The Fiver | A valuable service in helping to deflect attention from another defeat | Football


Following his side’s fourth consecutive defeat in a match he will almost certainly claim was technically a draw, José Mourinho must have cut a lonely figure for prawn sandwich-munchers with their noses and phones pressed up against the glass of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’s post-match tunnel club. Luckily for him, the real box-office action was taking place elsewhere in the expensive seats.

Directly underneath a sign bearing the famous Spurs motto “To Dare Is To Do”, one young scamp had apparently dared to get in a war of words with a home player’s brother and was now doing a runner towards the exit in terror, frantically flicking Vs over his shoulder in a futile bid to save face. The reason? Well, showing a turn of speed that had been conspicuously absent all evening, Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier – whose brother was in peril – had vaulted the advertising hoarding and was making his way over row after row of seats towards the alleged aggressor with Terminator-like determination.

As the brave boo-boy scarpered, Dier was held back by stewards and fans who helped ensure he did not emulate the actions of another slightly more moody and violent footballer named Eric. They are to be commended for their intervention, even if the sight of Dier in full kit chasing a supporter out of the stadium and down the Tottenham High Road would have made for one of the more surreal vistas in an already strange season. And while he may not have done enough on the field to help his manager, Dier did at least provide the valuable post-match service of helping deflect media attention away from yet another ignominious defeat.

“I think Eric Dier did something that we professionals, we cannot do, but in these circumstances, I think everyone of us will do,” chirped José, upon being briefed regarding his player’s apparent show of brotherly love. “Because when somebody insults you and your family is there and your family gets involved with the person insulting you, in this case a younger brother, I think Eric did what we professionals we cannot do. But I repeat, probably every one of us would do.”

Of course, Dier’s hands-on, vigilante approach to heckling constituted one of those “unsavoury” footballing incidents The Fiver feels dutifully compelled to say we never want to see, even if it is exactly the kind of the thing we would like to see on a regular basis. After all, faced with the prospect of having to explain themselves, face-to-face with the angry targets of the abuse they have hurled from the stands, no end of braying, cowardly yahoos might think twice before opening their yaps and polluting the air with their toxic bile.

For now, Dier faces a period of uncertainty as the FA investigates what exactly happened. While speculation abounds that he could face a lengthy ban, it remains abundantly unclear if, in vaulting 20 rows of seats to confront somebody who was no longer there, he actually did much technically wrong. While Dier will almost certainly have to accept an FA charge for his actions, The Fiver seems far from alone in hoping he will also accept our heartiest thanks and congratulations.


Join Simon Burnton from 7.45pm GMT for hot FA Cup MBM coverage of Derby County 1-3 Manchester United, while Bryan Graham will be on hand for SheBelieves Cup business and USA! USA!! USA!!! 3-0 England at 12am.


“His man-management is the best I’ve ever seen. I always remember as a kid, every half-time arguing with him. Constantly. I remember thinking: ‘Why’s he keep having a go at me? There’s players far worse than what I’ve been.’ But the older you get, you realise why he’s doing it. He would have a go at me for dribbling, which I very rarely … well, I dribbled a bit more then. But for [players such as] Nani, it would just maybe trigger something in their head, make them think: ‘Maybe I shouldn’t dribble as much.’ If he spoke to Nani the way he spoke to me, he’d break down in tears” – Wayne Rooney waxes lyrical about Lord Ferg as he gets his chat on with Ben Fisher.

The big man does some big chat.

The big man does some big chat. Photograph: Dean Williams/News Images/Rex/Shutterstock


“Really? Not only do you publish his letter, but you give Simon Mazier (yesterday’s Fiver letters) letter of the day. If I wanted to read ‘Emptihad’ jokes, I’d stick to the million or so Facebook pages which have been recycling them for years. Meanwhile, roll on next Wednesday when City could play Arsenal in a match rearranged with only seven days’ notice, so there will be loads more empty seats for armchair critics to get excited about counting” – John Caley.

“Nice of you to give Cambridge United’s ‘Gin Night’ a plug (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). I hear ticket sales have been quite sloe” – Daniel Doody.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Daniel Doody, who bags a copy of Premier League Nuggets, by Richard Foster. We’ve got one more to give away, so get scribbling.


The Premier League is “likely” to go behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to Everton’s chief financial officer, Sasha Ryazantsev. We feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks,” he told the FT Business of Football Summit in London.

Michel Platini’s appeal against his ban from football has been thrown out by the European court of human rights. “This complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected,” ruled the court.

Ronaldinho has been questioned by police in Paraguay, after entering the country with what authorities have claimed is a fake passport. “Both Mr Ronaldinho and his brother said they were a gift,” said public prosecutor Federico Delfino.

The Portuguese attorney’s office has conducted dozens of searches in connection with its investigation into tax evasion and money laundering at some of the country’s biggest clubs, as well as the homes of Jorge Mendes.

Jonathan Leko is less than impressed by Kick It Out and the PFA for what he claims was their lack of support during the racism case against Kiko Casilla. “Some guidance would have been very welcome,” he said.

Lucas Torreira faces a lengthy spell out after suffering ankle-snap in Arsenal’s FA Cup win at Portsmouth.

Carlo Ancelotti has been fined £8,000 but avoided a touchline ban for the hot centre-circle funk which led to a red card from referee Chris Kavanagh.

The FA Cup quarter-final draw will see Newcastle host Manchester City, Leicester entertain Chelsea, Derby or Manchester United head to Norwich, and endless loops of one of history’s most overrated saves as Arsenal visit Sheffield United.

Just, no.

Just, no. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters

Big Phil Neville thinks the time is right to throw his young England players into the SheBelieves Cup breach against USA! USA!! USA!!! “It would be weak of me as a manager to not play them in the biggest occasions,” he roared.

Gareth Southgate has admitted he got things wrong in ditching Chris Smalling from the England squad. “I probably regretted the way of [relaying the message],” he tooted.

And, uh-oh, $tevie Mbe is letting this slip again, his Pope’s Newc O’Rangers team slumping to a 1-0 home defeat against Hamilton and falling 13 points behind the Queen’s Celtic. “I didn’t think it could get any worse,” he parped.


Colin and Gary Lewin talk about life as physios.

Gary and Colin, earlier.

Gary and Colin, earlier. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

Trautmann! Limpar! Klinsmann! Kinkladze! Sachin Nakrani on Europeans who have changed the English game.

Next off the Frank Lampard’s Chelsea conveyor belt is Billy Gilmour. David Hytner has more.

This week’s Classic YouTube is ready for your viewing.

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


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