The Dyson Airblade: almost as powerful as a Wayne Rooney half-time verbal volley. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Guardian

It was Matchnight #1 of 264 in the new interminable Round of Meh in Jiggered Cup, the putrified-whale-carcass-sized continental football competition formerly known as Big Cup. And oh, what a night, as San Siro witnessed football’s tactical equivalent of two fully refreshed gentlemen swinging haymakers through the cold night air in a pub car park after a philosophical disagreement over how best to get from thesis and antithesis to synthesis.

Yes, the players of Milan and Manchester United – who, with 25 European Cup-winning medals between them, should know better, the state of club football at the minute – were all over the shop. But amid all the pish and bluster, at least one man kept his head. All hail the calming influence of Wayne Rooney, who realised something had to be done after United’s pitiful first-half display, so decided to Do Some Shouting in his team-mates’ faces.

„I was very frustrated with a lot of things,” admitted Rooney. „Some people were not doing their jobs right and I let my feelings be known at half-time.” Nani and Darren Fletcher having been rollocked thus, United went on to secure a 3-2 win, and Rooney’s motivational techniques have thus been compared to Ferguson’s hairdryer. The Fiver, however, would argue that if we’re going down the electrical appliance route, it was more akin to a . After all, this particular blast of hot air also involved the furious washing of hands, given that Rooney had done eff all in the first half himself.

Can Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner, a shoo-in to start tonight in Jiggered Cup at Porto, match Rooney’s feat of leading his team to victory from the front? No. Follow Porto scoring 43 times before Arsenal walk in one pretty consolation goal with our minute-by-minute report, live from 7pm!

„The staff said that the group of customers was too big and suspicious. All of them were wearing similar tracksuits. The players explained that this was the football team and they had no habit of taking tuxedos to the training camp to go shopping. But those explanations were fruitless. The players bought the presents for their relatives in another shop and its owner was very glad. We only hope that, if in London clothes so funnily count for the first impression, after the match the Londoners will treat our team with respect” – Shakhtar Donetsk’s official website reports how, on a week-long acclimatisation trip ahead of the team’s Big Vase first leg with Fulham, Mohamed al-Fayed’s Harrods department store gave the team a typical capital welcome.

Here’s a puzzler: why has Darren Bent stopped using Twitter? According to the man himself, the reason is this: „I had a good chat with the manager recently and I just thought, with the run we’re on at the moment, I needed to get rid of the distractions. I have to solely focus on getting Sunderland out of the relegation battle and I have shut the Twitter down.” Do you understand that? Because to the Fiver it makes about as much sense as an agoraphobic astronaut. Interestingly, the striker made that statement in a conversation with the Sunderland Echo – is staging a press conference really less distracting than posting a 140-character message online?

Maybe that depends on what you mean by character. If you mean one of those oh-so-lovable rogues who pop up incessantly in footballers’ ghosted biographies, usually in the context of a hilarious pub brawl or a cunning jape involving Vaseline, training cones and an introverted youth-team player, then it probably would be quite time-consuming, not to mention tedious. But if you mean a letter or a number, imprinted on to a screen via the simple apparatus of an outstretched finger and a keypad, then it’s hard to see why Bernard Cribbins thinks that encouraging Bent to refrain from a tweet or two is just the thing to help Sunderland get their first league win since November.

But maybe that is not the only step that Cribbins has taken: perhaps between now and the end of the season Sunderland players will abstain from writing, phoning, walking, reading, dancing, watching, playing, filming and spelunking. Through relentless 24/7 concentration on upcoming encounters with the likes of Hull, Burnley and Birmingham they will secure their Premier League safety, and definitely not go stark raving doolally. It’s a bold plan all right, but given that Bent has been the only Sunderland player in consistently respectable form all season, the Fiver can’t help wondering whether Cribbins would have been better served ordering all his players to open Twitter accounts.

„Re: Marten Allen (yesterday’s Fiver letters). Hopefully this will be the first in a series of letters from Swedish versions of well-loved clogging English ex-pros. Who will write in next? Erland Barrett? Cårlton Pålmer? Gaavin Pehcok?” – JJ Dunning.

„Re: Big Cup’s ‘preposterous’ music (yesterday’s Fiver). I actually find it quite fitting. My little brother pointed out to me a few years ago that the words end in ‘it’s live on TV, the chaaampions’. Does more or less what it says on the tin” – Graeme Harley.

