GOLF-RELATED PAY-OFFS, THIS IS WHERE WE’RE AT NOW
The new Championship season starts in 37 days. For goodness sake will someone please STOP FOOTBALL. They’re not going to, though, are they, and to belabour the point, The Man has now released the fixture list for it. Running to 74,391 pages, it’s quite the screed, those poor burned-out packhorse players, no holiday for them, surely at some point somebody’s got to listen to Jürgen Klopp. But such a sizeable document will inevitably contain one or two nuggets of interest, and we’re pretty sure we can get two more paragraphs out of it. If we brazenly vamp.
The opening game is a biggie between two old-school powerhouses. Huddersfield Town will still be smarting as a result of their promotion play-off experience, in which they won two penalties but were not permitted to take either of them. Not allowed. They go again against Burnley, who are now managed by Not Sean Dyche, a fact that will be mentioned in every match report until the turn of the calendar year at the very least, February or March if things go badly for Vincent Kompany. We’re pretty sure the new guy will breeze it, though, on account of his record at Anderlecht, who he took to a couple of third-place finishes in the historical two-horse race of the Belgian league, once a mere 13 points behind a club playing in the top flight for the first time in 48 years. All hail Not Sean Dyche!
Burnley have a tough start, because after that chastening opening-day defeat, they host another defeated play-off outfit in Luton, then travel to Watford the week after. But newly-relegated teams usually bounce back immediately these days. Norwich, past masters of this increasingly tedious state of affairs, begin their latest utterly futile title-winning campaign at Cardiff City, who according to reports will have to somehow accommodate Gareth Bale, 73 and now in possession of a blue badge. And speaking of Qatar’s freshly painted festival of human rights, the season will pause for the best part of a month for it, after which the grind grinds again until early May, presumably no longer featuring Bale, who, having done his bit for the old country in Qatar, will turn his attention to securing a place on the LIV Tour.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I just kind of stumbled across it. I came over with just a backpack and had nothing organised so I sort of just wandered around. I started volunteering in this orphanage, joined in a few games and just found the football culture unbelievable” – Michael Noone went to Africa looking for a change and now has an academy for boys and girls in one of Tanzania’s poorest areas. Here’s the story.
“Wondering how Shortbread McFiver might feel about the fact that, due to Big Website’s dedication to global football, I can read with interest that Immanue Pherai is moving from Borussia Dortmund to Eintracht Braunschweig, but hear nothing of the fact that Paul McGinn (stellar, proper fitba merchant) has left Hibs for Motherwell. Remember those days of €$£ protests when we all pretended football was for everyone, that all fans share the same instinctive passion for their teams, and that financial hierarchies are the disease not the cure. It seems there’s one rule for the Eintracht Braunschweigs of the world and quite another one for the Motherwells” – Alexander McMillan.
“No mention in the last few Fivers of the 2022-23 season officially kicking off with the Big Cup preliminary round matches, featuring giants from Estonia, Andorra, San Marino and Iceland? Why do I waste my lunch every day reading this so-called football newsletter if the biggest matches aren’t covered?” – Emmett Filippelli.
“My favourite player returning to previous club story (Fiver letters passim) involves Tugay. In May 2009, everyone at Blackeye Rovers wanted him to stay, from the tea lady to the chief suit, and the latter had a contract printed out and ready to sign. However, Sam Allardyce vetoed the one-year extension, presumably because Tugay was both skilful and popular. The Turkish legend got his revenge early the following season when he was invited back to do the half-time draw. Rather than nipping down from the corporate areas and out of the tunnel in the traditional fashion, he entered the ground at one of the open corners about 10 minutes in, and paraded himself in front of an adoring Blackburn End and round the pitch to the tunnel, to the loudest roar Ewood Park heard all season” – Tristan Stock.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Tristan Stock.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Eight people who took care of Diego Maradona will be tried for homicide, according to a ruling released after an investigation into his death. In the 236-page document, the judge in charge questioned “the behaviours – active or by omission – of each of the accused which led to and contributed to the realisation of the harmful result”.
Sheffield United pair Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster have been charged after a police investigation into incidents after the Championship playoff semi-final defeat to Nottingham Forest. It is not yet known what the players are accused of doing.
Five members of Eritrea’s U-20 women’s team who escaped after playing in a tournament in Uganda last year remain in hiding.
German football will allow transgender, intersex and non-binary players to decide whether to play in men’s or women’s teams. “With the regulation of the right to play, we are creating further important prerequisites to enable players of different gender identities to play,” said Thomas Hitzlsperger, the DFB’s diversity officer.
Jed Wallace is apparently going to bring the four Ps to new club West Brom after arriving from Millwall. “He’s got pace, power, penetration in the final third and, above all, is a top pro,” tooted Steve Bruce.
Having helped Rotherham into the Championship, Millers pair Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe have hotfooted it back down the A6109 to League One with neighbours Sheffield Wednesday.
New Dundee United boss Jack Ross isn’t going to let his sacking by Hibs linger after being given the new gig. “I’m pretty good at parking stuff quickly,” he whooped. “It did hurt me at the time, but you move on and reflect.”
And Nottingham Forest defender Steve Cook is the new owner of non-league Sussex side Westfield. “Delighted to get this over the line,” he cheered. “The idea fitted with my current ambitions and looking to help local football.”
STILL WANT MORE?
England’s Lucy Bronze gets her humble-brag on with Suzy Wrack: “I had offers from Lyon and Barça, the two best teams in the world. It wasn’t bad to pick from that.”
Todd Boehly is at the big wheel with Chelsea. What to expect, muses Jacob Steinberg.
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