Obviously quite a bit of the admin in the Champions League group stage is already done, dusted and polished, but Daniel Storey finds five matches that still have plenty at stake...
Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Don't Need Rooney
Watching Chelsea vs. Inter Milan last night, I realized I'm downright giddy about the prospects of the new season. Not because I think we are going to win the league, and not even because 'daddy' is back. I just truly love the squad that we have at the moment. Everyone from the stars to the squad players to the new additions.
As the pre-season has shown, Oscar and Hazard are truly a pleasure to watch, and despite what some quarters say about Jose's treatment of 'flair players', I think they are going to flourish even more this season. Add to them Mata and I think things get truly mouth-watering. But it's not just the twinkle-toes, the work-horses in the team, the squad players, are playing with renewed enthusiasm and purpose.
Watchin Victor Moses gallop past tackle after tackle from Inter players last night was truly a joy. That's what Mourinho does best. Even a player who warms the bench week-in week-out feels like he's playing an integral part. In Kevin de Bryune, van Ginkel and Schurrle we have the injection of some serious pace and bite, and I think Lukaku is bound to become a true monster.
I was happy when we didn't break the bank for a mega-star like Cavani or Falcao, who would have disrupted the existing balance of our current squad. And I seriously hope the Rooney talk is simply mind-games from Jose. He's not needed, and I don't think he brings enough to the table to justify the commotion he is bound to bring with him.
Ray "Man-crush on half of our midfield" Noori
United Should Play 3-5-2
Ok Moyes/United fans/MUFC in general, time's up. I've waited for you to figure this out for yourselves but you haven't, so I'll solve your problems for you. Here it is...get ready... 3-5-2! That's right, that fancy foreign formation. Why? Well, let me explain:
Up-front RVP and Rooney both able to play in their favoured 'out and out striker' roles AND Kagawa behind them in the 'number 10' role everyone is so keen to see him in. Sorted.
"But we always use wingers!" I hear Utd fans protest. Yes, you have always used wingers (and to very good effect) but the fact is your current selection are either not very good (Young, Valencia), not ready yet (Zaha), or wildly inconsistent and a bit of a tool (Nani). You've not currently got Kanchelskis & Giggs or Beckham & Giggs or Ronaldo & Giggs (Obviously you still have Giggs, but he's not a winger anymore). So, problem of sub-standard wingers: Sorted
Raphael and Evra, both cracking players but who are better going forwards then back. Being wing-backs gives them more freedom to attack with extra defensive cover behind. Understudies could be Valencia (good at running up and down the right touchline lots) and Buttner (best have as many defenders between him and your own goal as possible). Sorted
Centre backs can be any from the large selection of good but regularly injured selection and Utd. If Jones is in then he can step up into midfield to help out and do his funny faces there. Sorted
You will still need to sign a central midfielder, but I challenge you to find any formation which will work with only 1 good player in the middle (Carrick). Just buy Fellaini/Khederia and put us out of our misery.
Anyway, that's my plan. Bearing in mind the fact that Moyes definitely won't use this formation, I can confidently say that if Man Utd employ these ideas they will win the Premier League, Champions League and WC2014.
P.S. Last season's Premier League champions changing to an unfamiliar three at the back system? What could possibly go wrong?
Chris, MUFC, what in Dogtanian's name is a 'double pivot'? Granted I haven't dabbled in a touch of Champ Man since the glory days of 2000/01, so I could be missing something, but isn't a double pivot something something that a man and a lady who like each other very much do?
Andy B, RFC (Or that could a double rainbow...)
After reading Jake Humphrey's very bold statements of all that BT Sport would have to offer I decided to tune into their pre and post-game coverage of Bayern Munich vs. Man City. In particular I was looking forward to the sort of "incisive analysis" that Jake promised in his blog entry that appeared to be a dig at all existing football TV shows as much as anything else. This was it - the big first impression.
What a load of nonsense. What was served up by Jake and his psuedo chummy ex-Pro friends was nothing more than the sort of bland, insipid nothingness that we've had on Match of the Day, ESPN, and the majority of Sky programming for the past few decades.
