The Hairdryer Treatment: Potter’s spell ends with no magic, Conte leaves by mutual argument and more…

What have we missed during the international break?

Harry Kane became the first-ever player to be Tottenham and England’s record goalscorer at the same time – Greavsey never managed that, did he?

England all-but-qualified for next summer’s Euros by beating Italy away (the first England team since the 60s to do that) and Ukraine at home – but that all got overshadowed by Man City’s Rodri throwing a hissy-fit after Scotland’s way of playing in their 2-0 win over Spain wasn’t to his very Pep-acquired tastes.

Conte went by ‘mutual agreement’ though I have to admit, I misread that as ‘mutual argument’ when I first got a glimpse of the press release. Spurs want Julian Nagelsmann, very recently sacked by Bayern – and I’m not sure that’s what Spurs really need, another manager doing them a favour. Find someone young, hungry, on the way up who is happy to build something. Like, you know – Arteta (not him, obviously). 

Their Director of Football, Fabio Paratici, has ‘stepped away’ from his football duties after FIFA extended the Italian FA’s ban on him globally – you sense neither Italian is going to be that missed at Tottenham.

Everton might be improving (according to Sean Dyche anyway) but all that might be in vain as, not massively unexpectedly, they might have not been complying with that pesky financial fair play stuff. It turns out you can’t just go and waste hundreds of millions on very average players, remain rubbish and get away with it. Last season’s relegated Premier League teams and their lawyers watch on with interest.

City reset the clock to the pre-Haaland era against Liverpool. Are they better with him? Are they better without him? Does it really matter? They are pretty damn good either way. 

As Pep said, City dominated from the first to the 93rd minute at the Etihad, running out 4-1 winners against the team that were supposed to be their rivals forever more – King Klopp (surely he will abdicate at the end of the season) and Liverpool.

Haaland’s World Cup-winning understudy, Julian Alvarez, was on the scoresheet. Jack Grealish reminded us all why Trent is barely the best right-back in Liverpool let alone England. Pep enjoyed it so much he wanted to high-five Reds’ sub Kostas Tsimikas.

January signing Cody Gakpo was considered to have big balls joining Liverpool in a tricky period when he could have taken easier options – any credit in the bank character-wise for that disappeared when he tried to con a penalty. Surely that is one thing VAR can actually do to help the game?

City probably won’t win the league and Liverpool probably won’t have too much midweek football next season – they are worse than Chelsea, and right now that is saying something.

Pep’s runners-up briefly pinned soon-to-be Champions Arsenal to a mere five-point gap – that didn’t last long as Arteta’s side cruised past Leeds 4-1 at the Emirates.

Remember when the absence of Gabby Jesus was sure to derail the Gunners’ title bid? Yeah, he’s back now (in time for Easter etc etc) and scored twice – back up to speed and ready to help his side over the line. For me, the Arsenal should have been awarded three points the moment Leeds took off their tracksuit tops and unveiled their kit for the day. Arsenal play in red with less and less white on their sleeves than ever. Leeds wore a horrible lemon number – they could have easily have been in white. Let’s stop this away kit nonsense now – forget foreign state investment into clubs, this is the real issue in the game.

The last time Arsenal finished above Chelsea was in the Leicester City (more on them in a bit) season of 2015/16. Having lost 2-0 at home to Aston Villa, Chelsea can only get 68 points now (four less than Arsenal have with nine games to go in case you were wondering). The Blues board were having to back Graham Potter in public again on Saturday night and that nice little week before the international break feels like a long time ago for the under-pressure manager – probably not the best time to try out a new touchline look, eh Graham?

Come Monday morning and the news broke that Potter had been sacked – so much for sticking by him like Arsenal have done Arteta. So much for being a different kind of ownership. So much for the €25m it needed to get Potter and all his staff into the club, let alone what it will have cost to say goodbye. Why recruit an absolute long-term project guy and then make the environment so utterly alien to what he has done before? I guess Chelsea are Chelsea no matter who is currently paying the bills.

