The international break is back and that can only mean one thing: right-backs, right-backs and more right-backs.
I mean, seriously, the England squad has as many right-backs as Nando’s has chickens; China has human beings; the universe has atoms and my oven has the weeping, rotting carcasses of banana breads gone by.
We’re at the point where Gareth Southgate is having to leave Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Matty Cash and about half the Premier League back at home because right-backs are breeding like rabbits.
England’s right-back backlog
Are mothers practising defensive drills on the right flank during pregnancies? Are fathers cutting the umbilical cord with a penetrative right-hand cross? Does the entire English genome have a crush on Gary Neville?!
It’s crazy, honestly. I mean, can you imagine this sort of thing happening in other industries? You know, supermarkets spilling over with fishmongers, schools swelling with janitors and hospitals up to their ears in receptionists.
You’re going to have companies where the HR department is 30-people strong, but they have no disciplinary issues to resolve because there are only two other employees and they get on perfectly fine, thank you very much.
At the rate we’re going, once Luke Shaw and co are retired, it’ll be some random bloke falling asleep into his lager ten minutes before kick-off at the Duck and Hound who’ll become England’s best left-back.
Will football ever recover!? Are we all going to hell!? What does it all mean!?
Sigh… the international break doesn’t half make a football fan go mad, huh? I better wipe off all the psychotic drawings that I’ve scratched into my bedroom walls and cancel my missing persons report for Wan-Bissaka in the England squad.
And trust me, that’s no small undertaking, so be sure to keep yourself occupied with our latest GIVEMESPORT Award winners in the meantime and I’ll be right back (I couldn’t resist. Sue me).
Goal of the week
Armand Lauriente vs Nantes
Just when it looked as though Mislav Oršić had this award sewn up with his stunning solo strike against Tottenham, Lauriente scored an outrageous free-kick right out of the Juninho Pernambucano playbook.
We’re still not entirely sure how the Lorient forward managed to rewrite the laws of physics, but it was more than enough to outgun screamers from Antoine Griezmann, Kevin De Bruyne and our next winner…
Player of the week
Yes, that’s right, Messi has been playing football from a different planet in 2021 and it’s long overdue that he was named our Player of the Week, producing extraterrestrial performances against Huesca and Real Sociedad.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner helped himself to four goals and two assists in those La Liga wins alone and surpassed Xavi’s record to become the all-time record appearance maker for Barcelona.
It needed something special to overthrow Robert Lewandowski in a week where he smashed home four goals for Bayern Munich but this is Messi we’re talking about, ‘special’ is his bread and butter.
Manager of the week
A special shoutout to Ronald Koeman and Thomas Tuchel for their own impressive weeks in the dugout, but we simply couldn’t overlook Inzaghi for masterminding Benevento’s historic win at Juventus.
For Inzaghi to end an 11-game winless streak in Serie A for the relegation-battling side at the home of the club who have won the last nine Scudettos on the bounce, keeping a clean sheet to boot, we couldn’t resist giving him the prize.
Game of the week
Consadole Sapporo 3-4 Vissel Kobe
Don’t get me wrong, Arsenal‘s 3-3 comeback at West Ham United made for blockbuster viewing, but Andres Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe went one better when they fought back from 3-0 down to win in the J-league.
A flurry of three goals around half-time looked to have given Sapporo a comfortable win, only for the visitors to notch a hat-trick of their own in the space of 14 minutes, paving the way for Hotaru Yamaguchi to notch a last-gasp winner. Madness.
Outrageous skill of the week
Christian Pulisic vs Sheffield United
It’s been a quiet week in the world of players being ‘sold for a hotdog’, ‘sent into retirement’ and ‘having their soul sucked out’, but it felt apt that Ronaldinho’s signature skill made an appearance on his birthday.
That’s because Pulisic displayed a rare flash of brilliance this season by dishing out a flip-flap during Chelsea‘s FA Cup win over the Blades, leaving Enda Stevens baffled and Billy Gilmour blown away.
Odsonne Edouard vs Rangers
Yes, we are well aware that Harry Kane went down under minimal contact against Aston Villa and yes, we know that he strangely gets less criticism than others, but the biggest diving incident of the week undoubtedly came in the Old Firm derby.
Besides, not only was Edouard punished for simulation in the first-half, but he could easily have been sent off for yet another diving caution, which, as the Rangers fan below has so eloquently described, didn’t look good.
Strangest punditry of the week
Is this a reach? Maybe, but we couldn’t resist mentioning Jenas’ tweet after Tottenham’s defeat in the North London Derby because it aged like an apple in a sauna the week after its best-before date.
