UP FOR THE CUP
Newcastle United are going to win the FA Cup for the first time since 1955, The Fiver really is beginning to believe it. Partly because they nearly fell at the first hurdle against Rochdale the other weekend, the perfect sliding-doors start to a Cup fairytale. Partly because Joelinton is now the sort of goalscoring machine that puts the likes of Malcolm McDonald, Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer (combined major honours with the Toon: 0) to shame. But mainly because, when Newcastle finally win something again, which most mathematical models suggest they probably will at some point in the next few centuries, they’ll be managed not by a messianic bleeds-black-and-white Keeg/Bobby/Rafa-style crowd favourite, but an underwhelming and unpopular former Sunderland boss instead. The story, eight decades in the making and counting, is just bound to end that way. Bernard Cribbins, ladies and gentlemen.
Having said all that, Newcastle aren’t the only big club looking to return to their long-gone glory days. Unlike the Toon, Tottenham Hotspur have won the Cup on many occasions since the 50s, though their last victory was way back in 1991, and they don’t have the likes of Gazza or Gary Lineker to call on any more. Plus who’ll write the Cup-final single now Chas has passed on? It’s too big a burden for Dave alone, and the drummer’s no help. Still, that’s a bridge they’ll have to cross should they make it that far, the prospect a little more likely in the wake of Tuesday’s win over Middlesbrough, the emergence of exciting full-back Japhet Tanganga and the capture of Gedson Fernandes on loan from Benfica. The only problem is the upcoming fourth-round tie at Southampton, because Danny Ings versus the perpetually confused Davinson Sánchez doesn’t look a fair fight to us.
Maybe Spurs will have to wait until next year, which will at least solve the Cup-final song problem, because they could simply re-release When The Year Ends In One, kicking that particular can down the road. Newcastle may have to put open-topped-bus-route plans on hold too, as history tells us it’s lucky for both Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers when the year ends in zero. United won the trophy in 1990, you see, while Wolves’ last success came at the notoriously dull 1960 final, after which they were pelted with apple cores, orange peel and scrunched-up bits of the match programme by a Wembley crowd bored beyond tears. Could one of these famous old clubs extend this extremely tenuous two-club 30-year pattern in 2020? They’ll both certainly try to keep the dream alive at Old Trafford, United possibly with Eric Bailly, Wolves without Diogo Jota. It should be fun to watch, though we’ve stocked up on fresh fruit and old copies of United Review, just in case.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The famous photo shows that I’m closer to the ball than his head. That’s why he punched it in with his hand. You always have people saying: ‘Oh, he out-jumped you.’ He didn’t out-jump me. He cheated” – Peter Shilton gets his chat on with Donald McRae, and no, of course he still isn’t over it. Well, would you?
FIVER LETTERS BAD LOOKALIKES SPECIAL
“Am I the only one who thinks Quique Setién looks like Leonard Nimoy. Live long and prosper (erm, yeah – Fiver Ed)” – Andy Shawcross.
“It would appear that Max Rushden has shaved his head and signed for the Villa. The man has to find a way to supplement the buttons he no doubt gets from The Man for the Football Weekly pod I suppose” – Rob Young.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Former Chelsea, Juve and England striker Eni Aluko has hung her boots up at the age of 32. “I’m ending on a high, with a sense that there’s not much more I can do in the game,” she said.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has revealed that fears over safety in the Middle East mean Manchester United have changed their plans to put their feet up in Qatar during the winter break.
Liverpool’s upcoming title defence has been dealt a blow by news that the Africa Cup of Nations is set to be shifted back to January and February.
Lucy Bronze has swooped the women’s England player of the year gong, with Jordan Henderson making off with the men’s bauble.
The PFA is being investigated over “serious concerns” about the way it is run.
Perpetual crisis-club Macclesfield live to play another day after court proceedings revealed an offer for shares in them was at an advanced stage.
West Ham have finally signed Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough after the Republic O’Ireland goalkeeper successfully coughed for the club doctor in what Big Website is calling a “crucial medical”.
And in exciting news for fans of nominative determinism, Gremio chief suit Klauss Camara says rumours linking the club’s star forward with a move to Goodison Park are growing by the day. “Everton at Everton is a situation that is coming up more intensely,” he blathered.
STILL WANT MORE?
David Hytner invites you to pull up a comfy seat and listen to these very different Tottenham tales about Japhet Tanganga and Christian Eriksen.
Strap on your shinpads, because there will be nothing friendly about the SheBelieves Cup for England, warns Suzanne Wrack.
Which footballers have knacked themselves playing other sports? The Knowledge knows.
Danny Ings deserves to be at Euro 2020, reckons Martin Laurence, who has graphs to prove why and everything.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!