The Fiver | Another of his world-famous man-management masterclasses

The Fiver | Another of his world-famous man-management masterclasses


That risible scruffy indolent piece of work – you know the one – may be in the process of getting the back seat of his crumpled trousers handed to him in Brussels, but not all current British interaction with our continental cousins is a thoroughly avoidable embarrassment unfolding in real time and we’d all better get used to bread’n’spread for tea. Take our involvement in Big Vase, which last night was an across-the-board triumph. Leicester, Pope’s Newc O’Rangers and Arsenal all strolled to impressive victories, while the Queen’s Celtic won a five-goal thriller that, while too late to save their skin in Europe, should give the team a timely confidence boost as they prepare to reboot their 10-in-a-row challenge, and also gives Neil Lennon a stay of execution. Swings and roundabouts, then.

Spurs also recorded a welcome victory, on an evening that saw José Mourinho put on another of his world-famous man-management masterclasses. The deadlock against Antwerp was broken on the hour when Gareth Bale crashed a free-kick against the frame of the goal and Carlos Vinícius knocked in the rebound. Both players were immediately hauled off, unable to build on the moment and give their stop-start careers a further boost. Not allowed. Harry Winks was also withdrawn, and responded to his substitution by flouncing down the tunnel in the theatrical style, sending out a message to rumoured suitors Everton. That message being: it’ll work out better than the time you bought Vinny Samways, promise. It has to.

Everton are also reportedly interested in Dele Alli, who like Winks before him appeared to signal his discontent by conspicuously chipping off after Mourinho called up the last of his subs and it became clear the 24-year-old midfielder wasn’t going to get on. Alli has served up either a goal or an assist in every other game he’s played for Spurs, but José doesn’t appear particularly enamoured and on Thursday night shrugged insouciantly when explaining that it is “impossible” to keep all of his players happy. A parting of the ways seems inevitable, though Alli may be more interested in a potential loan move to Paris Saint-Germain next month. And who could blame him? An opportunity to win Ligue 1, perhaps Big Cup as well, and a guaranteed supply of food and drink from the world’s largest single market! Chances are, come the new year, we’ll be looking across the Channel at Alli in slack-jawed envy as we make the most of our minor Big Vase successes, and our weekly crusts-and-dripping treat.


Join Scott Murray for hot MBM coverage of Leeds 2-3 West Ham at 8pm GMT.


“I feel we’re getting better and better and looking more like a Man Utd team that I want” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær might want to hold on to some of his opinions until after the Manchester derby.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær


It’s the final countdown! Our groovy interactive of the 100 best female footballers in 2020 has reached No1, so click here to see who won. And you can listen to an extra special bonus Football Weekly podcast counting down from 10 to one.

Top 100


“Ah Jürgen, there was indeed a time when you supported VAR (Thursday’s Bits and Bobs). That time was in the first minute of the Champions League final in 2019 when your team was granted a bonus goal to set you on your way. Short memory indeed” – Andrew Walker.

“I’m probably one of 1,057 trying to figure out who the Big Vase’s ‘four British teams that have already qualified and two more that can’t’ are from yesterday’s ‘LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!’. Spurs, Leicester, Pope’s O’Rangers and Arsenal all made it, and the Queen’s Celtic flopped miserably, so who is the second British team that didn’t make it? Qarabag? Lech Poznan? Or … Dundalk, the Republic O’ Ireland’s representative? I can see why you’d want to claim them. They did score an impressive eight goals (more than any team in Group F managed), even if their zero points isn’t quite as admirable. The Brits. Never not at it” – Stephen Glennon (and 1,056 others).

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


Available at our print shop now, Tom Jenkins’s pictures of the past decade. There’s also this Gazza picture there too.


Don’t ask José Mourinho to compare Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. “I don’t like to compare players, and some weeks ago I saw in some special media like I had chosen my all-time team,” he Trumped. “It’s completely fake.” Do ask him about his manager-of-the-month gong, though.

Steve Bruce has revealed two members of Newcastle’s non-playing staff are “poorly” after contracting coronavirus last week and a “big chunk” of his players are unavailable to face West Brom.

Many transfers are pure filth, an unpublished report has found.

Raúl Jiménez returned to the Wolves training ground this week after successfully undergoing surgery on a fractured skull, and manager Nuno Espírito Santo said it was “good to see him smiling” but no timeframe will be put on his return.

Alisson is in contention to face Fulham with Liverpool on Sunday after recovering from shoulder-knack.

James/Hames/Jamez Rodríguez is out of the Everton squad for the Chelsea match after suffering calf-knack.

And Jens Lehmann appears to think that Arsenal’s Class of 2020 are ruining all of his top, top marketing work. “All of us old players would try to help and make the Arsenal brand strong and big,” he blathered. “We are very disappointed because the brand name is deteriorating, and you simply cannot let that happen.”

Jens Lehman


Italy’s World Cup hero whose quick feet earned redemption. Nicky Bandini pays tribute to Paolo Rossi.

“Now it’s the girls’ dream”: Mara Gómez on becoming Argentina’s first trans footballer.

Ben Chilwell chews the fat with Jacob Steinberg about Chelsea’s parallels with Leicester’s title winners and ending up in his role as a left-back by accident.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is haunted by Mauricio Pochettino’s ghost amid his Old Trafford high-wire act, reckons David Hytner.

The weekend doesn’t start until you’ve read 10 things to look out for in the Premier League.

Everton’s Ben Godfrey tells Andy Hunter about his mission to prove people wrong.

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