|Today: RIP gentle giant Ugo Ehiogu and Big Cup and Big Vase tombola|
ROLL UP, ROLL UP
Representatives of Europe’s top clubs and Manchester United gathered at Uefa’s HQ in Switzerland today to attend not one, but two tombolas after a brunch featuring not one, but 147 courses. A great time was had by all and dignitaries expressed their satisfaction at a subsequent committee meeting by passing several bowel motions. Even the lads from Gazprom were taken aback.
|Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid and Monaco v Juventus in Champions League semi-finals|
|There was a moment of confusion around midday when the introductory prattle to the Big Cup tombola was conducted in English. But then someone pointed out that there’s a work experience bloke from Newport Pagnell who may be allowed to carry a sponsor’s banner on to the pitch before the first leg of the Real Madrid-Atlético Madrid semi-final, so the draw for the last four of Europe’s premier competition did, in fact, have something to do with England. That led a chap from the Monaco delegation to suggest that, you never know, a Premier League club might be able to use their vast wealth to build a fully functioning team in time to reach next year’s semi-finals. Everyone managed to keep a straight face until someone near the Juventus party asked an accountant from Manchester United how Paul Pogba was doing.
The Big Vase draw then took place – but only after eight long speeches, each of which was translated into 27 languages, including Bantz and Sanskrit, it being explained that the lingua franca of medieval South Asia was included on the grounds that it is at least as relevant to Big Cup as the Premier League is. The whole process took several hours, which may have prompted United’s accountants to comment favourably on Uefa’s efficiency, them working on behalf of a team who require 8,763 shots to score a single goal.
Giddiness was the general mood of the United party, as no one from the club has ever been involved in the last four of the Big Vase, previous attempts to reach that stage having been aborted by Videoton, Torpedo Moscow, Rotor Volgograd and, most embarrassingly of all, Liverpool. United could have been pitted against Lyon or Ajax but instead were paired with Celta Vigo, who are 10th in La Liga. José Mourinho is not underestimating the challenge but is confident he will be able have excuses ready in the event of United failing to progress.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Gave a homeless girl £10 last night in Dalston. She didn’t ask or beg. Random impulsive act from me. Not gonna lie. Felt good. #dosomethingkind” – the words of Spurs Under-23 coach Ugo Ehiogu, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest, and which are being shared to encourage acts of kindness and generosity in the late footballer’s memory. Ehiogu, 44, who played with distinction for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England, leaves behind his wife Gemma and their son. RIP Ugo.
SUPPORT THE GUARDIAN
Producing the Guardian’s thoughtful, in-depth journalism – the stuff not normally found in this email, obviously – is expensive, but supporting us isn’t. If you value our journalism, please support us by making a one-off or recurring contribution.
“I know I can be accused of ‘doing a Mourinho’ by spoiling the fun of yesterday’s Fiver on the Portuguese, but given his disparaging remarks about the Big Vase were made in 2013 and since then, the rules were changed to ensure the winners of the tournament could take part in the subsequent season’s big Cup, surely it’s not so much a U-turn but more a reasoned and pragmatic reassessment based on new facts” – Daniel Doody (and no other reasoned and pragmatic readers).
“I wonder who influences whom? To go along with Fiver’s bias against the north, the PFA has done the same, filling their PFA team of the year with players down in that there Big London, while including your two token northerners for quota purposes. Keep it up, Fiver, your influence is far wider than you imagine” – Nigel Assam.
“Speaking as a Forest fan, Ed Taylor’s (no relation) description of the club as an ‘imminent third-tier omnishambles’ is a bit overgenerous and positive really” – Andy Taylor.
“In response to Karl Harvey, who said ‘Derby is in the Midlands’. Well, question; is Derby north of the Watford Gap? I think you’ll find it is, therefore based on the average Southerners’ geographical view of England, Derby is clearly up north” – Steve Goodwin.
“The north starts at the top of Upper Street in Islington” – Rob Graham.
And again, this time with feeling (and a link) … it’s Football Weekly Extraaaaaaaa!
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Pep’s got a spring in his step. Why? Because Gabriel Jesus is back! “He’s much, much better. He’s coming back with his happiness and we are so happy he is back again,” he happy-clapped.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to be ruled out for the rest of Manchester United’s season with knee-knack.
Police have arrested a 28-year-old German-Russian national on suspicion of having carried out the explosives attack on the Borussia Dortmund football team in order to collapse the club’s share price so he could profit from stock market speculation.
Notts County Ladies have been left ‘jobless and homeless’ after it was announced the club have been kiboshed two days before the start of the season. “Continuing would have been little short of financial suicide,” shrugged chairman Alan Hardy.
Plain Old John Terry is eagerly anticipating putting on his full kit after getting wind of news he may start in Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final against Spurs because Gary Cahill is suffering from sickness-knack.
And the Queen’s Celtic’s Scott Brown will be let loose on the Pope’s O’Rangers in Sunday’s Old Firm Cup stramash after the club appealed against the red card he received against Ross County, thus putting back any possible ban.
STILL WANT MORE?
“Whatever they say or do, they cannot replace what they took away from me”. Mamadou Sakho gives Dominic Fifield a brooding look and then gets his chat on.