FATE, CONSIDER YOURSELF TEMPTED
Tuesday afternoon, and panting with anticipation at the prospect of the season's second Merseyside derby – the fabulous first having ended, lest we forget, with an 89th-minute Liverpool equaliser frustrating a twice-came-from-behind-then-nearly-won-the-thing home side – the Fiver read back over the transcripts of the two managers' pre-match press briefings in order to divine the likely outcome.
Gradually, the Fiver's panting ceased. After a while, the Fiver's face drained of all colour, the Fiver's mouth grew dry and the Fiver's hands took on a cold, clammy quality similar to well-aged beef shin after it's been allowed to come up to room temperature before its long, slow hob-based tenderisation. For when it comes to the next few hours of its life the Fiver does not luxuriate in the privilege of free will. The Fiver will be professionally obliged to follow this evening's football, but the Fiver can first scream the following warning: reader, find another way to fill your evening. Go to the cinema. Grab a bite to eat. Read a book. Pumice your toe calluses.
It's going to be a hopeless match – on that both managers agreed – although Blue Half's Roberto Martínez and Red Half's Brendan Rodgers had completely contrasting ways of delivering the news. One of them concentrated on how irredeemably terrible his own side is, the other on how unbelievable good the other lot are. In other words, then, one team is terrible and the other is even worse.
Rodgers insisted that, given their injuries, his side are pretty feeble: "Looking at our team," he said, "when we have everyone available we are a very strong outfit."
Martínez admitted that injuries were an issue, but said he would complain about them another time, perhaps in March or April. "Both teams have worries in terms of injuries," he said. "I don't think it's the time of the season to moan in terms of that."
Rodgers added that, given the injuries suffered by both squads of late, the match itself would almost certainly be rubbish: "It is unfortunate a number of players are out of the game, and a lot of them starting players," he said. "It would have made it a different game."
Martínez warned his side's followers that there was no sensible reason to expect an enjoyable evening. "It is true that for us to be able to go to Anfield and be ourselves and get a positive result is something that, if you look at he history books, is a difficult, difficult feat," he said.
Rodgers further stated that his team's excellent first 55.3% of the season was a bit of an anomaly, and that fans could expect them to fall away badly between now and May, possibly finishing in mid-table. "I said all along we needed a bit of luck with injury," he said, "and unfortunately we have been hit with a bad run of injuries."
And Martínez continued to emphasise how much better than his own side Liverpool are. "I've been really, really impressed with the manner that Liverpool have played at home this season," he said. "We know it's going to be a real challenge for us, as tough as you're going to get. We know we're facing one of the best teams in the division."
And so it is. In their current state Liverpool are abysmal, and still Everton are happy just to be blessed by their presence, like a ZX Spectrum who's been accidentally invited to the Nintendo Gameboy's Bar Mitzvah. Nothing good can come of this. Look away now*.
*Fiver retains the right to be completely wrong about this.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"He doesn't have a problem with his genitals. He tried to train but had discomfort in his left leg" – Carlo Ancelotti confirms that Gareth Bale is out of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey quarter-final with Espanyol due to some kind of groin-gah and not, as suspected after this meaty challenge, tig-knack.
"Take it from a Canadian who on a normal winter's day lives happily in below freezing temperatures and recently has been unhappily feeling the -30 effects of the Northern Vortex, that is no more steam coming from your freezer than it is steam coming from your mouth when you breathe out [Fiver letters, passim]. Maybe the pedants were looking for the word, 'condensation', 'breath' or 'fog'?" – Allan Barless (and 1,056 other it's-not-steam pedants).
"Steam is invisible, the stuff that you see coming out of kettles or freezers is water vapour" – Robbie Georgeson (and 1,056 other steam-isn't-really-steam-so-that's-definitely-not-steam pedants).
"Does a man named Doody really have something steamy in his refrigerator [yesterday's Fiver]? Forgive me if I politely decline to accept his thoughts on science. Or his invitation to dinner …" – Mike Wilner.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. Today's winner of our letter o'the day is: Mike Wilner, who wins a copy of Football Manager 2014, courtesy of the very kind people at Football Manager Towers. We'll have another one to give away tomorrow, so if you haven't been lucky thus far, keep trying. Let's face it, the standard's snakebelly low and it's not like it takes much winning.
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Semi-naked pull-ups, deer hunting, ice diving … Zlatan Ibrahimovic goes back to nature in Volvo advert
BITS AND BOBS
Yohan Cabaye will cough for the PSG doctor today before completing a £20m move from Newcastle.
Cardiff striker Peter Odemwingie is now Stoke striker Peter Odemwingie. And Stoke striker Kenwyne Jones is now Cardiff striker Kenwyne Jones. It's called a swap.
Liverpool fans' request that FA Cup tickets at the Emirates should not be priced at £64 and £93 appear to have been successful, if you consider £53 and £35.50 a fair price to watch Arsenal reserves.
In what sounds like a tagline for a B-movie involving college kids, a sleepover at Old Trafford and a madman with an axe, David Moyes has warned that no one is safe at Old Trafford. ""I am not going to accept it. I am disappointed we are not in a much stronger position. I am disappointed with how we have played … I am going to get better players in," he sobbed, as Patrice Evra crept up behind him.
And Diego Maradona has got his third person on. "According to me, Pele will always remain second best in football when compared to Maradona. Look at it this way, in his own country, Brazil, Pele is the second best sportsman after Ayrton Senna."
STILL WANT MORE?
Shed a tear for the backpass (1863-1993), featuring glorious anti-football from Graeme Souness, Steve McMahon and Vinnie Jones.
Manchester United really, really need Juan Mata. Really, writes Daniel Harris.
Hull owner Assem Allam stars as a tiger, a man in a tiger suit, a man on a boat with a tiger and, um, a man who likes tigers, in this week's ggggggreeeeaaaaaaaat Gallery.
A Ghanaian party villa and a fitness programme called Insanity aren't obvious reasons why Emmanuel Adebayor has rediscovered his mojo. But they did help, writes David Hytner.
Mido getting a gig as Zamalek's manager might sound about as sensible as putting weird Uncle Fiver in charge of the barriers at Euston station toilets, but he's actually quite sharp, say Patrick Kingsley and Manu Abdo.
Oh, and if it's your thing, you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace.
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