„Hooray! Someone was clearly going to rise to Tom Whitstable’s Dave Beckham wind-up (Fivers passim). Well done Omar Sattar. Unfortunately your reply was not po-faced or self-righteous enough to really cover you in glory, but good on you for at least having a go” – S Dunsby.

Portsmouth’s non-executive chairman, Sulaiman al-Fahim, is in trouble over a debt of £1.4m, according to reports in Abu Dhabi.

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee is prepared to draw a line under last night’s scenes at Pittodrie when fans gave him, let’s say, a rough a ride after the 1-0 home Cup defeat to Raith. „I’ve said to the players they’ve set me up for that. I don’t know who it was that spat on me. There were scarves getting thrown and bits of paper too but I took my time walking down there because I wanted them to have their say,” explained McGhee. „I’m prepared, given the way I felt about how bad it was, to accept it. I’m just glad none of them hit me.”

Former Russia coach Guus Hiddink has taken the vacant Turkey job.

Diego Maradona claims to have „already phoned 50% of the players who will play in the World Cup”. We’re assuming they’re Argentina players.

Kuddly Ken Bates has warned his Nasty Leeds players to ‘knuckle down’ after last night’s defeat to Walsall capped a run of one win in seven games. „Some of them are playing for their jobs come the end of the season,” he declared.

And Jamie Carragher has recovered from groin gah in time for Liverpool’s Big Vase clash with Unirea Urziceni tomorrow.

Richard Williams reckons Wayne Rooney deserves plaudits for achieving something Sir Bobby Charlton was unable to: .

Is there a professional club called Joe Public FC? And is the Big Cup final more popular than Super Bowl? Fill your head with stuff you don’t really need to know .

Want your very own copy of our free tea-timely(ish) email sent direct to your inbox? . And also, heaven forfend, if you want to unsubscribe.

This article was published on at 16.36 GMT on Wednesday 17 February 2010. It was last modified at 16.42 GMT on Wednesday 17 February 2010.

Read the article on Guardian Unlimited

The Furious Washing Of Hands; and An Agoraphobic Astronaut

The Dyson Airblade: almost as powerful as a Wayne Rooney half-time verbal volley. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Guardian

It was Matchnight #1 of 264 in the new interminable Round of Meh in Jiggered Cup, the putrified-whale-carcass-sized continental football competition formerly known as Big Cup. And oh, what a night, as San Siro witnessed football’s tactical equivalent of two fully refreshed gentlemen swinging haymakers through the cold night air in a pub car park after a philosophical disagreement over how best to get from thesis and antithesis to synthesis.

Yes, the players of Milan and Manchester United – who, with 25 European Cup-winning medals between them, should know better, the state of club football at the minute – were all over the shop. But amid all the pish and bluster, at least one man kept his head. All hail the calming influence of Wayne Rooney, who realised something had to be done after United’s pitiful first-half display, so decided to Do Some Shouting in his team-mates’ faces.

„I was very frustrated with a lot of things,” admitted Rooney. „Some people were not doing their jobs right and I let my feelings be known at half-time.” Nani and Darren Fletcher having been rollocked thus, United went on to secure a 3-2 win, and Rooney’s motivational techniques have thus been compared to Ferguson’s hairdryer. The Fiver, however, would argue that if we’re going down the electrical appliance route, it was more akin to a . After all, this particular blast of hot air also involved the furious washing of hands, given that Rooney had done eff all in the first half himself.

Can Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner, a shoo-in to start tonight in Jiggered Cup at Porto, match Rooney’s feat of leading his team to victory from the front? No. Follow Porto scoring 43 times before Arsenal walk in one pretty consolation goal with our minute-by-minute report, live from 7pm!

„The staff said that the group of customers was too big and suspicious. All of them were wearing similar tracksuits. The players explained that this was the football team and they had no habit of taking tuxedos to the training camp to go shopping. But those explanations were fruitless. The players bought the presents for their relatives in another shop and its owner was very glad. We only hope that, if in London clothes so funnily count for the first impression, after the match the Londoners will treat our team with respect” – Shakhtar Donetsk’s official website reports how, on a week-long acclimatisation trip ahead of the team’s Big Vase first leg with Fulham, Mohamed al-Fayed’s Harrods department store gave the team a typical capital welcome.

