YOU TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET
All those naysayers who like to gripe about how international football has become boring and incomprehensible have suddenly gone very silent since Tuesday’s clash between Germany and Switzerland in League A Group 4 Division 6 Sub-section 11.7(b) of the Nations League. That 3-3 draw was a corker in any currency and one firm positive that could be taken from it, at a time when everyone needs some levity, is that Germany look an absolute shower. If Jogi Löw has a coherent plan for taking the side forward, it was well hidden in a slipshod performance in which they looked like an outfit pulled together from the nearest bahnhof’s lost-and-found department.
Elsewhere in the same group/league/division/subsection, David de Gea was spotted asking passers-by for directions at the exact moment that Ukraine launched an attack against Spain, leaving the unfortunate goalkeeper stranded as Viktor Tsygankov fired off the home team’s only shot of the match. That was enough to inflict Spain’s first defeat in two years. “In the end we went into panic mode, I like the attitude of the players,” ventured manager Luis Enrique in a quote chosen because it sounds ludicrous in isolation.
Anyway, if The Fiver is understanding all the recent international goings-on correctly, the only thing standing between England and outright victory at next summer’s European Championships is a continuing public health catastrophe and/or Gareth Southgate. Even though England go into Wednesday’s game against Denmark with a chance of making it three wins from three during this international break and extending their lead at the top of League A Group 2 Division 3 Subsection 4x + 2y, the manager still has many detractors, with The Fiver, for one, suspecting that Jack Grealish will only be picked to play if Carlton Palmer fails a late fitness test.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I always say, if I would be an animal, I would be an octopus” – Thomas Partey dampens Arsenal fans’ expectations of him as their new midfield enforcer by likening himself to a small, spineless being that mostly stays hidden away. The Fiver’s saying nothing.
A Football Weekly special on the “gamblification” of the game. An important one.
“I found the cafe where your Dutch cousin hangs out!” – James Forrester.
“There has been a lot of talk about the 92 clubs in the league ‘pyramid’ after the leaking of Project Big Picture and Rick Parry’s enthusiastic support (Fiver passim). As a primary school teacher I feel it is necessary to school the EFL chairman on what a league pyramid should actually look like. It has an apex (the Premier League – tick) followed by two (or more) equal leagues below that and then three (or more) more equal leagues and so on. As each level of the first five divisions/tiers of the English league system (Premier League to National League) are distinctly unequal, this in fact constitutes a straight line until National League North and South. As the proposals only offer financial support to the 72 clubs of tiers 2-4, Parry’s assertion that John W Henry cares about the pyramid would appear to be erroneous at best” – Robert Way-Bradley.
“As a Tranmere Rovers fan living in the USA! USA!! USA!!! I have no faith in the EFL. It has screwed us over twice already this year. Relegation by points-per-game then made to play Salford last weekend with the reserves or risk a 15-point penalty. The 93rd-minute equaliser was so sweet. The sooner Parry sods off the better. The EFL needs leadership and a reality check” – Steve Shephard.
“Not my usual Fiver letters fare, but while Premier League clubs are looking to either take control of the rest of the Football League or charge Sky and BT Sport subscriptions and an additional £14.95 to watch a game, my local club since moving down south 20 years ago, the great Dulwich Hamlet FC, will be streaming all their home games this season for free and they have a crowdfunding page for those wishing to support the initiative. Plus, it may encourage other clubs to do it too” – Noble Francis.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Project Big Picture looks like being kicked into the long grass, according to reports emerging just as The Fiver goes to button.
Uefa and the Premier League have won a case against Rwandan channel Victory TV Ltd for illegally broadcasting Big Cup, Big Vase and Premier League matches.
Neymar leapt past Real Ronaldo in Brazil’s goalscoring charts after his hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Peru and is now second only to Pelé’s tally of 19,576. “All my respect for you PHENOMENON!” he blabbed on Social Media Disgrace Twitter.
New Zealand aren’t stupid, so they’ve cancelled next month’s international friendly away at England.
Gareth Southgate will have to do without Kieran Trippier for the Nations League win over Denmark after the full-back was called to the FA’s naughty step to answer charges relating to the breaking of betting rules – an alleged offence that could lead to a six-month ban.
Big Phil Neville say he doesn’t feel he will be on trial in England’s matches against Germany and Norway, as the FA stalls on announcing Team GB’s coach for a Big Sports Day that will probably not happen next summer in any case. “There’s always that element of ‘you’ve got to perform, you’re being assessed, you’re being scrutinised,’” he blathered.
And kudos to Kevin Davies, who has admitted that he used his 21-minute England career as an opportunity to get his hands on some freebies. “It was about looking for any spare bits of kit and bagging it in my bin-liner,” he yelped. “All these England bits and bobs – shorts, towels – I was like: ‘Get them in and pick them up for the kids.’”
STILL WANT MORE?
If value for money is your thing, Niall McVeigh has you covered with 10 clever signings from the latest transfer window.
Javier Hernández is as bad as $tevie Mbe was in the USA! USA!! USA!!!, according to Graham Ruthven.
Which was the last team to play wearing 1 to 11? The Knowledge knows.
Suzanne Wrack had a natter with FA big-wig Kay Cossington about creating a successful England team.
The Steve Guppy paradox is haunting England once again, warns Jonathan Liew.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!