It's easy to mock Arsenal for being happy with fourth, but Nick Miller says the enormous changes coming up at the top mean there is a genuine reason to celebrate...
He is one of a number of solid shouts for players that look old before their time. We also have the final words on lovely D-Beck and a rejection of end of season playoffs...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh Rafa. If I had £1 for each time I'm going to read the word 'rant' over the next 24hrs...
Dave (wouldn't actually be *that* rich, I'd have a bloody good weekend though) LFC
Was It Really A Rant?
I've just listened to Rafa's 'rant' on the Beeb website, and after only reading headlines here, there and everywhere, am I alone in thinking he was talking sense? I know this may go against the tide a little, and i'm a big fan of Rafa bashing, but what he was saying was the fans need to get behind the team. I'm pretty sure that's standard protocol for a team considered to be underachieving, Wenger spouts that stuff all the time!
Mark (it was much more fun when he was at LFC) Macc
Good On Rafa
My estimation of ol' Rafa has gone up significantly since last night. Finally, a manager with the stones to say what he really thinks rather than dancing around the issue. Sure, it'll upset people but so what? No one really likes him, he knows he's out at the end of the season. I'd rather see managers being honest than sit there and try to make all and sundry love them with weak platitudes. I'm not saying I agree with him 100%, but at least he put his side across and maybe now Chelsea fans know they only have another 11 games to endure they can grudgingly put the A4 away.
Still think he's a sh*t manager though, but you can't have it all.
What Are Chelsea Fans Supposed To Do?
Let me firstly state I am a Chelsea fan and I can't stand Benitez. But having said I can't disagree with anything he did last night. Like anyone should who is constantly attacked, he has simply stood up for himself. There were callers on the radio last night saying he did nothing to ingratiate himself with the fans on his arrival to try to make up for the past but the simple fact is those people booing him don't care what he did or said, they wanted him out regardless (and so did I).
Benitez was yet another wrong choice for Chelsea but not because of issues from his Liverpool days, simply because he isn't very good. He slotted into a wonderful system at Valencia, finished once in - an ultimately distant - 2nd place in the Premiership and fluked a Champions League (a Gerrard wonder strike away from going out at the group stage and then a 2nd half in Istanbul he could replay a hundred times and not win). He is mediocre at best and incredibly hard to like. Liverpool fans revere him but they went backwards under him even with the Americans added to the mix. Benitez said results were the important thing and they have not been good enough, Chelsea are dire right now.
Where I do agree with him however is that the booing at Chelsea matches has affected the team badly, their home form is pitiful. I was at the Man City game and have never heard anything like it in 30 odd years of going to football matches. He is also clearly patently aware he isn't going to get the job full time so why not call out the Chelsea hierarchy on their mistakes also? He has been left entirely isolated.
I will not be sorry to see him go but what Chelsea fans are not realising is that their ire and venting is so extreme because there is nowhere else to channel it. 10 years under Roman have seen 3 league titles, a Champions League and most importantly the saving of the club from going under. How on earth do they complain about the current catastrophic management? What happens if Roman walks away? Best keep quiet and boo someone else then. Benitez didn't fire RDM or Ancelotti or Mourinho or anyone else for that matter.
Suck It Up
I'm writing this at 2am in the morning because I'm anticipating some backlash to Rafa's new rant in the mailbox. I want to stick up for him because I'm a LFC fan who is afraid my club won't get to the level he took us to in the near and even quite distant future. I appreciate what he did.
I think Rafa had every right to vent his frustration at these so called fans. The important thing to note is that he did it after a match they actually won so it wasn't meant as an excuse. He is spot on in points he made. If the negativity affects players and the club finish 5th, then he will be gone with a handsome sum and the same fans will have to watch their team next season in the Europa league. The season is 3 months from being done. Sit tight, support your team and the man you hate so much because of a few throw away comments will be gone. This guy could still win you 2 cups and keep you in the top 4 for christ sake.
He also mentioned about new talent coming into the team and again he is spot on. Are Chelsea fans forgetting that Oscar, Hazard and Azpilicueta are new to the league and although they have adjusted quite well, at least another season is needed for them to fully settle and knuckle down? Not to mention Moses who started to look really good had to go and win the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria. The team is in transition as he states. These same players got knocked out of the CL under Dimatteo.
I'm not saying Rafa is perfect. He got on my nerves sometimes while managing LFC too. But this vitriol from fans is over the top. If he didn't really care, do you think he would bother ranting like this? Remember who his last one was against? Chelsea fans wonder why others hate them so much. This is one of the main reasons. Get over yourselves! I swear I don't remember Villa fans acting this classless when Mcleish was hired. They hated the appointment but supported the team the best they could because that is what should come first. Maybe Chelsea fans could learn from this. I doubt it though.
Chelsea Are Nobody's Second Team
Thank god for Rafa Benitez. With his rant last night I don't think he was just speaking for himself, but perhaps the whole of football, all non-Chelsea fans out there who just think the club is a joke.
Yes they've been successful, yes they have an almost endless budget, and yes they have so much potential with the players they have and can get, but the club and certain employees of the club make it impossible for any non-Chelsea fans to like or respect them. I'd wager that Chelsea are nobody's second team.
So Benitez is off which now allows us to play the fun game of "guess who will be the next Chelsea manager", a game that is played so frequently I think I'd get severe withdrawal symptoms if I couldn't play it as often as I do. Hmm, a few candidates out there (maybe Klopp at Dortmund being the front-runner) but as always who in their right minds would want to go to Chelsea knowing you're always one dodgy result away from the sack.
