Flinging Gareth Bale beneath the Wild & Wacky Wagon o'Fun's wheels

Scott Murray
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images


What the people want, the people get. That’s the philosophy by which José Mourinho has lived his life for at least the past 21 hours. To this end, he pimped his ride, giving his famous Metaphor Bus a Magical Mystery Tour-influenced paint job, ripping out the brakes and the transmission with seven separate parking gears, and replacing the round tyres for oval ones that go up and down as well as round and round. And so on Wednesday night José arrived at Goodison behind the wheel of the Entertaining One’s Wild & Wacky Wagon o’Fun, steam parping out of the front, the suspension making every noise from the Looney Tunes effects library, and proceeded to perform donuts in the middle of the pitch for 120 minutes.

It was quite the wild scene. But there were teething troubles, and the Wagon o’Fun crashed out of the FA Cup after conceding five goals to a team run by a man whose main concern was the ambient temperature of his tumbler of diluted meat extract. Some deflection was needed swiftly, so José decided to fling Gareth Bale beneath the Wagon’s wheels, announcing to the world that the winger was left out of the squad after asking for a scan. “I don’t think it is an obvious [knack],” José whispered conspiratorially, involuntarily leaping out of his seat as the Wagon hit a €100.8m speed-bump.

Related: Bernard strike sinks Spurs in extra time as Everton edge FA Cup thriller

“I was a bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan,” Mourinho added. “I would say he feels uncomfortable and couldn’t be 100%.” Having inferred his point as clearly as one can, he decided to gild the lily anyway. “Gareth was not here. I wanted to make it very clear the situation, which I am being completely open and honest about.” The Fiver senses trouble at mill, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Mourinho replace Madrid in Gareth’s Hierarchy of Needs, a searing indictment given lockdown means Bale can’t travel to Wales and all the golf courses are shut.

None of this is ideal, and Manchester City are up next. At least Wednesday’s results give Mourinho both the opportunity to say “I told you so” to fans desperate for a more expansive style, and to legitimately park his de-pimped Metaphor Bus again, before a nice, boring, garden-variety, easy-to-explain-away 2-0 defeat. There’s no time for another paint job to get rid of all those cheery psychedelic flourishes, though. Maybe throw a tarp over it.


Join Nick Ames from 5.30pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of Wolves 1-0 Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round, while Ben Fisher will be on hand for Barnsley 1-3 Chelsea at 8pm. In the middle of all that, there’s Bayern 1-0 Tigres in the Club World Cup final at 6pm; Scott Murray will be your guide.


“If all we get is journalism from the perspective of the football club, we’re moving towards a dictatorial state and that’s not what we are. If we don’t have [independent journalism] we may as well not bother, we may as well live in a Communist state where we’re taught not to think” – Nigel Pearson gets stuck into clubs’ in-house media teams [you know, the ones who brand “exclusives” for interviews with their own players and the like – Fiver Ed] during a Q&A session with students at De Montfort University.

He&#x002019;s not wrong.
He’s not wrong. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian


“The story about 5ft 8in Michael Doyle having to go in goal for Notts County (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) made we wish similarly-sized Robbie Winters (5ft 9in) had a history of playing Gaelic football before he replaced Jim Leighton after two minutes (!) of the 2000 Scottish Cup final v O’Rangers. My only ever (and Winters’, actually) appearance at a Scottish Cup final, and Leighton’s last game. I’m nearly over it” – Andy Morrison.

“Re: Neale Redington thanking The Fiver for clarifying its mention of Emperor Palpatine as being from Star Wars and not Bognor Regis (yesterday’s Fiver letters). The Force is clearly strong with Neale” – Johnny Mac.

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 prize is … Andy Morrison.


You’ll be shocked to learn that it’s Football Weekly Extra.


A long-awaited independent review into sexual abuse in Scottish football has called on clubs and organisations involved to “make a clear, unreserved, and public acknowledgment and apology” to all those directly affected.

“The abuse I’ve had, death threats and all this sort of stuff … It’s really horrible stuff, which I couldn’t really get my breath with. Things like someone saying they hope I die of Covid” – Newcastle manager Steve Bruce reveals some of the vile abuse he has received, on the day English football’s leaders called on social media abominations to take responsibility for the spread of racist content on their platforms.

Meanwhile, Barnsley have had their Social Media Disgrace Twitter account reinstated following the withdrawal of a copyright claim.

Chelsea are three points clear at the top of the WSL after a 3-0 win over slumping Arsenal. “Their quality has undone us,” sighed manager Joe Montemurro.

A tribunal has ordered Liverpool to pony up as much as £4.3m to Fulham for teenage midfielder Harvey Elliott.

Six weeks of Raymond Domenech have proved more than enough for Nantes, who have replaced him as coach with Antoine Kombouaré.

And Bristol Rovers are looking for another new manager after giving Paul Tisdale the heave after 19 games. Fellow League One strugglers Northampton are in the same boat after telling Keith Curle to do one.


“Feyenoord forever, Cruyff never’’; Andy Bollen tells the story of when Ajax’s greatest-ever player joined their biggest rivals.

Those colours.
Those colours. Photograph: VI-Images via Getty Images

Barnsley and Chelsea reprise their 2008 cup tie, won by the Tykes. Simon Burnton looks back at a modern classic of the giant-killing genre.

We’ve all been on holiday and enjoyed the local sports paper, written in a language we don’t understand. Harry Pearson explains.

Crystal Palace’s new loan signing Jean-Philippe Mateta is made of the right stuff, according to Ed Aarons.

USA! USA!! USA!!!’s men’s team reckon they can challenge for the 2026 World Cup; so much so that they told Ryan Baldi why.

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