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 say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Ref Joe (We'd take Jonny Evans, though), FFC - '12 points behind your main (and skint) rivals', Man Utd have spent £67.3m on players this season.
Wish I was that skint.
Joff, Barton Gooner
This Is RvP's Trophy, Not United's
Today, Vincent Kompany described United's acquisition of RvP in the summer as 'hitting the jackpot' and the truth is that he's right. Sralex took a calculated gamble, bought the ticket and lucked out. I was one of the many, many neutral fans who felt that pang of sadness (and dread) when Arsenal's self-confessed 'number one fan' jumped ship for the chance to win silverware (30 pieces perhaps?) before he went old and grey (well, greyer). Even then, I think most of us knew that van Persie, if he could stay fit, would be a huge difference in the title battle. And guess what ... he has proved to be exactly that ...
On January 9th, United, without van Persie's goal tally, would have been out of the FA Cup and sitting 4th on 38 points. Now, a month later, without van Persie's contribution they would have 46 points. A far cry from the 65 they sit on currently, which has seen them undoubtedly wrap up the Premier League title in February.
Be under no illusion United fans. This isn't your team's trophy. This is Robin van Persie's trophy and you should kiss his arse for sharing it with you.
Its in times like these with the title race looking already over in February, that I stick my head out the ground and raise the suggestion that the Premier League trophy should be decided with the guaranteed drama and excitement of the Play-offs!
Other sports have adopted this way of decided the champions and it has had nothing but success. Super League springs to mind and not many fans complain that even though a team that finished 5th have took home the trophy. They beat the teams at the top when it mattered and deserve to call themselves champions.
People who dont like it say it doesn't represent who are the best team during the season or that what if a referee makes a mistake in the final. Well this can be said as regards to the Champions League or even the FA Cup. Who is to say that Chelsea weren't the best team in Europe last season? They beat Barcelona over two legs and beat Bayern in there own ground. They deserved it more than anyone. Just because Barca hammered a few also rans of Europe doesn't mean can call themselves the best team in Europe. They lost. Chelsea won.
On the referee making a mistake. Well how many times has a refereeing decision decided or 'robbed' a team from winning a Champions League final? Name them in the competitions long history. The only decision or 'mistake' in a major cup final is the 1966 world cup final with that Russian linesman. But does anyone say England didn't deserve to win or be named the best team in the world?
Turning the end of a league season into basically a cup like knock-out is not a bad idea. In fact, it makes into a true sporting contest. Football is in the minority of deciding a champion by being consistent over a period of time rather than beating the opposition on the day.
Nobody cares when a boxer wins 40 fights in a row but then loses his World Title fight. Nobody cares when a team win most of their games to get to the Superbowl but then lose. Nobody cares when a team finish 6th in the Championship but get to the Premier League by winning at Wembley, they won they deserve it.
Nobody should care that if this season went to the play-offs and Man Utd lost in the final. Sport is all about knock out on the day. Not who is the most consistent. It's boring. It always has been. Plus not always the best team has won the league. Were Liverpool not the best team in 2009 when the beat Man Utd 4-1 at Old Trafford? Lets say Man City didnt score in the last second, were they not the best team even though they won 6-1 at Old Trafford?
If Man Utd really are the best team and call themselves Champions of this country then prove it on the day in the play-off. When it matters.
Its always sad when the relegation battle becomes more interesting then the league title. Its ridiculous in fact. The last word of a season should always go to eventual winners, not who survives.
When Glory-Hunting Becomes Appealling
I read today's article on Glory Hunting with some interest, as similar thoughts have been going around my head for a while now.
I have been a Coventry City fan since 1998, and in that vast amount of time I have experienced no significant glory or success, unless you count beating Man United at Old Trafford in 2007 or winning the last ever game at our old stadium 5-2.
Frankly, the idea of 'glory-hunting' is becoming more and more appealing. In these 15 years, Coventry City simply haven't given me anywhere near a satisfying amount of return to the massive amount of time and expenditure I've put into them, and considering that this is meant to be something I do for fun, it's hard to understand why I'm bound by some ridiculous notion of 'loyalty'. If Coventry City were a restaurant, a car, a holiday destination or even an employee, I would have been shot of them a long time ago and would have taken my money to a more competent provider. Why, exactly, should a football club be any different?
Adrian (but then again, where ARE the glory clubs in the West Midlands??)
