January 31, 2023



The Fiver | Doing unto football as Justin Timberlake did unto sexy | Football

6 min read


Week two, and they’re still playing football in Germany. A big part of The Fiver, the part that doesn’t answer the door to anyone selling positive news, assumed there would be a load of positive tests after last weekend’s matches. We thought we’d be spending Friday night watching a repeat of a rewatch of a replay from the 1990s. Instead we’ll have our peepers fixed firmly on the Berlin derby, Hertha v Union, which kicks off another weekend of Bundesliga action.

The Fiver has been a huge fan of the Bundesliga ever since we were seven days younger than we are now, so imagine our excitement at the prospect of such a rare event: only the second ever top-flight derby between teams from west and east Berlin! The first occurred earlier in the season, when Union won 1-0, and to be completely honest we can’t think of a single funny thing to say about it. There are quite a few exciting games on Saturday, though. Gladbach v Leverkusen is third v fifth, if you’re into the whole positional thing. Leaders Bayern are at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, while second-placed Erling Haaland Team face a slippery trip to sixth-placed Wolfsburg.

Not that everyone is a fan of the goal machine that is Alf Inge Jr. Bundesliga chief suit Christian Siefert, when asked about Haaland potentially moving to Spain, decided to channel his inner Gerard Ratner. “Any great player leaving is a loss. But I’ll ask you: if he’s so good then why is he at Dortmund?” blurted the boss of a league in which Dortmund are possibly the most marketable team. Siefert later clarified his comments by saying that he wished Roy Keane had sorted out both le … sorry, that: “It’s easy now to admire a player who is already at the focus of worldwide attention. The hard thing is signing him before that happens. Dortmund did that, again doing an excellent job.”

The Bundesliga has certainly made an excellent job of doing unto football as Justin Timberlake did unto $exy. The German template will surely be followed by other major leagues, assuming they don’t tell everyone else to naff off and get their own hygiene concept. Sure, there are subtle differences between countries – governmental competence, governmental compassion, tens of thousands of additional deaths, questions from Robbie Savage – but the Bundesliga’s tentative success has made The Fiver grudgingly acknowledge that, when it comes to the return of the Premier League, good news might be round the corner. We’re still not answering the door, though.


Join Rob Smyth from 7.30pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Hertha Berlin 0-0 Union Berlin.


“What I can read between the lines is that I look like a tramp on the sidelines?” – Jürgen Klopp takes part in a mentoring session and goes off-piste to discuss why wearing bad clobber won’t hold a manager back as long as their tactics are right.

The Fiver is in no position to comment.

The Fiver is in no position to comment. Photograph: John Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images


The latest Football Weekly Extra pod is right here, while you can also get your ears around episode two of our new Forgotten Stories of Football series too: Manchester United v Galatasaray, 1993.

Forgotten Stories of Football

Forgotten stories of football


“Re: Luis Enrique’s simile on dancing with his sister (yesterday’s Fiver). The 1979 Currie Cup final in rugby was played between Western Province and Northern Transvaal. Scores tied at full-time, the cup was shared. This led then-WP captain, Morné du Plessis, to lament that ‘it is like kissing your sister’” – Leon-Ben Lamprecht.

“We are a channel that, as you may not know, does not talk exclusively about basketball. Presenters, actors, musicians, comedians have passed through our programme. You speak of ‘questionable’ [about Luis Enrique going on a show about basketball to talk about football]. Questionable is not that a Spanish basketball medium interviews a friendly footballer. It is questionable that an English medium writes using an interview from another Spanish medium without even naming it” – Colgados del Aro.

“At the outset of lockdown, I decided to wear every T-shirt in my cupboard. It was a great idea until I got down to the final two: Romania’s Euro 96 monstrosity was the penultimate one. But I kept the worst for last, Newcastle’s 1993 green and blue away top, which was so baggy I spent all day dancing to The Soup Dragons and pretending to be free, to do what I want, any old time” – Daniel Kennedy.

“Re: Alex Frew McMillan on Serge Aurier’s Colombia shirt (yesterday’s Fiver letters). A few seconds of online sleuthing show that this is not a 2014 Colombia jersey, but the 2018-19 edition (No 23 belongs to his Spurs teammate, Davinson Sánchez). In the Ivory Coast game, Carlos Valdés, the wearer of Colombia’s No 23, didn’t make it on to the pitch. Here’s to hoping the same description applies to Aurier in the future” – Mathias Stigsgaard (and others).

“Let’s hear it for Serge’s headgear, which is what’s called a zmijovka (‘viper hat’, because of the stripes) and comes from … drum roll … the Czech Republic, where I live. They are apparently hugely popular in West Africa. My wife bought me one, under duress, but doesn’t like me wearing it when I go into town” – Simon Gill.

Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Colgados del Aro.


Several alleged victims of sexual abuse by Yves Jean-Bart, the president of the Haiti Football Federation, say they have received death threats since claims against him were reported.

Manchester United beancounter Richard Arnold has warned that Premier League clubs will suffer an economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic for years to come. “But we remain optimistic about … our ability to remain a leader within the market,” he I’m-all right-Jacked.

FC Cincinnati have unveiled new manager Jaap Stam by using a photo of Ajax youth coach Tinus van Teunenbroek. Bravo! “It happens to me more often, such as on vacation,” tooted Van Teunenbroek. “People shout: ‘Hey, that’s Jaap Stam!’”

In football-jumping-the-shark news, AGF Aarhus fans will attend their Superliga game against Randers on 28 May … via Zoom. Yup. “We are proud to be the first club in the world to use [a virtual grandstand],” backslapped chief suit Jacob Nielsen, who may want to consider digging deep to buy premium accounts for the digital ultras lest he lose their fervent support in the 40th minute.

And perhaps having not yet seen the [email protected] trailer himself, Liverpool chief suit Tom Werner has been busily banging the drum for BBC comedy The First Team, “football’s answer to The Inbetweeners”, that he helped produce. “It will be a real tonic for people to have some entertainment that revolves around football stories,” he parped.


Join Gregg Bakowski in celebrating some masters of touchline trickery in this here Joy of Six: wing wizards.

The, er, Goat?

The, er, Goat? Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

Aritz Aduriz. By Sid Lowe.

Ed Aarons’ favourite game takes us back to the 1991 Zenith Data Systems Cup final.

Big Website’s Young Sportswriter 2020 competition is go! Plus some handy writing tips we should have read a long time ago.

Quiz time: football farewells.

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


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