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David Squires on … the sorry state of Swindon Town

Our cartoonist tries to get his head around the situation at his beloved League Two club, who are stuck in limbo with no manager

https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2021/jul/20/david-squires-on-the-sorry-state-of-swindon-town

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The Fiver

This might be the most heavyweight second-tier fixture ever

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Schalke’s Omar Mascarell during final pre-season prep.
camera.png Schalke’s Omar Mascarell during final pre-season prep. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Niall McVeigh


MANIC MINERS

In the distant past, The Fiver may have, once or twice, casually suggested that perhaps we should stop football. “STOP FOOTBALL,” we might have pleaded, or something like that. But it’s been 12 long, hot, sweaty days since Euro Not 2020’s grim final act, and The Fiver is getting thirsty. The Queen’s Celtic aside, the closest we got to actual football this week was when we joined the Mill on an outing to the perimeter of Charlie Kane’s wedding, before being swiftly moved on.

On Friday night though, an oasis in the shimmering form of *checks notes* Zweite Bundesliga! The German second division kicks off with – wait, come back, honestly this is good – Schalke v Hamburg. At the risk of aggravating fans of the Football League’s assorted slumbering giants, this might be the most heavyweight second-tier fixture ever. Between them, the Miners and the Dinosaur have won 13 league titles and 13 domestic cups, with HSV winning the Big Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup, and S04 winning a Big Vase.

Indeed, four of Germany’s six most successful clubs are in the second tier this season, with relegated Werder Bremen and Nuremberg also in the mix. Now we can watch the quartet try and fail to get promoted on account of the institutional haplessness that got them here. Hamburg have finished fourth for three seasons in a row, ghosts of failures yet to come for Schalke to look upon and despair. The hosts will welcome up to 25,000 fans back – although given events during their dismal relegation campaign, they might prefer to keep the gates shut.

That’s just the starter for a weekend jam-packed with global highlights. Over at Big Sports Day, that bizarro world where football plays second fiddle to swimming, you can watch Japan v Team GB, Sweden v Australia and New Zealand v USA! USA!! USA!!! in the women’s competition, plus France, Brazil, Spain and Germany in the men’s event – and all at eye-wateringly early kick-off times. Not to mention domestic action in Mexico, Russia, Belgium, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina. What the hell, even Scotland!

The Fiver is a purist at heart, which is why despite historical quotes about STOPPING FOOTBALL being dredged up and taken out of context, we will spend our weekend with the curtains drawn, soaking up the beautiful game until we find ourselves rocking back and forth in the wee small hours of Sunday night, watching Qatar v El Salvador and wondering where all the years went. Wait, what’s that? Jadon Sancho has completed his move to Manchester United? Mill, grab the stepladder. We’re back in business!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Unfortunately you who support me and not those who appear here to spread the words of hate DON’T KNOW HALF of what happens behind the scenes, I wanted to be more clear but unfortunately TODAY I can’t, the message I leave today is of gratitude and you will always be special. Everton is GIANT, has an incredible history and has the structure and capability to return to be and to conquer everything that it has been and conquered” – Bernard plays fast and loose with clauses and the caps lock key as he says farewell to Everton and takes the dirhams at UAE Pro League heavyweights Sharjah.

Bernard steaming out of Goodison Park.
camera.png Bernard steaming out of Goodison Park. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: Inter Miami (yesterday’s Fiver). Beckham’s franchise has been pretty contemptible since he received the rights. They were caught breaking salary cap rules in the first year. Ryan Shawcross suggested he was ready to retire and Miami’s beach lifestyle changed his mind. He has since proven the first decision was the right one. They signed Mexican international Rodolfo Pizarro, then Big Phil proceeded to bench him after six games despite having no player of remotely equal calibre to replace him. Really, they’re just awful. Arrogant, old, washed-up Euro stars thinking this was still a league for arrogant, old, washed-up Euro stars … which 10 years ago was true. Neville truly is an awful manager. Tactically non-existent, his players simply trying to run triangles, no overall idea of field position, time on the ball, unlocking defences, when to press or not. But that fits: he’s been hired by a truly awful football club” – Jeremy Loome.

“I know The Fiver is quite married to Big Sports Day as an epigram, but BSD in the American financial industry is more popularly used to refer to a Big Swinging [Tig]. Thought you’d like to know” – Matthew Richman.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jeremy Loome.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Big Sancho news! SD Tarazona have announced the capture of speedy winger Jaime on loan from Zaragoza. Oh, and as mentioned, Jadon has checked in at Old Trafford.

Here we go.
camera.png Here we go. Photograph: Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images

Tracey Crouch has called for an independent regulator to “protect the future of our game” as part of fan-led review into the state of English football.