Here’s a puzzler: why has Darren Bent stopped using Twitter? According to the man himself, the reason is this: „I had a good chat with the manager recently and I just thought, with the run we’re on at the moment, I needed to get rid of the distractions. I have to solely focus on getting Sunderland out of the relegation battle and I have shut the Twitter down.” Do you understand that? Because to the Fiver it makes about as much sense as an agoraphobic astronaut. Interestingly, the striker made that statement in a conversation with the Sunderland Echo – is staging a press conference really less distracting than posting a 140-character message online?

Maybe that depends on what you mean by character. If you mean one of those oh-so-lovable rogues who pop up incessantly in footballers’ ghosted biographies, usually in the context of a hilarious pub brawl or a cunning jape involving Vaseline, training cones and an introverted youth-team player, then it probably would be quite time-consuming, not to mention tedious. But if you mean a letter or a number, imprinted on to a screen via the simple apparatus of an outstretched finger and a keypad, then it’s hard to see why Bernard Cribbins thinks that encouraging Bent to refrain from a tweet or two is just the thing to help Sunderland get their first league win since November.

But maybe that is not the only step that Cribbins has taken: perhaps between now and the end of the season Sunderland players will abstain from writing, phoning, walking, reading, dancing, watching, playing, filming and spelunking. Through relentless 24/7 concentration on upcoming encounters with the likes of Hull, Burnley and Birmingham they will secure their Premier League safety, and definitely not go stark raving doolally. It’s a bold plan all right, but given that Bent has been the only Sunderland player in consistently respectable form all season, the Fiver can’t help wondering whether Cribbins would have been better served ordering all his players to open Twitter accounts.

„Re: Marten Allen (yesterday’s Fiver letters). Hopefully this will be the first in a series of letters from Swedish versions of well-loved clogging English ex-pros. Who will write in next? Erland Barrett? Cårlton Pålmer? Gaavin Pehcok?” – JJ Dunning.

„Re: Big Cup’s ‘preposterous’ music (yesterday’s Fiver). I actually find it quite fitting. My little brother pointed out to me a few years ago that the words end in ‘it’s live on TV, the chaaampions’. Does more or less what it says on the tin” – Graeme Harley.

„Hooray! Someone was clearly going to rise to Tom Whitstable’s Dave Beckham wind-up (Fivers passim). Well done Omar Sattar. Unfortunately your reply was not po-faced or self-righteous enough to really cover you in glory, but good on you for at least having a go” – S Dunsby.

Portsmouth’s non-executive chairman, Sulaiman al-Fahim, is in trouble over a debt of £1.4m, according to reports in Abu Dhabi.

Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee is prepared to draw a line under last night’s scenes at Pittodrie when fans gave him, let’s say, a rough a ride after the 1-0 home Cup defeat to Raith. „I’ve said to the players they’ve set me up for that. I don’t know who it was that spat on me. There were scarves getting thrown and bits of paper too but I took my time walking down there because I wanted them to have their say,” explained McGhee. „I’m prepared, given the way I felt about how bad it was, to accept it. I’m just glad none of them hit me.”

Former Russia coach Guus Hiddink has taken the vacant Turkey job.

Diego Maradona claims to have „already phoned 50% of the players who will play in the World Cup”. We’re assuming they’re Argentina players.

Kuddly Ken Bates has warned his Nasty Leeds players to ‘knuckle down’ after last night’s defeat to Walsall capped a run of one win in seven games. „Some of them are playing for their jobs come the end of the season,” he declared.

And Jamie Carragher has recovered from groin gah in time for Liverpool’s Big Vase clash with Unirea Urziceni tomorrow.

Richard Williams reckons Wayne Rooney deserves plaudits for achieving something Sir Bobby Charlton was unable to: .

Is there a professional club called Joe Public FC? And is the Big Cup final more popular than Super Bowl? Fill your head with stuff you don’t really need to know .

Want your very own copy of our free tea-timely(ish) email sent direct to your inbox? . And also, heaven forfend, if you want to unsubscribe.

This article was published on at 16.36 GMT on Wednesday 17 February 2010. It was last modified at 16.42 GMT on Wednesday 17 February 2010.

Read the article on Guardian Unlimited

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