The Fiver | Napoli and the shock news that builders have failed to finish on time | Football

The Fiver | Napoli and the shock news that builders have failed to finish on time | Football

Sport & Transfer News


When somebody’s default facial expression is one of constant surprise, it can be difficult to tell when they’re in genuine shock. But there was no mistaking the amazement felt by Carlo Ancelotti, whose right eyebrow is permanently raised in a parabolic arc of astonishment, upon visiting Napoli’s newly “renovated” San Paolo Stadium before their first home game of the season this weekend, only to discover the dressing rooms … well, aren’t quite ready yet.

Official SSC Napoli

Queste le condizioni degli spogliatoi del Napoli dello stadio San Paolo, a 70 ore da #NapoliSampdoria, che hanno scatenato la reazione di @MrAncelotti contro Regione, Comune e Commissari.

September 12, 2019

Having played their first two games of the season away from home so the refurb could be completed, Napoli’s manager could have been forgiven for expecting the basic essentials for his players such as wash basins, showers, a bit of flooring or even dressing-room pegs. Instead, he was greeted by the sight of not only none of the above, but in their place plenty of loose wiring, scaffolding and as-yet-untroubled paint cans in the kind of place most Sunday League players would rather avoid in favour of changing in their cars instead.

“I have seen the state of the dressing rooms at the San Paolo. There are no words,” said a surprised Carlo, despite looking no more surprised than usual and despite offering some words. “I accepted the club’s request to play the first two games away from home to allow the work to be finished, as was promised. Where are we supposed to get changed for the games against Sampdoria and Liverpool? I’m shocked at the incompetence of the people in charge of the work.”

While one suspects Carlo has been around the block often enough not to be hugely shocked or dismayed by the news that a group of builders – particularly Italian ones – have failed to finish their work on time, the local municipality still have a couple of days left to whip the changing rooms into shape. While it’s a tall order, it is certainly do-able if they can find a crack team of chippies, sparks, designers and decorators prepared to work tirelessly around the clock. Currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of their first broadcast, this could be the biggest challenge faced by middle-aged British housewives’ favourite Nick Knowles and his DIY SOS team yet.


“I love the city, I love the Premier League and love Arsenal. I’m just really, really happy to be part of this great club. I’ve hardly noticed any difference in size between Real Madrid and Arsenal. And the fans are very passionate, they love the players. It’s much easier to adapt because they make you feel like you’ve been at the club forever. I love the way everyone’s treated me. They’ve put a lot of faith in me” – Dani Ceballos gets his chat on with Sid Lowe.

Your man. Photograph: Pablo Garcia/The Guardian


“Re: terrible pitches (Fiver passim). My secondary school played a significant number of pitches on what it deemed fit to describe as an ‘all-weather pitch’. This was essentially clay covered in gravel. It sloped towards the neighbouring houses so, to prevent unhappy residents when it rained, an earthen dam was quickly built to stop the run-off. Thus, when it rained the bottom third of the pitch became a lake, the middle third was a mud bath and the upper third remained a dust bowl” – Gary Bartley.

“After the Kosovo game will ‘Burp’ (bizarre, uncomfortable, ridiculous and poor) become Gareth Southgate’s ‘Gubu’?” – Gary Lane.

“Further to Ed Taylor’s comment on Clive Tyldesley’s commentary during the England game (yesterday’s Fiver letters), he also said ‘this game was almost too exciting’. My total punt is that there’s not a viewer on this earth, or in the space station, having a look at the footy who would complain about the game being ‘too exciting’” – Jeffrey Lloyd.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Our last winner of John Nicholson’s new book Can We Have Our Ball Back? is … Gary Bartley.


Women’s Big Cup is back, baby, with Lyon sticking nine past Ryazan-VDV and Barcelona winning 2-0 at Juventus in their last-32 first legs.

Marta Torrejon Barcelona celebrates scoring against Juve.

Marta Torrejon Barcelona celebrates scoring against Juve. Photograph: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Kick It Out has a new chair and it is …

Anderlecht’s former general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck has been arrested in a widening investigation into fraud, corruption and money laundering during player transfers. The arrest follows that of Christophe Henrotay, who had been involved in a number of international transfers and counted Thibaut Courtois, Yannick Carrasco and Kevin Mirallas among his clients.

Lionel Messi says he wanted Neymar to return to Barcelona this past summer. “I don’t know what happened with the directors, I know they were speaking with Neymar,” he tooted. “He was really looking forward to coming back. I understand it’s difficult to negotiate with PSG and with Neymar because he’s one of the best.”

And self-professed music fan Sean Dyche is taking a leaf out of Roger Sanchez’s book and giving Danny Drinkwater another chance [just painful – Fiver Ed] after the midfielder was knacked in an incident outside a trendy Manchester nightspot. “He’s certainly old enough and wise enough to know you do whatever you can to not get in scrapes but sometimes it happens,” he roared.


Football Weekly Extra will be in this general vicinity.


Own-half bangers dept, starring Whickham FC midfielder Dale Burrell.

Non-league footballer scores spectacular goal from inside own half – video


Nick Ames swoons over Paul Scholes’s magic through ball in particular and the art of the spectacular pass in general. That Scholes pass was made at Vincent Kompany’s testimonial, in aid of a homeless charity. Paul Wilson was there.

The transformation of Adama Traoré. By Paul Doyle.

Jamie Jackson gets his chat on with new manager Keith Hill about the not-inconsiderable task ahead of him rebuilding Bolton.

It’s Keith Hill!

It’s Keith Hill! Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

And even more hot chat, involving Per Mertesacker talking to Stuart James on working with Arsenal’s youngsters.

Leah Williamson on her long-awaited return to Women’s Big Cup with Arsenal.

And Beau Dure on why USA! USA!! USA!!!-Mexico is likely to remain a one-sided rivalry, for now.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

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