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When The Man told us to write about Fulham FC, The Fiver struggled to keep focus, drifting into a state of severe ennui that only got worse as we caught sight of a daddy long-legs bashing its body from one side of the room to the other. What an utterly hopeless existence, we thought, as we wiped a pool of drool off our desk and poured the last dregs of tepid tea from our kettle. The poor thing bounced joylessly against a window and then half flew, half hopped its away along the wall to the other side of the room, where it clattered off Granny Fiver’s signed picture of Steve Ogrizovic before limply heading back the other way, never looking threatening or doing anything remotely interesting. This purposelessness continued for a while until it finally fell out of view. It’s probably dead but we couldn’t be bothered to check. It was hardly a life worth living and if it does reappear its journey will be every bit as pointless as the last one.
So back to Fulham, then, who fell out of the Premier League on Monday night after a listless 2-0 home defeat by Burnley that was so utterly predictable that even Very Intense Man Scott Parker struggled to sound surprised. “I’m hurt, I’m gutted,” he sniffed. “If you’ve not watched us, then that game summed up our year really; very good at times between the boxes, but just fallen short sometimes at both ends. There’s been disappointment this year, and we need to put our hands up, we need to get around a table, we need to understand where we want to go as a club, what we need to do.” But why? The direction they’re going is back down to the Championship, where they’ll grab some parachute cash, reload and very possibly bounce back into the Premier League in time for another season making up the numbers in 2022-23.
That’s Fulham. That’s West Brom. That’s Norwich. That’s Watford. Rinse, repeat. On Monday, Fulham’s players did what was expected of them as the game ended, looking distraught when time blew on their latest whistlestop tour of the top flight. Some squatted on their haunches, grimacing and doing their best thousand-yard stares but, really, shouldn’t they be celebrating? Fulham are the kid at the Premier League disco shyly looking on as the night passes them by. At least in the Championship they might have some fun or do something to get pulses racing again. Aleksandar Mitrović could actually score some goals. Bobby Decordova-Reid might find his dancing shoes and Parker will have more post-match interviews to hone his punk poetry for the next stadium tour. Relegation? Bring it on!
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
9 May: “It’s been very difficult managing the players … The individual players have got to accept their individual responsibilities. It’s not my fault. That’s one thing I do know … There’s no point only supporting the team if you’re in the starting XI, and we’ve got a bit of that at the minute, I won’t lie to you” – Tranmere Rovers boss Keith Hill celebrates their League Two play-off spot by hurling a fair number of his squad under the bus.
11 May: “I have to do what I think gives us the best chance of achieving promotion in those games and I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that means making the change before the semi-finals begin” – chairman Mark Palios reverses it right back over Hill.
A beautiful tribute from David Squires to Alan McLoughlin, his first football hero.
“Having read your ‘I hope you know this was never about football’ piece, I will confess to having to dab my eyes a few times, something which would have created concern and mocking in unequal amounts if I had been surrounded by my co-workers. Instead I now share an office at home with my wife, who did not notice anything amiss. While pondering the meaning of this, and the fact The Fiver can now move me to tears, I noticed the next mail in my inbox was also from The Fiver. This one was much more in keeping with your usual standards, being a repeat of the mail sent last Friday. Just for a brief moment you were elevated to a higher plane, only to come crashing back down to buffoonery normality” – Simon Toms (and 1,056 others lamenting the latter bit. Apologies).
“Re: refereeing misadventures (Fiver letters passim). Years ago, I was playing in goal for the University Golden Oldies (Warwick’s staff team) in the local Sunday League. The opposition were awarded a penalty, which I saved. ‘You moved, retake it,’ said the ref. I stood stock still and saved the retake. ‘You moved again, at least an inch,’ said the ref. ‘Oh, don’t be pedantic,’ I replied. A yellow card followed – the only one of my career. When the disciplinary report arrived, the ref had written that I called him ‘a paedophile’” – Ken Foster.
“I note that Brondby coach Niels Fredriksen’s whiteboard text (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) shows the characteristic slope of those unused to writing on vertical surfaces with no lines to guide them. I was going to say something about it starting off reasonably and then going downhill and staying there, but I’m a Derby County fan and wouldn’t know about that kind of thing” – Louise Wright.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Richard Keogh has secured a payout of about £2.3m from Derby after winning his long-running compensation claim against them. And in quite the day for the Rams, they’re also to face sanctions from the Football League after it won an appeal against a previously-dismissed financial misconduct charge.
Birmingham City chief suit Xuandong Ren has quit with immediate effect.
Shortbread McFiver is up in arms after Scotland’s fifth-tier clubs voted in favour of allowing the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers and the Queen’s Celtic to enter B teams in the Lowland League, pending final approval at an upcoming AGM. “I think it will be fantastic for everyone if people decide not just to think about themselves,” cheered O’Rangers manager $tevie Mbe.
Knee-knack suffered in already-promoted Norwich’s final game of the season means Scotland midfielder Kenny McLean will miss Euro Not 2020.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mané has described this season as the worst of his career. “If you ask me what is wrong I will struggle to give you an answer,” he sighed.
And the silky skills of Andrés Iniesta will be remaining at Vissel Kobe for two more years after he agreed a new contract. “I strongly believe that his philosophy and his attitude will not just inspire young football athletes, but also Japan as a whole,” whooped Hiroshi Mikitani, chief suit of club owner Rakuten.
STILL WANT MORE?
Lord Ferg gets his chat on with Donald McRae.
Jonathan Liew on Eden Hazard and Real Madrid. Do stay for the pay-off.
Emma Hayes has transformed Chelsea into all-conquerors. Here’s how she did it.
Football needs to do much more when it comes to the environment, writes Andrew Simms.
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