One Mailboxer may have spent lunch in the pub in suggesting Van Persie could go back to Arsenal. Also, some Premier League meh-ing and a fine Acewatch suggestion...
Roy Hodgson is asked the perfect question, Mr Grumpypants is back, Jamie Redknapp hates making comparisons. Plus Ace-watch, you lucky things...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pain Of Pre-Season
Excellent piece by Daniel Storey on the demise of the traditional pre-season from Premiership clubs. I can't help but feel that the big clubs in England sold their soul a long time ago. Liverpool may boast of the 95,000 people singing You'll Never Walk Alone in Australia, and Man United have no doubt sold a 'metric f*ck-tonne' of official pre-season tour 2013 merchandise, but at what cost? Would the fans at Anfield be singing with such vigour at watching their club play against what is essentially a league 1 / league 2 "All-star team" in a meaningless friendly, I think not, but no doubt their marketing department were rubbing their hands with glee.
The fans back home are the ones who are paying to see the side all season, buying season tickets, food and drink in stadiums, paying for the Sky and BT Sport subscriptions that allowed for the record TV deals that have made Premiership clubs even richer than before - and so the gap continues to widen between the man on the street and the corporation he 'supports'. These are no longer clubs who are representative of the cities and communities who formed them into what they are today, bought by American, Russian and middle-eastern business men who steal the identity of the club and market it to other parts of the world, forgetting about the customers who they expect to fill the stadium throughout the season. The final nail in the coffin for me is the fact that Man United now expect their fans to pay £4.99 to watch a pre-season friendly against AIK online, just how much money can one business suck out of its fans?
Will these ridiculous tours around Asia and America come back to haunt the clubs who embark upon them come the start of the season, I most certainly hope so. United and Liverpool were both thoroughly outplayed and defeated last season in their first games by Everton and West Brom respectively after similar marketing exercises last summer.
I of course will be consuming as much of the Premier League product as I can this season.
I find it hard to express why comments like these from Zidane infuriate me so much.
I accept that in there, there's probably an element of frustration that we don't have superstars saying the same thing of us, but mostly it's the sheer audacity of everyone involved in Spanish football to think the sun rises and sets in their self-entitled asses.
Madrid have done an excellent marketing job, which completely outstrips their actual success in recent decades as others pointed out yesterday. Sure, the white kit looks good, and playing in the sun and with other top class players in an easy league must be quite a draw too.
But the idea that they must be allowed to talk to a player just because they f**king want to, is beyond the pale for me. The reality is, they can offer huge money and huge signing fees because they don't actually have to underwrite the bill anyway. So they will usually get their player unless Barca have jumped in first (as with Neymar).
But it's the attitude. And I hope beyond hope that Levi feels the same and either strings them out for a new record fee, or refuses to deal with them for at least another year. Or even better, sells to us instead.
Guy S (I'm not always angry with football...)
...Would somebody please explain to me why Real Madrid are allowed to act the way they are in relation to Bale. I am a long time Spurs fan and am used to seeing our best players leave for clubs competing for trophies on a regular basis and I accept that will always happen to clubs who are not. I am not going to waffle on about Campbell, Berbatov etc but I cannot fathom why they are allowed to publicly tap up a player through every angle imaginable.
Players, directors, tea-ladies from Madrid openly calling for him to move. Modric even looked uncomfortable saying it, leading me to believe he was asked to. Statements like - "it's now or never" to a player who always stated his desire to one day play there. It's low. It's dirty.
Players will always move. Even United lost Ronaldo to Madrid. They really have sullied themselves and I couldn't dislike them as a club more now. Is this not "tapping up"?
...'Casillas Starts Campaign For Real Bale'
As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the hops, and ever-present of the Great British Beer Festival, yes. YES.
Hipster appreciation. Snap snap.
Are Real Creating Problems?
I haven't watched more than 5 games involving Gareth Bale last season, but could someone a little more interested in him or Spurs explain what he offers Madrid that is different from Ronaldo? Forgive my simplistic view in advance, but the two seem quite similar in terms of direct running based on a combination of pace and power. While Ronaldo has a few more tricks up his sleeve, both seem drawn to the center of the pitch where they can create a moment of magic. Also, who will take the free kicks if they play together?
What I'm getting at here is that I can't for the life of me figure out why Madrid want to take a risk on a Welsh wizard who probably won't adapt well to Spain, especially when they have Ronaldo who seems like he already offers exactly what they are looking to acquire. Character issues aside, a bid for Suarez would seem to make more sense as he would appear to offer something genuinely different to the side. Thoughts from people with better informed opinions?
