The endless whataboutery over the length of suspensions, the "blasts" and the "snubs", the "-gates" and the "fury". It all starts when the fixture list is announced...
The afternoon mailbox has plenty more views on the fixture list. Plus, a sublime piece of skill from Emile Heskey, more cool 'ballers and dull football matches...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reasons To Be Cheerful
For the first time in nearly four years I feel genuinely happy with my team Liverpool. This is because if you had told me at the end of the summer transfer window that we would still be in with a shout of CL football with nine games to go (chances which I feel are better due to Arsenal and Chelsea's current plight than the math would suggest) I would have called the men in the white jackets to take you away. Two strikers, two teenagers and Downing for our wide players, no new defensive players despite needing them desperately and Joe Allen a player with one season of top-level football under his belt being tasked to help make us tick.
Our chances of European football are not my only reason for happiness though but rather our competition for a place in those coveted top four spots. My predictions for the summer are for Spurs to get weaker by losing Bale and struggle to reinforce their forward line. Chelsea to add yet more quality to their already-great squad but to botch the managerial appointment and not really progress or regress in any serious manner. Arsenal to not spend as per usual although they will be happy as they no longer have any players anyone wants to buy (bar Wilshere but he's staying put I reckon) and spin it as a successful window.
I cannot fathom Liverpool being as bad in the transfer market again as they have been the last three or four or us having a start as tough next season as we did this one. It is also highly unlikely we will ever be left so short of attacking options again which such yield more points before Christmas and give us a good chance of making CL football next season. In summary I feel we are a good two or three years ahead of schedule in erasing the damage Kenny done in his 18 months in charge. Or maybe I'm deluded.
...How quickly we do forget things.
Football truly is only about your last game, If you win you are amazing, lose and you are relagation fodder.
Before the start of the season Liverpool lost a sackful of players, changed managers from King Kenny to a young 'it was all Martinez that did it at Swansea anyway"'relatively inexperienced Rodgers and in all honestly, conversations with non-mental, quite-together 40 somethings (yes I am in my 40s) most of the Liverpool fans I spoke to would have been happy with playing quite well, giving Rodgers three years and hoping that we started to look a a little more coherent. A top-ten finish was min requirement, top six would have been a huge result.
Remember this is BEFORE we had started the season.
We knew this was a(nother) transitional season. I have to remind myself sometimes when the crazies start talking about top-four finish etc. that I would have taken top eight and was expecting top ten.
I really thought this would take a little longer to start to fall into place, I have to say that I think while I havent always agreed (which I why I am typing this and not running a football club I guess) with 'Brentan' Rodgers I cant argue with how things have gone.
We lie (equal) second in the 'most goals scored' charts
We lie second in the clean sheets table.
We have obviously conceeded a few to many when we don't keep a clean sheet though as we are only seventh (equal with widely regarded as having had an amazing season so far Spurs) in the 'goals against' table..
That's not bad in my book in the first year of an young manager who appears to be treated as something as a joke by most of the media, playing kids and old men...
Let's not forget how we felt at the start of the season. Le'ts see if our dreams of 'in three years' time we should be up for a challenge at the top four'.
Let's try and remember we aren't all crazy, bonkers mental, reactionary loons that perpetuate the myth.
Keep going Brendan, Keep going boys, let's hope we can keep Luis (you can keep ya 40mill, he's worth more to us on the pitch)
Al (trying not to be ABU or Pedantic in order to get published for a change, it's been a while...) LFC
Liverpool v Spurs Using Actual Ages
It really boils my blood when someone writes an e-mail with their main facts just being totally wrong.
Add a couple of years here, a few million there and hey presto, my stats fit my stupid opinion.
So thank you Dan James for just telling half the story and doing a little rounding-up so you can write a totally caustic bit of a twoddle.
Your point about Spurs having a younger squad is rubbish, if you take the first 11 on that day then yeah you have a point (a totally lame one), but I'm fairly sure that football's a squad game.
You can see where this is going...
Liverpool Squad - 25.1
Tottenham Squad - 27.5
Oh and do you think anyone ever is going to come out and say 'Yeah we're probably the 6th best team in the league right now'. How would you feel if your captain gave a matter-of-fact statement like that? Congrats on completing Keystage 3 History and knowing who Goebbels is though.
Matt (Stats make the world go round)
Can I be the first United fan to plead for national newspapers to stop publishing rumours that United are going to buy midfielders?
We know United won't sign them, the journalists know United won't sign them, United know they won't sign them, and the players know United won't sign them.
So please stop. It's like water torture, the perpetual rumours that we might, finally, buy a decent midfielder.
Assist Does Not Equal Goal
Michael, of Chelsea persuasion. You make a good argument for Mata's inclusion in the running for player of the season. However, the problem with your argument lies in your belief that an assist is equivalent to a goal, it's not.
