The Fiver | Leicester City and The Round of Brendan Rodgers


Just as Big Cup has its Round Of Barcelona (the Round Formerly Known As The Round Of Paris Saint-Germain (the Round Formerly Known As The Round of Arsenal)), so the world’s greatest second-rate pan-European competition must have its own bespoke branding for the phase of the tournament whose losers must wonder why they ever bothered. And so Uefa bigwigs convened at Fancy Premises in Nyon on Friday to announce that, from next season, the last-32 stage of Big Vase will be renamed The Round Of Brendan Rodgers, to commemorate the former Liverpool and Queen’s Celtic tactical maestro’s latest hastily aborted foray across the continent. Leicester might even turn up for it next time. Let’s hope Brendan stocks up on tea and toast.

The Uefa suits also made the draw for the last 16, and plucked out a tie that would make a great Big Cup final. Granada, playing in European competition for the very first time, will face Molde, who have never got this far in Big Vase before. Imagine those two facing off at the Ataturk in Istanbul this May for Old Big Ears, instead of the usual superclub suspects! What a breath of fresh air it would be, and a return to the days when the likes of Reims, Partizan Belgrade, Brugge and Malmö could contest the most prestigious game in club football. Still, the last 16 in Big Vase is nothing to be sniffed at, and a decent chance to reach the quarters for both minnows. Romance is not yet completely dead, as Weird Uncle Fiver keeps telling us during those 4am phone calls.

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The draw also paired Manchester United with Milan, which we suppose would make a half-decent Big Cup final as well, if you’re so inclined. But here they are. It’ll be a big test for United, with Milan also having recently rediscovered the art of basic competence after years in the doldrums. The Fiver was secretly hoping for a north London derby, and all the white noise that would bring, but Spurs and Arsenal were paired instead with Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos, respectively. Meanwhile the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers were rewarded for their Sheena Easton earworm-generating 9-5 aggregate victory over Antwerp with what looks like a reasonably negotiable tie against the latest conquerors o’Brenny, Slavia Prague. A world of possibility stretches out ahead for everyone, as they dream dreamy dreams of glory in a competition that’s unusually wide open, given Sevilla are not in it for once.


“Okay Ibra, based on your position [LeBron James] is great at basketball and shouldn’t voice his opinion about politics. You’re really good at football so you shouldn’t voice your opinion about LeBron using his platform for good. Or your opinion on anything outside football” – Michael Jordan slam-dunks Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his wrong opinion that sports stars should not get involved in political matters.

Speaking of egos.
Speaking of egos. Photograph: Aurélien Meunier/Getty Images


“Your gratuitous reference to Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (yesterday’s Fiver) brought to mind one of Klaus Kinski’s better known quotes: ‘One should judge a man mainly by his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real.’ Now, there’s a mission statement for your esteemed column” – Professor Malcolm Foley (Emeritus).

“I did indeed enjoy the video clip of ‘Nathan Ferguson’s howitzer from the Forest Green car park during Southend’s 3-1 win’ (yesterday’s Quote of the Day). However, as a Palace fan, and given the hullaballoo surrounding our mid-2020 signing of Nathan Ferguson – who has still yet to play a match – I do worry that perhaps we signed the wrong one” – David Newton.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day prize is … Professor Malcolm Foley (Emeritus).


Premier League champions of knack Liverpool will be without captain Jordan Henderson for six to eight weeks after he underwent surgery on his groin-gah!

Eric Dier put his heavy feet to good use by booting José Mourinho’s view that he is suffering a crisis of confidence out of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. “I don’t think my confidence has ever been in a negative place,” he growled as he coiled his right leg. “I’m a big boy.”

David Moyes is fixing his steely Glaswegian glare on West Ham’s push to qualify for Big Cup and reckons no amount of flirting from the Queen’s Celtic will distract him. “I’ve got no intentions of going anywhere,” he roared, perhaps while doing that weird crossed arms Hammers sign. “I’ve already spoken to [Gollivan], we’re up to date and things are quietly ticking along.”

When the Chicago’s [one for the kids – Fiver Ed] DJ bangs on some Come on Eileen.
When the Chicago’s [one for the kids – Fiver Ed] DJ bangs on some Come on Eileen. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce accepts that it’s starting to get a bit squeaky in the posterior area. “It’s certainly coming to the tickly part, that’s for sure,” he tooted. “I always say when the daffodils are up, that’s a sign that the real crux part of the season is upon us and if you’re at the bottom end where we are, unfortunately.”

Oriol Romeu has been ruled out for the rest of the season after having surgery on the ankle-knack he suffered in Southampton’s 3-0 defeat at Leeds.

Wrexham owners Van Wilder and Mac from It’s Always Sunny have used their expert knowledge of performing for ca$h to incentivise an upturn in results by offering the squad a £250,000 promotion bonus, even though it may be against National League rules.

And a Norwegian Aston Villa fan who goes by the name of Henning says that he is behind a bot tracking Premier League players’ fantasy football transfers that has enabled him to leak knack news that irked Dean Smith and prompted Pep Guardiola to call it “unethical”. “This is already available information … [I’m] sorry, not sorry,” blabbed the 32-year-old.


From utility man to star striker: the evolution of Michail Antonio at West Ham. By Jonathan Liew.

“A fairytale”: Sean Cole on when Bongo FC won the Milk Cup a decade ago.

Obafemi Martins!
Obafemi Martins! Photograph: Allstar Picture Library Ltd/Alamy

Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps gets her chat on with Suzanne Wrack about b@ntz, business studies and German.

Stand or kneel? How Megan Rapinoe helped USA! USA!! USA!!! Soccer change its tune. By Caitlin Murray.

Ten things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend, featuring a red-hot composite image at the top.

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



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