EUROPEAN FOOTBALL NONSENSE
Wolves play the first leg of their Euro Vase play-off against Torino this evening. If they win the tie they’ll just have to win a bingo tournament, recite the alphabet backwards for the amusement of a couple of Uefa suits and profess their undying love for West Brom to ensure their place in next week’s group stage draw. Then they’ll only be a mere 427 matches away from reaching next summer’s final in Gdansk. European glory beckons! Not that the Fiver’s stereotypical English cousin, $exually Repressed Morris Dancing Fiver, sees what all the fuss is about. It’s been banging on about the handball law again. Reckons the EU’s up to no good. Doesn’t see why English teams should bother with all that European football nonsense. Doesn’t remember voting for Wolves to be in Euro Vase anyway. Bloody foreigners.
Wolves are pressing on, though, and there’s a whiff of skullduggery afoot. Bear with us here. See, it turns out that tonight’s referee is Portuguese. And get this: the Wolves manager is … also Portuguese. Yes! Honest! It’s really happened. For the first time in the history of the game, the referee is going to be from the same country as one team’s manager. Who let this one through? Probably those EU idiots. Mind you, Wolves manager Nuno Espírito Santo reckons being able to speak the same language as the man with the whistle, Artur Dias, will make no difference at all. But then he would, wouldn’t he? “There’s no issue here, come on,” Nuno said. “Our native language here is English, everyone speaks English to each other.”
The Fiver supposes that Nuno has bigger things to worry about: Torino finished seventh in Serie A last season and are no mugs. Their domestic campaign hasn’t started yet, but they’ve looked good in Europe so far, thumping Debrecen and Shakhtyor Soligorsk, and Wolves will need to pay close attention to Andrea Belotti up front. The Italy striker already has four goals in four games and has long been targeted by bigger clubs. But perhaps there’s a sneaky way forward for Wolves. Defend deep in both legs, play for two 0-0 draws and wait for penalties. Belotti can’t take them all, can he? One of them will have to fall to his strike partner, Simone Zaza.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Vinnie loves the club so much that he always wants to give everything for Anderlecht. Every day. But now on competition days he will only concentrate on his match” – Anderlecht assistant Simon Davies explains why Vincent Kompany, who has overseen the club’s worst start to a season in 21 years, will no longer take matchday managerial duties with the club.
“Re: Bettina Vine’s paternal competition (yesterday’s Fiver letters). If the afterlife involves reading The Fiver for all eternity, I’m pretty sure that’s going to make most people question their faith” – Jim Hearson.
“I’ve been reading The Fiver for the last couple of months and only just realised there is an author for every post thanks to Kris in yesterday’s Fiver letters. Here I was thinking that Fiver writers kept themselves anonymous to try and save some face – Zach Marzouk (and 1,067 others).
“Who can blame Ian Holloway for being fed up of the EU telling Britons what to do all the time? It was the personal intervention of Jean-Claude Juncker, after all, that must have led to the increasingly bizarre team selections during Holloway’s second spell as manager of QPR. There certainly seemed to be no reason a rational man would completely change the line-up after a struggling team achieved a rare victory, something Holloway always did after the rare occasions Rangers won in his final months. And if I may briefly return to the subject of Sylvester Stallone … Some years ago I went to the premier of the film Cop Land at the London Film Festival, in which he starred alongside Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. Stallone did a Q&A with the audience afterwards, at which he was asked dozens of variants on ‘What was it like to work with De Niro and Keitel?’ Eventually I put my hand up to ask a question. ‘What are you going to ask?’ demanded my wife, suspiciously (a couple of days earlier, I had embarrassed her when I visibly irritated the makers of the film First Love, Last Rites at another Q&A by asking if they were the same Jesse Peretz and David Ryan who had once been in the Lemonheads. They were). ‘I’m going to ask what it was like working with Laurie Sivell on Escape to Victory.’ ‘Who’s Laurie Sivell?’ ‘He was Ipswich’s reserve goalie in the late 70s.’ She wrestled my hand down and told me not to even think about asking that question” – Michael Hann.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Junior Agogo, the former Ghana and Bristol Rovers forward, has died aged 40.
Georges-Kévin Nkoudou leaves Spurs. Farewell message more memorable than his Spurs career.
Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie enjoyed a night out in the away end for Swansea’s trip to Loftus Road on Wednesday night.
Romelu Lukaku is unhappy that not everyone appreciates his unimpeachable first touch and precision finishing. “Four goals in the World Cup, three weeks ago I scored three goals in two games,” he said, “and before that we played Switzerland and Iceland in September and I scored four goals in two games. I’ve scored 48 goals for my country.” If only Switzerland and Iceland played in the Premier and Champions Leagues.
Liverpool have revealed plans to increase Anfield’s capacity beyond 60,000. The club says it is “committed to engaging with the local community and other key stakeholders while pursuing a vision in keeping with the club’s aspirations”. That “engagement” went down well last time, of course.
Bolton have accepted the resignations of manager Phil Parkinson and his assistant Steve Parkin.
STILL WANT MORE?
Walter Tull is football’s hidden pioneer whose story everyone should know. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Nick Blackman took a trip to his ancestral home in Barbados.
Ruthless Solskjær cares little for egos or age at Manchester United, reckons Jamie Jackson.
Liverpool v Arsenal, Puskás Award outsiders and Japan’s strangest sports – it can only be this week’s Classic YouTube!
‘It’s an act of hope’: the fairytale rise of the Real Kashmir football team.
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