In this Mailbox it's England v Algeria in 2010 that is seen as the nadir, but there's potential for worse, surely. Plus, one man says we should praise Rooney's honesty...
The morning mailbox ponders Luis Suarez's current predicament, cool footballers, the Lion City Cup, Spurs' transfer policy, Kanu's absence and lots more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheer Up, Gooners
This will make all the Arsenal fans feel better
Buried under all the Barca v Milan inches of coverage, Emmanuel Eboue has reached quarter-finals with Galatasaray.
That is all.
Might Be A Hoax, But Worth Discussing
Having read the report this morning regarding the "Dream Football League" and the offer of £175M each for "elite cubs" to take part, I must write in to express horror at the idea for the reason that it will render football uncompetitive and will signal the end of domestic leagues. A few clubs, who are already miles ahead of most other teams in the league financially, will be given a huge wad of cash to make them even richer. Bye bye competition.
We might as well not bother turning up as there would be no chance of ever winning anything for anyone else. Actually, there isn't much hope of poor teams currently winning the leagues, but this would kill everything. Let's have a look at the current scenario with the Champions League. It already enriches the clubs who compete to the tune of £30M each, whilst Chelsea netted £46M for winning it last season. This puts Chelsea, owned by a private investor, even further ahead of the financial resources of all but 1 of the 92 football league clubs. Just think what an extra £175M would do.
Also, does anyone think this money will go back to the fans? No. It will go on player wages and agents fees for the most part. Let's say Manchester United want to buy a player and because of the £175M, he wants £200K per week standard. Let's say United agree, and he turns out to be a misfit. No other teams could afford the wages, and the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland (and everyone else) would never in a million years be able to take out-of-favour talent from the "Dream League" teams.
Who decides on which club is "elite" and which isn't? Let's take Spain as an example. Real Madrid and Barcelona are in. What about Valencia? What about Altetico Madrid? What about Athletic Bilbao? How about Deportivo who won the league about 15 years ago? £175M would wipe out their debts and they could be a big club again. Will this be extended to smaller countries? I'm sure FC Kobenhavn are huge in Denmark. Will Shakhtar be involved? If so, will Dynamo Kiev? If Dynamo Kiev are not involved, Shakhtar will be enriched by an enormous amount and guarantee a monopoly within the Ukranian League for the next 25 years. This can't be good for the game.
The alternative is that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi will turn out for £1M per week for Doha United and Al Daayen Rovers if Qatar and similar nations decide to establish and invest in their own teams in their own league. Seriously, this is what will happen as whoever pays the most will eventually corner the market. Instead of traditional European football being seen as the epicentre, it will be the likes of Russian football and Middle Eastern football which will attract the names. Why play in the Midlands (hurts as a Baggie to say that) when you can play for much more money in a lower standard of league in a hot country? We have already seen talent go to PSG and the standard of league to so low compared to England and Spain. I saw "highlights" of some of the lower end of Ligue 1 and they can't even control a ball. Real park stuff. Yet Ibrahimovich, Tiago Silva, Pastore, Beckham, Lucas Moura and Lavezzi have all chosen to turn out for them, despite the absence of competition. If PSG are the only French team to compete in this "Dream League", then the extra £175M will render no point in anyone else turning up.
We must fight this in the strongest possible fashion as I believe most fans, and even those at United and Arsenal, want to see a more democratic league. These plans will kill everything, enrich the few, promote sporting elitism, drive prices up, drive wages up, decrease sustainability, increase fixture congestion, saturate the market and ruin football for everyone else.
Richard (we're having a good season at the Albion. if this plan goes ahead, it's the best we're ever going to get. just ask Everton), Cambridge
...Before I get into full swing, I just want to say this isn't some moralistic diatribe against the evils of money. It is also not about me saying football should be played in certain countries and not others. It isn't either 'weren't things better in the olden days' mail. It is merely about how football is irrevocably changing.
My first footballing memory is Micky Thomas at Anfield. I was on my way back from swimming, and I heard it on the radio. It was very exciting. I had to go home, and stay up late before I could watch the highlights. The anticipation was palpable. Then the premier league came along, and I bought into it. I didn't really think about other teams who had been screwed over for its formation. I remember (when this was all fields) being on holiday and hearing that Newcastle had bought Shearer for £15 million . I could barely contain it in my brain! £15 million, that was ridiculous. Now, I know there is inflation, but that pretty much buys you half an Andy Carroll. I remember Winston Bogarde riding out his contract. I didn't blame him, if someone paid me £40k a week to do nothing, I'd bite their hand off, but it was then I realised that money was becoming too prevalent in the game. I mean look at Squillaci at Arsenal. A man so richly rewarded he'd rather see his days out picking up £60k a week, than playing football.
