be keen, he earns too much money for any of them to take the risk and sign him.

Not that most sensible clubs needed a cautionary tale that you shouldn’t pay players approaching their 30s with iffy injury histories millions, but Alexis Sanchez’s situation at Manchester United is exactly that.

So where could he go? Who has money, but is at a low enough point that they need the status of a player like Bale, despite his (relatively speaking) advancing years and inability to stay fit? Only one club springs to mind: it would just be too perfect if Manchester United shipped out Sanchez, and signed Bale.

Conte set for Inter gig

Internazionale are not a club known for their wise decisions. Indeed, they have got basically everything either side of Jose Mourinho’s spell wrong, which has led to eight trophyless years, 12 managers since 2010 and a whole lot of good money thrown after bad.

But could this be the first shrewd call they’ve made in some time? Word on the street is that Antonio Conte could be their new manager, replacing the rather unpopular Luciano Spalletti who, thanks to iffy results and probably also a rather eccentric handling of the Mauro Icardi situation, is on his way out.

In theory, this is a terrific move for Inter, and also represents a coup to get perhaps the best out of work manager in Europe when Juventus have an opening for a job too. However, they will have to be aware: Conte has left his last two jobs because of rows over money, so unless they’re willing to spend significant sums in the transfer market, then this could all be a colossal clown show.

And, with Inter’s record, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

Potter ‘not a gamble’ for Brighton

The dismissal of Chris Hughton was undoubtedly harsh and said plenty of things that probably aren’t good about the state and nature of modern football. However, it was entirely logical and defensible if Brighton knew what they were doing, and had someone in mind to replace him.

The latter point at least appears to be true. Only a couple of days after Hughton’s departure, the club confirmed the appointment of Graham Potter as their new manager, a progressive and interesting choice and one that suggests the talk of unhappiness about Hughton’s style of play was at least a factor in his replacement.

But Potter only has one season in senior English football and has certainly never managed in the Premier League, so surely this represents a significant gamble for them. Not so, said chairman Tony Bloom:

"I certainly don’t think it’s a gamble. Once we’d made a decision to get a new manager in – we’d done a lot of work previously on potential head coaches – he became the outstanding candidate very quickly. He did an outstanding job at Swansea in difficult circumstances. Making no choice is a bigger gamble. He’s the right man for this club at this moment of time."

Of course, that’s not entirely true. Every managerial appointment is a gamble, and this is more than most given Potter’s experience, or lack thereof. But if everything is a gamble you might as well take a big swing and hope for spectacular results, rather than staying conservative and boring.


Clearly Pep Guardiola watched Madonna’s performance at Eurovision, and decided he could do better. Probably with good reason, too.


Hero: Gabriel Batistuta

According to the Hartlepool Mail – and for these purposes we are most certainly choosing to believe them – Gabriel Batistuta has expressed an interest in the Middlesbrough job, left vacant after Tony Pulis’s departure last week.

Now, we don’t want to appear desperate here. Nor give the impression that there’s nothing happening in our lives. But please. Someone. Make this happen. This has to happen. We need this.

Zeros: Fifa, or their ticketing people

Arranging the ticketing for something as big as the Women’s World Cup must be a hefty operation, but it’s quite impressive that Fifa, or whoever Fifa got to sort out their ticketing, managed to make this specific balls up. Plenty of fans have been complaining that the tickets they have bought were not together, to which Fifa have responded “oh, yeah, they’re not together, did we not tell you about that?” Obviously there are many questions to be asked, not least this: surely it’s more difficult to arrange tickets that aren’t together, than it is to arrange tickets that are together, no?


"Bale is 30 next month and few clubs could pay the required fee, or his €18m net annual salary; fewer still that he would want to join. And without that, there is no way out. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, honestly,” Zidane said on Sunday after Madrid were defeated 2-0 by Real Betis in their last league game, and he was telling the truth. What he does know is what he wants to happen, and everyone else knows that too: there has been little attempt to hide it. The relationship between the two men has long since broken down, going back to Zidane’s previous spell in charge, and in a brief and blunt meeting the manager has told Bale he does not want him to continue at Madrid."


Box yourself off 18 minutes and watch 100 goals from the season just ended. Sure, not particularly ‘retro’, but the past remains the past.

Tomorrow’s Warm-Up will be brought to you by the steady, firm, reassuring hand of Ben Snowball.