It has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho is set to return to Chelsea in the near future, but Matt Stanger ponders whether this is really a good thing for the Blues and the PL...
Roll up, roll up to have a good laugh at your Football365 scribes, as we look back on our pre-season predictions to see who was wrong, who was right and who was stupid...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Introducing The Decision Deficit Index
With Sir Alex Ferguson making the headlines yet again for complaining about decisions, as well as Arsene Wenger protesting about both of Chelsea's goals yesterday, I've been thinking about how to save us all the same old story each week from managers. They're clearly not helped by journalists looking for a headline, but there could be a simple way of determining whether a manager or player can be justified in a complaint about an official - The Decision Deficit Index.
Now I don't know what the numbers would look like here, so this might be a terrible idea, but to make this work the FA would appoint an independent panel to assess big decisions after every round of games. For any particular game, if they adjudge that a wrong call has been made on a significant game changing factor (red card, penalty award, goal disallowed... you get the drift) then the team that suffered from the incorrect call gains a 'point', whilst the team that gained from it has a 'point' removed. As well as solving once and for all the question of whether the big teams do get the decisions, something that would shut up Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce, this would create a score for each team, which could be either negative or positive. Then, any time a manager or player wanted to complain about an official and a decision that was either given or not given they would be forced to check the Decision Deficit Index first.
In the minus numbers? You've clearly benefitted from previous decisions, so you've not really got a leg to stand on.
In the plus numbers? You've clearly got every right to feel aggrieved, so whinge away.
Any time a player or manager complained despite being in the red, then they received a punishment from the FA.
It would never ever happen, but if it does, please don't tell Fergie it was my idea.
Not That Much Love For Michael
Michael Piggott is everything that is wrong with modern football. Your team didn't get the benefit of a refereeing mistake, take it on the chin and grow up.
That is all.
David (The courts probably have other things on anyway) Hosford
...Dear Michael (getting bored of hearing how difficult it is to be a referee) Piggott
You're an idiot.
Unless you were being ironic of course, in which case, you're not funny and still an idiot.
Carl (These things happen, get over it) Oldfield Mufc, Southport
...Did I really just read a letter from a Manchester United fan moaning about referees and linesmen and that "their second-rate performances that always go to the home crowd"? Absolutely wonderful!
I was coming to the end of what has frankly been an effin awful day, but Michael Piggot sir, I thank you. You have cheered me up no end.
Damian, ITFC, Singapore
...Dear 'whiny entitled Man Utd fan'
Aside from the inherent irony of a Man Utd fan complaining about biased officiating for a home crowd, ( Cough, Howard Webb at Old Trafford, cough), suing for a decision going against a club would be insane. Referee's would never make a penalty call ever again for fear of being sued!
It's a swings and roundabouts. Grow a pair, man up, and concentrate on the next game.
...I think Michael (getting bored of hearing how difficult it is to be a referee) Piggott is 100% correct. Suarez should get a 6 match ban for dividing as it would mean Liverpool had too many men on the pitch.
Mario Speedwagon (that was terrible, but it's Monday), Ireland.
...With regards to Michael Piggott's email and F1.
As a fan of F1 I can assure you that nobody likes the results being changed after the race. In fact, one of the main criticisms from the fans of the sport is that incidents should be dealt with by professional stewards in real time rather than retrospectively.
This is because retrospective action always brings up the issue of favouritism and bias. It is also heavily weighted in favour of those that can afford to apply most pressure hence Man Utd, Man City et al would get even more judgements in their favour (after the event) than say Wigan, Reading or any other team operating on a budget.
Yours less ignorantly,
...While I'm not usually one to draw attention to typos and howlers, I did laugh out loud at Michael Piggott's suggestion in this morning's Mailbox that the FA should be able to change match results retrospectively through the use of a "revue panel."
I'm actually half-sold on the idea that such million-pound decisions might be made by a group of itinerant blue comedians, drag acts and chorus girls. Even better if the "revue panel's" judgement was announced using the medium of an upbeat song-and-dance routine.
Let's make it happen!
An Elaborate Wind-Up?
I feel like I've fallen into an elaborate wind up perpetrated by 'Minty' or maybe I don't understand his point. I think what he's trying to say is that Swansea should be challenging for the Champions League places.