Which brings me to this Qatari tournament. I am not grizzling about sugar daddies who own clubs, that is their right. But this tournament they are planning will skew things even more. It amounts to nothing but a bunch of rich clubs getting together and divvying up millions of pounds for what is basically a friendly tournament. All their leagues will suffer as a result. You could argue this is no different to the Champions League, just even more exclusive, but at what point do the governing bodies, the fans and other clubs say enough is enough?
Nothing can stop them putting on their event, or clubs taking part, but as fans, I would be interested what other people think? Is this just progress and we'll all get used to it, or is it harming the game?
John Matrix AFC
This Could Be Fun
Slightly late this but the news about Qatar wanting to create a league with invitational berths reminded me I had a similar idea last weekend after watching the Man U and Chelsea match. After hearing Juan Mata (I think) talking about how much he grew up watching the FA Cup and wanting to play in it I thought it would be a good idea to invite one team each year from around the world to compete in the FA Cup.
It might be another giant to be killed, like Juventus. Imagine being Barnet and getting a cup tie against Juventus, or Barcelona having to make an away leg in Grimsby.
One year we might get one of the Glasgow clubs to put that argument to rest. Or even a plucky dark horse from far flung lands like Japan. Stockport County versus Kawasaki Frontale? Come on Frontale! My new second club for the cup that year.
The FA Cup is legendary around the world. Would inviting foreign clubs who hold it in as much esteem as we do make it more romantic, exciting and attractive to fans, or would it be a blight and disgrace to its heritage?
No Dortmund Players?
Attempting to complete the transformation into 'Football Hipster'. Complete with 4-2-3-1 formation (inverted wingers and false 9, obviously). Hold on...
GK: Simon Mignolet
LB: Leighton Baines
CB: Ashley Williams
CB: Matija Nastasic
RB: Angel Rangel
DM: Claudio Yacob
DM: Jordi Gomez (deep-lying playmaker)
LW: Wayne Routledge
F9: Jonathon de Guzman
RW: Hatem Ben Arfa
Manager: Roberto Martinez
*pushes thick-rimmed glasses up nose*
I was going to include Michu, put I'm afraid he has crossed the border into that dreaded 'mainstream' territory that David Silva, Grant Holt and Dimitar Berbatov are stranded in.
He's Still Optimistic
Well Tom you are indeed correct; Liverpool could well lose Suarez Agger and Reina and find themselves in a quite the pickle however I feel this highly unlikely not due to blind optimism but a careful weighing up of several factors. Suarez is unlikely to go as due to his importance to Liverpool and length of time left on his contract Liverpool would not accept less than the £50 million we received for Torres and would likely ask for more considering his form this season compared to Fernando's before he went on his way.
With FFP on the horizon I can't see anyone stumping up that much up when they could wait until he runs down his contract a bit. Reina is hardly irreplaceable and Agger refused advances last summer. As for our own terrible dealings I think we've turned a corner in two ways, firstly in the summer we refused to pay over what we thought a player was worth to the point of leaving ourselves dangerously short, a calculated gamble in my eyes to correct the view we had become an easy club to get ridiculous money out of that grew to new heights during Kenny's reign and secondly in terms of quality being brought in which I feel was finally resolved in January and is now likely to continue.
As for my predictions for our challengers for the other two top four spots; Wenger simply will not spend massive money; as mediawatch has pointed out he's been touted as having £40-50 million to spend every year the last three years and never has come close to spending that amount and never has been a big spender and with his legendary stubborn streak won't change now (hopefully).
Chelsea's problem is their owner buying players and forcing them on managers then losing patience and sacking people left, right and centre and we all know he's not going anywhere so they will continue on as they have been.
As for Spurs they effectively have only one forward in Defoe, who is also the last decent forward they managed to bring in (after selling him might I add). Constantly linked with forwards but never managing to get one in is how spurs operate and given the high rate of failure of forwards in the premier league and general lack of top quality goal-getters chances of them getting a world beater are very slim. Coupled with the potential (and probable) loss of Bale Spurs would not be as good a team next year as they have been this year. A year in which they have won many plaudits and yet still are not out of sight of a Liverpool team who had to rely on kids and one striker for half the season.
Of course instead of all that Wenger could finally whip out the chequebook, Jose could patch things up with Roman and go back to the bridge and spurs could keep bale and unearth the next Messi.
Vinnie ( I really hope it is the first set of outcomes) Harte
Enough Of This Madness
It wasn't even a grammar issue, it was punctuation.
First rule of correcting people on the internet - make fewer mistakes than the person you are trying to correct (I got lucky there, I almost put 'make less mistakes').
He is a worse Nazi than those in 'Allo 'Allo.
