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Between ‘The Pogumentary’ revelations, that pesky BBC news ticker and the rather desperate Frenkie de Jong saga, it’s fair to say the summer in the red half of Manchester has been a fairly rough one. Even the arrival of Erik ten Hag, who seems both capable and cheery, has failed to change the perception that the famous Red Devils are destined for another nailbiting sixth-place finish next season.
Add in Cristiano Ronaldo’s quick pivot from statue nominee to someone trying to smuggle his way out of Old Trafford in a laundry basket – it would be fair to say that this has been another underwhelming close season for United supporters. To worsen matters, Ronaldo failed to turn up to the first day of training on Monday, citing an absolutely essential desire never to set foot in Big Vase, no matter how catchy the theme song is family reasons, in much the same way The Fiver often tells Big Website it will not be turning up to work.
But then, something started to happen. There was a trickle of optimism in the airwaves. News of United signing another left-back, Tyrell Malacia. And what’s this? Christian Eriksen, midfield creator, has turned down MIGHTY BRENTFORD to sign a three-year contract at the club! Somebody go and tell Lord Ferg to open the Casillero del Diablo, it’s time for a celebration, baby! Of course, The Fiver is underplaying this latter point, in the interest of narrative. Eriksen is supremely talented, knows the league inside out and, best of all, he’s free (sort of). This is an absolute doozy of a transfer, and United have every reason to be excited.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He was a pal. He was the best goalkeeper I ever played with, he was absolutely unbelievable as a goalkeeper. And I would have to tell you, he was one hell of a man. He had a bit of everything in his make-up. It’s a sad, sad loss. Tragically taken away far too soon … we will all miss him desperately” – Ally McCoist pays tribute to former Rangers and Scotland keeper Andy Goram, who has died aged 58 after recently being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
It’s the new Women’s Football Weekly podcast. Get more details here.
Suzy Wrack looks ahead to Euro 2022.
“On the subject of Manchester City and their revolving roster of back-up goalkeepers (Friday’s News, Bits and Bobs), surely you missed a chance for a classic headline: ‘Stefan in, Steffen out, Sheikh it all about’?” – Venkat K V.
“Re: Botman and Rabin (Thursday’s Fiver letters). Unable to find any fifth-tier European football stalwarts named Kapow or Boom, I humbly offer a caper-filled strikeforce of Delroy (Facey) and (Devante) Rodney” – Nigel Pamenter.
“It’s good to see that Everton have signed James Tarkowski. Presumably on his First Day he showed some Nostalgia for his old club Burnley before holding a Mirror up to Everton’s previous recruitment failures and showing the Sacrifice needed to make a team successful. What? No other Fiver reader Russian art house film buffs?” – Noble Francis.
“Simon Mazier’s attempt at Fiver merch design (Friday’s Fiver letters) was intended to get the pedants agitated, wasn’t it? No comma placemarker in the reference to the 1,057 readers? No punctuation at all at the end of the sentence on the reverse? Yup, you’ve certainly chummed the waters. Oh, and I’ll take one in blue” – Mike Wilner.
“Re: Fiver merch. How about extra-strong corsets? Should help with the side-splitting laughter each day when we open up th … oh” – Richard Prangle.
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 … Venkat K V.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Football fans will be allowed on their feet at the new Wembley for the first time from next season, after the government approved safe-standing areas at grounds.
Merseyside police have threatened to hand out banning orders after fighting fans led to the temporary suspension of Saturday’s friendly between Southport and Blackpool.
Meanwhile, the City Football Group now comprises 11 clubs after it absorbed Palermo into its global network. “Palermo is a great and historic club with a strong and proud identity,” cheered chief suit Ferran Soriano, hoovering it all up for CFG.
João Moutinho has signed a new one-year deal at Wolves.
Ashley Young has signed a new one-year deal at Aston Villa.
Barcelona have bolstered their ranks with the acquisition of free agents Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen.
Birmingham City’s new boss is local lad John Eustace after Lee Bowyer was given the boot. “I know the potential of the club and how important it is to the fans,” tooted Eustace.
And not only has Son Heung-min been carrying Spurs for much of the last few seasons, but now he’s going to have to be their tour guide for a pre-season trip to South Korea. “I think the lads are mistaken. They think I am some big shot in Korea, and I know all the best restaurants in the country,” he sighed. “I don’t know if I can take care of 50 to 60 people all at once. That’s a lot of pressure on me. But since they’re going to be visiting Korea, I will pick up the tab.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Mud, sweat and cheers: six of the most memorable Women’s Euros.
Karen Carney thinks fans have a big role to play in helping England intimidate their way to a possible home title.
Awkward as the issues around Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit may be, they are part of the solution for Manchester United, writes Jonathan Wilson.
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