Soccer

The Fiver | If your team can’t win something then it’s better if no one does


BREAKING NEWS …

Burgeoning goal god Erling Haaland has agreed a move to Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund.

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

“Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone,” sobbed Pep Guardiola at the weekend. He was, of course, incorrect. What everyone, in fact, supports is beef between football managers. The vast majority have only a passing interest in the success or otherwise of the best teams in the country – the general sentiment being that if your team can’t win something then it’s better if no one does – but when it comes to minor spats between coaches … well, inject it into our veins.

Disappointingly, Jürgen Klopp refused to bite on Guardiola’s tirade, providing an infuriatingly sensible and understanding answer when prompted on the topic. “Imagine how the situation would be if we were not that close,” he sighed. “Then the interviews would be boring. You have to make sure there is some excitement and there is an exciting battle for who stays in the league and an exciting battle for who qualifies for [Big Cup]. But imagine if we were not closer. [Guardiola’s reaction] is completely normal.”

Boring interviews, eh? Heaven forfend. In entirely unrelated news, $tevie Mbe has also been having his say on the campaign climax. His Aston Villa side welcome Klopp’s Liverpool to Villa Park on Tuesday evening before travelling to Manchester City on the final day, meaning his solid-but-unspectacular side, after a solid-but-unspectacular season, have an unexpected but potentially defining role in the ultimate destination of the title. And he’s a Liverpool legend to boot! What a way to end?

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“The way the fixtures have fallen we can have a say in the title race – that is how it is,” he yawned. “We will try to win all of the games that are in front of us.” Ah. Well, OK. But have you played out in your head the deliciously thrilling/heart-wrenching/beef-creating scenario of possibly derailing Liverpool’s bid for the title? “Not really, no.” Gah! “Preparation is always about Aston Villa and preparing my team in the best way we can,” he added, doubling down on this irritating outbreak of reasonableness. “Whoever I represent, I’ll go into the game wanting to win.” Hmph. Fingers crossed for some technical area transgressions later, lest we’re all left with no one to cheer for.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Rob Smyth from 8pm BST for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Aston Villa 1-3 Liverpool.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“You have to question each other, asking questions of each other. Does anyone [effing] care? Because if I smelt that somebody didn’t care, I would be calling them out. I would tell them to not come and play. Don’t get your boots laced up. If I am smelling that you don’t care … then don’t come out here” – Rio Ferdinand seems to think it would take only one of his five senses to sort the wheat from the chaff in Manchester United’s “weak-minded changing room”.

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s your boy, David Squires, on … Erling Haaland, Mr Roy and plenty more.

There you go.
There you go. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Get your ears around the latest Football Weekly. And while we’re at it, Max, Barry and the pod squad are going back out on tour. Tickets to live shows in June and July are available here – there’s even a new date added in Dublin – so get buying.

RECOMMENDED BOOKING

A New Formation: how Black British footballers shaped the modern game. Tickets are now available for the live event, featuring Jonathan Liew, Andrew Cole and Hope Powell.

FIVER LETTERS

“The news about Eilidh Barbour and others walking out on the awards dinner of the Scottish Football Writers’ Association dinner (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) made me wonder about the SFWA. So I went to its website, where it says this about itself: ‘If you are a professional football writer then you are eligible to join a body that is always striving for the best working conditions and relationships for journalists.’ Call me crazy, but this sounds like holding up Qatar as a bastion of worker safety or Henry VIII as a promoter of strong marital relationships” – Peter Rehwaldt.

“Fred Rutten’s stance regarding Manchester United (yesterday’s Fiver letters) is completely understandable. He’ll be closer to home and have time for grandchildren, without all the stress of the Premier League. One thing I feel may cause some self-reproach though is ‘when’, possibly not ‘if’, Erik ten Hag and his technical team are prematurely sacked, and grandpa Freddie frets over how much he would have earned from payouts and not having to work again at all” – Ahmad Makhlouf.

“Deryck Hall (yesterday’s letters) made some valid points about football needing to do more to tackle the climate crisis. If only there was a way of utilising all that hot air generated each day by The Fiver” – Steve Malone.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Peter Rehwaldt.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Female journalists have accused Scotland’s newspapers of sexist attitudes towards sports reporters after controversy arose over misogynist jokes at a football awards dinner and it was revealed that only three of 95 full-time sports writers in Scotland are women.

Oleksandr Zinchenko says he invited 10-year-old Ukrainian refugee Andrei to train at Manchester City so that the boy could feel “carefree” again. “Seventy-five days ago, this boy dreamed of becoming a football player,” said Zinchenko. “Today, he dreams of only one thing – about peace in our country.”

West Ham boss David Moyes wants to prise Ollie Watkins away from $tevie Mbe by slapping £50m down on Aston Villa’s negotiating table for the nifty striker.

A weighty price tag, earlier.
A weighty price tag, earlier. Photograph: Philip Bryan/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

Fret not, Leeds fans: manager Jesse Marsch has got a masterplan to avoid a potential date with Wycombe next season. “I have hundreds of quotes I use at different moments,” he tooted. “I use things that resonate with me … there are historical figures, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, presidents like John F Kennedy. The key is understanding what messages to use at the right time.”

Wycombe will need to get past Sunderland first, mind.

And according to reports in French rag L’Equipe, former Lyon defender Marcelo wasn bundled through the door marked Do One in January for breaking wind prolifically in the dressing-room and laughing about it in the Beavis and Butt-head-style.

STILL WANT MORE?

Global star and flamin’ icon: how Chelsea’s Sam Kerr has triumphed against the odds. By Jonathan Liew.

From player of the season to best game, via best goal and more. Sophie Downey hands out our WSL gongs.

Here you go.
Here you go. Composite: Action Images via Reuters; Manchester City FC via Getty Images; Getty Images

Sid Lowe on how Jorge Molina opened a big can of joy for Granada in their “life or death” La Liga survival fight.

Ben McAleer looks ahead to this week’s steamy north Lahn derby.

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



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