Gloriously po-faced crying in the media over Eden Hazard smiling

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·6-min read
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‘WE USED TO WALK ALONG THE RIVER’

The Fiver is often accused of not taking football seriously enough. It is a charge to which we happily plead guilty at Fiver Towers. A leading reason behind the chortlesome [easy – Fiver Ed] knockabout chat that this merry Tin-swilling band of interchangeable cranks pumps out every working-day tea-time FOR FREE is that everyone else takes it all so bloody seriously. The crack of anxiety in the voice of a TV commentator as he builds up to Preston v Reading. The vigorous defences of Our League by the hushed, menacing tones of Graeme Souness. The darkening of Roy Keane’s already pitch-black eyes as Micah Richards riffs on tales of Joe Hart singing the greatest hits of Elkie Brooks. Jermaine Jenas’s primal screams against VAR. Hang on. Wasn’t this supposed to be fun?

Admittedly, the game is often a cipher for actual, serious proper events as covered by Big Website, such as horrific abuse on social media disgraces, a pandemic that shows no sign of going away quietly and the origins of the finance that powered Chelsea and Manchester City to the final of Big Cup. But a Fiver apology is owed to the good men and women who cover Our League. Not one of them has ever been so gloriously po-faced as the those crying in the Spanish media because Eden Hazard had the temerity to smile at old mate Kurt Zouma following Wednesday night’s semi-final defeat for Real Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

You will have seen the clip by now. Josep Pedrerol, presenter of El Chiringuito, adopting the gallows-side manner of Albert Pierrepoint, backed by a piece of music that might underpin a state funeral, as he declares: “Hazard cannot continue for one second more in Madrid.” El Chiringuito, the chosen mouthpiece for Florentino Pérez’s tinfoil-munching wibble as the $uper £eague edifice crumbled under the merest breath of blowback, called out Hazard for his “two years taking the p1ss, two years overweight” and, worse, being “the new [Gareth] Bale”.

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The old Gareth Bale is that top-knotted chap who scored four goals in Big Cup finals, against whom a comparison to Hazard, scorer of just four goals in total for Madrid, seems a tad unfair on a Welshman lately seen cracking a smile at Tottenham. At £100m, nobody would argue Hazard hasn’t been a crashing disappointment. His contribution at the Bridge was non-existent. At times, it felt as if Zinedine Zidane might be better served to select Hazard lookalike and social media disgrace star Chet Hanks over the man himself. But the Belgian wasn’t much worse than most of his teammates. Sergio Ramos was so off the pace he failed to collect his customary red card. Madrid were frankly rubbish, their performance so poor it ought to have the Spanish pundits wondering what is going on with Their League. Instead, it is Hazard deemed to have committed the ultimate sin, a crime so foul he can never ever ever be forgiven.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Paul Doyle from 8pm BST for hot Big Vase MBM coverage of Arsenal 3-1 Villarreal (agg: 4-3), while Barry Glendenning will be on hand for Roma 2-1 Manchester United (agg: 4-7).

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“With the new owners from the [USA! USA!! USA!!!] coming in, there are sure to be exciting times ahead for Ipswich fans, including myself. Hopefully we can stop being sloightly on the huh!” – up-and-coming Suffolk songster Ed Sheeran confirms that he’s the new shirt sponsor of Ipswich Town.

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David Squires on … what Big Website might have looked like in 1821. It’s very good and you can get your very own copy here.

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. Doesn’t it gladden one’s heart? A Dutch referee allegedly telling a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian, playing for a French team, to ‘eff off’, presumably in English. The global game bringing the world together” – John Caley.

“Now that Manchester United have brought in tradespeople to repair those smashed windows, one must conclude that the ‘Glazers Out’ protest had an ironic effect” – Mark McFadden.

“All the letters regarding refereeing memories (Fiver letters passim) reminded me of a special time when I was refereeing a flamin’ Under-18s game between Coledale Waves and Figtree, here in Oz. I was just about to blow the whistle to start the game when a Coledale lad ran towards me, discarding his bottle of Crown Lager as he did so. ‘Ang on ref!’ he slurred. I explained that he would be unable to play due to his state of intoxication. He responded by commenting on my spectacles and my English heritage, finishing with a totally incorrect coloquialism about my genitalia, in that order. I hope he enjoyed the game from the sidelines!” – Tim Allen.

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 is … Tim Allen.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Pisa player Michele Marconi has been handed a 10-match ban for racially abusing Chievo’s Nigerian midfielder Joel Obi during their Serie B match in December.

Less than 48 hours after English football ended its high-profile boycott, Raheem Sterling has again been racially abused online.

Despite lockdown in Turkey and two English teams being involved, Big Cup final will remain in Istanbul.

Chelsea have one hand and a fair few fingers on the WSL title after a 2-0 win at Spurs left them two points clear at the top going into Sunday’s final games. “The fact that we’re in this position and in the final of [Women’s Big Cup] is a real testament to not just the squad, but my backroom staff,” tooted Emma Hayes.

Sam Kerr at the flamin’ double.
Sam Kerr at the flamin’ double. Photograph: Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Poor Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Not only did his bosses deprive him of the funds he needed to strengthen his squad before springing the €$£ on him, but now he has to somehow fathom who is on the side of right: them or Manchester United’s supporters.

And Rob Page will take a leaf out of Chris Coleman’s book – no, not the washing machine – as he prepares Wales for Euro Not 2020. “When you have friends in the game that have been through that experience and witnessed it first hand, it would be foolish of me not to phone him and speak to him,” cheered the interim manager.

STILL WANT MORE?

N’Golo Kanté is still good at football, and Chelsea still aren’t that good at finishing. Barney Ronay has more.

Villarreal’s Manuel Trigueros is not just a footballer but a qualified teacher. Before the Big Vase return against Arsenal, he got his chat on with Sid Lowe.

Solly March loves playing for Brighton, but he also wouldn’t say no to loving playing for a bigger club. “I don’t think that’s too bad to say,” he tells Charlie Rowan.

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

‘AND DREAM OUR WAY OUT OF THIS TOWN’

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