Many of us will probably fondly remember this quote from a certain manager, one that no doubt gave us all a fir of giggles:
"I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter Milan or Real Madrid. It wouldn't be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time."
Forget Inter or Real for now, but what about Sam Allardyce at the Bridge.
Kelvin (Yeh by suggesting Allardyce I am taking the p*ss, but that is what Chelsea do time and time again)
Arsenal Fan Who'd Take Nasri Back
Although I believe Nasri and Arsenal's relationship is truly damaged beyond repair, I'm probably one of the few Gooners who'd want him back if Mancini wants to sell.
Arsenal fans can't forget the form he was in for his last 12-18 months at the club, and although he's been hot-and-cold at Manchester, in terms of ability I'd still definitely want him ahead of Gervinho, Chamakh, Bendtner, Ramsey, and the still-raw Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He'd definitely add to the squad depth, and his talent and versatility of playing in central midfield and on the wings would greatly assist Cazorla, whilst hopefully stopping Ramsey and Gervinho from playing much more than they deserve to.
The only problem is he's up there with Captain Judas van Persie and Tottenham's no. 10 as our most hated players in the league.
Andrew M, AFC (oh well, I can dream), Australia.
Long time reader first time mailing
I'm so star struck right now that I didn't know what to do but tell you about it.
I came home today and everything was normal finished work and was relaxing doing an essay. I was with my mum at the time and she started telling me about how she used to be really good friends with a bloke called Antonio Cannavaro in the 80's and that he was trying to get in touch with her through Skype.
Anyway they started chatting and it turns out that his nephew is Fabio Cannavaro, the legendary Italy captain. On hearing this I was obviously amazed - this was the man that defines football for me and has been my favourite footballer ever since he lifted the world cup in 2006. They carried on chatting and it turns out that Fabio was around at the time, his uncle got him to go on Skype, my mum called me into the room and I saw him and didn't know what to do. She turned the camera on me and I froze, all I could do was give him a thumbs up. That's it - a thumbs up. I'm so star struck and amazed I don't even care.
I know this has nothing to do with anything but i had to tell someone, so that's it I'm now going to have sweet dreams about the man for the rest of my life.
(Villa fan, 18)
More Football Music
How has Oliver Dziggle missed New Order's World in Motion off his list?! Liquidator by Harry J Allstars which is played at Chelsea and Wolves before games is a personal favourite. For the sake of your passengers sanity leave Who Let The Dogs Out out!!
Kaspar (always thinks of good things to put in the brackets when not sending an email) - London
...I have a few songs Oliver Dziggel could perhaps include:
Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve (although it normally means ITV punditry is on the way - not good)
Samba de Janeiro - Bellini (always played when Norwich score)
Beautiful Day - U2 (the old ITV song when they did the highlights)
The Time Is Now - Moloko (the old Sky football song)
Que Sera, Sera
The Champions League Theme
Hey Baby, (ooh ahh) - DJ Otzi
We Are The Champions - Queen
And if you're willing to clutch at a few straws:
Club Foot - Kasabian (always reminds me of Pro Evo 6)
Don't Speak - Eagles of Death Metal (from the Nike advert a few years back from the guys point of view, helps if you've seen it though..)
...You missed off a key track - that Fantasy Football League called 'the most versatile song in the history of football chants' - Go West, by the Village People (and then by Pet Shop Boys).
And Hey Jude, my all time fave footy chant - so simple, and so effective. 'Na, na na na-na na-naaaaaa, na-na na-naaaaaaaaaaa F**k Off...'
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
...In response to Oliver Dziggel's request for football songs played before matches etc.
At Wednesday games the formula followed for yonks includes:
Simple Minds - Waterfront (no real idea why, probably something to do with the River Sheaf running past the ground) Right Here, Right Now - Fatboy Slim Hi Ho Silver Lining - Jeff Beck (Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday in this case obviously, but also relevant for Wolves amongst others)
However the biscuit was taken for many years by the excruciating use of the hugely inaccurate Simply the Best by Tina Turner. Presumably this was prevented by a "cease and desist" order of some kind for a clear and flagrant breach of the Trade Descriptions Act!
John (Would love to see Wednesday come out to Metallica's Orion, grandiose, full of highs and lows and passed their best more than 20 years ago) SWFC, York
...In response to Oliver Dziggel, Geneva, Switzerland's request for football songs. How could he forget Murder on Zidane's Floor by Sophie Ellis Bexter?
Brian (I hate myself for this e-mail) Ireland
Jonesey Writes In
Ah, Christo du Plessis (27/2 pm), just how wrong can one person be?
Firstly, if you check the spelling of my sign-off name in the Mailbox a bit more carefully, I spell it 'JONESEY' and I always have. The other person, and I do assure you it is another person who seems to have fired you up so much, spells his or hers 'JONESY' i.e. with no 2nd 'E'.
Secondly, I have no interest in cricket whatsoever. None at all! I can't remember the last time I even watched a game at any level and certainly have never, ever written about it to any site or newspaper.
Can I suggest you Google some of my earlier mails to F365 and see if you can spot any resemblance at all between my own F365 mails and this Jonesy cricketing imposter? I feel absolutely confident you will agree, even if you won't accept my personal assurance, that there will be no similarities at all in our writings and that we are not the same person. From your description of this other clown, we couldn't possibly be. But surely you must have realised that, even in Melbourne, Jones is a very common surname. And that alone should have given you pause before delivering such a spray, don't you think?
Anyway, no apology is needed, especially as you generously called me 'level-headed' in a recent Mailbox.
Jonesey, Melbourne (Being spotted on a tropical island, with the hot girls and the Martinis and the rest sounds pretty good to me)