football

The Fiver | Manchester City, Manchester United and the tale of the daddy long-legs. Again


ALL-NEW DADDY LONG-LEGS RIFF 2

Your happy-clappy, hippy-dippy Fiver is a lover of all God’s living creatures, with the one exception of people, who are the worst. Imagine, then, how thrilled we were on Tuesday morning to see that the daddy long-legs, previously reported missing on manoeuvres behind Granny Fiver’s signed picture of Steve Ogrizovic, presumed dead, was back! Up he popped, repeatedly flying into a closed window, a relentless four-to-the-floor beat, stuck in a loop. Sadly, The Fiver’s brief pang of existential joy quickly curdled into garden-variety misery, as we suddenly realised what you’re already thinking. Also, what if it’s not the same daddy long-legs, but a different one, also resigned to joylessly going through the motions, every day the same, until it drops? Is that better or worse? It won’t be good news, that much we know.

Anyway, congratulations to Manchester City, who have been crowned champions of the Premier League for the third time in four seasons. Their long-anticipated title was rubber-stamped by Leicester who, upon turning up on Monday evening at Old Trafford, caught Manchester United with their feet up on the desk and cigars on, whiling away the hours until the Villarreal game, and filled their boots accordingly. That meant United were no longer able to pip City, and also that seven of the last 10 titles have been won by petroclubs – another trend that doesn’t look like being snapped any time soon – unless the game’s regulatory authorities finally get round to imposing what we all know they’re never going to impose, so best get used to it.

Leicester’s staunch victory – and Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team selection – had a couple of other side effects, notably putting the Foxes tantalisingly close to qualification for next year’s Big Cup, while increasing the ambient temperatures of bladders across much of east London and Merseyside. Those who had clung on to faint hopes of squeaking into the top four now must surely prepare for a season in Big Vase or, even worse, Uefa’s new rococo competition, Euro Cake Stand, about which we understand very little other than it not being suitable for microwaves or dishwashers. Given this is pretty much all that’s left to be decided, executives at Sky Sports and BT are invited, when considering their end-of-season schedules, to join our daddy long-legs, and The Fiver, in banging their heads against the wall.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray from 8.15pm BST for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I actually believe every commentator should be allowed one [eff] per year because sometimes, whether it’s a great goal or a free-kick that flies over the bar, we should be allowed to go: [eff]!”– Clive Tyldesley gets his considerable chat on with Donald McRae.

Give the man what he wants.
Give the man what he wants. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

A beautiful tribute from David Squires to the late Alan McLoughlin, his first footballing hero.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Here’s the latest Football Weekly podcast.

FIVER LETTERS

“Oi, don’t you go lumping Watford in with the yo-yos (yesterday’s Fiver). This season was only the second time we have gone straight back up after a relegation – the first time was 1902-03 in the Southern League. We didn’t even manage it when we went down to whatever Division 3 was in 1995-96. Prior to last season’s relegation, we’d been in the Premier League for five seasons, finishing 11th in 2018-19 (having been seventh with three games left). What will it be next? That we’re constantly changing managers?” – Richard Scrimshaw.

“As a Fulham-supporting masochist for some 65 years, I take exception to the inaccuracy of your daddy long-legs analogy (yesterday’s Fiver). The creature at least managed some side-to-side movement. After Fulham had lost their first couple of games and found their comfort zone, Scott Parker pointed out the club would lose more games than it would win. From that point on there was no movement in any direction to speak of. For the accuracy of his prediction, the well-dressed Parker deserves a vote of confidence from the board” – Hanford Woods.

“Re: pouring ‘the last dregs of tepid tea from our kettle’ (yesterday’s Fiver). Do you put the teabag into the kettle before or after it boils? Likewise the milk?” – Jerry Twomey (and others).

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 … Richard Scrimshaw.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Just in: Casey Stoney is stepping down from her role as manager of Manchester United, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for Women’s Big Cup this season.

Uefa has opened a disciplinary investigation into Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus over their €uropean $uper £eague involvement.

In a show of gratitude that could have been a tad more generous, London mayor Sadiq Khan says key workers will be given priority entry to a Euro Not 2020 fan zone in Trafalgar Square.

A tip of the bonnet to Ajax, who have melted down their Eredivisie trophy and turned it into 42,000 silver stars, one for each of their season-ticket holders. “Previously, when we said this title is for you, we were expressing how we were doing it for the fans,” tooted chief suit Edwan van der Sar. “However, sharing the trophy is the ultimate proof that we really are.”

Here’s hoping they don’t want the trophy back.
Here’s hoping they don’t want the trophy back. Photograph: AFC Ajax

Ronald Koeman has looked at the table after Barcelona’s 3-3 draw at Levante and reasoned that winning La Liga is going to be well hard. “The league is more complicated now,” he sniffed. “The objective was to win all three [remaining] games, now it is very difficult.”

Activists on Merseyside are targeting Liverpool’s main sponsor, Standard Chartered, with fake billboards and a hoax website to highlight their links to the fossil fuel industry.

Aniek Nouwen has jumped at the chance to join Emma Hayes at Chelsea from PSV. “I made my decision to join pretty fast,” cheered the Netherlands defender. “To play in the English league has always been a dream for me.”

And in news that will go down badly with grown adults who should know better, $tevie Mbe has admitted he’s had “secret” chats with Lord Ferg. “Since I retired we have parked our rivalry up and he gave me time on the phone to bounce a few things off him,” blabbed Mbe. “A few questions to do with the management up here at [the Pope’s Newc O’] Rangers. He was fantastic in those conversations.”

STILL WANT MORE?

Take a brief moment to look beyond the petrodollars and admire the on-the-hoof solutions found by Pep Guardiola to deliver another Manchester City title, writes Barney Ronay. Meanwhile, Will Unwin dishes out player ratings, Jonathan Wilson sticks in his floating-oar-in-a-jar and here’s a video explainer on how last season’s also-rans were transformed into runaway champions.

How Guardiola transformed Manchester City back into Premier League champions – video explainer
How Guardiola transformed Manchester City back into Premier League champions – video explainer

“Richarlison said he was joining Ajax. I told him he was not.” Magic Marco chews the fat with Fabrizio Romano about how it went south at Everton, the €$£ and what he plans to do next.

Which football grounds are named after women? The Knowledge knows.

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





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