Newcastle’s Eddie Howe maintaining a commendably straight face | Soccer


Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! That was the noise of Wor Eddie How-ay’s massive brass balls banging loudly against each other, as he explained the reasons behind Kieran Trippier completing his move from Spanish champions and Big Cup contenders Atlético Madrid to Newcastle United earlier on Friday. Currently second from bottom of the Premier League but now the World’s Richest Football Club after their purchase by a Public Investment Fund that is in no way connected to a Saudi prince responsible for all manner of atrocities, Newcastle have got their anticipated January trolley dash off to what looks like an eminently sensible start by acquiring the England full-back. It is a statement signing that has prompted much delight on Tyneside, while prompting others to wonder what on earth it could possibly be that convinced Trippier to leave the Spanish capital for a club that has managed to win one league game of 19 so far this season.

While more cynical football emails than The Fiver might be tempted to argue that Trippier had almost certainly inked his two-and-a-half year deal for financial reasons – a not-inconsiderable pay rise of £42,000 per week that nobody in their right mind could blame him for accepting – Wor Eddie was at pains to stress that nothing could be further from the truth. “Kieran hasn’t come for the financial benefits of the contract,” he honked, maintaining the commendably straight face that served him so well when he insisted he had no opinion whatsoever on working for a man renowned for using extremely violent measures for “silencing” dissidents at home and abroad. “He’s come for the club and for the challenge that the team faces at this time, but also for the longer term vision.”

That vision, after the shorter term one of winning seven or eight games of the next 19 and avoiding relegation to the Championship, is of course the accrual of Premier League and Big Cup titles in the coming years, triumphs you’d bet your bottom dollar neither Howe nor Trippier, 32, will still be at Newcastle to see. Nevertheless, in the usual fit of fan-pleasing posturing, Trippier plastered a rictus they-are-treating-me-extremely-well grin across his chops and weirdly pointed to the sponsor’s logo on his left sleeve for his unveiling, before singing loudly from the same hymn sheet as the manager.

“I came here to help the team, the project, everything about it,” he tooted. “If people say it’s about money then everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I’ve got my reasons. I know my reasons why and that’s not one of them.” Trippier’s explanation is ultimately moot because the fact of the matter is that the majority of Newcastle fans don’t give two hoots why he has signed for their club, only that he’s there. Somewhat strangely, the supporters who used to be so vocal in their disapproval of tyrannical multi-billionaire owners … well, they no longer seem to be quite so vocal.


Join Barry Glendenning from 8pm GMT for hot FA Cup MBM coverage of Swindon 0-0 Manchester City (2-4 on penalties).


“It would be unexplainable. The adrenaline would last for a few days, I know that. I’d probably never have to buy another drink in Kidderminster and I wouldn’t sleep for a few days” – Sam Austin is dreaming of FA Cup magic and the potential scalp of Reading, who are coming to Aggborough this coming third-round weekend.

Sam Austin with Carpetmen colleague Luke Simpson.
Sam Austin with Carpetmen colleague Luke Simpson. Photograph: Cameron Smith/Getty Images


“Funny you should mention Whitehawk (Fiver passim), seeing as Hythe Town host them this Saturday. Looking forward to them losing a few balls in the MoD firing ranges next door going on that footage. It might even give Hythe a chance to win. I’m a new convert this year to non-league football, having moved from the ‘smoke’ to the Kent coast, and I’m loving it. All of the action, even more heartache and stress (and arguments over offsides from the touchline – no VAR here), and all for a tenner on the gate. I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy, blustery, winter afternoon” – Adam Williams.

“With the hope allegedly being what kills you, let me offer some to Manchester United fans (yesterday’s Fiver). While on the face of it, Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold being cut from a similar cloth (same uni, course, employment history) doesn’t bode well, I went and looked back at my old university to see if there were any parallels. Sure enough, former Labour MP Alan Milburn went to Lancaster University, studied history and worked for a council. He went on to become a cabinet minister whereas I … er, left the council I worked for and read The Fiver for entertainment. This hasn’t helped, has it?” – Ferg Slade.

“Jonathon Buss’s recollection of the Dean Saunders’ show and tell (yesterday’s Fiver letters) reminded me of Matthew Brimson’s – ahem – exposure in the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac. Posing for the Leicestershire CCC team photo, he proceeded to have more success than he did at whipping out the opposition. Helpfully, Brimson’s Wikipedia page reminds us that ‘the offending photograph can be found on page 657 of the 2000 Wisden Almanack’. You’re welcome” – Nick Austin.

“Re: yesterday’s letters. The Brighton Argus had a pomp?” – Iain Moore.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Ferg Slade.


Calls for a “Hillsborough law” to rebalance the UK’s justice system and ensure fairer treatment for bereaved families are being made at a high-profile event.

A new academic study claims that playing fantasy football can lead to a decline in mental health that worsens significantly the more time you spend playing.

A mild low mood or greater was reported by 44% of heavy users.
A mild low mood or greater was reported by 44% of heavy users. Composite: Various

$tevie Mbe has only gone and persuaded 2017’s Philippe Coutinho to join him on loan from Barcelona, with Aston Villa stumping up around 65% of his gigantic salary.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl wants the Premier League to stop January signings from playing in rearranged games. “You cannot stop playing in December and wait for a signing in January to play,” he roared.

Lucas Digne has made a formal request to do one with haste from Everton. “I have no explanation [for why he wants to leave],” honked Rafa Benítez, to the sound of distant jeers.

And The Athletic have been sold to the New York Times for $550m. Which is great news for the pockets of their founders who hoped to “wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing”, but arguably less so for the NYT, who presumably missed out on some $1-a-month deal for the first year.


The magic of the 10 FA Cup things to look out for this weekend.

Wessi! Composite: PA, Alamy

Meet Paul Barry, the Cambridge fan turned owner whose mum still watches at 85.

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

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