What Is A Glory Hunter?
In response to Johnny's article about glory hunters, I feel as though he's made no distinction between those who start supporting a club when it becomes successful, and those who change club loyalties as frequently as the English weather.
When I grew up in Singapore in the mid/late 90's, before the heady days of mobile phones and widespread internet access, the only way to know anything about European football was through selected matches that were broadcast live on the telly. Most of the matches that the broadcasters chose to screen usually involved the recognised 'big teams': Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Real Madrid, Barcelona. We didn't have a local league to support then (it's dreadful anyway) so many of us young lads transferred our allegiances to one of these 'big clubs'. Of course, we started supporting them for their success - I only started properly following club football in 1999, so it's no surprise I ended up supporting Man United.
But we, too, despised 'glory-hunters', especially those who transferred their allegiances from United/Liverpool/Arsenal to Chelsea only after the Roman era. They weren't the same as us. I could never imagine supporting, say, L*serpool even if they won back-to-back trebles (haha). I may not be a 'pure' United fan born and bred in the Stretford End, but I don't think that makes me a glory hunter either.
That said, my hats off to my Singaporean friends who have stuck by Ipswich, Wolves and Newcastle through thick and thin over the years. You even go so far as to stick by your team while playing Fifa and savouring the sweet taste of triumph over Barcelona that we fans of the popular clubs will never fully appreciate. You tear up the stereotype of the flag-waving, merchandise-mad Asian football fan and you have my utmost, deserved respect.
...I'm Irish. When I was 6 or so, my older brother supported United because a slightly older friend did, while my best friend supported Liverpool because his Dad did. I knew very little about football. As in, rules were being learned and referees were only beginning to be determined as w*nkers. So I really only had a choice of 2 to make. I went with Liverpool (After a very breif fling with Utd, quickly regretted), in 1990 or '91. Oh well!
We honestly didn't know any better. There might have been one fan of Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal or Villa (McGrath was there and Townsend) based on Irish players, but given our lack of BBC, we only got occasional updates on the mythical English leagues. So we went with what we knew.
It IS glory supporting, no doubt. Absolutely. But it's naive glory supporting. I've never changed since. I see myself as a real Liverpool supporter. I know that actual Liverpudlians will think that's ridiculous, but all I can do is shrug and point out that changing from them would be worse. I assume the same as the multitude of letterbox writers from Chennai, Mumbai, Thailand, South Africa, New York. They went with what they knew. Now they're as stuck as any fan, because changing your team is wrong.
Of course, that discounts the modern upswing in Chelsea and Man City fans who are already, in body at least, fully adult. I suppose there are always some who'll jump bandwagon so quickly the piano falls off.
Páraic (London Irish)
...Dear John Nic,
I love your articles and style of drawing everything back to your passion (music). But then this week you seem to have lost all semblance of football/musical comparison - ironically it occurred in the week that the link was most obvious. You asked about plastic fans. Here's my musical analogy.
I love Terrorvision. Have done since their early albums. I loved their songs. I love their sleeve artwork (showing my age I know). What I didn't love is what happened when they had their 15 minutes. It was the late 90's and a song called Tequila was released. Everyone in my town starting listening to their album, but a strange thing happened. The moment they became a commercial success I stopped liking them. I sang along like a moron with my can of Two Dogs in hand with everyone else. Somewhere inside, something died. My musical naivety washed away in a moment.
Same happened to me when Madonna ruined my favourite song of all time, American Pie, Alexandra Burke and Hallelujah (and yes I know that Jeff Beck was only covering it in the first place) and it was the same sinking feeling I got on seeing the cast at the end of Something About Mary singing Build Me Up Buttercup. No longer was it "my thing". When we were younger social media was writing graffiti on the swings in the playground. Trends spread from the cool kids down by actual talking. Albums would be lent/taped and there was a certain kudos from being the only person that knew about a band. There was something cool about not liking the same thing as everyone else.
In Uni I had a friend who stopped liking Arcade Fire because another of my friends with shocking musical taste started listening to them. We would joke that he wouldn't like any band simply because it was popular, that he went through his most played list on itunes and deleted the 25 most played, as they were too popular just because he listened to them. He believed his musical taste was superior. It became known as "Music Fascism" in our house. You can only like things that are cool, and if other people like it then the appeal is gone.
That's you JN with football - and there's nothing wrong with that.
