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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Scott Murray

Yes, it’s close-season transfer time, when anything goes

When The Fiver hits send at some random moment every afternoon.
When The Fiver hits send at some random moment every afternoon. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images


The ticker on the BBC News channel went haywire on Tuesday morning, churning out random arrant nonsense such as “Manchester United are rubbish”, “Weather rain everywhere” and … actually, we don’t see the problem with this. Nevertheless, the corporation decided to issue an immediate apology, explaining that someone who didn’t know what the hell they were doing had typed the first thing that came into their vacant head and hit send, which was big of the BBC, because it’s not as though the Guardian has ever said sorry for The Fiver, and they’ve had more than 20 years to set the record straight. So let’s not get too judgmental here.

A ticker of doom, earlier.
A ticker of doom, earlier. Photograph: BBC

The BBC could have gotten away with it, too, keeping their heads down and riding it out, because it’s coming up to that time of the year when bunkum, drivel, hogwash, balderdash and confected hokum, all barely thought through, if at all, are no longer the sole preserve of the Westminster commentariat. Yes, it’s close-season transfer time, when anything goes, publish whatever you want, and today all the talk is of Raheem Sterling who, fresh from coming off best in a $tevie Mbe-infused title race for once, is the prime summer target for Real Madrid. That one comes courtesy of the same people who brought you Kylian Mbappé to the Bernabéu every other day for the last three years, so make of that what you will.

City will also say goodbye this summer to Fernandinho, 83, and his uncanny ability to act the galoot without ever getting booked. They still need someone to commit seven sly fouls, 15 crafty trips, nine gentle nudges from behind and three borderline yellow cards per match, without which Pep Guardiola’s renowned purism cannot stand, and to this end they’re reportedly interested in Kalvin Phillips. Will the Leeds midfielder cross the Pennines to be almost certain of picking up a Premier League winner’s medal? Maybe. Maybe not. To be honest, there’s no point asking us. Or indeed anybody else. Nobody knows anything. After all, Manchester United still finished sixth, and it’s pretty sunny outside right now.


“I want people to look at my mistakes and not make the same ones, and to know where to find support if they become ill. I know what it’s like to give up, but I also know what it’s like to fight back. I just want to give the message that it’s possible to come back from the moment when you think you can’t go any further” – Glasgow City’s Clare Shine tells her remarkable story to Nick Ames.

Clare Shine in Glasgow last week.
Clare Shine in Glasgow last week. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian


“The BBC’s Pointless first aired on 24 August 2009 with a prize of £1,000. On the same day, Liverpool lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa and the day before Burnley beat Everton 1-0 at Turf Moor. Thirteen or so years later the Pointless prize still opens at £1,000. There is never a ripple of applause from the tame audience. However, when the prize rises to something like £6,000 the audience applauds wildly. Since the game itself remains the same, we must conclude that humans applaud money. The bigger the sum, the louder the adulation. Liverpool now have oodles of the stuff, as do all the top six, Manchester United notwithstanding. Burnley, on the other hand, are lumbered with not-quite-big-enough American leveraging millionaires, while Everton are being accused of massively fiddling their finances [which they deny – Fiver Lawyers]. So, to the elitist, top-end club supporters next season, let us reflect that when Manchester City shove six goals up some hapless team playing the same game, and the City humans go wild, they are going wild for money. The good news for some, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, ‘you won’t have Burnley to kick around anymore’” – Bruce Ellis.

“I see Erik ten Hag is stating that all football eras of dominance must end in a reference to Manchester City and Liverpool (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). Someone should tell him that Manchester United’s ended 10 years ago” – Neil Bage.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Bruce Ellis.


It’s your boy, David Squires, on the final day of the Premier League.

Here you go.
Here you go. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian


Get your ears around the latest Football Weekly. 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.


Kurt Zouma has admitted kicking and slapping his pet cat, while his younger brother Yoan – who filmed and shared the footage – admitted one count of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the West Ham defender to commit an offence. Prosecutor Hazel Stevens told Thames magistrates’ court that a young woman who first saw the footage was so appalled that she cancelled a date with Yoan, saying: “I don’t think hitting a cat like that is OK – don’t bother coming today.” Proceedings were adjourned until the sentencing hearing on 1 June.

Jarrod Bowen and James Justin have received their first England call-ups for – Fiver checks notes – four upcoming Nations League games in June. Full squad: Pickford (Everton), Pope (Burnley), Ramsdale (Arsenal); Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Coady (Wolves), Guéhi (Crystal Palace), James (Chelsea), Justin (Leicester), Maguire (Manchester United), Stones (Manchester City), Tomori (Milan), Trippier (Newcastle), Walker (Manchester City), White (Arsenal), Morris-Dancing Fiver (Fiver Towers); Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Gallagher (Crystal Palace, on loan from Chelsea), Mount (Chelsea), Phillips (Leeds), Rice (West Ham), Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Abraham (Roma), Bowen (West Ham), Foden (Manchester City), Grealish (Manchester City), Kane (Tottenham), Saka (Arsenal), Sterling (Manchester City).

Tottenham could be ready to go wild in the aisles this summer after trousering a £150m capital increase from majority shareholder Enic.

David Moyes wants to bolster his own Squad! so could make a move to bring back Jesse Lingard.

And Manchester City have been enjoying their Premier League title on a city-centre bus parade. “I said earlier on the coach, it’s been brilliant to win my first title,” whooped a refreshed Jack Grealish. “I want to thank everyone – but the main person I want to thank is Bernardo Silva for coming off in the 70th minute because he was miles off it.”


The final 4,500-odd words on the Premier League season that was.

Here we went.
Here we went. Composite: Getty/Shutterstock/Reuters

Mark Lawrenson and the end of an era for football punditry. By Jonathan Liew.

Burnley have no manager, nine players are out of contract, their academy is at risk of being downgraded and they need to pay back “a significant proportion” of the £65m loan owner ALK Capital took out when buying them. Things could be better, reports Will Unwin.

There is a fair case that Pep-era City is the single most transformative element in the modern history of English football, writes Barney Ronay.

Jonathan Wilson on how one tactical hybrid now rules Europe.

Steven Pye takes us back to the last time Liverpool and Real Madrid met in Paris.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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