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The Fiver | Counting out the sausages, scooping the tatties and pouring the gravy

The Guardian - Mon Apr 12 15:56


Food fights are extremely uncommon in the serious world of professional association football. Yes, there was the time in the early 2000s when Cesc Fàbregas attempted to spice up a rather bland margherita by flinging it at the startled pepperoni-hued face of Sir Alex Ferguson. The moment on the Channel 4 documentary Club for a Fiver when Orient boss John Sitton offered most of his squad outside for a fight at half-time, telling them that they should bring their dinner because they’re going to need it. And of course there was the most notorious incident of all, when 1930s England hard man Wilf Copping came at Stanley Matthews in the FA canteen with a slice of Spam, neatly cut across the diagonal, and rammed it sideways into the young winger’s mouth with such force that it nearly left him with a permanent, albeit very tasty, Chelsea Grin [subs, please check]. But all in all, nutritious substances rarely feature in the game’s discourse.

So imagine the Fiver’s horror, shock, surprise, shock and horror when sustenance platters were yesterday flung back-and-forth between two grown adults aged 48 and 58. Manchester United’s hot-tempered boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, enraged to the exact Pantone number (185) of Papa Cesc’s pimped pizza, responded to Tottenham striker Son Heung-min’s OTT reaction to being brushed in the face by Scott McTominay with a disproportionate response of his own: “If that was my son and he stays down and he needs his mates to help him up, he doesn’t get food because that’s embarrassing.” All of which may explain why young Noah Solskjær is on record as saying his hero growing up was not his dad but Wayne Rooney, who was presumably much more generous and less prescriptive when counting out the sausages, scooping the tatties and pouring the gravy.

By way of response, Spurs boss José Mourinho briefly considered egging Solskjær’s car, or perhaps rushing him with a granola bar whittled at one end into a delicious high-in-fibre point. But instead he opted for his time-honoured favourite tactic of moving things away from abstract realms and into the arena of the absurdly literal and provocatively personal. “Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole,” began an oral equivalent of prodding someone gently but firmly and repeatedly in the small of the chest, just to see where it takes everyone. “I am a father. I think as a father you have always to feed your kids. As we say in Portugal, bread is bread and cheese is cheese.” A saying that roughly translates into English as “it’s that simple”, though the Fiver suspects it might also serve a call to arms, and the opening salvo of their next flavoursome duel.


Why go to the freezing smoking area of a pub when you could stay in and read Scott Murray’s piping hot coverage of West Brom 1-2 Southampton from 6pm BST, after which Rob Smyth is on hand for a helping of Brighton 2-2 Everton from 8.15pm.


“He hasn’t scored that?! He has scored that!” – Commentators in Northern Ireland react with glee at the sight of the lesser-spotted 40-yard header by Glentoran’s Rory Donnelly, looping his effort over the marooned, 43-year-old figure of Roy Carroll, who is still doing it for Dungannon Swifts when he’s not stuck in a net.

Help. Photograph: Andreas Papakonstantinou/Demotix


It’s Football Weekly for your ears, and this particularly joyous picture of Marcelo Bielsa for your eyes/soul.


“Apparently all three of Antoine Griezmann’s children share the same birthday: Alba arrived last week (8 April 2021), following Mia (8 April 2016) and Amaro (8 April 2019). For the busy modern footballer with so few days off, that’s tremendous family planning for combination birthday parties. Bien jouez, that man (and woman)!” – Justin Kavanagh.

“I was in the middle of a game in Illinois (USA! USA!! USA!!!), when a substitute came in and immediately made three dangerous slide tackles. After two verbal warnings, he was shown a yellow card. I followed the procedure found in the Laws for showing the card. But found nothing in the Laws telling me what to do when the nine year old player started to cry. At the half I explained how I had to protect the other players and how a slide tackle was usually an act of desperation. His team was from another state and I never saw him again” – Paul Lindauer.

“Recent missives from refs reminded me of my favourite reffing moment, from a playing perspective. We were at five-a-side in Brixton when one of my teammates nutmegged an opponent just as this other fella booted him up in the air. The ref blew his whistle, said it was a drop ball, and told our mate “you were too quick there and brought it on yourself” – Craig Fawcett.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Craig Fawcett.


Criticism of Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fair despite his goals, says Carlo Ancelotti. “He understood the problem and has worked on this in the week,” he tooted.

Turns out James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Pérez were dropped from Leicester’s 3-2 defeat by West Ham due to breaking Covid-19 protocols. “You have to respect what the nation are going through. We have to respect what our values are. It’s gone now and they’ll rejoin us next week. I was bitterly disappointed,” Brendan Rodgers furrowed.

Highly-rated Crystal Palace prospect Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has signed his first professional contract. The 18-year-old made the bench in Saturday’s home defeat to Chelsea. “I sincerely hope that today’s news is one of many exciting milestones for Jesurun at Crystal Palace,” chest-puffed chairman Steve Parish.

Friedhelm “Sounds like a Deee-Lite roadie” Funkel has taken the reins at Cologne. Markus Gisdol was frogmarched out of a door marked “Do One” after yesterday’s defeat to Mainz, which left them second from bottom in the Bundesliga.

Ched Evans has agreed a new deal at Championship side Preston, committing him to the club until the summer of 2023.


PSG may be a team of individuals, but to be fair Neymar, Mbappé, Marquinhos and Navas are a bit good and that’s probably fine then, gush Get French Football News gurus Adam White and Eric Devin.

Snazzy pic for a couple of snazzy fellas.
Snazzy pic for a couple of snazzy fellas. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Union Berlin nicked a point from Bayern on Saturday, and with PSG looming tomorrow, Andy Brassell thinks that’s two fronts where Hansi Flick might benefit from some Handi Wipes.

It’s Sid Lowe on El Clásico.

Antonio Conte may have copped stick for parking the bus, but Inter’s 11th win in a row has taken them from pazza to partenze, writes Nicky Bandini.

Owing to complaints about 11 being too many and nine leaving readers short-changed, here’s 10 talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action.

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