I did write a long e-mail about how Laudrup has seamlessly integrated 6 new players into our first team, how we're on the verge of qualifying for our first ever Wembley final, how we've replaced key players like Caulker, Allen and Sinclair (though how good Sinclair was last season is up for debate) and done it all for less than we received from Liverpool and City. Then I thought I'd just say that last season Liverpool finished 8th , a position they're just above on goal difference at the moment. Has Brendan Rodgers has really had such a dramatic effect on the team or is the benefit of having the easiest Autumn run of fixtures wearing off? Fatuous - and puzzling (we're unbeaten in 6) -comparisons to last season serve no real purpose: clubs, players and expectations change. After staying up last season, the aim this season was to consolidate ourselves as a mid-table club and possibly have a cup run.
I'd say that the only disappointment this season has been that we continue to draw too many games, leading to only taking two points from Reading and one point from Aston Villa. No disrespect to either club, but bearing in mind their form and position, these were games we should have been looking to win (though both deserved their points from us).
I don't know whether we'll stay in the top ten or whether we'll make it to Wembley but regardless of how the season goes, he's done a fantastic job so far and I doubt many of us thought it would go this well. Minty shouldn't comment on clubs he clearly knows very little about.
...Re: Minty LFC.
*"Last season Swansea finished 11th, a position they're just five points away from at the moment" - and this means what, exactly? You're comparing points after 23 games to points after 38. If you compare where we are now to where we were after 23 games last season, you'd see that Swansea are 6 points and 5 places better off. Even if we don't improve upon last season's 20 point haul from the last 15 games, we'd end up on 53 points, which looking at last season's table would place us in 8th, one point ahead of Liverpool.
* "is the benefit of having the easiest start in the Premier League now wearing off?" - Sorry, I wasn't aware that it had been agreed that Swansea had the easiest start out of all the teams (side question: is that just this season or 'all time'?). Your logic however, is b*llocks. We are 23 games into the season. Therefore all teams have played each other at least once. Any 'easiest start' arguement surely only matters after 3/4/5/6 games? Once you're halfway through the season, it's pretty much pointless. Also, your point about "wearing off" - that suggests that we are going through some sort of slump, or that other teams are catching up with us? Our last 6 results are DDWDDW, which ok, doesn't set the world a-light, but is 6 games unbeaten. Add into the fact that we've played 5 games already in January, on the back of a hectic Christmas fixture list, I don't think we can be considered to be in any sort of slump.
Overall I'm thoroughly confused as to why you included this random attack on Swansea at the end of your email. There doesn't seem much point in it, because, as I've explained above, your reasons are stupid. I can only assume that you see the praise Laudrup is getting as some sort of Rodgers-bashing? Or that you're still bitter about Laudrup turning Liverpool down many years ago?
I'll add this though. You'd be hard pressed to find a Swans fan who would criticise the job that Brendan did with us last season. He tinkered with the way we played compared to the promotion season, making us more cautious and trying to control games by preventing the opposition from having any posession. It was, at times, incredibly negative, but it got us results and it kept us in the Premier League. You'd also be hard pressed to find a Swans fan that wouldn't say we've advanced under Laudrup. We've signed players that we would never have signed under Brendan. We now have a plan B, and a plan C. We can now go to places like Stamford Bridge, soak up pressure and come away with a victory. We no longer look completely one-dimensional. We may still have a talismanic attacking midfielder (Gylfi/Michu), but we are no longer reliant on that player to do everything for us (saturday's result against Stoke being a case in point). We are capable of going a goal behind and getting back into the game (I'm not sure we *ever* did this under Rodgers). For a team with a new manager, who most pundits were tipping for relegation, with quite a few new players, to be playing well, improving upon last season and looking like we will continue to improve I think we're doing rather well thanks.
James, SCFC (seriously, Laudrup is the dog's)
Signings May Not Be The Answer For Arsenal
Sorry to add to the Gooner Gloom but for those still hanging on to the vain hope that in the next ten days Cavani or even M'Vila will be signed, I have two words for you: Andrey Arshavin. It may seem unbelievable now, but when we signed the Mercurial Russian (as the media referred to him back in January 2009) he was considered the sixth best player in the World. And he looked amazing in some matches in his first six months, including a memorable four goals at Anfield.
