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Cobbling together a team of janitors and repair men to play Hibs | Football


OH DHEAR

The Fiver has never quite understood this 10-in-a-row thing the Queen’s Celtic have been banging on about. Yes, it would be one more than them, we get that bit. But context is everything, and in terms of actual significant achievement, a modern-day 10-streak could never hold a candle to the nine-in-a-row of Jock Stein’s beloved side, a sequence completed during an era when that lot could go the first 33 games of a 34-match season unbeaten and still not wrest the title from Parkhead, and when the likes of Clyde, Partick Thistle and Morton could give you a game. Come to think of it, all factors considered, it wouldn’t be as impressive as Dundee United’s one-in-a-row either. Or Kilmarnock’s. So what’s it really worth? That’s right, yes, we agree, next to nothing.

One or two supporters may politely demur, of course. In which case The Fiver is sad to note that their bid to bend historical perspective out of all shape isn’t going particularly well. Celtic have long become accustomed to steamrollering over everybody in the Premiership, so it’s been something of a culture shock to start shipping points against the likes of Killie, Hibs and St Johnstone. This sort of egregious behaviour has allowed Pope’s O’Rangers to o’pen up a 658-point gap at the top, putting hapless manager Neil Lennon under all sorts of pressure. And now, to add idiocy to insult and injury, one of the Bhoys has chontracted Chovid-19 after a six-day Dubai jaunt during which players were pictured giving masks and social distancing the sort of body swerve that would make Jimmy Johnstone look like Stuart Slater.

Christopher Jullien’s positive test means 13 other members of the first-team squad must now self-isolate. Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy are also sent into precautionary quarantine, by order of a local NHS health protection team, whose backgrounds are no doubt already being scrupulously researched and forensically examined by dispassionate and level-headed members of the online community. The club are “hugely disappointed” by the diktat, arguing that “a case could have well occurred had the team remained in Scotland”, but the bottom line is that Celtic must now cobble together a patchwork XI of janitors, tea ladies and photocopier repair men for Monday night’s must-win match against Hibs. Far from ideal, but as we’ve established, who’s fussed about 10-in-a-row anyway? Yep, us neither.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray for the fourth and fifth round FA Cup tombola at 7pm (GMT) and then follow him on over to red-hot MBM coverage of Stockport County 1-3 West Ham.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“My ambition and enthusiasm towards football are increasing” – Kazuyoshi Miura, who turns 54 in February, is only now starting to get a feel for the game after signing a contract extension at Yokohama FC in the J-League.

‘King Kazu’ seen haring into the box last month in just his 36th season as a pro.
‘King Kazu’, right, seen haring into the box last month in just his 36th season as a pro. Photograph: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

It’s Football Weekly! Max Rushden and co chew over the weekend’s FA Cup action.

FIVER LETTERS

“The Special One wore a woolly hat. He even smiled. The magic of the cup, eh … ?” – Ed Taylor.

“Re: Tasmania Berlin (Friday’s Quote of the Day), I’d like to present this oddment I peeled off the lavvy wall of a Kneipe when I moved to Berlin. ‘Typical Berlin’, I thought, and I stuck it on my fridge, not realising that a few years later I would visit the Werner-Seelenbinder Stadium on the fringe of Tempelhofer Feld and everything would make a little more sense. Looking at it now, it actually makes a good deal of no sense at all – unless your readers can fill in some Homer J Blanks” – Adam Lee Davies.

Picture by Adam Lee Davies
Anyone? Photograph: Adam Lee Davies

“Seeing the name Tasmania Berlin brought back faded memories of the only Bundesliga match I have ever seen: Hamburg v Tasmania Berlin in September 1965. It was a mismatch! On second thoughts it wasn’t even that close. Somehow the score was 0-0 at half time but with a carthorse striker who never touched the ball (not for the want of trying), a nine-man defence and some pitiful Hamburg shooting, we thought a miracle was coming. It was not to be. In the second half Hamburg took to shooting fish in a barrel, probably after a half-time rollicking. 5-0 was the result. I was there on an exchange and the young brother of my exchange student had assured me it would be a great game to go and see. I’ve even seen better at Oldham in the last couple of years. And that’s saying something” – Peter Holford.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Peter Holford.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Rob Holding is the happy recipient of a new Arsenal contract that keeps him at the club until 2025.

The FA would like to know why Crystal Palace forward Eberechi Eze popped up in the stands, George Galloway-style, at his former club QPR when they played Fulham on Saturday. “We made a mistake,” wailed R’s boss Mark Warburton.

Meanwhile, Fulham suits and that nice Scott Parker are miffed their team have to play Tottenham, having been given just two days’ notice of a fixture initially rearranged due to Covid-19 but now reanimated after an outbreak at Spurs’ intended Wednesday opponents, Aston Villa. Confused? The Cottagers certainly are.

Nuno Espírito Santo has outed himself as an opponent of STOP FOOTBALL. The Wolves boss believes stopping the Premier League can only favour the fat cats. “If we stop everything will change,” said Nuno, donning tinfoil. “A new football will come, probably with a Super League.”

And Paul Pogba, Victor Lindelöf and Luke Shaw are in a race to be fit for Manchester United’s trip to Burnley on Tuesday.

Paul Pogba
Is it an exercise bike race? Photograph: Matthew Peters/Manchester United/Getty Images

STILL WANT MORE?

FA Cup talking points: get them while they’re lukewarm.

Another slip in the title race and more questions at Inter about Antonio Conte, suggests Nicky Bandini.

Bayern are feeling Gladbach all over after yet another defeat by their historic nemesis. Andy Brassell reports on the Bundesliga.

Tottenham’s FA Cup win at Marine was a rare occasion of uplift and Mourinho was at his gracious best, writes Barney Ronay.

Chorley, Crawley, Willian and Van de Beek feature in our talking points from the FA Cup third round, and there’s ten of them.

Raymond Domenech’s cringemaking marriage proposal on live TV preceded a decade in the coaching wilderness. He’s back with Nantes so what could go wrong?
A good day for Buendía in the offing but maybe a bad one for Arsenal. The Rumour Mill’s festive hibernation is over.

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

STOP FOOTBALL! PART DEUX, ANYONE?





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