The Fiver | They will always have Iceland

Barry Glendenning
How the Fiver sees itself being bade farewell when that day comes. Photograph: Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

A GOOD PLACE

While an international friendly is never likely to produce fireworks, England’s match against Germany in Dortmund last night was played out at testimonial intensity and was understandably overshadowed by the tragic, senseless violence back home. As London reeled from further loss of life at violent hands and saw the best and worst of various people either knowingly or unwittingly caught up in the drama, England’s footballers had little choice but to keep calm and carry on in Lucas Podolski’s Dortmund swansong. The veteran Germany striker kept to the script, bringing his international career to a fairytale close with a thunderbolt so awesome that even the beaten Joe Hart couldn’t disguise his admiration. Following several well-earned post-match laps of honour, Poldi revealed that Hart had told him his shot was “effing brilliant” before explaining: “I know my left foot, I do not know who gave it to me, probably God and some more guys”. Vorsprung durch technik, then. With a little help from the man upstairs.

And what of Gareth Southgate’s valiant lion cubs? Despite another defeat at the hands of Germany, the Fiver can’t help but feel – and bear with us because it is not a limb we can be found on the end of too often – that Gareth Southgate’s side is in a Good Place. Young, enthusiastic, trimmed of big-name baggage and headline-hoggers, they will always have Iceland but those involved in that particular debacle at least showed signs they might some day put it behind them. “I am very pleased with what we learned, the manner of the performance and the only bit we missed was the finish,” said Southgate in the wake of his first defeat as manager. “We should have had the game won but I am very pleased with what we did.” What they did was line up in a 3-4-3, with Burnley’s Michael Keane playing as one of three centre-halves. And he was one of three England players, as well as substitutes Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, to make their England bows. “Michael had an excellent debut,” enthused Southgate. “He has played for the under-21s at full-back and centre-back so the system was going to suit him, no problem.”

While it remains unclear whether or not Wayne Rooney will be given the opportunity to bring the curtain down on his England career with a Poldi-esque surface-to-air screamer, his mantle as team talisman appears to have dropped comfortably on to the shoulders of Dele Alli. An aggressive, yapping terrier at the heart of all England’s good work, the Spurs man showed no sign of pining for his injured Spurs mucker Harry Kane and prompted punditry’s Lee Dixon to say that if Mesut Özil had “half of what Dele Alli has got, that nasty streak, he would be 10 times a better player than he is because he hasn’t got what Dele Alli has.” Those verbal gymnastics aside, the Fiver can think of a few things – medals and lots of them – the German has that Alli hasn’t, but we know what he means. Aged just 20 and in a team jam-packed full of equally whey-faced young whippersnappers, you could almost say England might just have found themselves a Golden Generation. What could possibly go wrong?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The defendant was being shoved up against the barrier and then jumped over it to prevent discomfort having had a new tattoo. He ran towards the pitch but stopped himself before entering the pitch. This was in the last minute of the game when Newcastle scored and he was celebrating. He didn’t encroach into the pitch as he knows he shouldn’t and was quickly apprehended” – Newcastle fan Reece Smailes’s defence lawyer, Rachel Sharpe, on the mitigating circumstances inked into his belly that led to her client encroaching on to the Huddersfield Town perimeter after Newcastle’s 3-1 win there on 4 March. Smailes was ordered to pay a £484 fine.

Dwight Gayle, apparently the cause of some inky discomfort. Photograph: Richard Lee/BPI/Rex Shutterstock

FIVER LETTERS

This must be the best man of the match interview ever (oof! – Fiver Relationships Ed)” – Gavin Simmonds.

“This week’s ‘The Knowledge’: so good you linked to it twice” – Kevin Carter (and 1,056 others).

“Re: the link to one-hit football wonders (yesterday’s Still Want Mores), at least Neil Finn finally achieved fame and fortune by writing some cracking tunes for Crowded House. Have any other football (relative) flops gone on to stellar success in a very different profession? Sorry, got you all confused with The Knowledge there. Carry on as usual” – Kevin McKee.

“Following John Stainton’s letter, I too want to know where Guardian Soulmates has gone. Asking for a friend (fill your boots – Fiver Relationships Ed)” – Lee Darbyshire.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet The Fiver. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Gavin Simmonds.

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BITS AND BOBS

Everton have moved a step closer to having the windiest stadium in the Premier League after agreeing a deal to purchase a site at Liverpool’s Bramley Moore Dock. Meanwhile, fresh and funky fans have urged the club to end their relationship with the StubHub ticket resale site, which often flogs spares for prices street touts would brag about.

Vincent Janssen’s gums have been flapping. “Of course I’m not satisfied with the amount of playing time in recent months,” he told Dutch hacks. “But I remain positive … I’m not going to walk around as the only player whining. That makes no sense.” Vincent meet Moussa, Moussa meet Vincent.

Wee Gordon reckons Scotland’s abject display in the 1-1 draw against Canada was at least useful as a data collection exercise, if nothing else. “It’s not been a great night, it won’t be memorable in anyone’s minds at the end of careers but it was invaluable to me to use the information we collected for Sunday,” he squeaked.

Ahmed Yasin’s late equaliser for Iraq piled the pressure on the flamin’ Socceroos, who will be in a spot of World Cup qualifying bother if they don’t beat UAE in their next game.

Yes, it’s international fortnight.

And Diego Simeone claims he could have left Atlético Madrid after last year’s Big Cup final defeat and earned £30m big ones for doing so. “If I wanted to go to another team I would have had 35 million reasons. 35 million!” he roared, perhaps while grabbing himself. “But I didn’t leave because I didn’t want to.”

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STILL WANT MORE?

England aways days are like gap-year travel for the Brexit generation, reckons Barney Ronay, who reckons fan chants are boneheaded but no more threatening than the Inbetweeners.

Happy Birthday Wembley, trills Nick Ames, before asking whether the 10-year-old icon is value for money.

Happy birthday to you etc and so on. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Argentina face a must-win game against Chile with problems on and off the pitch, sighs Jonathan Wilson.

It’s Classic YouTube, with Nani’s unappreciated japery, Rio Ferdinand’s fury and Archie Macpherson getting telt.

Dele Alli dominated England’s attacking play in a similar way to how Barney Ronay is dominating these Still Want Mores.

What’s life like with the last Italian football club left in England? The Fiver hasn’t the foggiest, so we’ll let Gianlucca de Paoli tell you instead.

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

HELPFUL TIMING

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