Hell-bent on slaughtering the goose that lays football’s golden egg

·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters


We are in mourning. As a very long-in-the-tooth electronic internet thing, The Fiver is acutely aware that it simply wouldn’t exist without the path-clearing efforts of 1980s computer pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair, who passed on Thursday. RIP the great man. He lit a fire under The Fiver. Ah, the days of walking into Boots, going up to the ZX Spectrum on display and doing the old 10 PRINT “x” and 20 GOTO 10, RUN trick before hotfooting it out of the store, t1ttering, leaving offensive messages scrolling up the screen, where x would equal stuff like “THIS COMPUTER IS CHEAPER IN WOOLWORTHS” or “BUY A VIC-20 INSTEAD” or – we edit this for email filters – “@%$! OFF” (in which instance “@” would equal F, “%” would equal U, “$” would equal C and “!” would equal K OFF YOU $%NT) and you’d suddenly feel a pang of regret while sprinting past the perfume counter upon realising the “OFF” at the end was unnecessary repetition that ensured the entire pixelated tirade made no sense.


Those salad-days shenanigans honed our programming skills and ensured The Fiver is the bells-and-whistles multimedia experience you enjoy today. And yet even our knocks-Alan-Turing-into-a-c0cked-hat BASIC smarts are not enough to decipher the findings of a survey commissioned by the bampots at Fifa, who are hell-bent on slaughtering the goose that lays the extremely uncomfortable-looking, aperture-bothering World Cup egg every four years. According to respondents from 23 countries across the world, a majority of fans would favour playing the tournament every two years instead of four … but in every age group, the highest percentage was in favour of maintaining the status quo. Eh? Does not compute. Have these figures been run through a Dragon 32?

The Fiver, having yesterday filed for bankruptcy, admits that maths isn’t its strong point, so we’re sure that while 55% favour biennial World Cups, yet 37% of 18-24 year-olds and 58% of those aged 55 and over want none of this nonsense, everything adds up. But it does smack of the sort of poll you can spin whichever way you want, and therefore means the square root of @ all. The Fiver is therefore confident that, given Fifa can’t even commission a survey to back up its nonsense without showing that fans don’t actually want any of it, these plans are extremely unlikely to come to fruition. Now if you don’t mind, we’re going to dig out our old Speccy and spend the weekend on a session of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (Ocean) in memory of Sir Clive. zxzxzxzxzxzxz xzxzxzxzxzxzxzxzxz xzxzxzxzx zxzxxzxz xzxzxzxzxzxzxxzxz


Join Luke McLaughlin from 7pm BST for MBM coverage of England 0-0 North Macedonia in World Cup 2023 qualifying, while Scott Murray will be on hand at 8pm for Newcastle 0-0 Leeds in the Premier League.


“Did I say after the game against Leipzig I was disappointed because the stadium was not full? No. [Kevin Parker’s] interpretation is interpretation … I’m not going to apologise for what I said. I’m surprised about what happened about this man … what I said: we would love … we need their support … with 10,000, 50,000, 40,000, 60,000 ... it doesn’t matter how many people come. I invite them to enjoy another game” – an optimistic Pep Guardiola tries to set the record straight on his comments about Manchester City fans’ support, while inviting as many as 5,000 more than the official capacity of the Etihad to future games.


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“I must protest in the strongest possible terms at your appalling accusation that Nottingham Forest is a ‘shambles of a club’ (yesterday’s Fiver). Anyone who has been following the tragicomic events at the City Ground for the last two decades or so knows that it’s simply not that organised” – Mark Husbands.

“Yesterday’s piece brought to mind an occasion some years ago when I was listening to radio commentary of a game towards the end of the season, with Forest staring relegation from the top tier in the face. The co-commentator was Martin O’Neill and, when asked his opinion of the home team’s plight, replied: ‘Sometimes the inevitable can happen and when it does, it can be a surprise.’ Colemanballs didn’t print it at the time, so I’d appreciate you correcting this” – John Cassidy.

“I doubt the Newcastle board appointed Steve Bruce to, in his words, ‘keep the club just ticking along’ (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). With his managerial experience to-date, he has kept clubs ticking along with an average win-rate of 37.7%. As his Newcastle team is only ticking along with a 30.1% win-rate, I think Bruce has a bit more to give” – Declan Houton.

“I only got around now to reading this week’s David Squires cartoon, where he brilliantly points out that the placement of Newcastle’s shirt sponsor Fun88 makes it look as if Bruce’s No 4 is written on it. Even funnier is that Fun88 is apparently a Chinese gambling firm and the No 4 is considered unlucky in China because it sounds like the word for ‘death’” – Jörg Michner.

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 … Mark Husbands.


Gareth Southgate says he urgently needs to hire more women to work with the England men’s team, after accepting the current training setup is “nowhere near where we should be” when it comes to gender equality.

Manchester United have revealed a net loss of £92.2m in one of their “most challenging years” but Ed Woodward reckons it’s going to be fine because they’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo.

Tottenham’s physio table is close to buckling after their knack-tastic Tin Pot Cup draw with Rennes led to Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura joining Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Ryan Sessegnon on it before Sunday’s match against Chelsea. “It’s been tough,” sighed Nuno Espírito Santo, to a soundtrack of creaking noises. “It’s been terrible. I must be honest.”

Dean Smith will make a last-minute call on whether Emi Buendía and Emi Martínez will play any part for Villa against Everton, with the Argentinian pair set to return from quarantine hours before the game. “They are in a good place physically,” he cheered. “I’ll assess [them] in the morning.”

And after banging one in during West Ham’s 2-0 Big Vase win against Dinamo Zagreb, Declan Rice is going to try to morph into a goal-guzzling middle man. “I know I can do it and I know I’ve got it in myself,” blabbed the midfielder, whose five goals in 135 Hammers appearances suggest otherwise.


Inside the “ticking timebomb” that is Oldham Athletic. By Ben Fisher.

Aston Villa must get the jump leads out and rev up the post-Grealish era now they have a full squad available, writes Paul Doyle.

Ten whole Premier League things to look out for this weekend.

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


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