The Fiver largely exists in order to cock a snook. To take the proverbial. To offer the dreaded “sideways look”. But maybe all these trips between bed, toilet and fridge are mellowing us because this afternoon it’s a little tricky to do our thing. Maybe that’s because Football People, usually so easy to hold up and lampoon, are showing their capacity to do very nice things.
Where better place to start than Ashley Young, the world leader we never knew we needed. “Just wanted to share my thoughts given I’m currently in Italy, the epicentre of the virus,” he tweeted on Tuesday night, and how refreshingly cogent those thoughts were. If you thought footballers never set foot in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose or their Italian equivalents then think again: Young’s insights into shopping etiquette in the time of Covid-19, and plenty more besides, were genuinely useful and well-informed. It’s probably time to get him a move to Major League Soccer for the final five years of his career and naturalise him to run for president.
Elsewhere, Watford and Ipswich are among those to have thrown their doors open for anything the NHS requires. “Our proximity as a football club next door to a hospital puts us in a unique position to offer help,” explained Watford chief suit Scott Duxbury. Vicarage Road could be used for training, inductions, childcare facilities and warehouse space; and there we were thinking Ismaïla Sarr’s brace against Liverpool was going to be the most heroic act carried out there this season.
Watching the football is not exactly a priority for NHS staff at the moment but Brighton are leading an initiative to offer them 1,000 tickets whenever things do get back under way. They’ve suggested an approach whereby clubs nominate one another to do the same; it could be the kind of drinking game too much self-isolation might cook up but in reality it’s just a lovely idea for some of the most deserving people in society.
Community initiatives such as those devised by Arsenal, whose many pledges include using club cars and staff volunteers to help frontline NHS staff, are legion from top to bottom. The game’s heaviest hitters are chipping in too. Pep Guardiola has donated €1m of his hard-earned cash towards efforts to combat the terrible coronavirus situation in Spain, while stories are emerging of various players and squads agreeing to defer or even forego their wages.
No amount of help can be too much and, of course, many – but far from all – of those in the football industry are exceptionally privileged. We’ll take another pop at them again, don’t know where, don’t know when. But for today we’ll skulk back under the covers with the comforting thought that there are some pretty good eggs in football after all.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He could get emotional and was crying sometimes, when he was speaking about important matters. When he found the right values, the right football, he got emotional. He was scary, I tell you” – Juan Mata reveals that Louis van Gaal felt things so intensely that he would often shed hot salty tears while giving team talks.
“Thank you for continuing posting your tea-timely emails despite the success of your Stop Football campaign. It is a reassuring piece of normality among all the unreality” – Iain Moore (and no others).
“My nephew Tom is an essential worker — a long-haul lorry driver. He recently took an important delivery from the north to Erith, outside London. Do I care what the load was? No. Am I concerned about his safety? Sure. But the first thing I looked up online when I learned about his trip was this: Erith Town FC is in the Premier division of the Southern Counties East League, which may be the ninth tier of the pyramid. Yup, I’m now a Dockers fan just because of a truck trip” – Mike Wilner (in the USA! USA!! USA!!!)
“The vision of people leaving Old Trafford ‘sprinting to their cars … determined to reach their destination in the smallest possible timeframe and damn the consequences’ (Tuesday’s Fiver) will be easy to conjure for anyone familiar with the stints of Messrs. Di María, Depay, Sánchez etc in recent times. Although perhaps this will end after Pogba does his bit” – Christopher Smith.
“Wayne Coyle sounds like the handsomest man in Derry, but he wasn’t the frontman for the Flaming Lips. That was Wayne Coyne” – Dara O’Reilly (and 1,056 others).
Join Max and the pod squad as they revisit the Hand of God.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Barcelona are studying the possibility of applying a pay cut of up to 70% to all of their players for as long as the coronavirus lockdown lasts in Spain.
Meanwhile, Birmingham players on £6k or more per week have been asked if they would be willing to trouser half their usual wage while football is under lockdown.
Barrow boss Ian Evatt has warned that the National League leaders would struggle to recover from the sucker punch of being denied promotion if the season is voided. “You cannot, you cannot, null and void it,” he roared. “We’ve been top for five months and no one, no disrespect to anyone, has really come that close to us.”
And England have been knocked out of Euro 96 on penalties. Again.
STILL WANT MORE?
“We were shouting: you need to stop and go inside.” Strong stuff from Fabrizio Romano on life under lockdown in Italy.
Jamie Fahey recalls his favourite game: Everton v Bayern Munich in the 1985 Pot Winners’ Cup. He played a lovely pass as a ballboy at Goodison that day.
Which teams have played in front of fake fans? The Knowledge invites you to insert your own punchline here.
Paul Doyle hands out the gongs in his awards for the Premier League season so far.
John Ashdown knows loads about stadiums of yore. See if you do too in this fiendish quiz.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!