THERE’S TROUBLE IN TOON TOWN
Say what you like about Steve Bruce but the Newcastle manager is no quitter. True, there was that time he quit Sheffield United to join Huddersfield. And the time after that he quit Plucky Little Wigan to join Crystal Palace, a club he would later quit to join Birmingham City. He almost quit them to join Newcastle, only to stay for a bit longer before quitting to return to Wigan. He went on to quit them for a second time to take over at Sunderland, who fired him before he quit his next job at Hull City and went to Aston Villa. They eventually sacked him too and he accepted the manager’s post at Sheffield Wednesday, a job he would eventually quit to take over at Newcastle.
Given his record of resigning from seven of the 10 previous jobs he has held in a management career spanning more than 20 years, Newcastle fans could be forgiven for hoping he might throw them a bone by making it eight walkouts from 11. Having originally greeted his appointment with disdain on the grounds he was unlikely to deliver the kind of Total Football they marvelled in during the reign of his predecessor Rafa Benítez, they have now reached a point where they are collectively frothing at the mouth over his continued presence as their team shuffles Walking Dead-style towards the abyss.
It is probably important at this juncture to point out that, never having met Bruce, The Fiver is not one of his apparently countless “media mates” that Newcastle fans obsess over as they bristle in the face of suggestions from the punditocracy that by wanting to see their football team win matches every now and again they are in some way entitled and have preposterously unrealistic expectations.
Currently unable to barrack their manager from the seats of St James’ Park for obvious reasons and having long been insufficiently organised to mount a protest worthy of the name back in the days when public dissent on British streets was still allowed, Newcastle fans have had to rely on voicing their disquiet through the always effective medium of raging on social media disgraces and paint-daubed bedsheets. Their pleas for Bruce to go have fallen on deaf ears and it has now emerged that the manager celebrated his recent vote of confidence by giving his players most of the international break off. While critics have suggested Bruce knows the jig is up and is actually trying to get himself fired so he can trouser a multimillion-pound payoff, given how poorly his side has performed in the wake of regular training sessions, a holiday could be exactly what his players need.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We stood there, looking at each other, eye to eye. He was talking to me and his eyes never left mine, but he must have flicked the ball up 47 times. He flicked it up and caught it behind him on his neck, down the back of his neck, hoofed it over his back and caught it on his foot, something I could never do if I played forever. I thought, ‘How do you give him a telling-off when he’s doing that?’” – the late Ian Greaves describing an attempt to give Frank Worthington a rollocking during their time at Huddersfield. Worthington, the maverick’s maverick, has died aged 72.
“Ralph Hasenhüttl will have searched for the answer to many mysterious questions as Southampton manager this season, but Nathan Redmond’s undoubted ability, combined with his ability to nearly produce the goods when it matters, is something that has vexed us fans since Ralph took over too. Clearly a confidence player, perhaps Redmond would have his self-belief restored for the rest of the season if his manager were to show him certain football tea-time emails (yesterday’s Fiver) that compare him – almost unbelievably, certainly conveniently – to the greatest player of all time” – Tim Miller.
“If you’re going to allow anagrams (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I would just like to point out that an anagram of Weird Uncle Fiver is cruel viewfinder. It kind of sums up your whole raison d’etre” – Steve Burton.
It’s a Football Weekly special: climate crisis and the beautiful game.
Here’s David Squires with his tinfoil hat on … football conspiracy theories.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Liverpool’s Thiago Alcântara has been discussing the difficulties of Covid football. “You lack the boost fans give you in the final moments of matches,” he said. “There’s also the fact you can do very little every day around the city. You go from home to training to training at home and get into a cycle where that’s all you do.”
Former footballer Gareth Bale plans to return to Real Madrid at the end of his loan deal with Spurs.
Cesare Prandelli’s second spell as Fiorentina coach is over after an underwhelming five-month tenure. “I came to give 100% but as soon as I had the feeling this was no longer possible, for the good of all I decided to step back,” he sighed. “I am aware that my coaching career can end here, but I have no regrets and I do not want any.”
A dismal run of form has prompted Bayer Leverkusen to fire boss Peter Bosz. “Our team has fallen into the same pattern over and over again,” sniffed club suit Rudi Völler. “We didn’t manage to put an end to the constant mistakes and get back on the road to success.”
Stephen Glass has hot-footed from Atlanta to take over as manager at former club Aberdeen, with Queen’s Celtic captain and sub-zero hero Scott Brown the favourite to be his assistant.
Gary Bowyer will be the latest manager to enjoy the long-term support of the Salford City board after succeeding Richie Wellens as manager.
And Cameroon will be without Eric Choupo-Moting for their upcoming Afcon qualifiers after their FA reportedly emailed news of his call-up to the wrong address.
STILL WANT MORE?
The furore around Glen Kamara shows how racists can keep getting away with abuse, writes Jonathan Liew.
Heard the one about the former Ipswich coach who is working miracles in the Cayman Islands? You have now.
And Jason Humphreys assesses whether Germany can say farewell to Joachim Löw by winning Euro 2020.
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