JOB ON THE TYNE
We’re in that interregnum between the international break and the resumption of the Premier League in which nothing ever happens. This is where a bolt from the blue would come in mighty handy for The Fiver. A big story out of nowhere, please! The sacking of Steve Bruce, perhaps. But he’s on 999 career games as a manager and the folk in charge of Newcastle United are notoriously sentimental old sausages, so they’ll no doubt let him notch up four figures before the inevitable occurs. We’d ask them to throw us a bone, but, well, y’know.
Breaking news: he’s still not gone yet. Mind you, while Bruce is the hot favourite to become the next top-flight manager to be axed – very much metaphorically, we stress – it’s still possible that someone else will pip him. Southampton aren’t very good, for example, and Ralph Hasenhüttl seems to be doing very little about it, other than standing on the touchline in a waistcoat looking gobsmacked, like a slightly less proactive Gareth Southgate. Saints are still to win a match this season, and now he’s promised that the visit of Leeds on Saturday will be “nice to watch with a lot of mistakes because of the pressure each side puts on the other … you will not see a five-star dinner”. It’s a bold sell, you have to give him that, especially when you consider his tendency to serve up nine-goal dog’s breakfasts. Does anyone have a number for Eddie Howe?
Then there’s Claudio Ranieri, who has been in charge at Watford for 10 days now. With his honeymoon period long gone, having elapsed well over a week ago, and time fast running out, the Italian needs a big result in his first game this Saturday. The good news is that the Hornets welcome Liverpool to Vicarage Road, where they’ve got a habit of turning Jürgen Klopp over, having twice routed him 3-0 as well as scoring a last-minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw. The bad news is that, even if Ranieri’s men give Klopp another famous shoeing, the Pozzos are as the Pozzos do, and while you’d like to think he’d outlast Bruce at the very least, there are no guarantees he’ll still be in a job by the time he turns 70. Next Wednesday, since you ask.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“My story – going from a lower-league goalkeeper in Iceland to saving a penalty against the best football player in the world – sounds like something from a bad cliché Hollywood sports movie. I’m probably not going to make that one myself” – Hannes Halldorsson, who saved Leo Messi’s spot-kick at Russia 2018, is appearing on the big screen, however, after the release of his first feature film, Cop Secret, freshly selected for the Lahn Film Festival.
“Ah, fond memories! Your note of a 17-0 shellacking (yesterday’s Quote of the Day) brings to mind the time my high-school teammates and I lost 27-0 to one of the best teams in California. Plenty of excuses (away, soggy pitch, abject incompetence on our part, etc). At one point, one of their forwards rolled a pass harmlessly towards goal. As our goalie went on one knee to gather it up, the ball suddenly splashed to a halt in a puddle just outside the six-yard box, whereupon the forward, still jogging, calmly passed it into the net. Our season did improve after that, despite not being funded by a rich benefactor with dubious ethics” – John Nielsen-Gammon.
“Re: the Tottenham Supporters’ Trust making public their questions they want answered by the board (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). It’s quite quaint how, in this day and age, some supporters still believe they are ‘key stakeholders’ in a Premier League club” – Brendan Mackinney.
“Re: ‘That’s Weird Uncle Fiver’s Christmas Present Sorted’ (yesterday’s last line). There is no way I am going to click on that link” – Joe Pearson.
Football Weekly Extra has a lesson to teach about the half-volley.
There’s a new Arsène Wenger documentary out and it focuses on the non-biennial World Cup farce plans, so there’s that.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
David Brooks has thanked medical staff at the Welsh FA for detecting his stage two Hodgkin Lymphoma at an early stage, with the Bournemouth midfielder hopeful he can make a full recovery after he begins treatment next week.
The FA has pledged to increase the number of people playing disability football in England by 50% in three years, after revealing its first plan to support the game.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the UK’s football policing lead, reckons there are still too many alcohol-related incidents at matches to start letting fans get their booze on in the stands. “Allowing drinking in seats would fuel disorderly behaviour and is unnecessary as spectators are allowed to drink on concourses – to make this change would be irresponsible,” he tooted.
Barcelona’s teenage midfielder Pedri has agreed a new five-year contract which includes a – Dr Evil air-quotes – €1bn release clause.
Southend United’s approach for Chesterfield manager James Rowe has been knocked back as they look to fill the Phil Brown-shaped hole in their dugout.
Breaking news: Steve Bruce has still not gone yet and now Newcastle are insisting he’ll attend Friday’s pre-match press conference, so that should be fun.
And after four years on the sidelines due to three bouts of serious knee-knack, Coventry’s Jodi Jones has been talking about finally being fit again for the Sky Blues. “You feel locked up, you can’t do anything and I felt like I was going on adventures in my house,” he said. “If I did go downstairs I’d have to take a backpack with me and put everything in it: food, my PlayStation, I’d carry a bucket of ice.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Who is he sending off? Who wanted him gone? Who did he kill? All this and more in our bumper Mike Dean quiz.
In topical news, Karen Carney explains what it’s really like as a player when you’ve got a dead-duck manager.
“The opportunities we missed at Hearts were huge” – Tynecastle hero John Robertson gets his chat on with Ewan Murray.
“I don’t think I will ever be without football in my life” – Glenn Hoddle gets his chat on with Paul MacInnes.
“I wanted to come back and prove why I should have been at that Olympics” – Arsenal’s Beth Mead gets her chat on with Suzy Wrack, who’s also found time to hear from new USL president Amanda Vandervort.
Will Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu finally put Zambia on English football’s map? Ed Aarons investigates.
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