Son Heung-min has scrawled his name all over a new four-year Spurs deal. “It’s like home,” he trilled. “There was no decision. It was easy.” Meanwhile, Spurs insist they have no plans to sell Harry Kane to Manchester City which, in football-speak, means: “Dig deeper, City.”

Chelsea will begin their WSL title defence at Arsenal as part of a tough start to the 2021-22 season for both clubs.

The makers of Football Manager have announced they will be adding women’s leagues to the mega-addictive video game. “We want to be a part of the process that puts women’s football on an equal footing with the men’s game,” belatedly trilled Sports Interactive chief suit Miles Jacobsen.

And Lukas Podolski, 87, will honour a promise to his late grandma by making a debut for boyhood club Gornik Zabrze in the Polish Ekstraklasa on Sunday. “[Replica shirts] went on sale over the weekend, the effect was that the turnover of the store was the highest in its history,” cheered chief suit Dariusz Czernik. “Other products with the image of Lukasz have also appeared on sale. Mugs, pillows, T-shirts, posters …”

STILL WANT MORE?

Maya Wolfe-Robinson on the new project at a community football clubhouse that links to a digitised archive of the messages on Marcus Rashford’s mural.

Oskar with a K and Katie Jones at Errwood Park in Manchester.
camera.png Oskar with a K and Katie Jones at Errwood Park in Manchester. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Catch up with the latest moves in our women’s and men’s transfer interactives.

And sign up for a daily Big Sports Day email here. It’s not particularly funny but, hey, glass houses and all that.

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

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

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The Fiver

Checking in to see how things are going on at Inter Miami

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Ah, yes.
camera.png Ah, yes. Photograph: Jim Rassol/AP
Paul Doyle

Paul Doyle


TOSH AND BECKS

It is less than two years since Big Phil Neville explained his genius to unsuspecting hacks. “I have a vision that no one else has,” he boomed back in October 2019, and that was not the only quality he saw in himself. “I’ve got bravery that no other coach has,” he continued before inviting the flock to draw the obvious conclusion: “Thank your lucky stars [that I am England manager].” The Fiver, for one, has always been thankful that Neville moved into management and regular press conferences.

Sadly Neville is not at Big Sports Day this month with Team GB, since he abandoned that plan when he surprisingly stepped down as England manager in January to take charge of [Fiver goes googling] Inter Miami. Getting that gig had nothing to do with lucky stars, it has been claimed, even if the club is part-owned by his longtime mucker and business associate, David Beckham. “The interview process was as hard as any I have done,” recited Neville in May during a rare period when no Class of 92 documentaries were being filmed.

Beckham had struck a similar note at the manager’s unveiling, insisting that the appointment was one of life’s sweet coincidences, that his buddy just happened to be the perfect candidate. “[It’s] nothing to do with the relationship we have, the friendship we have, the loyalty we have to each other, he’s the right man for the job,” trumpeted Beckham before Neville chimed in with his mission statement: “This fantastic soccer-loving market deserves consistent performances and a winning mentality, and I look forward to getting to work.”

And in fairness, you have to admire that buildup. They’ve absolutely put it on a plate for The Fiver. A little like Neville’s team did on Wednesday when they lost 5-0 to New England Revolution. “The thing that really surprised me was I wasn’t expecting it,” tooted Neville even though his team had also lost their previous five matches and are bottom of the Eastern Conference 12 games into his reign. “You can lose games in football but the manner in which we lost [against New England] was – I’ve said the word ‘unacceptable’ in the past, but this feels worse than that,” continued Neville, who admitted he may need another vision: “The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves – and so do I. We win together, we lose together.” They do the latter a heck of a lot more often than the former.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“No money in the world would replace this. If I never get a penny, I don’t care. It’s just about being there in those moments” – after volunteering at the club for 60 years, kit man Clive Baxter can barely contain himself as Sutton United prepare for the big time at last. Ben Fisher has more.

Yes, Clive!
camera.png Yes, Clive! Photograph: Paul Loughlin

FIVER LETTERS

“If Neil Harris wants an ‘irreverent round-up, a bit of humour mixed with serious and not so serious links’ (yesterday’s Fiver letters), then why on earth is he reading The Fiver?” – Keith Martin.

“Is Neil Harris asking about the return of the Mill in the hope of inserting himself into the column, if Football League clubs are in the market for a new manager who has Championship experience?” – Darren Leathley.

