FLIGHT! FLIGHT! FLIGHT!
Anyone who has flown through Dublin airport in recent months will probably be aware it is suffering from huge problems. Staff shortages in all areas have resulted in the kind of lengthy queues for cancelled or delayed flights that compel frustrated passengers to tweet their dissatisfaction to followers who don’t care because the misfortune is being suffered by somebody else and besides … apologies, The Fiver is digressing. On Tuesday night, League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers take on North Macedonian side FC Shkupi in the second leg of their Big Vase qualifying round, knowing a win will guarantee them group-stage action at the very least this season. The Super Hoops are 3-1 up from the first leg in Tallaght and will almost certainly have flown to Skopje International airport full of optimism, unless of course their hosts engineered a revenge plot to divert their plane elsewhere.
You see, last week the players and officials of Shkupi were left mighty miffed when their charter plane to Dublin was diverted to Shannon on the other side of the country, due to a paucity of landing slots at their preferred destination. But while their frustration at this inconvenience was entirely understandable it was also misplaced, as they blamed the “evil” to which they had been subjected on a carefully orchestrated government conspiracy, rather than the usual common-or-garden Irish bureaucratic incompetence.
“Despite our budget, we were trying to keep our players comfortable by hiring a charter plane and paying thousands of euros to ensure our players could make it to [Big Vase] in good health but the Irish government did not listen to Uefa, despite the intervention of Uefa, [and] landed us 300km from Dublin and gave our team undeserved treatment on this journey,” they railed on social media disgraces. “We would like to say to the Irish that they should know well that we have a very characterful team. The reward of being a team is to respond as a team to the evil done to you.” While it behoves The Fiver’s inner pedant to point out that Shannon airport is actually only 215km from Rovers’ Tallaght Stadium, as a daily email that has been forced into an identical Irish cross-country schlep by a well known low-fares airline, we certainly feel Shkupi’s pain.
Safely back at home, one suspects their players will be in little need of a motivational team-talk from Goce Sedloski, their manager, who might be well advised to print off a giant map of Ireland and pin it to the home dressing-room wall. Pointing to the thick line running coast-to-coast along the M7 from Shannon, through Limerick and the provincial towns of Nenagh, Portlaoise, Kildare, Newbridge, Naas and on to Tallaght, he can remind them of the “evil” they were forced to endure. Having said that, it’s quite a scenic and not-altogether-unpleasant trip, especially if you break it up with a stop-off in Romanos on Nenagh’s Clare Street for fish and chips.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I want to apologise for what happened outside the stadium after the game against Modena. We are professionals and, above all, we must be examples for youths and kids. Today I didn’t behave as such. That’s because the things that I love the most, such as my wife and my son, were deliberately involved off the pitch, hurting me deeply. I also renew my apologies to the opposing fans” – Italy striker Domenico Berardi explains why he embarked on a Benny Hill-style chase of a mouthy Modena fan after Sassuolo’s shock Coppa Italia defeat against Serie B opposition.
RoboHaaland, Scott Parker’s suit and poor Erik ten Hag. It’s only David Squires on the opening Premier League weekend.
Barcelona: what gives? It’s a Euro pod special from Football Weekly.
“Re: yesterday’s Fiver and the proposal to have the classified results at the beginning of 606 (which now starts at 7.30pm because 5 live is covering the 5.30pm match). Isn’t it typical that The Fiver’s solution involves turning in work late and telling people something they’ll definitely have already heard by then” – David Wall.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ryan Giggs kicked his naked girlfriend out of a hotel room in Dubai when she accused him of messaging another woman, his assault trial has heard. In a police interview video played to the jury, Kate Greville told detectives that Giggs “flipped” when the pair were in a nightclub and she saw him message “another girl”.
The absolute state of Barcelona: part XXXVII.
Frank Lampard’s Everton manager Frank Lampard has spent around £37m on shiny new Belgium midfielder Amadou Onana in the hope he’ll fill the giant hole in their midfield.
Spurs chief suit Daniel Levy is loving his new, carefree self so much that he’s bowed to pressure from headline writers to splash £17m on Udinese full-back Destiny Udogie.
Manchester United won’t be bringing Marko Arnautovic to Old Trafford after Bologna rejected a bid of around £8m.
Issa Diop is just a cough for the Fulham doctor away from completing a £15m move from West Ham.
Thiago Alcântara’s hamstring-twang will keep Liverpool’s physios busy for around a month.
Lucy Bronze expects women’s football to go from strength to strength in England after their Euro 2022 triumph. “We’ve got great young players coming through and we can see now the media and sponsors are more behind us,” she cheered. “That will help grow the game as well.”
And the $uper League is back, baby! Only this time it’s in Africa, with talk of up to $100m in prize money for around 20 clubs across the continent.
STILL WANT MORE?
With affordable tickets and younger fans, Euro 2022 showed how to attract a previously disengaged audience to football, writes Suzanne Wrack.
Monaco’s statement win against Strasbourg showed they mean business in Ligue Urrrrrrrn this season, reports Eric Devin.
We’re only one game into the season and Jamie Jackson has already had to pen a piece on Manchester United’s shamblings. Impressive.
Midfielders are so in demand this summer that their names fill the majority of the word-count in this Rumour Mill.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!