Although Tony Pulis has been widely criticised for Stoke's style of football, he has also reminded us that there is more than one kind of successful manager...
We are incredibly excited about Saturday's Champions League final at 365 Towers. But who's going to win? Daniel Storey looks at the key factors between Dortmund and Bayern...
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Advice For Fergie
Counter-intuitive as this may seem, I wonder whether a short-term solution for United's midfield conundrum isn't sitting on the Liverpool substitute bench. Maligned as Nuri Sahin is, he has two key qualities that United like to have in a midfielder; good long-range passing, and strong instinct for counter-attacking and quickly recycling the ball. It's what made Sahin so prominent at Dortmund (who play largely on the counter), and why Madrid (also strong on the counter under Mourinho) were keen on him.
Sahin seems to have struggled massively to adapt to the slower pace and possession focus of Rodgers' Liverpool, but would be ideally suited to a United side that are built on similar lines to Dortmund and Madrid.
Just a thought.
We do not look comfortable at the back even after Vidic's return. I for one thought he would have been an improvement over Ferdinand. But he isn't. It seems he has lost a yard of pace since he has come back. Perhaps it will require 2-3 more months of active football to get it back. In the meanwhile I hope Jones, Smalling and Evans become our first choice centerbacks in games against top half opponents in premier league. When we play against teams in the lower half of the premier league and Real Madrid (Rather go with the tried and tested here), Ferdiand and Vidic will get the adequate match practice and will also give us minutes to help keep the entire squad involved & fresh. For the game against Liverpool this Sunday, Vidic and Ferdinand both are too slow to catch up with the pacy wingers and Suarez and Liverpool play extremely direct. Add Gerrard and Shelvey runs from the midfield with Evra being in better offensive form than defesive, it might be too much of a scamper for both relatively slow centre backs.
Hoping for a decent game of football
Sagar Deo, MUFC, Mumbai
Throughout the week I've read all kinds of articles about what united should do or what areas they should improve to beat liverpool. And in my opinion is that its really not that complicated. They simply need to do one thing : Score first. If my geeky memory serves me right I believe United have won all the games in which they've scored first at Old Trafford this season. Also , 3 of the 4 cleen sheets united have kept this season have been when united have scored first at old trafford. Of course its not an easy thing (even against the eighth best team in the premier league.. HA) but if united start well and put pressure on the Liverpool defence , you will be hearing "ohhh robin van persie" chants in no time.
TONY (Life is so simple in my head .. really) MUFC
A Long Mail On Soul
The whole issue with the Man City boycott has dominated the mailbox recently, and it has got me thinking about exactly how clubs can raise the money they need to compete on their level. A club's main sources of income are from its owner, tickets, merchandise, TV rights, matchday stuff (programmes, pies etc.), sponsors and even sometimes restaurants and fan donations. The method which interests me most though, is the sale of name rights.
Because of the tribal nature of football in England, fans want to feel a sense of identity when they support their club so any sale of name rights is a loss of this identity. This means fans react at best with weary acceptance, at worst with outrage and sometimes with suspicion at such situations and this leads to embarrassing incidents such as the Sports Direct Arena debacle, or the Etihad Stadium controversy, or to an extent the Venky's advert (not a name change, but still a subjugation of identity).
Of course I can't generalize too much, but I can highlight the differences between the two clubs I know a couple of things about- Liverpool FC and Southport FC. Liverpool is a large and proud club steeped in history (yes we are, we aren't great now but we were pretty good once, I hear!) and the club's name and ground haven't changed since John Houlding was kicked out of Goodison Park eons ago. Imagine the reaction if Anfield was named Fenway Park II or something similar! Let's just say there'd be a few snide and sneering mails to here containing the words 'delusional' and 'paranoid' for a while afterwards!
On the other hand, Southport FC, as a small Conference club with a notoriously stingy chairman, are more willing to sell the soul of the club. They were the first club in England to sell their name rights, becoming Southport Vulcan after Vulcan Motor Company bought them in 1911. This year, they have sold their stadium name rights to change it from Haig Avenue (a bad name anyway, the only thing special about that road apart from the ground is the abnormally high proportion of drug dealers living down there) to the somewhat comical 'Merseyrail Community Stadium', with nothing but a piece of corrugated plastic on the side of the stadium and a pitchside banner to remind you of the change.
So then, which club is right? Are Liverpool too stuck in their ways, or are Southport an empty husk of a club? Are they both right in their situations with their different statures? Or does it really matter, as they'll rip you off no matter how good their sponsorship deals are?
Ben (not old enough to remember proper cheap footy matches, a fiver for 12-18 year olds at 'Port is pretty good though), SFC and LFC, Southport
Reading emails about ticket pricing, boycotts etc and one in particular stood out, that football isn't entertainment. Well, now more than ever, that can't be said to be true. Look at how much coverage off the pitch matters get, from minor to major scandals to the transfer window.
