By the time you read this, it may or may not be Wednesday. “Hump Day” is a cute concept, but some meaning is lost when you’re a functional alcoholic who treats Tuesday as the start of the weekend. But enough about your dad. Let’s dive into the dumpster together.
Manchester United should embrace the dark side
Despite the fact that Manchester United is still within striking distance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League and winning the FA Cup (or “doing an Arsenal”), Louis van Gaal looks increasingly unlikely to see out the final year of his contract. Even after pulling off the heroic feat of being slightly less inept than Everton (mostly thanks to having not yet ruined Anthony Martial and David de Gea), van Gaal couldn’t even muster up his usual delusional bullishness in the post-match press conference. He knows the jig is up. Barring a late Ed Woodward SNAFU, van Gaal will be replaced by none other than José Mourinho.
For a few more days, Mourinho is still the reigning premier league champion, and he’s a serial winner. United will win trophies under his reign. He is also a fairly odious person, and every one of those inevitable successes will come with a side dish of some embarrassing nonsense. He will win you a league, but you better be prepared for some eye-poking and conspiracy-theorizing.
Now that United has shown that it is prepared to do a deal with the devil to avoid another failed managerial appointment, it should complete the heel turn. Why stop at Mourinho? Appoint Roy Keane as his assistant. I can think of few things more exciting than having a man next to you in the dugout who is as likely to come to blows with you as with an an opposition player.
While we’re at it, bring Cristiano Ronaldo back. Ronaldo is the not only the best goalscorer of all time (imagine him running at 2016 premier league defenses — yikes), he’s also the premier league’s favorite pantomime villain. If anything, he’s gotten both better and more self-absorbed since his last stint in England. I can already taste the tears of the moralizers.
Embrace the dark side, United. It’s your destiny.
Ban all bans
The season is almost over, but in its final weeks, bans are all the rage. Leicester City could win the premiership this weekend at Old Trafford, but will have to attempt to do so without the services of star striker and noted racist Jamie Vardy. Vardy is currently serving an extended ban for improper conduct after he said some naughty words (how out of character!) to the referee after being sent off for diving against West Ham. Leicester managed to put the already-on-vacation Swansea City to the sword without Vardy’s help, but the resurgent-ish Manchester United will be a different kettle of fish altogether. Vardy’s indefatigable running and occasional verbal abuse will be sorely missed. Fortunately, he will be available for the final two games as he was not tested for [REDACTED].
Tottenham Hotspur, the only team with a sliver of hope of catching Leicester, is also likely to be missing one of its stars for the final games of the season. The adorable and brilliant Dele Alli was charged by the FA for violent conduct. Alli will probably receive at least a three match ban after living out all our dreams when he punched Claudio Yacob right in the gut. Spurs are not exactly blessed with squad depth, and Alli’s absence could be the nail in the coffin of their title hopes.
Over at Liverpool, Mamadou Sakho is facing a lengthy suspension after failing a UEFA-administered drug test. Sakho supposedly tested positive for a fat-burning substance and is now not being considered for selection by the club. In theory, this should hamper Liverpool’s quest to win the Europa League, but it’s important to bear in mind that Mamadou Sakho is a rubbish player anyway.
Still, all these late season bans are a bit of a wet blanket for clubs with ambitions of winning things. To best maintain the entertainment value of the end of the season, there should be a temporary moratorium on bans. PEDs, violent conduct, verbal abuse of match officials — make it all legal during the final weeks of the club calendar.
If a mashup of soccer and The Purge doesn’t appeal to you, I’m afraid you’re doing it all wrong.
Barcelona is crumbling to a domestic double
Remember last week when Barcelona’s season was a shambles? That was a fun 72 hours. More so that any other team of the last several years, Barcelona’s “crises” are always hilariously overblown, not least because any team with all time great players in half the positions on the pitch can never be in that much trouble. Still, given that the expectation for this year’s team was to do back-to-back quintuples (see how stupid that sounds?), the last few weeks have been a disappointment. Barcelona has lost ground in the league and was eliminated by domestic rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Barcelona responded by winning its last two games by a combined score of 14-0. What the Blaugrana did to Deportivo La Coruna and Sporting Gijon is known in the industry as murder. As much fun as it was to laugh at els evasors d’impostos as they seemed destined to fall flat on their faces at the last minute, this was a reminder that this is still a team for the ages. They may have been in a crisis, but they’re still going to crisis their way to a league and cup double.