RUNNING, STROLLING, TALKING AND WRITING ON FUMES
Gareth Southgate and the lads went for a nice walk in Budapest last weekend. They took in Heroes Square, St Stephen’s Basilica, the magnificent parliament buildings, Buda Castle and the rolling blue Danube, and at some point during their relaxed stroll around the vibrant Mittel-European wonder, they absent-mindedly lost their opening Nations League fixture. Ah well, never mind, who cares. Not The Fiver, that’s for certain. Nor, we strongly suspect, do you. The players surely can’t be bothered, if their signal disregards on Saturday for giving new England broadcaster Channel 4 bang for their buck is anything to go by. This much we know.
But who can blame them? They’re strolling on fumes after the end of a long, hard, dramatic, emotionally draining season. They deserve to be on the beach somewhere, soaking up the sun, drinking cold beverages and getting into unnecessary fistfights with the locals. Sadly, instead of lying beside the pool, imbibing hop-based refreshments and throwing hands at native law-enforcement officers, they’ve got more goddamned Nations League effing football to play. A relaxing summer of fun, frolics and long-running legal sagas requiring assistance from the British embassy will have to wait, and yes we are vamping shamelessly, with nothing left to say, but this has been the case since about 2003, none of this can come as a surprise to you.
This low-energy state of affairs isn’t stopping Gareth Southgate from cracking the whip before Tuesday’s supposed big clash with presumably equally uninterested rivals Germany. With only three players in the squad having scored five goals or more in their entire England careers – Harry Kane (49), Raheem Sterling (19) and Harry Maguire (seven) – he’s demanding others “step forward and start to give us threats from other areas… that is the challenge now for this whole group.” A strange point to make, perhaps, since in the last 10 games, contributions have been made by Bukayo Saka, Ben Chilwell, Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse, Jack Grealish, John Stones, Jordan Henderson, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw and Ollie Watkins. But we’ll let it slide. It’s the end of a long season, everyone’s tired, nobody thinks straight when they’re tired. We’ve got one thing right, mind: the Uefa schedulers want clipping around the ear.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Scott Murray for hot MBM coverage of Germany 2-1 England in the Nations League from 7.45pm BST.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The exact circumstances are being clarified, a connection with the heavy rains of last night is suspected” – it might just be that The Fiver has been watching too much Stranger Things, but the Austrian FA isn’t completely ruling out the possibility of the mysterious hole on the Ernst Happel Stadium pitch being a portal to the Upside Down, following a Nations League defeat to Denmark that had already been delayed by a 90-minute power outage. Neighbor!!
It’s David Squires on … Wales.
“Tim Roth as Blatter might be a relatively low point in film (yesterday’s Fiver letters), but I raise you (lower you?) the entire cast of Best – Roger Daltrey as Rodney Marsh? I mean…” – Richard Morris.
“Fair play to O Fenomeno (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) for giving the rest of us chronically knee-knacked folk hope that we, too, could complete the Camino de Santiago, even if the to walk bit is rather too large an ask” – Harriet Osborn.
“Re: yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs. Store this headline for when fans soon lose love for their new owners: ‘Walsall Supporters Boycott Boycott’” – JJ Zucal.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is… Richard Morris.
Get your ears around the latest Football Weekly, featuring a tearful Elis James. And while we’re at it, Max, Barry and the pod squad are going back on tour. Tickets to live shows in June and July are available here.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Eight England fans have been arrested in Munich before the game against Germany. Three were detained for making Nazi salutes and police said another caused an estimated €2,000 damage after he let off a flare in his hotel room. Four others were arrested for incidents including insulting police officers and urinating in the street.
A man jailed for selling illegal devices providing unauthorized streams of Premier League matches has been ordered to pay back almost £1m following a court ruling. Steven King, who was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud in 2019 and sentenced to seven years and four months in prison, has now been told to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities.
Two teenagers have been arrested and released under investigation, in connection with the break-in at Plymouth Argyle that resulted in their pitch being badly damaged by a tractor.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston will meet his French counterpart to discuss the chaos at the Stade de France, described by MP Ian Byrne as the “most hostile environment” he had seen at a sporting event.
Wales players will be canvassed over their views relating to issues surrounding the Human Rights World Cup. “There has already been some messaging going on with the Welsh government about our stance,” said FA chief suit Noel Mooney. “The players, their views, do they use the platform to call out things themselves?”
Scotland defender Jen Beattie, who recovered from breast cancer last year, has signed a new contract with Arsenal.
England defender Alex Greenwood is out of the squad’s training camp at St George’s Park after testing positive for coronavirus. But Steph Houghton is confident of making it for Euro 2022. “I back the work I’ve done that nobody’s seen, and I’m improving every single day,” she cheered.
Ipswich Town Women defender Lucy Egan will be sidelined until October, after being slapped with a big old ban by the Suffolk FA for “an altercation with the referee” against Portsmouth last month.
With all that cash meant for Kylian Mbappé sloshing around their bank account, Real Madrid have instead agreed to a €100m deal to sign Aurelién Tchouaméni from Monaco.
Liverpool are this close to snaffling wee Calvin Ramsay from Aberdeen as cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Paul Pogba is set to trouser £6.8ma year if he signs on the dotted line at Juventus.
And Son Heung-min is relieved that South Korea managed to mark his century of caps with a 2-0 win over Chile. “It would have been awkward if people had congratulated me on my 100th match after a loss,” he tooted.
STILL WANT MORE?
Our men’s and women’s transfer interactives are up and running for the summer.
Speaking of which, Ben McAleer has picked out a target for each of the 20 Premier League clubs in this window.
Fire up your Vespa because it’s the Bandinis 2022! The complete review of Serie A’s 2021-22 season.
England’s good vibes will be put on the line in Germany, reckons Barney Ronay.
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