Although this column is supposed to be about transfer gossip, today it will be far more fun to focus on the details continuing to emerge from the spectacular dressing room bust-up that followed Sunday’s Manchester derby.
The Daily Mail is the paper getting most excited about it, evoking a picture of the Old Trafford tunnel that resembles a cross between a rowdy Oasis gig and an Orcs battle scene from Lord of the Rings.
Describing the moment the opposing Mancunian hordes charged towards each other, the Mail claims Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho was so angry that he had “steam coming out of his ears”. No photographic proof though, sadly.
The brawl allegedly began when United’s defeated players – led by the “bare-chested, marauding Marcos Rojo” – ran to Mourinho’s defence after some City players threw a water bottle at him.
The best things about this graphic – a countdown
5) Topless Rojo leading the charge
4) The helpless solo copper
3) The cowardly, awkward United players who apparently stayed behind
2) Milk bottle trajectory
1) Cartoon-explosion rugby scrum pic.twitter.com/4kC4ANw2Ba
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) December 11, 2017
In the ensuing melee, a “rugby scrum” was formed, Fernandinho “was punched” and Mourinho’s backroom team were “doused” with the contents of a “one-pint carton of milk”. Brutal stuff.
The sole voice of reason was United’s veteran midfielder Michael Carrick, who apparently tried to “break up” the fight while pleading with City’s players to “show some f****** respect”, like an exasperated ageing lieutenant in a notorious Italian-American crime family.
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva “kept a safe distance”. Disappointing, fellas – very disappointing.
Lukaku attempts murder?
The Sun has an even more violent version of events, claiming Romelu Lukaku was trying to “slam dunk the heads of City players”. It’s not exactly clear what this entails, but it does sounds like it could be potentially fatal?
It’s a relief, then, that no one was killed, and that the only visible injury resulting from the palaver is a small cut above Mikel Arteta’s eye, which both clubs have agreed was caused when he “banged his head on the dressing room door”. Unbelievable.
Meanwhile, the Telegraph paints Lukaku in a more gallant light, saying the Belgian striker “rescued” his manager from the attack. When all is said and done, Mourinho will probably wish Lukaku had rescued him a point instead by converting that gilt-edged 85th-minute chance.
Gunners try to keep Ozil
There is some transfer gossip too. The Mirror says Arsenal are will launch “one final push” to persuade Mesut Ozil to sign a new Emirates contract, amid rumoured interest from United and Barcelona.
The Gunners will “pull out all the stops” to keep the German and make him the biggest earner in the club’s history. Unfortunately, the only thing they can’t guarantee him is trophies.
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Elsewhere, Daniel Sturridge could leave Liverpool for La Liga in search of game time, with Real Betis and Valencia interested in the out-of-favour Reds striker (Mail), Real Madrid are set to decide this month whether they want to sign Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (Sun) and Sam Allardyce will ask each one of Everton’s players if they want to stay at the club ahead of the January transfer window (Guardian). Answer carefully, guys – this sounds suspiciously like one of Big Sam’s special “tests”.