The Fiver | Who would be a Newcastle United fan? | Football

BREAKING BIG CUP NEWS

A big thanks to Uefa for their Fiver-baiting timing of the group-stage draw. Anyway, here’s what’s going/went down.

OUT OF TOON

Who’d be a Newcastle fan? They complain when their team get relegated and complain when they don’t. They grumble when they lose and grumble when they win. They get the hump when they don’t sign expensive players and get the hump when they do. They loathe their owner, but … well, yes, they loathe their owner. In a world where fans of even the best-run clubs will find something about which to bellyache, a number of Newcastle’s seem to have cornered the market in moaning about their lot, no matter how good, bad or indifferent it may be. It is a state of affairs that occasionally prompts neutrals to idly ponder a burning question: what the hell is it that Newcastle fans actually want?

Not much, seems to be the reasonable answer. Well, at least if you’re prepared to look past the ranting and raving of various mouth-foaming @Toonboy7683915 types, who whiled away several months of lockdown getting their smalls in a bunch over criticism of the attempted and subsequently aborted purchase of their club by some perfectly nice people who wanted nothing more than to lift the yoke of oppression from the sagging shoulders of these long-suffering supporters … and replace it with a slightly heavier one.

Less excitable Newcastle fans have long been taunted for having notions above their station; accusations they have countered with the retort that they just want a team they can be proud of. It is an argument The Fiver has always greeted with a fair degree of scepticism, but having witnessed three of their recent games – a slaughter at the hands of Brighton, a preposterously lucky draw against Spurs and an unseemly scramble over the line in the Rumbelows Cup against Newport County – we’re finally coming around to their way of thinking. For a team that has lost just one of the six matches they have played so far this season, Newcastle are truly painful to watch.

“I agree, fully, that we didn’t play well enough,” cheered fan favourite Bernard Cribbins, when it was put to him his team had struggled in the face of weak opposition. “All of a sudden now, it’s questioning tactics. I just find the whole thing disappointing.” The tactics in question – sitting back, inviting pressure and hoping for the best against a range of teams across various divisions from the top flight down to League Two – have consistently failed to endear Cribbins to fans still pining for the … erm, famously expansive, free-flowing and swashbuckling style of his predecessor Rafa Benítez. With the mouthwatering prospect of a thriller against [Fiver checks notes] Burnley to come on Saturday, there is at least some small consolation to be gleaned from the fact that they won’t be able to go and watch it.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Nick Ames from 7.15pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Manchester City 1-2 Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup semis, while Paul Doyle will be on hand at 7.45pm for Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal in the Milk Cup last 16.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Our guys said we will not stand for this and they were very clear in that moment that we are giving up all hopes of making the play-offs. They are beating one of the best teams in the league but they said it doesn’t matter and there are more things important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in” – San Diego Loyal coach Landon Donovan hails his players after they forfeited their USL Championship match with Phoenix Rising, walking off after teammate Collin Martin was allegedly subjected to homophobic abuse. Phoenix said their player denies using a homophobic slur.


San Diego Loyal players walk off field after alleged homophobic abuse – video report

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly Extra will be in this general vicinity.

FIVER LETTERS

“Re your bit about José ‘the protagonist’ (yesterday’s Fiver). Coincidentally, that’s also the name of John David Washington’s character in Tenet. Some people have criticised the film for being hopelessly overblown, taking itself far too seriously, yet still providing a mildly enjoyable distraction from all of this … stuff that’s going on, so I guess the name is where the similarity ends … ti leeF .ti dnatsrednu ot yrt t’noD –that’s what I’ve been told” – David Madden.

“As a Sunderland supporter not called Phil Davison (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I wonder if this club is particularly strongly represented among Fiver readers. That would make sense, as we need some relief from a regular diet of disappointment and frustration. And so do, etc and so on” – Adrian Armstrong.

“The Fiver is edited for taste and bad words (yesterday’s Fiver)? Have these editors ever considered reviewing the contents? It may seem like a big job for the first few days, but they will soon work out that pressing Ctrl+A and then Delete will get the job done in seconds” – Nicholas Livesey.

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 … Adrian Armstrong.

BITS AND BOBS

Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and $exually Repressed Morris-Dancing Fiver are out of the England squad, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Bukayo Saka and Harvey Barnes are in.

Tottenham will be keeping Dele Alli, it would appear.

As he prepares to take charge of his 1,500th Football League game, Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock has been reminiscing about the first. “Wolves at Scarborough,” he sighed. “For some reason, they put it on a Bank Holiday Saturday at Scarborough – can you believe it – in August. I remember all the Wolves fans the night before sleeping everywhere. They were in every shop doorway on the beaches, you name it. I remember a fan falling through the roof. He stood on the roof drunk and fell through, nearly killed himself. Fortunately, he was all right. Steve Bull scored a couple in a 2-2 draw. It was a great game.”

And to the fun and games in South America dept: Alianza Lima’s 2-2 Copa Libertadores draw against Estudiantes de Merida has extended their winless run in the competition to 22 matches – the longest in its 60-year history. “We had 20 shots on goal, more than 60% of possession and 10 corners,” cheered coach Mario Salas. “The numbers indicate we are on the right track.”

STILL WANT MORE?

La Liga’s lost dressing rooms. By Sid Lowe.

Writer Daniel Gray feeds our nostalgia for The Before Times by waxing lyrical on the joys of first seeing a new ground.

Dystopian digital circus would make a great name for a band. It’s also where Barney Ronay fears football might be heading.



Sure we saw them in Camden circa 2001. Photograph: Clive Rose/Reuters

How can the cash problems exposed by the Covid crisis be resolved? Paul MacInnes on how we got here and what might be done.

The USA! USA!! USA!!! men’s team are at serious risk of becoming good again, explains James Nalton.

Martin Laurence on how The Villa are winning at transfer window 2020.

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

IT. NEVER. STOPS


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