Whoa there, stop the bus? Claudio Bravo, who failed to stop a shot aimed at him for all of January, managed to stop three penalties last night? That’s it, I am officially blaming Pep Guardiola for the downfall of this guy. It must be Pep’s tactics, as it is clear that all City have to do now if they ever play Bravo in a game again, is to concede penalties rather than let anyone shoot in open play. Simple. I’ll send my invoice to the Etihad later today.
Tales might have called the fact that England U21’s were showing the England U20’s the roadmap for their international careers, and it turns out that losing to Germany on penalties is still very much in the futures of any wannabe player for the Three Lions. Aidy Boothroyd’s side should have been 3-0 up in the first half, yet found themselves clinging on to a 2-2 draw after extra time. Tammy Abraham, probably still knackered from chasing the aimless balls to the front for 120 minutes wilted first under the national expectation of guaranteed defeat. I can imagine the internal dialogue as the big striker sauntered up to the penalty spot. “You’ve got this, just hit it hard, be a hero and maybe even Antonio will notice I exist. Whatever you do, don’t copy Gareth Southgate’s effort, nobody wants to see that again…..” Oh. Sure, Abraham is where I vented my fury. He is a centre-forward for crying out loud, these boys should live for scoring penalties. Would Alan Shearer have missed? No. Harry Kane? Hell no. Teddy Sheringham? Uh huh. Gary Lineker? Only if it meant levelling Sir Bobby Charlton’s record. I know Nathan Redmond missed too, but the damage had been done.
Manchester City are believed to be confident of signing Alexis Sanchez. I can understand Pep Guardiola’s confidence. I mean, City could win something next season which will appeal to the Chile international who is now in line to win the Confederations Cup. City have a top manager, something that is missing in Sanchez’s club life. And City have the money and are prepared to spend it, unlike Arsenal who have the money but pretend they are prepared to spend it.
Arsene Wenger is lining up several players to say no to him, as we know, but front of the queue is Thomas Lemar. Monaco are likely to let several of their Ligue One winning side go this summer, but Lemar is not going to be one of them apparently, and certainly not to Arsenal for £31m, proving that there is very little justice in this world.
In fact, this world is a place where Bournemouth can afford to spend £20m on a Chelsea reserve team player and someone like Nathan Ake, albeit talented with some potential, is worth £20m. I hate modern football.
Barcelona have started to freak out Hector Bellerin by suggesting that they might just go and sign Cedric Soares from Southampton. This will no doubt give Mauricio Pellegrino a real induction as to what life is like on the South Coast and also lead to Hector WhatsApping Arsene to say he’d like to go now, please. Arsene knows he has to ship some players out, but it looks like the only ones leaving are the ones he wants to keep, just like old times. Laurent Koscielny is thought to be a target for AC Milan who are desperate to return to some credible transfer dealings having signed Fabio Borini from Sunderland.
Everton continue to be busy, with Ronald Koeman pipping West Ham and Arsenal to the post that is Henry Onyekuru. The Belgian striker has joined for around £7m but due to that pesky work permit thing will be loaned out to Anderlecht for the season. Still, Everton fans can console themselves with the fact that bookmakers have stopped taking bets on Burnley’s Michael Keane moving to Goodison Park.
Frank Lampard is believed to be about to mud-wrestle Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for the privilege of being the next Oxford United manager. My money is on JFH, every time. To win the mud-wrestle that is, not to be the better manager.
Finally today, Liverpool’s new signing Mohamed Salah has answered the question that has not been on anyone’s lips ever – who is the greatest Egyptian? The mere fact that I have mentioned it probably gives you a clue as to the ego-fuelled answer.