It’s international week, so send some mails to theeditor@football365.com. What else are you going to do? Aside from vote for us. Please.

Gareth’s right
The Sterling/Gomez fracas couldn’t be more suited for the current climate if it originated in a Sun journalist’s wet dream. Perfect for every pundit & rent-a-gob to weigh in, so I suppose I might as well too.

Southgate has, once again, taken the most reasonable, common-sense approach available to him. He’s already been getting it from both sides, from calling his reaction overly sensitive, with Bellamy’s golf clubs bought into it as though that were a perfectly regular, comparable event, to those who want the book thrown as they invariably do.

The fact is, the (moderate) punishment is perfectly suited to the (minor) crime. Sterling was at fault, and Southgate demonstrated such behaviour isn’t acceptable. He exercised his authority fairly and decisively, and made it clear he considers the matter closed.

Of course there’s going to be a continuing circus around this, but that was frankly inevitable the moment the incident occured. If anything, Southgate’s transparency has kept the tabloids neutered.
Damien

 

…I’ve been interested to see what F365’s reaction to the Sterling/Gomez fallout would be, considering that Raheem has (rightly) been praised so effusively on the site over the last year or so.

My two pennies on it (not that anyone cares): Rio Ferdinand has chirped up, saying he has “seen players get punched in the face, ribs broken, nose busted, head kicked like a football” in squads before. Assuming these statements are true (heads kicked in like footballs sounds very hyperbolic to me), why should the idiotic and violent acts of others excuse Sterling’s bad behaviour? It shouldn’t, and it’s a backward, knuckle-dragging stance to think that grabbing someone around the throat is remotely acceptable in any setting.

Gareth Southgate has clearly worked very hard to try and eradicate club bias and rivalry from his squad to ensure harmony among his players when they’re on international duty. He’s right to do so, with former England stars — like Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in particular — so public about how their time in England was negatively affected by disharmony. Behaviour like this threatens to destroy all that hard work and should not be accepted from anyone, even key performers. I admire Southgate for his bold stance; he will understand better than anyone the potential ramifications of it.

Sterling’s importance to the England team means this can not have been an easy decision. But it’s principled and sends a message to the rest of the squad that such behaviour will not be tolerated in this day and age. Bravo, Mr Southgate.

Sterling is a great advocate for tolerance and acceptance, having spoken out so bravely against racism and admonished the unsavoury parts of British media for the role they play in perpetuating prejudice. But that should not make him immune from punishment when he does something worthy of it. Southgate’s reaction is strong and shows to all players (in the squad and fighting to get in it) that such ill discipline, and frankly appalling behaviour) will not be accepted any longer.

Cheers,
Tom, Devon, NUFC

 

….So Rio Ferdinand feels Gareth Southgate made a mistake by dropping Sterling and opening him up to abuse.

Not that Raheem made a huge mistake attacking a fellow team mate in the canteen. A player who has done great things to combat racism by calling people out using the media and social media. The same tools that would at some point have made the incident public. If it comes out later it would look like Sterling got away with one.

By not reprimanding Sterling what message would that have given to the rest of the team? By dropping Sterling the message is loud and clear – standards are expected – at all times by everyone.

For all his great work Sterling showed a lack of maturity Sunday, constantly going into histrionics for every nudge and constantly confronting TAA and later, Gomez. (Compare to Liverpool players who just got on with it and used that to their advantage.) By letting it rollover to the England squad Sterling has let himself and Southgate down but will come out of this for the better.

The haters will always hate, Rio. The media, which includes you, will always make a mountain out of every molehill and provide ‘sage’ advice as if they have any experience or credentials to give it. Rio, you have never been a manager so have never had to actually be the one that has to make the call on what to do. By calling out Southgate it only reflects negatively on you.
Paul McDevitt

 

…This morning I read about the Sterling vs Gomez issue and thought back to an old interview with Rio Ferdinand talking about how the “golden Generation” couldn’t put club loyalties aside during England duty and how it affect team bonding and performance. So here Southgate has dealt with it decisively “go home we don’t need any of this S**t affecting the team. you can come back next time in a better frame of mind”. It draws a line in the sand and sets the tone, and to be fair to both players they admitted what they did was wrong letting their egos slide and accepted it without complaint. End of story right…..

No Here comes Rio To talk about how wrong it is as and un fair it is because Sterling has been a model pro so far, I’m sorry Rio but surely Sterling accepting he was wrong taking the punishment and moving on for the good of the team is also “being a model pro”. Southgate is creating a team ethic where by it doesn’t matter who you play for England is England, Spain and France did something similar and did alright as I seem to remember, this is not the England of Old where every players ego is massaged so they think they are untouchable and don’t need to put the hard yards in. Southgate also has form for this its pretty obvious that after Rooney turned up at someone’s wedding whilst on duty a word was had about behaviour and the consequences and it probably helped lead to his early retirement
Phillip

 

…Awwwww – is da iddy biddy baby getting a teensy bit fwustwated??!

Cheers Raheem mate, i think I snorted milk out my nose as I read this story over breakfast. Laughter is good for the soul.
Steve, LFC

 

City’s slump
While everyone is talking about how good Liverpool’s form has been this season, I don’t think anyone is talking about how far City have fallen from last season. While Liverpool are getting a fairly unsustainable (34 points/ 12 games) – 2.8 points/ game, which would leave them with a ridiculous 108 points for the season, if continued, City’s form has dropped off massively from last season. City last year earned (98 points /38) – 2.6 points per game, this year it has dropped off very significantly to (25/12) – 2.1 points per game, which over a full season is 79 points. This would not win the league in the majority of seasons and is a full 19 points swing from last season.

Even if City were to revert to their form of last season (2.6 points per game) from this point on, they would only get to 92 points. For Liverpool to get to 92 points after this start, they’d need to earn 2.2 points per game, which in real terms is three wins and two draws out of every five games. This is taking Liverpool as having no loses this season, which is again unlikely.

While Leicester and Chelsea are in the picture, there is nothing to suggest they could achieve the type of winning run required to get to 90+ points, which is likely to be total points mark which wins the league this year. Current form would leave them in the early 80 point mark.

Basically, City have suffered a significant drop off in form, and are no longer achieving the standards they have set out for themselves over the last few years. Liverpool could afford to start dropping a significant number of points and are still likely to win the league. The obvious problem with this is that City could go on a long run of wins which would alter this situation quite quickly, but judging on their form this season, it does sound unlikely.
Morgan (Available for Parties) – Dublin

 

How dare they?
Yeah Southgate, how DARE Manchester United play their record defender signing – that they also pay a huge salary to – every minute in the last month.

It as of Manchester United only care about making the most out of their money and their own performances as of caring about a different team………it is as if they only bought Maguire for themselves!
Yaru, Malaysia

 

Dance with the one that brung ya
Having moved to the US a few years ago I’ve come to learn a certain Yankee phrase: ‘You gotta dance with the one that brung ya’. This sums up why I have zero sympathy for Emery, zero sympathy for Xhaka, and zero sympathy for the board for the discontent shown by the Arsenal fans.

You are in charge of a multi-billion dollar company. But – more importantly – you are in charge of something that has been cherished in people’s hearts for 133 years. You want the crowd to not vocalize their passion and except mediocrity? Go work for that team down the road. You gotta dance with the one that brung ya.

The thing that staggers me most is the board seeming to believe Arsenal fans are irrational. We had one of the best summer transfer windows we’ve ever had… and we are EIGHT points off top four… THE EXACT SAME POINTS AS SHEFFIELD UNITED! All due respect to the Blades, but what are we Arsenal fans supposed to do? Smile and say – oh well – we did our best.

Being close to something can hinder objectivity. That is why Wenger stayed on for years past when he should have been shown the door (at least 2012, in my opinion). And that is why Emery is still in charge. The board have to see that we will not improve. The dressing room is lost. You’re not just choosing Emery to stay, you are choosing Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil and Torreira to leave. That is why Arsenal fans are so pissed.

We will be at least 13 points off top four come the new year. It will become untenable to keep Emery. I suspect Freddie or Arteta to take over until the end of the season and who knows what happens from there, because there’s no way we’re getting Champions League football back at the Emirates any time soon.

You think social media and instant opinion is ruining the support? Deal with it. Adapt. It’s the way of the world. You gotta dance with the one that brung ya.
Tom

 

Why walking off isn’t the answer
While racism at football matches is nothing new, it has certainly become a much bigger issue in the media in recent times. Players like Raheem Sterling and others deserve nothing but praise for highlighting it. They have taken the lead in bringing it to, and keeping it at, the forefront of our attention. Governing bodies, especially UEFA, have completely failed to respond to the problem in a decisive or appropriate fashion. It is totally understandable that players and other interested parties have stepped forward to try to lead on the issue and to think of ways in which they can act to tackle it.

At present, there is one main idea that everyone is focusing on and rallying around. The idea of walking off the pitch during an international game to highlight the issue and force UEFA to act more strongly against the nation whose fans are involved. The intention behind this is entirely laudable, but there is a deep flaw in the idea that nobody seems to have considered.

Racism isn’t limited to a few thugs and hooligans. It reaches every level of society. There are rich and powerful racists too. They fund far right organisations, contribute to election campaigns and act however they can to promote division and hatred in our society. It is these people and their potential actions that everyone is ignoring.

It took 50 or so racists to disrupt the recent Bulgaria versus England Euro qualifier. That’s a coachload. In every country, every large town even, and not just the ones we think of as having a particular problem, there are plenty of racist idiots and thugs.

In order to understand why walk-offs aren’t the solution we need to put ourselves inside the mind of a rich racist. A powerful man who also has contact with other like-minded people and connections that reach all the way down into everyday society. We also need to do a little maths. How much would it cost to recruit 50 idiots, who needn’t have any interest in football or the least care about a lifetime ban from attending games, and to pay them, say, £200 each (or Euros)? How much to hire a coach and to buy them all tickets to a game? How much to cover any fines that they might get from local courts if they get arrested and convicted? £10 000 to pay them. £3000 for tickets £1000 for the coach and driver. Let’s assume every single one of them gets arrested and fined £1000, another £50 000. That’s a total of £65000, rounded up. In reality the fines would be far less and there are plenty of thugs who would probably do it for the laugh and the day out. For arguments sake we will overestimate the total costs, so we’ll call it £100 000 including paying the intermediaries who would do the actual recruiting and organising. The rich people behind this will not get their hands dirty, they will remain well hidden.

So, for £100 000 it is possible to hire a coachload of thugs whose sole purpose is to create unrest and division and hopefully get a game abandoned.

With a budget of five million pound these racists could easily target 40-50 games. There are 10 rounds of qualifying games for the Euro’s or the World Cup. That’s 4 or 5 games each round. Think of the disruption this would cause if a decent proportion of these games were abandoned because players had decided that walking off the pitch was the right way to deal with the problem. Football is the global game. Worldwide coverage would be enormous. There is the potential to throw qualifying for a World Cup or a Euros into total chaos. The racists would have achieved something spectacular and hugely harmful to society, not just football.

To you or me £5 million is a fortune, but there are evil people out there who could easily fund it on their own. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t have to. These people are in contact with each other. We cannot even guess how many might be willing to put their hands in their pockets to contribute to such a scheme. Pay what you can, all contributions welcome. Don’t forget that the real cost would almost certainly be far, far less. Half the budget is to cover fines, £50 000/game. The total fines dished out to fans after the Bulgaria game was less than £2000 in total, between four fans.

The rich racists are out there, the money required is not an issue. The disruption, the chaos, the divisions it would cause are huge. This is exactly what these people want to achieve. If an ordinary concerned citizen can think of this, then you can bet that they have too. Plans may already be in place, even for next weekend. Perhaps the Bulgaria disruption was actually the beginning. Perhaps they are waiting for the first walk-off to happen before they pounce and put their plans into operation.

