The Fiver | Thoughts whirling like so many dervishes in his considerable head | Football
So nightmarish has Harry Maguire’s start to the current season been, that some media commentators are of a mind he could do with a break from football. Of course it could also be argued that his most recent break from football has almost certainly contributed to the Manchester United and England centre-back’s current slump in form and after all that unpleasantness in Mykonos another holiday is the last thing he needs.
Fiver readers of a certain age will remember that having been found guilty of assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery by the Greek beaks back in August, Harry immediately appealed and had his conviction quashed pending a retrial some time next year. Perhaps for the best, it was not an avenue open to him after falling foul of football’s legal system against Denmark and as he trudged off the pitch he had the air about him of a man who needed some quiet time alone with the thoughts whirling like so many dervishes in his big Slab Head.
Due to face Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday, Steve Bruce, his players and the fans of Newcastle will almost certainly agree with Gareth Southgate’s post-match view that the best place for Maguire at the moment “is on the pitch”, but the England manager’s staunch defence of a player whose form has plummeted lemming-like off a cliff in recent months is increasingly being used to beat him in the wake of England’s latest defeat.
Even before Wednesday’s game started, “Southgate out” was trending on social media disgrace Twitter, his managerial heroics in only losing three matches out of seven at the last World Cup were apparently a fading memory in the minds of some. The kind of fairweather England fans who’d like to see him replaced by Arséne Wenger, Richard Osman, Ian McEwan or any other authors currently doing the rounds hawking new books.
While a couple of ropy performances, negative tactics and an apparent reluctance to pick somebody who played well for 76 minutes in a friendly against the Wales B team are hardly sackable offences, there remains a nagging concern that Southgate might not be the right man for the job and his opportunity for glory came and went at the 2018 World Cup. It was not the first famously glorious opportunity he passed up while representing England and a consensus is growing that it won’t be the last.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Whatever your feeling, opinion or judgment, food poverty is never the child’s fault. Today, millions of children are finding themselves in the most vulnerable of environments and are beginning to question what it really means to be British. I’m calling on you all today to help me prove to them that being British is something to be proud of” – Marcus Rashford continues to show the kind of compassionate leadership the UK government sorely lacks as he calls on it to extend free school meals to a further 1.5m young people from families hit hard during the pandemic.
“New Fiver names for 2020: 10-man England, Republic O’ Ireland-nil, Euro-champions-elect Scotland, Marcus Rashford MBE, Harry Maguire OMG” – Justin Kavanagh.
“I’m genuinely of two minds here. On the one hand, isn’t it terrific that a local businessperson wants to buy Macclesfield, resurrect a fading small town club, and provide a modicum of hope for our local community. [Fiver passim] On the other hand and to paraphrase Lord Ferg – ‘Lads, it’s Robbie Savage!’” – Mike Wilner (Los Angeles, by way of Bollington nr Macclesfield).
“My utter joy at winning letter o’ the day on Wednesday was only enhanced by the added bonus of it being prizeless. Imagine how debasing it would be to have to share one’s address with a creature as disorganised as The Fiver? Who knows where it could lead? – Robert Way-Bradley.
“Re: Thomas Partey’s comparison of himself to an octopus (Wednesday’s quote of the day), don’t be so quick to judge. Suddenly engulfing an opposition player in a thick cloud of ink could prove to be the next big thing in tactics” – Edward Dean.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
A leading group of Newcastle supporters has urged the club to refund the £7m it has banked in advance season-ticket sales, calling the decision to hold on to the money “morally wrong”. Yes, morally wrong.
With boozers closed across Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has urged fans of the Queen’s Celtic and the Pope’s O’Rangers not to travel down to England’s Golden Mile to watch Saturday’s Old Firm match. “I want to be very clear about this – do not travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the Old Firm match in a pub,” she said.
Derby owner Mel Morris has tried to ease the pressure on Philip Cocu by, erm, blabbing publicly about it. “Yes he’s under pressure but he feels that pressure himself, it’s not pressure that we’re mounting on him,” parped Morris, amid reports Wayne Rooney is preparing to replace Cocu.
Saïd Benrahma has agreed personal terms with West Ham who just have to shovel £30m into Brentford’s bank account to snaffle the nifty little forward.
Arsenal are hoping the Lothian Health Protection Team will allow Kieran Tierney to end his 14-day isolation period early after the defender produced two negative Covid-19 tests.
Crystal Palace have signed Nathaniel Clyne on a short-term deal and Newcastle have extended Allan Saint-Maximin’s deal to 2026. “The world is at his feet,” cheered Steve Bruce, reminding us of this dirge.
And Scotland are still deid good.
STILL WANT MORE?
Who is going to win the Euros? Floating football brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson runs through the main contenders.
Saturday lunchtime sees the Merseyside derby, and unusually, it’s Everton who are getting most of the pre-match attention, says Paul Wilson.
Eni Aluko explains how and why clubs should provide for the education of their players, outside of football.
It turns out that the biggest and richest Premier League clubs have owners who care solely for themselves. Here’s David Conn on why parts of Project Power Grab will be back.
Lots of people like Jack Grealish, but Jonathan Liew enjoys Mason Mount more.
Everton derby omens, top, top goalkeeping and an unselfish/weird assist feature in this week’s Classic YouTube.
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