In the News: The appeal is in against the transfer ban. Don’t know whether yet whether that will enable us to sign people this summer. Sarri’s been having talks about pre-season. Probably along the lines of “why the f*ck are we going to Boston three days after the Leicester game?” Never one to sugarcoat it, Rudi says perhaps some time in the gym will benefit Jorginho as he carries on acclimatising to English football. If the PR team at the club aren’t regularly doing shots before they send the German out to talk to the press I’ll be amazed. Oh and not wanting to rush things, Chelsea are apparently finally looking to replace Emanalo (who has been gone since 2016) with a football brain in the shape of Lille’s Sporting Director, Luis Campos. I googled his name and got a drummer in a Mexican rock band on Wikipedia. But apparently he’s Portuguese, and happily he was not only a major scout for Real, but he was the one masterminding Monaco’s shock Ligue 1 win in 2017 and their run to the Champions League semi-finals. Whilst he was there they acquired James Rodriguez and Bernardo Silva, brought through Mbappe, but bought Bakayoko from Rennes, so pick the bones out of that. Unfortunately, the rumour came out of France, where the Press Putains like making nonsense sh*t up more than our lot do, which is saying something.
Podgettino is “stunned” by his two match ban for confronting Mike Dean. Us too, but not for the same reasons. Sp*ds have an ultimatum from the league – play your next game at Wait Hart Lane or you have to stay at Wembley for the rest of the season. United are introducing an atmosphere section in the Stratford End. Ole has been to the dry cleaners. Apparently this is news. As is the fact that Harry Kane spent a day visiting relatives at London Zoo. And if you think Fernandinho is a nasty little c**t, (he is) a player in the Turkish third tier turned up for work toting a shank which he used on the guy he was marking. Evidently didn’t think his teeth were up to Suarez’s standard.
The Others: Podge has banned his dickheads from dressing room gloating until they win a trophy, (so permanently then) but they don’t learn. Celebrating getting out of the last 16 in the Champions League like they’ve won the bloody thing. Something about football fundamentally changed last night at the Parc de Prince, and I don’t like it. We went from VAR assisting the referees in coming to the correct decision, to using the technology to fundamentally change the way in which a potential handball is viewed. Apparently now that they have it, the referees have received a directive that says “any move to make themselves bigger” in the box that results in a glance off the arm is an infringement. Where do you draw the line between not being able to jump to defend the goal without driving yourself upwards with your arms, to being guilty of a deliberate attempt to use them to impede the ball? Because PSG absolutely did not cross that line last night. United deserved a beating in the first leg, and PSG were in the act of bottling the second, but what transpired was that a critically important game of football that had thus come to be balanced on a knife edge was decided on the flimsiest pretext I have seen since UEFA sent Overbo to West London.
Anyway, give Solskjaer the job full time. Because if the fact that Ferguson, who let us be reminded was critically ill last year, was ON THE PLANE WITH THEM does not tell you who is pulling the strings at Old Trafford in terms of managing the side, then you need to purchase yourself some Stevie Wonder glasses and start busking with a mini-keyboard at Fulham Broadway. A very risky plan for a massive football club, and not at all long term. You’re essentially just hoping that Ferguson can impart everything he ever did on an ex-player who everyone likes and has never done anything more in management than boss a Norwegian side named after fungus. Good luck with that. Hilariously, he wont be able to move back into his house up north, because he’s renting it. He’s Virgil Van Dijk’s landlord.
What a bad tempered week it is turning out to be in Europe though. Neymar apparently tried to break into the officials’ room after PSG crashed out. What a knob. Perez threatened to kick Ramos out of Real. I’m not equipped to lyrically surmise how delicious it was watching Sergio suffer on the sidelines after getting himself suspended on purpose. It needs some perverted voiceover from Nigella Lawson complete with her licking a spoon covered in melted chocolate. In just her bra. Solari is a dead man walking, with Chequebook Pulis or Podgettino touted to replace him. Hopefully neither of which will inspire Eden to go there. (You’d have to say that the former would have him running screaming in the other direction after last time.) Courtois has been chucking missiles at photographers’ cars in the aftermath of his latest humiliation, (whahahahha)the Roma sporting director had a punch up with their fans at the airport, and they sacked their manager after going out to Porto.