Ben, Paraguay (PNE)
Players Of The Year
In light of Michael of Chelsea Persuasion on player of the year and what not. I would like to put in my two cents' worth in with a very basic list of the best and worst players of the season.
These are in my particular order. Agree to disagree.
Top Ten Players of the Year:
1. Luis Suarez - he has carried a truly one-man team.
2. Robin van Persie - his goals have secured Man U the title nine games early.
3. Gareth Bale - didn't do too much before his goal at Norwich but deserves third.
4. Michu - bargain of the season. His performance against Chelsea in the semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge won Swansea the cup.
5. Juan Mata - does anyone have a better first touch than this Spanish dwarf?
6. Marouanne Fellaini - surely his last season as an Eveton player.
7. Demba Ba - his early-season form for NUFC ensured they are not keeping QPR company.
8. Christian Benteke - If only he played for a proper team.
9. Leyton Baines - assists, free-kicks and a great defender. The best all-round defender in the EPL.
10. Rickie Lambert - officially a proven goal-scorer in the EPL.
Worst Players of the Year:
1. Torres - obviously sh*te.
2. David Silva - showed glimpses but not consistent enough.
3. Vermaelen - consistently poor.
4. Joe Hart - too many bloopers.
5. Aaron Ramsey - a Championship player at best.
6. Borini - needs to go back to serie A.
7. Adebayor - only seems to play when his future is uncertain. He played for Real once?!?!?!?!
8. Stoke City as a team - terrible, dire and utter blatant cheats.
9. Pepe Reina - a season to forget.
10. Martin Skrtl - losing your place to Jamie Carragher is tremendously embarrassing.
Five players that need to improve next season:
1. Papiss Cisse
2. Shinji Kagawa
3. Nikica Jelavic
5. Yaya Toure
This was a tough list to conjure up. And no doubt it will be criticised heavily.
Simon, CAPE TOWN SA
Wilshere Out, Rosicky In
This is rather a strange feeling I must admit, but as of late I've been pining for Tomas Rosicky to return to the Arsenal starting line-up.
Partly because Aaron Ramsey has been dreadful as of late (if I had a pound for the number of times I said "for f*#ks sake Ramsey" in the Spurs game...) and partly for the way he helped transformed both our season and his own employment prospects in the back end of last season.
Rosicky showed against Bayern when he came on that he can still take control of a game and direct play with pace and incisive passing, and he's a much better like-for-like replacement for Wilshere than Diaby or Ramsey can ever be.
Alas, Wenger does appear to have a soft/blind spot when it comes to Diaby and Ramsey so it's probably unlikely to happen.
Andy Smith (Scunthorpe)
What's With All The Ramsey Hate?
I am getting really tired of Ramsey being viewed as such a bad player. Last season he played way to much and was succeeding Cesc and he was obviously not ready for such a big role and certainly not as good as Cesc.
Then this season he is played constantly out of position out on the wing, and not doing it too bad, always works hard and never complains, then when he is played in midfield recently he's been doing well. He isn't the best played but he works hard and doesn't complain, a great squad player basically.
Besides, how on earth can you call someone one of the worst player of the season when he doesn't play his position? It's like if Cazorla was forced to play CB for the majority of the time and was put in the Worst Performers XI.
Anonymous (Just last week we had this Ramsey discussion...)
Steven Taylor: Rotter
Interesting Oliver Dziggel brings up Steven Taylor's antics. What actually made me angry about the situation is, when the ball goes in, Taylor's first reaction is to run up to the keeper and laud it over him.
I despise Taylor, he's a regular cheat, often trying to hurt people and feigning injury after and who can forget his 'hilarious' attempt at trying to get away with a handball by pretending the ball hit him in the chest?
Taylor is a horrible excuse for a professional and it annoys me that if some of the foreign players in the Premier League got up to his antics, they'd be vilified but Taylor gets away with it.
You're Allowed v Stoke
In response to Oliver Dziggel in this morning's mailbox, the rules ought to state that you are allowed to do anything you like to goalkeepers playing for a Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce side. Why? Because both those managers tend to 'put someone on the keeper' when taking corners and throw-ins, and by putting someone 'on' said keeper I of course mean obstruct them without having eyes for the ball.
To summarise: There is no such thing as cheating when playing against a Pulis or Allardyce team. Both managers are so tactically limited and cynical that they WILL have their players cheat by brazenly obstructing the opposition keeper during set plays. It is one life's certainties. So I say dive, kick, elbow, and do whatever the hell you like when playing them because by god they'll do the same to you.
Stu (Pulis's hat and tracksuit belong in a different league), Chiswick
The Life Of Brian Fitted Reading
I don't think it has really sunk in.