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne
On Spurs' Wunderkinds
While skimming over the match build up to Tottenham v Inter this morning I read that Inter boss, Andrea Stramaccioni's first ever match as manager was a 7-1 defeat to Tottenham in the Under21's Champions League last season. After the game he was quoted as saying Spurs have one of the best youth teams in Europe, so I did a little bit of digging and discovered that they are ripping up every completion they've entered this season, from the under 18 Premier League to the Champions League. They even smashed Barcelona 4-1 at the Mini Estati.
I was wondering if anyone knows whether there is anyone special in the Spurs youth set up we should keep an eye on? Alex Pritchard is a name that is continually popping up...
Plus, I've also heard that the Japan and West Brom youth teams are pretty handy too, are there any potential wonderkids in these teams (or in your own) that we need to look out for?
Emily O'Donnell, FFC
Robinho Is Pants
As some wise soul pointed out a couple of mailboxes ago, there's nothing like distorting the facts to suit your own argument. Will, THFC from this morning says that 'Barcelona played their usual passing game, holding something like 71% possession over the first half an hour but hardly creating any notable chances'.
Well, except for Iniesta's volley that was tipped onto the crossbar, Messi's rebound header into the side-netting, Xavi's shot that was tipped round the post and Pedro being knockedover while through on goal (a clear penalty no?) you're absolutely right.
Will then uses this false leverage to ask why Milan players were constantly 'scattering misplaced passes left right and centre' and attributes this to Milan feeling mentally inferior to Barca. Is the more obvious answer not Barca's ridiculously intensive pressing high up the field? Milan were forced into hurried pass after hurried pass which Busquets and Xavi mopped up. Or Milan went long in which case (except for one Mascherano error) Pique or Masch started the ball rolling again.
This was borne out by the last 20 minutes where Barcelona were clearly exhausted (the downside to a high-intensity pressing game) and Milan began to come forward at last. Oh, and Will also seems to think the Milan attackers should have been brilliant seeing as they kept out Robinho. Jesus, have you seen him play in the last two years? He is a lazy, disinterested prat of a player. He has barely got a look in for Milan this season. Starting ahead of him is not an achievement.
Stephen (Hi Ciaran!), Dublin
Add It To The List
In response to LK 'Ohhhh Victor Wanyama!'
Celtic Midfielder Joe Ledley: "It's always a good atmosphere at Tannadice and we always get a good game there"
Celtic Manager Neil Lennon: "I enjoy Tannadice, it's always a decent atmosphere" By 'decent' he definitely means 'brilliant'
My Mate who is a Celtic fan: "Aye, Tannadice is pretty decent" Again, by 'decent' he definitely means 'brilliant'
On this basis I propose to replace number 7. Celtic Park with Tannadice Park in this list. Any objections?
Craig (Of course we have songs silly) Logan
All four Barcelona goals were left-footed. What a cultured team.
Good article on top ten stadiums - bringing back some cracking memories of having the good fortune of seeing Boca win their opening game of the season against Quilmes earlier this year. 3-2 after 2-0 down with one of the best goals I have ever seen live - stunning volley from the centre half straight off a corner.
Cue crazy scenes - the whole 12th charging to the front of the stand - small children clambering up the chicken wire to avoid getting squashed. In fact the whole stand was moving - not sure health and safety is a big thing in Argentina...
But one thing I will remember is the way the refs dealt with the wall being 10 yards - which to me an my mates seemed ridiculously sensible. Free kick given - ref gets a spray can out, line round the ball on the pitch, player cant move it out of the circle. Ref walks ten yards, and sprays a line on the turf, wall cant encroach over the line - simple but genius. Play continues line gets rubbed out naturally.
Anyway, it was the craziest stadium I have ever been too - albeit the football being a bit pants overall - not too sure the fans care unless they can sing for 90 minutes about Boca....
Good article on LUFC Mr Storey.
The new owners haven't done much to appeal to the supporters. A couple of low-ticket price games is good, but what would have been better would be to actually sign a player in the transfer window. A decent player. A young player. Not Michael Tonge. This was a transfer window in which the new owners had full control, and the transfer window where, so we're told on the eternally positive leedsunited.com site, that funds had been injected into the club. This doesn't mean anything to supporters when we continue to avoid the transfer market. I couldn't give a sh*t that we have upgraded some hospitality facilities. To me, it seems the club is doing things the wrong way round. Invest in a decent team first, then I might be tempted to pay a little bit more for my ticket.
The loan signings and free transfers have been quite odd really. Why Warnock prefers elder statesman like Michael Brown and Michael Tonge in preference to Ross Barclay (raw, but quality) is utterly perplexing. Warnock has picked the same team for something like the last 6 games now. I've personally watched the last three games and last night we were awful. Totally devoid of creativity, ideas, and even energy. The players looked confused and disorientated when they had the ball, and terrified when they didn't.
I'm bored of it all. An endless circle of below average bullsh*t.