WITNESS THE (LACK OF) FITNESS
He was cultivated in the most acclaimed footballing nursery in England. He has just played for his country at the World Cup at the age of 19. He was pursued by several top clubs before joining Manchester United for a fee never before paid for an English teenager and a salary that José Mourinho claims would have led to revolution and ruin in Roman Abramovich’s fiefdom of frugality. So while you might not expect him to be able to perform pirouettes while balancing three balls on his backside or ward off a dozen sword-wielding foes with one shrewd flick of a fashionably-cut fringe, you would think Luke Shaw could at least run about effectively for 90 minutes. But not so, according to his new boss, Louis van Gaal.
The Manchester United manager is with his team in Washington at the moment and, having already complained about the surface at his club’s training ground back home and the number of corporate gigs they are obliged to do while on the road, the Dutchman revealed that he is not best pleased with Shaw’s level of fitness so has sentenced the left-back to special solitary training. “He is OK, but I am always a trainer-coach who sees individuals and what they need – he needs to be fit and is not very fit and fit enough to do what I want,” announced Van Gaal into a microphone whose head was perched exactly 18.73 centimetres above the table. “He needs to train individually until he is fit,” added Van Gaal before Shaw was seen running repeatedly up and down the left flank of the training pitch and firing in crosses, followed, perhaps, by writing 100 lines.
Coming from David Moyes such instructions might have been interpreted as the regime of a Cro-magnon chancer, but seeing as how they were issued by a manager who couldn’t be considered more hip if he were connected to a giant femur and acetabulum, the diktat has been hailed as further evidence of Van Gaal’s expert meticulousness, and it is not for the Fiver to wonder if that might be the whole point of the exercise. What lots of people are wondering, however, is whether Shaw’s supposed lack of fitness means Van Gaal thinks Southampton or England did not ensure the youngster stayed in top shape? “I cannot judge that, but I see what I see,” replied Van Gaal to a hack who raised that very question. “I have spoken with him and we have made a programme for him: he agreed with me,” concluded the touring Manchester United manager before heading off to have a word with local officials about an unruly school of muskellunge he spotted in the Potomac.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We have performed... and will perform our duty with honesty” – the Thai FA makes an in-no-way-desperate attempt to eradicate match-fixing by making 100 referees in the Thai local leagues swear before the Emerald Buddha that they will not throw matches or make any naughty decisions next season.
A BIGGER PLUG THAN THE ONE FROM THE BFG’S BATH
“I suggest the FA looks at the need for a merger between Blackpool and Southampton so that at least one of them could field a team of 11 players” – Mike Boyle.
“Manchester United (£31m on Luke Shaw), Barcelona (£16m on a 30+ defender), Liverpool (£20m on Dejan Lovren), Arsenal (£16m on Calum Chambers, who has only played 23 professional football matches). All of you listen up now. This is what value for money is. Forget STOP FOOTBALL, can we have STOP WASTING MONEY?” – Noble Francis.
“Re Norval Scott (yesterday’s Fiver letters) shuddering to think about where, in fact, his priorities lie after forgetting his mother’s birthday but remembering a previous football quiz answer; we all read The Fiver Norval, so perhaps a collective shudder would be appropriate, surely there are more important things to do? Some even write letters. I am looking at you here Norval, and Noble Francis (passim etc)” – Steven Hamilton.
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 prizeless letter o’the day is: Mike Boyle.
JOIN GUARDIAN SOULMATES
Chances are that if you’re reading this tea-timely football email, you’re almost certainly single. But fear not - if you’d like to find companionship or love, sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly folk who would never normally dream of going out with you. And don’t forget, it’s not the rejection that kills you, it’s the hope.
BITS AND BOBS
Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston has vented his spleen at club president Valeri Belokon while furiously patting himself on the back. “We have a position that is virtually unique in football. We are a debt-free, cash rich club, unlike many of our competitors,” carped Oyston, on the same day the club used their cash-rich uniqueness to acquire an 11th professional. They are still without a goalkeeper.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was filmed chanting abusive songs about Borussia Dortmund’s players, and their mothers – many of whom he played alongside in Brazil – but Dortmund apparently couldn’t give a flying one. “It is absolutely no problem that you drink a few beers, let off some steam and sing a song without really thinking it through after winning the World Cup. P.S. It is possible for you to get your singing right. If you need any singing lessons, just let us know,” tongue-in-cheeked a statement on the club’s Facebook page.
Ecuador striker Enner Valencia has completed his move to West Ham. “It’s exciting to be here in England and London,” cheered Valencia, while waving his work permit around in the air.
Ronaldinho has left Atlético Mineiro by mutual consent but the 34-year-old has no intention of hanging up his boots and will play until he is 42, according to his Mr 15%.
Defenders Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson have successfully coughed for the Hull City doctor and completed moves from Dundee United and Sheffield United respectively.
It was the only way to stop Al Capone and it is a fate that may now befell Lionel Messi, who is set to be prosecuted for tax evasion by a Spanish court.
And Racing Genk have sacked their coach, Emilio Ferrerra, after just one match of the new Belgian season, a 3-1 defeat to KV Mechelen. “While everyone was hoping for a fresh start, the first game against KV Mechelen was surprisingly bad,” sniffed a club suit.
STILL WANT MORE?
The Rumour Mill reckons Ross Barkley could beat Luke Shaw in a bleep test and therefore be a hit at Manchester United.
Did you know, David Bentley and Darren Bent cost Tottenham a combined total of £31.75m, or, a squad full of Michus? If you did, take our name-the-transfer-from-the-player-and-fee quiz.
Former England captain $tevie Mbe gets the Photoshop treatment in this week’s gallery.
Oh, if it’s your thing, you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace.
SIGN UP TO THE FIVER
Want your very own copy of our free tea-timely(ish) email sent direct to your inbox? Has your regular copy stopped arriving? Click here to sign up.