Well that was quite the weekend for fans of schadenfreude. You’d have to be populating a very niche intersection on the great Venn diagram of life not to have found at least one of those results mildly amusing. All three if you’re lucky. The Fiver has no allegiances to anyone or anything, and as a result laughed so hard we got through five pairs of trousers and now require sodium supplements. But there are limits even to our nihilism. We’re not so far gone that we don’t realise good people are hurting. So please imagine the rest of this story being read out in the tone adopted by Gary Lineker on BT Sport in the wake of Manchester United’s latest semi-final defeat, a delivery so sombre it made Richard Dimbleby’s commentary on the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill sound like the chorus of Agadoo.
United were knocked out of Big Vase after putting in a good first eight minutes of the second half against Sevilla. That wasn’t quite enough, with their only other memorable contribution to a long yawn of a game being a glorious nose-to-nose, spittle-flecked row between Bruno Fernandes and perennial fall guy Victor Lindelöf, whose existence in the centre of United’s defence is the only reason Harry Maguire looks so regularly discombobulated, it says here. Fernandes shrugged off the brouhaha afterwards, saying it was “normal when you concede” and that “it will happen many more times”. A chilling thought for United fans to contemplate at the end of a third barren season, their longest drought since the fag-end of the Big Ron era and the very early Ferg years, before he’d found the squad’s stash of booze.
As for Manchester City, well, we see that Mohamed Salah has had a haircut. He looks very handsome. And then there’s Barcelona, who have finally been found out as the feckless dandies they are. Rumours that next season’s shirt comes in one size only, big, and is fitted with frilly cuffs, have yet to be denied. But the shipping of eight goals – and it could quite easily have been twice that – in a Big Cup semi is evidence enough that we’re dealing with preening aesthetes living high on the hog and no longer disposed to putting in a shift. Speaking of which, Lionel Messi, the poor man’s Thomas Müller, wants out. His most likely destination? Manchester City. Fans of schadenfreude, best get your most absorbent laughing trousers on, this story has legs yet.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The football system is sick. Everybody wants to have authenticity. But I think you are only particularly authentic if you do without all the other stuff, really everything, from the advertising banners to the clothing” – artist Gerrit Starczewski on organising the third Naked Football match in Germany, a protest against rampant commercialisation in the game.
Football Weekly will be in this here general vicinity.
“‘If they want to win trophies, they’ve got to start spending money,’ says Paul Scholes of Manchester United. Presumably that’s the same Manchester United that have spent £850m since Lord Ferg retired seven years ago and have made the three most expensive signings in English football history: Pogba, Maguire and Lukaku. I liked Scholes a lot more when he never said anything and was just the guy we deluded ourselves was no good for England because he was stuck on the left side of midfield” – Noble Francis.
“It’s a quandary, isn’t it (Friday’s Fiver)? Is it acceptable to separate the artist from their art? I mean Morrissey, he’s a [Snip – Fiver Bad Word Ed] but The Smiths really had something. Thank you for prompting a trip down memory lane and an evening of great music on Friday. What do you mean, this is a football bit?” – Johnny McIntyre.
“Re: Friday’s Recommended Viewing. With Fabian Delph surprisingly running away with the star performance of All or Nothing’s last football outing, will any points be awarded for guessing who the standout character will be at José Mourinho’s Tottenham?” – Matt Richman.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Barcelona now think former Everton boss Ronald Koeman is the man to get them out of this hole. OK, then.
The state of things dept: documents have revealed that the former owner of Wigan, Au Yeung Wai Kay, sought to put the club into administration before he had even completed his controversial takeover.
The Paris-based Bellagraph Nova Group, which claims to have enlisted the help of former strikers Alan Shearer and Michael Chopra, has submitted a letter of intent and proof of funds for a £280m buyout of Newcastle.
Vincent Kompany is no longer player-coach of Anderlecht, simply coach of Anderlecht, after calling time on his playing career. “Our ambition and our hunger remains the same,” he cheered. “I want to stay with the club for at least four seasons and prove that Anderlecht can play a modern style of football, with results.”
Joe Hart will be warming the Tottenham bench by the look of things, with a two-year deal close to fruition.
Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse isn’t planning on going anywhere soon after agreeing a five-year contract extension. “Prowsey is a player who shows everything that Southampton is about,” roared Ralph Hasenhüttl. “He has a passion for the club that everybody knows about, and he is respected by everyone here.”
USA! USA!! USA!!! star Rose Lavelle looks set to be Manchester City-bound in a fair old switch.
And City will commemorate the end of David Silva’s decade with the club by building a statue of him.
STILL WANT MORE?
Sid Lowe delves into the decline and fall of Barcelona.
Julie Welch was the first woman to cover the sport for a national newspaper. The reaction of her male rivals ranged from patronising to full-on hostile. She speaks to Sarah Hughes.
Manchester United’s Big Vase exit was an object lesson in the failure of blind faith, explains Jonathan Liew.
To suggest Pep Guardiola has failed at City is ridiculous – but Big Cup losses are a definite blot, writes David Hytner.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!