Whisper it quietly, but real football is back. Well kinda, if you ask Arsenal fans the Community Shield is the only thing worth winning in August, even more important than the Emirates Cup (which, I accept, may have taken place in July). Anyway, real football should equal real nominations for the Magnificent 7 and if you believe that, you’ll have believed Jurgen Klopp (see below).
So, let’s crack on!
#1 Thibaut Courtois
Personally, I blame Stuart Pearce. He was the one who first uttered the phrase “a goalkeeper kicks the ball more than any other player on the pitch” or something like that anyway. And what happened? Joe Hart took his very first baby steps towards being a national prat by missing a penalty in a major U21 shootout. Fast forward a few years and Thibaut Courtois is blazing the ball towards Uxbridge with his Community Shield effort after Arsenal and Chelsea drew 1-1. What is the point in saving one if you are going to do that? And, really, after all the money spent over the years at Stamford Bridge your second best bet for scoring from the spot is your keeper? After Gary Cahill? Mind you, having seen what £52m gets you I can understand where they were coming from….
#2 Robert Lee
Robert Lee, there’s a blast from the past right? The ex-Newcastle United and England midfielder must have been very very proud on Saturday night. Most fathers probably hope that their son, or sons, show an aptitude for the beautiful game. But, what if you are an ex-England international? Do you want your sons to be professional, and if you do, surely you don’t want them to be better than you were? Now, I am not saying that is the case for Robert Lee – he had a fine career and maybe he does dream of both Elliot and Olly going on and bettering his top-flight effort. They’ll have to go some though, otherwise scoring a goal each in an 8-2 win for Luton over Yeovil might be all they are briefly remembered for. For Rob though, it must have been great to see the lads do so well as it gets him mentioned in the papers once more.
#3 Jurgen Klopp
Yeah right, Jurgen lad. You don’t believe there are any other central defenders available out there that are better than the four you’ve decided to, or been told to, stick with? You expect us to believe that Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and whoever the fourth was on his list are the best that Liverpool can do, and will provide the bedrock that leads a Coutinho-less side to the title? Do me a favour.
#4 Virgil van Dijk
And that leads us on to Virgil. Hours after Jurgen made his daft claim, the Dutch centre back snapped, scribbled something on a piece of paper and thrust it into the hands of Southampton officials. The scribbled note said, “I am insulted, therefore I want to leave” and that was that. But Virgil’s preferred destination, Liverpool, don’t need any more central defenders. Jurgen is happy, happy dammit! You can expect van Dijk to be unveiled on the hallowed Anfield turf in about ten days.
#5 The officials in the Feyenoord match
Admittedly, my information on this is a little sketchy, but hey it’s another opportunity to stick the boot into VAR! Feyenoord and Vitesse were contesting the Dutch Super Cup at the weekend when the officials took the VAR coffin, some nails, and started doing the obvious. Feyenoord led 1-0. Their lad up front got fouled in the box, but nothing was given. Vitesse went up the other end and equalised immediately. GOAL! But no, VAR got itself involved, didn’t it. The game was brought back, the penalty given and scored. And it only bloody turns out you can’t use VAR for that kind of thing. Who’d have thunk it?
#6 Burnley and Hannover fans
I knew Burnley and Blackburn didn’t send each other Christmas cards, but I had no idea there was beef between Burnley and Hannover. The preseason friendly at Turf Moor was cancelled during the first half on the advice of police, as there was a fair bit of crowd trouble kicking off. Frankly, the only crime I have seen at Turf Moor in the last year or so is the lack of recognition for Tom Heaton and Sean Dyche, being the masters of their respective trades that they are.
#7 Juan Mata
OK, I am biased with this last one. Juan is Oviedo, I am Oviedo, we are all Oviedo. In this day and age of footballers earning even more extravagant sums of money for, frankly, running around kicking a bit of synthetic leather in random directions it is great to see a player of high profile with a sense of social responsibility. Mata is happily giving away 1% of his earnings to charity, and is encouraging others to do the same. Cristiano, Leo, what say you boys? You are good at skimming a few percent off here and there.