But that was as good as it got. Arshavin was played out of position pretty much continuously and never seemed to enjoy the same favour with Wenger as his young protégées like the perennially injured DIaby or the preternaturally disappointing Denilson. So here we are four years later with a clearly out of condition and disenchanted Arshavin rotting away on our bench.
Hence my concern that even if Arsene Wenger does suddenly awaken and realise that he has been wrong, there's no guarantee that this will be enough to turn our declining fortunes around. Even a sudden burst of understanding that this Arsenal squad is not "balanced", "mentally strong", "very good" or even overflowing with "good spirit" and needs supplementing, urgently and deeply, may not help us. Our manager no longer seems able to get the best out of any players, young or old and his persistent refusal to change his flawed system to get the best from his players, could result in more Arshavins than Fabregas's.
Carolyn, (taking John Nicolson's advice and not renewing my season ticket, thus not endorsing the club's management any more), South London Gooner
Villa For The Drop?
It has to be said we look like we'll be relegated based on this form. Threw away 2 points twice now against Swansea and West Brom either side of a shocking dive and crazy decision from the Ref in a 6 pointer against Southampton. Thankfully our next two games are not premier league matches and are to lower league opposition. We can use these as a way to get some confidence back, we've nothing of any importance to lose by going out and trying to win.
If you want to find silver linings, we were twice with three points in our hands away from home with only a matter of minutes remaining in each game. To get to those positions required something. While there's nothing players can do about a player cheating and a ref missing it. That's the blight on the game and that's why seasons are 38 games long. My biggest worry is Randy Lerner, and the fact he doesn't seem to care about the financial implications of relegation. We need a central midfielder and a defender with at least 5 years premiership experience.
The fact we may sign nobody at all this window is a huge worry. But it has me thinking, nay hoping, that Lerner is reticent to put money into a club he is depseratly trying to sell. I think his goal is to get the club back on a financial even keel after his wreckless gamble to get into the top 4. If we somehow manage to stay up, and shift the final remnant of high paid unused players the club will look much more attractive to a potential buyer.
The only way Randy can redeem himself in eyes of many fans is to sell to the right person. I hope he cares enough about us to do right by us. He clearly is soured on sports club ownership, selling the Browns and next up hopefully Villa. There is huge potential in Villa simply because of the size of Birmingham, the fact we have a stadium which can be expanded in its place. But a club needs to be expanded over a decade not in the space a rushed 3 or so years.
But in the meantime there is football matches to be won, and our latest 6 pointer at home to Newcastle at the end of the month.
In reference to Shur Alex's latest rant, I guess it's also the linesman's fault that Spurs were allowed to rattle off 23 shots to United's 6, and that 18 of these were on target to United's 4. Obviously it was also said lino's fault that De Gea decided to flap like a penguin in the last minute. In fact, it was probably the linesman's fault that it snowed yesterday, no doubt done deliberately just to spite United and SAF.
To make up for these gross injustices, I propose that United get granted an extra 5 minutes of added time whenever they are losing at home. Away teams should also have any right to a penalty revoked, and the goal line should be treated more as a 'guideline' than a definitive boundary.
*In a way this was a better performance than the away win. In the away win we looked like the smaller team performing a smash and grab raid and by desperately hoping our luck held out. If anything, here it was United doing that. We could have crumbled after conceding an early goal at home to arguably our biggest bogey team, but we rallied and went about the game in a reasonably professional manner, as the foul count (Spurs 7, United 14) and the yellow card count (Spurs 1, United 4) showed. Admittedly had we scored earlier the game could have changed markedly, with United being stung into trying to put their stamp on the game more than they did.
*Are we now beyond having Parker as a first team player? His forte is last ditch blocks/tackles or breaking up play and IMMEDIATELY LAYING THE BALL OFF. In attack he's basically a hole in the formation. In fact for all the fact that United should have had a penalty, so should we. It was soft, but I think the main reason no one cared when Kagawa wrapped both his arms round Parker's and hauled him down in the box was that he was clearly going nowhere and had no idea what he was going to do with the ball. Not even the players on our team though he was going to be able to get the ball to them.
