MOYES WILL BE MOYES
When it comes to misguided attempts at humour, The Fiver considers itself something of an authority. After all, they are our stock-in-trade and we’ve been churning out tin-eared attempts at “satire” on an almost-daily basis for more than 20 years now, spectacularly failing to read a global room that expects more from its free tea-timely email than a series of lazy national stereotypes, unimaginative nicknames and a litany of impenetrable, unfunny in-jokes that are so old not even we can remember why they were originally supposed to be funny.
So while we don’t condone David Moyes’s actions in trying (and mercifully failing) to smash a football at a timewasting ballboy’s head during West Ham’s Big Vase semi-final defeat at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt, we can understand his frustration towards the end of a tie in which, almost to a man, his players failed to give a good account of themselves. Semi-finals in Big Vase or any other tournament don’t come around too often for teams like West Ham, so if you’re going to lose one you might as well go out swinging haymakers rather than with an uninspired whimper.
Speaking about the incident after the game, Moyes was quick to apologise but succeeded only in making matters worse by trying to crack wise. “I have to apologise for kicking the ball,” he sighed. “But the ball boy left it short and it was nicely on the volley for me.” Despite performing in front of the most generous audience in comedy – football journalists who will generally laugh uproariously at any feeble attempt at press conference humour – Moyes’s gag was greeted with toe-curling silence and tumbleweed, at which point he apologised again without attempting to mine the moment for ill-advised yuks.
Meanwhile in Scotland, a packed Ibrox roared on the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers as they booked their place in the final against Frankfurt, overwhelming RB Leipzig to go through by the odd goal of five over two legs. Decidedly unpopular in Germany, Leipzig are no strangers to hostile Bundesliga atmospheres but they had no answer for O’Rangers, who dedicated their victory to Jimmy Bell, their kit man of over 30 years who died suddenly following last Sunday’s Old Firm derby. Clearly distraught by the sudden loss of a dressing-room morale-booster, whose duties extended far beyond the simple laying out of kit, the players staged a minute’s silence, wore black armbands in Bell’s honour and spoke extremely fondly of him after the game. “Words can’t describe how much Jimmy meant to all of us,” said John Lundstram, who scored the winner. “He was the bedrock of the club and touched everyone. I just want to dedicate my goal to him, I absolutely love him to bits.” May Jimmy rest in peace.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Why did I shed a tear? Because I feel what they all feel. It’s a giant club without a trophy room for the social importance of this club … this is our [Big Cup]” – José Mourinho explains why Roma getting to the final of Tin Pot, a competition some still don’t know exists, made him bawl like a wee bairn.
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 – there’s even a new date added in Dublin – so get buying.
A New Formation: how Black British footballers shaped the modern game. Tickets are now available for the live event, featuring Jonathan Liew, Andrew Cole and Hope Powell.
“Dear Fiver. Thank you very much for a very interesting and very often hilarious [eh? – Fiver Ed] newsletter. It is very much enjoyed all the way up here in Greenland. I wish I could write something funny (or tragic …) about all the towels on top of Gareth Bale’s ‘locker-shelf’ seen in the Real Madrid celebrations video” – Janus Chemnitz Kleist.
“The earth did, in fact, move again in Seattle (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs caption). The seismic waves from the stadium are measured on a special seismometer installed nearby to record the ‘RaveQuakes’ (named after the Sounders’ rave-green kits). I was happy to play my small part in shaking the very ground” – Daniel Stauss.
“Being a pessimistic Scotland fan, the best team score abbreviation (Fiver letters passim) I’ve hoped to see at a recent World Cup and represent my nation was that if Iran and Brunei managed to qualify, were drawn against each other, and Iran was the first team up there. I could be comforted in some small way from 24 years of hurt. Other soft drinks are available” – Andy Morrison.
“Anyone heard from Kenny Shiels on the latest of City’s ‘krazy kwickfire kontinental kollapses’ (yesterday’s Fiver)?” – Peter Rehwaldt.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Janus Chemnitz Kleist.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Jürgen Klopp has joined Liverpool fans’ groups in wondering why Uefa gave only half the tickets to the clubs playing in Big Cup finals. Not to worry, because you can still get some on resale sites, competitively priced between, er, £3,275 and £15,499. “Is it right that we get only 20,000, they get 20,000, 75,000 in? That makes 35,000, what? Where are these tickets?”
Arsenal men’s manager, Mikel Arteta, and his women’s team counterpart, Jonas Eidevall, have inked their names all over new contracts in a synchronised signing. “We want to take the club to the next level,” yelped Arteta.”
Mo Salah is sharpening his studs for the Big Cup final against Madrid after picking up his Football Writers’ Men’s Player of the Year gong. “It is revenge time,” he roared. “We lost in the final [in 2018], it was a sad day for all of us.”
Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, scooper of the FWA Women’s Player of the Year prize, is getting the jitters before Sunday’s WSL finale. “I’ve been nervous all week,” she yelped before a match against Manchester United they must win to guarantee retaining the title. “I want to win so much.”
And Eddie Howe will have clear-the-air talks with his Newcastle squad after Allan Saint-Maximin blabbed to French hacks about how his assist stats would be better if his teammates could actually finish. “I’ll try to speak to the guys and make sure there’s no fall-out,” blabbed Howe.
STILL WANT MORE?
Ten things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend – some of them are big, baby.
“Hello darkness my old friend”: Barney Ronay on the systemic flaws that led to yet more Big Cup woe for Pep’s City.
West Ham fans wanted to know what David Moyes would do to change the game against Eintracht. By booting the ball at a ballboy the answer was not much, writes Jonathan Liew.
Football must do more to tackle the climate crisis: Barney Weston explains how clubs and fans can help.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!