THE CONSOLATION PRIZE?
Let’s hear it for Tin Pot, the third-tier Uefa wheeze that hasn’t turned out to be anywhere near as bad as some thought it would be but still hasn’t quite ended up how those behind it imagined it might. Originally conceived with a view to giving clubs from lesser-ranked leagues around the continent a chance to play in Europe, Tin Pot has done exactly that, even if the somewhat anomalous presence of numerous comparative heavyweights from Europe’s Big Five top flights somewhat kiboshed the chances of anyone from one of those lesser leagues winning the trophy.
Having made the inaugural final, Roma more or less sum up everything that is right and wrong about the tournament, what with José Mourinho’s side suffering the acute embarrassment of losing not just once, but twice to Bodø/Glimt from the Arctic Circle, but still surviving to make it to Wednesday’s decider, where they will play Feyenoord, who have just finished third in the Eredivisie. While Feyenoord, with their Big Cup, two Big Vases and one Intercontinental Cup (ask your grandads) have a vastly superior European pedigree to their Italian rivals, Roma have an ace up their sleeve in the form of a Special One who has won each of the four European finals his various teams have contested. Not that he likes to mention it, obviously …
“If I win I will become the first one to win all European trophies, but that’s only if I win,” teased Mourinho, making sure the game is all about him before insisting the game isn’t actually about him. “When you arrive at a final after a season of work, the work is done. It’s the team’s moment, not the moment of an individual.” While he was once fabled for a magic touch that appeared to have deserted him during recent spells at Manchester United, Tottenham and Roma, victory would present Mourinho with an opportunity to flick Vs in the direction of his many critics, even if it does come in a tournament he would almost certainly treat with outright disdain if any other big-name manager won it. “I don’t believe in magical potions, I don’t believe in magical spells,” he said, revealing a hitherto unseen anti-Dumbledore stance. “There’s nothing special to be done, just us to be us as a team. For me, no matter how the final ends, this is a positive season for us.”
A comparatively unsuccessful novice, opposite number Arne Slot is all too familiar with Mourinho’s various successes going into the final, but says his Feyenoord players must worry about Roma, rather than their manager’s reputation. “His CV makes you wary of his team,” he tooted. “He is known for winning many finals. But we mainly have to focus on his team, the tactics and the different ways they play. We shouldn’t pay too much attention to the fact that he has such an impressive track record in finals.” They shouldn’t, but if that record improves in Albania with the acquisition of Tin Pot, we can be sure a certain somebody else will turn it into an extremely big deal.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is agony, absolute agony. I should have told him to go to [Firewall FC]!” – Lord Ferg reluctantly hands over the LMA’s Manager of the Year trophy to Jürgen Klopp and recalls giving him career advice, back in the day, that led him to Liverpool. Emma Hayes, meanwhile, was named WSL manager of the year.
MOVING THE GOALPOSTS
If you didn’t know, The Fiver has a new sister email! You don’t need to be told that it’s smarter and wittier than us – so sign up. The latest edition has been sent whistling into inboxes but you can get a taste here, an interview with Crystal Dunn.
“I had been tremendously worried for so long about the ethics and morality of the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United. However, after reading this about the long months of effort by our irreproachable government to push through the deal I am now completely reassured” – Tony Masters.
“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. I had assumed that the reason the BBC apologised for saying ‘Manchester United are rubbish’ was not because it was somehow offensive, but because it was reported under news” – Robin Hazlehurst.
“I really enjoyed Bruce Ellis’s Pointless-themed missive (yesterday’s Fiver letters). If we’re going on a gameshow riff, may I introduce readers to the 1970s delight that was The Gong Show? I’m sure there’s a Watford analogy buried in this clip somewhere, perhaps in the rudimentary foot skills on display or the laughter they caused the hosts to emit” – Mike Wilner.
“Can I be the first of 1,057 quiz fans to point out to Bruce that, in one of the Pointless books, Richard Osman writes that they have specifically instructed the audience not to applaud the mention of the jackpot prize if it is at £1,000. I’d get out more, but those shows won’t watch themselves” – Ed Taylor (and no others).
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The £4.25bn takeover of Chelsea is over, baby – and Todd Boehly is the new sheriff in town.
Fifa’s decision to clear Argentina women’s Under-17s technical director, Diego Alberto Guacci, of sexual harassment raises “extremely serious questions about how professional football keeps players safe”, says Fifpro.
Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool contract expires at the end of next season and his future remains up in the air. “In my mind I don’t focus on the contract at the moment,” he negotiated. “I don’t want to be selfish. I’m staying next season for sure.”
Fellow Big Cup final-bound forward Karim Benzema isn’t getting hung up on compatriot Kylian Mbappé snubbing Real Madrid. “It’s not the moment to talk about small things,” he honked. “I’m not angry at all.”
Burnley are hoping to lure Vincent Kompany back to the north-west of England and make him their new manager.
Sevilla have turned their nose up at signing Anthony Martial after being well and truly underwhelmed by his loan. “We spent important money on him and it didn’t work,” sighed chief suit José Castro, bundling the forward on a flight back to Manchester.
And the Pope’s O’Rangers have postponed their season ticket renewal deadline until 6 June “in recognition of Her Majesty the Queen’s platinum jubilee”. Yep.
STILL WANT MORE?
Judging by his time at rounders outfit LA Dodgers, Todd Boehly will splash the cash at Chelsea – as long as he sees even bigger returns, reckons Jonathan Liew.
Jordan Henderson gets his chat on with Andy Hunter about potentially emulating Emlyn Hughes and being the prize in his latest NHS fundraising initiative.
Clubs winning league titles in their centenary year and statues committing bookable offences feature in this week’s nerd-tastic Knowledge.
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