The Fiver | Structural problems that don’t seem to be making anyone in football happy 💥👩💥

UNITED WE STAND

Last weekend proved to be the most productive yet in The Fiver’s ongoing campaign to STOP FOOTBALL. On Friday afternoon, the punditocracy downed social-media-disgrace tools for 81 hours, the resulting peace and quiet acting as a form of cyberdouche, cleaning hot takes from every nook and cranny of the internet, a polemic irrigation. Ah, silent bliss, and bacteria-free too. Then on Sunday, Old Trafford fell to protesters good and true, this being long past the time when The Man has needed telt. So for two glorious, righteous, truth-bringing hours, FOOTBALL was STOPPED. The Fiver’s work, in the sense that we ourselves had contributed absolutely nothing, was done. ¡No pasarán!

The best thing about The Man getting telt, of course, was imagining the high priests of patter twitching and jonesing all Sunday evening and Monday, their instant sideways commentaries good to go, breath shortening, skin crawling, beads of sweat forming on the forehead, one finger hovering over the tweet button, so close to addressing the nation yet so far from all those moreish likes. But there was another useful by-product of the protest: a serious debate forced front and centre, ostensibly anti-Glazer, but at its root challenging structural problems that don’t seem to be making anyone in the game, from Manchester to Madrid to Macclesfield, particularly happy. Save a few people at the very top, that is, but most of those folk can, if we’re reading the room correctly, do one.

As ever when people put their heads above the parapet to question the mechanisms that keep ticket prices high and fans in their place, The Man runs the first route in his Divide & Rule playbook, turning a largely peaceful and essential protest into a massive law and order issue. But while we have no truck with criminal damage, or bampots injuring the police, neither do we approve members of said force bundling folk to the ground and punching them repeatedly, something the star of that footage has presumably been emboldened to do now Hastings has lost his turf war with Carmichael. The Fiver fervently hopes all discussion pertaining to the protest can be kept on track for the greater good, and not succumb to the culture wars, or worse, be drowned out by noisy partisan squabbling over whether United or Liverpool benefit most from the date of the rearranged fixture, because that’s surely on its way too.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for hot Big Cup MBM coverage of Manchester City 2-2 PSG (agg: 4-3).

QUOTE OF THE DAY

1 May: “I’ll wait to be back in football. Maybe next season is premature” – José Mourinho gets his glossy weekend magazine chat on.

4 May: “The appointment of José is a huge step in building a long-term and consistent winning culture throughout the club” – Roma reveal there will be no gap year for everyone’s favourite 58-year-old moody teenager, sending manager Paulo Fonseca packing at the end of the season. “I have always given my all for this club and this city,” Fonseca sniffed.

Packing for Rome, earlier. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

RECOMMENDED LOOKING

It’s David Squires on the Manchester United protests. You can get your own copy here.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Here’s the latest Football Weekly podcast.

FIVER LETTERS

“Can I point out that Ronald Koeman getting sent off for something he apparently didn’t do (Friday’s News, Bits and Bobs) only goes a very small way to redressing the balance of his not getting sent off for that thing he definitely did do” – Richard O’Hagan.

“Given your well-documented detachment from reality, might I suggest as part of the ongoing Stop Football campaign that, from now on, The Fiver restrict itself to fictive coverage of an entirely imaginary €uropean $uper £eague. Not only would this have the desired effect of eliminating real football, it would have the added benefit of creating a competition in which, from time to time, Spurs and Arsenal could look forward to some decent results” – Hanford Woods [still think that’s a bit far fetched – Fiver Ed].

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 … Richard O’Hagan.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Dalian Atkinson was murdered in the street by a police officer who Tasered and kicked him in the head in August 2016, a jury at Birmingham crown court has heard, in a case expected to last into June.

Fifa’s Ethics Committee has banned another former employee of the Haitian FA for 10 years as part of its investigation into sexual abuse claims.

Pep Guardiola reckons everyone at Manchester City will be put through the wringer in their Big Cup semi-final second leg against PSG. “I don’t have to tell anyone – the players, backroom staff, doctors, cooks – how important it is,” he blabbed. “There is going to be a big battle, a tough game and moments to suffer.”

We go again.
We go again. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

Madrid full-back Marcelo is free to face Chelsea in the second leg of Big Cup semis after he was relieved from poll station admin duty after just a couple of minutes’ work.

Chelsea Women’s quadruple hunt is picking up pace.

Only fantastical happenings can stop West Brom being relegated, according to Sam Allardyce. “We owe it to everybody to try to win every game we have left and hope that by some magic miracle and fairydust we stay up,” he honked.

David Moyes has been playing fast and loose with the English language after West Ham’s Big Cup-boosting 2-1 win at Turf Moor. “They showed they wouldn’t be pushed around and be Burnleyed,” he trilled.

And Lincoln City have received an apology from the EFL’s head of referees for a calamitous injury-time penalty decision for Peterborough in their 3-3 draw, which propelled Posh into the Championship. “I’m not surprised,” fumed manager Michael Appleton. “It was that horrific, they couldn’t do anything other than apologise. It doesn’t change anything. It wasn’t a good day for the ref. It wasn’t a good day for us.”

STILL WANT MORE?

Out of reach, out of mind: Jamie Jackson explains the Glazer v fans dynamic at Manchester United, while Proper Journalism’s David Conn says the supporters who raised the alarm at the Glazer takeover in 2005 have been vindicated by events. One of those, Jamie from the United We Stand fanzine, explains why he took part in the protests, while Jonathan Liew argues that they were an expression of powerlessness.

Real Madrid remain the great survivors, writes Sid Lowe, in a Big Cup warning to Chelsea.

Marcelo and co get ready for Chelsea.
Marcelo and co get ready for Chelsea. Photograph: Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid/Getty Images

Former Queen’s Celtic hero Shunsuke Nakamura is still playing at 42. He gets his chat on with John Duerden about fandom at Parkhead, wee Gordon Strachan and playing on at Yokohama.

It’s all hotting up at the top of Ligue Uhrrrn, write Adam White and Eric Devin, and at the bottom of La Liga, reports Sid Lowe. While in Italy, the title is all done and dusted and Inter are celebrating, writes Nicky Bandini. Bring on Conte v Mourinho!

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

The Fiver | Structural problems that don’t seem to be making anyone in football happy

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