QUICK, LOOK OVER THERE
The Fiver didn’t get where it is today jubilantly knee-sliding towards corner flags before being hugged, kissed and eventually buried underneath a heaving mass of breathlessly delirious and ecstatic colleagues. No, this daily football email grew up in simpler times, when the successful conclusion of each paragraph of biting satire was greeted with nothing more affectionate than handshakes and pats on the back from its peers, all the better to help maintain the collective focus and concentrate on painstakingly chiselling yet another couple of hundred words out of granite. Unlike The Fiver, however, the modern footballers who provide daily grist to our mill have long since lost the run of themselves.
With almost every goal they score prompting the kind of celebratory scenes that would make Caligula blush, their ongoing insistence on hugging and kissing each other has come under the microscope during lockdown. At a time when Covid-19 deaths in the UK have passed the 1,500-per-day mark and most of us are encouraged to stay at home, the familiar sight of elite Premier League footballers getting hot and heavy during goal celebrations has got the curtain-twitchers antsy. Never mind the fact that they go about their business in perhaps the safest environment imaginable, are rigorously tested for the plague and engage in similar amounts of up-close-and-personal, one-on-one contact at set-pieces, the fact of the matter is they remain rich young men, many of whom came from nothing, and are therefore easy targets for those who are actually to blame for the ongoing escalation of the current catastrophe.
While we can probably all agree goal celebrations don’t necessarily make for good “optics” in the current climate, they are comparatively benign when measured against the actual “optics” of intensive care units packed full of people who are at death’s door because our imbecilic prime minister and his coterie of fawning lickspittles are incapable of making timely decisions. Attempting to pin the blame for the current Covid-19 crisis on Phil Foden because he got a hug from Kevin De Bruyne is all well and good, but the sensible among us know it’s little more than a feeble attempt at distraction.
“Some of the scenes we have seen have been brainless and give out an awful message,” parped Julian Knight, Tory MP for Solihull, in what was a reference to footballers celebrating rather than any of his party leader’s increasingly embarrassing televised appearances before the nation. Well, considering a resolute failure to learn from any of their previous mistakes has been a recurring theme of our political overlords’ approach to the Covid crisis, it is no surprise they are once again taking potshots at footballers and hopefully we will see the objects of their derision react accordingly. Expect the players in question to have a few carefully choreographed social distancing tricks up their sleeves this weekend, as they once again go about making the UK government look extremely stupid.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Unfortunately, it was a mistake made by our financial department that was deceived by the similar names of the clubs” – Lazio’s general secretary Armando Calveri on the small matter of them paying €11m to Sporting Lisbon for Pedro Neto, rather than Sporting Braga. Who he actually played for.
Football. Weekly. Extra.
“I’m sure I’m only one of 1,057 people to point out that BBC Scotland tweeting that Lawrence Shankland scored his goal from 52.98 yards (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) is somewhat confusing, putting a decimal point in an imperial measurement. Could this mixing be a nod to Scotland voting to stay in the EU but having to leave anyway? Far be it from me to give you the opportunity to repeat the old trope about poor Scottish goalkeeping, but what he was doing standing in the middle of his 16.4592 metre box is another matter for debate” – Andy Morrison (and no others).
“Regarding German players’ hair (yesterday’s Fiver). You mean to tell me they pay professionals for those awful styles? Damn” – Dave Wilbur.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The family of Nobby Stiles have become ambassadors for a new charity – Head for Change – launched by the families of former football and rugby players who have been diagnosed with dementia.
Fifa has outlined why Yves Jean-Bart was banned from football for life in a shocking report after the Guardian revealed sexual abuse allegations at Haiti’s national football centre.
Joe Montemurro admits Arsenal Women were aware that some of their players were planning a break in Dubai before the trip that ended with one of them testing positive for coronavirus. “There’s obviously disappointment at the situation, the way it panned out,” he sighed.
Aston Villa v Everton is off because of you-know-what.
Kieran Trippier could end up missing no further matches for Atlético Madrid – and be clear to play for England in March – after the FA failed to revise the dates of his punishment for breaching betting regulations.
Former FA suit David Bernstein has described football governance as “a shambles” in a letter to the culture secretary. “There is no overall leadership and therefore vested interests continue to prevail,” he grumbled. “The financial disparity between rich and poor has frankly become obscene.”
Bayern Munich are nursing a German Cup hangover after being knocked out on penalties in the second round by an alcoholic beverage The Fiver last saw in the 1990s. “It’s something that will be remembered for years,” cheered Holstein Kiel’s coach Ole Werner. “I’ve never been knocked out so early,” sobbed Thomas Müller, who has won the competition six times.
It has been revealed that 20 of Europe’s biggest clubs have lost more than €1bn in revenue over the past year. Won’t somebody think of PSG’s coffers?
Don’t worry, though. Some of Europe’s elite clubs have found some spare change down the back of the sofa and are lining up to spend £37.4m on RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano this summer.
STILL WANT MORE?
Thiago Alcântara is also back, baby, and ready to finally make an impact for Liverpool in their little-hyped clash against Manchester United, reckons Sachin Nakrani.
Jacob Steinberg on why Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard should give Calum Hudson-Odoi a bigger role.
Ben Fisher’s half-term report on the Championship hails surprise-packages Swansea, continuity at Norwich and a Wayne Rooney-led revival at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County.
This week’s Classic YouTube features red-hot Manchester United-Liverpool action, fireworks at Stockport and a filthy sprawling assist from Mathieu Valbuena.
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