The Wormburner: A Whole Lotta Questions

The transfer window is hardest on the draft manager who just asks for a few simple certainties in life. They won’t be forthcoming.

The Premier League landscape appeared vaguely comprehensible by season’s end. Since then, shifting sands and tectonic plates have taken on new shape. Would it be a stretch to say it has changed beyond recognition? Yes. In fact, that would be an excellent example of overblown histrionics. But somewhere between here and there.

Manchester City broke the club’s transfer record for £62 million holding midfielder Rodri, the former Atlético Madrid man famous enough to command a five-letter moniker but not famous enough to have been familiar to the author of this sentence. One day, it’s “Rodri is a name most people will not recognize.” The next, it’s “Meet Rodri, our new overlord.”  Meanwhile, the job-share between Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus remains tricky. A packed midfield of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sané, Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Ikay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Fernandinho didn’t seem like it could accommodate another. Well, accommodations just got cozier! Rotation under Pep looks unlikely to change, but also there’s just the lingering question, fundamentally, of who or what is a Rodri? YouTube montages set to horrendous music await. Or not. Again, holding midfielder…

 Meanwhile, the job-share between Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus remains tricky.

At Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri always got criticized for picking the same team. Those days are gone, as are Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuaín and Álvaro Morata. Hazard finally joined Real Madrid, Higuaín returned to Serie A and Morata made his loan to Atlético Madrid permanent. A senior strike force of Olivier Giroud, Mishy Batshuayi and Tammy Abraham is one decidedly short on slam-dunk certainties. Christian Pulisic will soon learn whether moving to Stamford Bridge was a coup or a stone-cold career-killer. Lampard’s Premier League pedigree is only as a player. File how he’ll perform in the touchline trenches under To Be Decided as opposed to Already Known.

Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku cost the equivalent of several small nations’ treasuries in recent history. Where do they fit into the present-future of Manchester United? Which defenders will survive the cull? And Nissin Foods is no longer listed as a global noodle partner anymore—will they return? These are unknowables until they happen, and decisions need to be made before the big-font fallouts, breakthroughs and comebacks. So on draft day, would you personally trust any of the three attackers with one of your first picks?

Ayoze Perez just departed the shores of Newcastle United for Leicester City, which means a shakeup in the attacking lineups for both clubs. But Benitez upping sticks for China had already meant it was time to tear up everything you thought you knew anyway, though. The lone beneficiary here is the Fantasy Chinese Super League.

And Nissin Foods is no longer listed as a global noodle partner anymore—will they return?

Wilfried Zaha and Crystal Palace are at the center of a transfer saga. One of the concentric circles of hell must involve a transfer window. It had all seemed so easy. “This year is the year for Milivojevic. Zaha wins penalties like crazy.” And now Arsenal want to break up that partnership but won’t stump up the requisite suitcases of cash. A never-ending saga is the last thing anyone wants, aside from tabloids and click-baiters. So, actually quite a few interested parties. But back to the point, without Wilf, Milivojevic loses nearly all his appeal.

As has Arnautovic. Just when you thought, “Marko? Maybe…” he agitates for a move to China, déjà vu all over again. Actually, this one wasn’t really that surprising.

And with the promoted teams, there’s a Jota at Aston Villa that will totally never get mixed up with the Diego Jota at Wolves and totally won’t be an accidental draft pick by anyone.

Anyway, what is a wormburner, or how is it being used here?  A wormburner is a low powerful strike hit like a missile towards goal, skimming above the grass by a matter of millimeters. Woe betide the elongated invertebrate inching that same stretch of green at that same stretch of time. Velocity meets vermicide. (Some people call wormburners “daisy cutters,” but to this reporter, wildflower decapitation holds definite appeal, but worm incineration just packs more punch. Variety is the spice of life, once read the fortune cookie fortune. There is no loser here.)

Does the written Wormburner hit it low and hard at pop-up targets because they’re there to be shot at and they keep popping up? Um…sort of? Hopefully? But no, not that strongly stated and ideally a lot less sermonizing. But like the old hip-hop phrase, “Punks jump up to get beat down,” endless targets spill out of a clown car and onto the shooting range, of their own volition. Tune in for the shootout. Even if the clowns don’t show, there’s generally a steady parade of absurdity populating the scene and plenty more where that came from, like Agent Smiths replicating into infinity and piling onto Keanu Reeves in the Matrix sequel no one watched.