Everton, Newcastle and no guarantees of success | Soccer


Back in early October the sun was shining at Goodison Park. Everton had won four and drawn two of their first seven league matches of the season and the locals were starting to clasp Rafa Benítez to their true-blue bosoms. Newcastle United, by contrast, had a collective pain in the hole. But how things change: Everton are on the sort of run that could get horses shot, two wins in 19 league matches leaving them at risk of being relegated for the first time since Britain first heard of the Goon Show.

Meanwhile, Newcastle are flying high and the only place they need to think about going down to now is the pub. Eddie Howe’s team are flush with confidence and nine points above the team managed at the minute by Frank Lampard. It’s amazing what being taken over by a group entirely separate from one of the world’s richest and most bloodthirsty governments can do. But of course, that tells only half the story because Everton are the living, floundering proof that having lots of money is no guarantee of success. Look at the state of them.

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Everton were four points above the relegation zone when they hired their latest manager in January, now they are above it on goal difference only. That’s the Super Frank Bounce for you. Thursday’s showdown at Goodison Park means a heck of a lot more to the hosts than it does to freewheelin’ Newcastle. Everton have enough matches left to get themselves out of trouble but do they have the quality, cohesion and bottle? The Fiver doesn’t know, but we have Tin.


Join Luke McLaughlin from 5.45pm GMT for hot Big Vase coverage of Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Pope’s Newc O’Rangers (agg 2-4), while Simon Burnton will be on hand for West Ham 1-1 Sevilla (agg 1-2) at 8pm. Paul Doyle will also be on deck for Everton 1-2 Newcastle in the Premier League at 7.45pm.


“I can only apologise. They have paid money to come down here and watch us on a cold Wednesday night when they might have been better staying in putting their feet up or watching Sunday League” – manager Ryan Lowe says Preston will refund the 600-odd fans who watched them get whacked 4-0 at Luton in the Championship.

A rough night for North End.
A rough night for North End. Photograph: Andrew Kearns/CameraSport/Getty Images


Football Weekly Extra is here for you.


“Re: Manchester United (yesterday’s Fiver).
My name is Ferg, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level grass stretches far away” – Joe Mercer.

“For those of us old enough to remember when football was just about the result and how teams played, it seems increasingly bewildering that Manchester United and PSG losing to Atlético or Real Madrid demands a root-and-branch inquiry and/or a three-hour phone-in, etc and so on. Did I miss the period when the Madrid teams became minnows? What else did I miss? The time when Newcastle conquered all and therefore deserve nothing less than the return of their glory days? The morally-defining era of Chelsea as a socially responsible club? I wonder if other Fiver readers can name periods of time in football they appear to have missed?” – Paul Buller.

“As an American Chelsea supporter, transferring ownership of the club from Roman Abramovich to the Ricketts family (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) would, at best, be a lateral move morally. Joe Ricketts is an oligarch by any rational definition, just not one from Russia – he’s spent untold millions on right-wing candidates in this country – and son Pete recently spent more than $300,000 of his own money funding a ballot measure to reinstate the death penalty in my home state of Nebraska … while Governor of Nebraska. Everything sucks” – Ben Curttright.

“Re: Gillingham (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). When Captain Evans left through the air lock marked ‘do one’ (by mutual consent) with the Gillingham warp drive non-functional, he left behind his log record for the 2021-22 season of snaffling just 0.75 points per game in charge. The arrival of Captain Neil Harris has at least seen the ignition of impulse power – four victories and two draws from 10 matches played, that’s 1.4 points per game. We might not yet be free of the League Two gravitational pull, but at least we are no longer hurtling dangerously downward. He’s right about the policy of crew hiring as well” – David Daynes.

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 … Ben Curttright.


Manchester United’s Paul Pogba has become the latest player to have his house burgled while taking part in a high-profile game, robbers breaking in during the midweek game against Atlético Madrid.

After Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Arsenal pulled them within a point of the Premier League summit, Jürgen Klopp is bringing out the real talk. “We play [Manchester] City in three or four weeks and then we will give them a proper fight,” he roared.

Jürgen Klopp promises Manchester CIty 'a proper fight' for title – video
Jürgen Klopp promises Manchester CIty ‘a proper fight’ for title – video

Chelsea are through to the last eight of Big Cup, but won’t be allowed fans at home games for the rest of their campaign. “Thanks for ruining my evening,” sniffed Tommy T after the 2-1 win at Lille. “I was in such a good mood.”

Back to the €uropean $uper £eague drawing board you go, Andrea, after Villarreal dumped Juventus out of Big Cup.

Marcus Rashford is out of England’s squad for this month’s friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast after some dodgy form at Manchester United. Full squad: Pickford (Everton), Pope (Burnley), Ramsdale (Arsenal); Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Coady (Wolves), Guéhi (Crystal Palace), James (Chelsea), Maguire (Manchester United), Mings (Aston Villa), Shaw (Manchester United), Stones (Manchester City), White (Arsenal); Morris-Dancing Fiver (Fiver Towers), Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Mount (Chelsea), Henderson (Liverpool), Rice (West Ham), Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Abraham (Roma), Foden (Manchester City), Grealish (Manchester City), Kane (Tottenham), Saka (Arsenal), Smith Rowe (Arsenal), Sterling (Manchester City).

With Stevenage hurtling dangerously towards the National League, manager Paul Tisdale has been booted and the Steve Evans signal put up. “With nine games to go, we have to change our fortune,” tooted chairman Phil Wallace. Watch out for that Gillingham log record, Phil.

And Perth Glory forward Bruno Fornaroli – who represented Uruguay at youth level – is in line for a flamin’ international debut at 34 after Australia called him up for their decisive Human Rights World Cup qualifiers. “I’m Aussie now,” he cooed.


Jacob Steinberg picks over all the runners and riders bidding to buy Chelsea.

Get your bids in sharpish.
Get your bids in sharpish. Photograph: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

Manchester United’s tale of greed and mediocrity. As told by Barney Ronay.

Jonathan Liew doffs his cap to the ruthless efficiency of Liverpool.

Conor Gallagher is having a cracking season at Crystal Palace so a tough decision awaits the Chelsea loanee, writes Karen Carney.

Milton Keynes boss Liam Manning on his road to the League One promotion hopefuls via Suffolk, New York and Belgium.

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