Football's coming home (to Montevideo, hopefully)

Scott Murray
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>
Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

NOTHING CAN GO WRONG NOW

Exactly why the honest folk and true of Her Majesty’s Government have decided that a big new performative dollop of bellicose patriotism is necessary to take everyone’s attention away from the omnishambles of the last 11 years is not clear. After all, if the polls are anything to go by, nobody seems to give a toss. But grifters gonna grift, and now they’ve pledged £2.8m towards a potential joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup by England, Scotland, Wales, Norn Iron, the Republic O’Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Falkland Islands, the Pitcairn Islands, the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Gib. What a glorious nation! What a glorious ragtag ensemble of glorious nations!

Related: Boris Johnson pledges £2.8m towards British and Irish bid for 2030 World Cup

While it’s never in The Fiver’s nature to talk the country down – our ongoing love of Morris dancing, shortbread, cheese-on-toast and theme pubs is there on record for all to see – we do wonder whether this is the wisest caper. Our bid to stage the 2018 tournament saw David Beckham lose a beauty contest to Vladimir Putin, while we didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory by reneging on a gentleman’s agreement to let Germany have a free run at bidding for the 2006 tournament, a decision that led to Germany securing the 2006 tournament. Like it or not, folk remember. The gap between myopic exceptionalism and realpolitik is a large one, and we all know about Boris Johnson’s zero-for-one record when it comes to building bridges.

Nevertheless, a feasibility study will be made – let’s see which brand-new company owned by a pub landlord quickly knocks out that PowerPoint document – and then the formal bidding process will begin next year. Johnson, for his part, is already in flag-waving mode. “It’s the home of football, it’s the right time, it will be an absolutely wonderful thing for the country,” the prime minister of England (well, y’know) read off a sheet of focus-grouped bullet points. UK Sport is confident that new Fifa voting rules will give the stable, non-combustible partnership of Britain and Ireland a better chance of success, and so The Fiver wishes them the best of luck. But we counsel management of expectations, too: 2030 will be the centenary of the World Cup, and surely the romantic choice will be the south-American collective involving 1930 hosts Uruguay. Romance: that’s Fifa’s prime consideration when making these decisions, right?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“A man of warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy. Scotland and Liverpool has lost a true giant” – Andy Robertson leads the tributes to Ian St John, a brilliant forward and wonderfully droll co-presenter of The Fiver’s favourite 1980s light entertainment show Saint and Greavsie, who has died aged 82. RIP Saint. Here is his obituary, his life in pictures and a tribute from Jonathan Wilson.

Ian St John pictured late last year alongside a mural of himself. RIP Saint.
Ian St John pictured late last year alongside a mural of himself. RIP Saint. Photograph: Murwalls Handout/PA

FIVER LETTERS

“Schalke are doomed. They thought Sead Kolasinac and Shkrodan Mustafi could help keep goals out. Obviously, they haven’t seen them play. Last weekend’s Stuttgart debacle featured four of north London’s worst, with some of the Spursiest ex-Spurs in Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli, both of whom have also captained Schalke at times. So, with the game at 3-1, and Stuttgart conceding a penalty, Bentaleb got into a dust-up about taking the penalty, insisting on taking the worst penalty seen for a while, an easy save, and no more chance to salvage anything from the match. The last two Stuttgart goals happened, to quote the great Marv Albert of basketball announcing fame, ‘in garbage time’. Or, as we describe the entirety of Schalke’s season” – Paul Landaw.

“With all due respect to Doncaster Rovers, I’m don’t know why they’re complaining so much that they have just lost their manager to my own once-great Sheffield Wednesday (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). Since the start of the 2018-19 season, which I grant you feels like a very long time ago now, we have burned through managers like there’s no tomorrow. We have had (takes very deep breath) Jos Luhukay, Lee Bullen (caretaker but, quite frankly all our managers are caretaker managers these days), Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence (joint), Steve Bruce, Garry Monk, Tony Pulis, Neil Thompson and now Darren Moore. That’s one every 121.2 days, which suggests that if Rovers still want him they can expect him to take the half-hour journey back along the M18 or on the Transpennine Express shortly before 1 July” – Noble Francis.

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 … Paul Landaw.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray from 8pm GMT for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Manchester City 2-1 Wolves.

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s David Squires on … whistlegate and referees under pressure.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

With Sunday’s relegation clash at West Brom on the horizon, the massed ranks of knacked Newcastle forwards now includes Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almirón.

Paul Cook has leapt into the Ambitious Paul-shaped hole at Ipswich, where the USA! USA!! USA!!!-led takeover is this close to completion.

Pep Guardiola has plucked a calculator out of the pocket of his weird coat and worked out that Manchester City need “eight, nine or 10” wins to be crowned Premier League champions again.

Edinson Cavani has recovered from muscle-gah! and is expected to make it aboard Manchester United’s Megabus to Crystal Palace on Wednesday. “Edinson trained, he joined in so that’s good,” whooped Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

What with psychologists, do-gooders or lefties already on his wick, Chris Wilder now isn’t certain he’ll have his job at Sheffield United next season. “We always plan short, medium and long term, but that plan is determined by other people than me,” he tooted. “I’ve not had those conversations. I think they should be happening, but they’re not happening.”

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s gums have been flapping furiously again. “Athletes should be athletes, politicians should be politicians,” he wibbled after being asked if he stood by his criticism of LeBron James. He was then forced to defend his decision to warble a duet with Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic at the Sanremo Music Festival. “I hope that Miha doesn’t know how to sing. If I mess up, nobody can judge me.”

STILL WANT MORE?

John Duerden on Jiangsu’s collapse means “China crisis” gets a headline run-out.

James Coppinger has spent 17 seasons at Doncaster Rovers, once scoring a legendary promotion-grabbing goal, and even helps design their kits these days. Not bad for a £30,000 signing, he tells Ben Fisher.

James Coppinger: still got it.
James Coppinger: still got it. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

“Zlatan believes you should stick to what you’re good at, which is presumably why he’s been talking about himself again” – Jonathan Liew pulls no punches.

Why were US Soccer so slow to react to former delegate Seth Jahn’s racist comments, asks Caitlin Murray.

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

ALARMED THAT THIS IS ALMOST 15 YEARS OLD