Bringing Mother Teresa to the white-hot heat of a relegation battle | Soccer


MR MOTIVATOR

With his Leeds side in the relegation zone and just three games remaining, Jesse Marsch needs all the help he can get to keep them up. The excitable American has proved a welcome addition to the Premier League since stepping into the extremely big boots vacated by the saintly Marcelo Bielsa and has now revealed he would be calling on the combined forces of luminaries such as Mahatma Gandhi and JFK in a bid to motivate his players for their crucial ding-dong against Chelsea at Elland Road.

“I have hundreds of quotes I use at different moments,” mused Marsch, piquing the interest of reporters who realised they were about to be given some juicy quotes to reproduce in their newspapers. “I try to think how they fit with who I am and how we play football. I love quotes, learning from people of the past. Sports figures, historical figures, whatever. The key is understanding what messages to use at the right time. I use things that resonate with me … there are historical figures, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, presidents like John F Kennedy.”

While cynics might dismiss this as hokum, there’s certainly a time and a place for this sort of motivational speaking. However, The Fiver can’t help but feel that the time and place for Marsch to quote some of Gandhi’s fabled peace, love and understanding was at approximately 2.25pm last Sunday at the Emirates Stadium, specifically in the direction of Luke Ayling. Had he said “in a gentle way, Luke, you can shake the world”, the stand-in right-back might have resisted the urge to recklessly plough through Gabriel Martinelli and earn himself a red card that means he’ll sit out the rest of the season on the Naughty Step. His absence could cost Leeds extremely dearly.

Channeling his own Mother Teresa, Chelsea boss Tommy T used his pre-match press conference to deny claims he’d had a half-time bust-up with Marcos Alonso during the draw with Wolves, following a full and frank exchange of views between the pair. “It started and ended in the first half and was not continued at half-time and nothing else,” tutted Tuchel, who still hauled Alonso off. “It was not continued at half-time and things are solved. That happens.” Of course, as a famous Calcutta-based nun once said, “discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment”, and the players of both Chelsea and Leeds will need to keep theirs in what promises to be quite a spicy encounter at Elland Road, where the points available could prove priceless. And now taking a leaf out of the Leeds manager’s book, The Fiver would like to invite you to read our own inspirational and traditional Quote of the Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Me, John O’Kane, and Raph Burke [all trainees] were upstairs and heard a voice and realised it was the gaffer. We were like: ‘Oh, crap.’ He was bawling, kicking everyone out. Then, he says: ‘Right, is there anyone upstairs?’ We all looked at one another and thought: ‘Oh, sh!t, please don’t come up.’ We couldn’t wait for him to go so we could get our @rses home” – Lenny Taylor, the forgotten man of Manchester United’s Class of 92, about that Lee Sharpe house party, failing to make it as a pro and the importance of living life with a “smile on your face”.

Lenny Taylor gets his pose on in Birmingham, earlier.
Lenny Taylor gets his pose on in Birmingham, earlier. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Michael Butler from 7.30pm BST for a busy clockwatch that will take in Wolves 1-2 Manchester City, Leeds 2-2 Chelsea, the Queen’s Celtic winning the Scottish Premiership title and more.

RECOMMENDED BOOKING

A New Formation: how Black British footballers shaped the modern game. Tickets are still available for the live event on Tuesday 24 May, featuring Jonathan Liew, Andrew Cole and Hope Powell.

MOVING THE GOALPOSTS

The Fiver has a new sister email, folks! You don’t need to be told that it’s smarter and wittier than us – so sign up. The latest edition from Anita Asante has been sent whistling into inboxes but you can get a taste here.

FIVER LETTERS

“Forget your Big Cups, quadruples or trebles. The most valuable football trophy in the world has already been claimed this season. The Isle of Wight Gold Cup (yes, real gold) was given its once yearly freedom from the bank vaults on Tuesday night when Wessex League Division One Newport came from behind to overpower their Wessex Premier League neighbours Cowes Sports 4-1. Highlight of the night was Connor Kelly’s 25-yard strike for Newport’s third” – Steve Rackett.

“I know it’s been an increasingly necessary requirement in football over the past decades for erstwhile clodhoppers and simple pen-pushers alike to earn higher-education diplomas and degrees just to play, manage or comment on the game. But what devilry is this that we mere armchair spectators now need a PhD to comprehend the new Byzantium playoff Uefa co-efficient rules? What does it all mean? What? How? When? And do Manchester United qualify? Asking for a friend)” – Russell Richardson.

“Au contraire, Steve Malone (yesterday’s Fiver letters)! The Fiver is at the forefront of the fight against the climate crisis, providing recycled content daily” – Andrew Parker.

“Between yesterday’s Quote Of The Day and the final News/Bit/Bob, Rio Ferdinand really should be thankful he’s not sniffing around the Lyon dressing room” – Derek McGee.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Steve Rackett.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Fight! Fight! Fight! In beef-we-didn’t-see-coming news, Forest Green Rovers are absolutely apoplectic after Rob Edwards left the club to succeed Mr Roy at Watford. “This kind of behaviour gives football a bad name,” fumed a statement from newly-promoted Rovers.

Forest Green owner Dale Vince is generating a lot of heat at the moment.
Forest Green owner Dale Vince is generating a lot of heat at the moment. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock

Gabriel Jesus might consider hotfooting it to Arsenal from Manchester City, according to his Mr 15%.

Frank Lampard’s Everton manager Frank Lampard says keeping FLE, who have been in the top flight for 67 years, in the Premier League this season would be bigger than winning the title as a player.

Mikel Arteta reckons the prospect of making it to the Round of Arsenal next year is all the motivation his players need before Thursday’s north London derby. “If we win we will play in the [Big Cup],” he yelped. “You don’t need to tell them anything more than that.”

Tommy T accepts that he did cancel his Chelsea squad’s day off on Sunday to hold clear-the-air talks. “Maybe some felt it was a punishment,” he growled. “It wasn’t.”

But there will be no more day-off cancellations for Antonio Rüdiger – he’s agreed a four-year deal at Real Madrid.

STILL WANT MORE?

After trying to take his life in 2019, Aaron Connolly realised he could use football to bring people together to talk. A powerful piece on how combining five-a-side and therapy is helping people in Scotland.

The biggest gap between derby rivals who once played in the same division? The Knowledge has the answer.

Is New York City FC’s stay at Yankee Stadium really an insult to football? James Nalton investigates.

Naby Keïta: decent, reckons Jonathan Liew.

He’s a handy little wrestler, too.
He’s a handy little wrestler, too. Photograph: Matthew Ashton/AMA/Getty Images

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!



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