In the Europa League. Arsenal kicked off early in their tie against Rennes. It was all going so well, until it wasn’t. Sokratis doesn’t look like a brainiac, but you’ve got to be a special level of moron to commit three yellow card offences in one half of football in Europe, where the referees are doubly touchy. They were lucky Granit Xhaka didn’t go too, but I’ve said it aplenty before, what more do you expect from a guy who is named after a rock? Lovely gesture by the Rennes fans with their welcome home banner for Petr Cech. I laughed so hard watching the Rennes goals that I scared Bertie.
Before anything else, Glenn Hoddle made his return to punditry tonight at the Bridge. Huzzah. We went into this one of only three teams in the competition unbeaten so far. On we go trying to maintain our record of winning the damn trophy every time we’ve been it. I just want to laugh at them trying to lift it after the final. Bloody thing weighs a ton.
Us: Most importantly, Ruben and CHO didn’t start, which was w*nk. Zappacosta, Alonso and The Beard, who was the joint second highest scorer in the competition before kick off, came into the starting lineup. Rudgier took to the bench for a well earned rest, as did N’golo and Eden. Emerson and Dave got the night off.
Them: If I told you I cared, you’d see right through it. They were short on strikers, and five were under 21, but half of them are in the Ukraine squad. They had scored in every single one of their away games going into this. Whatever any of that means.
Very positive start, lots of movement down the right and pinned them right back for the opening five minutes. Pedro Pony might have taken better advantage of a silly error by them at the back after 7. They were all over the place, picking up an early booking and generally clinging on. They’d only made one convincing foray into our half in the opening fifteen minutes, and shortly afterwards we made out dominance pay. Put through by The Beard with an awesome flick, Pedro Unicorn (He’s been promoted again already) runs on and slots it between the goalkeeper’s legs. Should have had a brace moments later, three yards out, but somehow it didn’t go in. From then on Kiev started to get a toehold in the match. That said, Barkley could have made it two, had the keeper not learned his lesson the last time and kept his knees together. Just. That’s a faster learning curve than some of the girls I want to school with. Badoom-tish. Pedro Unicorn went down a bit easy just before the half hour mark, no VAR in this competition to give us free penalties. The little scamp could have been on a hatrick. On 33 he was in again but this time it was a great save by the Kiev man, who must have hated the f*cking sight of him already. Alonso tested him almost immediately afterwards. Chances pouring in, and already we could have sent this tie well to bed and saved many, many heavy legs a trip to the other side of the continent. Another squandered chance from Pedro Unicorn and we went into the break just one ahead. Not lost on me that we’d scored just about the most complicated of them either. The Ukrainians would have been pinching themselves after naively playing out from the back against a better side. Wonder where I’ve seen that lately.
Typically, given our complete domination, we came pondering out of the blocks after half time with about as much impetus as Sam Allardyce looking for his local gym. We finally had lift off after 53 with yet another chance for Pedro Unicorn. By this time Ruben and Kante were out warming up, it was as well, as Kiev began pressing for an away goal. Barkley and Jorginho made way for them on 61. Free kick on 63 – could Willian stick the knife in? Yes. With a spectacular effort into the top left corner on his 100th European appearance. Goalkeeper had done well tonight but barely moved. Thank f*ck for that. Now bring on CHO. Whole stadium agreed. Made us wait ten minutes tho. Another move on 82, great run by Ruben but the full back put him under enough pressure that he sent it over the bar. Of course it was us, so we were not above f*cking around at the back and inviting disaster as the clock ticked down. Showed all the concentrative power of Andy Carroll watching University Challenge in the last five minutes of normal time. And yet. Some lucky chaps will not have to board a plane to the Ukraine thanks to Ruben and CHO linking up after Pedro Unicorn’s pinpoint accurate pass to make it 3-0.
So: Hurrah. Could have been more, equally we could have f*cked it up at the end. Are we on a collision course to meet Napoli in the final? Pedro Unicorn sublime again, but the two young subs couldn’t have done much more to stake a claim. Three wins on the trot, knackered players got a night off, and the lack of drama is unnerving me. I’ve already decided that I’m calling this season’s blog book Sarri Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.