ANOTHER GOOD NIGHT FOR MR ROY
The Fiver has witnessed some top-notch sporting achievements on the television in 2012. Europe coming from behind to win the Ryder Cup. Andy Murray breaking his duck at the US Open. Bradley Wiggins triumphing in Le Tour. Ted Hankey managing to bravely battle through five gruelling legs of darts despite a "chest infection" which saw each of his puffy eyes going into business for themselves. But nothing compares to the stunning feat of athletic skill transmitted on the Independent Television channel last night, when commentator Clive Tyldesley performed a series of world-class gymnastic contortions to avoid blaming children's entertainer Happy Hands Hart for England's 4-2 defeat in Sweden.
Tyldesley's perfect execution has been compared to Olga Korbut's backward somersault on the balance beam at the 1972 Olympics. Yes, it was that good. But to concentrate on that would be to miss out on another notable performance yesterday evening. Happy Hands Hart, Sweden's two-assist man of the match, was unquestionably the star turn on the pitch, his in-instalments dive to reach a late free-kick a pratfall reminiscent of Keaton in his prime, while that attempted headed clearance right at the death was a comedy feedline straight out of the Syd Little playbook. So thank you, Happy Hands, for putting a smile on the world's face in these otherwise austere times. Though of course we expect nothing less from Happy Hands. That's Happy Hands!
The Swedes, who were opening their new Friends Arena stadium, had been hoping that one of their chaps would mark the occasion with a similarly jaw-dropping performance, but sadly had to make do with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring three crackers then adding a fourth by bicycle-kicking home with his back to goal from 30 yards out on the wing. Still, while not in Happy Hands' league in terms of pure entertainment, Zlatan's efforts weren't totally shabby, and visiting centurion Stevie Mbe declared his fourth "the best goal I have ever seen".
England boss Roy Hodgson also thought the strike "extraordinary", no doubt in a generous mood because Ibrahimovic's feat has deflected attention away from Mr Roy's team's comprehensive thrashing, the fact that England under Mr Roy's yoke might actually be stunningly useless, and that Mr Roy once gave Fulham £3m plus Zlatan's highly promising young team-mate Alexander Kačaniklić in order to get his hands on Paul Konchesky. Happy Hands Hart's night, then, but let's not forget it was also a triumph for Zlatan ... and indirectly for Mr Roy!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"For me it is difficult to comment on something that I didn't hear or was not even involved or even close" - showing the kind of common sense with which the Society of Black Lawyers and half of Fleet Street seem to be unburdened, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech gives - or doesn't give - his take on the Mark Clattenburg affair.
"Does Football Manager have a simulated tea-timely email that appears every simulated day between the simulated hours of 3pm and 7pm? If so is it more or less so humourless and are there 1,057 simulated pedants writing in everyday casting up some minor detail an under-pressure under-paid simulated hack copy-and-pasted just before he hit send and hit a simulated boozer? If so I might just buy it" - Jonny Bell. [You probably should, because you're not getting one for free - Fiver Ed.]
"I've noticed that more often than not, it's the very first letter published in the Fiver Letters section that wins the letter of the day prize. Isn't it time that the prize went to the second letter, for a change?" - Steve Jackson.
"Everyone is going overboard about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but last night's was a team performance from the Swedes. If it had been just Zlatan, I think England could have scraped a draw" - Guy Campbell.
"Re: Mr Roy getting all Alf Garnett about players not being ready to commit themselves fully to England. That young black players might be reluctant to commit their future to a team where the manager has quite lengthily expressed regret at the retirement of a former captain who went on to be banned for r@cism and whose current captain put his name to a statement supporting a teammate who had just been banned for r@cism is truly a mystery for the ages, is it not Mr Roy?" - Jason Tew.
"Re: Mike Wilner suggesting Flagstar BankCorp as a possible meaning for FBC (yesterday's Fiver Letters). I bought shares in Flagstar Banking Corporation some time ago. After a reverse split I don't have many shares left and each one is only worth a fraction of the ones I bought originally. Believe me, if I called someone a Flagstar Banking Corporation it wouldn't be meant kindly" - Mike Roberts.
• Competition: For a limited time only (basically until tomorrow) we're giving away a copy of Football Manager 2013 (given a five-star rating by no less a source than Big Paper) for the letter of the day. So get scribbling. Today's winner: Guy Campbell.
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BITS AND BOBS
Talking linking Manchester City with a January move for Luis Suarez has been greeted with tedious muttering about media "hate campaigns", "agendas" and other nonsense by some of Liverpool's more fundamentalist fans.
While Liverpool's fans have been frothing at the mouth, their manager has said Suarez is going nowhere. "There will be no bidding war. He's staying here," said Brendan Rodgers, locking his pet Uruguayan in a cupboard and swallowing the key.
Like an alcoholic, the Sky Sports News ticker finally reached rock bottom today, breaking the following story: PETERBOROUGH REMOVE GABRIEL ZAKUANI FROM TRANSFER LIST. They'll have a lot of making up to do when they reach step eight.
Mousa Dembele has been ruled out of Tottenham's defeat at the hands of Arsenal on Saturday with hip-knack, while Hugo Lloris is also unlikely to feature as a result of his ongoing Friedel-knack.
And Tony Watt has been rewarded for his goal against Barcelona with a new long-term deal that will keep him at the Queen's Celtic until 2015-16 ... or next summer, if he keeps scoring goals.
STILL WANT MORE?
Zlatan's best goals, a paraglider crashing into a footballer and Ted Hankey's mysterious lurgy all feature in this week's Classic YouTube?
There's more Zlatan goals but not a tired and emotional Ted Hankey to be seen in this bespoke selection of the up-and-coming young Sweden international's best goals.
Some media outlets have gone for complete Zlatan overkill today, but not us. Here, Amy Lawrence says that the Swedish superstar is much more than an off-the-cuff maverick.
Jamie Jackson was went to Sweden v England last night, wrote 736 words on the performances of England's debutants and still mentioned Zlatan eight times.
And without once surmising that it might be down to greedy Swedes bagging four at a time against pathetically feeble opposition, Jonathan Wilson takes time out from crying over the fact that more goals are being scored to pose The Question: Why Are More Goals Being Scored?
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