POTTER (og 75), CRUYFF (og 1972)
Given how Chelsea owner and 70s CBS News anchor Todd Boehly sacked his last manager for not being four-square behind his in-no-way-scattergun summer spending spree, it was pretty brave of Graham Potter to bench both Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana for the Big Cup game against Salzburg. The centre-backs were an integral part of Boehly’s holistic trolley-dash, so a shiny bronze cent for the bellicose billionaire’s thoughts when the preferred Thiago Silva aquaplaned off to Fulham Broadway, allowing Junior Adamu to tee up Noah Okafor for the equaliser that may – just may – end up costing Chelsea a place in the knockout stage. Chelsea were booed off. Oh Graham! Is a 75-minute honeymoon some sort of record?
But others are hitting the ground running at their new club. Some breaking news for you: Erling Haaland has done quite well since joining Manchester City. If you don’t count the Community Shield, which we don’t, he’s scored in every single competitive game he’s played for the Citizens, with the exception of the Bournemouth match, and he set one up in that. Going into Wednesday’s showdown with his old club Borussia Dortmund, Haaland had bagged 12 times in seven games, a rate of success so absurd it’s beginning to make the act of scoring rather humdrum. What’s the point in celebrating when you know it’s going to happen?
A painful conundrum for long-suffering City fans, we’re sure. Which may explain why Haaland has moved on from mere goal accumulation and into the realm of pastiche. After ambling around bored for 84 minutes, he decided to recreate Johan Cruyff’s famous 1973 Phantom Goal for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid. At neck height, Haaland improbably steered a high-kick into the top corner past Alexander Meyer, an act of balletic and gymnastic grace almost identical to the one Cruyff performed to beat Miguel Reina all those years ago. History repeating itself. Things will become proper eerie if Meyer has a son who goes on to play 394 times for Liverpool.
But what next for Haaland? To paraphrase the legendary Sid Waddell, when Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer; Haaland is only 22. However, all is not lost, as The Fiver has a suggestion for his next art project: the memorable own goal. He could replicate Jamie Pollock’s famous 1998 juggle against QPR that effectively sent City into the Third Division, perhaps, or maybe Lee Dixon’s long-range lob past David Seaman against Coventry in 1991. He should probably stick with copying Cruyff, though. The Dutch master scored perhaps the greatest own goal of all time in 1972 when playing for Ajax against FC Amsterdam, cushioning the ball on his chest in a crowded box, then nonchalantly sidefooting into the top left. Total Own Goal!
The Fiver always suspected Cruyff of being secretly pleased with the sick beauty of that. Should Haaland manage to replicate it against Wolves on Saturday, we reckon he’d be inwardly content with another box on the I’m-a-genius list ticked off, too. Could any City fan begrudge him? Go on, big man! Stick it in there!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Welcome, Ryan” – Weymouth manager David Oldfield upon signing goalkeeper Ryan Sandford on loan from Millwall. Sandford would go on to make this ridiculous quadruple save during their National League South game at Bath. Unfortunately it didn’t impact the result as they lost 2-1. Oh, and Oldfield was then mutual-consented out of the door.
“Todd Boehly and his Premier League ‘All-Star Game’ idea (yesterday’s Fiver) is a sign that he is stuck in a small-minded approach to football. If he wants to make a real splash in terms of fundraising, he should promote something bold and new. Imagine Wembley and in the centre of the pitch are 20 dunking tanks, each adorned with a team badge. Seated a metre above the water on the seat of each is the team owner, wearing a blindfold. Up in the stands, thousands have paid to watch, while there’s also an auction app called ‘What Would You Pay?’ Folks can bid on having the honour of kicking a ball at a team’s target that drops that specific owner into a tank. The top 200 bids per owner will get to do that, and the shots will be taken in order of your bid, so if you want to have the honour of being the first to dunk a Glazer, you have to make the highest bid. Imagine how much a fired manager or disgruntled player might pay? Imagine members of a supporters’ group pooling their funds, so one of them can make their feelings known? Sure, it might be a long day, but between the admission charge, the auction bids, plus the broadcast rights, I am confident this could bring in far more than a mere $200m. Especially when you realise how much a number of former St Louis Rams fans (victims of Stan Kroenke’s shenanigans) might pay to fly over for the chance” – Peter Rehwaldt.
“We may mock, but Boehly could be on to something. However, he’s thinking too small. Why not break the regionality down further to create more games? You could have teams from within London play each other – you could pitch ones from cities against each other. They would need a moniker so that fans know it’s important. I inexplicably like the term ‘derbies’” – Nick Livesey.
“It appears that Cyril the Swan’s attitudes (yesterday’s Fiver) have mellowed over the years” – Gareth Rogers.
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 … Peter Rehwaldt.
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NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Brentford’s Ivan Toney has been called up by England for the first time, in a squad that also features, in a piece of pure, uncut Southgating, Jarrod Bowen selected ahead of Jadon Sancho.
Southampton’s Armel Bella-Kotchap – who should be serenaded at all grounds with a song inspired by this – has been given the nod for Germany’s Nations League squad.
Bad news for Manchester United, who’ve lost Jackie Groenen to PSG, the lure of Women’s Big Cup proving too great to ignore.
Celtic earned a 1-1 draw away to Shakhtar, where travelling fans expressed anti-monarchy sentiment. Conversely, Rangers sang the national anthem prior to their game against Napoli, which they went on to lose 3-0.
Here’s a full roundup from the rest of Wednesday’s Big Cup action. Oh Juve!
Scott Hogan’s hat-trick and a 3-2 win for Birmingham means Steve Bruce is running out of road at West Brom.
And after his 278th spell in charge of Oldham, John Sheridan is leaving Boundary Park again. “Shez will forever be a Latics legend and there will be discussions over a permanent tribute to his service,” cheered the National League outfit.
STILL WANT MORE?
The WSL kicks off this weekend! Here’s Suzanne Wrack’s preview.
Barney Ronay on Chelsea.
Jonathan Liew on Manchester City.
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