January 31, 2023



The Fiver | Luis Enrique and the ‘sadness’ of dancing with your own sister | Football

6 min read


Frivolous sadness-related similes and metaphors are tough in a time of intense global misery. In many ways, The Fiver would suggest it’s best to avoid them together. It’s probably enough just to say something is sad rather than trying to find something of comparable sadness, especially if the level of sadness you are feeling really isn’t very far up the sadness scale. For example, The Fiver ran out of ketchup while preparing a hot dog the other day, and had no choice but to continue with nothing but mustard. It was, as our empathetic reader will no doubt appreciate, an unhappy situation. I suppose you could say that we were approximately as sad as a dog that can’t find its squeaky ball in the brief period before it is distracted by a squirrel, but unhappy would almost certainly do.

Conjuring a perfect metaphor/simile is harder than a granite tank, particularly on the hoof. It’s no coincidence that a list of the top 10 worst lyrics in the entire history of popular music compiled in 2007 featured “more sacrifices than an Aztec priest”, “you’re about as easy as a nuclear war” and “slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball”. Similes might sound very clever in the author’s head, but in fact many people find them less impressive than a really tired, wilted old flower from, like, a garage or something. And so to Luis Enrique, coach of Spain’s national team, who recently went on a show about basketball to talk about football. The decision-making here already seems questionable.

It quickly became clear that the 50-year-old treats viruses with much the same disdain as he does a sometime assistant’s coaching career. “I would have had no fear,” he said, asked whether a slightly younger him would have been willing to throw himself back into pitch-based rough-and-tumble despite prevailing viral concerns. “On a personal level, I’m not worried about the virus but aware that there could be an impact on older people and those susceptible to greater suffering.” And what, he was asked, about the spectacle of elite football being played behind closed doors? “It’s sadder than …” he began. Now, where is this sentence going? Because really it’s not very sad at all, is it? It’s far from ideal, to be sure, but we can probably stop there. But the sentence has been started and there’s no backing down now. It’s got to finish somehow. “It’s sadder than dancing with your own sister,” he sighed.

And, well, this is true. It is sadder than dancing and families, and sadder than rainbows and butterflies and fluffy bunny rabbits and lambs frolicking in long green grass and ice cream and laughter. It is sadder, in short, than things that are not sad. Sure, one might prefer to have someone else to dance with, but your own sister will certainly do. Luis Enrique had successfully avoided idiocy, at the expense of producing a simile that was about as revealing as a blackout blind inside a sealed box, wrapped in thickly lined curtain. “We have to remember, I guess, that this is big business and I understand that with football back, it may serve as a way of helping people in dealing with confinement,” he concluded. “Watching football in these circumstances is certainly odd.” Fair point. Add it to the list of certainly odd things we’re doing at the moment. It’s a long one, and growing by the hour.


“You must grow and improve, day by day, because if you do not improve, you are done. Those who stop, they have lost” – Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini gets his chat on with Fabrizio Romano in this cracking interview.

Lots of good stuff in there.

Lots of good stuff in there. Photograph: Ciambelli/Sipa/Shutterstock


The latest Football Weekly Extra pod will be around this way, 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


Tranmere chairman Mark Palios explains why football needs to get serious about its messy economic situation, and why a club like Rovers needs to look after its community in difficult times.

‘Our defenders have been socially distancing all season’ – keeping Tranmere Rovers alive


“With some idle time on my hands, and idle thoughts in my head, I wondered why Serge Aurier is wearing a Colombia shirt in his barbershop shots (yesterday’s Fiver). Guessing it must have come from Brasília, and the Colombia 2-1 Ivory Coast match at the 2014 World Cup. His opposite number must be crushed that Serge is using this cherished keepsake as the old moth-eaten T-shirt you wear when you know it’s going to get covered in all those itchy tiny haircut hairs” – Alex Frew McMillan.

“Re: football on TV (Fiver letters passim). It’s not only us mere mortals who fret over our chosen team’s success or lack thereof – it even affects supporters in the upper echelons of the Catholic church and even they can’t get an answer” – Seamus Scanlon.

“In regards to Ian Findlay’s letter about getting fan noise into empty grounds (yesterday’s Fiver letters), surely a certain former Sunderland suit could help with the acoustics? It does need to be Balearic” – Tony Mason.

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 … Alex Frew McMillan.


Even though he’d likely be sent packing, Newcastle boss Bernard Cribbins would welcome a £300m, largely Saudi-funded takeover at the club. “I would love to see it happen and love to be part of it,” he cheered, perhaps thinking about a pay-off.

Manchester United’s net debt increased by £127.4m to £429.1m in the 12 months to 31 March 2020, their latest accounts reveal.

EFL suits are insistent that relegation remains “integral” to the competition, potentially dashing the hopes of League Two basement boys Stevenage.

Does the National League beckon for Stevenage?

Does the National League beckon for Stevenage? Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Amiens president Bernard Joannin is still feeling funky at his team’s demotion from Ligue 1 after the season’s premature curtailing. “You can’t decree a competition – a sporting contract – completed when one quarter of it is yet to be played,” he fumed.

The smouldering forward’s smouldering forward, Olivier Giroud, has joined W1lly Caballero in agreeing a contract extension at Chelsea.

And the K-League has slapped a record 100m won (£66,000) fine on FC Seoul for placing bongo dolls in the stands during a recent game behind closed doors. “The controversy has deeply humiliated and hurt women fans, and damaged the integrity of the league,” it sniffed.


Suzanne Wrack highlights how England Women have seized the chance to ramp up engagement with fans, making social media a little less disgraceful.

Or Moore, even: Tony Paley harks back to 1970, when the iconic Bobby went head-to-head against the even more iconic Pelé, in the latest My Favourite Game.

Such an all-time pic, this.

Such an all-time pic, this. Photograph: John Varley/Rex/Shutterstock

Your latest dose of Classic YouTube action features the first-ever Bundesliga derby between Union Berlin and Hertha Berlin, and some wizardry from Dries Mertens.

Quizzes are still all the rage so … how much do you remember about Chelsea’s 2012 Big Cup final triumph against Bayern?

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


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