Clever Pep Guardiola! He’s probably in his laboratory right now, painstakingly working on a new formula for dividing a football pitch into 800 spinning segments that can be controlled simultaneously by players whose every thought has been planted by him. As a tireless perfectionist, the Catalan mastermind is a devout believer in the old adage about success being 10% inspiration, 40% perspiration and 50% obliteration of nearly all the competition through outrageous spending. Those Abu Dhabi lads sure struck oil when they hired Pep.
And now, of course, Pep and his employers plan to engage Jack Grealish and Harry Kane, leading opponents to fear that if that crafty pair link up with their fellow England star Raheem Sterling, Manchester City could win the Premier League by a record number of free-kicks and penalties. Mind you, Pep has not got his way just yet and nor has Kane despite metaphorically throwing himself to the ground and appealing to Daniel Levy.
While Spurs were drawing 2-2 with Chelsea on Wednesday in a pre-season kickabout at Stamford Bridge, Kane is understood to have been in Florida plotting his future. “I expect to speak with Harry soon and I haven’t had the chance yet,” blubbed Nuno Espírito Santo more than a month after being appointed Spurs manager. “I believe that all the issues relating to Harry we should discuss internally, among us, and try to avoid any kind of public argument,” he continued, while Kane debated which to try first: Big Thunder Mountain or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin?
The Fiver isn’t sure why Nuno is so opposed to White Hart Lane’s soiled laundry being aired in public: after all, it has generally been conducted in good humour so far. Chuckles have even been raised at the suggestion that Kane thinks Levy could waive dozens of millions of pounds on the grounds of a perceived gentleman’s agreement; and guffaws have broken out over claims that Spurs shouldn’t sell because they are serious domestic rivals to City. And while Spurs distract themselves with all that, Aston Villa have only snuck in and prised Danny Ings from Southampton, meaning Villa will go into the new season with not one but two strikers who would have done more for England at Not Euro 2020 than Kane did.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Art, like football, is eternal. Art is also evolving, and digital art (NFT) is another way to connect with the fans” – donning cravat and beret, Lionel Messi launches his own non-fungible token, whatever one of those is.
It’s the latest Football Weekly pod, with a focus on the European leagues.
The pod’s live Premier League preview is coming soon too. Get your tickets here.
“I would hope that those clubs who accept shirt and other sponsorship from betting companies might have felt a little shame yesterday. But I suspect not. RIP, Lee” – Kevin McKee.
“I’ve bored many an acquaintance in the past, by musing whether the Manic Street Preachers were street preachers who are manic, or preachers from Manic Street. On this basis I object to the naval pedantry of Tom Coldrick and others (Fiver letters passim) regarding the phrase ‘Union Jack Grealish’. Who says it relates to a flag? Maybe Jack is the Aston Villa shop steward for the PFA. Maybe Jack is a staunch supporter of the UK. Or maybe there are more layers to Jack than we know about, and he just can’t spell” – Gumley Slats.
“Re: Corrie not having ‘had a loveable anti-hero Londoner since Mike Baldwin’ (yesterday’s Fiver). Poor old ex-Brentford cheeky chap Bradley Walsh’s attempts to be in every programme on TV ever are going unnoticed by some, it would appear” – Andrew Taylor.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Liverpool will add Andrew Devine’s name to Anfield’s Hillsborough memorial and amend their shirts to recognise him as the 97th victim of the disaster.
Leicester defender Wesley Fofana faces a lengthy spell out with a fractured fibula after a grim challenge from Villarreal forward Niño during their pre-season friendly.
The Special Rom? Inter have been told by Romelu Lukaku to take the €120m that Chelsea are willing to pay for the striker’s return to London’s actually not-that-fashionable King’s Road.
Two goals each from Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe fired USA! USA!! USA!!! to Big Sports Day bronze after a 4-3 thriller with the Flamin’ Matildaroos.
Searing temperatures and a dodgy surface have meant the BSD gold-medal match between Sweden and Canada has been switched from Tokyo to Yokohama and will kick off 10 [TEN – Fiver Vidiprinter Ed] hours later on Friday.
And Fifa suits have asked kit-makers Puma to take two stars off their Uruguay shirts as the South Americans have only actually won two World Cups (in 1930 and 1950). The extra two stars come from BSD golds in 1924 and 1928.
STILL WANT MORE?
In today’s Premier League previews, Ed Aarons wonders whether Patrick Vieira can cause a style revolution at Palace, while Andy Hunter assesses the tricky task ahead of Rafa Benítez at Everton.
Louise Taylor traces Bev Priestman’s journey from County Durham to leading out Canada’s women in Big Sports Day final.
And sign up for a daily Big Sports Day email here. It’s not particularly funny but, hey, glass houses and all that.
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