ANOTHER LA STORY
“I love going to Los Angeles on holiday,” chirped Gareth Bale in 2020. “I play a lot of golf. I’ve played Pebble [Beach] a couple of times. I played Cypress Point which is a private members’ club which is next to Pebble Beach – that was probably the best course I’ve ever played so far.” Thankfully his latest sojourn to the west coast will allow him to tick off a few more of California’s glorious greens and play the odd football match.
Yes, after being linked with every man and his dog, Bale has gone with his head to join LAFC in MLS over hometown club Cardiff City once his Real Madrid contract concludes at the end of the month. “He really wanted to come, the money wasn’t the matter,” sobbed Cardiff owner Vincent Tan. “We came up with what we thought was a good offer to him, but finally it was very hard to compete when there is a lot of big American advertisers, a lot of commercial deals which were very good for Gareth Bale. We tried our best but we failed.”
The winger will lead Wales at the Human Rights World Cup in Qatar and fixtures against the Galaxy, Earthquakes and Wizards will ensure Bale remains in peak physical condition. What better way to prepare for a competition in a country that curtails women’s rights and has a lesser interest in football than playing in the USA! USA!! USA!!!?
Bale announced the trade, fittingly enough, in the traditional British holiday attire of baseball cap and football shirt while standing on a golf course. No words were offered, just his heart-shaped hand gesture. Start as you mean to go on, Gareth. The move will allow Bale to add a few more things to the list he has more interest in than Real Madrid. Traffic jams, a lack of public infrastructure, stifling heat and being waited on by out-of-work actors. The Wales fans might need a bigger flag for Qatar.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I put our training staff up against anybody. It looks like a bunch of MMA fighters that we have on the sidelines that could do some damage” – Philadelphia Union boss Jim Curtin seems almost proud of bad@ss physio Paul Rushing getting sent off, for dishing out hands-on treatment to a rival NYCFC player in his side’s 2-1 MLS win.
“So, to summarise NFTs (Friday’s Fiver): incomprehensible, pointless, probably worthless and available electronically. In no way similar to The Fiver, then?” – Andrew Parker.
“I’m not sure what Thesis Laohajarastsang is complaining about (Friday’s Quote of the Day). Being ignored by the footballing powers that be? Suffering ridiculous ticket prices that are out of the reach of real football fans? Sounds like he is being treated to the true English football fan experience, without even having to leave Thailand. It could only get more authentic if the venue and kick-off time necessitated a 600-mile journey, and getting back to bed at 4am for work the next day” – Simon Dunsby.
“Anyone surprised at a footballer swapping Gillingham for just about anywhere else in the UK (Friday’s News, Bits and Bobs) has clearly never been to Gillingham. I grew up in the Medway Delta and would suggest that this blog sums it up best: ‘Where some places have a bombastic civic pride, Medway has civic masochism’” – Ed Taylor.
“Like Allan Butler (Friday’s Fiver letters), I did a bit of a double take at the sight of Steve Bruce’s physique in Thursday’s Fiver. In my case it was from a Freudian slip, as I misread the shirt sponsor as Ideal Eating” – Paul Dixon.
“As of 26 June, LAFC’s fan subreddit has already made available a user flair which uses emoji to signify ‘Wales, Golf, LAFC, in that order’. This is what radical acceptance looks like, folks” – Harriet Osborn.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day is … Paul Dixon, who wins a copy of A Woman’s Game, by Suzy Wrack.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Watford have scrapped plans to play a pre-season friendly against Qatar after pressure from an LGBTQ+ supporters’ group.
Technical and performance advisor Petr Cech is the latest piece of Abramovich-era furniture at Chelsea to announce that they’re leaving the club. “With the club under new ownership, I feel now is the right time for me to step aside,” he blabbed, as Todd Boehly’s broom continued to sweep the corridors around him.
Gabriel Jesus is this close to joining Arsenal from Manchester City for £45m after agreeing personal terms on a five-year deal. Meanwhile, USA! USA!! USA!!! goalkeeper Matt Turner has checked in for a fee of around £6m from New England Revolution.
West Ham have approached Villarreal about signing turbo-charged winger Arnaut Danjuma but David Moyes may have to scrap with other clubs to secure the Dutch forward’s scrawl.
Aiden McGeady has put pen to paper on a deal with Hibernian. And what a pen.
Cheltenham have handed the keys to the manager’s office to Wade Elliott, who was already at the club as a first-team coach.
And expect handball statistics to go through the roof in Brentford matches, now ex-Fiji and England rugby sevens coach Ben Ryan has been appointed director of elite performance. “He brings huge experience of how to reach elite level across a range of sports,” trilled a club statement.
STILL WANT MORE?
It’s Euro 2022 team guides time, kicking off with Austria and England, plus a long read on the decade that changed the women’s game.
Martin Bengtsson: the story of football’s Swedish wonderkid whose dream died at Inter.
Graham Ruthven breaks down Gareth Bale’s move.
Why the cultural stigmatisation of referees is still relevant today. By Jonathan Liew.
Barney Ronay on the Neymar Identity.
Has Raheem Sterling reached his ceiling at Manchester City, wonders Jonathan Wilson.
What’s life like on the road with the Football Weekly podcast? Let Barry Glendenning explain.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!