The Fiver always likes to recount fairytales, at least that’s what the judge said. These days, however, we’ve learned to become a matter-of-fact kinda tea-timely football-related email, presenting cold hard data without prejudice, flair or proofreading. That makes for a broadly law-abiding and regularly disappointing missive and we can call on 1,057 pedants to prove it, your honour.
|It’s not that The Fiver has been successfully rehabilitated, it’s just that we’re not much cop at making stuff up anymore. Even today, for instance, we were going to invent a feelgood yarn about Manchester United agreeing to pay Paul Pogba’s Mr 15%, Mino Raiola, £41m over the next few years as a reward for facilitating the transfer to Old Trafford of The More Presentable Marouane Fellaini. Then we scanned today’s papers and discovered that someone else has already been putting that about, a writer in Germany, no less. There was The Fiver thinking it had concocted a hilarious piece of absurdism, when it was just another accounting item in the everyday reality of modern football.|
So we turn as a last resort to the Big Cup semi-final final second leg between Juventus and Monaco. The game represents an almighty challenge for Monaco and mission impossible for The Fiver who, try as we almost did, just can’t imagine any way that Monaco can overturn their 2-0 deficit from the first leg. No French team has ever beaten Juve in Turin and no one at all has scored a Big Cup goal, let alone two, against Juve for 621 minutes. Monaco may have the hottest young attack in Europe but Juve’s wily old nannies locked them in a playpen throughout the first leg and will more than likely to do the same again. And up the other end, Gonzalo Higuaín will continue to chase goals like they are double cheeseburgers with extra gherkins. “We owe it to ourselves to believe we can do it,” blathered the Monaco striker Valère Germain, seemingly intent on bringing a touch of Terry Pratchett to the team talk. “We don’t have the right to give up. All we have to do is score an early goal over there,” added Germain who, in fact, will have to do much better than that.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Hang your heads in shame premierleague you are an absolute disgrace to English football … your largesse is ruining the pyramid and England national team … your largesse should be the focus of fans fury. You’re destroying the game, not ‘rogue’ owners. We run our club with less than this … 2.2m THIS is the problem with the English game. The cash paid to this [Mr 15%] is almost double the funding for all the EFL SkyBetLeagueTwo clubs put together. WAKE UP premierleague. The EFL is like a starving peasant begging for scraps off your table premierleague. Owners might ruin clubs, you’re destroying the game. Bodies involved in football are disparate … [governing bodies] have own interests to look out for not the health of the game” – Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt turns the knob on his pressure valve and sends a little early-morning invective whistling off in the direction of The Big Boys after discovering how much Zlatan Ibrahimovic earns.
Accrington Stanley strike a verbal blow for the little man. Photograph:
ITS AND BOBS
Arsène Wenger, perhaps on a wind-up, has channelled Ron Manager. “I don’t know what director of football means. It is somebody who stands in the road and directs play right and left? I don’t understand and I never did understand what it means,” barked the Arsenal boss.
‘Nope.’ Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
|Ben Gibson has taken Middlesbrough’s relegation particularly hard. “It’s the lowest point of my life, not just my career. It means that much,” he sniffed.|
Diego Costa has said only he will decide whether he showers himself with cash in the far east or not. “I am the owner of my future and it does not mean that I am going to China,” roared the Chelsea striker. Meanwhile, Antonio Conte says his side need only “one more small step” to claim the title so he can unleash the mother of all multi-player bear hugs.
Yet more Chelsea news! The renowned nurturers of youth have signed 15-year-old Pope’s O’Rangers midfielder Billy Gilmour for a £500,000 development fee. “When he made clear his desire to move to the Premier League it was important we maximised the commercial value for him,” blathered an O’Rangers suit.
Guess who’s back, back again? Dick Advocaat, that’s who. And in his third stint as Holland boss he’ll have Ruud Gullit along for the ride as his vibes man.
Mamadou Sakho has been named on the six-man shortlist for Crystal Palace player of the year despite playing only eight games.
And Eintracht Frankfurt assistant boss Robert Kovac chased down a thief who stole money off a pensioner in Berlin before pinning him down and handing him over to German fuzz. “Civil courage is always important but I don’t know if I would always act like that,” he mused, before dusting off his fingernails.