The Fiver | Having Chas and Dave play Hot Shot Tottenham in a minor key

Scott Murray
Mauricio Pochettino believes Spurs are on the verge of epochal achievement – but do his players? Photograph: BP/Rex/Shutterstock

A LOAD OF BULL

As those who spent all last night battling insomnia by watching whatever was on Challenge TV and aren’t functioning properly today as a result will know, the early ATV-produced editions of Bullseye are something of a curiosity. The set is sparse, the mood austere. The questions are too difficult. Jim Bowen spends half of the programme tediously explaining the rules. There are no “Iiiiiiinnnnnn one!”s hollered during the prize-board round. And each contestant is presented with a complimentary brass chalk holder, which is very nice and all, it’s useful for keeping score, but where’s their Bendy Bully? Where’s their bus fare home?

Cultural totems don’t just spring from thin air. Ideas have to percolate, artists must embark on journeys of enlightenment and spiritual growth. Just as the Beatles had to learn the ropes in skiffle bands before writing psychedelic opuses such as Tomorrow Never Knows and Within You Without You, and James Joyce sketched out hundreds of essays and short stories before delivering the manuscripts for Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, so the producers of Bullseye required room to grow, develop and realise their potential. Patient viewers were eventually rewarded not only with the aforementioned Bendy Bullies and the concept of the BFH, but also a downcast version of the theme tune to be played whenever contestants failed to win the boat. Genius can’t be summoned, you just have to wait.

Mauricio Pochettino must surely concur. He’s on the verge of something special at Spurs: roughly the stage corresponding to the release of Please Please Me, the publication of Dubliners, or getting in Tony Green to call the scores. Yet just as epochal achievement beckons, it suddenly appears he might be running out of time. That’s because Manchester City are sniffing around Dele Alli with a view to making a momentum-jiggering bid in the summer. The hot rumour is the last thing Tottenham need before tonight’s trip to Crystal Palace for a game they’ll be desperate to win, partly to keep the title race alive, but mainly to stop Sam Allardyce boasting about how he out-thought yet another foreign manager.

Should Spurs claim the win tonight and stop Allardyce talking for seven hours while pointing at his own face, they’ll move to within four points of Chelsea at the top. With this goal in mind, Pochettino has delivered a rallying speech, pointing out that even if they don’t win a first title since 1961 this season, there’s still hope next year should everyone hold firm. “Don’t think about the holiday, don’t think about rumours, don’t think about what will happen next season. I want a big effort in the last three or four weeks. After the last game, we speak about the future of everyone. We will take the best decisions to achieve things and improve again.” Stirring stuff. Though only time will tell whether those decisions involve keeping hold of Dele and achieving something of great cultural import, or selling him and having Chas and Dave play Hot Shot Tottenham in a minor key as the credits roll on this particular project.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Crystal Palace 2-2 Tottenham, while we’ll also have updates on Arsenal 2-1 Leicester and Barcelona 5-0 Osasuna.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“On the few occasions where I placed a bet on my own team to lose, I was not involved in the matchday squad for any of those games. I did not play. I was not even on the bench. I had no more ability to influence the outcome than had I been betting on darts, snooker, or a cricket match in the West Indies. I should add that on some of those occasions, my placing of the bet on my own team to lose was an expression of my anger and frustration at not being picked or being unable to play. I understand people will think that is childish and selfish and I cannot disagree with that” – Joey Barton attempts to explain the behaviour which has seen him banned from football for 18 months by the FA and “effectively forced into an early retirement”.

Joey Barton, in his own words, selfish to the end. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

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FIVER LETTERS

“Tony Crawford’s missive (yesterday’s Fiver letters) asking what would Mamadou takes me back to when my flat-mates and I used to make decisions by asking what would Gérard Depardieu. Thankfully we never posed the question when waiting for the toilet on a flight” – Sam Fox.

“Pixie Lott also asked what would Mamadou in her hit single a few years ago. I for one look forward to a re-release of her song, taking into account recent events, in the near future” – Josh Wignall.

“In the spirit of Fiver pedantry I feel it should be pointed out that the Maple Leafs’ early exit (yesterday’s letters) was only their second appearance in the playoffs since 2005. Big club perpetually underachieving. Oh look, Newcastle” – Andy Taylor.

“Stephen Hodgson (yesterday’s Fiver letters) draws the conclusion that the album title Hatfield and the North would indicate that Hatfield is where the North begins. I would counter that the use of the operator ‘and’ would indicate that Hatfield and the North are two separate entities. Therefore his letter helps no one. Unlike this one” – Rob Bartlett [we’ll be the judge of that – Fiver Ed].

“Surely a better musical indicator of where the North begins would be the lyrics to the KLF’s ‘it’s grim up north?’ It seems to start at Derby but I think they used somewhere in Derbyshire as a location for somewhere further north in the second series of Auf Weidersehen Pet” – David Walsh

“Can anyone else see the irony in HMRC searching the offices of Taxpayers FC? ‘Physician heal thyself’” – Peter Arnold

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet The Fiver. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Sam Fox.

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BITS AND BOBS

Newcastle’s managing director, Lee Charnley, was arrested this morning during a raid on the club’s offices as part of an HMRC tax investigation into transfers. West Ham also got the unwanted knock at the door.

Paul Pogba will miss tomorrow’s Manchester derby through injury, and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have failed to rise to José Mourinho’s none-too-sublte call to arms

In news that will only heighten Joey Barton’s funk, Wales’ Neil Taylor has been banned for two games for the tackle that broke Séamus Coleman’s leg.

David Moyes has been charged by the FA over his ill-advised ‘slap’ remark to the BBC reporter Vicki Sparks last month.

Charlton Athletic fans have a coalition and a crowd-funded war chest to co-ordinate the protests they hope will force Roland Duchâtelet out of their club. In this video they reveal what it’s like to “watch your club die”.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the re-arrest of the former Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, then prematurely released and allowed to return to football.

Watch Bolívar stopper Matías Dituro scoring from his own penalty area.

Grimsby Town’s supporters were so fed up after Barnet banned them from taking inflatables into the stadium they have have hired a mariachi band to raise the roof at Saturday’s game.

STILL WANT MORE?

Rob Smyth unearths the tale of football’s greatest blag artist, the Brazilian Carlos Kaiser, who somehow managed to convince a range of clubs to sign him back in the days before viral YouTubes. Read this remarkable Forgotten Story here.

Non-league clubs in European competition (one for Welsh fans, this), super-swift equalisers and mega-promotion-winning managers are among the nerdy subjects chin-stroked over in this week’s The Knowledge.

The clanging chimes of derby doom ring out over tonight’s Tees-Wear set-to between Middlesbrough and Sunderland. Louise Taylor assesses the big relegation clash.

If Diego Costa is going to leave Chelsea this summer, then performances such as last night’s against Southampton will ensure a happy parting, writes Jacob Steinberg.

A lack of diversity among coaches threatens the future of soccer in the US, reckons Tim Froh. “The idea that American professional soccer is a meritocracy … is simply not borne out by the facts,” he writes.
And When Saturday Comes’s Ian Plenderleith muses on the five ages of being a fan, from awestruck innocence as a child to curmudgeonly codger-dom.

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

LAST LINE

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