It is for this reason that walking off the pitch is not and cannot be the answer. It is what the racists want, it is what they would happily pay to make happen.

It is a terrible burden that our black and ethnic minority footballers have to face, but they cannot walk off the pitch, it is not the answer. They must endure the provocation, try if they can to think of the harm it would cause wider society. This is a great deal to ask and it isn’t fair either, but a different solution must be found.

So, what can be done. The answer lies with UEFA and FIFA. These organisations must be made to tackle the issue. To throw teams out of tournaments if necessary, to act decisively. How do we make this happen?

Players, fans, clubs and national governing bodies like the FA and those of other leading countries must come together and act. A new protocol must be devised to replace the 3-step anti-racism one that is now in place. This might be something like: 3 minutes to stop the chanting, if that isn’t done a demerit is awarded. If the chanting is repeated, another demerit. A certain number of demerits result in automatic ejection from the current international tournament and the following one too. This is just an example. The actual protocol must be agreed by the clubs and nations themselves. UEFA and FIFA must be given an ultimatum. The biggest clubs must come together and threaten to boycott the Champions league, or better still, to break away from UEFA altogether and form a new organising body for European club competitions. The major nations must do the same thing for the Euros and the World Cup. There is little respect or goodwill towards these two organisations now, why not start again with new organisations if these two will not act upon this issue? UEFA and FIFA are rich. There is plenty of money available for extra stewarding, for extra policing, for more security cameras, for whatever is needed to help individual countries tackle this issue.

Once again, this is a huge burden to place on young men who just want to play football without having morons make monkey noises at them. It isn’t right and they shouldn’t have to endure it. There is however an opportunity for fans and for players to take a real lead on this issue, and by doing so to spur football as a whole into taking decisive action. Football is so important in so many people’s lives. If football takes the lead against racism and really works hard to kick it out then it will have a huge positive impact on wider society. I urge fans of every club to form action groups. I urge all players, not just those from minority backgrounds to band together, and to get together with the fans to put pressure on the clubs and the national organisations. Force UEFA and FIFA to act, or form new governing bodies and let them rot. If we get together and take this action then we really can make a difference. We really can kick racism out of football. The opportunity is in our hands and we have to grasp it.
Marcus Chapman.

 

City fallout
Firstly, I owe an apology to Liverpool F365 mailers. I didn’t read either of Monday’s mailboxes until last night chiefly as I was expecting a deluge of spittle-flecked, smash-up-their-coach, It’s Our Year nonsense. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The mails from ‘Pool fans were balanced, respectful and incisive. I should’ve known better. It’s why I read F365 in the first place and that’s to avoid reading puerile, hate-filled bile purporting to be opinion. Respect and congratulations on your well-earned win.

As for the game itself? I never thought we would win it. City’s prior performances have shown that we’re just not right and seem to be operating at 85% efficiency as well as lacking the clinical finishing and crisp, confident, dominating passing that we displayed so often last season. The game was, for me (Clive) a microcosm of the season so far. Unforced errors and missed goal scoring chances. Liverpool were the exact opposite and looked like they were certain to score every time they went forward. If that’s not a sign of Champions, then what is? That’s also why I think the handball thing was largely irrelevant. Even if we’d scored first, either from a pen or open play, I’m not convinced we would’ve gone on to win.

Top four/title winner predictions then (In November? Sheesh. Oh, and Sheffield Utd before either Spurs Arsenal or Utd for top 6 btw). Leicester look the finished article to me, and the relative lack of fixtures compared to ‘Pool, City or Chelsea will also work in their favour. Chelsea, on the other hand, are obviously a ‘work in progress’ and have that unpredictability that comes with outstanding youth prospects. You might not ‘win anything with kids’ but somebody tell me how it will be that this Lampard team won’t finish in the top four?

City won’t win the title this season. There. I’ve said it. I’ve posted in previous mails that I’m not sure winning the PL 3 times in a row is possible. Certainly not if you have Guardiola’s obsession with winning every available trophy put in front of you, every season and without exception. That’s not a criticism and I cannot but admire the man for his unwavering desire for excellence. It’s what makes him one of the best managers in the world. It’s more that I’m not convinced that you can instil the same belief in 30-odd players for three long seasons in a row, including the fact that the majority of same will also be regulars for their national teams.

Which leaves Liverpool. They have one Achilles heel and it’s the same regardless of how many fixtures they play or competitions they engage with. Injuries. Avoid them and it’s all gravy. Have ‘em and there are now three teams that will be looking to jump on their backsides.

I’ve written before that this hasn’t been the two-horse race that many ‘experts’ predicted and that surely can’t be a bad thing. With the greatest respect to Scottish football, the last thing the PL needed was the equivalent of an unrelenting Celtic/Rangers total dominance.
Mark (Another International break. Sigh. FFS). MCFC.

 

Sterling and MLS
1. Sterling – he is my personal marmite. Love how he has come through a torrent of abuse by the tabloids to become one of England’s marquee players.Loved his energy and drive while playing with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Hate that he had so little faith in the Liverpool project and shunned us as soon as he could. Am really surprised that he had an off field tiff with Gomez, suggests he feels really raw and hard done by, by Liverpool . But I don’t think he has been. We gave him a chance, Rodgers molded him into a hell of a player on merit yet as soon as he could get out and play the best years of his career somewhere else he did. Why should the Liverpool faithful show him any love or appreciation? What he does for England is another matter but I am lukewarm…I can handle a small amount of marmite on a bit of toast but more than that is unappetizing – so it goes with Sterling.

2. MLS – saw a compilation of this season’s MLS Cup playoffs over the weekend. I still remember rooting for MLS after the 1994 World Cup back when US commentators would yell “interception!” excitedly whenever there was a misplaced pass that went to the opposition. Back then they also could not get their heads around saying “offside” and would insist on calling it “offsides” each and every time (how you can be “off” two sides at once is beyond me). For at least 10 years the standard of play was pretty poor but what I saw for this year was impressive – lovely stretches of play, high quality goals. MLS is here to stay and the standard of play may eventually rival Europe’s top leagues. If this happens I predict we will see an expanded Champions League. You heard it here first!
Miguel L (not looking forward to the 2 week break)

 

Arsenal and racoons
My god I think Daniel Storey’s comparison of Arsenal to a perplexed raccoon in winners and losers may be one of the greatest things I have ever read. It fits them perfectly, making 2 goal leads disappear with Emery standing there wondering how it disappeared. Brilliant simply brilliant.
Aaron. Cfc. Ireland.

 

England 2020
Finlay after all these years we still need to have the conversation about Lampard and Gerrard NOT BEING ABLE TO WORK TOGETHER!
Leon, Melbourne

 

VAR corner
One of the most tedious arguments about the Premier League’s adoption of VAR has been the complaint about the referees not using the pitchside monitors. I really don’t see what difference they’ll make.

Yes, they were used in the World Cup, but only after the VAR official had reviewed it. They then made the recommendation to the on-field ref to review, and I seem to recall that virtually every time they were instructed to review on the pitchside monitor, they then overturned their original decision. This effectively means that the VAR official made the correct/final decision. If the VAR official doesn’t think it’s worth the on-field ref reviewing it, then it’s not a clear and obvious error. If they do think the on-field ref has to review it, then they already believe it’s a clear and obvious error, so there’s no need for more time to be wasted in the on-field ref then going over to the pitchside monitor to review it himself.

I’ve read Micah Richards (and others) say that if the on-field ref reviews it and stands by his decision then “hands up” and “fair enough”….yeah riiiight. If Michael Oliver had re-watched the handball himself, he may well have stuck with his initial decision and you’d still have people claiming it was a fix, and that he’d never have the balls to disallow a goal at Anfield, etc etc. It’s what fans do. Complain about decisions that go against you and ignore or justify the ones that go in your favour. VAR will never ever change that, no matter how it’s implemented.

Now, the offside thing is different kettle of fish, and that has to be improved by better technology and quicker. At least 1mm offside is consistent for all teams. Son for Spurs, Firmino’s armpit for Liverpool and now Lundstrum for Sheff Utd. It appears incredibly harsh, but the threshold has been determined and is at least the only consistent application of VAR so far. It just needs to be done so much quicker and clearer and that’s where the technology currently lacks.

Blatter and Platini were initially reluctant to introduce Goal Line Technology, but once they caved in, their stipulations were that it had to be immediate and accurate to within 5mm. There doesn’t seem to be the same regulations for offsides. This needs to be a priority for IFAB to determine and instruct all associations how to proceed, otherwise it’ll just keep being a problem as it’ll keep happening.
Don L. Renegade

 

…I was listening to Neil Swarbrick talking about VAR last night and these are some quotes from what he was saying on sky with reference to on pitch refs using the pitch side screen.

“we’ve had feedback from stakeholders, clubs, managers etc within the game and the Premier League is built on tempo, speed and intensity and the less time we take out of the game the more beneficial it is for the Premier League package”

To be fair to Swarbrick he did say it was a work in progress and they need to be given time. However, 2 words struck me as a reason why they don’t use the pitch side screen – stakeholders and package.

Are Referees not using the pitch side screen as it will damage the brand? It might just be me (as I’m sure I will be told in the comments!) but it seems like they are making this decision to help the brand rather than for its actual purpose of making sure that all decisions are correct. Its no great surprise if a decision is being made to make sure they don’t damage the brand and stop the money coming in but they are making life very difficult for themselves if protecting the brand is forcing such decisions.

I think VAR can work but it has been a bit of a shambles so far and this will not help.
Neil, Glasgow (one of them, since there appears to be another one who writes in)

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Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com…

 

Liverpool v Man City is meaningless
So it’s knickers in a twist time once again. A big media build up to an, in isolation, insignificant match. Of course each set of fans want to win, and each is a bit giddy because their teams are the current best but still it’s all bollocks really.

Liverpool will be leading no matter want. Irrespective of the result Liverpool will be leading by 3, 6 or 9 points.

City are good enough to overturn even 9 points. Make no mistake this City team will not be daunted by a 9 point gap. Spurred on by it probably.

Whoever wins it’s takes nothing away from the quality of the other team! Both are class and all the superlatives are valid.

Both managers know. This is just one match and that is what they will be focussing their teams on.

That’s said. We all will be taking sides, we will be giddy at the start and we all hope to see an attacking spectacle and goals.

Even though we know it’s meaningless, we set that aside because we love football it’s a great distraction from life’s general bull…
Chris (Mauritius 9 points Baby!)

 

Pancake City
I wrote in recently questioning how City (and Liverpool) can keep their mojo going after three intense-as-only-Guardiola-can-make-them seasons.  Well, last night’s game was a good example of what I was trying to get at.  Eleven super-talented players on the pitch but not a hungry, dynamic team and epitomised perfectly by the first goal, I think.  Great quality but seemingly almost clockwork in its execution.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but City look, not quite drab, but flat.  Players giving the ball away cheaply and the likes of HRH King Kev making some very poor passes.  Basic errors that were, largely, unforced.  I don’t know, they seem not to be as focussed as we have come to expect and I do wonder if the effort of achieving 198 points (and the consequent silverware that went with it) over the last two seasons isn’t taking its toll?  Pep put out a far stronger team than I expected (I thought for sure that he would have rested Fernandinho and Sterling for example) and yet still they couldn’t quite get the job done.

I’m also worried that Pep, in pre and post-match interviews, has been making repeated references to ‘our problems’ or ‘the problems we have’ by which he means injuries.  I stand to be corrected but I don’t recall him doing that before.  Sunday’s game was always going to be a challenge and, personally, I expect it to be a super-cagey affair but who knows?  Maybe the importance of the occasion will galvanise the players into upping their game.

