SHOUT, SHOUT, LET IT ALL OUT
Getting to eavesdrop on what exactly it is that managers and players yell at each other during top-flight matches is one of the very few benefits of football being played behind closed doors. Unsurprisingly, with no crowds present to drown out the on-field and pitchside pontifications, we get to hear a lot of effing and jeffing which TV commentators invariably feel compelled to apologise for, even though it’s not actually them turning the air blue. Beyond the profanity, it was intriguing to note that Mikel Arteta instructs his Arsenal players in a variety of languages but seems to have a Ukip-unfriendly preference for French, despite him hailing from Spain but being fluent in English since coming over here 10 years ago and taking someone else’s job.
It gets weirder. Last Sunday, Kasper Schmeichel spent 90 minutes repeatedly shouting “ATTITUDE!” at his Leicester teammates, for all the good it did them as they crumbled in the face of Arsenal’s attack. As fairly meaningless motivational buzz-words go, it’s up there with “PURPOSE!” And “UNCLOUDED!”, which The Fiver vaguely recalls being daubed on random walls in Big Paper Towers. Of course, government rules and regulations mean it’s been so long since we’ve set foot in the place we may have misremembered. It’s not entirely implausible we just imagined it during a recent fever dream and any dip [Dip! – Fiver Ed] in the quality of your favourite daily football email since we were forced to start working from home is entirely coincidental.
But out of all the pitchside ranters and ravers, Chris Wilder is undeniably our favourite. Having earned no end of plaudits for the overlapping centre-backs and other tactical flourishes which helped his newly-promoted side perform such heroics last season, it was fascinating to learn his favoured method of touchline motivation is to repeatedly roar “BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY!” at Chris Basham. And while this innovative method of encouragement worked to devastating effect in the last campaign, it is now failing so spectacularly that Wilder has already accepted his team’s relegation is a formality. But even with “Bashy” currently sidelined with thigh-knack, Sheffield United’s manager would not be silenced before Wednesday’s match against Aston Villa and told reporters it’s not inconceivable he might walk away from his job.
“I don’t know,” wailed Wilder, upon being asked if he would stay in the event of relegation. “Head down and on to the Villa game. Then what will be will be. I want to stay, definitely, if we stick to the plan.” The plan being the building of a new training centre tout suite, as well as certain assurances that he will be allowed to strengthen his squad and not forced to sell the players who have got him into the current pickle. “The plan is to keep improving, to leave a legacy, to keep the players we’ve got and to add a couple,” he blurted. “I’m confident we can keep the group together.” Here’s hoping he can do exactly that and give his assault on securing an immediate return to the Premier League a decent bashy.
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Join Simon Burnton from 4.45pm GMT for MBM coverage of Manchester City 4-1 Fiorentina, plus Paul Doyle at 7pm for Chelsea 2-0 Atlético Madrid in Women’s Big Cup, while Barry Glendenning will be on hand at 6pm for Burnley 1-1 Leicester in the Premier League, before Nick Ames takes in Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think the thing that really allows you to stay well is an existential happiness. Feeling within yourself that you are a happy person for what you have done, what you are doing, what you are becoming. When I read a book or watch a film and take something from it, I feel better. If I gain some new understanding, that’s what makes me feel good” – Gigi Buffon, 74, gets philosophical in this top, top chat with Nicky Bandini.
“This recent story about 2030 World Cup hosts (yesterday’s Fiver) reminds me very much of the 1996 Olympic Games when, for the centenary of the modern Olympics, instead of choosing the logical and everybody’s favourite candidate, Athens, the IOC opted for Atlanta backed by some very rich sponsors. Modern day sports and romance, eh?” – Bogdan Kotarlic.
“Surely a UK-Ireland bid for the bragging rights in 2030 would mean that England, Wales, Scotland, Norn Iron and O’Ireland would all automatically qualify as hosts. Alternatively, shouldn’t Fifa insist on there being a UK team? Either way, solving this will make the Irish border protocol seem like a piece of cake” – Mike Jesnick.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The former Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham died after falling down stairs at a pub following a drunken “play fight” with friends, an inquest has been told.
Australia are almost certain to play their World Cup qualifiers in June on foreign soil with authorities resigned to flamin’ quarantine restrictions making it impossible to host the games at home.
Mercurial former Yugoslavia midfielder Dragan Stojkovic is the new coach of Serbia. “I am fully aware of the magnitude of the task that lies ahead,” he declared. “But I am also confident in my ability and in the national team’s huge potential.”
Mick McCarthy has told Cardiff fans who are dreaming of promotion to put their champagne away. “If you lose it’s all doom and gloom and sack the manager,” he purred after the 4-0 thrashing of Derby. “Now we’re flying and we’re in the play-offs, we’re getting promoted. You won’t get me carried away with it.”
Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Riyad Mahrez’s mastery of gyration after Manchester City’s 9,999,999th consecutive win. “He is a guy who dances on the pitch,” whooped Pep after the 4-1 win over Wolves. “He’s a fantastic player.”
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has poured cold water all over Catalonian fluff linking him with the Barça job. “There is always going to be speculation when there are elections,” doused the mid-table manager. “Obviously I was raised there as a player … but I am fully focused on the job here.”
And Scotland boss Steve Clarke has poured cold Irn Bru all over fitba fluff linking him with the Queen’s Celtic job. “After the Euros I will go on a big holiday,“ he yelped, optimistically. “Hopefully I can take the team to the World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Newcastle + lack of goals x knack-crisis = an almighty battle to stay up, calculates Martin Laurence.
The USA! USA!! USA!!!’s Reggie Cannon chews the fat with Will Unwin about life at Boavista and the “medieval” goings-on in the home of the brave.
What is the longest barren streak a club has endured at a rival’s ground? Gareth Keenan The Knowledge investigates.
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