DOESN'T RING A BELLE
Dear Sturdy Short-Haired Cat-Loving Fiver,
I trust this letter finds you in good health. In an instance of uncharacteristic and frankly implausible forward-planning necessitated by this riff, I write because I am preparing a story on the opening match of England's Euro 2013 campaign against Spain. I don't need to tell you, dear cousin, that we are talking here about women's football, of which your poor old Fiver knows nothing. Not a sausage. Something about belles? No idea. This is going to be one of those stories that requires "contacts", and since $exually Repressed Morris Dancing Fiver is still at that pottery retreat, you are the only hope. Please forward all information ASAP.
If you want to cover women's football, you might have done better than a letter to your tired, cliched and, actually, quite offensive cousin. Oh. I'm sure your readers must expect more. Oh.
Your last letter was most upsetting, particularly in reference to readers. Please do not taunt the Fiver with the plural.
All right. You could mention that the England team were on an 11-match unbeaten run until meeting the hosts, Sweden, in a friendly last week, which they lost 4-1. It was disappointing, especially as the defender Sophie Bradley was knacked in the process and will definitely miss the game against Spain. There's still some doubt about the fitness of other key players in the camp, including the captain Casey Stoney and Steph Houghton, not to mention Kelly Smith. But the mood in the camp seems to be good. "We have done a lot of work on the pitch [since losing to Sweden], a lot of analysis and basically just been relaxing," Hope told proper journalists this week. "The first group game is always quite tense. I'm sure both teams are raring to go; both teams want to do well in and with that comes a few nerves." You could also make use of the wise words of the Chelsea forward Eni Aluko. "It was a good thing to play in a friendly that didn't mean much and try to analyse the game and learn from our mistakes. We could have gone into the tournament thinking we were invincible." Imagine!
Who is Hope?
You are an idiot.
Aha! Hope Powell, the Mr Roy of women's football. There is a crucial difference though, dear cousin. A dreadful lack. Mr Roy always spells out in clinical tactical detail what is good and bad about his opponents – "they are a good side", for instance; "they like to play football." But it says here that Hope Powell and her Spanish counterpart have simply said that they know "everything" about one another's teams. How is a tea-time football email supposed to pass this off as its own?
Please send more information – do you speak Spanish? – at the earliest opportunity.
"Spain are a very technical team, very similar to the men in fact, so they will be a big threat and we will have to be at our best. In 2010 their under-17s won the European Championship and a lot of those players are coming through. It's their first major tournament since 1997 so for them this is a massive leap. They have got a lot to prove and they are capable of it. They are here for a reason, it was difficult to qualify for this tournament." It took me two minutes to copy and paste this quote from Hope Powell off the BBC website. And Uefa has got quotes from Ignacio Quereda, too. "We will try to counter their physical power, which we already know, with our own weapons," he said, and apparently he has no knack issues to worry about. What is it that you actually do for a living?
Thank you for your diligent research. We contacted Alan Shearer and he assured us that nobody knew anything about Spain (or England for that matter), but that the Fiver would sail through on a confident smile and a well-pressed shirt. So you really have done well on this – are you working for the NSA? Unfortunately it has all been in vain, however, because someone on Newsround asked Hope Powell if the England women's team could beat the men's team, and she answered "Absolutely, why not?" This is known in the trade as a "field day". It is unlikely that we will have to write anything about the actual match after all.
Yours, a relieved Fiver
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE TONIGHT
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I will never forget that they used Tito [Vilanova]'s illness to cause me damage, because it's a lie that I never saw him in New York. I saw him once, and the reason I didn't see him more often was because it wasn't possible, and that wasn't my fault. To say that I don't wish the best of someone who was my colleague for so many years is very bad taste, and I didn't expect that" – Pep Guardiola explains why former employers Barcelona are mes que un club.
TAT OF THE DAY
With spiralling costs and a nosediving economy, football clubs know that flogging tat has never been harder, forcing them to come up with ever more ingenious and revolutionary hawking tactics in order to expropriate pounds from wallets. But none has been as bold, enticing and downright haute as the limited-edition baseball cap supplied free with every purchase of an Arsenal away kit – for this is not just any old baseball cap, but one designed by the Carl Jenkinson. Of course, this could just be an elaborate piece of careers advice; rumours reach the Fiver that Gervinho has been commissioned for a loofah and Marouane Chamakh a carriage clock.
"I was delighted to appear to win an internal bet yesterday that you would christen your fantastic new 'Footballers who say in interviews that their team will do well this season' feature with a prediction from a Liverpool player. I was, however, disappointed to find that I had in fact lost that bet, having gambled that Deluded Optimism's $tevie Mbe would be the man in question. If you decide to create a new feature based on footballers who gradually readjust their unrealistic ambitions for each passing month of the season, please let me know, as I fancy an accumulator on $tevie as follows: August – we can win the title; (later in) August – we can finish in the top four; October – we can get into Europe; December – we will stay up; March – I had never considered the manager's job but when Mr Henry asked me to take over until the end of the season, I couldn't say no" – Stephen Yoxall.
"Sorry, but the Fiver's Welsh cousin is wrong about Cardiff's Croeso Stand (yesterday's Bits and Bobs). In this context I think you'd translate the Croeso Stand as 'The Welcome Stand'. And you can use 'Croeso' to mean 'You're welcome'. Thus, Croeso" – Ian Morton-Jones.
JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES
We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you.
BITS AND BOBS
Brendan Rodgers can't understand why Luis Suárez is so desperate to leave Liverpool. "I've been in communication with him through texts and conversations on the phone … We are in constant communication." Ah.
David Moyes has told José Mourinho that Wayne Rooney is not for sale after the Chelsea manager said he was a "player I like very much". The United boss retorted: "Unless I was speaking double Dutch last week, we said Wayne Rooney is not for sale."
Talented Real Sociedad whelp Asier Illarremendi is on his way to Real Madrid in a £34m deal. "It was an offer we couldn't refuse," whimpered Illarremendi.
Bradford City have got the funk on with Peterborough after Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony revealed the club had an offer turned down for Nakhi Wells. "As a club, we don't want to do our transfer business in public," sniffed co-owner Mark Lawn, before doing just the opposite. "The offer was rejected out of hand."
Brentford have signed 37-year-old Villarreal veteran Javier Rodriguez Venta on a one-year deal.
And Welsh minnows Prestatyn Town are on the march in Big Vase and will meet HNK Rijeka of Croatia in the second qualifying round after dumping out Liepajas Metalurgs in Latvia. "At Prestatyn we never ever know when we're beaten. It's a trait of ours," hollered coach Chris Hughes.
STILL WANT MORE?
Stuart James has been crunching the numbers in an investigation to show just how bare Mr Roy's Premier League cupboard is.
Tor-Kristian Karlsen runs the rule over Marco van Ginkel, Wilfried Bony and Jozy Altidore in his latest transfer window an@lysis piece.