Following the Premier League’s unanimous decision to embark on Phase Two of Project Restart, Troy Deeney has agreed to return to Watford training having opted to sit out his team’s first tentative steps back on to the pitch because he didn’t want to risk bringing home a virus that might endanger his infant son’s life.
The Fiver presumed curiosity had got the better of Troy, who wished to see how his teammates would pull off the impressive feat of gathering in small groups and tackling one other while simultaneously “minimising unnecessary close contact”. Sort of like a government advisor simultaneously breaking the law while not actually breaking the law, such contortions take a certain level of expertise to pull off. But let’s face it, Craig Cathcart and Daryl Janmaat didn’t get where they are today trying to achieve the mundane.
As it happens, Deeney has decided to return to work after having his concerns about the disproportionate amount of coronavirus deaths in the BAME community allayed by Dr Jonathan Van Tam, the government’s deputy chief medical officer and a man you may have seen standing behind a Downing Street lectern alongside assorted Tory hypocrites as they portentously told us all to stay at home, stay safe and not under any circumstances embark on any unnecessary 260-mile trips to Durham.
“The first conversation I had with Jonathan was maybe three weeks ago,” said Deeney. “The last conversation we had was on Friday and he had so much more information, so much more detailed analysis.” But what’s this?!?!?! It seems Deeney hasn’t a second to lose when it comes to shifting any excess timber with which he may have inadvertently become upholstered during lockdown.
It appears that the Fiver’s surprisingly successful STOP FOOTBALL campaign has been overturned on appeal and FOOTBALL WILL START AGAIN on 17 June when Aston Villa entertain Sheffield United and Manchester City host Arsenal, with a full Premier League fixture list to follow behind closed doors on the weekend of 19-21 June. Now how’s that for a mid-Fiver newsflash?!?!?!
Anyway Troy, you were saying? “I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” he said, showing that while football may have stopped, some of the more unsavoury weirdos who follow it certainly haven’t. Referring to the manner in which he and Danny Rose got “absolutely hammered and battered” for voicing concerns about returning to the training ground, Deeney said it wasn’t just the players themselves who were shipping abuse.
“The missus gets direct messages and you’ll be walking down the street and people will be like: ‘Oh, I’m at work, you go back to work’,” he said. Given Troy’s caution when it comes to contagion, the Fiver can but hope a respectful amount of social distancing was maintained when such conversations took place. A suitably wide Watford gap, if you will.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“My plan was always just to go for the three years and then get into a club job, which would be what I wanted to do … I think international football for a 41, 42-year-old can get quite frustrating — so I thought, get some experience and then cut my teeth in day-to-day running with the energy that I’ve got” – Phil Neville says he managed England’s women’s team to get into club management. Now to wait for the offers to come flooding in.
The latest Football Weekly Extra will be right here soon enough, while you can also get your ears around the third podcast in our series of Forgotten Stories of Football, focusing on Jeff Hall: the footballer whose death turned the tide against polio.
“Kevin McKee’s niche request for Fifa 20 albums [Wednesday’s Fiver], I have also been thinking about the game in far too much depth recently. I have gone so far in my quest for realism as to vividly picture hipster punditry on my Eintracht Frankfurt career mode side, in particular an Andy Brassell think-piece where he explores the roles of Jonathan De Guzman and Sebastian Larsson in the midfield of a team struggling domestically but flowering in their maiden Champions League campaign. Perhaps if the Covid content drought continues he’ll write it for me” – Niall Murtagh.
“The Saudi Arabian regime being considered less than ‘fit and proper’ thanks to a dodgy TV channel, is the football equivalent of locking up Al Capone for tax-knack” – Adam Preston.
“I was always annoyed by Alan Green’s commentary. Specifically, it was his penchant for calling ‘winning’ goals in the latter stages of games, when there was clearly still time to play. Imagine my pleasure on listening to highlights of Istanbul 2005 for the first time (Oh, why not?) when he referred to Hernán Crespo’s first goal, and Milan’s second, in the 39th minute as the winner. What a clown” – Daniel Whipp.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Aston Villa have announced that Ron Smith, the father of manager Dean Smith, has passed away at the age of 79 after contracting Covid-19.
Damian Collins MP has called for urgent discussions to secure the financial future of lower-league clubs. “We may only have a few weeks to save professional football in this country as we know it,” Collins said.
Football’s TV money men want some of it back following the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on their usually packed schedules. Some clubs, including Liverpool, aren’t so keen on coughing up the £330m figure being bandied about.
Brazilian rake-stepper David Luiz is nearing the exit door at Arsenal, with the club reluctant to take up the option of extending his hefty contract for another year.
Manchester City Women have appointed Gareth Taylor as their new manager, replacing Big Apple-bound Nick Cushing. In other WSL news, Arsenal have been fined £50,000 for sacking an autistic coach in 2014.
Get your latest fix of Bundesliga goodness here, after Krzysztof Piatek earned a point for RB Leipzig at Hertha Berlin last night.
Gone too long, etc and so on: Nathan Jones left the manager’s job at Luton Town under a cloud in 2019 but is now back in the role after just 16 months away.
And in a blow for David Squires, Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick has retired.
STILL WANT MORE?
Quiz! Quiz! Quiz! Test your knowledge of foul-ups on various Social Media Disgraces.
David Baddiel, Motty, Tim Key, Gabby Logan: ahead of ITV’s repeat of the Euro ’96 semi-final between England and their old rivals Germany, famous faces recall the game.
Saudi Arabia’s proxy war with Qatar has hit Newcastle United and left the Premier League in a pickle, writes Louise Taylor.
Fifty years ago this week, Bobby Moore was arrested for theft. But was it a prank? Did the bracelet even exist? Carl Worswick serves up a cracking read from Bogotà.
From their house to Aarhus: fans will cheer AGF on pitchside screens as Danish football returns to action in groundbreaking style.
My favourite game: Robert and Tim Knowles travel back to 2000 and an afternoon of madness at Molineux.