Sacking Stuart Pearce is all very well, but John Nicholson says a new manager won't be able to do much good if the players England's youth teams have remain the same...
A Gooner in the Mailbox seems to genuinely think that the world/fixture computer is against his team. Sigh. That, plus more cool footballers & Mike Ashley: Supervillain...
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Busting A Few Arsenal Myths
I watched MOTD on Saturday again for some reason and found myself wondering whether or not Arsenal actually won the game against Villa.
The whole team in general were pretty much slated by Hansen. Granted we weren't brilliant but bearing in mind we've just had a horrendous week with two soul-destroying results, I think a fair bit of credit has to go to coming back and winning after a potentially confidence-sapping equaliser from Villa.
Anyway, coupled with the usual weekly Arsenal-bashing from Robbie Savage, it got me thinking about how we are generally perceived in the press, compared to actual stats. Here's some interesting ones based on those perceptions:
1. Claim: "Arsenal have a shoddy defence"...Reality: Joint 2nd best defence in the league alongside Chelsea and Spurs; behind Man City
2. Claim: "Olivier Giroud is in poor form" ...Reality: 14 goals and 10 assists in all competitions
(by comparison Christian Benteke, who is roundly judged to be the next Enzo Scifo, has scored 11 this season)
3. Claim: "Arsenal are in poor form"... Reality: 4 wins and a draw from the last 5 league games; equal top of the form table with Utd
All in all, Arsenal are probably just about where they should be in the league (2 points off 3rd before the Spurs game tonight), Bayern Munich are easily better than them, Blackburn and Bradford most definitely aren't, but let's get a bit of perspective eh?
Andy Smith (Scunthorpe)
Ok, let me be the one millionth voice to hail the ingenuity behind 'thunderbastard'. Can we start a petition to get it into the english dictionary? Seriously! However, I believe the best of F365 wordplay has to be one used to describe Nasri's Euros off pitch behaviour, and the word was 'Douchebaggery'. Hahahahaha, still cracks me 8 months on.
Admiralty ( and yes its because Nasri left Arsenal) Arsenal
Pooping Swansea's Party
Hate to be the party pooper who brings out-of-date non-alcoholic lager then stands in the corner all night refusing to dance before getting too drunk on everyone else's booze and fighting the host, but the sickeningly saccharine response to Swansea's cup 'triumph' is leaving a very nasty taste in the mouth.
They beat Bradford FFS, a League Two team three divisions beneath them, a team so poor they struggled to beat Arsenal! Yet Laudrup is being hailed as the new messiah, despite the fact that he and his team did merely what was expected of them in overturning a massively inferior team. Nobody else would get such credit for such a modest achievement so why should they?
For example, Manchester United are having the best season in their sublime history, and yet they are criticised for not being a vintage United side. Liverpool's similar 5-0 destruction of Swansea was dismissed as being against a weakened team. As weakened as three divisions worse?! I doubt it.
Nick Miller gets all dewy-eyed about a success that transcends modern media's innate pessimism and negativity, whilst working for a website that thrives on it. The hypocrisy is offensive in the extreme on its own, but what's more galling is Nick ignoring the fact that not only is the media Sith-like in its adherence to the strict 'all good or all bad, nothing in-between' mantra, but they also only ever choose one cause for positive support one percent of the time, while leaving the rest of us to wallow in their unending negativity.
Why should we have to wait until our turn in the sun to feel happy, and why does Nick feel it is his and the media's duty to make us all feel sh*t to fuel sales the rest of the time?
Laudrup out! Miller out! Burn all books! Etc etc.
Morgan (Humbug) Goford
So I wake up this morning still feeling a little groggy from our whole cup run and the disappointment of yesterday's final to read the musings from Silvio Dante (you made that name up right?)
I mean where do I start honestly! If Silvio spent more time actually understanding football rather than beating off to a life size poster of Sir Alex Ferguson then maybe he would have realised that he was watching a League 2 team against a Premier League team. A team which contains players that take home more money themselves than our whole playing budget for the season! Why on earth should we feel any shame?
I can only apologise for my teams efforts against a Swansea team that were quite simply outstanding, they never gave us a sniff. Obviously Parkinson didn't get the memo that the great Silvio Dante (seriously, really?) was watching and demanded to be entertained with expansive attacking play and a few leg breaking challenges thrown into the mix! If Silvio watched more proper football he would realise that this would have meant an absolute cricket score at the final whistle. I can only apologise that our captain, Gary Jones is his name Silvio, "looked like he'd never played football before" and that at 35 years young couldn't match the intricate play of the Swansea midfield packed full of talent! I can see the mismatch in talent there and I suspect most others can but not the great Silvio Dante (I even chuckled to myself when I wrote that this time).