Villa saw off the last Chelsea combo of the Potter era/error (delete where applicable)  as Unai Emery continues to rebuild the club somewhat impressively. John McGinn continued one of the better weeks of his career by curling in the second, ending any real outside hopes Chelsea had of sneaking into the top four. The best thing they can do now is miss out on Europe entirely – though if they are not in the Conference League how are they going to keep all their superstars happy? That said, nothing says “you are not in my first team” more than being picked for BATE Borisov away on a Thursday night – whoever the new guy is.

Tottenham might be without a manager or a Director of Football to help find a new manager but they are still only a point off 3rd place in the Premier League after Newcastle beat Man United at St James’ Park to increase their chances of finishing in the top four.

It would help United’s push for Champions League football again next time out if Casemiro could play more often – sure, Scott McTominay bossed Spain last Monday but it’s not quite as easy to get one over Sean Longstaff.

Willock and Wilson won the battle of wills – Marcus Rashford looking like he was still in New York, you know, mentally.

Brentan didn’t think Leicester players will ever fall into the trap of thinking they are too good to go down – that’s a good thing, given their 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth which led to another managerial change by that ‘mutual agreement’ thing. Now, if Leicester actually have the money after all to make a change, why have they waited so long? It’s not as if there is a queue of available (good and not desperate) managers likely to take the gig on until they know whether the Foxes are playing Premier League football or not next season. So are interims Adam Sandler and Mike Stowell better qualified to keep them up than a guy who has won titles north of the border and the FA Cup – therefore making his place in Leicester’s history ‘assured’? Surely not.

Mind you, I was probably calling out Palace two weeks ago for sacking Patrick Vieira and turning back to Roy Hodgson. Crystal Palace beat Leicester with a late, late winner in Roy’s return to the dugout. That win alone was probably enough to keep them up – so what do I know? 

When Leicester’s owners pulled the trigger they were 18th – an hour after the news broke they were 19th, courtesy of West Ham beating Southampton and leaping up to 14th. It’s too soon to say they are safe, but West Ham do seem capable of winning enough games to stay up – which you’d kinda expect given how much money they have spent.

Bournemouth certainly won’t be relaxing – even after they beat a Fulham team who clearly realised they were in danger of Conference League football themselves. Marcus Tavernier scored a beauty to help Gary O’Neil dream of remaining a Premier League manager.

Brentford and Brighton would both welcome a bit of Europa League – Brighton, with games in hand, are still allowed to hope of more than that. They drew 3-3 in a bit of a ding-dong. Ivan Toney scored, of course.

In the only time he is likely to be compared to Frank Rijkaard, Wolves’ Daniel Podence scored an important equaliser against Nottingham Forest before, seemingly, flobbing all over Forest goalscorer Brennan Johnson (another miraculous recovery from injury that kept him out of the Wales games last week). Both teams remain in the battle.

It’s been a while since we looked at some of the rumours doing the rounds – and when the first bit of speculation spied is Daniel Levy telling the Poch he doesn’t want him to return to the Lane it makes me question why I don’t dive into these more often. After all, Daniel, you don’t need a manager who has had success at a club like Tottenham before or anything, do you?

If things weren’t bad enough at Leicester currently, they are being linked to a loan move for Harry Maguire. Maybe like the Poch, he shouldn’t go back.

Chelsea need to shift A LOT of players in the summer otherwise they are going to end up falling foul of that FFP stuff. The thing is, players don’t seem to be that keen on leaving (other than Mason Mount – he’s off to Liverpool or City or wherever Lamps turns up next ) – so it’s going to cost Todd Boehly even more to pay them to leave. But if he does that, how does that bring in the money they need to balance the books? Oh, who knows.

And United are presuming that Chelsea won’t sign Joao Felix permanently and they seem him as a potential upgrade on Wout Weghorst and/or Anthony Martial. They’d be right on both counts.

If you’re good, I might be back before the weekend with a midweek roundup. There’s a promise you don’t want me to keep.

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