FOOTBALL'S MARY WHITEHOUSE
The Fiver knows what it's like to make people happy. Admittedly it didn't mean to walk head-first into that glass door or trip down that 100ft well, but beggars can't exactly be choosers. To see those smiles on all those faces, well, for a brief moment life was worth living. Someone needs to remind Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini what that's like. The man who once scored a divine backheeled volley for Lazio against Parma is now like the tired parent who went through a rebellious youth but now spends his time telling his teenage son to turn that infernal racket down.
Mario Balotelli didn't mean to upset everyone. He just wanted to entertain us. But clearly this sort of frippery can't be allowed to stand because football is a Serious Business. After Balotelli tried his backheel against LA Galaxy, Edin Dzeko – £27m, 21 games, seven goals – shook his head, well aware a Very Bad Thing had just occurred and he'd better be wearing the appropriate expression. There's a man who knows which side his bread is buttered on. On the touchline, football's Mary Whitehouse experienced a nuclear meltdown and immediately replaced Balotelli with James Milner, who can definitely be relied upon to never even try a backheel in training, let alone when the stakes are really high, like in a pre-season friendly against a Major League Soccerball side.
"In football you always need to be professional, always serious and in this moment he wasn't professional," droned Mancini, who's so humourless he probably spends his time commenting beneath internet articles on Harry Potter about how much he can't stand Harry Potter. Milner, meanwhile, played the straightest of bats, adding: "Obviously we'd like him to put that in the back of the net, but Mario is Mario and he does some strange things sometimes," while watching for stray darts from a first-floor window.
Maybe all the naysayers have a point. After all, the backheel was so useless even the Fiver probably could have done better. What's more, it's a slippery slope: one day you're bringing out the party tricks in the sun in a meaningless jolly, and before you know it, it will be drink, women and celebrating goals.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"You have witnessed through history the dictators, when they think this or that person is a prominent one to replace him, first thing they do they execute him and try to fabricate any allegation against him to jail him or something like that" - Mohamed bin Hammam takes the crisis at Fifa into ever-classier territory.
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"Does anyone know why the SPL started so early this year? No one seriously thinks that Scotland are going to qualify for Euro 2012 do they?" - Michael Peterson.
"Can I be the first of 1.057 pedants to point out that it's only the first word, not the first two, of the sentence beginning 'Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic has joined Roma" that has been rendered inaccurate by his transfer. Unless Roma intend playing him in goal" - Matt Salts (and no other pedants).
"As Americans are routinely ridiculed for their lack of geographic knowledge, I would like to strike a blow for equality by pointing out that Ryan Jones should be aware that David Moyes would not have been berating his team in Philadelphia. PPL park is not actually in the city of Philadelphia, but is in fact located in Chester, PA. Seeing as it was close to 37 degrees that night I'm sure Moyes, like the rest of us who were there, was far too hot to have the energy to berate anyone" - Richard Peel.
BITS AND BOBS
In tribute to the Albert Hall – apparently cockney rhyming slang for ball – the Olympic football will be called "The Albert". Presumably if one gets punctured by a stud, it will become the "The Prince Albert".
Aston Villa have deposited a sack with 950,000,000 shiny pennies in it outside the DW Stadium and expect Charles N'Zogbia in return.
Patrice Evra has used his trademark diplomacy to lure Samir Nasri to Manchester United: "He's a prince now but if he wants to be the king then he has to join Man United," he told the Arsenal player.
Palermo's Dorin Goian is just a cough-for-the-doctor away from becoming a Rangers player after a fee was agreed between the clubs. "We are hopeful that the final bits and pieces can be settled," said manager Ally McCoist, hopefully not referring to the medical.
After ditching the side's sponsors and sacking goalkeeper Rodrigo Galatto after just one game, the Cechen owner of Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax, Bulat Chagaev, has fired the club's entire coaching staff too, just a month after hiring them. "They can't ask us to perform magic," sniffed former coach Francois Ciccolini.
Reasons to be thankful no one has the sense to ban footballers from Twitter, No. 485694727: Newcastle left-back José Enrique has launched an attack on the club's lack of ambition via the social networking site. "The club is allowing all the major players of the team to go. This club will never again fight to be among the top six again with this policy," he tweeted.
However, in a bid to ruin all our fun, Mick McCarthy has called in media lawyers to advise Wolves players on how to use Twitter. "Players are going to get themselves into trouble over Twitter, I can tell," he grumble-ooed. "If they put a team selection up, which I'm sure some disgruntled numpty will at some stage, they will be in trouble for it."
Englishman Ryan Shawcross, who was born in England to English parents, says he is not going to play for Wales, despite rules that mean he can. "I have spoken to [Wales manager] Gary Speed a couple of times and made my plans clear," he Land Of Hope And Gloried.
Everton manager David Moyes is backing perma-knacked striker Victor Anichebe, 23, to be a threat next season. "Victor has great potential," he hooted, before pointing out a crocked clock has the "potential" to be right twice a day.
STILL WANT MORE?
Was Roberto Mancini too harsh on the latest antics from Mario Balotelli? Jacob Steinberg poses the question.
Jonathan Wilson knows more about football than everybody else combined so why not read his final Copa América blog?
'Now is the summer of our discontent' Shakespeare didn't quite write about the latest goings-on at QPR, but Micheal Hann did.
David Beckham? Remember him? Yeah you do. Well anyway, he's still plugging away doing his soccerball thing and he wants to play for Team GB at the Olympics next year. No really. He does.
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