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Unverified and potentially unverifiable

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Unverified and potentially unverifiable” was written by John Ashdown, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 11th January 2017 16.10 UTC

A DODGY DOSSIER?

It should be noted that today’s explosive Fiver is unverified and potentially unverifiable. We have decided to publish it anyway so that Fiver readers can make up their own minds. Because apparently that’s a thing now.

CONFIDENTIAL/SENSITIVE SOURCE

COMPANY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 2017/043

MILK CUP: LIVERPOOL AND SOUTHAMPTON SEMI-FINAL FIRST LEG TAKING PLACE AT ST MARY’S. NO ONE ALL THAT EXCITED BUT NEITHER SIDE WOULD MIND REACHING THE FINAL IF POSSIBLE

Summary

  • Sources suggest Southampton desperate to reach final after run of results more gruesome and troubling than the mental image of [REDACTED – Fiver Lawyers] hotel room and [REDACTED – Fiver Lawyers] on the bed.
  • Liverpool probably less bothered by result, if they’re honest.
  • Despite the extensive cultivation of confidential data in secret dossier, Fiver’s grip on who is more likely to win football matches apparently remains shaky at best.
  • Southampton source confirms bear defecates in forested area, pope Catholic and one-legged duck swims in spherical pattern.
  • Fiver’s usual attempt at predicting scoreline likely to be wildly inaccurate.

Detail

  • Southampton, having played more games over Christmas than a Trivial Pursuit obsessed uncle, could do with a lift. Saints haven’t really been waiting particularly long for a trip to Wembley, given they won the Football League Trophy there in 2010, but with progression in the league this season (they have finished eighth, seventh and sixth in the past three seasons) looking unlikely they could do with something to smile about. Indeed since mid October they’ve been as miserable and unproductive as a January detox: only four teams – Hull, Swansea, Palace and Watford – have picked up fewer points in the league.
  • “It would be nice if we could go to the final,” is hardly a chest-beating battle cry from Jürgen KLOPP and in truth, though sources suggest it would indeed be nice, the league remains not just a bigger fish to fry but a blue whale blocking the horizons. A trip to Old Trafford awaits at the weekend after this first leg, while the second leg is followed at the end of the month by Chelsea’s visit to Anfield.
  • The Fiver was under the impression that Liverpool are definitely favourites to reach the final, given the two teams’ recent form, league position and players at their disposal. But: “Are we favourites against Southampton? Whoever says this has not a real idea about cup competitions,” said KLOPP. “If this was the case, then in the last few years the finals all over the world always would have been the same teams involved.” Some sources suggest that KLOPP may have confused the question “Are you favourites?” with the statement: “You are favourites and favourites always win.”

• Claude PUEL has been at his blindingly-obvious best pre-match. “We have to try and make a strong game and get a good result to prepare well for the second game and still have a good possibility to qualify,” revealed the Southampton manager, prompting several reporters with press cards in their trilbies to dash to the nearest payphone. “This first game at home is very important.”

11 January 2017

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join John Ashdown from 7.45pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of Southampton 2-2 Liverpool.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I hope to keep fighting with all my might together with people in my club, my teammates and fans who have always given me support” – former Japan striker Kazuyoshi “King Kazu” Miura, signing a new one-year deal with second-tier Yokohama FA, aged 49.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING

Voting on the compulsory purchase of Millwall’s land around The Den was postponed on Tuesday night, 24 hours before it was set to be confirmed. The decision is now due in February. In the meantime, we went down to hear from Lions’ fans.

Here you go.

FIVER LETTERS

“Following on the inane commentary theme (Fiver letters passim), why do two players from the same team ‘both go for the same ball’? Where is this other ball they’re supposed to go for?” – Allen Farmer.

“I think ‘naturally two-footed’ sticks out as the most banal and superfluous of commentators’ phrases, usually deployed as an appreciation heaped on skilful wingers. While I’m sure some unfortunate souls who didn’t quite make it to the Premier League might be envious of Shaun Wright-Phillips for having a foot attached to both his left and right legs, for most of us being naturally two-footed is the de facto state of affairs” – Jack Skelly.

