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

5-4-FIVER

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.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“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

FIVER LETTERS

“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.

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