STILL AT THE WHEEL
In much the same way as they publicly backed David Moyes and Humility Man™ shortly before handing them their P45s and ushering them to the Old Trafford door marked “Do One”, Manchester United’s hierarchy have felt compelled to offer Ole Gunnar Solskjær similar assurances
that he will be fired sooner rather than later about his position as manager of the club. It being the third vote of confidence they have given the over-promoted Norwegian since September, The Fiver can’t help but feel that if they really believed he was the man to restore the club to anything approaching its former glories, they wouldn’t feel the need to keep on telling us.
United’s eighth Premier League defeat of the season was a dismal surrender to Burnley played out in an atmosphere so toxic it’s a wonder the players weren’t kitted out in club-branded biohazard suits. As the small pockets of home fans, who had waited until the final whistle to beat the traffic, seethed and grumbled on their way to the exits, the beleaguered manager’s former teammates-turned-pundits duly tied themselves in knots as they desperately tried to put a positive spin on the shambles they had seen unfold. Only Rio Ferdinand, on BT Sport, was man enough to call it as he had actually seen it. “You can’t defend this,” he said, apparently likening United’s performance to a Burnley free-kick thumped long towards Ben Mee from the centre-circle. “People at the top need to see this and make changes and put a plan in place.”
While Rio is right about the hapless buffoons at the top having no coherent plan, he is certainly whistling a different tune to the one we all heard 10 months ago, when he publicly urged them to “get the contract out, put it on the table. Let [Ole] sign it, let him write whatever numbers he wants to put on there given what he’s done since he’s come in”. As things stand, there is no available evidence to suggest they have any kind of strategy – half-baked or otherwise – to improve performances on the field. The irony will not be lost on Solskjær that it is exactly this lack of planning that is currently keeping him in a job.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Cool Nigeria. A tale of heart and flips” – a bespoke wall celebrating Kanu [bit of a weird flex, like this headline – Fiver Ed] and Obafemi Martins welcomes Victor Moses as an Internazionale player, after his arrival on loan from Chelsea. “I want to make my contribution out on the pitch and enjoy myself,” he cheered. “That’s the most important thing.”
“Congratulations to 74-year-old Eez Eldin Bahder on signing for a third-tier Egyptian club (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). Hopefully he impresses and can get a move up the football pyramid” – Daniel Doody.
“Since you mentioned them earlier this week, I thought Fiver readers might be interested to learn, as I did earlier this week, (courtesy of Radio Four so it must be true), that ‘squirrel’ is one of the four most commonly cited words that our German colleagues find most difficult to pronounce in English. I am taking bets that somebody will soon be asking Jürgen Klopp if he’s been down to see the reds of Formby yet in an interview” – Andy Turner.
“Can’t believe no one reminded you about this infamous incident” – Alex Metcalfe.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Daniel Doody, who wins a copy of Death is a Laff Riot, by Fiver reader Robi Polgar.
Football Weekly Extra is right here.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Manchester City were found to have made inadmissible submissions to Uefa over FFP in 2014 and were reported for not making their bank statements available, Proper Journalism’s David Conn can reveal.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke fears his team’s survival chances are dwindling after they lost 2-1 at Spurs. “If someone can help working on this miracle then it is me with the lads,” he roared.
It’s also looking grim at West Ham, fresh off the back of their 4-1 gubbing at Leicester and with two games against Liverpool and another with Manchester City coming up. “The Premier League always throws up surprises and we have to be looking to make one of those shocks happen,” tooted David Moyes.
Aston Villa have raided Barcelona for 16-year-old striker Louie Barry.
And WSL basement side Bristol City have bolstered their number with the flamin’ acquisition of Chloe Logarzo. The men’s team, meanwhile, are sniffing around Peterborough’s Ivan Toney.
STILL WANT MORE?
The psychology of football rivalries. By Paul Hyland.
John Brewin offers a profile of Ed Woodward.
Inside the push to stop female footballers suffering so many ACL knacks, with Suzanne Wrack.
Northampton Town’s Jordan Turnbull is ready for some Friday night FA Cup action with Wayne Rooney, as he tells Paul MacInnes.
David Squires on … the flamin’ comings, and ultimately goings, of Markus Babbel.
Check out the latest European deals on our transfer window interactive.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!