“‘Scoring goals for fun’ and crosses that are ‘fizzed’ in. Grrr …” – Mark Robinson.

“An ‘agricultural’ tackle. Never from any other sector of the economy.
Manufacturing, perhaps? Or tourism?” – Mike Wilner.

“What exactly do you want commentators to say? ‘A passed to B’; ‘B passed to C’; ‘C passed to A’; ‘pass may have gone backwards’; ‘blah blah’? While I don’t think commentators are perfect, I would rather listen to some form of spoken equivalent to creative writing than the tedious sprouting of robotic Alan Shearer making precise and perfect (and boring) assessments on everything. What do you guys read for entertainment, IBM technical reference manuals?” – Graham Haslam.

“May I point out that ‘empty net’, ‘wicked deflection’, ‘electing to punch’ and crosses containing ‘whip’ as mentioned yesterday are all contained along with many others in 2004’s all-encompassing Football Lexicon by Leigh & Woodhouse, which can be ordered from all good bookshops or here, if you must. I say this not only to hopefully stem the flow of further cliches in the letters section, but also because Woodhouse happens to be a friend of mine and plays in goal for my six-a-side team” – Martin Eales.

“With reference to Andy Marriott (yesterday’s letters), I once played for a team in Melbourne called Taxation United, formed in the offices of the Australian Taxation Office, for which I did not work. Taxation United gave away a lot of penalties” – Jason Steger.

• Send your letters to [email protected]. 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 … Jack Skelly.

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BITS AND BOBS

José Mourinho reckons he’s “sad and happy” about Manchester United trousering Everton’s £24m for Morgan Schneiderlin. “I’m sad because I like him,” he mused. “Happy because he wants this.” The 2-0 Carling Cup semi-final first leg win over Hull has also prompted him to get his prawn sandwiches out. “I am sorry to say I think the fans have also to improve,” he blootered. “My invitation to the fans is don’t come to the theatre, come to play, play with us.”

Get a room.

Get a room. Photograph: Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images

England women’s record goalscorer Kelly Smith has announced her retirement from football, and will start coaching at Arsenal Ladies instead.

Jonathan Calleri is ready to do one from West Ham in the direction of Florence, Genoa or the Canaries.

Arsenal had a €40m bid for Roma defender Kostas Manolas snubbed in the summer, according to Mr 15% Ioannis Evangelopoulos. “Roma’s demands were higher than the English club were willing to go,” he sighed.

Birmingham are closing on West Brom’s Craig Gardner and Granada’s £2m Rene Krhin; £10m QPR ace Sandro has joined Antalyaspor on a free; and Bournemouth want Chelsea’s PO’JT on loan.

Wales defender Neil Taylor has sustained cheekbone-crack in training, and will undergo surgery.

Bayer Leverkusen’s Javier Hernández denies having used a hypnotist to try and end his goal drought. “I’ve never seen a hypnotist,” he clucked like a chicken. “I don’t need any hypnotist to be what I am.”

And the original Ronaldo has shrugged off Michael Owen’s bantz about his girth. “’I am shocked by how much importance my weight is given in the world we live in,” he sighed. “I don’t know why it is so important, to be honest.”

STILL WANT MORE?

Transfer window watch! Get all the latest news and moves from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1. And you can also sign up to get updates via FaceSpace MessageApp, or whatever.

Which footballer has scored the most goals for a single club? The Knowledge dusts off its record books.

Marina Hyde on Gianni’s World Cup.

Paul Doyle on Nathan Redmond and Southampton.

Nick Ames on Guinea-Bissau, intrepid outsiders about to make Afcon history.

Kristan Heneage on David Beckham, a decade after his move to MLS.

Glenn Billingham on a big-boned Luis Suárez’s first season in Europe.

Old, but gold.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And Instachat, too!

THE FIVER CAN HAPPILY OFFER A SIXTH MOVEMENT

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