I do hope so because we a clearly missing some zip or zest.  Either way I expect to be watching that game from behind the back of the sofa.
Mark (Sorry Clownio.  But when Kyle Walker makes more saves in goal than you did, it’s time to say goodbye).  MCFC

 

Enjoying our time in the sun
Chris, Croydon. I’ve lived through the highs of supporting Liverpool as a youngster and also the rollercoaster ups and downs since hitting teenhood into the present day. I take nothing for granted and am regularly bricking it whenever we play – particularly recently. Mentality monsters we might be, but having supported Liverpool for so long, it’s ingrained into me that something could and might easily go wrong at some point.

I am enjoying our moment in the sun for as long as possible, and with the possible exception of Man Utd (sorry!), the only times I want teams to lose is a) when they play us and b) if they are in direct competition with us.

So no chips here pal. I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation between being a tw*t and being a Liverpool fan. But there probably is a correlation between a traditionally big and successful club in the mire providing an easy platform for rival fans to have a poke and a laugh. Suggest you make new friends/acquaintances.

Cheers,
Somerset Dave

 

Pancake CityI felt like I needed to write in to defend Mason Mount (I think/hope you’ll get a few of these off of Chelsea fans?) after Ed asked what he provided to this team.

In your own mail, you listed 3 things he can do to the 2 things you believe he’s weak at.  Doesn’t that tell you something?  He has very intelligent link up with his fellow attackers and his drive and energy are crucial to how we play.  It is more than enough for us right now and, don’t forget, he is only 20 years old, the fact he we are having a debate as to whether he is a starter for this Chelsea team is a huge testament to him!

“Drive and energy” are kind of intangibles but if you want some cold, hard facts then he averages nearly 3 shots and 2 key passes (15th in the league by the way) a game.  He is vital to one of our styles and is flourishing under Frank.  Should he be playing every week?  No, arguably nobody should, but anyway our midfield is drenched in quality and he can easily be rotated to maintain sharpness and fitness.
BlueLuke – CFC

 

No mind games, just football
I believe the comment about Mane diving from Guardiola was out of character of him. Especially with regards to liverpool I believe there is a mutual respect and even gentleman’s agreement between the manager and players to keep the talking on the pitch. It seems Guariola’s quick reversal and compliments of Mane and Liverpool since that proves this and is a refreshing change to previous rivalries.  I forone really enjoy this rivalry without the Mourinho, Wenger, Ferguson mind games of yesteryear.  Have we ever had this combined rivalry and respect before?
David (have a feeling a comfortable win for City) Morris

 

Football music
I wholeheartedly agree with Mikey CFC on the music Real Madrid play every time they score a goal. It annoys the shit out of me.
It goes something like this for those of you lucky enough never to have heard it:
‘Ohh laay, oh laaay, oh laaaay, oh laaaaaay, oh oh laaaay, oh laaay, oh oh laay’.
I feel sorry for Cristiano Ronaldo who had to put up with that din 451 times, and hundreds of other times when he’s team mates scored a goal. Just celebrate and get on with it.

There is no competition, it’s hands down the worst.
Kireca

 

In response to Mikey, Cfc’s question about bad goal celebration music I remember when Rangers player Bob Malcolm scored what was a very rare goal for him at Ibrox it was met by the Spongebob Squarepants theme song being blared over the sound system.

As far as I could tell it wasn’t a nickname and was never referenced anywhere before or after. It was just that his name was Bob.
Duncan, Bradford

 

Hi,

Just writing in response to Mikey’s understandable mail re goal music.

I think the vast majority of people would say that goal music is completely unnecessary. I can’t see how it enhances the moment – if you need to hear rhythmic chords when your team bangs one in the onion bag to get excited then football is not really the sport for you (try WWE).

The one caveat to this is the introduction of VAR which makes me think that there would be a level of entertainment from having the ‘Countdown’ theme tune played when a decision is pending (if only their decisions took just 30 seconds !)

Regards,
Sparky LFC

 

What should Messi do?
In the article you linked in Mediawatch today on ESPN, Graham Hunter asks the reader to put themselves in Messi’s shoes and imagine what you’d do with your future and whether you’d stay at Barcelona.

To me, the answer is “I’d donate some or my salary back to the club conditionally, so that they could sign the players I want to be competitive and win the trophies I want to win.”

This isn’t something I’d suggest about almost any other player in the world – despite the fact that they could all afford it. The thing is, most players’ wages and influence don’t hamstring their clubs and limit their ability to afford reinforcements to such an extent, AND most players aren’t making so much money from endorsements that they could literally afford to play for their club for free, with no material impact to them or their family. Adidas pays Messi a fortune, and Messi gets other endorsements too.

I don’t judge Messi for not doing so, and he probably has doubts about how effectively the club would use that money, but the salary he gets from Barcelona is outsized and probably doesn’t leave enough for the club to invest sufficiently to attract the calibre of reinforcements he himself wants.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Top ten prolific scorers
I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of watching Aguero (and his Argentina colleagues) in every single 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup Canada match they played. He (and they) were absolutely dominant, and now I’ve had the misfortune of seeing him score 173 goals for Manchester City. I really don’t like that he’s still this bloody good 12 years on.
Dickon – LFC – Ottawa

 

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Liverpool – Perception v Reality
I have noticed an odd narrative developing around Liverpool this season and I couldn’t help but vent my frustration about it.

The narrative is best exemplified by Ian Watson’s piece this morning “Comebacks alone cannot sustain Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters…” Well written as usual, but the article itself is a classic straw man argument in my opinion. The title and the piece itself suggest that Liverpool and their impressive progress so far this season are being sustained on comebacks. It’s a nice idea, just not actually true. You know, like with facts and stuff.

Liverpool have played 20 competitive games this season (if you count the Community Shield – no sniggering at the back) and of these I could only identify 5 where anything resembling a ‘comeback’ was needed. That’s 25%, for clarity, which is hardly reliance by any standards. Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup involved coming from behind to win on penalties, which is barely even a ‘comeback’. The win against Newcastle involved falling behind early but being back in front after 40 minutes and never really looking in danger. Against Man Utd a 1-0 deficit was turned into a 1-1 draw, which again is hardly a comeback when a win was expected by most. Spurs and Villa in recent weeks are probably the two matches where I would agree the comebacks felt far from certain and if Liverpool were relying on those kind of results for their current position I could see the argument. But they evidently aren’t.

This narrative (sorry, everything is a narrative these days but it works in this instance) seems rife across most media. Last night on the BT Sport coverage, Jake Humprey argued that Liverpool do not look as convincing as last season and seem a bit shaky in defence. This is quite obviously a ludicrous argument given that after 11 games in the Premier League only 2 sides have conceded fewer goals than Liverpool, who are also unbeaten in all competitions this season. This doesn’t stop this idea being trotted out again and again though.

To me, Liverpool’s form and results this season are overwhelmingly a positive indicator for the rest of the season and beyond. The rampant (and arguably more outwardly convincing) bulldozer of last season has largely been replaced by a team with the kind of immovable confidence and will to win that, to borrow a cliche, is usually only seen in title winners (or at least clear contenders). During Man Utd’s dominance in the 90s and 00s they squeaked results and had the sort of comebacks that are apparently now unsustainable on a regular basis. Coming from behind, late goals, plenty of ‘luck’ (with luck in this case being the inevitable by product of dominance and creating lots of opportunities). These are all things that used to annoy the hell out of me with Utd under Ferguson, as a lot of the time it was hard to explain how they managed to get a result given the way the match panned out.

At some point the penny will drop that Liverpool are now just an outstanding football team, breaking records and currently arguably putting the most expensively assembled squad in the history of football in the shade. If they are doing this with late goals, comebacks, borderline decisions or anything else that is apparently ‘unsustainable’ then all the better. These are the circumstances that breed winners and give teams more and more belief going forward. The things Man City have done in recent years seems to have distorted people’s perception of what a title challenging team should look like. If that continues to feed the fawning over City and the cynicism around Liverpool’s form then all the better in my mind.

And please, before writing the inevitable “boo hoo we aren’t getting the credit we deserve” response, read again.

The Reds are on the march!
Gaz

 

Stop comparing everyone to Klopp
Can we stop with every other top club using Klopp as a barometer for giving their manager time??
Give OGS/Lampard/Emery time,look at Klopp.
You are comparing apples/oranges/bananas.

6 months before Klopp came in Liverpool lost 6-1 away to Stoke. Gerrard had left when he took over. Coutinho & Lallana were his 2 best players when he took over (Firminio was only there 2 months,the jury was out). His centre backs were Sakho & Skrtel,his midfield had Allen & Lucas Leiva in it,the bench had Jordan Ibe & Adam Bogdan on it.

In 15/16 he took the squad to 2 cup finals(would have won both but for Moreno & Mignolet) & the team got improved results.
In 16/17 Liverpool were top of the league by Xmas but tailed off when Mane went to the African Nations & the squad was threadbare(Lucas at centre back for gods sake!!) but he made top 4.
In 17/18 they got to the CL final-Karius howlers,Salah injured,Bale freak goal- & would have finished second but Klopp rested players for the CL quarters & semis and took 3 points from 12 v Stoke,WBA,Everton & Chelsea & finished 6 off second.
They also sold Coutinho mid season.
Last year they lost 1 league game,they won the CL.
They managed a points total that would have won the league the year the invincibles won it,even would have won it when teams played 42 games.

They have never lost a home european tie under Klopp,never lost a 2 legged european tie under Klopp,haven’t lost a league game at home in two & a half years,haven’t lost at home at all in over a year & have lost 1 game out of their last 49 league games.
They have played sublime,swashbuckling football every season.

OGS lost to PSG at home(& has already lost more league games then Klopp has despite managing 105 fewer games).
Lampard has lost at home to Valencia & lost more league ganes this season then Klopp has in his last 50.
Don’t even get me started on Emery.

My point is every single season Klopp improved,got results & delivered.
Anyone with half a brain could see that even though trophies weren’t being delivered they were getting there & they were challenging.
He improved the defence immeasurably culiminating in last season having the best defence in the league & the CL.

He managed this with a net spend of 80m(20m per season).
If Pep sold KDB,Sterling,Silva & Aguero for a combined £400m he still would have spent more then Klopp…would City be challenging for the league??..I highly doubt it.

Klopp didn’t get a free pass,he delivered season in season out.Don’t forget Feb 2018 was the first time Liverpool made the knockout stages of the CL in 10 YEARS!!

Now people are complaining if it takes Liverpool to the last game to get out of the group.
Ferg, Cork

 

Arsenal are a shambles
How sad to see the once proud and globally respected Arsenal Football Club in such a shambles. The rot started when the American owner, whose only interest was in empire building and money making, became involved and things have gone downhill from top to bottom.

Traditionally the Board was renowned for doing things in the proper, efficient, and sensible way but how that has changed ! Firstly, with great respect for what he had done for the club , why did they give Arsene Wenger such an extended contract when clearly the game had overtaken him both on and off the pitch and to extend it for a further two years was foolhardy and irresponsible. Did they really expect him to achieve something in two years after ten years of failure ? It is now becoming abundantly clear that severe doubts must be expressed regarding their choice of the replacement manager as this appears to be yet another ill considered Boardroom mistake. Over the past eighteen months the quality of the football, the achievement of results , and the reputation of the club is simply not acceptable for a club of the stature of Arsenal.

Mr.Emery may well have been a successful manager in the middle regions of Spanish football but he is clearly not up to the standard required for the English Premier League (or PSG.) The same applies to Granit Zhaka who played well in the German league and  indeed as captain of Switzerland but he is not EPL material. This is not a unique situation as several other players have come from overseas with a good reputations to  other clubs but have not made it over here.

