Leicester, Forest and a real race to the Premier League bottom | Soccer

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With 32 minutes to go, his side two down and in desperate need of a goal against West Ham, Bruno Lage looked to the Wolves bench and surveyed his options. It spoke volumes that the best of them was a seemingly unfit striker who hadn’t played a competitive game of football in 11 months, but on waddled a ring-rusty Diego Costa for his first experience of English action since scoring for Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final. There was to be no repeat, even if this tribute act did play his greatest hits, snarling and sh1thousing his way through the final half-hour, even going so far as to steer a good headed opportunity wide. With just three goals to their name in eight top-flight matches this season, it was a familiar story for Wolves. Lage’s touchline Hail Mary had failed to pay off and it came as no great shock when news filtered through on Sunday that he had been fired. If only he’d resisted the urge to loan the unstoppable goal machine that is Conor Coady out to Everton, eh?

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With Lage now saying his goodbyes and packing his chattels into a cardboard box, Ralph Hasenhüttl is the new favourite in the bookies’ Sack Race market after three consecutive defeats. With a trip to Manchester City next up, even the patience of his Saintly overlords could be tested to its limit should Erling Haaland and his support cast cut loose and pile more hurt on Southampton next weekend. No strangers to 9-0 gubbings, on current form they’ll do well just to prevent the Norseman from becoming the first player in Premier League history from scoring back-to-back-to-back hat-tricks in the same game. But before betting on Hasenhüttl to be the next top-flight manager to collect his P45, it might be worth waiting to see how Monday’s six-pointer between Leicester and Nottingham Forest goes, what with the next two managers in the market taking their places in adjacent technical areas at the King Power Stadium.

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Occupying the bottom two places of the table, Leicester and Forest had wildly contrasting summers in the transfer market. The Foxes lost several key players and bought almost nobody except the Belgian Sideshow Bob, while the newly-promoted club with whom they have long enjoyed a bitter rivalry lost an entire platoon of personnel and brought in so many replacements they are all still wearing name-tags and are expected to arrive in Leicester on board a convoy of buses. Having conveyed the impression of a man who would genuinely welcome the bullet in recent months, Brendan Rodgers is probably in the less tenable position, but football being football, it would be no great shock to see Steve Cooper get his cards from Forest’s famously “unconventional” owner, Evangelos Marinakis, should they lose their fifth game on the spin. This clash marks a real race to the bottom, even if it doesn’t hold a candle to its far more grim counterpart taking place in the Birmingham Conference Centre less than an hour’s drive away.

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“Our beloved sport is sick, especially in Europe, and, of course, in Spain. Football is losing its position as the world’s leading global sport. The most worrying fact is that young people are becoming less and less interested in football. The current competitions, as they are designed today, do not attract spectators’ interest, except in the final stages” – Real Madrid chief suit Florentino Pérez there, still banging the same old tired drum as he tries to flog the £$L again.

Talking of playing the hits …
Talking of playing the hits … Photograph: Fernando Alvarado/EPA


“Food, mortgages, energy, fuel; everything is going up. Does this recent shameless Fiver drive to increase subscribers mean that inflation is even going to effect the 1,057 pedants, a number that has been stable, with no market shocks, for many years? 1,059 pedants just doesn’t have the same ring to it somehow” – John Myles [the number is holding reassuringly steady despite increased subscription rates – Fiver Ed].

“The digital age is one driven by consumer choice and I applaud The Man for challenging that philosophy. Why give your readership the option to select their preferred channel to engage with their favourite ‘humorous’, tea-timely footballing digest when you can force them to subscribe and receive the enlightening journal by email? I’m wondering what the fan sentiment sure eyes are indicating” – Johnny Mac.

“Everyone knows that the best bit of The Fiver is the letters, so if you really want to boost subscriber numbers you should hold them back for the email” – Andrew Parker.

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 … Rollover.


Utter filth from Tomás Sánchez for Algeciras at AD Ceuta in the Spanish third division.

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