This isn’t the first time David Moyes’s judgment has been called into question. There was that interview in which he thought it would be most b@ntersome to threaten a female journalist with a slap, for example. Then there was the time he decided he was the very man to follow a 38-trophy-winning, paradigm-shifting, even-better-than-Busby legend, because what could possibly go wrong. Neither move was a good look, and on Tuesday evening he completed the personal trifecta by selecting Kurt Zouma, who earlier in the day had been caught on video kicking his poor innocent cat around his house in the piece-of-work style.
Most casual observers with warm blood pumping through their human hearts had expected Moyes to drop Zouma, who had been universally condemned for his appalling cruelty. But the West Ham boss had other ideas, deeming the big centre-back essential for a Premier League match against a Watford side currently tearing up the division with one goal in the last four games. However, had Moyes been labouring under the misapprehension that online opprobrium wouldn’t transfer over into the real world, the volume of boos Zouma received every time he touched the ball would have rattled all of the wax out of the manager’s tin ear.
“I’m an animal lover,” Moyes insisted, after deciding that three points were more important than sending out the right message, punishing the player, a dignified response, etc and so on, and so forth. “I had to do my job,” he added, although his glazed expression, haunted even by those United/Sociedad/Sunderland standards, spoke of a man slowly realising he could have handled this a whole lot better. To that end, the club have now fined Zouma the maximum amount possible and promised to support Essex police and RSPCA investigations into the matter. Meanwhile, the player’s cats have been taken into RSPCA care, hopefully to be given a clean bill of health and found a loving forever home.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
Join Michael Butler at 4.30pm (GMT) for Al-Hilal 0-2 Chelsea in the Club World Cup semi-final and then keep up to speed with all four of Wednesday’s Premier League matches with Scott Murray’s clockwatch from 7.45pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I can’t really tell you much. He wasn’t happy and that was it. I can’t say anything else because that’s what happened. I wasn’t very happy and I’m better this way” – we’re not sure that Mikel Arteta is over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just yet.
“I won’t comment on the substance of the awful allegations involving Kurt Zouma but he’s ruined his chances for a dream move to Sunderland, hasn’t he?” – Mike Wilner.
“Re: yesterday’s Fiver. Sometime back in the day I met and had a conversation with Gabrielle in a club in Manchester, where she was performing a selection of her best-known songs. ‘Dreams’, which you highlighted as a suitable anthem for Newcastle, was well received but my favourite hit that night is probably a more reliable guide to what’s going to result for the Toon Army. It’s called ‘Out of Reach’. Gabrielle was lovely, by the way” – John Myles.
“I see in yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs that Barcelona chief suit Ferran Reverter has quit the club. He’ll be back” – Declan Houton.
“Can I be the 1,057th reader to point out to Noble Francis (yesterday’s Fiver letters) that the famously corpulent cat Garfield was named after the famously corpulent US president James Abram Garfield. Therefore he was making a distinction that somehow managed to make yesterday’s Fiver even more pointless than it usually is. I guess congratulations are in order” – Richard O’Hagan.
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 … John Myles.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Wayne Rooney has been contacted by the FA’s Thought Police after claiming he set out to knack a player in Manchester United’s match at Chelsea in 2006.
Antonio Conte reckons Spurs could make a move for Christian Eriksen if the playmaker rips it up at Brentford. “You don’t know what will happen [but] it would be good for me to have him again, to work together,” he cooed presumptiously.
Ralf Rangnick is clearly still trying to come to terms with reality after Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Burnley. “We scored three goals. That was different from last Friday when we only scored one goal,” he parped. “We scored three goals. The second one that was disallowed, the linesman flagged foul but 10 seconds after that incident. This was a very soft decision.”
Frank Lampard’s Everton manager Frank Lampard has told everyone to calm down after the 3-1 defeat at Newcastle left the Toffees lingering perilously close to the relegation zone. “I’ve been here a week,” he yelped. “We’ve come into a very difficult match against Newcastle, who are very effective in some of their direct play.”
Jürgen Klopp reckons Mo Salah would be well up for punishing Leicester with or without Afcon heartache to fuel him. “[Is there] greater determination for Mo? I am not sure that is human,” he blabbed. “I don’t think there’s a lot of space for more determination in Mo’s mind.”
Achilles-knack means Steph Houghton is not in the England squad for the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup next week. “She is really, really disappointed,” sighed manager Sarina Wiegman.
Walsall have bundled Matt Taylor through the door marked Do One after a seventh defeat in a row (1-0 at Firewall FC, in case you’re interested).
And Tottenham’s Ben Davies, who recently got a 2:1 in economics, reckons there are loads of brainy footballers out there. “Maybe the headlines don’t do us much justice,” he sniffed. “Eric [Dier] is quite smart, Harry Winks is quite smart, and Joe Rodon is surprisingly smart. His geography knowledge is excellent, I have to say.”
STILL WANT MORE?
“I think players from Bahia have a special spice.” Arsenal’s Rafaelle Souza gets her chat on with Júlia Belas Trindade about why her home region is so good at producing footballers and the joys of having her mum with her to cook the best stew.
QPR’s Albert Adomah gets his own chat on with Ben Fisher about staying loyal to his boyhood club, his “uncle” nickname and paying tribute to a friend who died of Covid.
Barney Ronay coins the phrase “neo-Newcastle” and sings Allan Saint-Maximin’s praises after the 3-1 win over FL’s Everton.
The most last-gasp of all last-gasp comebacks, the “South Coast Team” mystery and a whole load of Os are among the topics raked over in this week’s Knowledge.
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