Pop music is just that - popular music. The clue's in the name. It may be crap, but the populous - on the whole - like it. People with taste will see it for what it truly is - vacuous tripe. But there are enough people out there who like it. Enough to make it No. 1. You may deride fans of other clubs that support popular teams as your support is 'better' in whatever way you want to quantify it. But that's because you're a hardcore fan, who appreciates 22 men hoofing a ball up and down a pitch as you are lashed by snow and hail. They are not. You are a "Football Fascist".
They dip into football for maybe an hour a week to watch highlights or the odd game. They don't really care - for them it is entertainment. So when they do watch, they want to see the best. That inevitably means watching one of the big clubs on TV. Eventually they have a vested interest and support them. In the same way that you wouldn't call someone that liked One Direction as musical fan, a plastic fan is also not a football fan.
Feel free to edit this letter if you need to. My emails tend to go on - hence why this is my 20th (ish) since 2007 and the last one that got published was me celebrating Andre Shevchenko signing for Chelsea. Surely no one can out do that? One out of 20 hit rate.
On that Friday you published all you received. I also sent in a note - it must have been so bad that you didn't even count it as being an email. Beat that!
Brad, THFC, USA, asked two questions which have slightly different answers in the Mailbox this morning. Question A: who is the most valuable player in the Premier League and Question B: can anybody else see a PL player going for a higher transfer fee than Gareth Bale right now?
Before answering these two, let's look at just two key stats (courtesy of BBC Sports). The leading goal scorer in the PL is the treacherous Dutchman (RVP) with 19 goals. Bale is in fifth place with 13. When it comes to assists Gerrard, Podolski and Mata top the table with 9 each and while Bale appears to have only one Premier League assist to his name.
Now I know that statistics don't tell the full story (our own newly beloved Theo Walcott has 11 goals and 8 assists, for example) but they don't lie either. Bale is certainly the most important player in the Spurs team by a country mile and is the lucky current holder of the UK's media's "Most Hyped Player" title. But is he really more valuable than RVP (Brad's question A)? Is he more valuable than the man who has powered Man Utd to that 12 points gap at top of the table?
As for Brad's Question B, all things being equal at the end of season I am sure Noddy's chum may well attract the highest transfer fee in the PL (particularly of those players available for sale). I am sure that at least one of Man Utd, Man City, Real Madrid or even Chelsea, will put in a very healthy bid to test Mr Levy's resolve. But imagine that Roberto Mancini has a straight choice in the summer (assuming he is still at City, of course) to spend £50M on either RVP or Bale....which do you think he would buy? Which player would he consider more likely to deliver the goals that win titles? Carolyn, (if this weather continues I may buy a husky) South London Gooner
Stick Rooney On Ronaldo
Everyone assumes that Rafael will have to be supported to do a job on Ronaldo...I cant see Ronaldo staying anywhere near him. His goals at the weekend came from the right side.
Stick Rooney on him. He has the work ethic of a plough horse & the skill to upstage Ronaldo.
Liam (hoping for the treble)
Why No Silly Billy Philly?
Regarding your World Cup ladder feature. I was pleased to see the continuing comedy inclusion of Phil Neville at number 50.
But yesterday watching him, I did think "why hasn't this guy been at major tournaments more over the last 10 years?" He last went to a major tournament in 2004. In tournament football, jack of all trades footballers are always taken. He could play right back, left back and holding midfield. He would also have offered the necessary experience, and leadership that would be a benefit to have around, even if he wasn't playing. He should never have been a joke, he played 40 - 50 games per season every season for Manchester United the completely dominant force in the country at the time, and since has been the captain of Everton, he's been playing at the top of the domestic game for 18 years.
I think now really is too late, and his place at number 50 is purely a joke. But up until now it really shouldn't have been.
DF (Weird to hear Gary calling him 'Phil Neville' in commentary as if he had only just heard of him - and not little billy Philly) AFC
Shades Of '96?
Looking at the way this season is panning out i'm reminded of United in 1995/96. Just like this season it started with a defeat (Hansen's comment of winning nothing with kids) but the team kept plugging away. You also had new champions who not only wilted under the pressure of trying to retain the title (something only United and Jose's version of Chelsea have managed since the start of the Premiership) and finished 7th, they also had a disaster of a Champions League campaign which was the worst til this season for any English club.
