The Fiver I Longing for the days of local Herberts waving smut toys behind reporters

The Fiver I Longing for the days of local Herberts waving smut toys behind reporters

WINDOW TO FOOTBALL’S SOUL

Football itself has been relentlessly back! back! back! for a good while now, but only in the past week have we got down to the real stuff. Yes, the transfer window is wide open and ushering air into football’s fetid living room with cash, speculation and “ITK” social media disgrace accounts farming gullible clicks from you, the public. The absolute state of you, of us all.

And it’s all beginning to happen. Boom! Inter agree to pay 2015’s Alexis Sánchez £390,000 a week after taking him off Manchester United’s hands for good. Pow! Man City shell out £41m on Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké, having already coughed up £24.5m earlier this week to take Ferran Torres from Valencia. Smack! Ole Gunnar Solskjær is close to making Jadon Sancho, at £90m, the most expensive ever English player. Wow! Arsenal want Willian, maybe Philippe Coutinho and more.

But what’s this? Slap! Arsenal are also laying off 55 staff, seemingly outsourcing their recruitment department to selected Mr Fifteen Percents in the process. Kerpow! Dover say they can’t pay their players and might go bust. Ouch! Droyslden pull out of the Northern Premier League citing the financial impact of coronavirus and having to shutter both their ground and social club during lockdown. At this rate Sky’s deadline day yellow ticker will need to be supplemented by a more sombre-hued strip detailing every club’s debts and when they have to pay them.

These are worrying times for the game, and we may expect to see more of this in the coming weeks and months. We may anticipate a certain amount of outrage too, as footage of redundant back office staff carrying out boxes of Post-it notes and stale custard creams is juxtaposed against talk of deals being got over the line, wages being hammered out and come-and-get-me pleas being answered.

Amid all this some might even boldly suggest that it indicates an urgent need for wholesale governance and financial reform in English football. But then it might all be deemed to be Raheem Sterling’s fault again. Or Marcus Rashford’s, if he’s caught enjoying a slightly upmarket meal on the “eat out to help out” scheme. The disgusting hypocrite, forever hypothetically tainted.

In the meantime, we’ve got another couple of months of red-hot speculation and splurging to digest. Almost makes you long for the halcyon, simple days when the transfer window was all about local Herberts waving smut toys behind reporters’ heads and strikers driving to clubs that hadn’t signed them. Almost.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Barry Glendenning now for minute-by-minute coverage of Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Rangers (agg: 6-2) in Big Vase, before Rob Smyth takes up the baton at 8pm to navigate us through Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos (agg: 3-1).

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“There were hard times. It’s like being a child. As a child if I had no confidence, if you don’t get trust from your friends, then you lose the joy of the game. That’s what happens now, even when I’m older,” – Jérôme Boateng harks back to his days as a boy in Berlin to explain to Jacob Steinberg why he struggled at the start of the season.

Jérôme Boateng during his difficult 2019.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Max and the pod dissect Fulham’s return to the Premier League, VAR coughing and footballers who read books in the latest edition of Football Weekly.

Football Weekly

Fulham’s Premier League return and footballing bookworms – Football Weekly

Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/08/05-55498-gnl.fw.20200805.ic.fulham.mp3

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FIVER LETTERS

“Surely Arsenal aren’t letting go of the kid who cleans the away fans’ toilet? After all, this is a club famous for its shiny marble floors. Sideshow Dave Luiz isn’t impressing as a sweeper, so I have little faith in him handling a mop and bucket,” – Mark McFadden.

“I don’t want to sound pedantic, by which I mean I am going to be pedantic but when Zé Maria, who I vaguely remember from Championship Manager, says of the 1996/97 Parma team in Big Paper that “There were players on the bench who had won the World Cup in 1990“, someone may want to remind him that West Germany actually won the World Cup and Parma’s squad at that time had slightly less than one of our Germanic friends, which rather sadly, I knew. However, they did have Lillian Thuram, who won the World Cup a year later so perhaps he is thinking of that. Also when he talks about Adriano and says, “I had to mark him when he was at Inter and I was at Perugia. I remember a game when our centre-back tried to haul him down by the neck and Adriano dragged the guy along for 10 metres, broke away and scored. I’m not sure that’s how it happened. Memory is a funny old thing …” – Noble Francis

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 is … Mark McFadden.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

An exclusive from Nick Ames: Arsenal’s overhaul of their scouting network has continued, with more high-profile personnel being told they will be made redundant.

The Premier League must change its rules to prevent human-rights abusers from taking control of clubs, Amnesty International has said.

Five subs are a thing of the past in the Premier League.

The curious case of Alexis Sánchez’s stay at Manchester United is finally over after the Chilean penned a permanent deal with Inter Milan and saved the Old Trafford bean counters £40million in the process.

He’s escaped, and so have they.

Gareth Bale has been left out by Zinedine Zidane for the seismic Champions League clash against Manchester City.

STILL WANT MORE?

Bona fide goalkeeping legend Iker Casillas announced his retirement on Wednesday –and Barry Glendenning pays tribute to the Spaniard here.

“Even today I get a little nervous talking to Zidane”: Real Madrid rock Casemiro speaks to Sid Lowe before the Big Cup showdown with Manchester City.

Pedro Martins, the Arsenal-slaying Olympiakos coach, has set his sights on Wolves in the Europa League – but not before he gets his chat on with Will Unwin.

How does it feel for fans to miss out on promotion to the Premier League thanks to a play-off final defeat? Richard Foster went to Brentford to find out.

Are Philippe Coutinho and Willian jlning Arsena;’s Brazilian revolution? Get your rumours here.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

THE LIFE OF MAN, SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY AND BRUTISH