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- Argentine soccer player
The most prestigious gongs in world football are being doled out at a sw@nky ceremony in one of Europe’s most glamorous capital cities tonight, and here at Fiver Towers we’re beside ourselves with excitement. Squeeze into a suit that appears to have shrunk several sizes while hanging in the wardrobe during lockdown? Check. Sashay down the red carpet? Check. Get stuck into the free hospitality laid on by whoever happens to be sponsoring this year’s Football Supporters’ Association Awards in that there Big London? Check. Cause a disturbance upon being overlooked for Best Daily Football Email and get escorted from the sw@nky West End hotel in which the ceremony is being staged? Checkity-check, check check!
Meanwhile in Paris, the Ballon d’Or will will be awarded, with the good and the great of the football world convening at the Théâtre du Châtelet, all oblivious to the fact that their thunder is being stolen by a load of boring middle-aged men bloated with good food, booze and self-regard drunkenly bickering over whose podcast, website, fanzine or radio show is the best.
The Ballon d’Or is likely to be a comparatively sober affair, where where the main talking points will inevitably concern the colour and cut of Lionel Messi’s tuxedo, plus the likelihood of Cristiano Ronaldo throwing his second very public strop in as many days when he is beaten to the men’s award by either Messi or Robert Lewandowski. The current holder, Messi is the favourite to win a record seventh Ballon d’Or although there is speculation the Bayern Munich striker might get a pity vote after missing out when last year’s ceremony was cancelled because of Covid. The trio are all included on a very long 30-man shortlist that also includes several English-based players who are also vying for the FSA Best Male Footballer award. Which one are you going to, Mason? Would Rúben Dias, Mo Salah or Phil Foden go to Paris and dare snub the fans?
Of course it’s not just the men who are being acknowledged in Paris. England striker Ellen White is among the nominees for the women’s gong, although outrageous anti-English bias means the gong is expected to go to Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas or Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema. In another instance of poor planning, or perhaps a sign that the women’s award is little more than a sop, the national teams of all 20 nominees are playing tonight or tomorrow, so don’t expect to see too many of them present.
Anyhoo, whatever your opinions on the merit of individual awards being doled out for participants in team sports, receiving one is quite an honour. Unless of course you don’t, in which it’s important to remember the wise words of Jerry Seinfeld, who addressed one awards show audience with the observation that “the whole feeling of reverence and honouring in this room is the exact opposite of everything I have wanted my life to be about”.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I went into this ‘church’ in Liverpool and asked for a half pint … well, I did, but you can’t ask for a half. I took photos of the murals on the houses. There’s a magic, a chemistry, something. These three women, 90 years old, who could barely get up the stairs going into the ground” – Diego Martínez gets his highly entertaining chat on with Sid Lowe about how he has immersed himself in English football culture since leaving his job as Granada manager.
“The weekend weather was so cold that a jacketless Sean Dyche felt the need to don a tie. Meanwhile, as the mere mortals of the Premier League skidded about, their faces blue and their noses red, I couldn’t help wondering why their balls weren’t orange” – Mark McFadden.
“Spain ‘smited the Faroe Islands 12-0’ it said in Friday’s Fiver. Surely it should be ‘smote’. I need to get a life” – Richard Fernandez.
“Whilst my summation of Jonathan Wilson’s and Barney Ronay’s successes in Pseuds corner, Private Eye, went unacknowledged by you a few months ago, I do think it was sh!t-housery of the highest order for them to claim four out of six spots in this week’s PE” – George Paterson.
“A doff of the cap to BBC Sport for its coverage of the Copa Libertadores final on Saturday night; virtually no promotion, listing it on the iPlayer under ‘Swimming’, only joining coverage of the game six minutes after it had started and consequently missing the first goal and both the commentator and co-commentator being under the mistaken impression that one of the teams (the biggest, wealthiest club in Brazil) was named after a Spanish dance. A slow handclap all round …” – Noble Francis.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … George Paterson.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
In the first weeks of lockdown The Blizzard started running online quizzes, the result is The Quizzard: The Blizzard Quiz book, which is available in print or digital form. The Fiver has two print copies to giveaway, all you have to do is answer this fiendish question:
Which former Liverpool forward is the only player to play international football in four decades?
Send your answer with the Subject ‘Fiver Quiz’ along with your name and postal address to email@example.com. Guardian readers can also buy a copy of The Quizzard for the reduced price of £6.99 (print) or £5 (digital) by entering the code GQUIZ at the checkout. Good luck.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
It’s official! Ralf Rangnick is at the Manchester United wheel for six months and likes what he sees at Old Trafford. “The squad is full of talent and has a great balance of youth and experience,” he whooped. “All my efforts will be on helping these players fulfil their potential.”
Top-secret chats between the Premier League and the EFL have been held to discuss removing the controversial parachute payments system, with alternatives set to be put to top-flight clubs for consideration.
Eddie Howe reckons it would be daft of him to promise fans that Newcastle will splurge their way out of relegation bother in January. “It would be foolish of me to make rash promises or statements,” he blabbed. “My priority at the moment is to get the best out of the players we have.”
Two Tottenham Hotspur fans who travelled 34 hours from Texas to watch them play Burnley on Sunday only for snow to postpone the game have been invited to a home game as Harry Kane’s guests.
Nikita Parris will not be involved in England’s World Cup qualifier against Latvia in Doncaster.
Who is the best spot-kick taker in the world? Nope, it’s not David Batty. “[Ivan Toney] is the world’s best penalty taker,” whooped Brentford boss Thomas Frank. “He proved it again against [Jordan] Pickford … goal, no problem.”
Livingston boss David Martindale was feeling fresh and funky after watching the Pope’s O’Rangers fans pelt his goalkeeper with snowballs during the 3-1 defeat. “It’s on national telly and people are watching that, so come on, screw the nut a wee bit,” he howled. “I just don’t understand it.”
And renowned headphones salesman Daniel Sturridge has denied a claim by Perth Glory chief suit Tony Sage that he was not selected for the match against Western United after suffering cramp-knack on the plane there. “A four-hour flight would never stop me playing football,” sniffed Sturridge.
Football Weekly is right here.
No Christmas party again this year? Then you’re cordially invited to Football Weekly’s very own one on … checks notes … 30 November. Tickets are available now.
STILL WANT MORE?
Ten talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action, right here.
The remote hand of Ralf Rangnick was already in play as Cristiano Ronaldo felt the chill at Stamford Bridge, writes Barney Ronay. Meanwhile, floating football brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson reckons Rangnick’s arrival finally signals a shift from the messiah fix to a modern vision of the game at Manchester United.
One thing is certain in the life of a manager: you will get sacked. Hereford’s Josh Gowling on why you need a hide like a rhino to survive in the dugout.
Patience is wearing thin with Timo Werner at Chelsea, so says Jacob Steinberg.
Juve’s season is going from bad to worse on and off the pitch, writes Nicky Bandini. Lucky they sold Ronaldo, or it’d be even worse.
Sid Lowe reckons Vinícius is now among an elite group of game-changing players.
Steffen Baumgart is a flat-cap wearing superhero who can do no wrong at Köln, reports Andy Brassell.
PSG should use Neymar’s latest knack to build for a future without him, reckons Ligue Urrrrn aficionado Eric Devin.
Millie Bright has got even better after deputising as England’s captain – and she’s now undroppable, writes Suzanne Wrack.
From Aubameyang to Zaha: how the Africa Cup of Nations will hit the Premier League.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!