*Mind you, it was a much more subtle foul that dear Shinji's attempt to rip Dembele's collar off him earlier and he got away with that so it's no surprise Parker got nothing. Good player Kagawa is but is he always this handsy? Do I spy a twilight of his career move to Stoke over the very distant horizon?
* He wasn't the only one, the pundits mentioned United's clever fouling. Can't remember if it was the sky team or the MotD2 team but in a week where 'cheating' has been in the media again it's worth a mention. My favourite is the claiming a throw in after hoofing it into the stands, but there are so many. I wonder if one of the mailbox contributors can make a definitive list of ways to acceptably cheat, then we can print it out and present it to Suarez with a big bow on it so he doesn't feel so alienated.
*To the person saying Bale must be annoying to his teammates - his team mates can f*ck right off. This is a man who's consistently up there at the top of the table for most chances created without registering an assist, has one of the best shots in our team and can shoot better off his weaker foot than most of our team can shoot off their stronger one. Can run with the ball under control, accelerate into spaces and force defenders to back off or foul him. Yes he doesn't seem as effective as when he's playing on the wing, because on the wing one on one he can put 10 or 15 great crosses in a game. He can put them in on the run or he can make half a yard of space and whip the ball round his marker into the keeper's corridor of uncertainty in a way similar to the talent that made Beckham so special. That's why despite the fact that we convert so few of these chances relatively speaking the opposition still double up on him at the least and change their entire game plan to contain him at the most. So yes, in the games he comes into the middle a lot he can seem less effective, but maybe that's because these are the games where the opponent has put more effort into containing him than most.
*In Dembele and Vertonghen we have two of the classiest most composed players in the league. Just writing that reminds me of the Belgian Question - why are they so awesome? We should try and steal Benteke from Villa since it's unlikely Chelsea would allow us to have Lukaku. Also, maybe Modric can be lured back with the carrot of a centre midfield berth alongside Dembele and Sandro (please go let him be as good when he comes back). What a midfield that would be.
Indie, North London
Just a few lines on young Mario, as the rumours of him going to AC Milan gather pace. Firstly I don't think that will happen this January certainly, I'd almost be surprised if it happened at all under Mancini. For all his arsing around I've never heard a single thing to suggest Balotelli is actually unhappy at City or wants out or anything. Even when he's having a run out of the first team. Carlos Tevez might have learned a thing or two from him.
Secondly, the fee being bandied about is £24mil, which is around what we paid for him (supposedly). While a lot of people may gawk and say he isn't worth half that I say au contraire! Given that's what we paid for a promising striker (if only he could sort his head out), capable of brilliance one minute and stinking awfulness the next and what we have now is a promising striker (if only he could sort his head out), capable of brilliance one minute and stinking awfulness the next. When he arrived it was said he didn't score as many as he should given his talent. He still doesn't score as many as he should given his talent. See, the reason I think what we paid for him is a fair asking price is, well, he hasn't changed. He hasn't progressed, he hasn't regressed. He's still young enough to be promising. He's still a man-child. He's exactly the same player we bought with exactly the same capabilities and exactly the same inadequacies.
Anyway there we go. #thirdparagraph
Ant Cule (MCFC, by the way)
Very Disappointed In Stanger
No Sunderland in the winners column this week Stanger?! Very disappointed...
5 wins in the last 8 to ensure a much more healthy 9-point cushion on the drop zone, a comfortable(ish) looking fixture list until the end of March, Stevie Fletcher's 9th and 10th goals of the season, and new boy Alfred N'Diaye already looking like he could be something of a bargain at £3m.... all this and another defeat for the Mags - Things are finally looking up for the Black Cats!!
Stanger's response; 'You beat Wigan.'
What United Missed
Just in case you haven't seen it, and its worth watching the whole clip to see the view from behind the goal ... proper banana shot ...
eat my goal.
The Real Treatment
Any United fans who watched the Spurs game and then saw the first half of Real Madrid away to Valencia will not quite be feeling so confident. One team has Welbeck/Young/Valencia onthe wings, the other has Ronaldo and DiMaria playing like actual wingers. 5-0 by half time, if you were wondering. Away from home.