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The Fiver | Manchester United, Manchester City and a guarantee to take to the bank


MAN UP

It’s already been a good week for Manchester United, who won the Premier League on Monday night, we assume, if the way some folk are going on is anything to go by. But the new champions of England won’t want to stop there! They could take a step closer to trophy No 2 on Wednesday evening by booking a place in the final of the Milk Cup, which is scheduled to take place in April, and who knows, might even take place in April. It’ll certainly be played this season. Providing this season finishes. Which it will. Almost certainly. Probably. And that’s a Fiver guarantee you can take to the bank.

United are flying at the moment, unbeaten domestically since the start of November thanks to a cavalcade of devastating breaks, clever assists, ruthless finishes, improbable comebacks, questionable penalties, deflected last-minute winners, goals scored after the final whistle, unpunished wrestling manoeuvres, and spectacular game-changing long passes which curl over the head of opposing managers. It’s difficult to see who can stop them in this sort of form, quite frankly, they’ve got all the angles covered. But that’s what arch-rivals Manchester City have to do at Old Trafford. Godspeed, Pep.

City will take heart from the manner in which they forensically dissected Nothing To Do With Me’s Chelsea the other night, their recent record in this competition – they’re looking to win it for the fourth time in a row – and their 3-1 win here at this stage last season. They’ll also be aware that United lost all three semi-finals they competed in last season, something which may or may not flash through their minds should they go three down in 38 minutes again. All of which should make for an exciting match. Unless City sit back and wait for United to do something, like they did last month, in which case hunker down for 120 turgid, goal-free minutes followed by a penalty shoot-out. Not that it matters too much either way in the long run, of course, because we all know who’s waiting eagerly to do a number on the winner in the final.

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LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray from 7.45pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City in the Rumbelows Cup semi-finals, while Simon Burnton will be on hand at the same time for Milan 0-0 Juventus in Serie A.

COLIN BELL (1946-2021)

The antithesis of the modern gated superstar, it didn’t stop Colin Bell being a Manchester City legend and the complete midfielder, writes Simon Hattenstone. And you can look back on the life and times of the King of the Kippax in this lovely gallery.





Colin Bell, pictured in 1969.



Colin Bell, pictured in 1969. Photograph: PA Photos/PA

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The negative comments reminded me of the times people have made me feel ashamed for being different so I thought it was important not to leave them unchallenged because they may have made someone else feel ashamed in the same way. That person may then decide football isn’t for them, that they’re not welcome there. Nobody should feel that way” – comedian Tom Allen gets his chat on with Sachin Nakrani about popping up on Soccer Saturday and how football should be for everyone. Yes, even The Fiver.

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FIVER LETTERS

“I smiled at yesterday’s Fiver, but you’re underclubbing the Carabao brand. I think it is a water buffalo in the Philippines, as you say, but it’s also the name taken by a Thai ‘rock’ group that was originally formed in the Philippines and is now, several decades later, the biggest old-school band in Thailand. Their business interests include the energy drink but also Tawandang, a raucous beer hall in Bangkok that serves its own German-style beer and offers live music to hundreds of punters most evenings. Or it used to, in normal times. I remember going there a few times but can’t remember how I got home” – Alan Raybould.

“Re: Edward Dean comparing endless suffering in the darkest depths of Hell to being a hardcore Arsenal fan (yesterday’s Fiver letters). One of the final sinners Dante speaks to is Count Ugolino who, blinded by rage, spends eternity vindictively cannibalising the skull of his treacherous neighbour Archbishop Ruggieri. Surely there’s a joke about AFTV in there somewhere …” – Jonathan Turpin.

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 prize is … Alan Raybould.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Manchester City have returned a further three positive Covid-19 tests, with goalkeeper Scott Carson and 18-year-old midfielder Cole Palmer among them.

José Mourinho is a serious man, doing serious things with a serious team. “I always took [the Milk Cup] seriously,” he honked after Spurs slayed Brentford to reach the final. “If there is any secret it is to take it seriously. That’s what I hope to do again on Sunday in Crosby against Marine.”





Spurs rolling on, earlier



Spurs rolling on, earlier Photograph: Clive Rose/EPA

Ole Gunnar Solskjær reckons Jürgen Klopp is up to mischief by flapping his gums wildly about Manchester United penalties. “I don’t count how many penalties they have,” he roared. “Maybe it’s a way of influencing referees.”

Having been bin-bagged by West Brom, Slaven Billic has bounced back into a rebound relationship with Beijing Guoan, who have given him a two-year deal to succeed Bruno Genesio.

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy’s love affair at Apoel lasted less than two months, with the former Republic O’Ireland boss being bundled out on to the Cypriot streets after four defeats in four.

Big Phil Neville is understood to have been approached by Inter Miami about their managerial role. Honk!

After leaving Fleetwood Town, Ched Evans has rocked up at Preston on loan. “Getting back to the Championship is brilliant,” he tooted.

And Mesut Özil is weighing up the possibility of grinding out the rest of his career at DC United after being offered the chance to expand his coffee company at the MLS Soccerballers. Fenerbahce have also been linked with the PR expert.

STILL WANT MORE?

Ewan Murray takes us inside the world of Dutch upstarts Vitesse Arnhem, where the mantra “work harder, think smarter” is just like ours.

“He was a joy”: when Tino Asprilla lit up Newcastle – and its trendy nightspot Julie’s – 25 years ago. By Harry De Cosemo.





Tino and the Toon.



Tino and the Toon. Photograph: Gerry Penny/EPA

What’s the furthest from goal a player has been sent off for a professional foul? The Knowledge answers another of life’s big philosophical questions.

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





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