TA TA TOMMY T
Should Graham Potter take the not-that-surprisingly-available Chelsea job in the next couple of hours/days, it’s going to become very fashionable to suggest that his critical faculties must have momentarily gone haywire. Brighton, you see, are about as optimal an example of a well-run club as you can get. Potter’s team plays some extremely attractive football. Hell, they’ve even recently learned how to do goals. Given their modest status and limited resources, they have no right to be mixing it with the big boys. But mix it with the big boys they do. It’s a wonderful life on the south coast, and this particular Pottersville isn’t a dystopian nightmare; it’s a seagull-infused Shangri-La. Such a happy place to be.
Chelsea by contrast are a roaring skip fire, a scattergun shambles of such proportion that they make Manchester United appear a paragon of long-term holistic strategy. Compare and contrast, QED, etc. However, in its self-appointed role as satirist-iconoclast, albeit of the lame, half-a$sed and extremely jaded variety, The Fiver feels duty-bound to make the counter argument. So this time it goes. Chelsea might not be very good at the moment, but they’re still reigning champions of the world. They have reached five of the last eight domestic cup finals, albeit winning none of them, and were European champions one year ago. They’ve also just spent upwards of £250m on shiny new players. Brighton by contrast have done none of those things, nor are they likely to in the near or distant future. So you can see why the Stamford Bridge gig, for all its faults, will still attract ambitious types. It’s not much of a hot take, but there it is nonetheless.
Potter – who has been given permission by Brighton to chat with Chelsea – is seen as the ideal candidate for new owner Todd Boehly’s root-and-branch restructuring of the club, able and willing to implement a coherent house style in a way Thomas Tuchel was swimming. In addition, Potter’s mod revivalist look perfectly suits the nearby Kings Rahd, the fashionable thoroughfare along which Tuchel was sent bouncing on the seat of his trousers this morning. Boehly had reportedly become unimpressed with Tuchel’s stubborn refusal to countenance the signing of Anthony Gordon; abject losses at Leeds and Southampton; his implementation of three different tactical formations last night in Zagreb, seemingly all at once; and his participation in that comic-book cloud of dust with Antonio Conte that had fists and boots sticking out of it.
See, everyone’s acting shocked at the resulting decision to get rid … but throw in the best part of a year’s worth of dull football, and this really can’t have been that much of a surprise, can it?
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
Join Scott Murray at 8pm BST for Napoli 1-2 Liverpool in the Big Cup, while Barry Glendenning will be all over Tottenham 2-0 Marseille at the same time.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is a very powerful club that, maybe, temporarily has a little crisis. And we made use of it. But we completely deserved such a score, because we played with our hearts. When you play with your heart for the country, for Ukraine, then you have a similar result [this]. I am proud of the team and can say that now I am the happiest coach in the world. This is unforgettable” – Igor Jovicevic is overjoyed and a little emotional after his club’s incredible 4-1 thrashing of RB Leipzig, that led to Domenico Tedesco getting the Tommy T treatment.
“Even Chelsea are on the lookout for a new manager, perhaps they may want to have a look at Thomas Tuchel. I believe that he is out of work at the moment and won the Big Cup just a couple of years back. Not sure he’s a fan of American owners that obsess over the stats of young Everton forwards that have only scored six goals in 66 games though …” – Noble Francis.
“I too was sent off as a goalkeeper for ‘unsporting conduct’ (Five letters passim). Picture the scene: 1984, cold, windy, a rutted quagmire of a pitch. Sussex Sunday League Division 13. Only eight opposition players had turned up, most of which had horrendous hangovers. By half time we were 13-0 up, and I hadn’t touched the ball. Halfway through the second half, 21-0 up and still yet to put boot to ball, I was so bored I decided to have the traditional full-time fag during the game, leaning nonchalantly against the post. From 100 yards away an eagle-eyed ref spotted this heinous infringement, ran the full length of the pitch and sent me to the warmth of the changing rooms. We still won 27-0” – Stevie Owens.
“I must disagree with my compatriot Jason O’Mahony (Tuesday’s Fiver letters). The Fiver is, if nothing else, educational. How else are we in the USA! USA!! USA!!! supposed to learn the UK bank holiday schedule?” – Steve Smith.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Stevie Ewens.
Get your ears round today’s Football Weekly podcast, which comes to you after a hastily re-arranged second recording thanks to that Chelsea sacking.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Ryan Giggs will face a second trial next summer over allegations of assault and coercive behavior against his former girlfriend. Jurors in the first trial were unable to reach verdicts last week.
The US women’s national team have signed a historic equal pay deal alongside their male counterparts. The collective bargaining agreement with US Soccer was first agreed in May.
The England midfielder Keira Walsh has joined Barcelona for a world-record fee, after the Catalan club agreed a £350,000 deal with Manchester City.
Antonio Conte is bewildered by Spurs’ busy fixture list, with games against Marseille, Manchester City and Sporting coming up in the next seven days. “Our schedule is crazy,” Conte gestured. “One day more, one day less can totally change your life.”
Bernd Leno has hit out at Arsenal after he was replaced by USA! USA!! USA!!! goalkeeper Matt Turner. “It saw it wasn’t about performance, it was about politics,” Leno told Sport Bild. “I had to get out of there.”
England rounded off their 2023 World Cup qualification campaign with a 10-0 thrashing of Luxembourg, while Wales secured a play-off place alongside Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.
And in melee news, Leeds and Barnsley have both been fined by the FA for their Carabao Cup dust-up, with Middlesbrough and Swansea also sanctioned for a brouhaha in their recent Championship game.
STILL WANT MORE?
From Big Cup to Door Marked Do One in 17 months: Ed Aarons takes a look at how Tommy T’s reign at Chelsea unraveled. And here’s a gallery of his many box-office moments at the Bridge.
With Jürgen Klopp seeking answers after Liverpool’s slow start, he could probably do without another Big Cup trip to Napoli, notes Andy Hunter.
With Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in full effect, PSG could be the real deal in the Big Cup this season, according to Barney Ronay.
What do Milan Pavkov, Marco Etcheverry and Rory Fallon have in common? Answers in this week’s Knowledge.
Ben McAleer looks at how Richarlison has given Tottenham the attacking depth that Antonio Conte wanted.
Our WSL previews continue, with Liverpool back in the top flight and Manchester City targeting the title.
And if it’s your thing… you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!