REAL BIG BABIES
In the last decade, Real Madrid have won two La Liga titles, four domestic cups, four Big Cups and three Super Cup baubles. They’ve also been crowned champions of the world four times. And still it’s never enough. There’s always something to moan about at the Bernabéu! Right now, it’s Gareth Bale who is getting it in the neck. He doesn’t match up to their preposterously lofty standards, you see, despite scoring 102 goals in 231 matches, including one particularly well-renowned pearler in a Big Cup final. It’s not a bad return, all told. But Bale isn’t quite up to the same standard as Puskas, Di Stefano or Ronaldo (the first one, he’s better, we like him better) and so they’re trying to bundle him out of the door, the overgrown toddlers.
Zinedine Zidane certainly doesn’t have much time for Bale, this much is clear. The Real coach wants him gone yesterday, and the zeal and determination with which he continues to press this particular point seems all out of whack to simple folk like The Fiver. Then again, Zidane’s the man whose temper cost France the 2006 World Cup, nearly cost France the 1998 World Cup, and earned him another dozen red cards for assaults various. Now he’s not running about for a living, he’s got to get rid of that pent-up aggression somehow, and so the red mist parps out in regular blasts, directed at Bale with forensic precision. Oh Zizou! Will you ever simmer down?
But maybe last night saw the first unlikely signs of rapprochement. After Bale scored a pre-season goal for Real, in some pompously-titled friendly or other in Maryland against Arsenal, Zidane gave him what almost qualified as a ringing endorsement, when compared to his previous utterances on the matter anyway. “I’m pleased for him,” he muttered through gritted teeth. “I make the decisions and he played one half. We’ll have to see what happens. He’s still here with us at this stage.”
Whether this slight thawing of relations has anything to do with winger Marco Asensio busting his anterior cruciate ligament in the same game is a moot point, but perhaps Zidane has suddenly come to the conclusion that he might need Bale this season after all. In which case everyone at the Bernabéu will have to find something else to be obsessively miserable about. Has Eden Hazard misplaced a pass in training yet? That might do.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Me and the players will testify he’s not been a problem. We’re just grateful when he performs as he does” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær empties a tin of faint praise all over Paul Pogba when asked if he thinks Manchester United fans will give the midfielder verbal pelters.
“I should be pleased at winning the letter of the day in Tuesday’s Fiver, even though there is no prize, despite there being one the day before. However, after checking my records, the last time I won the letter of the day in the Fiver (31/10/17), you started giving out prizes the next day. Is this all part of Big Paper’s/The Fiver’s blatant anti-Stuart, pro-Noble Francis bias, or is this really the unluckiest thing that happened to me on the day that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson becomes our next PM?” – Stuart McLagan.
“Unlike Stuart McLagan, my reaction to 12 golf courses having 216 holes was to wonder where the practice putting greens and driving ranges had gone. Added to the fact that most greens have numerous pin positions it seems that evaluating 12 x 18 on your office abacus is just another example of the lazy tin-fuelled journalistic standards to which The Fiver rigidly adheres” – Phil West.
“Following on from Dave Lloyd’s letter, I had an epiphany and realised belatedly what HHAGTFABM (Fiver Passim) was, and then immediately realised The Fiver had missed a letter – surely the classic is HHAGFTFABM? I realise this may add to the confusion” – Peter Usher.
“In a desperate attempt to redeem the honour of my fair city, I shall hazard a guess at HHAGTFABM: ‘He has a gentle touch for a big man’. I hope I haven’t sunk our reputation even deeper” – Stewart Cooke from Montreal.
“In response to Justin Kavanagh’s amusing Yes review. My pal (Johnty) offered an equally-succinct review to the War On Drugs’ latest album: ‘drugs are winning’, he shrugged. I don’t care if you had to be there” – Paul Dunlop.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Mamadou Sakho is suing the World Anti-Doping Agency for 13 million big ones after claiming a drug-test “blunder” made his career at Liverpool hit the skids. Wada argues Sakho’s Anfield demise came about because of a clash of personalities with Jürgen Klopp.
A Twitter user who claimed to be an anonymous Championship footballer intending to come out as gay has appeared to reverse his decision after admitting he is “not strong enough to do this”.
Reports of discrimination across all levels of the game rose by a third last season, according to depressing figures released by Kick It Out.
Idrissa (Gana?!) Gueye is packing away his toothbrush in readiness for a £28m move from Everton to PSG.
And the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers have mutually consented Kyle Lafferty through the door marked Do One.
STILL WANT MORE?
There’s a docu-series on Marcelo Bielsa’s first season at Nasty Leeds – and it’s only flamin’ narrated by Russell Crowe. Here’s a trailer of Take Me home.
Filming not watching: is digital distraction changing how we experience live football, asks Barry Glendenning.
Which teams were managed by their all-time leading goalscorer? The Knowledge knows.
Does revenue explain the USWNT’s World Cup bonus shortfall, asks Caitlin Murray.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!
BIG DAY FOR WILLOW-WIELDING O’IRISH FOLK