Thursday, April 8, 2021

A managerial Not-As-Good-As-Lord-Ferg derby | FA Cup



Few things scream “magic of the FA Cup” louder than a fifth-round tie between Burnley and Bournemouth that kicks off at 5.30pm on a freezing Tuesday evening in February at an empty Turf Moor. Once the stuff of schoolboy daydreams, scoring the winner in an FA Cup final has long been eclipsed by more romantic football fantasies, but if you’re already out of the Milk Cup and it is beyond the capabilities of your team to qualify for Big Vase or sweep all before them in a transfer window, then the oldest national football competition in the world is still worth winning.

Burnley won the FA Cup for the only time in their history 107 years ago, beating Liverpool in the final at Crystal Palace and receiving the trophy from King George V. But the man in charge these days, Sean Dyche, has said that while he would like to steer Burnley into the quarter-finals for the first time in 18 years, his priority is ensuring the club remain in contention for the only slot in football that’s less glamorous than tea-time on a Tuesday – last on Match of the Day.

“The kudos for a town like Burnley to have a Premier League club is very, very important,” he said. “You want to do well in the cups but you’ve got to balance that with the reality of the bigger challenge. It’s not always been easy.” So intent on reclaiming their place in the Premier League that they sacked their novice manager on the back of a minor wobble after just six months in charge, Bournemouth are unlikely to be particularly fussed about winning either, which means the outcome of Tuesday evening’s game will come down to desire and who lacks it more.

In the evening’s prime time BBC slot, Manchester United and West Ham meet at Old Trafford with both sides presumably entertaining comparatively lofty hopes of making it to the last eight and beyond in a managerial Not-As-Good-As-Lord-Ferg derby.

Last spotted standing in the rain dressed as Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, David Moyes will be hoping his players can use the force to help him exact some measure of revenge on the footballing empire that cast him into the wilderness just 10 months into a six-year contract, prompting howls of protest that he just needed more time. Of course, should West Ham lose this evening, their manager may reasonably point out that they would have done better if the referee had let them play on instead of blowing the final whistle.


Join Nick Ames for piping hot coverage of Manchester United 4-2 West Ham at 7.30pm GMT.


“It’s hard for me to comprehend sitting here as a white person in terms of actually being able to understand what she lives through every single day, what she’s experiencing. It’s disgusting, it’s utterly disgusting. When a player comes to me and says it’s kind of water off a duck’s back, that is gut-wrenching for me that she has to face that. I just cannot get my head around it all and it does upset me quite a lot” – Manchester United manager Casey Stoney condemns the racist attacks on her forward Lauren James after the 19-year-old was subjected to abuse over the weekend.

Lauren James is one of Manchester United’s brightest young talents.
Lauren James is one of Manchester United’s brightest young talents. Photograph: Barry Coombs/PA


In today’s episode, Max Rushden and the pod squad talk Lionel Messi’s contract, over-30s and Der Hinteregger Song: “Wooooaaah, we’re Hinti Army now!”


“Surely there will be more than 1,057 pedants in the Letters page telling David Wall that it was Guardiola, and not Mourinho, who referred to Spurs as the Harry Kane team a couple of years ago. It is nice of José to prove his old buddy’s point” – Brendan Mac Carron, and 1,057 others.

“Re your excellent polemic against keyboard Incels, STOP SOCIAL MEDIA!” – Rob Graham.

“I think Krishna Moorthy might be being a little hasty. I’m an Oldham fan and….<checks league table>…no, he’s spot on, end it now” – Alex Metcalfe.

“Sometimes the only balm for an inexplicable disappointment that leaves your favored team’s prospects looking bleak, is listening to music that is fittingly bleak – or, at least, oblique. In the aftermath of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson’s mind-bending double of troubled passes and numbed half-attempt to block the third of a barrage of three goals in ten minutes, my gobsmacked internal jukebox settled on two defiant tunes. The Pixies’ Allison, an eccentric ode to jazz and blues legend Mose Allison (“Oh well, Allison”), and Elvis Costello’s plaintive Alison“ – Peter Oh.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Brendan Mac Carron.


It’s your boy, David Squires, on … Manchester City, 2003 and the Banter Dome himself: Sean Dyche. And you can buy a copy here.

Putting your wallet on a chunky chain and tucking it into the back of your extremely distressed jeans? Sure.
No room for putting your wallet on a chunky chain and tucking it into the back of your extremely distressed jeans? Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian


Nikita Parris has been forced out of the England squad due to the UK’s Covid-19 restrictions. “Lyon didn’t want to release Nikita because of quarantine,” sighed interim manager Hege Riise.

In more Covid-related travel shenanigans, the first leg of Benfica v Arsenal in Big Vase will be played in Rome.

The EFL salary cap for League One and League Two clubs has been scrapped after an independent arbitration panel said it was “unlawful and unenforceable”.

Ismail Soro is a doubt for the Queen’s Celtic’s match against St Mirren after crashing his car in the Glasgow snow. “Soro had a prang in his car this morning due to the adverse weather conditions,” groaned Lennon. “He looks OK. So we are just checking on him.”

Aston Villa tyro Jacob Ramsey has got his best crayons out and scrawled his name all over a contract until summer 2025.

And Everton’s Uncle Carlo doesn’t seem to mind that people are comparing him to a north London elite parker of buses. “It is an honour for me to be compared to José [Mourinho],” he cooed. “How I see his team play can be comparable to us.”


The PFA has launched the Asian Inclusion Mentoring Scheme, and Paul Mac has spoken to a few of the people involved.

Kamran Kandola has just turned 17 and is hoping to win his first professional contract with Wolves.
Kamran Kandola has just turned 17 and is hoping to win his first professional contract with Wolves. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA

Here’s Ed Aarons on the mysterious ownership questions that have left Belgian club Mouscron facing an uncertain future.

PSG are still searching for an identity under Mauricio Pochettino, write Ligue Urrrrrn aficionados Adam White and Eric Devin.

Italy striker Stefano Osaka knows Valentine’s Day is coming and tells Will Unwin he just wants to be loved.

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

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