The Fiver | Ignominious failures can also presage even more ignominious failures | Football


In 1982 Diego Maradona was sent off for planting his studs into João Batista’s swingers. Four years later he led Argentina on a glorious dance to World Cup immortality. In 1994 France were doing a giddy conga up the steps of an airplane when David Ginola bumped into Ged Houllier and sent the whole squad tumbling to the tarmac, from where they watched in a sore and sorry heap as the plane took off for the USA! USA!! USA!!! without them. Four years later, and with only a modest bit of “trickery” by Michel Platini, Les Bleus were world champions. So, you see, ignominious failures can be catalysts to total victory.

Of course, The Fiver could draw on its own personal experience to prove that ignominious failures can also presage even more ignominious failures but that would not be helpful at this juncture. Because what we’re about today, reader, is cheering up Brazil. They want to banish the memory of that 7-1 humiliation inflicted on them by Germany in Belo Horizonte four years ago and are convinced the only way to do that is by winning the Ethics World Cup in Russia this summer. Tin would have been The Fiver’s first resort but no one asked us.

Another option has been put forward. The owners of the Mineirão Stadium – the arena in which Germany stung Brazil’s cheeks with that slippering – have come up with a novel wheeze to auction off the net into which Jogi Lurrrrvvve’s party-poopers fired their first five goals. The auctioneers say the net is a valuable football artefact and, er, will be cut into 8,150 pieces, each one to be put on sale at the symbolic starting price of €71. And all the proceeds will go to charidee. The venture stands to raise around half a million quid, more than Neymar could earn in three-quarters of an hour.

“The idea is to transform this traumatic incident that everyone would prefer to forget into something positive,” tooted the stadium director, Samuel Lloyd, who expressed the hope that similar schemes would catch on elsewhere. Perhaps in England, for example? But would anyone really pay now for, say, a fragment of the whistle that a Tunisian referee didn’t blow in 1986? Or for a piece of Sven-Göran Eriksson’s mind?


6 June: “I wouldn’t rule them out completely … it’s pleasing to see high-profile names linked. It shows how attractive this job is” – St Mirren chairman Gordon Scott dares to dream amid reports Guti and Nightclub Patrick are in the running for their managerial vacancy.

8 June: “There were a number of good applicants for the role but we felt Alan [Stubbs] was the outstanding candidate” – St Mirren chief suit Tony Fitzpatrick keeps it real.


… get our 100-page definitive World Cup supplement on Saturday, featuring Marcel Desailly, Marina Hyde, Daniel Taylor and our inimitable team guides. In Big Sunday Paper, you’ll find our large glossy wallchart. As a teaser, here’s an extract from David Squires on … England’s World Cup history. And you can win a signed print too, here.

Get stuck in.

Get stuck in. Illustration: David Squires for the Guardian


Here we go, then, our bumper rundown of all 736 [SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIX – Fiver vidiprinter] players at Russia 2018.


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Yes, it’s our not-singing, not-dancing World Cup FiveЯ. Here’s the latest edition, The Fiver’s harbinger-o-meter, and from Monday, we’ll be reverting to World Cup FiveЯ, out every lunchtime BST, or thereabouts.


“By clicking on yesterday’s last line (it was an exceptionally slow day at work), I found out what my little sister was up to on Christmas Day seven years ago. People who say The Fiver is not informative are clearly talking rubbish” – Tim Woods.

“Re: Brian Saxby’s futile football watching (Fiver letters passim): at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa I ditched a ticket to see Argentina v Mexico in favour of spending several hundred pounds and making a round trip of several hundred miles to see what remained of England’s ‘Golden Generation’ lose pathetically to Germany, 4-1. That, my friend, is futile football watching” – Paul Buller.

“Yeah yeah – like there’s really a ‘Mrs Fiver’ (yesterday’s Fiver). A crudely-crayoned stick woman doesn’t count” – Nick Jeffery (and 1,056 others).

Send your letters to And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet The Fiver. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Tim Woods.


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Harry Kane. Tottenham. Six-year deal. Pay structure!

‘You’re not still claiming it, are you?’

‘You’re not still claiming it, are you?’ Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Premier League has tried jump-starting The Fiver’s rusty old STOP FOOTBALL campaign after confirming it will have a two-week break in February from 2019-20.

Lyon’s Nabil Fekir is set to be Liverpool’s Nabil Fekir in the next few days once £53m has found its way through the internet to the Ligue Urrrrn club’s bank account.

Leicester have gone rooting around in the bargain bucket at West Brom and fished out Jonny Evans for £3.5m. “He is a winner and a leader,” trilled Claude Puel of the recently relegated West Brom skipper.

Gareth Southgate was given a headache by the performances of some peripheral players in England’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica. “It’s more difficult, no question,” tooted Southgate. “There are some serious decisions to take, but in a really good way.”

The last former Liverpool player to become Manchester United manager was Matt Busby, so no pressure on Casey Stoney, who’s been appointed boss of the newly rebooted United women’s team.

Manuel Lanzini will miss the World Cup and likely a large chunk of West Ham’s season after suffering cruciate knee ligament-knack with Argentina.

Oldham have finally got round to booting Richie Wellens through the door marked Do One after the club’s relegation to League Two.

And our goggles, our earplugs, they do nothing! “It’s a perfect choice for a football anthem this summer. It’s Russian, it’s got all the noises, and all the dances – the only dodgy thing is I’m in it,” parped Andrew Flintoff. If only, if only.


Juan Sebastián Verón picks his all-time Argentina XI – and goes heavy on Estudiantes players because he can. You can pick your own all-time Argentina XI here.


Seba! Composite: Frank Hulley-Jones

Barney Ronay on why we need to take more care of athletes.

Like pop-up messages about those new GDPR regulations, our Ethics World Cup guides keep on coming. Here’s the skinny on everything you need to know about Sweden, while Mexico have been comprehensively boxed off here.

Olof Lundh brings us this Sweden profile on Andreas Granqvist, the Plucky Wigan flop who has replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic as team leader.

Manuel Portillo has kept himself busy with this on Mexico’s Hirving Lozano, a smiling star who must keep a lid on his temper.

Jordan Henderson did the business against Costa Rica but Jamie Vardy looks set for the bench, writes Dominic Fifield.

Marcus Rashford flashed his skills in England’s second string, a team built on craft not brawn, writes Barney Ronay.

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


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