The Fiver | The poor old FA Cup | Barry Glendenning

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Like one of those spoilsport conjurers who gets kicked out of the Magic Circle for revealing how it's possible to saw a woman in half and then put her back together again, assorted football folk have been attracting opprobrium for suggesting, either through word or deed, that the fabled magic of the FA Cup may be a lot more more bogus than genuine hocus-pocus. In a football world where the grind of actually having to play competitive matches increasingly gets in the way of the more important club business of keeping players fit, going on revenue-generating tours abroad and performing well in the transfer market, the poor old FA Cup is fast becoming an irrelevance in the eyes of managers of clubs that win so many trophies on such a regular basis that they can afford to turn their nose up at one of only two prizes in English football they have any chance of winning. The Fiver is looking at you, Paul Lambert. And you, Big Sam. And you, Tactics Tim Sherw … oh, Spurs were actually trying?

[There is a brief pause as the Fiver gives itself a self-congratulatory pat on the back for delivering its joke for 2014 at the earliest possible opportunity]

Of course, some Premier League managers had no choice but to field weakened sides in the FA Cup, with David Moyes being a case in point. With both his good players knacked, the Manchester United line-up looked about as intimidating as a beaming Theo Walcott gesturing inoffensively from a stretcher. It was also a line-up that managed to generate similar amounts of fury from grown men, albeit without the deluge of coins that might conceivably help Moyes rectify matters in the transfer window.

"It has been a tough start. I am disappointed we have not won more games but it will change I have no doubt about that," said Moyes, sporting what PG Wodehouse once described as the unmistakable look of a man about to be present at a row between women, and only a wet cat in a strange backyard bears itself with less jauntiness than a man faced by such a prospect. With the first leg of their Rumbelows Cup semi-final against Sunderland ahoy tomorrow evening, Moyes and Manchester United will at least quickly get the opportunity to make up for yesterday's disappointment … or posssibly make things worse altogether by getting beaten by the worst team in the Premier League. "It's very special – it's a great day for the players and the fans as well," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, whose players probably riffed on Manchester United fans' pain by greeting the final whistle with the air of men who had pulled off nothing more significant than another routine win.


"Sunday afternoon's defeat at Nottingham Forest was tough for all to take, but particularly for one tearful young man in the away end. Everyone at West Ham United shares this young man's disappointment and are grateful for the large numbers of fans that made the trip to the City Ground. To show the club's appreciation for the travelling Claret and Blue army, the board, manager and captain would like to offer this young fan and his family a chance to watch an upcoming fixture at the Boleyn Ground from the directors' box" – West Ham kick a child when he's down.


"Is it true that when Villa's big Czech striker unfortunately broke his leg in training, they immediately got on the phone to Rolled-Up £50 Note Braces Buy Sell Buy Sell Convertible Tig Extension Fiver because he's got experience when it comes to fixing Libor?" – Jim Hearson.

"I read an alarming article recently about how fans have ruined Sherlock and Doctor Who. Is it now official Big Paper policy that 'hit shows must appeal to the widest possible audience as well as a narrow band of obsessives' and that content should not be influenced by 'wild and sometimes lurid online speculation'? If so, can I be the first of 1,057 to say that we will fight them on the etc and so on if there is any hint whatsoever of a STOP LETTERS campaign. On a related-ish topic, it's nice to see that while the Fiver was on its extended holiday, the Twitter furore over Sherlock getting the Underground wrong shows that 1,057 people with a far better work ethic didn't even take Christmas Day off" – Dermot McDermott (and no others).

• Send your letters to 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: Jim Hearson.


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.


Gollivan have issued an open letter on the West Ham website to admit that Big Sam has been handed 'a near impossible task' in turning the club's fortunes around. "We are all working round the clock to do everything in our powers to help arrest our slump in form," they parped in the wake of a 5-0 shellacking at Nottingham Forest. Seemingly starting with the signing of relegation specialist Roger Johnson.

Be afraid: Sepp Blatter has refused to rule out standing again for the Fifa presidency in 2015. "I cannot answer with a yes or a no but simply state that I do not feel tired enough to say that I will not stand," he purred.

Ian Holloway is the new manager of Millwall.

Malaysian club Kedah insist that their club logo change has absolutely nothing to do with a £371,500 investment from Cardiff owner Vincent Tan.

And Bournemouth fans have splashed out almost £3,000 to fund Burton Albion supporters' coaches for their rearranged FA Cup tie next week, after Saturday's game was rained off.


Eusébio: a life in video clips.


Join AC Jimbo and co for the latest exciting instalment of Football Weekly.

Former Man Utd goalkeeper Alex Stepney pays tribute to the late and great Eusébio.

Ten talking points from the FA Cup third round, starring Paul Lambert, 'Big' Sam Allardyce and more.

'The Scudetto mystery appears to have been solved. Unless Juve's rivals start to arm themselves with Turkish tractors, at any rate.' Paolo Bandini reports how the Italian press have awarded Juventus the Serie A title already.

Stefan Bienkowski explains how Bayern dealt another killer blow to their Bundesliga rivals by signing Robert Lewandowski.

Oh, and if it's your thing, you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace.


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