“Yesterday’s Fiver gives the impression that Liverpool’s loss of its world heritage status is solely due to Everton’s proposed stadium, when in fact it was simply the last straw in a running battle over many years with Unesco. The real fault lies with the area council which, through lack of care for planning, has given building consents w1lly nilly, particularly in the Pier Head area of the riverside where existing (Grade 1) buildings known as the Three Graces are situated. I must add that the site for the stadium is an absolute eyesore” – Paul A Haggerty.

“Were both The Fiver’s Argentinian and Brazilian cousins asleep at the wheel and missed this opportunity to highlight the latest from the Fun and Games in South America Dept?” – Gareth Rogers.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Gareth Rogers.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Mike Smith, the first non-Welshman to manage Wales, has died at the age of 83.

Portsmouth have launched disciplinary proceedings after concluding an investigation into allegations that some of their U-18s players used discriminatory language about England players in a group conversation after the Euro 2020 final.

Arsenal have tied Emile Smith Rowe down to a new contract.

Lucy Bronze thinks Team GB need to improve at Big Sports Day, despite winning their opening match against Chile 2-0.

Australia flamin’ stuck it to 10-man Argentina at BSD 2020.

Lachlan Wales celebrates scoring his side’s opener.
camera.png Lachlan Wales celebrates scoring his side’s opener. Photograph: Silvia Izquierdo/AP

Norwich boss Daniel Farke insists he would reject the offer of a 17th-place finish in the Premier League before a ball is kicked. That feels a mistake. “Of course it would be a great success and would probably have a non-relegation parade through the city and everyone would praise us but I am not too addicted to positions,” he honked.

Crystal Palace are considering lassoing Oban Kazak to Selhurst Park, but face competition for the defender who spent the second half of last season on loan at Liverpool from Schalke.

After a forgettable spell in Germany, winger Demarai Gray has returned to England after signing for Everton. “I’m delighted to be back in the Premier League at such a big club and I’m excited to play with the team and get to work,” he cheered.

There is a chance, should Blackpool get promoted back to the Premier League, that we will once again witness a man falling off the top of a car, after Stuart McCall was appointed as their new assistant manager.

And Crewe Alexandra have agreed a new 99-year deal with Whitby Morrison to sponsor their ground’s Ice Cream Van Stand. “We look forward to working with them long into the future,” whooped chairman Charles Grant.

STILL WANT MORE?

“All the clubs are under the government’s control, so club officials are constantly in touch with the government – or sometimes they are state officials themselves” – four Eritrean footballers are in hiding in Uganda waiting for a resolution. Ed Aarons and Alex Cizmic tell the story.

From left: Hanibal Tekle, Hermon Yohannes, Simon Asmelash and Mewael Yosief.
camera.png From left: Hanibal Tekle, Hermon Yohannes, Simon Asmelash and Mewael Yosief. Photograph: No credit

Pedri has played 66 games last/this season – Suzanne Wrack writes about the teenage Spaniard’s trek to Japan.

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

YIKES IN SOUTH AMERICA DEPT!

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Awesome thats aweome, they have been pushed heavily to be where they are atm udt. You remove all the ref and var bullshit and they are nowhere near top 4 the last 2 seasons. May he stay there for years and years.

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Great news, indeed. As long as Olé is there they’ll continue to be a “close but no cigar” sort of team. Good enough to beat anyone if they’re in top form but shit to watch much of the time and won’t win the biggest trophies against top managers who play better football.

 

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Has to be said Ole has done okay since taking over. There is a semblance of a system and a team forming over there - only Fred and AWB need upgrading. They have serious pace and trickery up front at the moment too. Thankfully he is not an elite coach in the Klopp, Pep, Tuchel category but United have spent and built a good squad. 

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1 hour ago, Pizy said:

Great news, indeed. As long as Olé is there they’ll continue to be a “close but no cigar” sort of team. Good enough to beat anyone if they’re in top form but shit to watch much of the time and won’t win the biggest trophies against top managers who play better football.

 

or get bountiful gifts from PGMOL!

🤬

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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-9821921/The-smoking-gun-emails-prove-Manchester-City-did-cheat-Premier-League-FFP-rules.html#

 

Shock emails that could prove Manchester City DID cheat: Fresh evidence appears to show Premier League champions had millions funnelled into the club by Abu Dhabi to help inflate their income

 

Just move these cunts to League 1.

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2 hours ago, NikkiCFC said:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-9821921/The-smoking-gun-emails-prove-Manchester-City-did-cheat-Premier-League-FFP-rules.html#

 

Shock emails that could prove Manchester City DID cheat: Fresh evidence appears to show Premier League champions had millions funnelled into the club by Abu Dhabi to help inflate their income

 

Just move these cunts to League 1.

While ignoramus would be waxing lyrical how filthy rich they are....

Cheaters...

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