Besides, it took all of a few days for Jenas’ request for Gooners to ‘talk come the end of the season… maybe after a europa league final’ to become a comedic punching bag when Spurs were dumped out of Europe.
Disasterclass of the week
Luis Suarez vs Chelsea
I won’t lie to you, I was tempted to select the entire Spurs squad because their 3-0 choke against Dinamo was the definition of a ‘disasterclass’, but Suarez’s performance at Stamford Bridge took the biscuit.
The Atletico Madrid striker has now gone six years without a Champions League away goal after being hooked 59 minutes into a performance that reaped zero shots on target, zero successful dribbles and just 19 touches.
Tweet of the week
Ah, yes, there’s nothing better than a random company turning their hand to footballing banter and everybody’s least favourite airline was on hand to mug off a Liverpool fan earlier this week.
Poor Twitter user @SeanDow13459151 was on a hiding to nothing when they asked Ryanair for the cheapest way to get to Istanbul and it’s fair to say they didn’t fancy Liverpool’s chances in the Champions League.
Craziest bet of the week
Emerson denies £250,000 win
Crazy bets aren’t necessarily happy ones and Alan Davis of Birmingham is acutely aware of that fact after Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri slashed his chances of winning £250,000 by scoring against Atletico Madrid.
Up until that point, the Super 6 player had achieved the near-impossible task of correctly predicting six results, only to have his dreams of yachts and champagne crushed deep into stoppage time at Stamford Bridge.
Sunday League award
Own goal in Dumbarton vs Forfar
Scottish football is often a pin cushion for jokes and we’re not one for stereotypes, but let’s just say that the manner in which Forfar secured three points at Dumbarton had Sunday League written all over it.
That’s because Dumbarton shot-stopper Sam Ramsbottom was left to fish the ball out of his net when a bungled clearance unwittingly pinged off Ryan McGeever for one of the funniest own goals we’ve ever seen.
Can Tho Capital goalkeeper
The V.League 2 clash between Can Tho Capital and Cong An Nhan Dan might not have looked like a hotbed for s***housery on paper but that’s exactly what it became when the scores were locked at 1-1 going into the closing stages.
That’s because the Can Tho Capital number one went viral for celebrating a penalty save by knee-sliding in front of the very referee who had awarded the spot-kick against him – and all while on a yellow card. Mental.
Roy Keane award
For the most part, Mourinho drew praise from football fans for going into the Dinamo Zagreb dressing room to congratulate the players on their Europa League victory, but not everybody was impressed.
And when you consider Peter Schmeichel’s reaction – essentially saying that Mourinho was playing up for social media – you just know that Keane would have been tearing his hair out at the sight of ‘The Special One’ clapping his conquerors.
Urban Dictionary of the week
Word: Ronaldinho (adjective)
Definition: The uncanny ability to make anything look incredibly entertaining and joyful
In a sentence: Dorothy from the care home is one of the most ronaldinho people I have ever seen. Honestly, you should have seen her hoovering the dining room. I have no idea how she managed to maneuver the Dyson while hula hooping, painting a portrait and belting out Whitney Houston hits, but it looked like an absolute riot.
Managerial innuendo of the week
“They are so aggressive. They were shouting every action. They played with intensity.”
What do you mean we’ve abridged Guardiola’s real quote to make it sound as though he’s gone all Fifty Shades of Grey?! That would be outrageous. How dare you.
TV Burp award
Most uncanny recreation of every England fan’s worst nightmare from the summer of 2018 of the week
There’s just something about Kane and fluffing his lines against Croatian opposition, isn’t there?
Right back with right-backs
Hi. Hey. Me again. You’ll be happy to hear that the seven-foot-tall graffiti of ‘Kieran Trippier’ in my own blood has been removed from my wardrobe but I swear down, the trip to B&Q was an absolute nightmare.
You should have seen me stood there at the till with my cleaning equipment, right. There wasn’t a single cashier in sight and low and behold, there were 47 members of staff piled up behind the paint-mixer like a cheerleading pyramid.
Ok, that joke’s getting old now, but the point remains: if England had as much quality across the pitch as they do at right-back then UEFA would just be mailing us the Euro 2020 trophy on Amazon Prime.
But alas, for all the undeniable talent in Southgate’s squad, that’s simply not the case and you won’t be seeing me getting ahead of myself about the Three Lions’ chances of winning before June.
One sip into that first pint on a summer’s day, though and I’ll be panic-buying waistcoats; getting Jordan Pickford tattoos and sunburning the Saint George’s Cross into my torso quicker than you can say: ‘It’s coming home’.
Right back home, if you were.