NAME THAT TUNE
Footballers and self-awareness usually go together as well as novichok and international relations, so The Fiver wasn’t entirely surprised to hear of Alexis Sánchez’s attempt to justify his shambolic spell at Manchester United. But even allowing for the self-serving norms of this particular genre, it was quite surprising to see a man whose transfer redefined the concept of wasting money go through a deconstruction of his time at Old Trafford without mentioning, well, money.
Having infamously joined United on the piano, Sánchez has belatedly left via an impromptu performance on the violin. “I want to tell you about my period at United, about many things that were said and that made me look bad,” he said. “I got the opportunity to go to United and it seemed tempting to me. It was something nice for me, because when I was a kid I liked that club a lot,” he continued, as a 560,000-pound elephant strolled round the room without eliciting comment. “Sometimes there are things that you do not realise until you arrive,” continued Sánchez. “The first training [session] I had, I realised many things. I came home and I told my representative: ‘Can’t the contract be terminated to return to Arsenal?’ They started laughing and I told them that something did not sit right with me.”
The Fiver does have a degree sympathy with Sánchez. It’s not his fault that he mistook Good Will Hunting for an interactive film, or that he walked into United at a time when José Mourinho was starting to lay the foundations for his third-season meltdown. In hindsight though, Mourinho and Sánchez were a terrible fit. For somebody who had spent the previous four and a half years under Arsène Wenger – who gave his attacking players the freedom to do what the flip they liked – it must have been quite a shock to be shoved straight into a seven-hour lecture on the spiritual benefits of the low block. At least, having established that a record of five goals in 45 games was entirely the fault of others, Sánchez is prepared to forgive and forget. “I only have words of thanks to United for giving me the opportunity to defend the shirt,” he said. “I tell it all now because I have already passed a period of learning as a player and a person.”
Some transfers don’t work out; that’s been happening since Stanley Matthews wore short pants. But Sánchez didn’t exactly cover himself in honesty by neglecting to mention that he chose to play for Mourinho ahead of Wenger and Guardiola, or that he was paid a vast stipend every week for the privilege. He could at least have made a positive out of the whole thing by delivering a warning to the next generation of gazillionaires: ‘Kids, just say no. Don’t let anybody force you on to a piano against your will, not even for £560,000 a week, because you’ll end up looking like a right t …’
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This has become the best league in the world and when you see the names coming here, it gets proved over and over again” – the WSL is back, baby, and Chelsea’s Guro Reiten has written about the bar being raised.
“When I’m watching Peter Crouch’s best robot dances on YouTube (here celebrating his 100th Premiership goal), I sometimes wonder if he is actually subconsciously expressing a deep truth. Elon Musk and others reckon we are probably living in a simulation, which would essentially make us all robots. Not the clangy, old Metal Mickey kind of course, but robots in the sense that every thought and action is simply the result of vastly complex algorithms and processes, determined and entirely predictable since the dawn of time, if indeed time ever had a dawn, which it probably didn’t, since we’re living in a bloody simulation. Entirely predictable, eh. A lot like my favourite tea-time football email” – Sholem Lenkiewicz.
“Re: Noble Francis and Icelandic lower-division results (yesterday’s Fiver letters). His affinity for The Fiver is mirrored in his journalistic integrity: these results are from the 3rd division (not 2nd), and a cursory web search reveals that the mighty footballing municipality of Fjallabyggð has managed to field two teams, presumably to make things fair for everyone else. Those teams would be Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar and Knattspyrnufélag Fjallabyggðar; I don’t see how anyone could be possibly confused by that” – Matt Richman (and others).
“Re: yesterday’s Still Want More? Harrogate ‘back’ in the big time! Clearly my 73 years have been spent in a parallel universe” – Rob Taylor.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
There is Lionel Messi news. Here’s the latest, which could well update later.
Kai Havertz is due in London – heck, he’s probably there as you read this – for talks with Chelsea over a move from Leverkusen.
Aston Villa have seen a £15m bid for Callum Wilson lobbed back at them by Bournemouth.
It’s all Greek to The Fiver, but Harry Maguire is in line for an England recall come October. “We’ve been in touch right the way through the last two and a half weeks,” cheered Gareth Southgate.
Iceland host England on Saturday but are running low on players, with a host of regulars having put club before country. “I am not happy with their decision,” sniffed boss Erik Hamren.
STILL WANT MORE?
Talent and tragedy mark Donny van de Beek’s road to Manchester United. Bart Vlietstra tells his story.
“I hope I can make every Brazilian cheer for me one day” – Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinícius Júnior on why he wishes everyone could enjoy his rise.
Gareth Southgate’s constantly evolving England. By Barney Ronay.
Louise Taylor on the WSL signings to watch this season.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!