SO CLOSE WE CAN SMELL IT
With their outlay of gazillions of pounds for TV rights to the Premier League, the mandarins at Sky were probably hoping to get more bang for their buck on the final day of the season than three also-rans scrapping over the crumbs that are two remaining Big Cup places. Morsels they might be, but with the title decided and the relegation trapdoor pulled shut, that is the awkward position in which the broadcast behemoth now finds itself, pinning its hopes on hapless Middlesbrough to provide its massive stake with some last-day sizzle. Of course anything is possible, however unlikely, but even Ray Winstone’s giant floating head would struggle to keep a straight face while trying to convince punters to “’ave a bang on that”.
The Teessiders travel to Anfield on Sunday, knowing a win or draw will make no difference to them whatsoever and almost certainly won’t give two hoots about the fact that it would be of great benefit to Arsenal’s hopes of maintaining their impressive run of qualifying for Big Cup every year without ever winning it. The Gunners take on Everton, who are unlikely to fight their Merseyside rivals’ Big Cup corner too hard, while at Vicarage Road Manchester City take on a Watford side bidding “farewell” to Walter Mazzarri who, if media reports are to be believed, won’t understand the meaning of the word.
Despite their recent history for poorly-timed slip-ups that cost them dearly, even Liverpool are unlikely to capitulate against a side so poor their sole contribution of note to the Premier League this season has been to quietly leave it. Even so, Jürgen Klopp will not be taking Boro lightly and used his press conference on Friday to demonstrate that he has been looking at the league table. “It’s all clear,” he tooted. “We have to perform, we have to win and if we have enough points after this match-day then we deserve to go to [Big Cup]. If not, we don’t deserve it. It’s pretty easy.”
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Chelsea will be crowned champions after Sunday’s ceremonial slaughter of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge, when Plain Old John Terry is likely to get his final run-out as a player with the team he has captained, led and generally been a legend for, before – you’d hope, just for giggles – donning his club suit and tie in time to pogo up and down on a hastily erected podium with his soon-to-be-former team-mates. The Chelsea skipper divides opinion, generally between Chelsea fans and everyone else, but has come to represent the archetypal and increasingly rare one-club man, who has only played for two clubs and will almost certainly join a third.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Supporters can purchase next year through the concept of Pay Per Point, with a starting season-ticket price of €25! This is the fixed amount you pay before boarding the M-side, north and south stands. On the grandstand, the fixed entry fee for adults is €125. You pay a variable amount based on the sporting performance of the club in De Vliert during league games. With a win, adults pay €10, €5 for a draw and nothing for a defeat. The sporting performance of the club thus determines the height of your season-ticket price, which is obviously built to a maximum amount” – Eerste Divisie club FC Den Bosch announce a crazy Dutch ticket pricing plan that Sunderland fans could only wish was in operation this season.
Sign up and receive the best of Big Website’s coverage, every Friday, it says here. Seem to be a curious lack of mentions for The Fiver …
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“John Myles tells us Dollar are twice as good as 50 Cent (yesterday’s Fiver letters), but one Malaysian journalist has been helpful enough to tell us exactly how good 50 Cent is in the local Ringgit currency” – Paul Duffy.
“Re: Pablo Zabaleta’s lifetime season ticket (Fiver letters passim). Does this effectively reduce the capacity of the Etihad by one? That’s going to annoy people if there’s ever a sell-ou … oh, wait” – Adrian Foster.
“Re: Keith Martin’s Fiver Wiki reference (yesterday’s letters). ‘Quote of the Day. Features a contemporary quote made by a famous (or infamous) footballing figure, again selected for its comedy value.’ Comedy value? I genuinely had no idea” – Johnny McIntyre.
