The Warm-Up: Arsenal's slow-motion car crash
No Tom Adams today, sadly, but here's Jack Lang to do a 6/10 impression of the great man...
FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES
The Arsène Wenger guide to causality
The human brain has an impressive capacity for understanding cause, effect and their interplay. Certain events that would seem shocking if witnessed in isolation make complete sense when you’re aware of how the dominoes were set in motion.
A car crashing into a tree: Christ, wow. A car crashing into a tree after you’ve watched someone sink a bottle of vodka and put on a blindfold before taking the wheel: yeah, that was always going to happen.
And so to Arsenal, where things that would have reduced the football world to a shivering mess in, say, 2015 are happening with such unflinching inevitability that it’s tempting to wonder whether anyone has any control over them at all.
Try this sentence on for size: the Gunners are probably going to lose their two best players, either for no transfer fee at all or for sums so derisory as to be offensive. See, you’re still breathing. The causes have been drip-fed over the last few seasons and now it’s just a case of watching the effect play out.
“Once you are in our kind of situation we have envisaged every kind of solution,” said Arsène Wenger yesterday. But “envisaging” is not really the kind of verb Arsenal fans are looking for here, no matter how much the manager insists that both Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil – the Emirates Two – “look happy here”.
The fee being mooted this morning for Sánchez, who is still wanted by Manchester City despite the fact they already have roughly 78 attackers, is a paltry £20million. That’s less than Davy Klaassen moved for this summer and the same price as Marko Arnautović.
The fender is crumpling up into the engine in slow motion. And the tree almost looks like it’s… laughing.
Farewell, Flash Gordon
Great news for Scottish academia: Gordon Strachan is now free to pursue further studies in human genetics after leaving his role as national team manager yesterday. ‘Mutual consent’ was the official line, but The Warm-Up detected a certain jump-before-pushed subtext to the 60-year-old’s goodbye notes.
Gordon Strachan ist nicht mehr Trainer von SchottlandSID
“I said on my first day as Scotland manager that it was the proudest moment of my career and that I wanted to put a smile back on the nation’s face again,” Strachan said in a wistful statement. And if there are any ironists grinning at his departure, a quick look at the list of possible replacements is advised.
Beware of the Pog
A timely boost for Manchester United as their fixture list finally begins to stiffen up before Christmas: their most influential, most talented, most marketable, most valuable central midfielder looks set to return from injury earlier than expected.
Paul Pogba with Manchester UnitedPanoramic
Wait, hang on. No, sorry, there’s been a mix-up. Marouane Fellaini is still out for a couple more weeks. Sorry. Still, apparently Paul Pogba could be back for the Swansea game, so at least there’s that.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Lars Lagerbäck
One of football’s nice guys did his thing yesterday, penning a lovely letter to congratulate his former Iceland charges and colleagues on their qualification for the World Cup.
“I woke up this morning with a smile on my face,” wrote the 69-year-old. “I have of course followed your campaign for WC 2018 and my respect for you is just still growing.
“All the players who have been involved… You have a big part in my heart and I will follow you as long as I live. Then the team behind the team. If the players are good, you all are something extra… and you are among my best friends.
“Finally the Boss. I am especially glad for you Heimir. After five years together you are one of my best friends and colleagues. The way you have guided the team together with the rest of the staff to Russia is absolutely high class work. (…) Well done old chap!”
Someone pass the tissues. We’re welling up over here.
Zero: Isaac Success
A name like that comes with certain expectations – ones that probably aren’t really going to be ALLEGEDLY met in an ALLEGED hotel room, ALLEGEDLY with what some people claim were four workers of a certain type.
And now, to make matters worse, Marco Silva has set his death stare on the Watford youngster, who is yet to play a minute in the Premier League this season.
“The player and everyone else at the club knows their obligations as professionals and they know the rules,” Silva said, presumably while stroking a white cat on a swivel chair in an impractically-decorated anteroom. “People who love football don’t like this situation. Football is his life, he needs to be careful and know the right way.”
Marco Silva has challenged Isaac Success, pictured, to prove he warrants a future at WatfordPA Sport
"The atmosphere among the 17 players, plus coach Nick Stienstra, was celebratory. The stars might not have been there, but plenty of talent was: FC Twente defender Andy Scharmin decided to go rather than play in the Toulon tournament, at least in part so he could take his mother and aunt on the trip home; Steve van Dorpel was about to sign for Roda JC after tearing Ajax apart earlier that season; Andro Knel was a rising star and colourful character who would regularly rollerskate to training."
Monaco's Colombian forward Radamel Falcao (L) celebrates after scoring his second goal during the French L1 football match between Monaco (ASM) and Marseille (OM) on August 27, 2017, at the Louis II Stadium in MonacoGetty Images
Cluuuubbbbbb fooooootball! Get your cluuuubbbbbb fooooootball!
Yep, we’re back in the game, if not with a bang then at least with a very pleasant squeaking noise this Friday night. Birmingham vs Cardiff and Bristol City vs Burton Albion make up the local offering, but for The Warm-Up’s money, you’re best off looking to Ligue 1 to start your weekend.
Lyon vs Monaco could be a cracker: the former can’t defend and the latter, with Radamel Falcao rejuvenated, are ruthless on their day. The 16 games played by the two sides so far this season have produced 61 goals – an average of 3.81 per match. Could be a thriller.