THE BIG BANG THEORY
Considering that Manchester United are all but Premier League champions and West Ham have all but retained their top-flight status for another season, the Fiver couldn't help but wonder why their respective managers, Lord Ferg and Big Sam, can't just be pleased their teams emerged from a riveting blood-and-thunder contest with a share of the spoils. Instead, the pair – who are good friends, don't forget – were reduced to post-match squabbling over assorted trivial incidents such as an offside Robin van Persie equaliser that should have been disallowed and whether or not West Ham striker Andy Carroll should have been sent off for a mid-air bludgeon on David de Gea that called to mind an airborne clash between Zod and Superman after the latter had spent his lunch break gorging himself at the all-you-can-eat Kryptonite buffet.
"It was a red card, there is no doubt about that," Lord Ferg fumed in his post-match interview. "The referee did see it but he didn't see it as a red card. We know how West Ham play, it's ball-in-the-air most of the time and you've got to defend those things." But while West Ham's long-ball tactics might be defensible, Big Sam's knowledge of the Highway Code certainly is not: the Hammers manager's attempt to excuse his striker's foul on the Manchester United goalkeeper demonstrated an ignorance of stopping distances that suggests either his car is in need of a good service or he could do with undertaking one of those Free Drive Confident refresher courses run by the good people at the AA.
"As you'll know from your [Highway] code, when you are travelling at 60mph, it takes 300 yards to stop," said Big Sam, who should know from his Highway Code (page 27, rule 105) that when you are travelling at 60mph, it actually takes only 80 yards to stop. "When Andy is travelling at 15mph, he can't stop," he continued, failing to allow for the fact that the Highway Code with which he was prepared to play so fast and loose advises that Carroll should have been running at a speed that would allow him "to stop well within the distance" he could see "to be clear".
What's more, regardless of the laws of football, the Highway Code also advises that Carroll should have left enough space between him and the goalkeeper in front so that he could pull up safely if De Gea suddenly slowed down or stopped. Alternatively, he should have allowed at least a two-second gap between himself and the goalkeeper in front on pitches carrying fast footballers (a gap that should be at least doubled on wet football pitches and increased still further on icy ones).
Of course the Fiver fully expects Big Sam to rebut our argument by pointing out that, like large vehicles, large footballers also need a greater distance to stop, but even allowing for Carroll's comparatively huge mass by the standards of modern day footballers, the Fiver's (probably incorrect – tomorrow's Fiver Letters section should be a belter) calculations suggest it should take him no further than 140 yards to stop, rather than the 300 suggested by his manager. And as anyone who has sat and passed their driving theory test on three separate occasions, letting it expire each time before having to do it again will know, stopping distances are calculated using both "thinking time" and "braking time"; in this specific instance referring to the distance Carroll travels while slowly arriving at the conclusion he probably needs to stop, plus the amount of distance he covers once he has applied the brakes. In which case, as you were, Big Sam – 300 yards sounds about right.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"There was no concentration, no character, too much self-importance" – Carlo Ancelotti isn't too happy after PSG lose to Evian in the French Cup. Well, if you will buy Zlatan ...
"Would it be pedantic to point out that Nasi Goreng (yesterday's Fiver) is in fact an Indonesian dish? Surely what your lazy journalists meant was Maggi Goreng? There had better be reprisals (ideally sackings) following this gargantuan error" – Rob Jordan.
"Can I be one of 1,057 pedants to point out that the Komodo dragon is native to Indonesia and not Malaysia? As a replacement, I suggest that Cardiff adopt a mascot native to their hinterland, such as, say, the, eh, Bluebirds ...?" – Jamie Milne.
"Allastair McGillivray (yesterday's Letters) should count himself lucky he only has to adjust his sleep schedule to accommodate TV one day a year. Thanks to the same time difference I've only ever been able to sate my appetite for world-class Aussie soaps by staying up till mid-afternoon each weekday, resulting in a lifetime of missed college lectures and chronic unemployment" – Paul Cantwell.
"Forget the poor travelling north-westerners or sleep-deprived Aussies: the kick-off is now at 12.15pm here in Toronto – right when my wife sends me out the door to the Saturday grocery shopping" – Cliff Barua.
"How can Barry Rogerson (yesterday's Quote of the Day) call himself a true Geordie? The fact he was wearing any item of clothing above his waist, let alone a scarf over his face, surely marks him out as a fraud" – Graeme Neill.
• Send your letters to email@example.com. Also, if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. And each day this week we're giving away a You are the Ref board game for the letter of the day. Today's winner: Graeme Neill.
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BITS AND BOBS
Barcelona are about to revert from an 11-man team to a one-man team with the news that Lionel Messi is back in training. "The big novelty of this Thursday's training session was Leo Messi," trumpeted the Barcelona website.
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher has undergone surgery on the ankle-knack that ended his season prematurely.
Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams has died after a battle with cancer. The 60-year-old, whose 15-year-old son Kevin died in the 1989 tragedy, was one of the loudest voices during the fight for justice.
And the most recently-released accounts show £1.6bn in wages were paid out to Carlos Te ... Premier League players in the 2011-12 season, more than two-thirds of the league's income.
STILL WANT MORE?
A Ronaldinho flickbook, a shocking penalty miss and some pleasing football noises feature in this week's YouTube Clasico.
Which league can provide this season's Sergio Agüero moment, wonders Paul Doyle, flicking through the Armenian second division table.
And David Conn does what Proper Journalists do as he pores over the latest Premier League accounts to reveal how much your favourite club owes (probable answer: loads).
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