Football Europe has had an eventful season. High time to take stock and name winners and losers. Also there: Portuguese nail men, cursing strikers who become heroes – and Sally. The international tops and flops.
Record transfer for a young coach? Confidence in perspective. Wow, great, dear FC Bayern! Your scouting department really digged deep into its bag of tricks. Julian Nagelsmann is a good coach. Who would have thought that?!
Then what can we say about Sporting? When the 18-time Portuguese champion Ruben Amorim signed a transfer fee of ten million euros in 2020, the good man had just played 13 competitive games as head coach and did not fire 13 fireworks at Sporting Braga. But the Sporting bosses saw it coming and were right.
The club celebrated the championship three years after a few players were beaten up on the green and white training ground. Amorim came, bought smart to install a 3-4-3 and lo and behold: sugar football and lots of new talents like Nuno Mendes, who will soon move to Paris for several 100 million euros. Or anywhere else. The club, which was once founded by Lisbon’s elite, has had a dreary existence in recent years. Now you’re back on the big stage.
Some Liverpool FC fans now dream of one day (or maybe sooner) Gerrard returning to Anfield to bring back what belongs together. But before that, Stevie G. has to explain to the Liverpool supporters what this flirt with Sir Alex Ferguson is about. When the former coach of Manchester United, Liverpool’s greatest rival, recently explained what a great coach Gerrard is, he was amazed: “Alex is one of the best. His words flatter and humiliate me.”
According to Gerrard, he even got a few tips and asked for a personal interview. Gerrard happily: “He accepted that.” The Liverpool fans will forgive him if he ever comes back, but then he should leave the calls to the eternal United boss.
Christophe Galtier actually meant well and Burak Yilmaz knows that the Lille OSC coach was right when he asked his striker to do more defensive work. But the game was almost over and Burak is already 35: First he cursed in Turkish, then he repeated the whole thing in English, but without using expletives: “I am striker!” I’m a striker, shouted Burak.
A short time later, the game in Angers was over and Galtier and Yilmaz lay in each other’s arms and wept to compete. Lille ended the monotony in Ligue 1 and became France champions. Millions around the world celebrated because the great star ensemble Paris did not become champions. “It is a title of work and solidarity,” said Lille captain Jose Fonte: “One for all of northern France. People who work a lot.”
It cannot be said of Antonio Conte that he likes to take the easy route. If it has to be, Conte, who was not a child of sadness as a player, lets it crash. If a task is difficult, that’s the way it is.
How close Gallagher is to the blues is perhaps told by the following story: When England’s former international Gary Neville started playing guitar a few years ago, he sent Gallagher his instrument to get an autograph. Gallagher responded, but scribbled the following lines on the guitar of the legend of Manchester United:
“Dear Gary, how many times have you played for the English national team? How many times have you really deserved it? I can tell you: Not a single damn time! Best regards, Noel Gallagher! MCFC”