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...
Loyalty and patience are precious commodities in football but often their importance is overstated by fans and pundits who dream of a bygone era. Despite paying players astronomical wages to deliver their best week in, week out, Premier League clubs are still expected to stand by underperforming stars in the hope that they can turn poor form around. It's a demand that makes little sense.
Footballers tend to enjoy around four to five years at their peak between 26 and 30 when, barring injuries, managers can rely on them to consistently perform to the best of their abilities. This is why Manchester United paid £24million for 29-year-old Robin van Persie in the summer, with Sir Alex Ferguson knowing that the end of the striker's fitness issues would allow him to maintain his high standards and play a crucial role in the title race.
It's common for younger players to struggle with injuries and crises of confidence at the start of their careers and it's important they are given time to develop. Jonny Evans is just one example of a first-team regular who was written off too early by many. But how often do players over the age of 25 suffer a severe drop in form and then return to their previous level? Fernando Torres shows just how difficult it is to make a full recovery following a period of dramatic decline.
This concern will play a significant role in Brendan Rodgers' re-building plans at Liverpool in the summer as he seeks to solve the Reds' defensive woes that have played a part in the premature end to the club's Champions League chase. Although Martin Skrtel was voted Liverpool's Player of the Year last year, the 28-year-old has been hugely disappointing in the current campaign, with Rodgers dropping the centre-back from his first XI in the second half of the season and suggesting he was "too soft" after the Reds' FA Cup defeat to Oldham in January.
Likewise, Ferguson must decide whether to persist with Antonio Valencia and Nani for another year despite the duo being passengers in United's march to reclaim the title. Ryan Giggs is a notable example of a player who recovered from a dip in form to retain his first-team place at Old Trafford, but at his peak he offered more to United than Nani or Valencia ever have or ever will.
Valencia and Skrtel's impressive campaigns last year are seemingly the exception that proves the rule in both players' careers. There is much more evidence to suggest that the underperforming duo will struggle to regain their best form next season and a convincing argument can be made that both players should be sold in the summer. Liverpool and United have already shown enough patience in a season of poor performances and further loyalty towards the duo could prove harmful to the clubs' plans.
Although United's squad possesses enough quality to absorb Valencia's sub-standard efforts, persisting with a player who has offered very little over the past ten months suggests to the rest of the team that below-par performances will be tolerated. How else was Anderson allowed to get so out of shape?
Meanwhile, despite his impressive contribution last season, Skrtel has never seemed a world-beater at Anfield. If Liverpool only bring in one new centre-back to replace Jamie Carragher in the summer and Skrtel fails to recover his best form, the Reds' Champions League bid could again be over before it even begins.
It seems Rodgers has already made up his mind about Skrtel, with the defender's dreadful display against Southampton further paving the way for his exit. The Liverpool manager has already shown a ruthless streak in his brief reign at the club - which hasn't always been advisable - but more of the same will be required to prevent the onset of mediocrity in a squad that must be strengthened in the summer.
Premier League clubs need only look at Arsenal's bloated ranks of high earning, underperforming players to see the damage that can be caused by showing too much patience, while Chelsea have also struggled this season owing to their loyalty to Torres. Rodgers and Ferguson may consider those examples when they decide whether to stick or twist in the summer.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.
Well Pool will have a lot of money to buy defenders with, if the Suarez to Juve rumors turn out to be true. Skrtel doesn't fit Rogers system, so its not a surprise his confidence is low, which causes errors.- Synergy
@HarryBoulton> Fans have been bad mouthing and blaming Carrick for years and will do so again next year if United aren't top of the league. Since Carrick doesn't run around and dive into tackles like Parker, few people understand what exactly he does as guarding space and pass angle is an alien concept to most fans.
Carrick has looked better this year as he has a mobile partner in midfield who passes and moves into space and hence always giving him a passing option, something he didn't have due to Scholes getting old and a lot less mobile, the last couple of years.
Looks like its going to be another year of United buying wingers. Zaha is coming and hopefully we finally get a good left winger. Valencia and possible Nani (contract issues) are done.