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Old 03-02-2011, 03:40 PM
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Default The Fiver: A Retiring Gary Neville, and A Retiring Andy Carroll | Paul Doyle and Rob Bagchi


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NEVER SAY NEVILLE AGAIN



He's been called a "sock-sucker" by Carlos Tevez, a "busy c**t" by Jaap Stam and "Dot Cotton" by viewers of EastEnders but, love him or loathe him, Gary Neville deserves to be remembered as one of the finest full-backs in his family.



Neville first appeared in Manchester United's senior team as a wispy-'tached 17-year-old in 1992 and last night, as a wispy-'tached 35-year-old, he officially called time on a career spanning 602 club games, 85 England caps and 666 jibes against Scousers. "Obviously I am disappointed that my playing days are at an end, however it comes to us all and it's knowing when that time is and for me that time is now," droned Neville, manfully recognising that referees could no longer continue to sympathetically overlook blatant red-card offences such as the ones he got away with against Stoke and West Brom in two of his four appearances this season.



Neville deserves acclaim for his abrupt acknowledgement of that fact, given that he could have idled in the reserves while continuing to pick up his pay for the rest of the season. But that has never been the Neviller's way. Though he has regularly agitated to defend the interests of both himself him and his team-mates, he has not, unlike his best mate David Beckham, been motivated mainly by money or fame. The only bling this unspectacular but solid player has pursued is medals, and a man could burgle the home of every Liverpool player for the last 18 years and not collect as much silverware as Neville has earned: eight Premier League trophies, three FA Cups and one Big Cup, plus the imaginary shiny whistle he used to carry as he attempted to referee matches at Old Trafford.



Neville's retirement raises the question of what he plans to do now. The obvious option would be to lend a hand in popular uprisings across the Arab world but it seems that Sky TV, who have vowed to become more PC in the wake of recent accusations of bigotry, are keen to give a job to a man who over the last two decades has enthusiastically flaunted his hatred of all things Liverpudlian. "Obviously there is a bit of speculation about who replaces Andy Gray and Richard Keys but it is not my agenda," stormed Alex Ferguson when asked about that possibility. "Of course, we want him to stay here when he finishes playing but we'll see. I don't know what he'd be like as a pundit."



But rather than Sky, perhaps Neville should go a-punditing on Match of the Day, where parking him between Messrs Hansen and Lawrenson could give rare cause for genuine laughs on the show, at least when Liverpool play Manchester United. Also amusing, of course, would be Ferguson's reaction when told that his hitherto most loyal functionary has hooked up with the BBC.



QUOTE OF THE DAY



25 January: "This is not the time to panic or point fingers. It's time to stick together and give support to each other ... The solution is for us to stick together and correct the situation" - Sheffield Wednesday chairman Milan Mandaric offers his backing to boss Alan Irvine.



3 February: Sacks him.



SWEET CARROLL 9! GOOD TIMES NEVER SEEM SO GOOD



A man titivates his tango dancer's hair in front of the camera. He is clutching a green bottle, not the usual German barstool-shaker of 56 roots, fruits, herbs and spices, turns to his adoring public and declares, in the manner of Rachel out of Friends, David "timber merchant" Ginola and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Because I'm worth it."



And that is how Andrew Thomas Carroll's official unveiling as Liverpool's record signing, draped in the combustible garment made as legendary as the golden fleece by the heroic exploits of El Hadji Diouf and Djibril Cisse, is being reported by certain pork-pie hat-wearing rotters whose ears went "ker-ching" when they heard the word "worth".



What the Liverpool No9 actually said when the two new forwards, Fighty and Bitey, addressed the press at Anfield this morning was rather more circumspect. "It was a lot of money but I need to do what I have to do to prove the money was worth it," he said, coming across more like the drawling cowboy in the Toffo advert than a big-headed berk shouting his own praises from the rooftops. "I am here to score goals and create chances for the team and that is what I can do," he continued. "I have scored goals at Newcastle and that is what I want to bring here, we'll just have to see."



And with that he was off, leaving the self-styled "fans' representatives" in the press to suck their teeth and ponder for the 35 millionth time whether the centre-forward is, indeed, worth whatever NESV paid for him. And for more than a few Liverpool fans to point out that in terms of net spend, two in the hand is better than one in the bush ... or two in the bush if you count Ryan Babel, which nobody does because nobody cares.



