GETTING THE BRAND BACK TOGETHER
Are you excited? Because we certainly are, reader. We’ve been waiting so long for this but after years away from Manchester the homecoming is finally on, baby. Thousands of giddy fans will gather this weekend to sing their approval louder than ever and roar their delight into the Manchester air. You see, New Order are headlining Heaton Park after four years away and, if there’s one thing you should tick off your bucket list, it’s the chance to see them play Ceremony live in their home town. What? Oh, there’s some other headline-grabbing news out of Greater Manchester? Oh yeah, the fifth Test with India was called off, too. What? Oh aye, right.
We’re sure Cristiano Ronaldo’s Neptune-sized ego can handle the cricket sharing the back pages with him on the eve of his second Manchester United debut and, unlike some hacks, also cope with the 3pm blackout that means there will be no UK live TV coverage of his every muffled word, stretch, ear scratch or yawn on the Old Trafford bench. Because that’s where he’s likely to begin his second coming when Manchester United host Newcastle. “He will definitely be on the pitch at some point,” blabbed Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who clearly wants Ronaldo to sweat a little to justify that £385,000-a-week salary. Solskjær also claimed Edinson Cavani was happy to hand over the No 7 shirt, presumably because Ronaldo wasn’t completely sold on the idea of CR43 reinvention.
“Cristiano was ringing Edinson and they speak with each other. Edinson has been remarkable, he played really, really well last season,” wibbled Solskjær. “To pass off his shirt, it just shows the respect he’s got for Cristiano but also Cristiano speaking to Edinson shows the respect the other way. Two top, top professionals and players, and human beings.” Hmmm. Ronaldo hasn’t faced the media since his return to Old Trafford and Wes Brown was so far up his former teammate’s [snip – Fiver Taste Ed] that it was difficult to hear what he was asking in a club-sanctioned interview that revealed Ronaldo has lost none of his famed humility. “I think I will be huge for the next three or four years,” he cooed on the Old Trafford pitch, after stretching out his arms in what was perhaps a signal to Mother Nature to crack open the clouds and bathe him in sunlight. “I am not on vacation. I am here to win.”
And he probably will win on Saturday. Manchester United face a Newcastle side with just a point from three games and a manager in Steve Bruce who looks ready to throw his toys out of the pram after getting no serious reinforcements beyond a young lad they already had on loan last season. “I think I made it pretty clear I would like to bring a couple in,” growled an ever redder Bruce in his pre-match press conference. “That wasn’t possible so I have to get on with it.” At least Bruce has had confirmation he can play Miguel Almirón, who was the subject of Fifa’s five-day ban for South American players not released by their Premier League clubs. Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Leeds and Chelsea say they still haven’t got a clue if their Brazilians will be available. Not that The Fiver cares – we’re already four tins in and ready for the biggest show in town. Cue the music.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder?” – so vexed is Jürgen Klopp by Gareth Southgate’s use of Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield that he could have done himself harm scratching his head.
“Re: Gareth Southgate saying ‘you can put players into the game who’ve had to sit in the stand and it’s not so easy to come in in those latter stages’ (yesterday’s Fiver). With the greatest respect to our surely-soon-to-be-knighted national team manager – and loth though I am to raise the whole penalty thingy again – but might it have helped if he had considered Wednesday night’s Poland non-substitutions theory before chucking on a few lads just to take spot-kicks against Italy a few weeks ago? Just saying” – Bryan Matthews.
“I’m working on a theory that Arsenal Fan TV will be responsible for the death of football. All their years of carping and moaning about Arsène Wenger has finally got to the poor Frenchman. He is now exacting his revenge, phase one being the introduction of biennial World Cups” – Darren Leathley.
“Can we have some (more) appreciation of the wonderfulness that is Vivianne Miedema? One hundred goals in 110 matches for Arsenal … not even one penalty among them: astonishingly efficient, smart and deadly. This while somehow also managing to look cool to the point of utterly bored for 95% of the match and 100% of all photoshoots and media work (though she did allow herself a grin or two when the 100th went in). There’s only one reliably good thing happening at Arsenal at the moment, and fans should set up a special prayer circle keep her there” – Charles Antaki.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Kamil Glik’s wife has revealed she received online death threats amid the fallout from the Kyle Walker incident in England’s draw in Poland.
Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow wants people to get vaccinated after revealing how ill he was with Covid-19. “I was severely worried,” he said. “When it was at its worst, the thoughts going through my head were that I didn’t want it to affect my breathing. Go and get the jab.”
Chelsea’s Tommy T sounds as happy with signing Saúl Ñíguez as Weird Uncle Fiver was when he finally got his hands on the Alison Moyet sticker to complete his 1987 Smash Hits album. “I’m absolutely happy,” he cheered. “I’d known Saúl for many, many years and was fighting with other clubs for the player and it was never possible. So when it was possible for a loan we were excited about it.”
Fresh off a 6-1 gubbing by the Dutch, which itself came hot on the heels of stinking out Euro Not 2020, Turkey have responded by mutually consenting boss Senol Günes.
And Lionel Messi is now ahead of Pelé atop South America’s list of top male international scorers with 79 goals after scoring a hat-trick in Argentina’s 3-0 Human Rights World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia. “I’ve waited a long time for this, I went for it, and I dreamt about it,” he cheered.
STILL WANT MORE?
Sid Lowe tees up a season of ‘Better call Saúl’ headlines that The Fiver will doubtlessly thieve with this piece on the midfielder’s ambitions at Chelsea.
David Hytner on how Gareth Southgate’s serene narrative got a last-minute jolt in Poland.
Ten Premier League games. Ten things. You know the drill.
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