BILLIONAIRES 1, FIVER’S INTELLIGENCE 0
There’s an old Peter Cook riff that runs something along the lines of: “People sometimes ask me why, as a member of the working classes, I vote for the Conservative party. The reason is quite simple. It is because I am a stupid [cee].” The Fiver can buy into this line of thinking, and we were positively delighted on Wednesday night to see the romantic, heartwarming story of little Atalanta come to an abrupt end at the hands of a shapeless, tactically inept monied rabble who were able to haul themselves out of the mire by sending on the emergency cavalry in the shape of a once-in-a-generation €180m sensation they just happened to have knocking around on the bench. Hooray for the billionaires! Here’s to their success, and the concomitant trickle-down effect we’ll all benefit from at some unspecified point in the future, a reward we’re sure we’ll reap because the Fiver is a stupid cu[snii-i-iip! – Fiver Ed.]
PSG’s great escape wasn’t masterminded by Kylian Mbappé alone, of course. Thomas Tuchel, beached on a water cooler with a gammy leg like a strange amalgam of Marcelo Bielsa, the farmer from Withnail & I and Colonel Kurtz, was also able to throw on Leandro Paredes, Julian Draxler and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, one of the very few players currently plying their trade at the apex of world football who has proven his ability to function on a wet evening in Stoke. In that sense, it was very much a team effort, if by team you mean random selection of star talent thrown together and told to do whatever they fancy for a bit, a painstaking process that has brought success in the past to the likes of George Best and Rodney Marsh’s Fulham, the Famous Five at Tottenham, José Mourinho’s Manchester United, and England.
“It seems like a long time that we have never won [Big Cup],” cooed Choupo-Moting of a team that have never won Big Cup. “We will give everything in the next game and continue to believe. Football has its stories. We have won already four titles this season, but the most important is this one. We really believe in ourselves.” That’s probably just as well, given PSG’s struggle to break down a team that had shipped 16 goals already in this season’s competition. Somebody has to believe, especially as there’s a fair chance their semi-final opponents will be Atlético Madrid, who have given up just seven goals – and two of those were scored by reigning champions Liverpool, a team they were busy bundling out of the competition at the time. The Fiver can already picture Diego Simeone, his eyes narrowing slightly as the first flickerings of a smile plays at the corners of his mouth, watching PSG come at him from all angles, but only because they’re not sure what they’re doing. All of Paris will be Leipzig fans tonight.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“People forget about the previous guy, Sven [Mislintat]. He made a bunch of, I don’t like to use the word, but, c0ck-ups with players he brought in at very, very large numbers” – Kia Joorabchian offers his thoughts on overpriced footballers, an area in which a less charitable teatimely email might suggest he has considerable expertise.
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PSG’s late show, Europa League and Macclesfield misery
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“I see that Big Paper describes the latest attempt to have a fictional TV series on football as a US coach is drafted in to lead an English team despite no knowledge of the game but the programme makers ‘start at the very bottom and stay there with a series of predictably base clashes of culture’. The main problem, though, is that the titular character ‘isn’t interesting or funny’. I wonder where they got the idea from …” – Noble Francis.
“Big congratulations to all the Premier League clubs with their expensively funded scouting networks (except for you Arsenal, shame on you) that didn’t manage to spot that Valencia are clearly so desperate that they sold both of their first team central midfielders for around £7.2m or, in old money, 10% of a Nicolas Pépé. On second thoughts, perhaps that scouting network wasn’t working for Arsenal” – Noble Francis.
“It seems Belgian outfit Sint-Truiden are Fiver readers and have been rewarded. Towards the end of last year, I suggested that Flamin’ Kevin Muscat was available for a European managerial role if anyone was interested, sniggering to myself. It seems Sint-Truiden were, and he won his first game as gaffer at the weekend, against Gent no less. Good luck Kevin, a true gent of the game” – Timothy Buchanan.
“I fear that the banning of attending matches has faded Matt Emerson’s memory [Wednesday’s Fiver letters] a little bit, if he doesn’t believe that there’s plenty of raging fans out there who quite happily see someone stick one on the referee ‘for the love of football’” – Paul Dixon.
“If the FA really wanted to punish a football club set up by a media group, all future results and league tables would refer to the referee-abusing side as UnSporting Club de Mundial” – Justin Kavanagh.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
FC Dallas player Reggie Cannon has hit out at fans in Texas who booed players for taking a knee. “You got fans booing you for people taking a stand for what they believe in. How disgraceful is that?” Cannon said after the MLS defeat to Nashville.
Brighton’s Neal Maupay is receiving Premier League support in his fight to bring legal action against an individual in Singapore who has subjected the striker to online abuse.
The FA Cup will not feature replays next season, while the Milk Cup semi-finals have been trimmed back to one-legged affairs in order to clear space in the schedule.
Blaise Matuidi is taking his talents to South Beach, joining David Beckham’s MLS mob, Inter Miami. “I couldn’t be happier to welcome my friend Blaise,” Beckham trilled. “He is an exciting and gifted player and a great person.”
Xavi has reiterated that he doesn’t fancy rebuilding Barcelona. “There’s a lot of external noise around the club,” he mithered. “I don’t think now is the right time.”
Jadon Sancho has extended this summer’s most interminable transfer saga by suggesting he is happy to stick around at Dortmund. “I love playing with this lot. It’s a special bunch,” Sancho cheered. Dortmund’s sporting director, Michael Zorc, added: “We are planning around Jadon. He will be a BVB player next season.”
And Southend United have appointed Weymouth’s Mark Molesley as their new manager, six weeks after Sol Campbell left Roots Hall by mutual consent.
STILL WANT MORE?
A simmering beef between German goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Marc-André ter Stegen could add extra spice to Bayern Munich v Barcelona, writes Andy Brassell.
Adam White runs the rule over PSG’s Grande Coupe victory as Neymar and co finally rolled up their sleeves and got the job done.
You want a lavish Big Vase semi-final preview? You’ve got it.
If they can’t tempt Jadon Sancho, Manchester United have a backup list of nifty wingers with Ousmane Dembélé at the top – according to Thursday’s Mill.
Happy 50th birthday, Alan Shearer. Before he was an easy-going pundit, Big Al was a decent finisher. Steven Pye recalls his very first game for Southampton.
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WHERE’S THE STREETWISE HERCULES TO FIGHT THE RISING ODDS?