Football has always been my main source of entertainment  but as well as the demise of my own club the game as a whole is not what it used to be. The overall quality has declined, there is so much cheating with diving and faking injuries, the ridiculous, childlike goal celebrations, and the last straw VAR which should be consigned the dustbin along with the man who runs it- Mike Reilly , without doubt the worst referee of his generation.

For these reasons attendances throughout the game will continue to recede as they already have at the Emirates.
Macca ( thank goodness for fond memories), Herts.

 

Integrity compromised
I have written before about how the FA Cup has gradually been eroded in its importance over the last 30 years for numerous reasons . Now it seems that the League cup in its various guises whilst always being a “secondary” competition is now on dangerous ground as regards its future.

The decision for Liverpool to play the quarter final one day before a game of arguably more importance on another continent is wrong. I appreciate that this is the clubs decision as much as the authorities due to fixture pile up , and basically the club has given up on the competition as it gets to the final stages.

There are rules in place to stop clubs playing weakened teams to ensure the integrity of all the competitions.In this instance there is no conceivable way that LFC can play a team that even resembles the one put out in the last round against Arsenal. Assuming LFC take 20 players for the two games Club World Cup that means the likes of Gomez , Ox , Keita , Lallana , Origi and Milner who all started in the game against Arsenal will be unavailable as they will be in Qatar.

This essentially means a LFC under 23 side will play against Villa. Now it is normal for the bigger clubs with their larger squads to play a few youngsters in the early rounds of the league cup to give them experience and then if the team progresses to gradually increase the number of senior players as the prospect of winning a trophy comes nearer.  Chelsea and Man City particularly have monopolized this competition over the last few seasons , bedding in a few youngsters and using the trophy as a springboard to push on to other successes.

There is also the issue of the fans who have paid full price to essentially see a reserve side play. Fans can go and see the reserves at any point but no doubt ticket prices will not be reduced in this instance despite a different but arguably lesser quality side on show.

Klopp is correct , the fixture list needs looking at . Clearly this year is compounded by LFC taking part in the Club World Cup but they are representing Europe in this instance so it has to unfortunately take precedence over the Carabao Cup . Perhaps next year if an English side is fortunate enough to win the champions league they will be excused from league cup duty , however this is not ideal as UTD’s( not their fault) enforced abscence from the FA Cup some 20 odd years ago demeaned the competition overall.

The authorities need to sort this out but I doubt anything will be done , competing interests from the premier league , UEFA , FA etc will all fight their corner as they push their product at the detriment to others .

The league cup is at a crossroads not entirely of its own doing. Its needs to be looked at or it’s integrity is doomed.
DL , LFC , Geneva

 

Prisoner’s Dilemma
I really enjoyed Banjo, Prague’s proposal to give teams who play a score draw of 3-3 or higher 2 points each, as well as the Editor’s hypothesis that this would lead to the teams just agreeing to score 3 goals each before the game really began.

You guys have basically just set up the Game Theory scenario, The Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Other mailbox contributors probably understand Game Theory better than I do, but my feeling is that if two teams agreed to each score 3 goals before the game really began, the team who scores the 3rd goal first would have a rational reason to betray their opponents and prevent them from scoring their own 3rd goal. This in turn would affect the next iteration of the scenario, and so on. Its hard to predict exactly what would happen in the long run – my guess is that most teams would eventually revert back to not allowing each other to score at all.
Oliver (hey, at least this was more interesting than discussing Conflicts of Interest + Separation of Duties) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 

 

Pretty sure the fun in crazy scores is at least partially due to the fact that they’re rare events. If you make them commonplace, you’ll ruin football. Think about 6s in a T20 cricket game.
Rahul, India

 

It’s not double jeopardy it’s playing advantage
Kwab said it was unfair that Ajax were hit with double jeopardy misses the point. Blinds foul was noted but rightly the advantage was with the attacking team was allowed to play on. Play is still ‘live’ the defender handles the ball a penalty called and defender then abuses the referee receives a 2nd booking and is off. Blind who committed a bookable offence is sent from the field.

It’s not the refs fault that Ajax’s discipline was so poor. Blame lies squarely with Ajax not the ref.
Anon

 

Chill out, Winty…
Hi Guys,

Could someone please tell Sarah Winterburn to chill the f**k out.

Nobody with any sense is saying this Chelsea team is the finished article. There is a lot of work to be done and we do need to replace a few aging and outdated players.

That being said we are exceeding the expectations of almost everybody and the positives far outweigh the negatives for the time being.

May I also remind Sarah/F365 that Lampard didn’t declare himself the new Fergie so please stop using it as a stick to beat Chelsea/Lampard with.

Cheers
Conor, Dublin

 

Help save WSC
To all mailboxes and 365 staff,

I’m an extremely busy man, I often find myself thinking up a decent mail to send in on a current topic only to get sidelined by work etc and never getting around to it. But today I’m making sure I find the time to write on something very close to the heart.

I’m sure a lot of people here have heard of the wonderful When Saturday Comes monthly football magazine, and I’m sure there are fellow subscribers out there. In these days of the world wide interweb print writing is very much struggling. Progress some might say. While there are some excellent sites about, this one especially, there is a lot of dross drowning out the more traditional format which, because it is not free to access, has to be extra special to survive.

In this months copy the editorial spelt out just how difficult they are finding it to keep afloat. I dread the thought of it going under. I urge all readers to buy a copy of this months When Saturday Comes. You will not regret it. Most of you would consider a subscription for yourselves or as a great Christmas gift (this is how I got my first copy, Christmas present from mum in 2007).The writing is fantastic. It has helped launch the careers of many writers like Barney Ronay and Harry Pearson. It even played a part in campaigning against the implementation of football fan ID cards in the 80s

Please help keep a much loved institution in business and enjoy some top quality journalism to boot!

Yours hopefully,
Will (the analysis of Roy Keane on itv had me in stitches) CFC

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A tale of three managers
After yesterday’s fixtures it made me wonder who will be the first to leave their managerial post, Quique Sanchez Flores at halftime, Mauricio Pochettino after Spurs lose another lead or Marco Silva after yet another poor Everton performance.

Answers on a postcard of course.
Mikey, CFC 

 

And a fourth
Well that was the last straw.  I’ve stood by this City team through thick and thin but that was an utter disgrace.  I’m sorry but I can’t defend these overpaid, bone idle Prima Donnas anymore.  We mere mortals actually have to do REAL work for a living in order to pay through the nose for inflated ticket prices.  If we’re going to cough up these huge sums, then the VERY LEAST the team can do is entertain us.  What did we get yesterday instead?  Five goals in 18 minutes which was sort of all right, but they then go and make us wait a full 30 MINUTES for another goal?!  I mean, what planet are these players, sorry jokers, on?  Hang your head in shame Bernardo you lazy git and a certain someone needs to pull his finger out for more than just one in every 10 or 12 games.  Yeah, looking at you Kevin!

Guardiola needs to fine the whole lot two weeks wages and put ‘em out training with the kids for a month.  See how they like that.  And if Pep hasn’t got the cojones to do it then he can f*ck off as well and take his so-called ‘system’ with him and good riddance.
Mark (I mean, what has Guardiola ever done for us?  Apart from the trophies and the hundred points and losing just one PL game in the last 8 months and ……………….) MCFC.

 

Son’s crying
I advocated for VAR when others dismissed it’s positives before it was implemented.

But…

If Son is offside in the build up to Aurier’s goal, then I don’t want any part in this new reality.
James F, BCFC KRO

 

We were robbed.

The goal was quite possibly going to be the sucker punch to take the wind from Leicester’s sails, but instead, the Foxes got a new lease of life and new energy. Props to them for using it effectively, but for our part, don’t talk to me about professionalism or Spursy; it would be difficult for any human being to get over the unfairness of it.

When did the powers that be decide that VAR offside decisions should achieve better than inch-perfect accuracy? There are several reasons that would be ridiculous:

1) There is no way the picture resolution even allows for such perfectionism.

2) Do they check that the picture used is from the exact millisecond the ball ceased to be in contact with the passers foot?

3) Where does a person’s shoulder end and the arm start, when the arm is in a horizontal position? Or where a person’s buttocks exactly reside in their shorts? The rule itself is hardly accurate enough for this kind of scrutiny.

4) To do it properly with this accuracy, it takes way more time than these checks should take. This pause was already too long, and we can’t be sure they even got it right (see points 1 to 3).

They’re quick enough to find a frame that more or less depicts the offside situation. If that’s indecisive, just call it good. VAR has enough PR problems already without this kind of silliness.
Samuli, THFC, Helsinki (And yes, I do realize City got robbed against us similarly, though subjectively speaking, it may have been marginally less ridiculously perfectionist)

 

The other side
I am sure your still get scads of email about the disallowed Tottenham goal.  But before taking it all out on VAR, take a moment to recall all the horrible offside calls and no-calls that awarded goals or took away goal scoring chances. I’ll gladly take a hyper-legal ruling from VAR to avoid all the unfairness that happened before.

Regards,
David O, California

 

Don’t be Rash
Let me move clear of any rotten tomatoes flung my way by saying that I am not suggesting Rashford is anywhere close to Aguero’s class (Aguero has class while we are still debating if Rashford has quality) .

But seeing Man City’s rout of Watford yesterday I couldn’t help but notice that Aguero too squandered a lot of chances..a chip over the keeper that went the wrong side of the post.. a couple of tap ins at the keeper or into side netting.. but still he finished the match with a goal nevertheless from the penalty meaning his goal/minute ratio remains preserved. And he will finish most matches with atleast a goal purely because of the De Bruyne and Silvas masterclass behind him.

Rashford (or any other United Striker right now) on the other hand feeds on scraps every match.. and why wouldn’t they given the creative ability of the United midfield. Apart from having lesser chances each match to tuck one away its also making the strikers rusty.. its like expecting your first shot in a training session to be your best one..

And its not Rashford/Martial who are the first being accussed of not being clinical in front of goal… we have had some of the better finishers in Lukaku and Falcao also seeming worse than they are in this line up…

Improve this midfield.. and we may find Rashford or Martial or both seeming much more like proper CFs..
Akshay (Tottenham seemed to have joined the Arsenal and United party in doing their utmost to not finish in the top 4)

 

Celebrate good times. Come on!
Dear Sir or Madam,

I’ve had a few and I’m watching Saturday’s highlights.

They’re pretty depressing.

Remember being able to spontaneously celebrate goals?! That was cool huh? And kind of the whole point of being a football supporter…

HA!

Forget about that! Let’s get the rulers and the f*#÷@*  protractors out first. It turns out my GCSE maths teacher was right! Trigonometry IS important!

I was literally looking at a mathematical equation on my screen today when I thought I’d tuned in to watch Spurs play the bin robbers.

I’m at the point where if you remain an advocate of VAR, even a”Ooh it’s the rules that need to change,” defender of VAR, to me (Clive), you’re a tRump supporter! You’re a jolly Brexiteer.  You’re a climate change denier.

You’re trying to ruin something I love.

I wouldn’t want to have a drink with you and I don’t think you really understand what makes football exciting.

You know what? Football isn’t perfect. Refs aren’t perfect. But guess what? Life ain’t perfect. Deal with that. Don’t ruin it. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it.

Enjoy the things that are joyful. Like f**king celebrating goals.

Peace and love
Al (Goal line tech fine! It’s black and white and it’s instantaneous and it’s fair. NOT a Luddite.) NFFC

 

(It’s because we have limited staff on weekends)
Hi

Is there a reason that F365 and the vast majority of the press isn’t reporting the news that Liverpool paid Manchester City £1m for illegally accessing City’s scouting software?