Football has become more like a soap than a sport, especially at the top level. Even the players themselves seem to do less of the 'sport', with shorter, often less physically demanding training sessions compared to many other sports - and yet so many players remain one footed and one dimensional (slight side issue!) Football at the highest level has become like Eastenders.
This doesn't look like changing, so instead of complaining, go and watch your local non-league side - where you're likely to be less of a consumer and where it feels like a game again.
Rob (although Farnborough tickets are about 12 quid in the Conference South, so what do I know?)
Battle Of The Titans
Forgive and ignore me if this has been raised anywhere else, but to me it seems more than feasible that Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola could be set for a collision course in the Premiership sometime very soon and I, for one, think it would be absolutely magnificent
Guardiola is coming back to football next season, and Mourinho is leaving Real Madrid (he looked thoroughly fed up as his side banged in four goals last night, and I can only assume he's missing his arch nemesis).
I want to see them take over at the two Manchester clubs. I don't support a Premiership side, and I'm capable of not collapsing under the sheer hype, so I think this would be an outstanding move that would probably cause Sky to implode with excitement.
I wanted to doff my hat off to two clubs that are clearly taking a stand against player power.
1. Inter Milan & Sneijder: It must take balls of steel to make a decision to leave your prized asset out of the playing squad because you cannot agree terms. I love that. Lots of clubs and managers would have chickened out and played the player till the window.
2. Chelsea and Lampard: We all remember Lampard giving many interviews during the AVB regime expressing his displeasure and ultimately being part of the coterie of players that caused AVB to fail. Clearly he is proving to be rather capable at Spurs. Say what you want about Roman, that man sure has guts. The suits at Chelsea definitely know more about the dressing room than the fans. I appreciate the stand taken by Chelsea to not offer Lampard a contract. It doesnt matter if he joins your rivals, what matters is that it is the right thing to do.
In the last 5 years, we regularly see clubs being held hostage by players (Arsenal) over contracts. It is refreshing to see clubs take a stand against players. What are some other examples of your club taking a stand that made you proud?
Sudarsan Ravi (Mirror Mirror on the wall, Who has the biggest balls of them all?)
Party Like It's 1999
Ive had this thought in my head for a while, but it seems that there maybe a little more hope in it actually happening.
The great West Ham reunion!
Joe Cole's return has kicked it off nicely, and with Lamps & Rio being out of contract at the end of this season, they could be the catalyst for the full monty.
Spurs need to sign a couple of strikers to free up J-Dizzle, and United would have to completely sort out their centre Mid so that Mr.Carrick feels that going else where is the only way for him to play regular football.
Glen Johnson will be the toughest to get out of Liverpool, seeing as he's one of their "top, top players", but hopefully some scouse kid will come along who Brendan likes the look of, and this will see him pushed down the pecking order.
When QPR get relegated, this will free up Bobby Z and Anton (just so we can have the Ferdinand Brothers) as well as the final peice, Harry Redknapp.
Ive struggled with a goalie and a left back.
Joe (More pros need to go back to their roots)
Some Giddy Sky Blue Joy
After going to the JPT Semi Final last night, I now know how Man City fans felt on the final day of last season.
Both of us have had over a decade of despair, and finally (although theirs is on a much bigger scale) things are looking up! Swap Dzeko and Aguerooooooooo, for Baker and Leon Clarkeoooooooooo - and que 12,000 Cov fans to go mental!
What an atmosphere, what a finish to a game! Mark Robins borrowed a bit of Fergie time from his old master! Man United, Liverpool, and Chelsea fans won't feel as good as this - you can take your European Cups, FA Cups and Premier League titles every year - but Scoring 2 goals against Preston, at home, in the JPT Semi Final..........
What a night to be part of the Sky Blue Army!
Adam (Walking in a Robins wonderland) Cov Fan, Coventry
The Best Football Ad?
Never mind the worst football ads (although the Venky's one is as cardboard as I imagine their chicken tastes); how about the best?
This old Nike advertisement still does it for me. Eric the King, Brolin, Campos, Maldini, Kluivert, Davids, the real Ronaldo, SWP's dad...ah, sweet nostalgia.
Maldini's star turn cracks me up, and the opening narration isn't in English, but neither is its best line of dialogue: "Au revoir."
Hari Raj, MUFC, formerly Melbourne now Beijing
Defending The Indefensible
Regarding your second worst headline of the day: 'You'll get nowhere playing Loic that'. It works really well in a Dublin accent. Try it.
The phrase 'two penneth' was used three times in one Mailbox yesterday - how on earth did that happen?
Alex (I do realise I am twaddling, alas), LFC
Not Really, No
Is it just me or does Brendan Rogers strike an uncanny resemblance to Pete from Gav and Stacey.