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MORE BREAKING NEWS FROM YOUR FAVOURITE POORLY SCHEDULED NEWS-GATHERING SERVICE …
The world of football is just trolling the Fiver now. Yesterday afternoon, Gareth Southgate announced the England squad for Euro 2020 at 5pm, and didn’t even start talking about it until six. And then, six minutes later, as readers and Fiver alike wondered why on earth they ever bother, our triple-whammy of news-gathering haplessness was complete, as one of the biggest clubs in the country found themselves suddenly managerless! Carlo Ancelotti had grabbed his first chance of an out with both hands, telling Everton to do one, then waltzing off up Goodison Road, whistling, aware that he was probably heading in the wrong direction for Madrid, but never mind, getting away is the most important bit right now, he can recalibrate later, once he’s well clear.
To be fair, exactly how much the Fiver lost yesterday as a result of its Fiveishness is a moot point. Southgate said nothing of import, never does, while the players took turns to send out a series of tweets – “My pride at pulling on the shirt is limitless”, “Let’s make this summer special”, “Always believe in yourself, silence the doubters” – that suggest post-career gigs copywriting for apparel manufacturers are not beyond them. England play Austria tonight in a friendly at Southgate’s alma mater, the Riverside, a match in which Jesse Lingard, standing in for the absent Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United contingent, is almost certainly going to score a hat-trick, on account of not having made the final 26. You know how these things work.
Having said that, there’s a fair chance Austria could record only their second win on English soil, having won eight of their last 10 friendlies. If they manage it, at least all of their efforts will be televised this time; back in 1965, Toni Fritsch’s 81st-minute winner at Wembley remained on the ITV cutting-room floor, the match highlights instead climaxing with a jump cut to a belting rendition of the national anthem. What a glorious nation!
So with everyone waiting patiently for England’s first pre-tournament test, the Fiver is pretty confident that it won’t be caught with its trousers down tonight. Unless Everton spring a presser at 5.03pm to announce a dream ticket of Rafa Benítez and Steven Gerrard, in which case we’ll tell you all about that tomorrow at 5pm, along with more on this break-in at the Democratic National Committee HQ in Washington DC, though to be frank we’re not sure that particular story has legs.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
Join Scott Murray for England v Austria and Paul Doyle for all the other Euro 2020 warm-up friendly international action.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They called me from the club to see if I wanted Luis Suárez and I laughed. I said: ‘Are you serious? Like mad. Go for him. Let me call him.’ I called and said: ‘Look, Luis, we have to win and you want to win’” – the Diego Simeone phone call that changed the La Liga season leads this year’s edition of the Sids: the complete review of La Liga 2020-21!
It’s Football Weekly!
Speaking of which, tickets are available now for Football Weekly Live’s Euro Not 2020 preview special on 10 June. Get them while they’re hot.
“Re: Conference League names. Big Tin? It’s a name sure to keep The Fiver interested, if no one else” – Phillip C.
“How about the Eurine Cup?” – Kevin Windle.
“As an exercise in pointless tournaments, the Europa Conference could do no worse than call itself the Northants Senior Cup. Even my beloved Kettering Town find it an irritation” – Giordy Salvi.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner receives a copy of A.D. Stephenson’s footballing comedy-thriller novel, A Cloud Can Weigh A Million Pounds. Congratulations to … Giordy Salvi. More copies up for grabs this week!
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ticketless Scotland fans have been urged not to travel to London for the England game on 18 June.
A Premier League study has found that only 26% of fans support the use of VAR. “There is a clear feeling among fans that VAR has ruined the spontaneity of goal celebrations, and taken away a big part of our most enjoyable matchday moments,” said the FSA’s vice-chair Tom Greatrex.
Wolfsburg have appointed former Dutch international Mark van Bommel as their new head coach. “To be allowed to work as a coach in the Bundesliga where I played for a long time is a great honour and challenge that I will tackle with a lot of engagement,” he roared.
Scotland’s Euro 2020 plans are in chaos after six more players were ruled out of the friendly against the Netherlands.
In other Euro 2020 news, unsold Wembley hospitality tickets could mean extra seats for fans.
STILL WANT MORE?
Myanmar’s football is in in crisis as pull-outs and suspension threat follow coup, writes John Duerden.
Have any players been promoted twice from the same division in the same season? The Knowledge has the answer.
Mbappé in Miami? Pulisic in Philly? Which US cities will host the 2026 World Cup? Tom Dart goes groundhopping.
Sterling form and Henderson fitness mean dilemmas for Gareth Southgate, writes David Hytner.
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