Morning all and welcome to Tuesday, which is unsurprisingly being billed as “a nation expects” this evening in England with my birth country playing against David Ospina’s lads of Colombia.
The fact I’m opening with the World Cup and not the fact we finally, formally, announced the arrival of Sokratis from Dortmund for around £15million tells you that:
- The transfer has been such a terrible secret that we all knew about it weeks ago and therefore the announcement comes as no surprise
- This World Cup has been fantastic
And it actually has. I caught the tail end of the Belgium versus Japan game and saw yet another doozy of a match, in which one of the international ‘minnows’ decided to go balls out and swinging against one of the favourite teams. Both of the Japanese strikes were great too, which only added to the general pleasure in seeing the Belgians sweat a bit.
Of course their Grand High Clobbermeister Fellaini and his elbows had a part to play in their eventual dramatic comeback, but given that nobody gave the Japanese a chance pre game shows you just how much fun this World Cup is, except when England play and eventually sh*t the bed. We’ll see if that happens tonight.
Before that it’s Sweden versus Switzerland and it’s hard not to think that the Swiss won’t have the better of the Swedes this afternoon. Sweden have done brilliantly to top their group and surprised everyone, but I just see the fact that they’ve got no real Rolls Royce attacking option as a problem, because when it doesn’t go your way you sometimes need a little magic. I don’t know where that’s coming from with them.
We shall see.
We shall also see about just how good Sokratis is in a few weeks when we start our preseason friendlies and judging by his slightly sad, unmoved and somewhat emotionless face on the official site, my hope is that what he doesn’t show in charisma off the pitch translates to a bit of a bar steward on it. I want to see that unmoved mug staring down Gabriel Jesus after he’s won the ball off him and knocked him off the pitch in a crunching tackle. Not injuring him mind, just showing him that he’s as ‘no nonsense’ as his media work and he’ll be unmoved by the Brazilian trickery. Or any kind of trickery for that matter. His general unmoveyness is not xenophobic in nature, it’s just the way he is. I hope.
The squad is taking shape and we’re a Torreira and probably a wide man away from being able to look at the depth and say “yeah, d’you know what? We could challenge the top four this season” and despite taking that for granted four or five years ago, it’s a situation we have to be hoping for given how far we’d fallen in recent seasons.
We have been building a team that looks to be fighting on all fronts and that can only be a good thing. However, there’s just one concern that I have, which relates to our lovely Mr Consistent at the back Nacho Monreal. I don’t know if it’s just me but it feels like there’s a lot of noise about him potentially moving back to Spain this summer, which coupled with the various noises about full backs that keep occurring in the press, is making me think there’s a bit of the old ‘no smoke without fire’ going on.
And I don’t like it. Not one bit.
I don’t like it because Monreal has been very good for us at times in the last few seasons and last season added goals to his overall play too. He was one of the real plus points in the season last year and I think we’d be utterly bonkers to be moving him on now. He’s 32, still has a few years left in him and given that the jury is still out on Kolasinac, I’d have thought nobody in their right mind at the club would entertain moving him on unless some crazy deal like a Chinese club came along offering £30million for a 32-year-old or something like that.
But that’s unlikely and so I just hope the same can be said for our Spanish full back. We need him next season.
Right, I’m done for another one, so will catch you all in the morning.