We can only play the rubbish cards chucked our way by the dealer

The Guardian Sports 1 month ago

A MYSTERY FOR WAGATHA CHRISTIE?

While there is little or no shame in being sacked from your job as manager of the basket case club that is Sunderland, it is a measure of just how far the club has fallen that news of Jack Ross’s dismissal has been completely overshadowed by Coleen Rooney. Wayne’s better half has had Social Media Disgrace Twitter in thrall after doing her best Jessica Fletcher impersonation to identify and expose a source of treachery, who has allegedly been peddling salacious and entirely false t1ttle-tattle about her to the tabloid press.

Using tactics so simple, yet brilliantly planned and ruthless she should immediately be installed among the favourites to succeed Ross, Mrs Rooney says she trapped and identified the unwitting owner of the only Instachat account that was privy to the posts in question, forcing the woman behind it into a very public denial that she was the rat. Tasked with following that, The Fiver was hoping for less thin gruel than a League One side’s search for a new manager, but it being international week we can only play the rubbish cards chucked our way by the dealer.

Sixth in League One despite being the best funded team in the division and in dire need of a return to the Championship, Sunderland announced the decision to sack Ross after 18 months at the helm on Tuesday. “This has been a decision that has been made with a heavy heart,” parped chairman Stewart Donald, who is currently gyrating lasciviously in the Alan Partridge-in-a-leather-thong-style before a cabal of uber-rich American investors, who many fans of the club believe have cooled their interest because … well, we’ve all seen that documentary on Netflix and good things tend not to happen to Sunderland.

Or do they? Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth is the early favourite to replace Ross and would almost certainly be a popular appointment coming as he does armed with decent managerial credentials, a reputation as a top bloke who drives an American muscle car and fronts a rock band named Cold Blooded Hearts. He’s been operating for seven years on a shoestring at Wycombe, where he insists he is happy, but has made no secret of his hope to manage a club with loftier ambitions. Including caretakers, Sunderland are now looking to recruit their 11th manager in 10 years and, if only by the law of averages, should surely hit upon one that can stop the wheels from coming off the clown car sooner rather than later. Ainsworth may well be the man, but for those of you who lost interest in this story halfway through the second paragraph, we can reveal it’s … Rebekah Vardy’s account.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Just women going to the stadium will break a taboo for the hardliners in Iran. Their eyes are going to be [getting] used to seeing women inside the stadium. For years [this] has been a demand from the women’s rights movement in Iran and as a part of exclusion from the public spaces. It’s not just about football. People are doing this just to show that if you give capacity to us, we will use it” – ‘Sara’, an activist in Iran whose Open Stadiums group has campaigned for women’s access to grounds for 15 years, after Iranian women were finally allowed to enter football stadiums.

NEXT GENERATION 2019

It’s Championship Manager regen time: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs, including Aaron Ramsey and Sonny Blu Lo-Everton.

AKA: feeling old dept. Illustration: Guardian Design

FIVER LETTERS

“Derby v Leicester in the FA Cup third round, please” – Jim Hearson.

“In response to Matt Fox’s query re: Martin Keown’s mispronunciation of Rodri (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I have a recollection of former Manchester City and England manager Joe Mercer as a TV pundit in the mid-70s. It must have been World Cup 1974 or possibly 1978, during the golden years of Dutch football. Finest of that magnificent team was of course Johan Cruyff, admittedly not as straightforward on paper as Rodri, but Mr Mercer made no attempt at all and repeatedly called the great man ‘Joanne Cruft’” – Des McManus.

“I raise you everyone’s favourite sheepskin jacket-wearing, ex-TV commentator John Motson on TalkSport this past Monday, calling Adama Traoré by the name ‘Amanda’ repeatedly” – Will Rowntree.

“Po’ Ibrahim Afellay, the Dutch international of Stoke City fame at the hands of David Pleat. Now, admittedly there are three syllables in his surname so scope for multiple mispronunciation. Which is exactly what Mr Pleat achieved as a pundit: starting with ‘Aliffy’, through various other anagrams to eventually arrive at ‘Alibi’” – Simon Keating.

“I can see how you would assume that, in being a subscriber to The Fiver, Jimmy O’Brien (yesterday’s letters) has an insatiable appetite for misery. But sending a clearly miserable Manchester United fan a copy of Numero 6 – in the midst of an international break, of all things – is a level of masochism beyond even the most deviant items in Weird Uncle Fiver’s collection. Bravo” – Dom Smith.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … Jim Hearson, who wins a copy of Numero 6. We’ve more to give away all week.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has denied assaulting former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel during an incident at Oakwell in April. District Judge Joanne Hirst told him the allegations of ABH were too serious to be dealt with by magistrates and sent the case for trial before judge and jury at Sheffield crown court on 6 November.

Reading have sent José Gomes skittering down the Basingstoke Road after a run of two wins in 11 Championship games.

Big Phil Neville insists that he’s not feeling the heat after England Women’s scrappy 1-0 win in Portugal ended a five-game winless run. “Tonight we got the bit of luck we’ve probably not had in the last five games,” he whooped.

OK. Photograph: Chloe Knott for The FA/Rex/Shutterstock

Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi has been chatting about life as a target for the club’s fans. “I am self-critical enough to admit that I have made mistakes and can take criticism,” he sighed. “But the criticism escalated and became irrational. I became a target and once some people tried to blame me for a defeat when I wasn’t even playing.”

The Ivan Gazidis Show is flying again in Milan, where Stefano Pioli is the Serie A side’s new coach after Marco Giampaolo was told to do one.

Lionel Messi plans to end his career at Barcelona despite admitting he wanted to leave Spain in the wake of his tax-knack row with the Spanish government.

And Matt Doherty says he’s happy to play at left-back for the Republic O’Ireland if asked to in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Georgzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

STILL WANT MORE?

Andy Hunter on Liverpool and the holy grail.

Suzanne Wrack on Big Phil.

Which former pros have played Sunday league football after retiring? The Knowledge has the answer.

Ben Fisher catches up with Jonson Clarke-Harris, the latest sharp-shooting Pirate in Bristol.

Roooverse, earlier. Photograph: Dougie Allward/JMP/Rex/Shutterstock

Standout stats from the Premier League season so far, including Everton scoring just twice with their feet.

How Colorado’s Robin Fraser is breaking ground for black coaches in MLS.

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

RECOMMENDED BUYING

Available now, classic sports photographs, including this of Lord Ferg, some serious White Hart Lane mood and dog v Adidas Etrusco Unico.

TREMENDOUSLY TINPOT


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