The Fiver | Something might have gone very, very, wrong with modern football

The Fiver | Something might have gone very, very, wrong with modern football


Everyone’s a cynic these days, but don’t let the miserable swines grind you down. It’s the FA Cup final on Saturday and it’s OK to get excited. It’s not a particularly fashionable viewpoint, granted, but to hell with the pinch-faced cognoscenti! The Fiver is already lost in a reverie of all those famous finals from the competition’s heyday, like when Sunderland beat Nasty Leeds 1-0, or Southampton beat Manchester United 1-0, or Ipswich beat Arsenal 1-0, or Spurs beat QPR 1-0, or Wimbledon beat Liverpool 1-0. Ah misty water-coloured memories of a time when the sun always shone, the whole nation watched on, and Rizla had a surprisingly strong brand presence on the pitchside hoardings.

But times change, and new government legislation means you’re no longer allowed to shill speciality papers designed for the careful construction of stalemate-enhancing McCartney Cheroots. We’re pretty sure other legislation has been passed as well, enshrining by law the presence of at least one of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or United at every single bloody final. That would explain why this has happened every year since Portsmouth took on Cardiff in 2008 – another 1-0 masterpiece seared on the memory – though if it’s not true and there’s been no new edict, something might have gone very, very, very wrong with modern football. Wah! Let’s hope we were right first time, eh kids?

Another thing that will certainly remain constant on Saturday: it’ll be lovely and sunny, just like in the old days. And as hazy summer beams stream across the Wembley turf, Arsenal and Frank Lampard’s Chelsea will contest English football’s showpiece occasion for the second time in four seasons, and the third since 2002. Arsenal have won all three of those previous meetings, though Chelsea will take plenty of heart from the 4-1 skelping they gave the Gunners in last year’s Big Vase final, even if the man of the match in Baku, Eden Hazard, is long gone, and it’s now FLC’s Frank Lampard coaching their defence.

The Blues go into the match as slight favourites, though while The Fiver has no dog in this race, we’re kind of hoping the Gunners will prevail, simply because Lamps is more likely than his opposite number Mikel Arteta to have a highly entertaining full-blown pitch-side tantrum. The Fiver’s brave prediction, then, because despite the state of those back lines, it’s the FA Cup final isn’t it: 1-0. To Chelsea. Or maybe Arsenal. 1-0!


“To be clear, Mike Ashley is 100% committed to this deal” – Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley paints a picture of his boss as a jilted date who is still up up for a fun night out if only Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was.



The men’s summer transfer window tracker is up and running to go alongside our women’s interactive.


The pod squad say a fond farewell to Griffin Park and preview the FA Cup final in the latest Football Weekly Extra.


“Why on earth would Tony Crawford expect Iago Aspas to be able to start a Cortina in a barn (Thursday’s Fiver letters) just because he can start a Fiesta in a stadium? Aspas was born in 1987. If we assume he didn’t become the mercurial mechanic they claim until at least 16 and since Tony specifically claims it was a Mark II Cortina, you are asking him to have knowledge about a car pre-dating his BTec by a good 40 years. That’s before we even get into the change of venue and I’m sure Noble Francis has some statistical analysis to hand regarding the effect on old Fords kept in enclosed barns compared to open stadia. Just think it through people – there’s no room in The Fiver for poorly thought out arguments” – Nick Livesey.

“I have to agree with Fiver reader Peter Oh (yesterday’s letters) in that watching Jack Grealish play certainly makes you feel like a kid again as watching Jack certainly has me reminiscing of all those childhood games of football in the park where we would all be telling the jinky kid who was perpetually falling down to get up” – Flavio L’Abbate.

“Impressive effort to say throw-in wizard Thomas Gronnemark ‘Dave Challinor-ed’. Many a lazy teatime mailout would have gone with ‘Rory Delap-ed’, using a reference that was barely 10 years old. But The Fiver went above and beyond in harking back to a player who was at the height of his fame fully two decades ago. With Jürgen Klinsmann, Ray Parlour and Peter Osgood also getting a mention you really are doing your bit to show those pesky youngsters this is not something for them. In these boom times for all media organisations, new readers are the last thing we need” – David Carr.

Time to dig out that Dave Challinor picture.

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 … Nick Livesey.


Former Cameroon captain Stephen Tataw, who led the first African team to the World Cup quarter-finals, has died aged 57.

Manchester City have refused to comment on new leaked emails published by Der Spiegel, which the publication claims casts doubt on Cas’s decision to overturn their Big Cup ban.

David Luiz has been awarded £4,370 in compensation after suing a Brazilian construction company for misusing his image. The firm used a picture of the defender crying after the 7-1 World Cup defeat by Germany in an ad, with a caption warning customers not to “hire amateurs to take care of your family’s dream”. A separate claim for “moral damage” to the accident-prone centre-back was thrown out.

David Luiz

Liverpool suit news: Peter Moore is stepping down as the club’s CEO, to be replaced by chief commercial officer Billy Hogan. “I’ve loved every minute of the job here,” Moore cheered.José Mourinho gearing up to bundle Tanguy Ndombele through the door marked Do One? Word on the street is Spurs will take £45m from Internazionale for the midfielder.

And La’hn will have six Premier League teams next season, after Fulham edged out Cardiff to set up an all West La’hn showdown against Brentford in the play-off final.


Yes, we wanted the riches but mostly we wanted rid of Mike Ashley, groans Newcastle fan Harry Savill. Meanwhile, Jonathan Liew wins our just-now-invented Intro Of The Week gong in this piece on why Toon fans have had a lucky escape and Louise Taylor feels a familiar sense of farce.

Are you not entertained? Fitba’s back, and the Queen’s Celtic are on for 10 in a row. And guess what, says Ewan Murray, only the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers stand in their way.

Down they went together, but it’s taken 16 years to reunite them. Richard Foster documents the long, strange trips of Nasty Leeds, Leicester and Wolves since relegation in 2004.


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