I am incredibly proud of what my team have achieved this year and that I know I witnessed something yesterday that I will never see in my lifetime again. Of course I wish we hadn't have been overawed by the whole occasion however we were but I will always have the memories!
Congratulations Swansea enjoy it and good luck next season in Europe
Simon (soon to be known as Eugene Escobar when the deed poll forms come through) Skelton
...I've read some cr*p by Silvio on here before when one of his conclusions had to be addressed, but I almost have a certain amount of admiration for him after nearly all of his inept, inaccurate and above all ignorant conclusions were posted this morning. If you weren't posting them for the mailbox to maul him then I question your judgement F365. If I may...
1. Ryan Giggs is like a comfy pair of socks or slippers for Man U, his performances recently have been spectacularly unspectacular, and he is not getting better, he simply is doing a job. It would be shame on F365 if this was not a point that they addressed. His overall career has been spectacular. His current form is...Ok. Good enough, which for Man U is, good enough.
2. It may not be over, but it's only because the fat lady is running late, and how does playing second knowing you have to win provide a psychological boost? Yes the maths can be fudged, Liverpool can overhaul Man U on that basis. Above all Man U need to be cautious, but this would be a Devon Loch style collapse if it happened.
3. Indeed. Score 1 point.
4. I don't even know what point 4 refers to, but given the number of games of football that have been played, ever, the answer is no, don't be stupid.
5. Wonderful stuff patronising the Bradford captain. This point really shows you up as being classless. Never played football before? How many Wembley final appearances do you have?
6. Wonderful stuff patronising the Bradford team. This point really shows you up as being even more classless. There for the day out? See the crux of the next point.
7. Your failure to understand why it would be great for Bradford to win is an endemic flaw for some fans of Top 4 clubs which results in the creation of ABU's and the like. Yes it's great for Swansea, but the reason it's great for Swansea is that opportunities to win a trophy these days are so few and far between ANYONE outside the three teams you mention would find it great, and for any team outside the top flight to win is, by definition, great for football in general. I would be fearful for what you would do if given charge of a club like, let's say your club, Man U...
8. ...Ah, you'd have bought Beckham back, played him from the start with Giggs, behind Charlton I suspect.
9. ...But probably would have sold Keane. Yes, that one game he was pants wasn't he? Shame he never played more for Man U.
10. As for point 10, it's a nice gesture, but nice gestures don't win you games. The only error here was Laudrup not designating the penalty taker before-hand, had he done so this would probably have never even occurred. For me this was just a show of petulance by Dyer, which was quickly forgotten by the Swansea players as far as I can see.
So, in retrospect the only salient point you have made is 'let's hope the guy who fell down a hole gets better'. That is something I can get behind because there are holes everywhere. Hail to you Silvio, hail to the patron saint of men (and women) who fall down holes.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
What Is Real Football?
Just a musing regarding a notion I have begun to notice increasingly, though I'm sure it's been prevalent for a number of years. I saw a bus in Richmond upon Thames this weekend adorned with advertising for Brentford FC. Richmond, is a part of a number of small towns in south-west London that is close to an absolute plethora of clubs; most notably Chelsea, Fulham and QPR, but also boasts easy access to Arsenal, Spurs and even West Ham amongst other clubs. Even closer are Brentford and AFC Wimbledon.
This easy access to so many top clubs obviously makes it difficult for the Bees to attract people to their matches, so I understand they will employ any merciless tactic available to them. The slogan in big bold letters read 'Real Excitement, Real Fans, REAL FOOTBALL'. This was really interesting to me, as having been to Griffin Park to watch the Bees numerous times over the years, including this season which has arguably been their most successful in recent history thus far, I have yet to report back even once having seen 'real football'. When I think of 'real football', I think of the Brazil of the 70's, the Arsenal of the early 00's and the current Barcelona outfit; sides with attacking flair and the ability to rip their opposition to pieces with fast paced football and wit.
I do not think of Brentford's centre mid (Dave Smith or other generic burly English bloke) rolling it to the LB/RB, who subsequently hits the channel for a bigger and burlier centre forward to hold the ball up. Honestly, I enjoy spending the day with my pals but watching this repetitive and lacklustre football doesn't thrill me, nor does the atmosphere (which, contrary to what a Football League fan would insist, simply doesn't exist). Brentford fans claim to be 'by far the greatest team' and 'the Barcelona of the lower leagues'. I have my doubts.
I have often heard people telling someone they are a Bristol Rovers (etc) fan, only to be congratulated with 'oh you're a real football fan', or 'yeah that's a proper football club'. This weekend I heard people saying they hoped Bradford would beat Swansea because it would be nice to see 'a real team win it for once'. Swansea annihilated the Bantams with their excellent flowing football, but there was no suggestion this was a 'real' performance.
