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The Fiver | Intent on having more than a nice day out at the FA Cup final

NEXT STOP: WEMBLEY

The Fiver is all for respecting tradition when it comes to the FA Cup. It has little love for inconvenient kick-off times, semi-finals being played at Wembley and Premier League teams playing weakened sides in the early rounds. It wishes that Cup final day meant waking up early to count down the hours before the biggest game in the season kicked off at 3pm. But even a romantic old sod like The Fiver agrees that it’s probably for the best that people’s champions Manchester City haven’t penned a Cup final song before facing Watford at Wembley on Saturday evening. Not after the critical panning that recent musical effort received. After all, the way they’ve been carrying on this week, there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t have asked one of the more swivel-eyed followers off Social Media Disgrace Twitter to pen the lyrics.

You know, you’d think a club owned by an oil-rich emirate would have a slicker PR operation. All in all it’s been a strange few days for City since missing out on second place to Premier League champions Liverpool last weekend. The mood hasn’t been particularly celebratory, has it? First there was the song debacle on the plane, then they found themselves in a bit of a tangle with noted moralists Uefa, which is pondering whether to hand City a one-year ban from Big Cup as punishment for alleged financial shenanigans. The prospect of a European ban hasn’t gone down well with the blue half of Manchester, or those who are desperate to see Pep Guardiola bungle another Big Cup quarter-final in comedy fashion.

Still, it remains likely that an awkward week will end on a high for City, who should silence all the bias haters, bitter MSM journos and Liverpool-supporting pundits by becoming the first side in the history of English football to win a domestic treble (or a quadruple if you reckon Guardiola wasn’t just riffing on José Mourinho with that chat about the Community Shield). While Watford will be intent on doing more than having a nice day out, it’s hard to see them pulling off a shock against such formidable opponents. Indeed City have won their last eight against Watford, scoring 25 and conceding four, which probably means we’ll have to settle for the post-match highlight of Guardiola patronising straight-talking’s Troy Deeney, the most honest and real man in all football, to within an inch of his life in the absence of anything resembling cup fever.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Watching United struggle is always tough. They need to fear Ole Gunnar. They need to fear Michael Carrick. You have got players losing a game and posting something on social media [disgraces] about their new clothing range, their new aftershave, whatever they’re bringing out, which I find remarkable. These players almost always like to find someone to hide behind, whether that is on their social media [disgraces] or on the football pitch and that’s what they are doing” – Wayne Rooney on why Manchester United will carry on being bobbins until players stop worrying about smelling nice and start fretting about being torn a new one instead.

Soccerball, earlier.



Soccerball, earlier. Photograph: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly Extra, with Elis James and co, right here.

FIVER LETTERS

“I notice $exually Repressed Morris-Dancing Fiver receives regular call-ups to the senior England squad, but I don’t think he’s had any minutes on the pitch for them. Certainly not in competitive matches. Maybe he should have a word with the FAI?” – Matt Dony.

“Can I be just one of at least 1,057 protesting Fiver readers to distance myself from the claim that neutrals actually now ‘like’ Nasty Leeds (yesterday’s Fiver). Why has The Fiver gone all gooey and sentimental based on one season of relatively decent (but ultimately prizeless) football? What’s next? That Uefa is actually a group of misunderstood philanthropists and Luis Suárez is a big softie who just wants to be loved? Get a grip” – John Myles (and 1,056 others).

“Nasty Leeds ‘lovable again’? I must have blinked and missed the first time” – Barrie Francis.

“The direct translation of the Chinese in the banner displayed by Hebei China Fortune fans calling for Chris Coleman’s dismissal is: ‘Coleman, your mum’s calling you home to eat dinner.’ I hope he’s enjoying the meal, though perhaps ‘the trendy nightspot’s calling’ might have been more appropriate” – James Ing.

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 Matt Dony.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Hampshire police are investigating after Luke O’Nien was allegedly attacked by a Portsmouth fan after falling into the crowd in the 0-0 draw at Fratton Park that sent Sunderland into the League One play-off final.

Expect a trolley dash for Max Allegri’s services after Juventus announced that their manager who has won four doubles in five title-winning seasons will do one at the end of the season.

2004’s Jonathan Woodgate is among the contenders to be tasked with dragging Middlesbrough out of the Jurassic period and into the Quaternary phase after Tony Pulis was mutually consented through the door marked Do One. “[Tony] has been a joy to work with and a complete gentleman,” cheered Boro owner Steve Gibson.

Big drawstring game.



Big drawstring game. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Action Images

Gareth Southgate says England players will not walk off the pitch in protest if they are subjected to racial abuse after telling him they do not want “to be the story”.

Danny Rose has revealed a club seeking to sign him last summer requested a meeting to check he was “not crazy” in the wake of speaking out about depression.

Bayern boss Niko Kovac couldn’t give a flying one about what Dortmund do on the final day because his side need only a point at home against Frankfurt to seal the Bundesliga title. “I haven’t asked about their [Dortmund’s] results recently and I won’t be doing so this weekend either,” he sniffed, possibly inviting a visit from Dr Hubris on Saturday.

A Saudi businessman related to Osama bin Laden featured in discussions about investors in Sheffield United, a court in London analysing a fight between the promoted Premier League club’s co-owners has heard.

And Crystal Palace beancounters may go red-faced and mumble “100 million” under their breath if a club in Big Cup comes sniffing around for Wilfried Zaha.

STILL WANT MORE?

Watford have gone from winding-up order to an FA Cup final under Gino Pozzo but at his other club, Udinese, fans are feeling fresh and funky, writes Simon Burnton.

England’s Toni Duggan is determined to help Barça overcome the odds against Lyon in Women’s Big Cup final because it’s what she signed up for, explains Suzanne Wrack.

Martin Laurence steers us in the direction of 10 big games to watch this weekend in Europe, including Tondela v Chaves, which will keep the hipsters happy.

Jorge Fernandes, just for the hipsters.



Jorge Fernandes, just for the hipsters. Photograph: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Speaking of which, Emre Sarigul on how Başakşehir are closing in on upsetting the old Turkish league order with 78-year-olds such as Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Daniel Boffey gets his chat on with Vincent Kompany’s dad, Pierre, who describes his long journey from a DRC camp to becoming Belgium’s first black mayor.

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

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