The Premier League trapdoor and gold-encrusted parachutes
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STAY AWAY FROM THAT TRAP DOOR
The Fiver has never been able to handle change. Doesn’t matter whether it’s language, recipes, kick-off times, waistlines or anything else: they’re all just reminders that we’re on the Grim Reaper’s radar. In our head, Eintracht Frankfurt won the Uefa Cup on Wednesday night [Big Vase, how many times – Fiver Ed], sick is what you are after a surfeit of Tin and graphics on the ZX Spectrum 128k cannot be bettered. Snickers is the term for a group of English batsmen and literally MEANS EFFING LITERALLY. So, you can imagine the confused state of our tea-timely noggin as it dawned on us that Frank Lampard’s Everton – who have been in the top flight throughout our broadly futile existence – really might go down this season.
Despite their recent revival under Frank Lampard, FLE are still moob-deep in a relegation battle with two games to go. It’s survival of the fittest: on Sunday, one of FLE, Leeds and Burnley will be bundled through the Premier League trapdoor with only a gold-encrusted parachute for company. The good news for FLE is that they will be mathematically safe if they beat Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday. The bad news is that, if they don’t, they will have to get something away to Arsenal on the final day to guarantee safety. “Away” is the operative word: Everton have taken only 10 points on the road all season.
Burnley also play, away to Aston Villa, and will move above Leeds with a draw. Reports that Villa manager $tevie Mbe plans to start the entire 1982 European Cup-winning team [Big Cup-winning team, how many times – Fiver Ed] to keep his first XI fresh for Manchester City at the weekend are unconfirmed. The situation may have changed by 10pm, but right here, right now, Burnley have their fate in their own clammy, trembling, WHERE’S-THE-BLOODY-VALIUM-GRANDAD hands.
So do FLE. “Historically it could be a big night for us,” tooted Lampard. “I’m certainly not overplaying the idea of a relegation battle as if that is something to get excited about … [but] football is about moments and about the opportunity for the players, the staff and the fans to come together and share a moment that means a lot to the club. And we shouldn’t understate that. It won’t be cause for huge celebrations if we get the right result [yes it bloody will – Fiver Ed] but … we have to understand what a big night that could be for the club. The size of this game can’t be lost on anyone.” It’s certainly not lost on The Fiver, although sadly we won’t be watching the games. Football on a Thursday? What kind of barbaric evolution is this?
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Rob Smyth from 7.45pm BST for hot clockwatch coverage of Thursday’s Premier League action.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m going to party till Saturday and I’m going on holiday on Sunday” – Eintracht Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner revels in his team’s Big Vase glory, having beaten the Pope’s O’Rangers 5-4 on penalties in Seville after a 1-1 draw, with Aaron Ramsey the only player failing from the spot.
“O’Rangers’ visit to Seville reminded me of a story about the last time they reached a final abroad, in 1972. After the match in Barcelona, there were so many fans worse for wear in the city centre that the police just rounded them up, took them to the airport and packed them on to waiting charter flights, without checking any tickets. This was all well and good, except for a group of men who gradually sobered up during the flight home, and then remembered that they had driven to the match” – Geoff Coxon.
“It appears that Divock Origi will be joining Milan from Liverpool. He will leave Merseyside as the scorer of some incredibly important goals from cameo appearances, but also a slight sense of potential unfulfilled: specifically, it was never properly established whether his name fits better to ‘Be-Bop-a-Lula’ by Gene Vincent, or ‘La Cucaracha’” – Ed Taylor.
“Yesterday’s Fiver letters rollover only added to the pains of Eoin Balfe’s culchie discrimination with the Football Weekly’s Irish appearances confined to the capital. His suggestion of the Barack Obama Plaza service centre in Moneygall for a venue was intriguing, deserving of a response along the lines of ‘if said Obama had not handed the reins of the Federal Reserve over to Wall Street in 2008, perhaps we could have afforded a visit to Limerick in less inflationary times’” – John Weldon.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Geoff Coxon.
Get your ears around the latest Football Weekly Extra. And while we’re at it, Max, Barry and the pod squad are going back out on tour. Tickets to live shows in June and July are available here, so get buying.
A New Formation: how Black British footballers shaped the modern game. Tickets are available for the live event, featuring Jonathan Liew, Andrew Cole and Hope Powell.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Nottingham Forest season ticket-holder Robert Biggs, 30, has been jailed for 24 weeks after pleading guilty to assaulting Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp after the Championship playoff semi-final earlier this week.
The UK government says fans convicted of selling or taking class A drugs at matches could face five-year bans, in a bid to tackle rising violence and disruption.
Fifa should pay reparations of at least £356m to migrant workers whose rights have been compromised by the Human Rights World Cup in Qatar, a group of non-governmental organisations has said.
Female referees will make history at the HRWC by officiating at a major men’s tournament for the first time. “I hope in the future the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer as sensational,” cheered Fifa refs’ chief Pierluigi Collina.
Tottenham forward Chioma Ubogagu has apologised after being suspended for nine months, having taken Canrenone – a prohibited substance often used as a masking agent – as part of an anti-acne treatment.
Erik ten Hag will find out first-hand which Thursday night treats await Manchester United next season, when he takes in their trip to Crystal Palace.
Hibs have settled on Lee Johnson as their new manager.
And Northampton’s miserable fortnight is over after their League Two final-day woes were followed up by a playoff semi-final exit against Mansfield.
STILL WANT MORE?
Floating football brain in a jar Jonathan Wilson on Kevin Trapp’s heroics for Frankfurt and a Big Vase final to savour.
Max Rushden calls for a mass brainstorming to improve the game’s laws. Good luck with that.
Hannah Jane Parkinson bids farewell to Martin Atkinson, Jon Moss and Mike Dean, along with all their cards and controversies.
Lyon’s Catarina Macario gets her chat on with Suzy Wrack.
The historic USA! USA!! USA!!! equal pay deal brings hard-won peace, writes Beau Dure.
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