The Leeds United “spygate” was much much less sinister yet was the lead story on actual news bulletins, not just sport.

I get, as this site points out thankfully, that Liverpool are the Mother Teresa of modern football if you read certain sections of the press, but this blanket of silence is just beyond weird.
Gav, Edinburgh 

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Johnny Nic neologism
I think it is time time for Football365 to add another new word to our lexicon. Now taking pride of place alongside the Proper Football Man is the Proper Football Fan (John Nicholson). The PFF only supports their hometown team–preferably while watching them loose in a driving rain storm while his friend in a trench coat . . . (long-time JN readers will know how story ends); uses the trope of everyone having their own idea about football to deny anyone who has an idea about football different from theirs from expressing it; hates the idea that people make money by presenting football to the wider public; believes that anyone who deviates from these principles is sell-out-tool of the man.

Sincerely,
Peter

 

…I admittedly struggled to understand the point JN was making in his piece. I was with him for paragraphs 1 and 2 (and that 2best” is subjective) then didn’t really get what he was trying to say. My summary is rather long, but I think that says more about the article…:

1. Nostalgia (declinism) is a real psychological phenomenon.

2. People with ideological views don’t necessarily identify their own hypocrisy (#Brexit)

3. Brexit, but also football

4. The opposite of “then was better” is “now is better”. (DS invents “hindshite”)

5. THE PREMIER LEAGUE INVENTED HINDSHITE TO MARKET THEIR BRAND

6. All Hindshiters call anyone who doesn’t agree a “dinosaur” and therefore (implicitly) fail to identify there is a middle ground

7. “Best” is subjective, it is therefore impossible to prove ether way.

8. 1/3 – paragraph discussing what “best” is despite concluding it is subjective.

9. 2/3 – paragraph discussing what “best” is despite concluding it is subjective.

10. 3/3 – paragraph discussing what “best” is despite concluding it is subjective.

11. Facts should be used to guide our decision on “best”. (finally building on para 7).

12. In reality then and now was/is a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the average.

13. The “Premier League Era” is an arbitrary line with zero use other than to reinforce the brand.

14. Any “in the Premier League Era” stat proves is proof you buy into hindshite.

15. We’re too polarised as a nation

16. We’re all miserable

17. Communism references, the PL re-wrote the past and we’re all buying it.

18. See the league for what it is.

Finally, I get it, and completely agree, you should judge the premier league based on what it is. However, I have some comments on the following paragraphs.

14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the premier league era was a 20 team league (except for the 1st PL season), whereas the old first division was more. For goals in a season, I’d argue the different total number of game is a relevant factor to the statistic. If I had a good enough memory to use club sponsor to differentiate between a 38 and 46 game season you better believe I would. True it is arbitrary, but so is a season as opposed to a calendar year, yet one has a trophy.

15. I agree with this point, however the article polarises football supporters, so this article is more a symptom of the problem than it is offering a solution or a root cause (unless you actually believe the PL is to blame for Brexit).

17. This isn’t 1984. There’s nothing which says the Premier League is, and always has been the supreme league in the land. In fact, you mentioned “in the premier league era” in your article, therefore we (and you) clearly know there was a before.

So finally, in relation to real point of the article, when was it ever really “our” football? I think this is a generalised term for a time when clubs actually relied on match day revenue and therefore in effect fans had more power than they do now. If that’s your definition, start following the national league, or the Bundesliga with their lovely fan ownership models. If people stop going to PL games, or buying Sky Sports or BT subscriptions the next sale of broadcasting rights won’t bring in as much if they can’t gain revenue from advertising and subscriptions. This will increase as a % the reliance on match day revenue. Rinse and repeat, and football will be all “ours” again.

Just a thought, once gambling advertising gets banned from sports, we might already see a reduction of this, and it is betting companies who are willing to pay the big bucks for advertising.
Richard

 

Comparing Man Utd’s XI
Just read somewhere that Micheal Owen said that there is not much difference between Manchester united squad and the liverpool squad, wow…seriously? Lets not even talk about Manchester United bench with the likes of Rojo, Young, Mata, Matic, Fred, Greenwood, et all sitting pretty, instead lets compare Manchester United best XI with LEICESTER CITY’s XI (it would be an insult on Liverpool to make that comparison with Liverpool’s best 11).
De Gea is better than Schmeichel, yea..but Wan Bissaka, Shaw and Lindelof, are on current form inferior to Evans, Peirera and Chilwell.. Pogba has more pedigree than Tielemans (and I like Pogba), but comparing Ndidi and Maddison to McTomminay and Lingard is a non starter, James is good, but so is Ayoze…
Vardy is miles better than Martial or Rashford.. so a combined Man Utd/Leicester 11 will look like this.
DE GEA – Peirera, Evans, MAGUIRE, Chilwel – Ndidi, POGBA – JAMES, Maddison, MARTIAL/RASHFORD – Vardy
Kufre, Nigeria

 

More weight to the manager window argument
Further to my mail yesterday, today the news breaks that Huddersfield have appointed Lincoln City’s coach Danny Cowley six games into the season. To add insult to injury, Cowley is bringing his brother along, currently Lincoln’s assistant coach.

Of course Huddersfield’s Chairman Phil Hodgkinson was happy to say “We firmly believed that they were the best men to take us forward, and we didn’t want to give up on them”.

Did anyone of the assembled media multitude think to ask him the question “What about Lincoln City? You’ve taken not just their head coach but his assistant too, where does that leave them? Six games into the season, and they have no coach and no assistant, how do you feel about that?”

I’m sure you’d have got some platitude-ridden response, but internally Hodgkinson would be saying “F*ck Lincoln, not my problem”.

It’s time to stop the coach-poaching madness. The transfer window was introduced to stabilize the playing staff situation, and for the most part, it has succeeded. It’s high time to put the same controls in place for the people who (hopefully) have the most influence over the performance of a team and the well-being of the players from week-to-week.

Huddersfield want The Cowley Chuckle Brothers? OK, get the deal done in July. Don’t wait until September when you have one point from a possible eighteen and then kick Mark Hudson to the curb and pull the rug out from under the feet of another club.
Steve, Los Angeles.

 

Assessing Chelsea
Seeing as it’s international break, it seemed like a good idea to assess Chelsea’s performance so far. Results-wise, they could have been a bit better, but they could have been a hell of a lot worse. As games to watch, however, they’ve been great. That isn’t to say it’s all been dizzying highs, although I guess that’s pretty obvious to everyone. As well as some great attacking play and lovely goals, there have been plenty of moments of nail-biting tension at the ends of the games, particularly against Leicester, where Leicester could have easily grabbed a winner, and Sheffield United, where Chelsea unsuccessfully tried to prevent United from equalising. And of course, the opening game at Old Trafford, which is officially the terrifying low of the season so far. Ultimately though, we watch football for the entertainment, which is exactly what the games are providing this season (credit to the opposition too) and that’s why you’ll find that most Chelsea fans are happy with the way things are going this season.

The Old Trafford result seemed, and has indeed been treated like, a freak result. They scraped a point against Leicester, who I think have proven to be a good team so far and will do very well this year, and the game against Norwich was absolutely fantastic, with the first win and Abraham and Mount getting some wonderful goals. The only real disappointment has been the draw at home to Sheffield United, considering the way that they conceded in both the first and last minutes of the second half, denying them a win to take into the international break. There are plenty of more difficult fixtures coming up (Wolves, Valencia, Liverpool in quick succession after the break, how about that?), but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful too, namely players to come back like Rudiger, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, and of course, Kante. Reece James is another one everybody is looking forward to seeing play soon, particularly given Azpilicueta’s unfortunate Ivanovic-esque decline.

Another Chelsea fan wrote in fairly recently, seemingly pretty positive about Chelsea’s chances of making it out of their Champion’s League group. Most other Chelsea fans I’ve spoken to do not share his optimism, and while we certainly believe it’s possible, it’s going to be no walk in the park and possibly too tall an order. Anyway, it’s nice to be playing some strong but beatable European teams, all of which are relatively close too, which is great for the fans. That’s what you want from the Champion’s League isn’t it? And if these things mean anything, Ajax’s stadium was where Chelsea won the 2013 Europa League, and Lille was where Hazard was signed from, who won the Europa League with Chelsea in his first and last season. Which means Chelsea… will finish third and win the Europa League..? Yes, that’s what it must mean. But then, the last time Chelsea played Valencia in the group stage of the Champion’s League was in 2011, which means….

A cautiously optimistic and entertained plastic armchair Chelsea fan,
Juanito

 

De Bruyne on fire
I don’t know how he does it, but that guy is extraordinary, I just love watching him. He is the only player I still wish we never sold, never over complicating things; keeps doing simple things extraordinarily. By the way last night he had a hat-trick of assists and off course added a goal, and if he remains fit all through the season, Man City might win the UCL as well.
All hail the Midfield Maestro, KDB.
Meziri CFC, Anambra, Nigeria

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Who Man Utd need now…
I know the English window has only just slammed shut, and we’re only two games in, but looking at that United team last night if United were to go back to Crystal Palace and Leicester with Ed’s big wad and got Maddison and Zaha (with Lingard and James becoming squad players) it would be a pretty dam sexy team; whether they would come or not is another issue, one could have Jones and the other Smalling . . .

All the best for the season.
David (hoping tedious VAR arguments die down) McDougall

 

Feeling positive…
Let’s start with the most important takeaway from the game. This game was televised past midnight in my country and ever since SAF retired, the biggest challenge has been not falling asleep through the boring football on display. Yesterday was fun. I didn’t notice the time fly by and despite the draw was quite pleased with the way United played.

The main worry before the game was how United would do against a competent team that just sat back and defended, looking to break on us. The initial signs are promising. We controlled the ball and created a few chances. We off course did give the ball away, but that is expected from a young team learning a new way to play, it should improve over the season. From my perspective the deep-lying midfielder suits Pogba. He doesn’t get closed down and crowded as quickly as he did when he used to play further up the pitch and that enables him to pick his passes and occasionally make a mazy run. Martial and Rashford look good up top and should only improve with more game time together. Maguire again looked solid and the defense looks composed, while Wan-Bissaka looks like a steal as his defensive side of the game is excellent.

McTominay is a young kid and a lot of expectations are being placed on him and he is going to be hit or miss in games, its the same with James. Lingard should have been a bench player, but Woodward didn’t deliver a midfielder, so he or Perreira will have to start most games. Holding out hope that Perreira can fulfill his potential with this extended chance he will receive this season.

Solskjær has really impressed me as a manager. The players are very fit and no long fade after 70-75 mins and he has asked them to pass from the back and more importantly they are always looking for a potential forward pass, not just pass it around. Yeah it isn’t refined like City’s, but its an encouraging start and can only improve. And most importantly Ole is actually playing the lineups most fans would have picked (no Matic, no Young, no Sanchez and Mata off the bench).

Only criticism I have is the fact that he waited for 85 mins or so to send on Greenwood, I’d have preferred to see him enter at 75 mins, so he could get in some playing time and possibly create a goal. Fred and Dalot must be really terrible in practice to be behind Matic and Young in the pecking order.
Jarron (Can’t believe someone in the mailbox suggested putting Ashley Young in to defend. Guess they have amnesia from last season), MUFC

 

…How dare United fans be happy !

This is a letter to all the ‘banter fans’ who find it hilarious that we are proud of a team drawing 1-1 at the Molineux:

We are sorry, we really really are. You lot have a problem when we shout out that we are a top club, and have a problem when we try to enjoy the small moments (Like a draw or a good performance) in life? What exactly do you want? Us to all be miserable, drown our sorrows in a bottle of gin and then burn down Old Trafford? Absolute joke you lot. Let the fans be happy.

