It’s less than a month until The Fiver doles out its annual Christmas awards. Inevitably, the market will soon be saturated with cynical shysters offering cheap imitations of the real thing, and sure enough here come Fifa, first out of the blocks. They’ve got some tinpot scheme going called The Best, which we had assumed was the intellectual copyright of Morrisons (UK) and Tina Turner (all other international markets), but clearly not. The shortlists for these Taste the Difference rip-offs have been announced this morning, with voting to take place over the next fortnight ahead of a ceremony just before Christmas. So in the spirit of the season, and not because it’s a very slow news day, we’ll give these knock-off gongs some space.
Only one player from this miserable, mean-spirited little island has made the best player shortlist. Well done to Lucy Bronze, who won Big Cup with Lyon in August, the last of the nine trophies the England international won there in three seasons. She’s one of five players from that Lyon side in the running, along with Saki Kumagai, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Delphine Cascarino and Wendie Renard, and no, you’re not the only ones to have initially read the towering French defender’s name wrong and as a result have an earworm of the theme from Are You Being Served? Hey, there are worse fates. God bless Ronnie Hazlehurst.
As for the men, well either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are going to win it, aren’t they, it’s just how these things work and why nobody really bothers with them any more. However it’s only right to acknowledge the presence on the shortlist of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, who helped Liverpool to their first title in 30 years, and Kevin de Bruyne, the beating heart behind Manchester City’s already legendary Fizzy Cup campaign. Emma Hayes is in with a shout for the women’s coach award, while Jürgen Klopp and Marcelo Bielsa are up against Hans-Dieter Flick for the men’s medal. Flick and all the other winners are announced on 17 December, when we trust Fifa will reciprocate our generosity today by giving The Fiver’s Xmas Awards a similarly big thumbs-up.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Always together. That’s why we won. I’m not going to apologise for that. The match demanded that we defend deep and we just did what the game demanded of us. I am tired of always answering your questions. If you have courage, if you have balls, go and ask the players in the dressing room. The guys are dead … they played with heart” – Thomas Tuchel there, not taking kindly to hacks asking him why PSG played like Pulis-era Stoke in their 1-0 Big Cup win over Leipzig.
THE LONG GORD-BYE
PFA chief suit Gordon Taylor will see himself out of the PFA door marked Do One at the end of the season. He first announced he was going to leave in March 2019 so he has had plenty of time to sort out his pension. The union has faced renewed criticism in recent weeks over its record on supporting former players suffering from dementia, in the wake of Nobby Stiles’ death and Sir Bobby Charlton’s diagnosis with the condition. “Now that the independent review process is completed, I too will stand down by the end of the current season,” Taylor wrote in a letter to PFA members. “The new chief executive will be elected following the recruitment procedures recommended by the independent review.”
“Jurgen Klopp referring to Liverpool as an orchestra (Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs) … well, not to make poorly placed puns, that’s more your vibe, but he’s changed his tune a bit hasn’t he?” – Ferg Slade.
“I’m not surprised that Daniel Levy is wiping away a tear (Fiver letters passim) as a result of a Spurs balance sheet issued with a net loss figure on it (even if such an action could result in a nasty paper cut), given that the loss should be presented in the profit and loss statement and not the balance sheet. Perhaps the Spurs Finance Director can also help locate another mislaid and bloated figure, and shed some light on the whereabouts of Dele Alli” –Ian Potter (and 1,056 others).
“I’m not flamin’ surprised it takes 12 weeks to send a non-existent prize to Australia! The example on the Royal Mail website was: Western Terrace, Robertson, NSW 4755. Six weeks on the boat to Oz, then six weeks for Australia Post to work out 4755 is a Queensland (not a New South Wales) postcode! Robertson NSW is 2577. Strewth!” – Tim Allen, Robertson, NSW 2577.
“I noticed The Fiver no longer puts a geographical limit on the priceless letter of the day. Has your budget expanded?” – Skip Koblintz
“Never mind the pink boots. It takes a Theo Walcott-type of trend setter to take to the pitch in his grandad’s long johns. Remember – when you can’t understand how underwear used to be just that – you saw it at Molineux first” – Carol Hayden.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Toby Alderweireld will have four weeks’ b@ntz with Spurs physios to look forward to after suffering soft tissue-knack in his groin.
A shortage of helpful people in hi-vis jackets might hamper the return of fans to stadiums.
Big Zlat and golf star Gareth Bale, among others, are not happy their likeness and names have been used in the latest Fifa 21 video game, even though they have been included in previous editions of the joystick jamboree.
Jadon Sancho has admitted that his will he/of course he won’t transfer saga with Manchester United was as dull for him as the rest of us. “Recently, it’s been a hard situation for me,” the Borussia Dortmund winger wailed.
One for the hipsters here: Kawasaki Frontale have clinched a third J-League title in four years with a 5-0 thrashing of nearest rivals Gamba Osaka.
Sam Ricketts has been bundled aboard the good ship Do One by Shrewsbury.
And under-pressure Queen’s Celtic boss Neil Lennon has been kind enough to tell miffed fans that his paymasters are not the trigger-happy type. “There’s no panic. I speak to [chief suit] Peter Lawwell every day. He is very, very supportive, as he is with the players and my backroom team as well.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Jürgen Klopp loves a good moan about fixture congestion, but perhaps he and other managers should look closer to home, says Barry Glendenning.
In a rare development, two rich heavyweights might not actually reach the Big Club knockout stages, writes Sid Lowe on the travails of Inter and Real Madrid, who meet at San Siro.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær took the handbrake off Manchester United for their swatting aside of Istanbul Basaksehir, but can he do it when it matters, wonders Jonathan Liew.
The limited return of fans will still leave plenty of EFL clubs out of pocket, cautions Ben Fisher.
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