Short of dashing out of his technical area to procure a tree branch with which to give Mike Dean a damned good thrashing, it’s difficult to imagine quite how Pep Guardiola could have gone more Basil Fawlty on the fourth official during Manchester City’s defeat at the hands of Liverpool yesterday.
More specifically, it was the hands of Trent Alexander-Arnold that Pep felt had cost his team, what with the young full-back pawing the ball twice in his own penalty area but getting away with it on both occasions. Harsh decisions? “That is to the referees,” said Pep. But they were harsh decisions, eh? “Ask the referees please, not to me,” he replied. But surely you must have an opinion, Pep? “Ask Mike Reilly and the guys who are in the VAR, don’t ask me,” he insisted, sounding not unlike a captive soldier refusing to divulge any information other than his name, rank and service number.
While he probably won’t care, Pep learned today that he won’t face censure for ostentatiously shouting “THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!” at referee Michael Oliver while pumping the official’s hand shortly after the final whistle. Showing rare self-awareness, the FA decided that levelling a charge of “expressing sarcastic gratitude” might send him over the edge altogether, not least because it would be impossible to defend oneself against such a charge without sounding even more like Kevin The Teenager than at the time of the original alleged offence.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Rodri claimed his side were vastly superior over the course of the 90 minutes, although it remains to be seen if the FA haul in the City midfielder to answer charges of sarcastic excuse-making. “I think we were much better overall,” he said. “We created more chances than them, but they arrive to our goal three times and scored three goals. We are leaving with a bittersweet feeling, because we wanted to win.”
Unfortunately for Rodri and chums, Liverpool also wanted to win and did so in fine style, prompting their manager to sing his side’s praises. “I am so proud of my team more than ever,” said Jürgen Klopp. “To make this performance against the strongest team in Europe – so proud. I am so proud, we played so good.” Actually, hang on … it was actually Pep who said that and on this occasion we think he actually meant it. With sarcasm being the brain’s natural defence against the less intelligent, it’s small wonder the Fiver has spent all day feeling more than a mite confused.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I love my race, I fight for colour, whatever I do is for us, for love … I will never shut up in the face of such an inhuman and despicable act! My tears were of indignation, repudiation and helplessness, helplessness that I could do nothing at that moment. But we are taught very early to be strong and to fight! Fight for our rights and for equality! My role is to fight, to beat my chest, to lift my head and keep fighting always. In a racist society, it is not enough not to be racist, we must be anti-racist. Football needs more respect, the world needs more respect!” – Shakhtar’s Taison makes a statement after being sent off for responding to racist abuse from Dynamo Kyiv fans. The Brazilian player gave the crowd the finger and booted the match-ball into the stands, for which he was shown a red card.
“Good Morning Fiver. Huh?” – Tony Crawford.
“I’m Noble Frances and so’s my wife! (Disclaimer: I’m a Fiver subscriber. Of course I don’t have a wife)” – Derek McGee.
“I was delighted to read in Andy Hunter’s interview that Allison Becker called his son Matteo. What a fitting tribute to his new club, naming his offspring after good-not-great defenders from 20 years ago. Can we expect to see in the future a Harkness Becker, a Heggen Becker, and little RuddockScalesBabb Becker?” – Tim Woods.
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 … Derek McGee, who bags a copy of The Pride of the Lionesses. We’ve got more prizes to give away, so get scribbling.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Unai Emery has been offered the dreaded vote of confidence by the Arsenal suits.
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka says he can see a future at Arsenal despite … you know. “I’ve been 100% behind the club since I came here,” he told Swiss newspaper Blick. “When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” Xhaka sobbed. “It was very hurtful and frustrating.”
Phil Neville will be without four players for England’s friendly with Czech Republic on Tuesday. Steph Houghton and Ellen White are rested, while Jodie Taylor and Alex Greenwood have pulled out with injuries.
In a landmark day for the Fiver, He Did One during Juventus’s home win over Milan. He walked down the tunnel after being replaced by eventual matchwinner Paulo Dybala, and reportedly left the ground before the final whistle. “It is a problem to be resolved with His teammates,” puffed Maurizio Sarri.
Fun and games in the Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt captain David Abraham was sent off after bundling Freiburg coach Christian Streich to the floor in the closing minutes of Freiburg’s 1-0 win. “Football is a contact sport,” Streich mused afterwards, “[but] that was on the wrong side of it. At 54, you can be run over by a young buffalo.”
Jürgen Klopp is relaxed about the prospect of winning Liverpool’s first Club World Cup next month. “I didn’t think about that,” he breezed. “I’m not someone who has to be the first on the moon or the first winning the [Club] World Cup with Liverpool,” added Klopp, who was a year old when Neil Armstrong comfortably beat him to it.
Matteo Guendouzi could earn his first senior France cap during the international break, after being called up to replace the injured Blaise Matuidi for the qualifiers against Moldova and Albania.
STILL WANT MORE?
With 13 minutes gone at Anfield, Liverpool’s full-backs carved out a perfect passage of play that might define the season, writes Barney Ronay.
Hot: Harry Maguire, Adama Traoré, Dwight McNeil. Not: Riyad Mahrez, Ben Davies, Southampton. It’s 10 talking points!
Bayern already look revitalised under Hansi Flick, but Saturday’s defeat was a familiar story for Dortmund, writes Bundesliga boffin Andy Brassell.
Antonio Conte has been mithering that his Internazionale squad is short of winners, so why exactly did he let Radja Nainggolan join Cagliari on loan, asks Nicky Bandini.
Payeted in full: Dimitri took sweet revenge on his former manager Rudi Garcia, as Marseille beat Lyon in Ligue Un. Adam White and Eric Devin report.
Leicester have lurched from a league title to tragedy, but Brendan Rodgers has supporters dreaming of another miracle. Nick Ames has more.
And with fewer than 50 days until the January window opens, why not skim-read Monday’s Mill?
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!
Tickets are still available for the Football Weekly Christmas Special [on 27 November! – Fiver Grinch Ed], live in London. Get them here.
JOSÉ IS STILL WORRIED