I love the way we played, we are missing a lot, but the energy of the players, the fact we are able to keep decent possession is an upgrade over the last five years. Rashford and Martial are bright spots, AVB and Maguire look fantastic, and NO MORE YOUNG. We are proud to have a team with so many players coming from the academy. We are proud to finally have a team that plays for the shirt (at least most of them do). We are okay with the fact we will not win the title this season, and have a long way to go maybe. But somehow oppositions fans are not.

So we are sorry that we are not trashing all the teams and winning 7 trophies a season, sorry for being happy at getting a measly point at Wolves, sorry for supporting a club and finding joy in it when they put in a decent shift. Sorry for forgiving a player who missed a pen. Sorry we have a manager who loves United as much as any fan would. We are sorry for finding peace with our situation. Cheers to all your toxic fans, and have a good season to all 🙂
Aman Sheth

 

Wolves v Manchester United: Some random thoughts
I am usually a voyeur of the mailbox but perhaps through some misguided sense of self-importance, I wanted to share a few red-tinted thoughts following yesterday’s game.

1) The first-half display was one of the more dominant United performances that I can remember in recent years (albeit without creating an abundance of chances). The constant pressure from the front four or five players rushed Wolves into difficult passes which the defensive five then won back very quickly. Having watched United miserably over the last few years sit deep and wait for the opposition to make a move, it is pleasant to see a very proactive approach (similar to what City, Spurs and Liverpool have been doing for years).

2) Given our recent history, particularly against Wolves, it was worrying that we went into half time with a single goal lead. It was inevitable that Wolves would come back into the game since United do not (yet) have the fitness levels to maintain the high intensity pressing for the full 90 minutes. Indeed, Wolves had an excellent 20-minute spell where they hit the post and scored the equaliser but I believe previous United teams (including last year’s) would have capitulated further and conceded a quick second, so to leave the game thinking we should have won it represents some progress.

3) Lindelof and Maguire certainly looked far less assured than they did against Chelsea last week, with a number of hacked clearances and misplaced passes. This says a lot about the attacking quality of the opposition – Jimenez is an exceptional striker and was a constant danger, the same cannot be said for Abraham last week. Having said that, Wolves failed to create that many clear-cut opportunities I think largely due to one man snuffing out the danger before it developed…

4) AWB has quickly become my favourite player. He has a gangly almost unnatural style but his touch is clearly excellent and he always seems to pick the right pass. I imagine he is an absolute nightmare to play against, just as the winger thinks he is in the clear a rogue AWB initialled boot will sneak in from six yards back and poke it to safety.

5) Lingard on the other hand is exceptionally infuriating. I feel United as a team perform better when he plays but his definitive contributions are simply not good enough. There is a stat (unverified) doing the rounds on Twitter that save for December 2018 where he scored four and assisted two, Lingard has no goals or assists in any month since May 2018. For a club with top four ambitions, that is not good enough and his position is one that we can improve on in the next transfer window.

6) Now to the penalty miss. Pogba clearly cannot be trusted with penalties. Obviously he is a confident chap, but that doesn’t matter if you are sh*t at penalties, which he has demonstrated a number of times. Rashford has proven himself to be an excellent penalty taker and he needs to assert himself as the number 1 going forwards.

7) Rashford does however need to stop taking free kicks. Nine times out of 10 they are comically bad. Generally I think attacking set-pieces are an issue for United – what is the point of paying all that money for the most dangerous head of the WC2018 if you can’t whip a corner in with any pace? Seeing Luke Shaw step up every time to float in a harmless corner to the back of the penalty area was as sad as it was irritating.

8) I think I read Daniel Storey mention somewhere that Chelsea v Leicester on Sunday represented the battle for 6th and 7th, but with no clear preference over which way round. I would say those places are definitely under threat from Wolves. They have an established squad which NES has conditioned into an efficient, functioning unit with defensive solidity and attacking prowess. Lampard has a very tough job on his hands to match that.

9) The optimist in me thinks United will finish fourth this year. In the limited number of games this season we have looked decent defensively and a constant threat going forwards. However, this optimism is heavily predicated on keeping the first-choice attackers fit and healthy. The substitutes like Mata and Pereira do not offer the same threat and the style that Solskjaer is working hard to implement is difficult to replicate with the second string players. We cannot be expected to rely on the teenagers, no matter how promising they appear.

10) I am pleased that VAR didn’t play a large role in this game. I am sick of it already and would greatly appreciate a limited number of VAR-centric mails going forwards.

That’s probably enough.
Charles, London (typical…)

 

Pogba penalty talk
There seems to be a lot of hand-ringing going on over Man Utd’s penalty situation so I thought I’d add my twopenneth:

Firstly, they didn’t drop two points because they don’t have a designated penalty taker – they dropped them because Pogba missed, as he still would if he’d been the main guy and so might Rashford had he been the one. Ole’s approach doesn’t reduce his team’s chances of scoring in itself but it does open him up to criticism when it goes wrong. Maybe it’s admirable that he doesn’t care about that but it can create unwanted pressure if results don’t go his way.

Secondly, this whole debate reminds me a bit of the time when Liverpool (under Rafa, I believe) were constantly being taken to task over their stringent use of zonal marking at corners; whenever they conceded a goal from a corner, the old zonal marking debate was rolled out and pundits were unified in their criticism of the system, but nothing was ever said after the dozens of corners they defended that did NOT lead to a goal. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

It also demonstrates how quick pundits and journalists are to judge these days. The obvious thing is to reserve judgement for a few more months and assess the setup then; I have a hunch that Pogba and Rashford will score far more than they miss and this whole thing will blow over.

Another thing the criticisms possibly highlight, is how Man City’s relentlessness has put huge pressure on clubs to be absolutely perfect if they are to catch them. Every point dropped now seems disastrous; every little plan, tactic and gameplay is vital and will be pulled apart and analysed. On face value, Ole’s approach to choosing his penalty takers is really not a big deal – but if it leads to two, three or four points being dropped over the course of the season, it will be deemed disastrous.

But there are two final points about Ole’s approach that do concern me: the first is that Pogba is still part of the equation at all; four misses (three of which admittedly have not had a particularly hurtful) shows that he should no longer be in contention as a penalty taker. He’s simply not good enough – regardless of how confident he is feeling, how much he cost or how many shirts he sells. The second is that it concerns me that Rashford is okay with the situation. He’s clearly a good lad and a fantastic talent but, call me old fashioned, I like my strikers to be hungry for goals and desperate to pad out their records with penalties – like Kane, Salah or Shearer clearly are/were. Rashford’s ‘meekness’ here doesn’t convince me that he is (atleast not yet) the ruthless, killer striker we really want him to be…
Bob Stokes (scored one of three pens against John Lukic at a charity event once)

 

…You said Rashford converted six out of six of his competitive penalties but you are not giving Pogba’s stats a fair share.

Prior to yesterday, Pogba has taken a total of 17 career penalties but only missed 4 (3 was in the 18/19 season, other one was way before). That is a 76% career conversion rate, a quarter lower than 100% yes but also triple the sample size as Rashford.

You are also ignoring how many he has scored lately. Last season Pogba scored 8 penalties out of 11 for Man United. That is a 72% conversion rate. You say he missed the most among players – but he also took a lot and scored most of them. He took twice the amount of penalties – in last season alone – than Rashford has in his career.

Sam Allardyce has a 100% win record as England boss – but nobody cares because only led one game. Sample size is very important cos going by win record he should be managing Barcelona!

Also, why assume Rashford wanted to take it? There wasn’t an argument about it that I recall. The advantage of a team is that you can delegate and change tasks when you’re not up to it. For all we know, Rashford didn’t feel like it on the day and Pogba stepped up.

Pogba also did a good job winning that penalty in the first place – without him there wouldn’t even be that opportunity. Not saying there aren’t other legitimate reasons to wanting Pogba to go, but yesterday’s penalty wasn’t one of them.

I also want to clarify that I am not knocking Rashford here, he is a great taker so far but it is early days for him. He will get plenty more chances.
Yaru (Thank god MU drew just to take the topic off You-Know-What), Malaysia

 

…Ian Watson’s analysis of the Pogba-Rashford incident is harsh.

Rather than Pogba having ‘overconfidence bordering on misplaced arrogance’, maybe Rashford just had the jitters. He was having an average game, and five minutes before the penalty he took the worst free-kick of the season so far.

Both can take penalties, but Pogba looked more capable in the moment.
Benedict O’Neill

 

And from Wolves…
Just a few comments on last night’s game from a Wolves perspective:

· Slipping on my Sean Dyche hat – James dived horrible twice in the first ten/fifteen minutes, two yellow cards under the laws of the game. Now I know there’s the whole narrative around his goal last week and how much raw joy he showed etc. etc. (yawn). But he should’ve been sent off and if he’s going to dive, he needs to get an awful lot cuter at it or he’ll accumulate a lot of yellow cards. The person who compared his behaviour to Moutinho in this morning’s mailbox needs to go and sit down in a dark room for a while.

· United dominated the first half and had it gone on five minutes longer I think they would’ve got a second. The break definitely came at a good time for Wolves and Nuno was able to have a word and reset, which we did. Despite some of the rouge tinted comments, the second half was much more even, Wolves piling on the pressure for the first 15, United coming back after Neves’ bit of sexiness and finally, the two teams trading drunken punches for the last fifteen minutes. Like two p*ss heads at 2.30am on a Friday night outside of the Civic Hall, arguing over the last sausage in the Mr Sizzle van.

· I’d like to see Vallejo in for Bennett asap. The big man has made a lot of people (including myself) look silly with his performances in the premier league. But I think he’s still very vulnerable against pacey teams breaking forward.

· Jonny is going to be a big player this year. Get him in your fantasy team before the points start racking up

· Big year for Neves, while he didn’t disappoint last year, he just about hit par in terms of expectations. I think he’s got it in him to be Michael Carrick with maybe a few more goals. If he can reach those heights then Wolves won’t be keeping him for too much longer

Big night in Turin awaits

UTW
John Collins, Wolves, London

 

All of the isms are wrong
As a United fan for 50 years, I just wanted to express my disgust at the so called ‘fans’ who think it’s ok to post racist comments aimed at a Manchester United player because he missed a penalty! This is clearly unacceptable and in no way represents the vast majority of United fans or football fans in general come to that. These people need to be named and shamed and made to explain their actions to the player/s in question.

Whilst on the subject of ism’s, I find any kind of discrimination deplorable whether it be racism, homophobia, religion, ginger, tall, short, skinny or fat nobody has the right to make a person a target for abuse because of the way they are. While watching the game last night, I felt equally outraged that every time Luke Shaw was on the ball, thousands of Leicester fans thought it perfectly acceptable to chant ‘you fat bastard’, is this any more acceptable than racist abuse? I’m sure if you are an overweight person, being abused for it is equally upsetting (not that Luke is really overweight!)

I would be interested to hear what fellow readers think on this subject so here’s the question; if you’ve ever chanted on the terraces ‘ you fat bastard’ would you feel comfortable substituting the word ‘fat for ‘black’? And why?
Graham

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The hope has returned (along with some theories)
Dear MC,

Oh Gawd, not again. Arsenal are resurrecting that most vicious of commodities, hope.

I mean, I’ve found myself, as a 40 year old pawing through YouTube clips of Pepe while I should be doing you know, actual work. If we do finally get Tierney then it will be the majority of transfer business done.

Shifting Koscielny should be an absolute priority. He can literally p*ss off for all I care. Second should be Mustafi who inexplicably might actually be attracting interest. Who could we go in for? Lascelle? It would be great just to have a solid Premier League defender. I’m not even fussed if it isn’t anyone more glamourous than that.

