CUCUMBER AND POTATOES
Eighty two years ago, work began on the West Stand at Highbury. With the resident football club, The Arsenal, having recently won their first trophy, the renowned architect Claude Waterlow Ferrier was commissioned to oversee the construction of a celebratory grand edifice, to be built in the art deco style, boasting upholstered seats with arm rests, walls adorned with ornamental bas-reliefs of the club emblem, and lounges heated by the new-fangled electricity in which one could imbibe tall glasses of gin and cucumber with the capital's other gentlefolk while discussing matters of great contemporary import, perhaps opining that this noisy New Orleans "jass" music will never catch on, or that young Edward, Prince of Wales is sure to one day reign over us as king for many a year, or that this chappie over in Germany looks to have some solid ideas which will do his country's reputation no end of good in the long run.
What we're trying to say is, Arsenal are not New Money. They are resolutely Old Money, a class apart from the oiks who can be currently found debasing themselves by shamelessly parading around waving shiny tin pots and flaunting other FA-approved trinkets. So why on earth their chief executive Ivan Gazidis is harping on like some common-or-garden lottery winner is beyond us. "This year we are beginning to see something we have been planning for some time – the escalation in our financial firepower," he gauchely chuckled. Asked whether he would be prepared to allow Arsène Wenger to spend upwards of £25m on a single player – the club record remains a refined £15m, every bronze centime wasted on Andrey Arshavin – Gazidis wasted no time in jabbering: "We could do that! We could do more than that!" Really, Ivan, what a merry puddle you'll get everyone into.
To this end, Arsenal are making plans to spend a preposterous sum of money on the retired footballer Wayne Rooney, presumably with the intention of placing him somewhere in their grounds, in full view of the neighbours, as an ersatz ornament which shows off how much money they've got. It's unbecoming behaviour, especially when you consider that Wenger himself has always known that Arsenal should comport themselves with dignity. "He is pretty blind to price tags," admitted Gazidis. "He looks at what he sees with his eyes and makes judgments based on that, not on reputations and prices." Whether he fritters away the best part of £30m on Rooney like Viv Nicholson, then, is a moot point. Although maybe the kindly Arsenal boss will broker a deal simply in order to make poor Wayne feel better about himself. After all, he's currently a figure of fun on the internet due to his appearance in an advert for Malaysian snack Mr Potato, presumably the joke being that he's fat and looks like a potato, except he isn't and he doesn't really, does he.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Our goal is to extend Anfield but we need certainty and that comes with the acquisition of properties. Real progress has been made in acquiring them. Once they have all been acquired we will go through the planning process. We would expect to be in a position to make that a certainty this summer. Once planning has been achieved then we can start construction" – having heard as many empty promises as there are empty properties in the L4 area in recent years, residents in Anfield could be forgiven for sighing after Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre's latest update on the redevelopment of the club's stadium, which is key to the regeneration of the blighted area.
"Regarding the fan power which robbed Bolton of their prized loan-sh … [Snip! – Fiver lawyers] sponsors, it occurs to me that, as sandal-wearing, muesli-eating, hemp-cloth-flannelling leftie Fiver readers, there really aren't any shirt sponsors that we shouldn't be boycotting. Can anyone name one single shirt sponsor that isn't in a sweaty embrace with The Man, crushing the middle-class G2-reading proletariat with its Nike branded fist? All right, there were those smug, olive skinned, billionaire Camp Nou homunculi with their brief dalliance with Unicef. But apart from them, has there ever been a legit sponsor? STOP FOOTBALL SHIRTS!" – Ethan Mackintosh.
"Trying to access the Fiver on my iPhone in the pub and it is the only page on the entire Guardian website that my phone won't let me load at all. Now I know why they are called smart phones" – Stuart McLagan.
"When will the rumours of Roque Santa Cruz to Stoke start?" – Dan Frankhirth.
"Continuing the discussion about fine Utah craft beers (Fiver passim) I thought you would be interested to know that a local brewery produces a Polygamy Porter. Their advertising strapline is 'Why have just one'" – Adam Cummings.
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BITS AND BOBS
CLUNK! That's the sound of the door closing on the loophole that allowed Watford to benefit from 14 overseas loaned players last season. From now on only five will be allowed in matchday squads.
Napoli's president Aurelio De Laurentiis has started swinging his pocket watch from side to side and told Chelsea to look into his eyes because they are interested in buying Edinson Cavani. "Chelsea are interested in Cavani and they will call me soon," he repeatedly soothed.
Wayne Bridge is chuffed about signing for Reading. "I'm excited to be joining a team that is going to be looking for promotion next season," trilled the man whose slack marking in the play-off semi-final ended Brighton's search for promotion last season.
Michael Laudrup has put down the toy that he was about to throw from his pram and insisted that he isn't about to leave Swansea due to a lack of transfer activity. "I think all the speculation regarding my future is due to the fact that there hasn't been any good news since we played our last game three weeks ago," blubbed Laudrup, overlooking this.
And Stuart Pearce has got his excuses in early in case his England U21 boys take a hell of a beating at the hands of Norway in their Euro Championship group match. "You've got to understand, and you don't want to mention it, but I could have named you 13 players that could have been here. I've had two players suspended and two injured, so that's 17 players [out]," mentioned Pearce, mentioning exactly what he wanted to mention.
STILL WANT MORE?
Still feeling the pinch but fancy owning your own Premier League team? Simon Burnton runs through the best XI players available for nowt this summer.
Jacob Steinberg thought football had stopped. Then he was asked to write this blog about 10 things to look out for from this weekend's World Cup qualifiers and felt a bit naive.
And Scott Murray wrote this lovely Joy of Six on US Open golfing glory and felt all warm inside because he thought he'd stopped football … until The Man rang him and asked him to cobble together the Fiver.
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