The Fiver | German football and an illegal trade in bootleg barnets


Despite not having had a professionally administered haircut for almost a year, The Fiver does not look any more ridiculous, scruffy or hirsute than we did back in the days when we used to shell out £15 for our monthly short back and sides with an indeterminate “umm … a bit off the top”.

Having decided it was time to acquire some clippers after discovering a family of mice nesting in our increasingly luxuriant and unkempt ‘fro midway through the first lockdown, we now attend to our own grooming and could scarcely be more pleased with the results. Suede of head and looking like an American GI following their first day of basic training, the financial benefits of cutting our own hair are merely the tip of the iceberg. As well as saving money, we are also spared the anxiety of trying to make excruciating in-chair small-talk about holiday and weekend plans at a time when nobody is allowed to plot any excursion more exotic than a walk in the park or a milk run to the local shop. Of course our barber doesn’t see our betrayal that way and regularly makes his displeasure known as we pass his premises, unless we’re misreading the signals and that slit-throat gesture he keeps making is actually a friendly invitation for us to come in for a shave.

He’s not the only person in his profession to have been angered, as it turns out the German Hairdresser Association has spotted players taking to the field with what look suspiciously like fresh and expensive haircuts during lockdown, when salons are supposed to be closed for business and home visits by hairdressers are also strictly verboten. “It is with great amazement we noticed that over the last match days of Bundesliga a vast majority of the professional footballers took to the pitch with new haircuts,” the association seethed in a commendably sarcastic open letter to the German Football Association (DFB), going on to observe that the chops and bangs in question “can only be cut by a professional hairdresser with professional equipment”.

Asking for a bit of solidarity for those in their profession who are abiding by the rules, the statement also called on German football authorities to put a stop to the illegal trade in bootleg barnets, saying the sight of neat coiffures in the German top flight was making their more law-abiding members angry. “Freshly-cut football stars put an entire branch under pressure,” it added. “Many hairdressers are threatened in their existence. The discontent with the top styled football pros is growing. They lead to customers calling and asking for work on the side and breaches of the corona regulations like visits at home.” While it has yet to respond, the DFB is expected to appease the unhappy stylists by advising the Bundesliga’s finest to keep their hair on.


Join Nick Ames from 6pm GMT for Manchester City 4-1 Brighton, before Barry Glendenning guides you through Tottenham 3-1 Fulham at 8.15pm.


“When you start to play it’s just football, there’s no sun, wind, rain or snow. When the ball moves, it’s football. When you play football you forget about everything, when the ball moves it’s total happiness” – Diego Simeone laughs in the face of -7C temperatures and channels his inner Dylan Thomas after table-topping Atlético’s 2-0 win over Sevilla.

Chills, earlier. Photograph: Sergio Pérez/Reuters


“I was interested to learn from yesterday’s Fiver that Burnley’s low position in the table (and their statistically certain loss to Manchester United) could be attributed entirely to their inability to spot talent. Maybe their loss is a blessing in disguise as they can’t have failed to spot the goal Paul Pogba scored against them. With the transfer window currently open, if Pogba isn’t playing in a Burnley shirt by the weekend, then I obviously don’t understand football recruitment as much as I think I do” – Tim Scanlan.

“With increasing regularity and transparency, the person in the street has access to the inner thoughts and outer words of today’s top-flight football managers. And yet it seems we never hear anything that would sound out of place in a Sunday pub league. I felt moved to moan about this to The Fiver when, in search of more information on the bore of words between Scott Parker and José Mourinho (yesterday’s Quote of the Day), I came across this scarcely believable quote from Scott Parker: ‘I am angry because it is not right. It is wrong. That is why I am so angry.’ I haven’t read anything that anodyne since browsing Michael Owen’s movie reviews. It makes me wonder what they actually have to say to players when it comes to offering genuinely transformational team talks. There must be more, right? Right?” – Tim Miller.

Send your letters to [email protected] .com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Tim Miller.


Megan Rapinoe reckons the US Capitol siege revealed America’s depressing underbelly. “This was about white supremacy and holding up white supremacy,” she said. “I think we showed very much our true colours.”

Paul Pogba cannot wait for Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United on Sunday. “It will be a beautiful game for everybody,” he fibbed, after sealing the 1-0 win at Burnley to take his side top of the Premier League.

Your leaders, earlier.
Your leaders, earlier. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/PA

Chris Wilder believes Sheffield United (one win in 18) are back, baby! “We looked as though we had our identity back: that was us,” he honked after the 1-0 win over Callum Wilson and 10 traffic cones. “We can’t waste this chance.”

Lawrence Shankland is twisting Micky Mellon, man, after scoring a 50-yard cracker in Dundee United’s 2-2 Scottish Premiership draw with St Johnstone. “It was a special goal,” mumbled the Tangerines boss. “It was a ridiculous moment to see it hit the net. I’m pleased I’ve seen it. I don’t know how you measure great goals but this one was certainly fantastic.”

Clearly a man after The Fiver’s heart, Pep Guardiola thinks that being a bit lazy has led to Manchester City’s improved form. “We run less – we were running too much,” he yelped. “With the football you have to walk.”

Mr Roy will not suspend Eberechi Eze, but only after briefly hauling him on to Crystal Palace’s naughty step for his unsanctioned, unmasked trip to QPR.

Arsenal like the cut of Manor Solomon’s jib.

And Magnificent Marcus is still finding time to force Boris Johnson and co into embarrassing U-turns on free school meals policy.


There is a big old chat with Tony Dorigo about England, Italia ‘90 and Torino with Graeme Souness.

Chris Wilder can take comfort from some of the biggest losers in football, as the Knowledge points out.

Some memories there.
Some memories there. Composite: Getty Images

Paul MacInnes tells the government to take a long, hard look at itself before it criticises footballers.

Five strikers who could replace Sébastien Haller at West Ham, according to Ben McAleer. It’ll be Daniel Sturridge, won’t it?

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