The Fiver | Pardew and Powell attempting to bust Den Haag out of the slime


WHO, INDEED, ARE YOU GONNA CALL?

Speaking on TalkSport once, Dean Ashton revealed that Alan Pardew’s nickname during his time at West Ham was “chocolate” because the notoriously confident manager held himself in such high regard that “he would eat himself if he could”. Had supporters of Pardew’s new club ADO Den Haag known that before devising the giant Ghostbusters-themed tifo with which they greeted Pards and assistant Chris Powell for their first game with the Dutch side on Sunday, they might have mocked up their new boss as the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man which wreaks havoc on New York City, rather than one of the Ectomobile-driving, boiler-suited parapsychologists sent to stop it by flying in the face of proton-pack protocol and reversing the particle flow through the portal between dimensions by crossing the streams.

While the task facing Pardew and Powell is not quite so fraught with peril, the pair do have a job on their hands. With the spectre of relegation (“Degradatiespook”) looming, they have been called on to bust their new team out of the slime that is the drop zone – and got off to the best possible start. They beat RKC Waalwijk 2-0, fielding a quartet of loanee debutants, including man of the match Sam Stubbs – son of Alan – who arrived recently from Middlesbrough.

Reduced to something of a joke figure in his native England due in no small part to that celebratory dance on the Wembley touchline while at Crystal Palace and a short spell at West Brom that was little short of disastrous, Pardew remains high-profile enough to have attracted a handful of British journalists to his first game at his new club, whose supporters – for the time being at least – are genuinely delighted to have him. “It worries me, as you could imagine, because it will be used by the press as a negative at some stage,” he told them, upon being quizzed about the banner welcoming him to the Netherlands. “So it made me feel a bit embarrassed, but it was also lovely. I’ve been made to feel so welcome.”

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While clearly flattered by the attention of Den Haag fans, Pardew needs to be careful. Despite our protagonists’ heroics at the end of Ghostbusters, the phone quickly stops ringing and the sequel begins with our heroes out of favour, out of demand and wondering where it all went wrong.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“This decision was one of the hardest I have had to take but in a way also the easiest. I have made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with the disease that is gambling addiction in the past. The reality is I am an addict and while I have been proud of the fact I have been in recovery from this disease, a key part of the recovery programme is honesty” – Hamilton manager Brian Rice reports himself to the Scottish FA for a breach of betting rules and admits a lapse in his recovery from gambling addiction.

Hamilton manager Brian Rice.



Hamilton manager Brian Rice. Photograph: Kenny Smith/PA

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Right this way for the latest Football Weekly podcast.

FIVER LETTERS

“Mo Salah takes his shirt off after scoring and gets booked. Matt Ritchie kicks a corner flag into the crowd and hits a fan in the, well, particularly painful spot. Hilarious (apparently) if not you, but no card. Surely something wrong here?” – Jon Buss.

“You’ve got to feel for Chris Weaver (Friday’s Fiver letters), who submits a Homeric epic (by Fiver standards) to win prizeless letter o’the day, only for the prizes to be reinstated on Monday. Imagine how much worse it’ll be if this letter, pointing out the injustice of it all, wins” – David Madden.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … David Madden, who wins a copy of Death is a Laff Riot, by Fiver reader Robi Polgar.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

A charge against Stevenage first-team coach Mark Sampson that he made a racist remark towards a former colleague has been found not proven.

Village Manchester FC, a team mainly comprised of gay players, has formally complained to the FA after alleging players were subjected to “toxic” homophobic abuse by Chadderton Park Firsts at a match on 11 January.

Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool fans can sing about winning the title all they want, but he isn’t thinking about drinking Tin and getting wobbly on an open-top bus yet. “They are allowed to dream and sing whatever they want, and as long as they do their job in the moment we play, all fine,” he grinned. “But we will not be part of that party yet.”

It’s coming.



It’s coming. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

“On the pitch or not, Man United fans don’t get much bigger than me. You best believe I’ll be involved in team meetings, team huddles and team sessions” – Marcus Rashford isn’t going to let his two-month absence with back-knack stop him from becoming the best north-west vibes man since Bez shook his maracas at Elland Road with the Happy Mondays in 1991.

Gary Neville, meanwhile, isn’t best pleased with Ed Woodward.

Remember Victor Moses? Apparently he’s still a Chelsea player and closing on a loan move to Inter. “He’s obviously coming back from his loan [at Fenerbahce] with a view to going elsewhere, and those talks are ongoing,” said Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who also fancies a bit of Edinson Cavani. Who wouldn’t?

Pep Guardiola doesn’t want fans to have miracle-working expectations of Aymeric Laporte when he plugs him back into Manchester City’s dodgy defence. “We cannot expect Aymeric is going to solve all of the problems,” he sniffed.

Eddie Howe believes struggling Bournemouth need to adopt a siege mentality to stay up. “We have to become very internal,” he roared, stacking furniture up against the stadium entrance. “We have to use all the negativity around us in a positive way to show we’re still fighting.”

And Arsène Wenger has confirmed what all Arsenal fans think: the Emirates is a soulless place. “We built a new stadium but never found our soul – we left our soul at Highbury,” sniffed the former Gunners boss.

STILL WANT MORE?

Rachel Brown-Finnis reviews the latest round of WSL games, including Chelsea’s stonking 4-1 win at champions Arsenal.

Chelsea celebrate after their win.



Chelsea celebrate after their win. Photograph: Harriet Lander/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Yes, twiddling around on various social media disgraces and playing Fifa can harm footballers’ decision-making, writes Sean Ingle.

Sid Lowe was given a glimpse of the Setién manifesto during Barcelona’s win over Granada – and it looked like a lot of passes.

Here’s Andy Brassell on teenage goal-guzzling Bundesliga gatecrasher Erling Braut Haaland.

Ciro Immobile’s goals have booked Lazio a slot in the Serie A title race, reckons Nicky Bandini.

The magic of the French Cup. By Adam White and Eric Devin.

Barney Ronay on Liverpool being good at football.

You want 10 talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action don’t you? Here you go, then.

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

WE GO, ER, AGAIN





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