Friday, 25 January 2013

Manchester United gazump Arsenal - The Guardian


Arsene Wenger looked everywhere. In his house, which has no windows because the Frenchman does not wish to be reminded that the real world is not as he thinks it should be; in his car, which is probably chauffeur-driven because one has to find a use for Sebastien Squillaci; and in the Arsenal trophy cabinet, which over the last seven years has been discreetly converted into a humble wardrobe. But, like another devout preacher of financial fairness who is happy to amass fabulous personal wealth, Wenger still hasn't found what he's looking for: namely, that famous multi-layered sleeping-bag coat that he uses to keep himself warm while he's in a hot funk on the sidelines. A coat exactly like the one that the Fiver half expects Sir Alex Ferguson to turn up wearing some time soon.

Just a few months after relieving Wenger of his top scorer, Ferguson has gazumped him again, clinching the signature of the sought-after Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha. Wenger and everyone else can complain about owners such as the Glazers but Manchester United have yet to collapse under the weight of debt and, after splashing out last summer to prise the best player in the Premier League away from Arsenal, they have now forked out a reported £15m to grab the country's most prized young player, whom Wenger was also pursuing. "We are signing a player of potential, we always feel we develop players well, we have proved that many times," hurrahed Ferguson as Federico Macheda and Bebe clung to their souvenir Old Trafford colouring books.

Zaha has been loaned straight back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season to help with the promotion push and, perhaps, give Ferguson time to get shot of Nani. "I have been at Palace for more than 10 years, I will always love the club and I want to help get them get back to the Premier League, particularly for the fans who have always been so good to me," assured Zaha, seemingly an affable young man who cherishes old-fashioned values such as loyalty, humility and carefully crafted official statement rather than a #fkntwitterdispathiz.


"I don't think Dimitar was a failure here. Some people like to see players run through brick walls all the time. Dimitar is not that type of player, but he is a very talented player" – Peerless ironist Sir Alex Ferguson has a word for the morons who didn't appreciate Dimitar Berbatov when he was Old Trafford.


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"Where does the Fiver's STOP FOOTBALL! campaign go from here, now that Charlie Morgan's attempt to enforce it in the Milk Cup was forcibly ended in such a disappointing manner?" – Enna Cooper.

"As well as their new ground name (yesterday's bits and bobs) surely the Magpies should be taking the opportunity to rebrand themselves as Chateauneuf, although it does sound quite classy, so probably not Mike Ashley's bag" – Matt Dolman.

"Lovely to see DJ/U.N.K.L.E/Mo' Wax label boss James Lavelle contributing to yesterday's letters. However, based on the evidence provided, it would be prudent for him to focus on the night job" – Ben MacDonald.

"Re: your suggestion in yesterday's Fiver that the only way Eden Hazard's hoofing of a ballboy could have been more interesting was if Luis Suarez had been doing the kicking, may I suggest that had it been Gareth Bale and not Suarez, it would, of course, have been a case of 'pre-emptive kicking'" – Brian Carroll.

Send your letters to And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. And to placate certain readers, the Fiver awards prizeless Fiver letter o' the day to: Enna Cooper.


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.


Eden Hazard has been charged by the FA for acting as any sane human being would have reacted when a Swansea ballboy acted up on Wednesday, while Harry Redknapp has defended Hazard, saying the behaviour of the Swansea bawboy and LAD was "disgusting".

Good news for the otherwise jiggered British newspaper industry: Mario Balotelli is staying at Manchester City.

Southampton have continued their charm offensive by banning reporters from interviewing fans outside St Mary's on – and you'll like this – health and safety grounds.

Fabricio Colloccini has decided it's not do one o'clock after all; he's staying at Newcastle until the summer.

Arsenal fans' hopes of their team signing Lionel Messi, Pele, Roy Race and Joan Collins have been dashed after Arsene Wenger said there would no "miracle" signings before the end of the transfer window.

Uefa has announced the sad death of another golden goose. "The Uefa EURO 2020 final tournament will be staged in 13 cities across Europe," read the obituary.


Jonathan Wilson lived and worked in a Tibetan monastery, so who better to write about an illicit game of football with monks?

Sean Ingle grew up on the mean streets of Luton, so who better to write about their hopes of more FA Cup glory?

Barney Ronay on "everybody's favourite errant bongo-playing Club Bikini genius", also known in some cultures as Ronaldinho.

Amy Lawrence traces the rise of Brighton.

Paul Doyle is looking forward to this weekend's FA Cup action so much that it hurts his bald head. Here's why.


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