Is this all part of Germany’s elaborate rope-a-dope masterplan? | Football
LET’S TALK ABOUT SECHS, JÖGI
It’s about time The Fiver started seriously planning for the future. Time to grow up, identify prudent investment opportunities, build a portfolio, make our money work for us. So this morning we put our entire life’s savings on Germany winning either the Euros next year or the World Cup the one after. It’s a shoo-in, quite frankly, if Tuesday night’s fiasco in Seville is anything to go by. Joachim Löw’s rabble had the back seat of their trousers handed to them by Spain, a team who hadn’t won in three and didn’t fancy their chances of getting the victory that would send them to the semi-finals of the Confected Importance League. Germany’s 6-0 defeat is being framed in some quarters as a humiliation, but The Fiver knows it’s as good as a written guarantee of silverware. Pints of Germany’s answer to Purple Tin, das Föamingshaafft, all round!
Thing is, many of Germany’s biggest successes have come hot on the heels of their most egregious and embarrassing failures. The 1954 World Cup, for example, won a couple of weeks after losing 8-3 to Hungary. The 1974 World Cup, hoisted in the wake of a politically embarrassing defeat by the East Germans, a result that sent coach Helmut Schön so deep into the slough of despond that he locked himself into his room and only ate when staff mashed up his food for him. Germany reached the 2002 final despite the humiliation of shipping five goals at home to Géd Houllier’s Liverpool. And then there was 2013, when they heaped shame on the nation by only managing a 1-0 win against a team managed by Mr Roy. You know exactly what happened the year after. It’s a long-established pattern. It’s how they roll.
Mind you, Germany are really going for it big this time. Tuesday’s farce was merely the cherry on the cake of a distinctly underwhelming sequence in which they’ve won only three of the last eight, scoring 14 but letting in 17. If this is all part of an elaborate rope-a-dope masterplan, they’re really pushing their luck this time, because habits die hard after a while. Happily, everyone in the German camp seems calm and in control, even though Löw’s stricken demeanour in the post-match presser may have convinced the team chef to cut up his steak into little cubes that go choo-choo in the tunnel. “We still trust Joachim Löw, no doubt about that,” insisted DFB director Oliver Bierhoff afterwards. So the manager’s job is safe … as is The Fiver’s £3.72 investment with the turf accountant, we’ll be bound.
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The game and mental health: a Football Weekly special.
“It’s easy enough to scroll past Recommended Listening (above), but the latest Football Weekly about mental health is a must-listen for all. Even if you feel OK yourself, you may know someone who isn’t, and the advice given in the pod could really help them. Sorry this isn’t amusing, but hey – it’s The Fiver, we should be used to that” – Jim Hearson.
“Re: Liverpool’s new training base (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). If you want a secret staircase to keep new signings from the media … why would you show the media and allow them to photograph said staircase? Feels like the beginning of the end of their recent success” – Shane Hart.
“My thanks to you for publishing the single best thing I have ever seen in The Fiver. Martin Mason (yesterday’s Fiver letters) has changed my view of everything. What eloquence. More please. I really need to know his views on VAR, the Georgia recount, whether the Crown is ‘good’, etc” – Max Bilson.
“Martin obviously forgot to add ‘and 1,056 others’ somewhere in the text of his letter” – Pete Peterson.
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Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Shane Hart, who wins a copy of Glove Story 2 – Another Book for Every Goalkeeper, Past and Present, by Rob Stokes [postage available to UK only, sorry – Fiver Postal Ed].
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Sir Geoff Hurst supports a ban on children heading footballs in the wake of sweeping dementia diagnoses and deaths among his 1966 World Cup-winning teammates.
Gareth Southgate reckons his England players are being put under huge pressure by Premier League clubs as they try to avoid falling victim to muscle-knack on international duty. “That is the landscape, whether it is made public or not. That is the reality,” he sighed. “But I also have empathy with the club managers.”
Meanwhile, Football League clubs will be allowed to use five substitutes per game for the rest of the season. Over to you Richard Masters …
The good news keeps coming for Jürgen Klopp. Centre-back Rhys Williams has been sent home by England U-21s after suffering hip-knack, while Mo Salah has had a further positive test for Covid-19.
Plans to allow supporters back into matches can’t come soon enough for Karren Brady, who says West Ham are losing £2m a match in lost ticket revenue. “You talk about the pyramid of football but there is also a pyramid within the Premier League,” she sobbed. “Right at the top you have clubs owned by sovereign states and right at the bottom you have those who are not.”
And Barnsley have made an enquiry about signing Mario Balotelli which, let’s be honest, we all want to see.
STILL WANT MORE?
Gareth Southgate’s new England: hard to beat and hard to love. Jonathan Liew’s review of where the Three Lions are at is not exactly humming with praise.
Who are the unofficial Premier League champions? The Knowledge wasted hours of its life working this out so please read it.
Unbeaten and top of the WSL, Manchester United are ahead of schedule but Casey Stoney isn’t letting them get carried away, writes Suzanne Wrack.
“If I were a player, I’d love to play for Ancelotti.” Paul Clement waxes lyrical about Uncle Carlo, the man he worked alongside for many years.
And look out Scotland, because here comes Israel’s Manor Solomon. Will Unwin profiles the winger who downed Real Madrid.
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