However, I’ve now started developing some theories (not my end of the world prepper ones, just football related this time). Zaha wants to come to Arsenal and we want him but with Pepe joining there will be no space, right? Well, maybe there still could be. Aubameyang’s agent has been flirting with ManYoo if you believe an internet. That may actually be no bad thing if he were to go as the funds would give us the ability to go back in for Zaha and possibly even a proper centre back as well.

Crikey, can you imagine a front three of Zaha, Pepe and Lacazette? Wow.

Now who on earth could we attract as a decent *cough* centre *Alderweireld* back?
JazGooner

 

Liverpool expectations
I get that it’s very difficult to work out what constitutes a reasonable expectation for Liverpool this season, but jeez, fourth place and a Europa League? In effect conceding a 25 point swing to two rival teams, back to the days of finishing 20+ points off the title, a dismal CL defence that falls at the first hurdle? There is no way this could be considered anything but abject failure, regardless of the Europa League trophy.

Maybe it needs repeating that but for the unprecedented brilliance of Pep-era Man City, Liverpool would be coming off the back of a PL/CL double, a record premier league points total and an invincible season. They would be, unarguably, the best club side England had ever seen. The fact that City have somehow managed to be even better should not deflect from this. So, to go from matching them almost step for step to being an unremarkable part of the chasing pack 25 points back would represent a huge regression, proving last season to be a 2013/14 style aberration rather than part of a journey.

I’m not saying that fourth + EL is not a realistic expectation by the way; just that we couldn’t be happy with it in the context of last season. We all know that City will win the league every season under Pep, so the mission is to keep as close to them as possible and make sure we’re first in line to capitalise on the inevitable transitional season when he eventually leaves. If City walk the title again in 19/20 and their European ban is upheld, that could even be next season – so if we’re serious about actually winning the league at some point then our priority has to be to maintain position ahead of the chasing pack, far more so than fleeting FA Cup or Europa League success.

For what it’s worth I can’t see us being as strong as last season again as we’ll struggle for goals with the front three all in desperate need of some time off but with no serious cover for any of them. City will barely wobble with the departing Kompany and ageing Aguero, D Silva and Fernandinho being compensated for by Rodri, B Silva and a full season of KDB. On this basis I’d happily take second now; even a narrow third would be acceptable as Spurs will likely reach the low 80s as well. Fourth, though, would mean finishing below one of the basket cases of Chelsea, Arsenal and Utd – all of whom have significant problems to deal with and none of whom are likely to get more than 70odd points – which would be disastrous.
JG LFC

 

Hello

A short mail.

To answer would fourth and Europa League be a successful season for Liverpool.

Er no.

Loving the thinking that last season was as good as it gets for them.
Ged Biglin

 

Weighing in with my two cents on this one. If Liverpool fail to make any significant signings capable of challenging for a first team position my sense is that we are in trouble. By trouble I mean I don’t think top four will be a given let alone challenging for the league which is, as FSG announced recently, our number one target this season.

People keep referring to Spurs achieving 4th with no signings – Spurs imploded last season (Spurs fans this is not a dig). They scrapped fourth and only just because of the sheer incompetence of the teams around them. I’m genuinely not having a go at Spurs and can understand why the season should be deemed a huge success given their achievements with no investment but that doesn’t mean it should be a measure of success for Liverpool to benchmark against for the coming season.

Chelsea aside, all other top eight sides have strengthened or continue to do so. Pre-season has only served to demonstrate that we do not have the players required to make an impact when key players are missing. I’m delighted the club is investing in the future and giving youth players opportunities but that doesn’t mean the club cannot add to its ranks, especially with the amount of games the squad is facing next season.

Origi might just suffice as cover for Firmino with a more direct style of play but he clearly requires quality around him to create the space he needs to operate in. Current cover for the wings isn’t good enough, especially not if Liverpool are willing to sell which they are. At least one player capable of challenging Mane or Salah is needed. Personally I think a LW makes more sense as Mane is capable of operating on the right and could cover Salah if needed.

The squad is also screaming for an attacking midfielder to link play between midfield and create opportunities for the front free. The existing pool needs a fresh face to liven things up, especially if the alternative is to watch Lallana do Cruyff turns in his new holding position. You’d think proper cover for Robertson would be mandatory but apparently Milner and Gomez will be expected to do a job here.

I believe in Klopp and the LFC management team but if the squad remains as is I get the feeling we’re in for a rocky 2019/20 season. To answer Minty’s question I’d take your hand off if an FA Cup win and 2nd or 3rd in the league was offered..

I hope I’m wrong, please prove me wrong lads..
Dazza, LFC, Dublin

 

Man United’s transfer policy
I wrote a few emails of why I thought Solskjaer isn’t an improvement on Mourinho and was laughed at especially after the Tottenham win where I myself waivered but I predicted no top 4 and so it has come.

But now we are where we are I would like to focus on transfer policy. There seems to be an idea amongst fans that signing good players is bad. Because they don’t fit the system. Pogba, and others are named as proof of this. I don’t think Pogba is a great player. I think Ferguson saw that for all his natural ability his mentality isn’t there and got rid. I think a lot of players we were told were great, ready made players weren’t.

Who in the current team was a world class player when bought? Lukaku was playing for Everton and no offence to them but they aren’t competing with the Barcelonas Reals and Munichs of this world. Rashford, young untested, Martial young untested. We went from the best CB pairing in the world in Rio and Vidic to Smalling Jones Lindeloff Bailly.

The issue is we are unable to tell which not yet world class players will go on to be world class. Vidic was a relative unknown untested player when he came from CSKA, Rooney was an Everton player when he came but unlike Lukaku he proved to be a good buy. Until we learn to get these players again and considering the rut we are in buying world class players is the best path. For the money United spent on Pogba and Lukaku you could have bought Neymar.

Instead of buying Chiellini we got Bailly (really just injury prone, could be good if he stayed healthy for a few seasons) and Lindeloff. Instead of tempting Eriksen with a 100 million offer we got Fred. We are buying in the bargain bin and have for a while and it isn’t working out. We already have more than enough kids, we need leaders.
Dino (Both Dybala and Maguire fall under the umbrella of not yet proven, though Dybala is better) Kantardzic

 

United optimism
So it seems coming closer to the start of the new season United fans are quietly optimistic, now if the purported transfers of Fernandez, Maguire and Dybala actually happen then we start looking like an exciting prospect again.

De Gea, Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Fernandez, McTominey, Martial, Rashford, Dybala with a supporting cast of exciting kids gives me hope for the future, make it happen Woodward.
On the footballing musical theme I love Don Fardon’s Belfast Boy about a certain George Best, when it comes to terrace chants there are a few United ones which were funny rather than goose bump creating, the Tim Howard chant regarding his tourettes and the subsequent chant when he asked fans not to sing it. My favourite United chant though had to be What a friend we have in Jesus in relation to Eric Cantona.

Cheers,
Paul Murphy, Manchester

 

Watching over pre-season, you can very much see the style Solskjaer wants to play in copying City, Liverpool and Spurs high press. I hope some good early results in the season will give him time to work and implement this as he gets to add players over a number of transfer windows, people need to remember City and Liverpool especially took some hammerings in the first season or so of Klopp and Guardiola implementing this, as getting it wrong can leave you very open.

My greater concern while all the media focus on needing a Centre Back, is where are the goals coming from? We have been encouraging right up until the final ball in pre-season but do not seem to have anyone in the box who wants to score tap ins, both Martial and Rashford holding positon on the penalty spot, we need a player to look for the tap ins.
Duncan

 

Sorry, Gareth Bale…
I wrote in a few months ago about Gareth Bale and the nonsense that seems to be written about him.  In short it was about how the things he does can either paint him to be an anti-social weirdo or a model professional.  If you come out on the side of anti-social weirdo you’ve not only read the reports but just swallowed the media’s narrative hook line and sinker.  Think for yourselves.
The thing that made me write in again is Ashley Metcalfe’s mail yesterday.  Skimming over the opinion that paying young working class men a wage in line with the money they bring in for their employer is somehow a Tory ideal, let’s talk about tax.  Now I’m not a tax expert and I’m assuming that Wan Bissaka and Gareth Bale actually pay tax.  Wan Bissaka will pay £1,785,000 in tax in a year.  If Bale moves to China and is still resident in the UK he’ll pay £23,385,000 in tax per year.  Also, Gareth Bale’s money is coming from a foreign country so he earns the UK government, and by extension the NHS, more money than most UK export businesses.  This is all based on the assumption that their reported wage is before tax; if it’s after tax then inflate those figures massively.  I don’t know how much Ashley earns but I’d suspect that Gareth Bale will pay more tax in a week than Ashley will in his entire working life but feel free to stay up there on your high horse.  Football seems to be one of the incredibly few industries where the workers get an equitable share of the companies income, turn your attention to CEO’s wages if you want to pretend to be socialist.

The bottom line is that player’s wages come from gate receipts and media rights.  Clubs and the media get their money directly from the fans through tickets, subscriptions and merchandise.  If you have a problem with players’ wages then stop consuming the media, you’re enabling the problem you’re complaining about.

It’s hurts me to say this but I’ve always loved Liquidator by The Harry J All Stars that Chelsea play before their home matches.
SC, Belfast

 

Things that bug me
Just a couple of thing s that always bug me about transfer windows, not about who X is signing or when, or for how much, rather the language used in the press, most of the time I’m left thinking, why is it worded that way, it makes no sense, here are some examples

X manager has a 100 million war chest, probably the most stupid word to use for a budget ever. The  the definition of a war chest is either:  reserve of funds used for fighting a war or, a sum of money used for conducting a campaign “the party’s election war chest”, dumb as it comes! This is neither a war or an election, it’s an attempt to buy a player, please stop using this

X club is braced for a bid from Y club, eh…..no, no they are not, I’m pretty sure they are doing their own business probably with their “war chest” and will deal with things if and when they happen. Its hard to imagine the CEO sitting there braced like he’s about to get punched by Mike Tyson for 2 months straight, please stop using this

X club is preparing a bid, what’s this about? Preparing a bid? So, does this mean they send a full blown contract to club Y when they submit a bid? Although I understand there will be plenty of paperwork down the road of the deal, surely the initial contact is something along the lines of a phone call or meeting where they ask about a player and mention a price, when you hear about some of the deals that have happened (say on deadline day) its literally, how much do you want? We want 50 million, Great let’s do this! Isn’t much preparation in that.

I’m sure there are loads more but they are the 3 that spring to mind, maybe other reads have some that irritate them?
Vernon (Dublin, Ireland)

 

More football songs
Not exactly a rival song but my favourite football related song for me has to me Mas Que Nada.

It immediately brings up images of The Greatest Football Advert EVER ™, that Nike one in the airport.

Romario smashing it through the x-ray machine and R9 unbelievably hitting the post at the end, scenes.
Benjamin (Mikey, Wavin’ Flag is a certified banger)

 

Not sure about wage caps
Just a quick note on wage caps for footballers, though I fully agree that they earn obscene amounts of money I still believe a wage cap would not only be detrimental to attracting the best players but would also not win many fans at the Treasury.

From firsthand experience they are treated as employees, which means they’ll pay top rates of tax on their earnings via PAYE (as they should of course) which on a superstar earning £100-250k a week is quite a large amount of dough being transferred to the treasury. In some cases they’ll need to do a tax return at the end of the year to scoop up any unpaid tax on things like investments, sponsorships and image rights etc (although the structure of image rights deals has been well publicized as, if not illegal, morally ambiguous and potentially an abuse of the system. That’s a whole different email)

Long story short, If we cap footballers wages, we’re capping the potential to tax whatever obscene amounts of money being thrown their way. That’s money we need to pay for schools, the NHS, police officers etc. We shouldn’t do that. Especially not now, with the country potentially heading over a cliff.
Al (THFC)

 

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Send your innermost thoughts to theeditor@football365.com…

 

It just Ney work
Re the Neymar situation, I have a quite bonkers idea which may suit all parties. Neymar should move to the premier league. More specifically, he should move to ARSENAL.

