POCH-ING THINGS UP
The Fiver has never been dumped, and you can probably join the dots on that one. But we have enough of our fat finger on the pulse to know about the modern ways in which people have conscious uncoupling imposed upon them: the sudden “we need to talk”, the text, the FaceSpace status, the tears. Today, Paris Saint-Germain introduced a new one: the afterthought.
A couple of hours before stepping out with their new beau Christophe Galtier at a pre-arranged press conference, PSG slipped a cursory statement announcing Mauricio Pochettino’s departure on to their website. No emotional tribute, no montages, not even a paint-stripping argument over who gets to keep the Delicatessen Blu-ray. Usually football clubs try to create a veneer of decency by parting company (sic) with their manager a few days before officially appointing the replacement they’ve secretly been courting for weeks. The Fiver can’t decide whether PSG’s variation is: a) an unedifying disgrace; or b) a refreshing bit of honesty in an industry that mislaid its moral compass 20-odd years ago.
One thing’s for sure – the whole world and its dog knew this was coming. Pochettino and PSG suffered an irreconcilable difference when Real Madrid put them out of Big Cup. The fact Pochettino won Ligue 1 by September is neither here nor there. PSG are obsessed with winning Big Cup for the first time. And to add salt to the most pungent wound since DCI Roz Huntley checked her left arm for the last time, the most recent winners of the trophy are men who were sacked by PSG: Carlo Ancelotti and Thomas Tuchel.
After trying some of the most celebrated coaches from around the world, PSG have decided it’s time for something completely different: a Frenchman, and a low-key one at that. Galtier has never managed a super club but, according to our French cousi … [that’s enough about stereotypical cousins – Fiver Ed], has built a strong reputation among the have-nots of French football. He won the league with Lille in 2020-21, an astonishing achievement given PSG’s domestic dominance, and his Nice side beat PSG en route to the Coupe de France final last season. And the man who helped win that title at Lille, football advisor extraordinaire Luis Campos, has also moved to Paris this summer.
At his big unveiling, Galtier cut a relaxed, authoritative figure. He spoke with his hands, his jowls and sometimes his mouth, saying all the right things – including that he wants Neymar to stay at the club. “Neymar is a world-class player, one of the best in the world,” he cooed. “What coach wouldn’t want to have him? I have a very clear idea of what I would expect from him. Obviously I want him to stay.” Galtier’s teams have often been known for their defensive acumen, which could make for some lively dialogue between him and his assistant managers, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi, not to mention Neymar. But now is the start of a beautiful relationship, so the brickbats and P45s can wait. Not literally, though you never know in modern football.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Newcastle United is not just a football club, but a vehicle for asserting the interests of a regime that tramples on human rights and whose policies are diametrically opposed to the value and mission statement of [our club]” – a Mainz 05 supporters’ group statement explains why they’re furious with their club for playing a pre-season friendly against the Saudi-owned Magpies. Mainz themselves are having none of it, though: “A unilateral cancellation by us, as demanded by some fans, is unthinkable.”
Our new Women’s Football Weekly podcast is here. Listen in all the usual places, but it’s here if you want it.
David Squires is back, baby, with a look ahead to Euro 2022.
“I see that Spurs’ new signing Richarlison has been banned for one game for throwing a fan’s firework while celebrating at Goodison Park. Just as well his new ground’s VIP cheese room never came to pass, any potential fondue-slick oozing out on to the pitch could really slow those Kane-Son counter attacks” – Steve Malone.
“Perhaps if this course to simultaneously teach construction trades and football coaching had been around whilst Stuart Pearce was learning to be an electrician whilst playing for Wealdstone FC, pre-Nottingham Forest, it may have prevented this” – Noble Francis.
“I have been a longstanding Fiver reader and was totally delighted to see Fiver merch brought up (Fiver letters passim). Just joining the 1,056 other people who have probably emailed to say that I would actually buy one. Surely one of us must have links with a T-shirt printer?” – Kathy Hart.
“Re: Everton’s latest signing and Noble Francis making mention of ‘Russian art-house films’ (yesterday’s Fiver letters). It’s pertinent, as Tarkovsky’s magnum opus involves about 90 minutes of three blokes trudging disconsolately round a field, desperately searching for the answer to their troubles, as the audience wonders whether anything is ever going to happen” – Ed Bayling.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Kathy Hart.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The Premier League has asked clubs to vote on whether to bring in a voluntary ban on gambling sponsorship on shirts before potential government action. Hmm …
Tyrell Malacia will be the answer to any quiz question seeking the identity of Manchester United’s first signing in the Erik ten Hag era.
Brentford are this close to signing Scotland left-back Aaron Hickey from Bologna for £18.9m.
Chelsea are considering a move for Cristiano Ronaldo but, crucially, it is big cheese Todd Boehly who is interested and Thomas Tuchel may decide that signing a 37-year-old global brand that doesn’t run around much is not necessarily progress.
Manchester United player and fan Ella Toone is so excited to be involved in England’s Euro 2022 opener against Austria at Old Trafford, that she has splashed out on 24 tickets for friends and family. “For me, it’s just excitement,” she cheered. “These are once-in-a-lifetime things.”
Leeds winger Daniel James reckons a fear of getting knacked before the Human Rights World Cup will lead to some weirdness next season. “It’s a strange one,” he blabbed. “We’ve got a Premier League game something like the week before … players are going to be wary.”
And the Sierra Leone FA is investigating the outcome of two hard-fought matches that ended … wait for it … Kahunla 95-0 Lumbebu United, and Gulf FC 91-1 Koquima Lebanon. “We can’t stand by and see an embarrassing situation like this go unpunished,” sniffed SLFA chief suit Thomas Daddy Brima. “We’re going to launch an immediate investigation and bring to book all those responsible for this mediocrity.”
STILL WANT MORE?
Prediction time: Anita Asante, Jonathan Liew, Karen Carney and Suzy Wrack are among the writers to put their heads above the Euros parapet.
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