FOOLS RUSH IN?
Eager to test the waters before a possible return for the Premier League in June, assorted media outlets have decided to gauge the public mood by confecting a controversy involving Public Enemy No 1, José Mourinho. Much like Covid-19, the Tottenham manager can also be something of an infective agent renowned for latching on to hosts with potentially adverse consequences, so it seemed fitting to get his view on Project Restart. But with conflicting reports of his views emerging, it’s difficult to know exactly what he thinks.
Following Wednesday’s meeting addressing the health concerns of Premier League managers and players, one tabloid reported that José was vociferous in his attempts to get the mooted return to competitive action delayed by a week so his players could get match fit, while others claimed he is eager to don his hazmat suit and start barking orders from the touchline as soon as possible. “I have not asked for any delay,” he said on Thursday, by way of clarification. “I want to train and I am desperate for the Premier League to return as soon as it is safe to do so, particularly now as we are seeing other leagues preparing to return to action.”
Further south, both geographically and more crucially in the Premier League table, Brighton striker Glenn Murray seemed less enthused about the rush to get back to the office, a view that is believed to be shared by his manager Graham Potter, as well as a number of top-flight counterparts. “Football isn’t necessarily a necessity – it’s a game, it’s a sport,” said Murray, using the words “necessity” and “necessarily” in far more close proximity than was absolutely necessary. “I mean, what if we go through all this rigmarole of trying to get back started and we have a second peak and we’re stopped anyways? I just can’t understand after just sort of loosening the lockdown why we’re in such a rush to get it back. Why can’t we just wait sort of a month or so to see if things go to plan?”
While the social media stampede to rubbish Murray’s views as those of a player at a struggling club who is desperately trying to avoid relegation was entirely predictable, those accusing him of opportunism should perhaps have paused before going on the attack. With no coherent plan on which all clubs agree in place to finish the season and fears of a second spike all too real, the delay he is proposing would actually increase both the top flight’s chance of being played to a conclusion and with it, the likelihood of Brighton going down.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“What will it be like without the hug at the start or end of games with the opposition manager? Here in Italy there are so many people I want to embrace, for so many different reasons. And how will I offer support to my players, in the tough moments, without the hug? The hardest thing for me to imagine is the dressing room without the hug. That simple gesture transmits something that words could never manage to do” – Roma coach Paulo Fonseca sounds like he’s struggling with social distancing.
“Re: Dennis Rowe’s complaints at ‘Big Paper’s continuing negative coverage of the proposed Saudi-funded takeover of Newcastle’ (yesterday’s Fiver letters). I read Mr Rowe’s letter and I didn’t know how to respond at the first reading. I had to read it two more times and after laughing, thinking it was a joke, I grew very sombre and then disgusted. Yes, Mr Rowe is allowed his opinion. I disagree with it” – Elizabeth Frederiksen (and 1,056 others).
“Dennis thinks Big Paper hasn’t provided enough coverage of ‘disreputable regimes’ involved in football. Really?” – Mike Wilner.
“Catching up on some lockdown viewing, I stumbled on this Knowledge piece on random football appearances in films. Do any Fiver readers have any more obscure examples for me to catch up on?” – Alexandra Severn.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Dele Alli has thanked fans for their support after the “horrible experience” of being robbed at his north London home. The Spurs midfielder was held at knifepoint and punched during the burglary on Wednesday morning.
UTA Arad have accused the Romanian FA of a “totally discriminatory decision” after teams in the country’s second tier had their points halved and play-offs imposed. Arad had led the league by 11 points before the shutdown.
There’s some good news for women’s football.
Pjanic on the streets of London? Only if Chelsea and Juventus can wrap up a swap deal for the Bosnian midfielder, with Jorginho heading to Turin.
In bit-rich-coming-from-him-news, Robert Lewandowski has advised Erling Braut Haaland to stay at Dortmund. “He has huge potential but still has time,” mused the Pole.
Five subs per team will be allowed during the upcoming Bundesliga matches, but only three breaks for them will be allowed and only two players will come on together. Sorry, we drifted off there for a second.
And Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann is worried about his potty mouth before Saturday’s return behind closed doors against Freiburg. “The microphones are on, the volume in the stadium will be different,” he blurted. “And I will be better heard than before. I will try to behave in a socially acceptable way in the box and things I usually say, maybe say them in a lower voice or even not at all.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Lincoln’s Ben Coker may be the only diabetic player in the Football League. The defender tells David Hytner why he has to put his health before playing.
What is Michael Hann’s favourite game? Chess? Trivial Pursuit? No, it’s France v Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final.
It’s been 25 years since Blackeye Rovers won the title. While we meditate on that, here’s Michael Butler on Rovers’ unforgettable day at Anfield.
This week’s YouTube roundup features Dortmund v Schalke derbies, France v England memories and the K-League game you should have watched.
From Roger Milla to Iranian flip-throw king Milad Mohammadi, test your knowledge of World Cup stars’ domestic exploits.
Liga MXLS, anyone? Graham Ruthven on why a mooted merger between Mexico and the USA! USA!! USA!!! just might work.
Arsenal have been finding innovative ways to lose big European games for 40 years now, as Steve Pye explains.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!