Take a moment to stop sniggering and hear me out. The guy is obviously at sixes with PSG so would need to leave pronto. No one can afford his astronomical fee, so the best solution would be to go out on loan for the year. Realistically, there are only a handful of teams in Europe that can afford his ridiculous wage, so let’s whittle them down. Barca have just got Griezmann and are almost a billion dollars in dept, so probably won’t sort a deal out this summer. Real don’t need another winger/attacker and have invested the GDP of a small country to bring players in this window. The only Italian team who could afford him have CR7, and could you imagine the two vying for the spotlight in Turin? No Way.

Bayern could afford and do need a winger, but they are genuinely quite sensible and know full well that Neymar would screw up the team dynamics within the squad. This leaves the prem teams. City don’t need another attacker, Chelsea can’t sign anyone and seem to be giving youth a chance, Ney Ney is the complete opposite of a Klopp player, and Levy + Neymar is something I can’t envisage happening in this universe. Noodle sponser United would probably be a great fit, but perhaps the north of England wouldn’t be as jazzy as London for our Brazilian prima donna. That leaves Arsenal… They are obviously not going to get Zaha, and may get Tierney as their only major signing, thus leaving about £20 Mill left in the kitty. Arsenal need a winger, need a signing to uplift the fans, need someone to ensure 60,000 are willing renew their joke of a season ticket cost. He’s worked with Emery before, and although they had their differences, Emery knows how good of a player he can be.

F365 has mentioned it already, Neymar needs to be a footballer first again, and what better place to roll his sleeves up then a massive club like Arsenal, but without the pressures of being in the biggest of spotlights like he would at Barca or City.

It’s a win win situation in my books, as without the signing, the immediate future holds nothing but darkness for the club.  Give the man 400K per week  for the year, and if (albiet a big if) he can get his act together, at least there would be a buzz around the club, and they can fail/progress gloriously. Its so mad, it just Ney work…
Henry Innes

 

Arsenal’s new formation?
Interesting plan being hatched by Ian, LFC this morning. I did some quick maths however and wonder how fitting Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil, Mhkitaryan, Bellerin, Kolasinac, three centre backs and obviously a goalkeeper into a team will leave our midfield? Also, losing Koscielny on a free will pretty much guarantee Mustafi a start every week so I don’t think there’s legs in this approach.

I do generally agree with the ‘riding out the storm’ sentiment though.  I would much rather we spent all of our money on the defence and used the likes of Nelson, Smith Rowe, Sako, Martinelli as attacking squad options, give Maitland Niles a run of games in his favoured position once Bellerin is fit again and see where that takes us.

Much has been made of the supposed transfer budget and whilst I believe the figures being mentioned aren’t too far from the truth, I suspect there is some kidology involved. Whether it’s so the selling club can’t ask for too much money etc. I don’t know but I reckon there’s a few more quid available to get Tierney and another centre back in.
James, Kent.

 

Arsenal mess
Hello Ian, riding a storm would mean rebuilding after a short period of time (Like after Hurricane Kartina). Arsenal are more like Chernobyl, after a nuclear meltdown in 2006. They have been in abysmal shape ever since. Blaming the stadium costs, other teams money, board, manager, player attitude, coaching, staff, purchases, sales, contracts and everything else. There is no rebuilding to do. The only option there is to scorch the current team to the ground and start anew.

Other than Auba & Laca, there is not a player in the 28 man arsenal squad that would be a value addition to the top teams in the world (Barca, Madrid, Bayern, PSG, City, Liverpool, United, Juventus, Chelsea, Atletico). Most would struggle to get into the Wolves, Inter, Leicester, Everton line ups too. The entire squad is horrific to be honest, and as a United fan, that is the only solace i find in these difficult times. This scorched earth policy will take either time, or immense money (500m+ over 2 seasons) to rebuild. Do the Arsenal board have that in them ?? Is Stan really that passionate? I doubt it.

The only way this gets better for Arsenal fans is for the club to be sold (preferably to someone with a decent human rights record and a passionate football man or a supporters trust). But there is not value in Arsenal for the price Stan will ask for. So they are stuck in the radioactive & harmful environment till the people at the top realize the suffocation and hurt of the people who live Arsenal.

As a United fan, wish them the best, and hope they can be good enough for 2nd but never 1st 🙂 🙂
Aman (No expectations from United, only hope).

 

Hi,

It’s actually the first time I write to the mailbox, I’ve been an arsenal fan for more than 15 years and a keen f365 follower. I’m sorry to say this but I believe the current mess we are in partly because of our fans. Don’t get me wrong, the current ownership is a joke and the club is clearly is getting worse under their stewardship, however we were doomed since the day David Dein left our club.

Arsenal became scared of the fans’ reaction of selling our best players, even though it might be in the best interest of the club in doing so.
Remember the time where we had to sell our best player year in year out? Think of Fabregas, Nasri, RVP, Adebayor, Alex Song and Alex Hleb.
The club had to sell their best players because the players were impatient and didn’t believe in the project at the time, where as it was an extremely talented young squad that was so close so success, but for bad luck with a series of long term injuries, such as Rosicky, Diaby, Eduardo and RVP, and some stubbornness from the manager, where he assembled a gifted squad with huge potential but lacked 1 or two wise heads at the back and a decent goal keeper.
We mounted a series challenge in the PL culminated in the game where Eduardo suffered a double leg fracture and Gallas sitting at the Centre circle when Clichy conceded a late penalty. Had we won that game I think we would have been 8 points ahead of United.
Players didn’t want to stay because they didn’t believe in themselves and the project and the club had to sell to protect the value of the players so they don’t risk losing them for nothing, as is happening now.
This led to despise and extreme anger from Arsenal fans towards the club, and Arsenal was too nice to come out publicly and throw the player under the bus by announcing they clearly want to leave. And Arsenal were also too nice to them to allow them to train and play while they clearly indicated they will not renew their contacts. Look at what Liverpool did when Suarez publicly indicated he wanted to join Arsenal, even though he had an agreement with Liverpool they would allow him to leave. They ousted him form the first team and made him train with the kids until he changed his mind. Wenger was a gentleman and father figure and the players used this against him.
At Wenger’s last five years at the club, he allowed a lot of first team players to run out their contracts and leave for nothing, which they though was a better option than facing the wrath of fans.
We arsenal fans were the first to witness player power and were quick to criticize the club for selling the players who don’t want to play for us, rather than the ungrateful players that we gave them their name and career but could stand by the club when they needed them the most. Remember Arsenal didn’t buy stars at the time, they bought talented youngsters and invested time money and a lot of points for them to play and develop. All of them came here Unkown and left one the the most sought after players

Arsenal should’ve been more transparent and tougher with the players and the fans should’ve been more understanding of the situation the club were in.

The most depressing fact about the whole situation is that the 08/09 team were miles better than the 18/19 team.
Ahmed Ammar, Egypt

 

Which player would you swap with your rival?
So after seeing the lack of mails this morning I thought I would write in with this question that I recently had on my Podcast (don’t worry I won’t be plugging it……yet) anyway, the question was “If you could do a straight swap deal with a Premier League rival for a player which one would you choose and why?”

Now the rules we had were you couldn’t just pick your worst player and choose your rivals best, it had to be a deal that would benefit both parties, my choice was Jorginho for Sergio Aguero, City at the time needed a Jorginho type player and Chelsea always need a striker, so what are some of the mailboxers choices?
Mikey, CFC (It is a Podcast all about Chelsea and football in general if you’re curious)

 

Equality and womens football
I’m very glad that the debate on the USNWT’s equal pay lawsuit has continued and developed in the mailbox. I think it is a more nuanced subject than many acknowledge.

In my opinion (as an American and as someone who has long considered himself to be a Feminist/ally), from a political and legal perspective, the USWNT seems to clearly deserve equal pay and equal conditions to those provided to the men’s team, and I believe their fight for equality is very important in the US’ current sociopolitical climate.

However, if you remove politics and law, and instead focus on the matter from a purely sporting/competitive* perspective, I think there are strong arguments which show why treating the USWNT equally is problematic.

I have followed the USWNT for a few years now, and much more closely over the course of this world cup. They are often praised for their togetherness and team spirit; they are criticized for their perceived arrogance. My observation is that they are entirely inwardly-focused and oblivious to what goes on outside their circle. This is fantastic for team building and their competitive record evidences that, but this is how you end up with Alex Morgan doing a “sipping tea” celebration and earnestly believing it was obvious that she was mimicking the Kermit the Frog internet meme, rather than taking the p*ss out of her English opponents (Ugh. Millenials). This obliviousness leads to what could be seen as a lack of solidarity towards their competitors:

1. Women playing for other national teams face similar institutional sexism that women in America face. However, female athletes in America are provided with vastly superior conditions from a young age through adulthood, compared to conditions female athletes experience elsewhere. This takes the shape of practical considerations like training facilities and budgets (Title IX), but also in the way American society encourages girls to take up competitive sports more than in other nations. Despite the USWNT not being treated equally over the past 30 years, they have won 4 out of 8 world cups, several Olympics, and have only finished below third once. What effect will providing even-better facilities and incentives to the next generation of American female footballers have on the competitiveness of the women’s game? The USNWT might argue it’s not their problem and they don’t care. I would argue that if they want to be as irrelevant to the world as the US men’s basketball team winning the Olympics every 4 years, this is exactly the right attitude to take.

2. The women’s league in America, NWSL, is subsidized by US Soccer. The men’s leagues in America (MLS, NASL, USL) are not – in fact, from what I can tell, IS Soccer actually draws revenue from MLS indirectly via Soccer United Marketing (SUM). There are 28 players on the USWNT; there are many women who are not. The 28 women are using for equality. If US Soccer treated genders equally, the 28 women would reap the rewards but NWSL would no longer be viable. It is problematic to demand equality while simultaneously expecting continued subsidization. Not impossible, not hypocritical – just problematic.

The compensation scheme for the USWNT (and other WNT’s) seems to have been specifically designed to provide its members with additional remuneration, to compensate for female club football not being able to pay players much. If you want to read details on the subject, I would recommend the ones written on FiveThirtyEight, WaPo and Sports Illustrated (the ones cited by Paul, T.Wells don’t actually contain much detail or thoughtful analysis). Basically, WNT’s seem to all pay their players annual salaries on top of bonuses, while MNT’s pay larger bonuses for selections/appearances/results without paying any annual salary. This provides the female players with additional financial security protecting them from non-selection due to poor form or injury, given that their club salaries aren’t enough of a safety net, while Male players at international level have financial security from club careers. WNT’s, especially the USWNT, also seem to organize additional friendlies and other tournaments outside of the official FIFA international fixture calendar. The purpose of these additional games would appear to be promoting the women’s game, generating extra revenue to support the annual salaries, and provide players with opportunity to earn more via bonuses. This accounts for why the record for men’s international caps is 184, while there are 20+ women with 200+ international caps (including two with 300+).

To be absolutely clear, i think that the political and legal perspective is far more important than the sporting/competitive perspective in the grand scheme of things. I believe that all female football players representing their countries should be given identical conditions and benefits to male players, despite any arguments against and any potential drawbacks. I believe that if there is any inequality it should be completely limited to club football and directly quantifiably justified by revenue generation (and hopefully one day female club football will generate billions too). The purpose of this mail was to highlight many nuances which do not seem to ever get discussed, NOT to argue against equal treatment.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

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