The Republic O’Ireland and Denmark drew a competitive football match on Monday night. It was the fifth time they’d done so in the last 24 months, the continuation of a grim existential rut which naturally reminded The Fiver of that legendary Bill Murray film. We refer of course to Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. Just 80 minutes in length, but man, it seemed like it would never end. The least successful of his Wes Anderson collaborations, in The Fiver’s book. Subs, please check.
As a result of this 1-1 draw, the Irish have been dispatched to the purgatory of the Euro 2020 play-offs. They’ll most likely travel to Wales, Slovakia or Bosnia-Herzegovina in the semi-final, although the Welsh are hoping to give O’Ireland and the play-offs the big bodyswerve by qualifying automatically. They can do so by seeing off Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday evening, a cause that will be helped should Ryan Giggs decide to start Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, both struggling a little to get back to full match fitness. That would mean demotion for goal machine Harry Wilson, but Real Madrid and Juventus trump Bournemouth, and that’s just the way it is.
“It will be tough picking the team,” Giggs has admitted, staring off into the middle distance as he talks, almost as though he’s constantly thinking about the job he could be doing right now if he’d just showed a bit more patience in his last one. His inner pain may subside a little should Wales seal the deal, and he becomes only the third manager in history to take Wales to a major finals. And their 1958 World Cup sortie should offer him some encouragement, for the Welsh beat the Hungarians in that tournament, Ivor Allchurch scoring a goal for the ages. Here’s to Bale pearling an equally delicious one. Maybe the keeper can throw a similarly spectacular tantrum as well. Fingers crossed, because some history is actually worth repeating, you know.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The big democracies go to where there are thousands of years of traditions and cultures and they want them to live like they want. They have their own vision. For me that is a kind of terrorism. An economic terrorism. And big democracies inside are, in a way, dictatorships because they want to impose their vision” – Eric Cantona gets his chat on with Sid Lowe.
“Gareth Bale says he doesn’t really enjoy the culture at Real Madrid and prefers playing with Wales. But considering he was supposed to be a boyhood fan of the club (showing everyone the photo of him as a child wearing their shirt), you’d expect him to have followed them a bit and have some idea of the demands of playing for the club. But from the way he seems unwilling to engage with it, it’s as though he’s not even been following Sid Lowe’s columns over the years if he was so blind going in. Perhaps what he needs is to sign up to The Fiver so he never misses the links to Sid’s articles. And I expect none of The Fiver’s ‘hilarity’ will be lost in translation to a Spanish version” – David Wall.
“Mark Newton wonders how many other publications are festooned with the name of Fiver Letters’ Noble Francis (yesterday’s Fiver letters)? Here’s one rather close to home” – Alan Murphy.
“May I claim to be the third of surely only three pedants (with Mark and Noble) to read both The Fiver and The Economist, and the second of only two to have had letters published in both. (You really don’t want to know what I was complaining about.) I know this is really uninteresting but you’re giving away prizes and I’m desperate” – Robert Macmillan.
“I haven’t been writing in for a while, primarily as I’ve been spending/wasting most of this year giving presentations on Brexit and the construction industry but also because, like Manchester United and Arsenal, I thought I would take this season off. However, as the great Michael Corleone said …” – Noble Francis.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’the day is … David Wall, who bags a copy of I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. We’ve got more prizes to give away, so get scribbling.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Robert Moreno has made way for Luis Enrique to return as Spain manager. “Luis Enrique’s decisions regarding his staff, as well as Robert’s decision not to continue when he found out Luis Enrique wanted to return, are personal things,” sniffed professional Spain press conference bod Luis Rubiales. “You have to ask them.”
Chelsea are champing at the bit to sign Ben Chilwell but they’re unlikely to hear until December whether their two-window transfer ban will be overturned by CAS.
Mick McCarthy is still feeling flushed with pride now that O’Ireland must go through the agony of missing out on Euro 2020 all over again in the play-offs. “I’m disappointed with the result but that’s the only thing I’m disappointed with,” he swooned.
Manchester City made a club-record £535.2m last season and are now apparently only £30m off being as good at making money as Manchester United. Can’t you just smell the romance?
We should all be watching England’s games from behind the sofa because their attacking play is “frightening”, according to Marcus Rashford.
And because December 2022 will be the end of football as we know it, Ethics World Cup organisers have chartered two cruise ships to serve as floating hotels for any fans that can be bothered to go. “We are sure fans from all over the world will be excited at the prospect of staying on board a cruise ship,” trumpeted an EWC suit.
STILL WANT MORE?
The Wales striker with more criminal convictions than caps. By Paul Brown.
Julian Nagelsmann to take over at Spurs? Arsenal to literally swoop for Villarreal’s Pau Torres? These rumours and others are spat out by today’s Mill.
Paul Doyle’s verdict on Republic O’Ireland’s latest 1-1 draw with Denmark.
There’s enough flamin’ young talent in the W-League to help it survive the loss of Sam Kerr to Chelsea, reckons Ella Reilly.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!
Tickets are still available for the Football Weekly Christmas Special [on 27 November! – Fiver Grinch Ed], live in London. Get them here.