Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku and some serious verbals | Football


Football is about marginal gains, those little extras that can make a difference in the heat of the battle and, for some, verbals are seen as being more effective than a balanced diet. But there is a line. Take Tuesday night’s Coppa Italia derby between Inter and Milan, when Zlatan Ibrahmovic faced up to his former Manchester United teammate Romelu Lukaku, repeatedly shouting at the Belgian as tensions grew to “go do your voodoo sh1t, you little donkey” – a niche but surely needless reference to Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri claiming the former Toffee turned down a new contract due to a message from the spirits, which in turn prompted Lukaku to threaten legal action.

As The Fiver has always maintained, football is better without fans as it allows us to sit back on the sofa and hear every single cuss, swear and affront, rather than listening to the tedium of songs that do not scan to the tune of Sloop John B. Insults about mothers and wives – an art form we are unfortunately well versed in due to Weird Uncle Fiver – were also exchanged between the strikers, leading to a Benny Hill-style chase around the pitch. Neither Lukaku nor Ibrahimovic were happy with keeping the TV audience entertained with mere verbals, instead deciding to go forehead-to-forehead, resulting in a yellow card each for our intrepid heroes. A second for the Swede followed later, before Lukaku and Christian Eriksen nabbed a 97th minute-winner, leaving Ibrahimovic’s opener a footnote, much to his ego’s chagrin.

Ibrahimovic later countered claims that his voodoo verbiage was racially motivated, using his experience of creating the third person to post on assorted social media disgraces: “In Zlatan’s world there is no place for racism. We are all the same race – we are all equal! We are all players some better then [sic] others.” Once the dust settled on Inter’s triumph, it was left to Milan boss Stefano Pioli to crow: “[Ibrahimovic] apologised like the great champion he is. He got a bit caught up in the desire to help the team.” The Fiver also knows how to apologise like a champion, as our lawyers will testify, usually after falling victim to a different kind of spirit.


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“Re: ‘Mr Roman’s scuffed sacking shoe’ (Monday’s Fiver). Is it not more likely to be a buffed, highly-polished sacking shoe, on account of the well-upholstered managerial backsides it has engaged with, over the years?” – Desmond O’Byrne.

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


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Dr Jozef Venglos when he took over at Celtic. Photograph: Bruce Adams/Daily Mail/Rex/Shutterstock

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Saka, Saka, Saka. Saka can, Saka can, Saka can, Saka can. Photograph: Frank Augstein/Reuters

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Straight into action for Tommy T. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC/Getty Images

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