Good morning. Here is your briefing. Let’s start with some news.
The Times says that Jose Mourinho is increasingly confident of landing the Manchester United job. Apparently, talks have already begun between the two camps, though Jorge Mendes is keen to stress that reports of ‘love letters’ are ‘absurd.’ So was the signing of Radamel Falcao, though.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says that Van Gaal’s days are numbered and that Ryan Giggs could take over for the rest of the season.
After Liverpool shipped four goals to Norwich, Football 365’s Matt Stead asks the entirely reasonable question, why are Liverpool spending all their money on Alex Teixeira?
And speaking of Liverpool, Graeme Souness is in typically uncompromising mood as he chats to the Daily Telegraph.
What do Chelsea do now? How do they stop this drift? Miguel Delaney speaks to people around the club for the Independent.
ON YOUR TELLY THIS WEEK (Assuming that you live in the UK)
There’s a good chance that at least one of Burnley and Derby will be in the Premier League next season, so if you rarely watch football from beneath the rarefied airs of the top flight, you might want to grab a sneak preview of what’s coming in August. It’s on Sky Sports 1 tonight. Speaking of which, Rangers will probably be in the Premier League north of the border, and you can catch them on their way up on BT Sport 1 when they play Morton. Of course, if neither of those tickles your fancy, there’s always Levante vs Las Palmas on Sky Sports 3, but are you that guy? You’re not that guy. Hardly anyone is.
We’ll find out who’s going to Wembley this week. On Tuesday, Liverpool bring a one goal lead to Anfield and invite Stoke City to take it off them. An unwise move, given that Jurgen Klopp’s side shipped four goals to Norwich on Saturday. That one’s definitely still in the balance and it’s on Sky Sports 1. There’s Coupe action in France when Lille play Bordeaux on BT Sport Europe and Coppa action on Sky Sports 3 where Alessandria play AC Milan. But if tension and excitement brings you out in hives, you can always watch Ajax vs Heracles on Sky Sports 4.
Who will play the winners of Liverpool vs Stoke? We’ll know the answer on Wednesday. Manchester City lost their first leg to Everton, but Everton can’t be trusted not to piss in their own bath water right now, so read nothing into that at all. It’s live on Sky Sports 1. The other Coupe game is PSG vs Toulouse and it’s on BT Sport Europe, while the other Coppa game sees Juventus play Internazionale and it’s on Sky Sports 2. There is also, should you need it, Excelsior vs PSV Eindhoven on Sky Sports 4.
On Thursday, you can watch Feyenoord vs Heerenveen on Sky Sports 1 and that’s it. There’s no other football.
The FA Cup, apparently the last bastion of English footballing tradition, begins on Friday and THANK GOD, THERE’S A MANCHESTER UNITED GAME ON. As a nation, we have been starved of Manchester United FA Cup games over the years and everyone here at The Set Pieces is delighted that the BBC have spent our money so wisely. For who among us is not gripped by the sight of Louis van Gaal’s romantic band of free-wheeling troubadours? Thank the heavens that some brave soul at the BBC finally had the courage to stand up in defiance of convention and shout, “DAMMIT, BOSS! ISN’T IT ABOUT TIME WE HAD A MANCHESTER UNITED OR A MANCHESTER UNITED-THEMED FA CUP GAME ON THE TELEVISION?” Oh, the establishment boys with their pipes and their cardigans didn’t like that, they didn’t like it one bit. Original thought? Daring television? Pah! That’s for the oiks down the road at ITV. Pougatch and his mob. But that one brave soul fought his corner, by thunder, he fought with the strength of ten tigers, and at last the day was won. And this Friday, we shall all share in the spoils of his victory. Alternatively, you can watch Mainz vs Bourssia Monchengladbach on BT Sport Europe, Marseille vs Lille on BT Sport 2, or just fuck it all off and watch a film.
Last year, we opened up our Football Manager Cup by inviting you to share your worst moments with us. You did not disappoint. We particularly admired Eoin McCall for trying to obscure the embarrassment of being caught playing the game when he should have been revising by telling his mum that he was watching pornography.
BEST NON-FOOTBALL THING
Celebrity nano-impressions with Ross Marquand did it for us this week. Here’s part one, where Harrison Ford loses a sneeze and part two where John Malkovich complains about a drink. You’ll have to trust us on this.
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