The major factor both back in '96 and now is the hunger instilled in the team by Sir Alex, something you cannot say has been shown by Mancini or the City players. Add to that you have the fact that United have not won the FA Cup for nearly a decade while players like Ferdinand and Rooney have never lifted that trophy. That is a major incentive to them and a good set of draws could see them try to emulate that double winning side led by King Eric.
This current side has a large amount of detractors but people want to gloss over the fact that the team last season that some sneer at as the "worst United side in decades" only failed to win the title on the last day with virtually the last kick of the game from the most expensive squad ever assembled in the history of British football. People will try to say that its just down to Van Persie but even he hasn't won us every game.We have still had more key players missing this season than City, but we have had more of a dogged determination than them, even with defensive frailties. Am l over confident? Not after last season but at the moment i'm happy with the way things are going and can only hope they continue. Roll on Wednesday and Madrid, it's gonna be a nutty one!!!!!
Israel (How many column inches would they have written if De Gea had made Hart's mistake?) MUFC since 1977
Not Happy With Stanger
A few months ago, I made a mental note to remember this piece of incredible ignorance toward Ryan Giggs by Matt Stanger......
If you can't be bothered scrolling through that article, United are rightly in the 'Losers' section after being out played by and being beaten by Norwich. The piece on United starts with Matt Stanger stating "that should be the last time Ryan Giggs starts a Premier League game for United." Just wondering if Mr Stanger still believes this after Giggs was very good against Everton (6th in the League) yesterday, was outstanding and Man of The Match against Fulham and West Ham (I know they were FA Cup games, but they were against Premier League opposition. He also gave the pass of the season to Van Persie at Upton Park in this competition too!) and also having very good performances over the Christmas period against Newcastle and Wigan.
Just because Giggs is 39, the likes of Matt Stanger can't seem to accept he is still a football player who goes through periods of good form and bad form. Through his periods of bad form, it is ignorant and lazy journalism that belongs to be mocked in Mediawatch to boldly state he is "past it."
Granted, he is too old to play every game and undeniably isn't the player he used to be, but using him the way Fergie is using him (who'd have thought Fergie knows more about Giggs than Matt Stanger?!?) he still has a lot to offer United. The day he is past it, I'm sure Ryan Giggs will be the first to know this and will retire. Let's all enjoy him while he is still here!
Kev The Clarke, MUFC (nerves are building for Wednesday already!), Skem
...Dear God (no, I'm not addressing you hacks as deities), you're supposed to be a voice of reason and impartiality in the internet age of over-reaction and hyperbole. Instead you're just fuelling the problem by being as knee-jerky as the herd.
Comments like 'Giroud is struggling to prove he's up to the required standard' are exactly what I mean. The guy's new to the Prem, has scored 9 goals, has had a few pretty good games as a physical presence up front and it's not enough for you. 'Only 2 of his goals have directly contributed to points' is the rambling of the impossible to please, or more likely a lazy journo who can't be arsed to say something original.
"Just compare him to RVP," you're probably thinking, "That'll make good copy!" There's a reason why he offers 'nowhere near as much flexibility as RVP', because he's not as good, ALONG WITH ABOUT 95% OF ALL OTHER STRIKERS IN THE WORLD, YOU IDIOTS. Seriously, some people (including you lot) won't be happy unless a new striker scores 30 goals from 5 different parts of his body before Christmas, has the skills to embarrass Messi, is better looking than Ronaldo, single-handedly wins the Champs League while carrying a hamstring injury, solves Britan's debt problems and eradicates world hunger.
We KNOW he's not a world beater but he's doing alright, ALRIGHT?
Arsed off Gooner
In response to Jack from Manchester about strange shirt choices, a friend of mine for christmas one year back in the day received the Spurs blue and purple away kit (I think it was Pony/Holsten era) with '11 ROSENTHAL' on the back. Apparently He had asked his parents for Sheringham, but JJB sports had run out of M's as Dennis Bergkamp had signed for Arsenal and there was a surge to get his name for Arsenal christmas presents and therefore the lady running the print machine give his parents Rocket Ronnie as she had heard of him after his hat trick against southampton and assumed he was a big star.
Needless to say, my friend was a little disappointed.
What on earth is happening at Middlesbrough?
That is all...
Re:Majid, LFC (Race for fourth spot is worth watching)
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Celtic are 18 points clear in 'a major European league'. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
Ian (Ha), MUFC