Anyone popping by expecting a full rundown of England’s trip to Belgium on Sunday night, you might want to move on. Had it been a match that meant something, had it been an international game that wasn’t taking place in the middle of a fixture pile-up, had it seen Jordan Pickford actually dropped? Yeah, I’d have hung around the extra hour before filing this twaddle. But as it was? Tucked up in bed long before to curfew counting down the days for the Premier League’s return, that was me.
But, I am not going to completely ignore international football in today’s column, oh no. Many hearty congratulations to Scotland for qualifying for the largest European Championships ever. That’s right – we all knew that UEFA kept making it bigger we’d see you there eventually and at least you get to be play at the party you are hosting – that’s got to be a win.
Not so much fortune went the way of Northern Ireland, losing their play-off in extra time. To be fair, the writing was on the wall after North Macedonia booked their place earlier in the day – therefore taking up the allocated slot for nations with ‘North’ in their name.
This will certainly be an international break Jurgen Klopp files in the bin. Since this time last week, he’s managed to lose Trent Alexander-Arnold following the Man City match and Joe Gomez to a proper knee injury in England training, seen Andy Robertson withdraw from the Scotland match on Sunday due to a hamstring worry and learned via the Egyptian FA that Mohamed Salah has got Coronavirus. Rumours that there was minimal contact between Salah and the virus are as of yet unconfirmed.
The international break also helped us learn that Gareth Bale is back in love with football, according to Wales’ stand-in gaffer Robert Page. That really does beg the question of exactly how much Bale hated football being stuck in Madrid – I mean, if leaving there and having to play for Jose Mourinho in the November rain makes you fall back in love that really does tell you something about Zinedine Zidane’s feelings towards him.
France manager Didier Deschamps was vocal in his support for Paul Pogba ahead of the Man United midfielder joining up with his national team. Deschamps claimed Pogba could not be happy at United, what with being in and out of Ole’s team so often. Pogba was certainly boosted by this public show of confidence – check out his miss against Portugal if you want to see the perfect storm of managerial praise and backing have an immediate impact on the field of play.
It would be remiss of me to move on to things closer to home without mentioning the San Marino player who burst into tears on national TV, overwhelmed by the emotion of his team managing to do something the nation has failed to do ever. Yes, San Marino have avoided defeat in two successive matches – a reason as good as any for the waterworks being open for business.
There’s been a fair bit of needle floating around in the last few days, too. After all, with some of the media understandably praising United’s Marcus Rashford for caring about trivial things like child poverty and taking the government on in public, it was only going to be a matter of time before the Daily Mail piped up – calling Rashford out for daring to campaign for kids to be able to eat whilst investing the money he earns from his actual job into property so he can provide for his family once his career is over. Marcus, Number 10 is on the phone and they’d like their MBE back, please – how could you be so frivolous spending your wages on sensible investments and not some of the pursuits enjoyed by other players in your circles?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seems to be falling out with people left, right and centre – mind you, considering he’s hardly had a chance created for him by the Arsenal since the start of October you can understand his grumpiness levels.
Ian Wright is convinced Yo-Pierre and his strike-partner Alexandre Lacazette have fallen out based off some very tenuous pre-match images from the Villa defeat. And what Auba has done to upset Toni Kroos is anyone’s guess.
Sticking with Arsenal, new signing Thomas Partey had one of the finest injury records in Europe when with Atletico Madrid. The midfielder would rarely miss a game, a figure of ultimate fitness. Three weeks at the Emirates? Yeah, you’re one step ahead of me. Thigh strain. Out for a few weeks.
John Barnes isn’t convinced that Kylian Mbappe would put a shift in like the current Liverpool front three do, so if King Kloppo is offered the chance to sign one of the greatest young players we have ever seen at an agreeable price he should probably turn it down. That’s failed Tranmere Rovers manager John Barnes, ladies and gents.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink doesn’t believe that Fred and McTominay are the answer to Solskjaer’s midfield conundrum despite evidence quite clearly suggesting that the former Chelsea striker is wrong. However, having seen Michael Carrick first hand in training, Bruno Fernandes has said he’d love to see Fred play more like United’s first-team coach. Tell you what, Bruno – if Carrick is looking that slick at Carrington give him a shirt number. He’s not going to be any less mobile than Nemanja Matic.
United have also contacted Ronaldo’s ‘people’, apparently – keen to bring him back to United in a move that will have nothing to do with the commercial side of things whatsoever. Mind you, if Messi rocks up at the Etihad that could be a little tasty.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea need to sell three if they want to try (and fail) to buy West Ham’s Declan Rice once again. Which three is probably the question.
According to a post on social media, West Ham’s former home at the Boleyn has become a dumping ground, all kinds of rubbish being left there. How this differs from the club’s recruitment policy in the last decade is as of yet, unclear.
Finally, Everton’s Allan would like to replicate the success he had with Napoli at Goodison Park. Thumbs notes – Napoli won diddly squat. Well, Allan, I think you can tick that one off in advance.