Now, I am sure we have all called in sick the day that we were supposed to return from holiday, haven’t we? And, to be fair, pulling a sicky has become a lot more difficult since the advent of social media. It is no longer enough to put an a husky voice and call your boss, even though it is your back you’re claiming you’ve done. No, you need to think far and wide in this day and age and make sure your Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, LinkedIn and whatever else all tally up too. So credit to Alexis Sanchez for pulling it off. Of course, Alexis really wants to leave Arsenal and therefore wasn’t too bothered about going in for his first day of preseason, but he still played the game very well, posting a photo of him in a scarf (with his dogs, naturally) on Instagram claiming he had flu. Arsene Wenger is about the only man in North London that actually believes Sanchez will be in an Arsenal shirt when the season kicks off.
The champions Chelsea are being told to concentrate on “not having a Mourinho season” according to their manager Antonio Conte. This was a delightfully unsubtle dig at Mourinho teams often spontaneously combusting the year after they win something. Conte is also determined to sabotage his rival by sending him Nemanja Matic gift-wrapped, and if the photo on Twitter on Sunday afternoon was anything to go by, the deal has finally been done. Here’s a bit of Chelsea trivia for you; Since John Terry has departed, who is now the longest serving Chelsea player? Matej Delaj. I know, who? Matej has been at Chelsea the longest, despite being out on loan for almost every minute he has been contracted to the Stamford Bridge club. Incredible.
Jose Mourinho is unhappy again, and not just at Conte’s sense of humour. Having been bought a £75m centre forward who might actually do better than I’ve been suggesting in recent weeks and a £30m centre half who actually looks worse than Phil Jones, unbelievably, Mourinho has the daggers out for Ed Woodward once more. Even Matic won’t satisfy the United boss as he is painfully aware that if he is forced to keep Fellaini in the squad due lack of reinforcements then there is no way the Premier League title is heading to Old Trafford next season. But who else can United actually sign? Who knows, Jose gave Ed the list, he didn’t give it to us.
According to RB Leipzig, Naby Keita is 100% staying at RB Leipzig and they would really appreciate it if Liverpool stopped faxing them. Of course, what this really means is that RB Leipzig are more than happy to sell Naby Keita to Liverpool if they pay them enough money. Naby will get at least one season playing alongside Philippe Coutinho as the Brazilian will then hot foot it to the Camp Nou and fulfil a dream of Barcelona that started last week, when he learned how much of the Neymar transfer funds they are prepared to pay him in wages. He’ll have to wait though, and by then Barcelona will have probably signed someone else anyway.
Preseason friendlies have been happening all over the shop and I am under increasing pressure to let you know some of the results. So, here goes. Manchester City beat Tottenham 3-0 in a meaningless match not even played in England. Arsenal beat Benfica on the Saturday of the Emirates Cup and followed it up with a defeat to Sevilla. Arsenal still managed to lift the Emirates Cup despite Sevilla having won both their games, a fact that tells you preseason is a complete pantomime at the wrong time of year. Chelsea have managed to batter Arsenal 3-0, obviously, but have then lost to Bayern and Inter. Liverpool, at the time of writing, are beating all comers, City lost to United but then hammered Real Madrid and Tottenham. United were unbeaten until Barcelona nicked their game 1-0. And you know what? None of this matters one teeny tiny bit. Nobody cares, it’s all about money and PR. If you think you can genuinely guess how your team is going to do off the back of any of that then go and watch cricket or something.
Oh, and whilst I am on that. If a new signing has scored in one of these matches let me assure you of one thing, he has not, I repeat not, scored his first goal for the club. Capiche?