So another week in football passes us by, and we move another week closer to some real football being played. I know the revenue men are interested in Manchester United playing LA Galaxy, or Arsenal Down Under but we are not. We hate preseason tours here at Tales, depriving the common fan the chance to see Romelu Lukaku blaze one over the bar down at Congleton Town. The sooner the real circus starts the better. But anyway, here’s this week’s Magnificent 7!
#1 Jose Mourinho
The Manchester United manager has spent one whole week of training plus 90 minutes assessing Romelu Lukaku, his £75m treat from Everton. After such close inspection, Jose has made it clear he is very open to Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to Old Trafford the moment he is fit. Nice one Rom, first impressions and all that.
#2 Daniel Levy
Whatever you think about the policy down at White Hart Lane, or Wembley now I guess, you have to marvel at the ability of Daniel Levy to get incredibly good prices for players he sells. Considering Kyle Walker was dropped at the end of last season, has minimal end product and, quite frankly, isn’t as good as he thinks he is convincing Pep Guardiola and Manchester City to hand-over £53m when you have a ready made replacement in Kieran Trippier is excellent business. Bravo Mr Levy. Don’t spend it all at once.
#3 AC Milan
It has been a very, very long time since I’ve been interested in watching Serie A every week. In fact, I pretty much stopped once Gazza left Italy and James Richardson was no longer on Channel 4. But, with the kind of business AC Milan are pulling off this summer and managing to convince their child goalkeeper to sign a new mega-bucks deal I am tempted to pay very close attention to the goings on at the San Siro in the coming months. Berlasconi may be a thing of the past, though nobody has explained that to him, but if Milan gel quickly then they might be pushing Juventus all the way next time out. Oh, and they are now front runners to sign Morata. Brilliant!
#4 Manchester United’s training camp organisers
Clubs like Manchester United do take quite an entourage on tour when they hit places like the USA. I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there are over 50 members of the United touring party if someone told me that figure. So, it takes some doing to almost match that number with celebrity hanger-onners. It’s a word, trust me. United’s preseason training has resembled something of a Mike Tyson training camp when fame and fortune went to his head. This is not spit-and-sawdust smelly old boxing gym preparation. Not at all. This is glitzy, celebrity selfie taking, PR motivated crap which is, for me, one huge reason why United won’t win the league this season. There, I called it. So United, you can look back on that photo with Julia Roberts, the folk from Game of Thrones, Snow Patrol, The Rock and everyone else that has turned up when you see Chelsea, City, Tottenham, Liverpool and, god only knows, maybe even Arsenal doing better in the title race than you.
#5 Alejandro José Hernández
I live in Spain. I’ve seen a few Spanish refereeing howlers in my time out here. But, not many go as far as booking someone for having a bottle of Buckfast thrown at him. Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths got a yellow from Senor Hernández at Linfield, possibly for not catching the bottle, placing it carefully, phoning Joe Hart and asking him to stand in goal for a minute, and firing it past him from 25 yards for a third time.
#6 Diego Costa
I don’t know who I’d prefer to upset less, Diego Costa or Antonio Conte. Both would probably beat me in a stare-off. Mind you, when they go head to head, that would be fun to watch. So Diego Costa thought he’d wind up his boss by partying in an Atletico Madrid shirt before telling his mate Cesc Fabregas to give Conte a hug from him. Now, wouldn’t it be funny if Chelsea didn’t sell him to Atletico after all…
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 17, 2017
#7 Joe Hart
A round of applause for Joe Hart. It must hurt to be told that you are no longer good enough for Manchester City. He was brave and he went to Italy to play for Torino where he was, well, rubbish. Fans of statistics will love the fact that Hart had the worst save to shot ratio in Italy’s top flight last season. He returned to Manchester knowing he’d have to move, waiting for David De Gea to go to Real Madrid so he could take his place. Well, that didn’t happen. What about Everton? Nope, they rightly believe Jordan Pickford is the future of English goalkeeping. Liverpool? Uh-huh, they still like their ones. Arsenal? Cech mate there Joe. What about Tottenham Hotspur? Not a chance, they have Hugo Lloris. Ah, then what about Manchester City? Sorry Joe, they are the ones wanting to sell you. Imagine his delight when his only option was West Ham United. Mind you, at least he will be far enough away from the fans that he won’t be able to hear the abuse he gets when he comes for another cross, misses it and West Ham find another novel way to concede.