The Fiver wanted England to win the last World Cup. We really did, they seemed a great bunch of lads. But Euro 2020? Not so much. Look at the state of them, Gareth Southgate in full Frank Drebin mode, insisting there’s nothing to see here while a comic-book cloud with fists and boots poking out of it rumbles away in the background, the result of Raheem Sterling being miffed that assorted social media disgraces hadn’t given him sufficient credit for leaving a cynical late one on Virgil van Dijk’s ankle, or whatever it was that got his goat. Hey, if they don’t even like each other, there’s no reason for the rest of us to love them.
All well and good, but who to support next summer instead? It’s probably about time Belgium won something, but then imagine having to listen to Bobby M talking afterwards and for ever more. Be careful what you wish for (a maxim that also applies to folk dreaming of Leicester winning this season’s Premier League). Spain are always fun to watch when they win stuff, aren’t they? And memorable too! Ah. Or perhaps we should get behind Russia. After all, at the very least, we owe them a debt of gratitude for all the money they’re chucking our way that’s not doing our society or body politic any lasting harm whatsoever. Иди в Россию!
But having given it some deep thought and serious consideration for all of two paragraphs and three-and-a-half minutes, we’ve decided to plump for Finland. Should they manage to beat fellow winter sports destination Liechtenstein on Friday night – and with Teemu Pukki leading the line, having scored seven in Group J already, anything is possible – they’ll qualify for a major international tournament for the very first time in their history. It’s on! And as they’re the only major Nordic country yet to make it on to the big international stage, their belated appearance will be very much worth celebrating. Not least because it’ll give The Fiver an excuse to sit and get drunk in its pants. OK, another excuse. Plus we’ll be on the right side of history when the Finns knock England out, just like Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have done before.
Do you agree with our choice? Should we instead be supporting Ukraine? Poland? Italy? Or, cough, Scotland if they, cough, make it? The Fiver’s unswerving loyalty is up for grabs! Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading Hey Fiver, This Should Help You Fill Tomorrow’s Edition If, Much Like Today, Nothing Of Interest Happens And You’re Forced To Pull Something At Short Notice From The Back Of Your Trousers. We reserve the right to quietly forget about this feature if we don’t get any good emails and/or simply cool on the whole idea.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Munich will always be in a corner of my mind. Always. Even now. They were very special people. I wasn’t in their class even though I played a lot in those days. I tried to forget the sad parts about it. But I don’t want to forget the players because they were great. I try not to remember it too much because it was definitely the saddest moment I’ve ever had. It was only because I was injured that I didn’t go on the trip. So I was very fortunate” – Wilf McGuinness talks to Donald McRae about the air disaster, Sir Matt Busby and playing for Manchester United on £20 a week.
“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. Leave it to The Fiver to take an incident where Raheem Sterling attacks a teammate who was offering him a handshake and somehow turn it into Joe Gomez’s and the FA’s fault. No wonder everyone hates you” – Matt Turner.
“Re: yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs. Cardiff will be hard-pressed to find a more offensive manager than Neil Warnock” – Daniel Doody (and 1,056 others).
“I liked Derek McGee’s blatant attempt to find a wife via The Fiver (Fiver letters passim). I have a cunning wheeze for you to become relevant, and increase your numbers of subscribers: how about a dating app for single fans of football, romance and teatime emails, a cross between Tinder and The Fiver. The app should be called … drum roll … Finder (I’m happy to split all profits with you 70/30)” – Jacklin O’Riordan.
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 … Jacklin O’Riordan, who bags a copy of A Tournament Frozen in Time. We’ve got more prizes to give away, so get scribbling.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Bernardo Silva has been suspended for one match, fined £50,000 and ordered to complete face-to-face education for a tweet he sent to Manchester City teammate Benjamin Mendy.
The new chair of Kick It Out has called on supporters to become “activists not bystanders” in the fight against racism.
In a flamin’ blockbuster transfer deal, Chelsea have signed Sam Kerr on a two-and-a-half year deal. “The WSL is the best league in Europe,” she tooted. “I want to lift some trophies.”
Big Phil Neville says he “didn’t think the result was in any doubt” after his England side scored an 86th-minute winner to narrowly beat Czech Republic 3-2.
David Villa – Spain’s record goalscorer – will retire in January, when the league season in Japan ends. “It’s better to leave football before football leaves me,” he sighed.
Arsène Wenger is back, baby! He is now, it says here, a Fifa suit! Hooray!
Danny Rose has vowed to Daniel Levy and co that he doesn’t plan to go anywhere near the Do One door at Tottenham until the summer of 2021. “My contract is up in 18 months’ time and I’ll leave the football club then,” he sniffed.
And late for training? That’ll be £20,000. Phone going off in a team meeting? £1,000. The Fiver bets Frank Lampard’s Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is fun at parties.
STILL WANT MORE?
Thursday’s game is England’s 1,000th international, so naturally Simon Burnton went back to 1872 to see how they fared in their first, and what the Guardian had to say in its 124-word report.
Clarence Seedorf on the power of positivity.
How Bahia became the most progressive football club in Brazil. By Joshua Law.
Ben Fisher has scoured the Championship for 10 bright young things, and made this list (in no particular order).
This week’s Knowledge (featuring Ken Barlow): which football matches have featured TV show spoilers?
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.