The Fiver | Wedges, thin ends and the capacity for cringeworthiness


Like all liberal, progressive, often insufferable culture-signalling tea-time emails, The Fiver likes to advertise the fact we watch David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive at least once a month. Please, reader, don’t tell us you haven’t seen it? It is as brilliant and disquieting as anything Lynch has ever done. It is psychotically lucid, oppressively strange, but with a powerfully er0tic and humanly intimate dimension that Lynch never quite achieved elsewhere. It is a fantasia of illusion and identi … [Hang on, have you nicked that from Peter Bradshaw’s review? – Fiver Ed].

While we love to shoehorn it into conversation at every opportunity – “frankly, Weird Uncle Fiver, if you can’t make room in your life to watch Mulholland Drive at least once every month, then you’re simply not living you best life” – we never thought we’d have the chance to bludgeon it into our very own tea-time email. But then we were asked to talk about the popular introduction of artificial crowd noise for those watching Bundesliga matches, and suddenly we were transported to the chilling, illusory world of Club Silencio in January 2002. Silencio, Fletch! There’s no hay bloody banda, Fletch!

The Fiver experienced this aural upgrade on the old Highbury mural the first time during Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday. We were initially sceptical, as with anything introduced after the year 2005, but after a while we quite enjoyed the background hum as we drooled over Jadon Sancho’s through passing. A similar system will be used when La Liga and the Premier League resume in the next 10 days, with viewers having the option of switching it on or off. La Liga have some additional plans, including virtual fans and virtual adv€rti$ing. Given the slightly addled state of English football and England in the last few years, The Fiver is a bit worried about wedges and thin ends, not to mention the capacity for cringeworthiness. If the Premier League aren’t in talks with Pret A Manger about naming one end of each ground, we’ll be disappointed.

The use of bespoke sound effects for goals, fouls and the like also have a vivid whiff of potential farce. It’s easy to imagine the wrong button being pressed, with the award of a routine throw-in near the halfway line prompting a burst of “You’re not fit to referee” – or its fruitier alternative, the one that rhymes with Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä. And we’re still not sure how they are going to simulate the 2019-20 season’s chart-topper, Eff Var by the Molineux Choir. But the early signs are that the whole thing will be far more successful than the last instance of brazen fakery in top-level football, Father Ted Crilly’s attempt to manipulate the All Priests five-a-side over-75s Indoor Football Challenge Match. Hopefully it will end, literally and metaphorically, without anyone being hoofed up the ar$e.


“I thought as the captain of his home city’s team he would have done more. He should have and could have done more. It’s too bad. But everyone controls their own destiny. He chose one path and the team has taken a different path” – Brescia coach Diego López vents at Mario Balotelli, amid reports the club are set to fire the striker for his lack of training during the lockdown.

Why always he?
Why always he? Photograph: Filippo Venezia/EPA


Football Weekly will be in this general vicinity.


“In the buildup to Euro 96, the Czech Republic took on North West Counties side Bamber Bridge at the Irongate Stadium, close to their Marriott Hotel base in Preston. It was a balmy summer night and a group of my mates came over from Manchester to get a first-hand look at the potential future stars of the tournament. Given the nature of the ground, we were within touching distance of the flowing locks of Patrik Berger and Karel Poborsky, and properly pitchside to marvel at the skills of Pavel Nedved and Vladimir Smicer. One of my mates also cleaned up with a correct score bet of 9-1 to the Czechs in the belief that a home goal would be an astute move, making him just that bit smugger than normal. They did become our official second team for the tournament and the friendly was infinitely more entertaining that when I next saw them in the goalless semi-final with France at Old Trafford” – Matt Horn.

“One of the ‘censors’ at Christ Church, Oxford is called Professor Dirk Aarts. I hope he doesn’t play football as I don’t think referees would allow wands or spells to defend against him” – Alex Folkes.

“Danny Preiskel (Friday’s Fiver letters) doesn’t need laughing gas to chuckle up The Fiver. He needs to come to Canada and take on some of our legal laughing tobacco. From personal experience, I can testify that a simple application of it renders even The Fiver quite amusing, at times” – Barrie Abbott.

Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Alex Folkes.


Birmingham City boss Pep Clotet will do one at the end of the season. “It’s the best step for everyone and it allows the club to continue to move forward with their vision and strategy,” he cheered.

Social distancing has come to Premier League training, with a change in practice meaning the average time players spend within two metres of one another almost halving during the first week of contact sessions.

No issue for the Spurs defence. Eh? Eh? Oh.
No issue for the Spurs defence. Eh? Eh? Oh. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty Images

Plans are afoot for Big Cup and Big Vase to be completed in a localised mini-tournament in Lisbon, according to reports in Germany, which is also being considered as a venue. 

Werder Bremen are on course for relegation and only a second season outside the Bundesliga since 1963 after defeat to Wolfsburg left them in deep trouble. “What gives us courage – as strange as it may sound – is the table,” tooted manager Florian Kohfeldt. “We are not seven or eight points behind, but only three. And we still have four games, so you can catch up.” 

And haircut recipient Jadon Sancho needs to get some nous, according to Dortmund teammate Emre Can. “He just has to be a little bit smarter about these things,” roared Can after the Englishman’s fine for a verboten trim. “Everyone needs a hairdresser.”


START FOOTBALL begins in earnest with our Premier League previews: how clubs have been affected by the pandemic, what needs to be done and who is the key player. Nick Ames kicks things off with Arsenal, while Paul Doyle tells all about Aston Villa. 

Arsenal beating Charlton 6-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Saturday.
Arsenal beating Charlton 6-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Saturday. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

Quiz time: surprise domestic cup finalists featuring Real Madrid’s reserves and Bobby Stokes. 

Sean Ingle on Transfer Room, the online app that 13 Premier League clubs are using to do deals quickly and mitigate the Mr 15%s. 

Bayern put Bayer Leverkusen in their place, writes Andy Brassell. And here’s John Brewin on the largely positive reaction to the virtual crowd noise in the Bundesliga.

Louise Taylor remembers Gordon Banks and that save, 50 years on from Pelé’s famous header.

One favourite game for the road, from Michael Gibbons.

And Suzy Wrack chats to Renae Cuéllar about playing professionally, one border and 34km away from her husband and fellow footballer, Carlos Álvarez. 

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