Philippe Coutinho has contributed to eight goals in only 13 appearances for Liverpool, Arsenal are flat-track bullies and Gareth Bale likes shooting from range...
The Premier League season has only been over for about 20 hours and already we're well into the summer-type Mailbox. Plus, a shout for the 2014 player of the year...
There has often been a sorry state of affairs at the FA and a decade or so ago that week's chief executive, Adam Crozier, had to apologise to Gerard Houllier for perpetuating an urban myth. Crozier was unwittingly recorded telling an audience of Lancing College old boys that a Liverpool player had walked into the then manager's office, asked what the fine for missing two days' training was, and written out a check for £80,000 before saying: "See you on Friday."
It was an amusing tale and as an example of modern football's emerging excess it sounded vaguely credible. A version had been told for a number of years about different managers and at various clubs, though, with no evidence that it had ever happened to any of them. It has an unexpected relevance today, though, in unusual and more serious circumstances.
The €80,000 fine imposed on the Serbian FA by UEFA for the scenes at the Under-21s play-off against England is attracting reactions ranging from contempt to derision, and specifically a contrast is being drawn with the €100,000 levied on Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a betting company's logo on his underwear at Euro 2012. Anton Ferdinand tweeted: "Wow UEFA ain't serious with their punishment... So showin a sponsor is worst than racism and fighting!"
Even without the Bendtner example, UEFA's treatment of racism and hooliganism would be regarded as pants. England's players had to put up with constant racial abuse and, in comparison to Sunday's coin throwing at Eastlands, an avalanche of missiles. Action should have been taken during the game and, while players should not take the law into their own hands, it is inevitable that they will if the officials abandon their responsibilities, rather than threatening to abandon the game.
Two Serbian coaches received lengthy bans for the post-match violence and four home players were given suspensions of up to four matches; however, Serbia failed to qualify for next summer's finals so the player sanctions will occur during qualifiers. England completed a 2-0 aggregate success but Danny Rose must miss one match at the finals for kicking the ball into the crowd, while Steven Caulker (two games) and Tom Ince (one) will also be absent for key matches in Israel as a result of violent clashes that plainly were instigated by the Serbians. The FA will appeal and should use this obvious injustice as part of their case.
It is less straightforward, though, to specify what action UEFA should take against Serbia. Anton's brother was also busy on Twitter, saying: "Uefa are not serious at all on racism. Fines do not work at all. They have zero impact on federations/clubs/fans/players #fact.
"Uefa need to talk to this generation.....they don't seem to be up to date on this issue?? Harsh punishments needed as a deterrent #simple."
Rio is right that fines have a limited impact on the perpetrators when the abuse is coming from the stands; you cannot put a price on fans' actions and the penalty is anyway paid by others. On the other hand - and this is why the Bendtner comparison is inapposite - you can put a price on someone entering into a financial transaction in order to flout the rules surrounding sponsorship. If UEFA did not impose a draconian penalty on Bendtner then they would put themselves in the position of the mythical version of Houllier, announcing a price for a misdemeanour and then risking finding companies and individuals willing to pay it.
Rio says "Harsh punishments needed as a deterrent" and from the Serbian statements it is clear that stronger action was considered. However, it is not "#simple" to define what UEFA should do and any England international would do well to remember that had the governing bodies followed this advice then the national team would surely have been banned from a tournament or two.
The Serbian FA defended the indefensible in the wake of the match in Krusevac rather than acknowledging the scale of their problem but perhaps the message is getting through. The secretary general, Zoran Lakovic, said: "If we take into account what the drastic proposed penalty by the disciplinary inspector Jean-Samuel Leube we have not been hit so hard. I believe that this is a final warning to all of us who work in Serbian football, including coaches and players and fans, because for even the smallest mistake UEFA can now impose the most rigorous punishment."
What is needed is to concentrate the minds not only of the FA, but also of the supporters. You cannot solve crowd misbehaviour without making fans part of the solution; the game played behind closed doors should be a senior international rather than an Under-21s game and it should be clear that any repeat at any level would have the same punishment.
Beyond that, a TV and radio blackout should be imposed within Serbia next time, imposing a meaningful fine on the FA for loss of rights sales while hitting the supporters hard, too. Such a punishment would deter the hooligans but also make them pariahs, and give everyone else a firm interest in treating racism and violence as their problem. As a wiser man once said: "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."