Welcome to a new weekly column to get us through the summer weeks before the biggest show on earth returns in a matter of weeks. As the name would suggest, maybe not too obviously, the Magnificent 7 will be a doff of the cap to thems that have had a superb week in the circus that is football and, numerically, there will be 7 of them. I say that now, I just hope to God there are 7 things worth mentioning next week.
So with no further ramble or ado, welcome to the Magnificent 7…
1. Arsene Wenger
Well of course the Arsenal manager is the inaugural entry on the list! Why? For managing to convince the board that winning the FA Cup is worth far more than finishing in the top four and getting a new deal. Sure, we all knew this was going to happen, but top marks to Wenger for trying to keep the pantomime going for a bit, pretending that it was all going to be sorted at the end of the season. I wish Hilary Clinton would get on the case of hacking into Arsene’s email account so we can see exactly when the board did confirm that Wenger was going to remain in charge. I don’t reckon Mrs Wenger had even finished her Christmas shopping before the contract was signed. Anyway, bravo Arsene and anyone who can reduce Arsenal Fan TV to near implosion is a good man in my book.
2. Sam Allardyce’s ego
You just have to wonder how much of Big Sam’s resignation and pretence that he is going into semi-retirement was because he had one eye on the potential manager-merry-go-round that was about to kick off. Tuchel, gone. Luis Enrique, gone. Luciano Spalletti, gone. Peter Bosz, likely to go Dortmund (if Big Sam doesn’t get that one of course) opens up Ajax. Hell, Sam might have even been gambling on the fact that one of the two Champions League Final managers might be on their bike following a defeat. Sam has said before he should be managing one of the really big clubs and it suddenly dawned on him that Palace were not one of them.
3. Sergio Ramos
Another top week for Sergio. He is the first footballer to ever lift the Champions League trophy in consecutive seasons. Alright, alright that isn’t the real reason he is in the 7. I have a lot of time for a player so brazen in his efforts to get someone else sent off, even with thousands of cameras pointing at his every move. I really hope he looked at Cuadrado and thought, “stupid hair, I can get him sent off easy”. And so he did. Of course, Ramos has been sent off once or twice himself. One for all the stats men out there – how many players has Ramos cheated in his time vs how many red cards as he received himself? I am sure Pepe gave an approving nod from the sideline.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The big man kicked a ball again last week, about two years ahead of schedule by all accounts because, well you know, he is Zlatan. Injuries don’t beat Zlatan, Zlatan beats and all that jazz. Funnily enough, when he was still on crutches, Zlatan said he was happy to stay at United for another season – nothing to do with the fact that the world want to see you kick a ball in a game before they pay you another crazy contract eh, Zlatan?
5. Pep Guardiola
He’s not hanging around, is he? It’s almost as if Pep realised that you cannot win a league with Clichy and Sagna at full back as it is no longer 2009 and that Claudio Bravo isn’t the best goalkeeper in the world after all. And, if in doubt, sign another number 10 – he’ll always be able to fill in at right back if needed. Watch out for City next season, I think Pep has decided on a formula to win the title next season and, in a delightful twist, it involves the next guy.
6. Yaya Toure
What a man. I mean, what a man. Nobody really knows how old he is, as per Raheem Sterling’s jibe when handing him a bottle of champagne a few weeks ago. Yet the player Pep claimed would never play for him again has somehow won himself another year’s worth of well paid contract. He has been City’s best defensive midfielder this season. Ah, suddenly it all makes sense. Have you seen who he was up against for that title?
7. Antoine Griezmann
I love him. Just for stringing Jose on for months now. For pretty much saying he was off to Old Trafford with never actually saying he was off to Old Trafford. And then, finally, for saying it would be a dirty move to leave Atleti now. Loyalty in football? Steady on.