DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE?
The Fiver lives for weeks like this. Ultimate Barclays, where hype ratchets up to the point where matches can never live up to the billing. Those occasions blown up to such Montgolfier Brothers’ balloon levels usually end up so low in entertainment that they would normally qualify for last place on Match of the Day 2. Long-time Fiver readers probably expect the old comedy one-two shuffle where this august banter email turns to the winner-takes-all battle between Norwich and Burnley, some meta riffs on Dean Smith’s ordinary-man demeanour, Delia Smith, Sean Dyche’s growling alpha realism and a sideways jibe towards Frank Lampard Frank Lamparding it at Frank Lampard’s Everton.
Instead, The Fiver gives the people what they want and turns attention to Manchester City versus Liverpool. Certain people are calling it the biggest rivalry ever in Premier League history. Lord Ferg versus Le Prof Wenger is old hat, daddy-o, keep your 20th century toxic masculinity of two ageing blokes staring each other out like Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin in the Rovers Return.
Your 1990s lad-mag types, those who swill reassuringly expensive Tin, hold Benson’s betwixt thumb and forefinger and “bloody love Weller’s latest stuff actually” will tell you that Roy Keane’s blood vessels popping as he monstered Patrick Vieira was the real stuff. Weird Uncle Fiver breathes out Woodbine smoke wistfully as he recalls Bob Paisley’s carpet slippers taking on Cloughie’s squash racquet in the late 1970s. The problem with such nostalgia is that now is probably the first time English’s football’s best two teams may actually be world football’s best two teams. And even if Jürg and Pep call up the sick bucket as they whisper sweet praise of each other, there is a definite, overboiling rivalry here.
Forget Ferg and Weng spewing bile. This being 2022, the actual 21st century, it’s a battle fought out on social media disgraces bubbling with deep-state conspiracy. This week alone has seen Liverpool fans of a tinfoil tint run the numbers after Greater Manchester referee Anthony Taylor was awarded the whistle for Sunday’s match, with further expected-fouls readouts extrapolated on VAR Paul Tierney, a man of Salfordian origins. And in the blue corner, the suggestion Der Spiegel, the venerable German publication that this week published deeper revelations to explain just where Pep’s transfer budget comes from, has its Hamburg editorial HQ full of rabid Liverpool fans determined to put Big Blue off their stroke. Truly, this is a most modern rivalry.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
Join Sarah Rendell at 7pm (BST) for North Macedonia 0-12 England in the Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifier, while Tim de Lisle will be on hand at 8pm for Newcastle 0-1 Wolves in the Premier League.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I was fitter the older I got because I looked after myself. It comes down to knowing your body and understanding the sacrifices you have to make. As I got older, I changed my diet and stopped drinking. I knew if I had a heavy drinking session it would take me two to three days to get over it whereas, when I was younger, I could go out and get up the next day and be fine” – Jamie Cureton on how a lifestyle The Fiver will never be able to stick to is helping him to bang the goals in for Enfield at the ripe old age of 46. Read more in this piece by Ben Welch on how strikers are getting better with age.
Get your ears around Football Weekly Extra! And while we’re at it – Max, Barry and the pod squad are going back out on tour. Tickets to live shows in June and July are available here so get buying.
MOVING THE GOALPOSTS
The Fiver has a new sister email, folks! It’s a weekly roundup of the wonderful world of women’s football called Moving the Goalposts. You don’t need to be told that it’s smarter and wittier than us, so sign up now!
“There’s not much to laugh about right now and only a fool would turn to The Fiver for a consolation chuckle but Jonathan Liew’s description of a fabulous performance by Luca Modric ‘despite looking increasingly like a 70-year-old Jimmy Bullard’ was both hilarious and I suspect libellous. Take note, Fiver, football and humour can co-exist. But I won’t hold my breath” – Colin Reed.
“Re: Danjuma winger math (Fiver passim): I applaud Luke’s effort but have one nitpick. If he had played any Sunday league he would know that every amateur who can juggle three times and beat their bartender/keeper in a sprint believes they are a winger. I’ll give him another .0005%” – Samuel Hanks.
“According to the Wagmi United website, their organisation ‘embodies the heart and soul of diamond handed apes. No plebs, no jeets, and no rugs — just moon, ser. WAGMI is more than a token, it’s a mantra uttered by frens, apes, and degenerates worldwide. It’s about manifesting your wildest crypto gains into reality.’ No, me neither. Think I’ll Crawley back under my rock” – Richard Prangle.
“Hold on a sec, actual prizes? You are giving out actual physical prizes? Why don’t I get any soup?” – Ian Copestake.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … Samuel Hanks, who wins a copy of Jon Spurling’s Get It On, a joyous retelling of how the 1970s rocked football. And it’s also available here.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
In keeping-politics-out-of-football news, leaked emails have been released appearing to show that the Abu Dhabi government facilitated payments to Manchester City. Read more here.
Players could face European bans if clubs breach new Uefa financial rules, which will no longer be called fair play regulations in an admission of powerlessness. “Competitive imbalance cannot be addressed by financial regulations,” shoulder-shrugged Uefa finance suit Andrea Traverso.
Troy Deeney’s campaign for a more diverse national curriculum is to be the subject of a new Channel 4 documentary. “I have met some amazing people throughout this journey who have made it their life’s work to make real change in this area,” said the Birmingham captain.
FL’s Everton manager Frank Lampard insists he has no fear of the sack despite the club’s frequent use of the door marked Do One in recent times. “I know the rules, I have no problem with that,” he sniffed. “In my relatively short management career I spent 18 months at Chelsea where I was always probably two games from the sack.”
Liverpool have finally agreed a £5m deal to sign Fabio Carvalho from next season’s relegation strugglers Fulham.
Everton Women have confirmed that the Danish coach Brian Sorensen will take over as manager next season. “I feel there is massive potential,” he cheered.
In Big Vase last night, West Ham drew 1-1 with Lyon despite having Ryan Cresswell sent off, Braga gained a slender 1-0 lead over the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers, and there were 1-1 draws in Frankfurt and Leipzig. Meanwhile in the Euro Tin Pot, Leicester couldn’t find a way past PSV.
And José Mourinho took Roma’s 2-1 defeat by Bodo/Glimt in Europa Tin Pot as well as you’d expect. “The first half ended with a ridiculous situation as the offside flag was up on a throw-in, which shows you the level [of officiating],” he moaned. “But I also have faith we will have a good referee and assistant in the second leg.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Ten things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend, right here.
Watford’s Hassame Kamara gets his chat on with Ed Aarons about realising his Premier League ambitions.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!