Niall, Washington DC
...If Gareth's best position is wide left and cutting into the middle and Cristiano's best position is wide left and cutting into the middle, is Gareth an 85 million pound back up for Cristiano? If not, what happens to Cristiano?
This will all end in tears.
50p A Letter
I've long been wondering about these mystical shirt sales associated with marquee signings. For example I have heard the notion that Real Madrid have more than made back their £80m on Ronaldo through shirt sales and merchandise alone. Whilst that may be exaggerated somewhat, how is this even remotely possible? I can't believe that many fans suddenly switch allegiance to support a different team that their favourite player has just moved to (although, without being disrespectful, this may be the case with nom-domestic fans to some extent), and so the team can't be selling that many new shirts. Is it the extra letters of the player's name emblazoned on the back of the shirt? Ronaldo doesn't have that many letters in his name!
So what exactly are these shirt sales? Say a shirt costs £50 - to recover £80m you would need to sell 1.6m additional shirts that you otherwise wouldn't have sold. Perhaps I am mistaken and this does indeed happen. Either way, can the mailbox shed some light on this phenomenon?
Top Four Not Impossible
Jay, LFC, I enjoyed your mail but I'm not yet willing to concede that we won't finish in the top 4 this season. It's obviously not that likely but it's also not impossible. We scored a lot of goals last year and also kept quite a few clean sheets. If we can get out of the habit of conceding more than once on average when we do concede and possibly also win a few more points from losing positions then I don't think we are a millions miles off. I can't find anything to support me but was our form from January that awful compared to Arsenal/Tottenham?
Last year by January it was evidently clear we were lacking strikers. We've brought in Coutinho, Sturridge, Aspas, Alberto and Borini is back from injury and might still prove to be a good player. Looking at the season; our keepers/defenders made too many individual errors which led to goals which cost us points and we did not beat enough teams in the top 10. The last of these points is hard to judge but we look like we've tried to move forward with the other two.
My optimism will obviously get wiped away within 3 games of the new season but this is the beauty of the summertime; why can't Liverpool be top 4? Why can't Man Utd sign a central midfielder? Why can't Arsenal sign a player old enough to rent a car? Obviously none of these things will happen yet we can all dare to dream.
Fellaini Improves United
I do not agree whatsoever with the notion that Marouane Fellaini wouldn't improve Manchester United's squad. To say the squad already contains eight 'viable options' for midfielders, apparently, is a little flawed to say the least, as amongst those options are an old man, a fat man, a defender, a striker, and a man who can't be relied upon due to a rather unfortunate long-term illness. So it could certainly be argued that Fellaini is capable of giving a higher level of performance than most at present, and indeed is a better option for the future with Giggs (and Fletcher?) soon to retire and others (Rooney, Anderson?) potentially leaving the club.
I think Ronaldo or Bale would be good signings, by the way, despite the viable wing options of Nani, Valencia, Young, Giggs, Rooney, Welbeck, Kagawa and Zaha.
I digress. I'd be very content to see Fellaini in a United shirt. I'd be asking him to shave his hair though. Blimey, he'd look like a cross between Lurch, Ironman and Skeletor and we need to make a few teams intimidated by us again. Mind you, I do wonder if having short hair would be a disadvantage at set pieces, as his markers would actually be able to see stuff.
Chris, SAF Stand
Dear Andy, London: The reason no one is calling Evans that type of player is pretty much summed up in your argument. In more than 100 matches across 5 seasons for the most media-scrutinised club in the country he has been involved in maybe 4 incidents.
You've noted the Drogba one may have been accidental, so that's that, the Rosenburg 'punch' is far more Evans trying to pull the WBA player back and reaching too high.
That leaves the Holden and Shelvey incidents - both similar in that both sets of players went in for a 50/50 in a dangerous way. If you look at stills of the Holden incident, the American is actually over the ball (which Evans gets to first) and while (as a fan of the USMNT) I'm as gutted as anyone at Holden's injury, he could have just as easily done the same to Evans. He's a centre back, and he's gone in full to a ball that was there to be won. Neither was a deliberately nasty challenge and neither was sly or cheating.
So put another way, in about 100 matches Evans has done as many deliberately shady acts as Ricardo Carvalho would have done in the first 5 minutes of a typical game.
Ryan (which is probably why Carvalho is a better defender), San Francisco
...To follow on from Andy, London, I would say that Jonny Evans is more of a lucky kind of a player than the 'dirty' type. (You can also include his tackle on Torres going unpunished that resulted in Torres getting sent off to his list of crimes.)
The reason why he is not looked upon in the same light as Ryan Shawcross is purely down to the teams that each player represents. Stoke are frowned upon for their some times over-physicality and other managers comments going against them. (Wenger and rugby team) While Evans plays for Manchester United who win trophies and are the biggest club in the land.