“I’m a computer programmer and being a pedant is actually important in my job. So, I obviously need to correct Dan McSweeney (yesterday’s letters). Dan claimed that ‘[leap years] do not occur in century years, unless the year itself is divisible by four’. That is not correct. All century years are divisible by four – but a leap year occurs in a century year only if that century year is divisible by 400. So, the years 1900, 2100, 2200 and 2300 are not leap years while 2000 and 2400 are leap years. That pattern will continue until the world stops turning or until the speed of the earth’s orbit requires some re-calculations. This is not expected to be any time soon so further pedantry on this topic should not be required” – Robert Green (and 1,056 leap-year pedants).
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NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
George Ormond, a former coach in Newcastle United’s youth set-up, has been charged with a string of serious sexual assaults allegedly involving young footballers in the north-east over a 25-year period.
Just the 22 goals in League Two’s humdingering play-off semi-finals, then, resulting in fan-owned Exeter v Oystons-owned Blackpool at Wembley.
Bradford captain Romain Vincelot is looking forward to Saturday’s League One play-off final with Millwall. A lot. “I just try to keep the fire in my belly quiet for now and it will explode for the weekend,” he yelped, reminding us of a particularly grim weekend in Wigan involving a chicken bhuna, Purple Tin and Weird Uncle Fiver.
Wayne Rooney may leave Manchester United without being afforded the chance of a romantic farewell shank into the Stretford End after José Mourinho said he may rest him on Sunday. “He played 90 minutes in the last match, so [he will] probably not [play],” Mourinho grumbled.
Arsène Wenger has given hope to Arsenal fans who haven’t yet fulfilled their life’s ambition of hiring a plane to fly a protest banner over a football stadium by claiming his future won’t be decided until after their Wembley shoeing by Chelsea. “I think it is after the FA Cup final,” said Wenger, who also brushed off criticism of his coaching skills by Granada managerial genius Tony Adams.
Bibiana Steinhaus will become the Bundesliga’s first female referee next season. “It has always been my dream to be a Bundesliga referee,” she Robbie Keaned. “That this dream will come true naturally fills me with joy.”
Surprisingly, $tevie Mbe managed to make a good luck message to Xabi Alonso sound more about him than the Bayern midfielder. “I’m very jealous of you having a World Cup winner’s medal. I’m very jealous of you having league titles in Germany and Spain, but you deserve it, mate. When you left [Liverpool] it broke my heart,” he sobbed.
Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli says if Argentina come knocking he will hot-foot it to Buenos Aires faster than The Fiver’s Spanish cousin Juan de la Juan de la Juan de la Juan Straw Donkey Acoustic Guitar Olé Olé Olé Eldorado Sun Sea Sand Dust Fiver can say “rrrrrrrrrrrrápido”. “My dream from a young age has been to manage my national team. My country has the clear intention of offering me the job,” he blathered, while stuffing socks into a suitcase.
Rossi Eames is the new manager of Barnet. “For us this was the bold choice and the right time to finally allow Rossi to take sole control of our football destiny,” roared chairman Tony Kleanthous.
And Pope’s Newc O’Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha says he defused a prolonged spat with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes thanks to some top, top, plonk. “We had a very good glass of fantastic Portuguese wine,” he trilled. “And with a fantastic glass of Portuguese wine, everything stays clear.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Our writers had to think harder than Magnus Karlsen to find 10 things to look out for on the Premier League’s final day of the season. So go on then, have a read.
Wojciech Szczesny sits down for a chinwag with Amy Lawrence about life at Roma, his loyalty to Arsenal and the belief that he is now as good as he has ever been.
What would missing out on Big Cup really mean for Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool? It’s a question one of them will be contemplating come Sunday night. Jamie Jackson, Andy Hunter and David Hytner ponder it for them.
Much of Sunday’s Premier League action may be a procession of meaningless run-outs for fringe players, but get a load of the situation in France’s Ligue 2: six (count ’em!) sides are in the running for the title going into the final night.
The ongoing saga with David Beckham, Miami and Major League Soccerball.
The pod chew over the jostle for Big Cup places and reflect upon the week’s events in the latest Football Weekly Extraaaaa.
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