Can somebody please explain why so many view the second-rate styles of the lower league teams is believed to be more genuine than the excellent football of the Premier League sides? It seems like an old fella in the Barnsley Working Mens with coal all o'er his face club spluttered it in between mouthfuls of a John Smiths and it seems to have stuck.
Scott (enjoyed writing a REAL mail for once), London
Fulham v Stoke
Thoughts on Fulham vs Stoke. It was billed as an unsexy fixture between mid-table clubs, relegated to last on MOTD and probably cursed by every fan tuning in on Sky...but there were a few things to take away from the game.
1. Fulham played well and completely dominated the first half and most of the second. Some better quality finishing and a lesser quality goal keeper and it was probably goodnight by halftime. Begovic is very,very good.
2. It's been said before many time, but Stoke are quite simply horrible to watch, easily the worst performance I have seen by the visiting team, several players looked short of premier league standard. They barely could string 2 passes together. Of their outfield players only Shotton and Shawcross looked half decent. Walters literally offers nothing and can't even slot the pens away anymore.
3. Pulis's style and attitude seems to filter down through the team. They should have been down to 9 men after Nzonzi's hilarious freak out and Huth's thug hit on Senderos. I honestly don't know how Stoke fans watch this stuff every week.
4. The Reither/Dejagah partnership down the right side was a joy to watch. Because we don't get much attention, most people may be surprised at how good Reither is at right back. Fulham player of the year so far for me and probably the only Fulham player who could make a case to be the best in their position this season in the league. Never has a bad game, defends brilliantly and puts in top notch crosses.
5. The berb's finish was sublime, although I would like to not keep relying on him to do something amazing every week.
6. Karagounnis - what a legend. Shame he didn't come to the club 5 years ago.
7. Pretty sparse support in the away end, can't blame them I guess, London is a long trip to see that kind of performance.
8. Fulham needed that win - pretty safe now, be good to see us push on bit for the rest of the season.
The Peng, FFC, SW6
In Swansea's Defence
Sagar Deo's email this morning has managed to wind me up a little (only a little mind, am still buzzing!) in saying that Swansea are in need of improvement across the back four.
We have had one of the tightest defences in the league this season, the most notable exception being the Liverpool game last weekend where we put our reserve centre and right backs out. Before that game we had a better defensive record than Man U.
Chico Flores and Ashley Williams have been phenomenal, as has Rangel who was recently tipped as the best right back in the world by Fabio Capello.
I suppose Ben Davies is the de facto weakest link (not that he hasn't also been very good) but baring in mind he'd never played a professional game before the start of this season he should be a contender for young player of the year. Neil Taylor'll be fit again soon too.
If we are to move forward again next season, we need a little more strength in depth and a proper striker. That's assuming we can keep hold of our current first team when the big clubs come knocking on our door in the summer.
A few thoughts on the weekend's delights:
-How silly did David Moyes look pulling his hand back and refusing to shake the ref's hand, on top of standing in the middle of the pitch like an angry child waving his arms around whilst his players were shaking the officials' hands around him? I look forward to the next time someone like Wenger (who seems to have a habit of it nowadays) refuses to shake his hand and he throws a paddy about it. Also, how can he expect his players to show any restraint to refs when he acts in this deranged fashion?
-For all those Stoke-apologists out there, do you need any more proof that they genuinely are one of the nastiest, violent teams in the league, and that with so many incidents it must be (to paraphrase Danny Murphy) be to a large degree upon instruction from the manager?
-So Tony Pulis saw neither of his players assaults on Fulham players. Even if this is the case, it would be great if the interviewers had shown them to him during the interview. If not, then why don't the journos ask him his views now he has had the chance?
-The chase between Ivanovic and Kolo Toure to get to the ball yesterday (the Ramires chance) was hilarious - like two middle-aged blokes wearing kit a few sizes too small, and where one of them suddenly realises he doesn't really like tackling.
-Did anyone else notice the Newcastle defender (Debuchy) feigning a head injury in his area, face down on the turf and not moving, only to jump to his feet 5 seconds later when he realised play was continuing (just before Ramirez hit the bar). For all the moaning about players diving, this was a clear example of trying to cheat to stop an attack in a dangerous position, which is surely just as bad?
-Rafael - is there a player more capable of shifting so quickly from pub player to top class from game-to-game. Even United fans must like the fact that whenever they proclaim he is the best right-back ever, he pulls a Southampton or Madrid (first half) out of the bag.
-Pat Nevin is a great pundit and should be on TV (not just Channel 5) a lot more, but his attempt to suggest that Ba shifted his foot out to hit Hart was bizarre. Having said that, making Shearer raise his game (which to be fair he did with some of his analysis and his comments on the Berba strike amongst others) is a massive achievement