Mystery solved! Jose Mourinho has been experimenting with a central defensive partnership of Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling because, come the European Super Cup, neither Eric Bailly nor Phil Jones will be available.
Bailly we knew about — he was sent off against Celta Vigo in the semi-final last season, and his ban was increased last week — but Jones’ misfortune is new. According to the Press Association, both Blind and Jones got in trouble after the final, when they were asked to comply with anti-doping procedures.
Phil Jones charged with insulting & directing abusive language towards doping control officer, given two-match European ban + €5,000 fine— PA Dugout (@PAdugout) July 31, 2017
The club have also been fined.
Obviously, the first rule of professional sport is ‘do whatever the anti-doping people tell you to do, even if you don’t really want to’. But the Daily Mail’s Mike Keegan reckons that a little sympathy is due here:
Blind was also fined 5,000 euros. Some sympathy - Jones wanted to be in I Love MCR photo, Blind was & was done despite being with chaperone.— Mike Keegan (@MikeKeegan_DM) July 31, 2017
Anyway, it’ll be Lindelof and Smalling vs. Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Gareth Bale, for the European Charity Shield. Won’t that be fun?