Sure, the team weren't doing so well and the football was pretty poor, but we knew what we were getting in for this season and surely expected something like this anyway. We'd won the Championship by defending tight, attacking on the break and spent the last three seasons wringing superb seasons out of players and rebuilding each summer. Lose Sigurðsson? Fine, work around that, make Long the centrepiece of the team. Lose Long? Fine, Roberts and Le Fondre can do a job. Sure, one or two transfers might not work but that's football. The hits far, far outnumbered the misses. So why is it not good enough now? what good is bringing in someone new with nine games? Why not be loyal to a manager who turned around a relegation fight in his first season, took us to Wembley in his second and took us up in his third? Who else even comes close to that sort of record? Even if we go down, he's perfect for a challenge in the next season.
You don't support Reading for the wins or the trophies. In my case, it's where I grew up and where I watched my first live games. And yet, it fits. We veer from shambles to success, with the highs of FA Cup quarter-finals and away wins against the best in the land set against some pretty horrific and poorly attended lows. And you appreciate both. Booing the players and managers who won the Championship last season against all the odds and against a pretty steep financial slope is just not Reading. Sacking a manager 33 days after he was manager of the month is just not Reading. It might not be a recipe for glory week in, week out, year in, year out, but there are times when you can frankly stuff that.
We're never going to compete with the oil sheiks and teams with 100 years of success behind them. Enjoy the club's second ever spell in the top flight, enjoy seeing players picked up from nowhere having their chance, enjoy the first FA Cup quarter-finals since the 1920s. Enjoy our place in the world, recognise that it takes time to build a club up (West Brom had a decade of being a yo-yo club before they stabilised) and make the most of a club that tends not to play by the same vulgar rules as everyone else.
What the baldy-headed sunshine of my life did achieve was that he was the ideal fit for the club and a sizable majority of the fans. He was never a superstar player (except in Sweden in the early 80s), he had taken a longer route to the top, via Hong Kong, Slough and scouting, he was calm and measured with a drier wit than most in football. And it suited a small club with mostly middle-class fans, with no real history of being big or well supported. Our previous successes were tidy teams that were more than the sum of their parts, that played neat, attacking football. Nothing showy, whenever players got above themselves they inevitably moved on (and often found themselves worse off: see Sidwell, Shorey, Sonko and the secret footballer). He fitted into that perfectly. He was easily my favorite Reading manager, just right for my little club.
Which Di Canio?
Today on Sky Sports News, John Solako when asked his opinions on the Reading managerial debacle said he would like to see 'A' Di Canio or 'A' Curbishley appointed.
So, the question on everyone's lips is....which member of the Di Canio or Curbishley family do you want to see appointed?
Mark (I'm hoping for Mama Di Canio) LFC
Dissing Celtic Park
I enjoyed this list, I really did, but there is one entry that really grinds my gears: Celtic Park.
'Rather bleak' is a very generous way of describing the surrounding area, it is in an absolute dive of the highest order.
Having watched my beloved Dundee United not win there since 1992 (1-0 Duncan Ferguson if you're interested) I can confirm that the atmosphere is consistently dire. They have an embarrassing 'Rent a Crowd' section in the corner called the Green Brigade who play trumpets and bang drums like a primary school music class. There's also more flammable clothing in the ground than any other stadium in the world. So if you're making a list of 'Top 10 Flammable Stadiums' then be sure to include Celtic Park with Ibrox a close second.
Yes the atmosphere was good against Barcelona, but what other Scottish club would not have a packed stadium of people ready to cream themselves if they were playing Barcelona?
The 'famous' atmosphere, just stop it, stop it now.
Craig (Shell suits are so last year) Logan
RIP San Mames
Just wanted to let Matt Stanger know I've been to San Mames once, and witnessed one of the most incredible games of football I will ever see.
When I was a kid, we had foreign students stay with us often, and one of these was a Spanish girl who was 20ish. She ended up living with us for 18 months, and became like an older sister. She went home, married, and invited us to stay with her and her husband.
In the February half-term of 2005, we visited, and Gorka - the husband - asked me and my dad if we wanted to go to watch his team Bilbao play Real Betis on Sunday night. Hell yes was my answer, and although my dad was keen, he was somewhat reluctant to pay the €55 each that our tickets would cost.
Anyway, half hour in, Joaquin was running things for Betis as Marcos Assuncao pulled strings behind him and the away side were quickly 3-0 up. Gorka was devastated, before two quick goals before half-time gave him hope. Two more strikes after the break made for an unbelievable turnaround, before Betis nicked an equaliser in the final minute.
It was the most amazing things to be a part of - completely by luck as well. It just happened to be that Bilbao were at home, that night, that week, and we went. My dad never once moaned about the cost of the tickets after that.
