Burnley’s hierarchy could face some tricky questions over Chris Wood

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Newcastle United unveiled their second purchase of the January transfer window on Thursday morning and for the many fans hoping to see the club – who recently swapped one tyrannical ownership regime for a far more unsavoury one – slide out of the Premier League it must seem disappointingly shrewd. In signing Chris Wood for £25m from Burnley, Newcastle have not only got themselves a grafter who is generally good for 10 or more goals a season, but also weakened direct relegation rivals who are believed to be spitting feathers at the loss of a striker who still has at least seven goals left in his account for the current campaign.

While we can only speculate as to how apoplectic with spittle-flecked rage most Newcastle fans would have been if Steve Bruce had spent this much to bring somebody as unfashionable as Wood to St James’ Park under the previous administration, many seem to be reserving their ire for the naysayers on social media disgraces who say the 30-year-old could scarcely be less box-office if he changed his name by deed poll to Hudson Hawk. As things stand, the transfer certainly constitutes “a good signing” in so far as Newcastle wanted Wood and have now got Wood, and with that half of the battle won, only time and results will tell if he was worth a fee that might seem a lot of money to your cash-strapped Fiver.

While Burnley manager Sean Dyche is understood to be furious that Wood has not only left Burnley but signed for fellow strugglers, it had been widely reported the club had no option but to sell because a release clause in his contract had been triggered by their canny rivals. In the past two days, however, TalkSport sidekick Simon Jordan has claimed he has it on good authority said clause only related to summer transfers, a state of affairs that – if true – would leave Burnley’s hierarchy facing potentially tricky questions from their fans.

“I don’t actually know the wording or anything like that,” knocked Wood. “I knew it had been sitting in there from the day that we agreed a new deal two-and-a-half years ago, but my agents know more about that and that side of it. I just get on playing football. I don’t really worry about what’s in the contract and that sort of thing.” It was the correct answer from a man who may receive a less-than-warm welcome when he returns to Turf Moor for what could prove to be quite the crucial final game of the season. For now though, Wood will be rapturously received as the latest in a long line of potential new messiahs when he runs out to face Watford at St James’ Park in another six-pointer on Saturday afternoon.


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“I’ll not enter a war of words with anyone. The club don’t deserve that, the fans don’t deserve that and to be honest, I don’t feel I deserve that … Sometimes it only takes one person from outside to destroy a beautiful love affair” – Lucas Digne joins Aston Villa from Everton, but can’t quite heed his own advice with a dig at Rafa Benítez.


“Sad to see the farcical scenes in the Afcon match between Tunisia and Mali, with the referee accidentally blowing for an early finish to proceedings, but presumably this creates mixed feelings for The Fiver? On the one hand this is sub-standard officiating which is creating more column inches than the actual football. But conversely, The Fiver will appreciate its contribution to Stop Football and probably admit to having halted proceedings early itself (ie submitting a half-baked Fiver to The Man at 1.45pm) in order to get down the boozer by mid-afternoon?” – Paul Richmond [it was a work event – Fiver Ed].

“Now, hold on. A rampant Fulham just put seven goals past Reading, becoming the first English team since 1895-96 (yes, that’s an eight) to win two away games by seven or more goals in the same season, and the video you’re linking to is … two disallowed goals from 2011’s Andy Carroll, one of them so plainly offside the keeper didn’t even bother with it (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs)? What gives, Fiver?” – Josh Herman [let’s just see what Sue Gray says – Fiver Ed].

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Paul Richmond.


Tunisia have well and truly got the funk on after ref Janny Sikazwe twice managed to blow early for full-time against Mali. “The players were taking ice baths for 35 minutes before they were called back,” sniffed Tunisia’s coach, Mondher Kebaier. “I’ve been coaching for a long time [and] never seen anything like it. Even the fourth official was preparing to lift the board [to show how many minutes of injury time] and then the whistle was blown … The referee’s decision is inexplicable; I can’t understand how he reached it. We’ll see what comes of it.”

Barcelona are trying to work out how they let slip a place in the $panish $uper Cup final, staged in Saudi Arabia for purely benevolent reasons, after losing 3-2 against Real Madrid. “We had it in our hands,” sighed Xavi. “We dominated for most of the game but we still lack experience, patience and effectiveness.”

Sleepy Hollow 2, earlier.
Sleepy Hollow 2, earlier. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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