THE FOUL MONTE
Previously in the Fiver: under a picture of Wayne Rooney striding purposefully from a brown bus in Podgorica with a rucksack on his back, we said hello to Carlton Cole (hello!) and revealed how Montenegro (six years old, smaller than Wales and with a population of 632,261) coach Branko Brnovic sort of labelled the England football team a shower of arrogant hoof-merchants who are so scared of losing tonight's match that their shirts may very well feature thick yellow stripes down the back …
So what happened next? Eh? Well, you know the drill by now. Armed with these comments and largely overlooking the ones in which Mr Brnovic said his side "respect and appreciate the England team", conceded his side could lose and pointed out that his players wouldn't resort to trying to upset Wayne Rooney, the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate toddled off to the England press conference, told $tevie Mbe what had been said and sat waiting, pens and tape machines poised, for a reaction.
"They seem to be more interested in saying things and doing all the talking," countered $tevie, saying things and ensuring "they" didn't have a monopoly on all the talking. "But talking doesn't win you football matches," he continued, his mouth opening and closing to allow audible sounds emerge in a manner that could accurately be described as … well, talking. Although the irony of belittling somebody for answering questions at a press conference by answering questions at a press conference appeared to be lost on him, $tevie did have several sensible comments to make.
"It's important we don't get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about Brazil," he said, addressing a room-full of reporters who were almost certainly, to a man, nodding sagely in agreement despite being lost in a reverie featuring themselves sitting poolside in the shade of a Rio cabana wearing nothing but sandals, socks, a pair of Speedos and a handkerchief knotted at each corner, gratefully accepting yet another caipirinha from a lissom local beauty in a string bikini. "We've got to get there first. There are some big obstacles to get over first, starting with this game."
Of course, while $tevie is correct to say that talking doesn't win you football matches, scoring more goals than you concede is generally a help. To do this England will need to get to grips with Montenegro's sophisticated 8-0-2 formation, described by their manager as a parked bus with two Ferraris in attack. "This is a massive game for us and our fans," purred one of the sleek, fast, prancing horses in question, Stevan Jovetic. "I'm proud that we host such a great team as group leaders." The time for this kind of childish trash-talking is over, let the football match begin.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE TONIGHT
Join Barry Glendenning from 7.30pm for MBM coverage of Montenegro 2-1 England, Sean Ingle for France 1-2 Spain (which you can also follow on our live and legal video stream in the UK and Ireland), and Simon Burnton for the rest of the night's World Cup qualifiers in clockwatch form.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I do not discuss football with women, that's how I see it. They should get back to cooking" – Bernard Lacombe, former France international and current idiot adviser to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, criticises a female caller while appearing on a radio phone-in. "I'm very disappointed," responded Patrice Lair, coach of the Lyon women's side which has won the French title for the past six seasons.
"Tony Crawford (yesterday's Fiver letters) points out that in the West Ham stadium picture the Hammers' keeper and defenders have gone missing. This is an odd objection because that would actually be an accurate portrayal of many of West Ham's games this season" – Andrew Adams.
"Re: the 'y'know' saga (Fiver letters passim). It's not a phenomenon that's unique to football, or even the UK. If you've got about four hours and a few quid that could be better spent doing anything else but you can't really be bothered stirring from a near coma, get the Batman and Batman Returns DVDs and listen to Tim Burton's commentary. I would have counted the y'know's but all brain activity had ceased after five minutes. He could get a job on Soccer Saturday and everyone would just assume Paul Merson was dressed up for Halloween. And putting on a silly accent. And had lost a few stone. OK, I could have picked one of the panel who maybe looks a bit more like him but I can't really be bothered and I'm already past finishing time" – Duncan Dyer.
"Y'know, I'd be interested in at what point Fiver readers lost interest in Ian James's missive against Paul from Birmingham (yesterday's letters). Given his propensity for rambling, invective and ill-informed opinion dressed up as fact, should he not be a Fiver scribe?" – Graeme Neill.
• Send your letters to email@example.com. Also, if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. And to placate certain readers, the Fiver awards prizeless Fiver letter o' the day to: Duncan Dyer.
JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES
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BITS AND BOBS
Having been harshly sacked by Southampton, Nigel Adkins has returned to management in the far safer employ of Reading. Hmmm … "I am looking to the future, I've had two months out and gone around Europe," he said, showing off his InterRail card and unshouldering his backpack.
Phil Brown is also back in the game! "A lot of people have been asking me about when I'm coming back or whether I'd go down the media line," claimed the new Southend manager. "My intentions have always been to get a fresh challenge and fortunately, I accepted the challenge here with both hands." Brown added that he nearly took the job once before in 2010. "I looked at the challenge at the time and thought, coming out of the Premier League, I didn't think I was ready to go into the second division," he parped. "There's a lot of water gone under the bridge since then." [Especially the Humber Bridge – Fiver Ed].
José Mourinho feels he will "naturally" return to manage in England one day. "English football, to Chelsea, to another club … of course Chelsea is in my heart as Inter is," he sighed. "One day I have to be back."
The Football League has been punished after Mark Halsey was dropped from the list of referees for this weekend's Premier League fixtures and given Coventry v Doncaster on Good Friday instead.
Dunfermline are applying to go into voluntary administration after being presented with a winding-up order over a £134,000 tax bill.
The Serbia v Scotland is, handily enough for away fans, subject to a 6pm pitch inspection tonight.
Fifa has rejected Costa Rica's bid to have their World Cup qualifying defeat to USA! USA!! USA!!! replayed because it snowed.
And I-League club Mohun Bagan have been forced into a reptile clean-up after more than a dozen poisonous snakes invaded their pitch after the 3-2 win over Arrows. "I for one would be afraid of playing there again," wailed Bagan midfielder Rahim Nabi.
There are still places available for the next of Big Paper/Website's 'How to be a football journalist' masterclasses on 6 April. If you're interested, you can sign up here.
STILL WANT MORE?
Sid Lowe sets the scene for tonight's big game in Paris.
It's not all about international week, mind. Find out where Plain Old John Terry could be off to in the Rumour Mill.
This week's gallery is a doozy: Aston Villa's Christian Benteke stars as a beat-'em-up star, a clock and a 1980s American sitcom.
Get your fill of AC Jimbo with the latest edition of Football Weekly.
And Barney Ronay was at Stamford Bridge to watch a streaker … distract Russia long enough for Brazil to grab a late equaliser in their friendly.