And I can confirm for Matt that the atmosphere isn't half as good on telly, of course. There were a group of guys behind us who just decided to get stoned when Bilbao went three down - I think they wondered what they'd been smoking when they went 4-3 up. The noise was electric though, and I will never forget it.
RIP San Mames!!
Joe, AFC, East Sussex (Proud to have been to 5/10 of the 'Top 10' stadiums - though Highbury is clearly the best!!)
Memories Of Edgeley Park
Good list from Matt Stanger listing Stadiums I've never/will never visit (bar the Camp Nou) but was glad to see honourable mention for Edgeley Park in there - the home of one of my proudest football memories.
Twas 89/90 (exact year I can't quite remember) and my primary school footy team (Ludworth) were no world-beaters but we did have a moppy-haired right-back with some skills and managed to scrap our way to the Stockport Metro Cup final. My abiding memory of the day was not the final itself - we got beat - though said moppy-haired right-back did have a stormer, but the team photo. I managed to position myself kneeling at the front, to one side, flipping an upside-down finger.
Thinking I was bloody hilarious at the time (c'mon I was 10-11) imagine how funny I found it when, a few days later there was a report in the Stockport times and the offending team photo was there, pride of place on the back inside cover together with a full match report.
Therefore, I was, forever immortalised in black and white, giving everyone who ever read the sports section a weekly free paper the finger - sort of. Halcyon days I tells ya, halcyon days.
Weeping Eyed Drew Peacock - MUFC (had my Utd allegiance not already been in place I would've chosen SCFC after this)
Relegation Battle Better Than Mid-Table Mediocrity
It's not been much fun being a Bristol City fan for much of this season. Early promise by beating Cardiff Dragons quickly turned sour as our side quickly established themselves as the worst defenders in the entire Football League, cumulating in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Leicester City (thanks to a hat-trick by former loanee Chris Wood, who of course never managed the feat with us) and the dismissal of manager Derek McInnes. His replacement was Sean O'Driscoll, a man sacked by Nottingham Forest in circumstances even more bizarre than Nigel Adkins at Southampton. His back-to-basics, organised approach has transformed the side, keeping four clean sheets in the 11 games he's been in charge of (currently three on the trot), winning five and drawing two.
Of course, City are still in the relegation zone, kept off the bottom only by Peterborough and Barnsley who have one and two games in hand respectively, but there's a growing optimism amongst fans that the side has what it takes to avoid the drop. Why would anyone other than Bristol City fans be vaguely interested in this? Because I'm strangely filled with more excitement and anticipation than I was when we were finishing mid-table.
Naturally, competing for promotion would be the biggest thrill for any Championship club - indeed, City reached the play-off final in 2008, only to be denied by a flash of brilliance by a certain Dean Windass, but since then we haven't come close. In the intervening years our season's essentially been over by March and interest diminishes, as dreams for the following season begin five months before it even begins. Last season we pulled off something of a great escape to finish fifth from bottom, with only Barnsley offering a buffer to protect us from jibes from our cross-city rivals, following Portsmouth's points deduction that saw them go down. Ensuring survival even resulted in a pitch invasion at Ashton Gate, something that hadn't occurred since the play-off semi-final win over Crystal Palace four years prior.
What I'm saying is, whilst no-one would wish for their team to be faced with a relegation battle, it gives you a reason to look forward to the next game with similar gusto to a cup final. The limit of City's ambitions would be to win promotion and maybe one day challenge for a Europa League spot, a la Stoke, which is a slightly depressing thought. Being a football fan is all about savouring moments and in years to come there'd be more people reminiscing about how the side won on the last day of the season to ensure survival, rather than a 1-1 draw with Burnley that secured 14th.
Nick Hamblin, Bristol
Chevrolet Presents Ronaldo...
With the recent talk of Chevy or Nike rescuing Ronaldo from his existential malaise in Madrid, is there a chance when he's introduced in the lineup again at Ol' Traffy we could hear "Number 7, presented by Chevrolet, because Aveo helps put an end to cold feet this winter, see your local Chevrolet retailer for details...Cristiano Ronaldo!"?
If Nike buys him for McManYoo, I'd prefer his name on the team sheet be replaced by the Nike Swoosh like when Prince replaced his name with a symbol.
Better still would be if one of these companies bought the wrong Ronaldo.
SAF: "Achh, you bought the Fat One!"
Chevy Rep: "Well, our analytical people looked at both and for a much cheaper price you get a lot more Ronaldo, so there is that..."
Ian, LFC (if they change their name to McManYoo or any derivative thereafter, I want royalties) Hartford, CT USA
It's R Pleasure
Every time I watch QPR play at home I cringe at the giant 'Come On You R's' sign. With a global audience of billions you would think that a club would check the grammar of its giant signs.
So, it is with great pleasure that when I read something by one of F365's writers I note that they always (correctly) talk about the Rs.
Nikolai (complete grammar Nazi) V