"I'd like to reassure Andy we are more upbeat about Andy coming in than I think yourselves are," said King Kenneth I. "Every question seems to have negativity in it." So cheer up, you miserable sods, intimates a sunny Scotsman, and come back at the end of five years before you gauge his value. OK, Kenny. But where's the fun in that?



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FIVER LETTERS



"Re: the Fiver postulating that England's Brave John Terry has become even braver now that he no longer has to contend with being dominated by Fernando Torres. Presumably Chelsea could have achieved the same effect for around 48m less by purchasing Louis Saha? Mugs" - Steve Laurie.



"Re: Sting's thoughts on Andy Carroll's move from Newcastle to Liverpool (yesterday's Fiver). Having been to see Sting at his Symphonicity concert at the Sydney Opera House the previous evening, I can categorically deny that he mentioned Liverpool or said: 'De do-do-do, de da-da-da'. However he did mention Tyneside shortly before 'sending out an SOS to the World'" - Alan Butterfield.



"Re: Steve Bruce's trip to the cinema on transfer deadline day (yesterday's Quote of the Day). Must be hard for Bruce to fill the hours during transfer windows now Roy Keane has left Ipswich and he no longer has to deal with all the calls offering far too much for whatever Irishmen Bruce has left in the reserves" - Swindon Ten.



"So Gary Neville has 'retired from professional football'. I'm still optimistic that means he can come and play for Bury" - Tom Dowler.



Send your letters to [email protected]. And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver.



BITS AND BOBS



Owen Hargreaves's Owen Hargreaves-knack has ruled him out of Manchester United's Big Cup squad, sparking fears his career may be over.



Arsene Wenger has defended Cesc Fabregas following criticism this week from pretty much everyone on the planet. "When Cesc is on the pitch, he tries to play football," huffed Wenger. "I cannot say everybody who plays against him tries to do that."



The former Manchester City forward Neil Young has died, aged 66, the club confirmed today. He will be best remembered for scoring the winning goal in the 1969 FA Cup final defeat of Leicester City but he also found the net twice on the last day of the 1967-68 league season as City won the title.



Patrice Evra is already planning who he's going to take to see Black Swan on Orange Wednesday after being left out of France's squad to face Brazil next week.



Laurent Koscielny has turned down Patrice Evra's invitation to see Black Swan on Wednesday because he doesn't like scary films and he's been called up to France's squad to face Brazil.



Andy Scott may go though. He likes ballet and is at a loose end after being sacked as Brentford manager.



And number-crunchers may be interested to know that Scott's dismissal means the number of Football League clubs with different managers from those that began the season stands at 29, which is, coincidentally is the seventh Lucas number (the sequence of integers {L_n}_(n=1)^infty defined by the linear recurrence equation L_n=L_(n-1)+L_(n-2) (1) with L_1=1 and L_2=3).



STILL WANT MORE?



Paolo Bandini's hamster, Tom Lutz's goldfish and Sid Lowe's dog come up for discussion in the latest thrilling episode of Football Weekly ... Extra.



Gary Neville is a red and he hates Scousers, writes Richard Williams, although it's probably fair to say we're paraphrasing slightly.



A young lad slam-dunking himself by mistake, the 1994 Castletown Donkey Derby and Roque Santa Cruz's pop career (it's even more underwhelming than his football one) are among the myriad delights on show in this week's Classic YouTube.



Every pantomime needs a villain, but El Hadji Diouf may have a more important role to play with the Pope's O'Rangers in the EuroDisnae League, writes Ewan Murray.



Handstitched loafer-wearing Italian football correspondent Paolo Bandini stopped rolling flaming Vespas off the top of Fiver Towers for long enough to write this midweek Serie A round-up.



In one of those articles we're always being criticised for not publishing, even though hardly anyone reads them when we do, Scott Anthony writes in praise of Reading Football Club, where patience is proving a virtue.



And parents of small children may be interested to know that Life & Style's Kate Carter interviewed the man behind Gigglebiz star Mr Tumble, prompting one reader to bemoan the fact that in real life he's not "a Krusty the Clown style misanthropic drunk".



SIGN UP TO THE FIVER



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WHO KNEW THIS GENIUS TOOK HIS INSPIRATION FROM THE RADIO STATION RESPONSIBLE FOR INFLICTING
ON THE WORLD?


Paul Doyle
Rob Bagchi

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds






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