IF YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OR SELF-RESPECT, YOU'LL SKIP PAST THE 511 WORDS UNDER THIS HEADLINE AND GO STRAIGHT TO QUOTE OF THE DAY
International week. A whistling wind blows a solitary piece of tumbleweed across the bleak and desolate football frontier. Somewhere in the distance, a lone wolf howls over the half-hearted clanging of a rusty old church bell. There's not much going on, see. Nothing, really. Because nowt much of interest ever happens in the run-up to weekend internationals and the Fiver has decided to labour that point through the use of cliched symbolism. Why? Because it's easy and we're lazy. And because it helps us delay the inevitable moment of this afternoon's Big Reveal – that the main story in today's edition of the Fiver is about a … drum-roll … very small difference of opinion between Brendan Rodgers and Alan Shearer.
In a 'war of words' that, upon closer examination is really only 'a very minor skirmish of grunting noises made in strong regional accents', Liverpool's Norn Irish manager Brendan has taken Match of the Day's Geordie analyst Alan to task for apparently suggesting that the Merseyside club's midfielder Joe Allen is a bit too belt-and-braces safe when it comes to ball distribution and therefore never attempts any risky passes. Or "risk passes" as they appear to be known in corporate speak. In a nutshell Alan thinks Allen needs to hit more passes going forward going forward.
Not content with just being happy that Alan has finally put his head over the parapet and finally ventured an opinion on something other than – ho-ho! – Gary Lineker's golf swing or the colour of Mark Lawrenson's shirts, Brendan had to stick his neb in to defend his player and explain that the pundit just doesn't get his team.
"I saw someone recently criticising Joe Allen for not playing risk passes," said Brendan, being careful not to name names but holding up a large placard bearing the slogan 'IT WAS ALAN SHEARER' in massive writing. "Unbelievable. So-called pundits who don't know the dynamics of a team and how it functions. Joe's role is to keep the ball and that, in Britain, is a special talent." Brendan then went on to say that Allen would be free to start $tevieMbeing the ball around Anfield as soon as Lucas returns from knack, but until then would have to continue disappointing "so-called" pundits, who are generally so-called because they are pundits.
At the time of writing, Alan had yet to reply to Brendan's stinging criticism, which was actually more of a mild rebuke that wouldn't even have made Quote of the Day if news had broken that somebody in the England camp had mislaid a shin-pad ahead of Friday's big game against San Marin … oh. On a positive note for Alan, the revelation that he doesn't "know the dynamics of a team and how it functions" may well pique the interest of Venky's, the owners of Blackeye Rovers and ensure he gets the vacant manager's job at Ewood Park, meaning Brendan and the rest of us won't have to worry about what he says or doesn't say from the sofa on Match of the Day.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"We can all learn from each other and I think in time it may become more widespread, we shall see" – Fifa suit Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein on why polygraph testing may be used on footballers in future. The Fiver assumes Fifa will practise what it preaches and answer any tricky questions while hooked up to a lie-detector too.
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"As an Arsenal fan I have long held vitriolic sentiments for Ashley Cole after his wage outburst in that understand-me biography. After a few years, I'm now thinking he did the right thing to move, regardless of whether we'd paid him what he wanted. He deserves to have won medals because he is genuinely brilliant, the only defender of his day who can genuinely claim to have had Cristiano Ronaldo in his pocket and the only consistently world class player England have had in this generation (Rooney's injuries taking him out of the equation). Unlikeable, unpalatable [Snip – Fiver Bad Word Ed] though he is" – Nick Connell.
"The main barrier to Blaszczykowski appearing on the Scrabble board is that it is a proper noun, and therefore illegal. However, even if we let that slide, the two 'z's and three 'k's present a problem as there are only one of each in a standard English set (and only two blanks). No matter: let's use a Polish set – plenty of 'z's and 'k's there! Somebody has helpfully played 'la' on the second and third squares of the top row, and 'ow' on the 10th and 11th. Furthermore, there are words leading down from the top row starting with 'z' on the fifth square, 'z' again on the seventh, 's' on the 13th and 'I' on the 15th. And would you look at that: my rack is BSCYKKK! Blaszczykowkski, using all seven tiles, over two double letter scores and two triple word scores! With Polish scoring I make that 26 x three x three = 234 + 50 bonus making 284 points. Thank you very much" – Haydon Bambury.
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BITS AND BOBS
Bolton have typed "new manager, better than Owen Coyle" into Amazon and should have one shipped out (Super Saver Delivery, they can't be bothered to sign up for Amazon Prime) for their game against Bristol City on Saturday week.
In Probably Quite Important But Not Very Interesting Or Surprising News, the future of the Olympic Stadium may not be resolved by the original deadline of the end of the month, with West Ham still involved in tense talks. "Yes, the stadium is tricky," said a man from a committee with a very long title. "But it's tricky because we want to get it right."
Football violence has reared its ugly head again with the news that Brazil's World Cup mascot, a seven-metre high inflatable armadillo, has been stabbed by feral youths in Brasília.
And a knee-knack attack has ruled out Everton's Marouane Fellaini, currently on international duty, for three weeks. "Fellaini suffered a small tear at the juncture of muscle and tendon in the knee," read a statement on the Belgian FA's website, www.tintinandfrieswithmayonnaise.co.be.
STILL WANT MORE?
Want to see pictures of recordable television? Then click here to see our TiVo ga … Want to see pictures of an overhyped NFL star? Then click here to see our Tebow gal … Want to see pictures of huge football banners? Then click here to see our tifos gallery.
Owen Coyle's Wembley nightmare (the one where he lost a semi-final to Stoke, not the one where he was starkers and hadn't revised for his French A-level) was the beginning of the end of his Bolton reign, says Paul Wilson.
Wales are driven by a sense of injustice as they prepare to take on Scotland this weekend, writes Kevin McCarra.
The Knowledge looks at bicycling footballers this week, including Roberto Mancini's £2,500 racer and Moritz Volz's fold-up bikes.
And Jonathan Wilson knows so much about Sammarinese (it's the right word, we looked it up on Wikipedia) football that he has Davide Gualtieri's home and mobile number on speed dial. Read his interview with the man who scored against England in 8.33seconds 19 years ago.