LOOK INTO MY EYES
Ashley Cole: an apology. The Fiver may, in the past, have given the impression the Greatest Widely Misunderstood Left-Back In The World was personally and unrepentantly responsible for a large proportion of the various tawdry, life-sapping outrages against even the decency of those with no obvious decency perpetrated on a regular basis by Premier League footballers. In fact, this is not the case. It turns out Cole is instead repentantly responsible. He's sorry. He's really sorry – if not for all of it, the entire preening charade of oversized headphones, white-suit sporting, linesman-swearing cross-face scowling, fur-lined helicopter hopping hideousness, then at least for some of it. Or perhaps just a bit of it. A tiny bit. In fact, just a single word. A bad word, but also a bad word that's probably, all things considered, true. Either way it's a start for Widely Misunderstood Ashley who, as of this yesterday evening is now officially sorry for saying the bad thing with the bad word about the FA who he no longer thinks are tw@ts.
"He apologised immediately on Friday and he came to see me last night and apologised to me personally," FA chairman David Bernstein gushed this morning, firmly and unequivocally identifying himself as the FA personage previously considered a tw@t by Widely Misunderstood Ashley, who has now decided he, Bernstein, definitely isn't a tw@t after all, that was all a mistake.
"He showed real contrition," Bernstein added in husky voice, going a little quiet and staring out of the window, a faint, rueful smile playing around the corners of his mouth. "He said he was really sorry. He is free to play for England over the coming matches."
Which is in fact the nub of the whole issue for Widely Misunderstood Ashley who has until 5pm on Thursday to respond to a charge that might, conceivably have interrupted his passage (ahem) to his 100th cap on Tuesday when England play oh for God's sake man get a grip ...
"It was a serious apology. He expressed a degree of remorse for what he had done, wished it hadn't happened," He Who Is Definitely No Longer A Tw@t added on Sky Sports News, playing idly with a lock of hair and feeling a flush rise to his throat.
And all things considered, there are times when even the Fiver begins to wonder if Widely Misunderstood Ashley might in the end simply have been widely misunderstood. Perhaps it's the apology itself, which is actually quite funny, given that it is simply an apology for calling the FA tw@ts, unaccompanied by any actual retraction of the initial assertion that the FA are tw@ts, and amounts to little more than the standard OK-I'm-sorry-you've-got-big-ears style of not-really-an-apology apologies.
And what are his crimes really when it comes down to it? Cheating on the nation's sweetheart, Cheryl, who nobody actually seems to like much anymore? Let he who has not drunkenly vomited on a hairdresser cast the first stone here. Doing those adverts for the National Lottery where he wore a white suit and looked like an incredibly condescending p!mp? Water under the bridge. Nearly swerving off the road because of only being offered a £250,000-a-year pay rise ... Well, OK. There's always that, and the thing with the air rifle. Otherwise, and perhaps it's his stoically enforced media silence, but somehow the Fiver feels itself softening towards any footballer who can call the FA "tw@ts" and then so brazenly ...
"He wished it hadn't happened. I looked him in the eye and really felt he meant it," the FA chairman formerly known as Tw@t concluded some time later, talking to somebody else, his voice still a little shaky, but his eyes alive, so, so terribly alive. The upshot of all of which is that Roy Hodgson is now free to pick Widely Misunderstood Ashley for Friday's ultimately disappointing 2-0 home victory against San Marino. Albeit it seems to date that sorry isn't enough to get him the captain's armband too. Or at least, not until he follows it up by saying "please".
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I bet [5ft 7in] Xavi could play centre-half. I'm not saying he'll win headers, but he can play there" – In trying to make a point about why $tevie Mbe could fill the Plain Old John Terry-shaped hole in the centre of England's defence, Chris Waddle also reveals the kind of thinking that accounted for his departure as Burnley manager after one unsuccessful season in 1998.
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"After hearing Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan proclaim on television that Luis Suarez only has a reputation (yesterday's Fiver) because of television, I ask myself this question – if Luis Suarez is in the woods and nobody sees him, does he still take a dive?" – Peter McNulty.
"Tony Pulis has another card to play here surely. As in, if you stop your talented forwards diving, I'll stop my (not so) talented defenders kicking lumps out of them. That's too even-handed a suggestion to get a hearing, isn't it? Surely?" – Ken.
"It seems that the only way to get Blaszczykowkski on to a Scrabble board (Fiver passim) is if there is fortunate space between blas and ski due to the seven letter limit of tiles. But then I believe blas is strictly a Spanish game" – Wayne Isley.
"Re: Neil Speight's concern for the poor solicitors of Ashley Cole et al not getting much sleep for fear of what those they are responsible for might be involved in next (yesterday's letters). That must be what it feels like to be the Fiver Ed" – Craig Hills.
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BITS AND BOBS
Owen Coyle has been sacked as Bolton manager. "Owen poured his heart and soul into the job, both on and off the pitch, and he led our club with great dignity," blabbed chairman Phil Gartside, while texting Mick McCarthy.
Newcastle have come under fire for agreeing a sponsorship deal with Wonga. "[They have] chosen to target a region that has comparatively high numbers of people experiencing financial difficulty," said insolvency professional Lee Manning, presumably not including Mike Ashley among them.
Everton's David Moyes has won the manager of the month gong. "It is really hard to qualify for [Big Cup] but I wouldn't say we can't do it. If we fall short and end up in [Euro Vase] then so be it," he said, quickly dousing expectations.
And David Haigh, the man heading up a takeover of Dirty Leeds, has described the club as thus: "[Dirty] Leeds is like a young Pamela Anderson. It's in great shape, with superb assets and a great future ahead of her," he parped, perhaps through the fog of beer goggles.
STILL WANT MORE?
Take a banjo, a cow's backside and a misfiring Arsenal striker and sprinkle a little Photoshop on it. Voila! It's this week's Gallery on Olivier Giroud.
Wayne Rooney's future looks to be at its brightest in midfield, says Louise Taylor. "No it isn't … Yes it is … etc and so on," say our readers.
Can Jean-Paul Akono lift Cameroon out of the doldrums? The Fiver hasn't the foggiest but Jonathan Wilson recalls the best cockroach story ever halfway through his article.
And delve into our From the Vault series to remember the day Kelvin Koogan resigned as England manager in a Wembley toilet – 12 blummin' years ago!