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The Guardian

Football Daily | Manchester City and Pep Guardiola navigate the business end of Big Cup

By Scott Murray,

2023-03-14

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BEWARE THE ASIDES OF MARCH

Big Cup football returns to our television screens tonight, and unlike last weekend’s Match of the Days, we’re absolutely certain the normal, full-fat, bangs-and-whistles version of The Manchester City & Leipzig Show will go ahead without being compromised by the absurd grandstanding and sinister manoeuvres of piss-poor populist politicians. That’s because the match is going out on BT Sport, which unlike the BBC nobody pays the blindest bit of attention to, and presented by Jake Humphrey, who unlike Gary Lineker … and this is where the comedy of repetition is our friend.

So it’ll definitely get broadcast. Socialist chat! Cooperative theme tune! All the penalty calls! The programme will also feature several pre-match interviews, which, as is traditional during March, consist mainly of City players trying to convince themselves they really, truly, honestly don’t care that much about Big Cup, with arguable success. “I don’t regret the things I do,” insists Kevin De Bruyne. “We’ve not won [Big Cup] but we have done really well in it.” That objectively fair assessment was only slightly undercut by his immediate segueing into a morose review of those Real Madrid and Tottenham defeats. “We deserved to go through. Moments happen. People base everything on only winning but there has been a lot of circumstances.” Oh Kevin! You nearly had us believing it was true as well.

Naturally his manager also wanted a slice of that sweet denial pie. “It’s lovely … it’s special!” began Pep’s paean to Big Cup, a tournament that has remained tantalisingly out of reach during his decade in Munich and Manchester. “So nice to show our club all around Europe!” However, that relaxed petal-strewn reverie could only last so long, and soon enough he’d snapped back into business mode and began free-associating about tonight’s opponents. “We were better … they were better … figure out what we’re going to do … adjust a few things … more control … play a bit better … transition … a coin … it can go in your favour … maybe we need to break more of the game … maybe we don’t.”

The sort of jumpy monologue, one could argue, that betrays an all-encompassing desire for that elusive valedictory Big Cup – and contains worrying signs that he may be overthinking things at the business end yet again.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Scott Murray for piping hot MBM coverage of Big Cup, Manchester City 2-1 Leipzig (3-2 agg), with kick-off at 8pm GMT.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We’ve earned £45,000 for the club but if we were men we would have earned £450,000; I was shocked to know that that was the difference” – Lewes midfielder Lauren Heria makes the not unreasonable point for equal prize money for men’s and women’s teams in the FA Cup to end the “shocking disparity” between the rewards on offer in the respective competitions. Lewes will receive no money from the BBC for their FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United on Sunday, whereas men’s teams will each be paid £200,000 for their televised quarter-finals.

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Lauren Heria of Lewes Women wins the ball from Crystal Palace’s Isabella Sibley earlier this season. Photograph: James Fearn/PPAUK/Shutterstock

FOOTBALL DAILY LETTERS

“Re: Steve Pilgrim’s no-prize-winning letter [ Monday’s letters ]. Probably not ideal to correct a bad French translation by writing that it ‘should, of course, have read’ followed by … another bad French translation. No, the French equivalent for ‘and no others’ is neither The Football Daily’s ‘et pas d’autres’ nor Steve Pilgrim’s ‘et rien d’autres’, but … ‘et personne d’autre’. But I suspect you already know that at this point, and are just hoping that other aspiring French-writing Football Daily readers will join this rather delightful hole-digging parade. Sorry for being the reader who has to pleuvoir on that parade” – Pierre Igot (et d’autres).

“Re Monday’s news, bits and bobs: whisper it, but presumably Chelsea’s potential new signing will be ushered through the Door Marked ‘Dujuan’ when he inevitably fails to dislodge Ruben Loftus-Cheek from the squad” – Joe Brown.

“You would not be so dismissive of VAR had you been an Arsenal fan in the glorious heyday of Terry [sic?] Henry. He was endlessly flagged for offside only for the cameras to show him not to be. More, bigger VAR now!” – Graham Williams.

“Re Monday’s Football Daily and the ‘many reasons why, as kids, we fell in love with the absolute mess we know as football’, I played in a Sunday league, so fortunately one of my reasons was ‘to get away from my moms interpretation of Sunday lunch’. Also, because I got home about 5pm you could add “to get the mud off in a bath that lasted the duration of the charts on Radio 1” – Antony T.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com . Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Joe Brown .

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s ya boy, David Squires, on the crisis swirling around Gary Lineker, plus GB News’ hot take and Tory footy analogies.

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Oh. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Get your ears round the latest episode of Women’s Football Weekly , where Faye Carruthers, Suzanne Wrack, Ceylon Andi Hickman and Marva Kreel chat all things WSL and discuss the title and sack races.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Fans of Alan Partridge’s Soccermeter will be delighted to hear that the 2026 World Cup finals will feature 104 games , including a new round-of-32 stage, while plans for three-team groups are set to be binned.

Wendie Renard has said she is prepared to play for France again now that boss Corinne Diacre has been ushered through the door marked Faire Un .

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Wendie Renard: good at football. Photograph: Kevin Hodgson/Our Game Magazine/SPP/Shutterstock

Liverpool are to raise ticket prices for the first time in nine years but have kept increases to 2%. The majority of general admissions will see a small rise, although no season tickets will be hiked by more than £17.

Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho has been ruled out for several weeks with ankle ligament ouch sustained in a challenge with Kyle Walker-Peters, a tackle the Southampton defender was racially abused online for.

A man who racially abused Brentford’s Ivan Toney on Instagram has been banned from all English grounds . Antonio Neill, 24, pleaded guilty in January to sending an offensive message and has also been given a four-month suspended sentence.

Huddersfield have been plonked under a transfer embargo for late submission of accounts, adding to the travails of Neil Warnock’s relegation-threatened Championship side.

STILL WANT MORE?

“For decades the chimera of impartiality has bound the BBC while strengthening its enemies. If Lineker’s last stand has achieved anything, it is to expose this as the conservative fiction it always was. Why be impartial when you can be right? Why carry on pretending that cruelty and empathy are equal arguments deserving equal weight?” Jonathan Liew on the Lineker affair .

Jamie Jackson previews Man City’s Big Cup showdown with fizzy-drink Leipzig .

Who should Spurs appoint as manager if Antonio Conte leaves? Ben McAleer has some answers.

MEMORY LANE

Chelsea footballers Ron Harris, George Graham, Terry Venables, John Hollins and Eddie McCreadie at a photoshoot in October 1965.

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Good to see Terry with the personalised suit, there. Photograph: Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

SLEEPOVER

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