OLD FIVER YELLS AT CLOUD
Every generation comes up with a few new ideas that change the world and move things forward: the wheel, the steam engine, the printing press, this hot new “Dixieland jass”. Play it to The Fiver! Play it! But the innovations being made by this current generation are ballsing everything up big style. In January, Brexit will make 1970s Poland look like an episode of Supermarket Sweep. Digital streaming means the Original Dixieland Jass Band now only get paid 0.0000000000000000000001p per riff. Daily satirical emails are not as good as serious reportage. And then there’s VAR. We really have jiggered the entire effing lot, haven’t we. Planet’s gone. Well done, kids!
“I used to be one of the people who said VAR is a good idea,” Jürgen Klopp admitted on Wednesday night. “I’m really not sure if I would say that again to be honest.” Jürgen joins The Fiver’s club after a farcical Big Cup match in which both Midtjylland and Liverpool scored goals that looked perfectly good to the [email protected] eye, only to be denied by some desk-bound bureaucratic nonentity who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing, and left 22 muscle-bound athletes standing in the freezing Danish winter night while he toiled away in the warmth of his deep-pile-carpeted office, in search of any reason to trash the art that had just been created out of thin air by improvisational geniuses, spoiling the enjoyment of millions. “But now we have it,” concluded Klopp, saying more with one sigh than The Fiver could in an entire overwritten paragraph.
The fact that both calls were technically right isn’t the issue and doesn’t negate the central thrust of the argument, as anyone debating this subject in good faith knows full well. “It just took too long,” Klopp concluded, “and it was cold for the boys which didn’t help.” In bygone times, Liverpool would have warmed themselves up after the match with several generous glasses of that limited-edition Christmas ale the Danes have that tastes like Newcastle Brown sieved through a sock, but modern sport science means they can’t even do that nowadays. There’s probably no putting that particular Julebryg genie back in the bottle, but could we at least cut the plug off the VAR box? That’s almost certainly not going to happen either, though, is it. A depressed Fiver puts on Tiger Rag in order to cheer itself up. Don’t spend your 0.0000000000000000000001p royalties all at once, Original Dixieland Jass Band!
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Join Barry Glendenning and Scott Murray from 5.55pm for white-knuckle clockwatch coverage of Thursday’s Big Vase action, featuring four British teams that have already qualified and one more that can’t.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Goodbye Paolo Rossi, the unforgettable champion” – Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte leads the tributes after the 1982 World Cup winner died at the age of 64.
“Dear Fiver, here are the final 16 in Big Cup: four teams from Spain, four from Germany, three from England, three from Italy, PSG and Porto. Here is the number of teams not from Spain, Germany, England or Italy to win Big Cup in the last 25 years: one (Porto, 2004). It turns out the European Superleague already exists. Uefa just needs to figure out how to replace Porto with Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s free-form jazz collective (yesterday’s Fiver), and we’ll be all set” – Ursolin Waxoh.
“David Carr is quite right to note Neil Warnock’s near-Mourinho level of mind-gamery (yesterday’s Fiver letters). My observation was merely intended to badger Stoke for the state of the loos at a major professional sports arena. But to learn that it was actually a sunny afternoon – not a cold and windy night – that generated such an offensive smell suggests they’ve got an even more serious plumbing problem than originally thought” – Mike Wilner.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Antonio Conte is in a predictable funk after Inter crashed out of Big Cup and failed to even make Big Vase after a 0-0 draw with Shakhtar. “Throughout [Big Cup], we have been unlucky with referees and VAR,” he fumed. “Now that we are out, I feel I have to say this. It seems to me that Inter have not been respected, if you go back and look at the situations that have not been reviewed or evaluated.”
Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane can’t see himself emulating Lord Ferg at Manchester United and staying for the long, long haul. “I will never be Madrid’s Ferguson, I’m sure of that,” he tooted after his team beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 to reach the last 16 of Big Cup, despite recent defeats. “What I really want is to enjoy what I’m doing, I don’t know for how long I will stay here so I don’t even think about it.”
Here are still the Belgians! Bobby M’s team have topped Fifa’s world rankings for a third straight year.
Having recalled him ahead of schedule for the north London derby, Arsenal will now be without Thomas Partey for the next few matches after a new case of thigh-gah. “In football you have a lot of unpredictable actions,” sighed Mikel Arteta. Some more so than others, clearly.
And Morecambe fan Cliff Crabtree, 90, got a birthday surprise after the team bus stopped at his house on their way home from last weekend’s game at Newport. “It was a complete surprise for him,” said Cliff’s son, Martin. “About 20 friends and family also stood outside his house, and the coach pulled up, and the manager and club captain presented him with a card and mug and scarf.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Classic YouTube features a tribute to Paolo Rossi, a Manchester derby preview and some acrobatic somersault throw-ins.
Our all-singing-and-dancing interactive of the 100 best female footballers in 2020 has reached the base camp of 11th, with the top 10 to be revealed on Friday.
Ranked 51st is Caitlin Foord, star for both Arsenal and Australia, and she’s been talking about overcoming flamin’ potentially career-threatening knack in 2018.
Manchester United are out of Big Cup and Jonathan Liew is not one to miss a chance to dish out some well-deserved blame.
Dani Garavelli has written on the eeriness of young players starting their careers in empty stadiums.
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