Now I understand why that may need to be the case (usually for fear of not wishing to offend anyone) but after Humphrey promised otherwise it has been a massive letdown and not the best way to start. Promise the world and deliver little. As far as I am concerned it is just the same sort of generic analysis done under a different name of channel.
So all that is actually different is the name of the channel. In the words of Alan Partridge: 'They've rebadged it you fool.'
I bet Gary Neville was laughing throughout.
Mike (Saint in Manchester)
He Looked Sharp
Just wanted to say congratulations to Jonjo Shelvey on his Swansea debut. He looks to have made the step up to play for a side competing in Europe and in the hunt for titles again this season very well. Who says there's no value in the market from the smaller premier league sides?
Spurs And City Look Good
If I were an optimistic Spurs fan, I might be pretty chuffed with this summer's business. #CHUFFED, even, if I were also a Twit. For a start, keeping Villas Boas might have been pretty sure fire, but there were rumours. Next, appreciating that Bale has made a huge contribution to Spurs, there is also a fair amount of hype surrounding the fellow and that is a ridiculous amount of money I've been reading about.
I'm a bit worried that the law of Sod says that one of Soldado or Negredo will probably bomb, but the Optimistic Spud says that they'll both be the ultimate shizzle, like most of the other Spanish players in the league. Soldado can score about as many as a Defoe, a Giant Defoe and half-a-Bale, and provide something worth passing to up front as well. No idea about the kid from Madrid, to be honest, but he probably isn't worse than the two aforementioned Defoes.
I love Paulinho. Fernandinho looks pretty cool and stuff, but his highlights (as is all I've seen) look a bit like Veron. I'd rather have gambled half as much money on Paulinho. I think he's mint. Mint, I say(!) with emphasis; and I do not say that word lightly, as a Mancunian. I watched the Confederation Cup, this being my only reference admittedly, and appreciate that he has struggled in Europe before, could be a Kleberson, etc; but something in me says he is f***ing mint. Perhaps it is the Optimistic Spud.
Ben (marginally inebriated) MCFC
To Peter, Glasgow - the best insult I've heard, if you can call it one, was during a United v Arsenal game. Ray Parlour was about to take a throw in when this bloke in front of me shouts out 'Parlour, Parlour, up here you're a f*cking front room mate'. Poor Ray must have been dying inside after that.
Can Spurs Kick On?
Let's for a moment imagine Spurs sell Bale to Madrid for £100mil. That might seem like a very handy war-chest but I do wonder if they will be in a similar position to Arsenal and end up having some trouble spending that money.
One might argue that Arsenal have made a mess of the transfer market this summer (and to a degree we have) but we are in a complex position. If you run through our starting eleven they are mainly players in the £10mil-£15mil bracket and in the £75k-£100k per week wage bracket. To significantly improve our team we need a step change in quality and to start shopping in a different bracket. Spurs position is similar and what they will find is that once you start shopping in that bracket you are looking at a small pool of players, competing with Champions League clubs and talking about very large wages.
Given our £40mil bid for Suarez some are saying why weren't we in for Cavani but would we have been able to pay the wages he'll get at PSG and would he want to join us given our limited recent success? Somehow I doubt it. Spurs are likely to find themselves facing the same issues. They will be selling a truly top-class player and potentially have to compensate by making minor incremental improvements in some areas.
Given they seem to have the money already for such incremental improvements (i.e. Paulinho and Saldado) I do wonder whether Levy should just stick to his guns and not even sell for £100mil.
League Two Preview
Fear not good people! For the waiting and the talking is over and the season is about to begin. Granted it's probably not the season you're waiting for - but let's see if this can satisfy some of your Big Weekend withdrawal symptoms.
It's a big League 2 Weekend/Season for:
Portsmouth - The favourites for promotion are now the biggest supporter owned club in the country. 10,000 season tickets have already been sold, and Fratton Park could be their biggest asset as they open their season at home to Oxford United. However with 11 new players they are still very much an unknown quantity.
Paul Cook - Having taken over the Chesterfield reigns halfway through last season, they finishes 2 points shy of the playoffs. Some brilliant signings could see the Spirites amongst the contenders and they will want a strong start away to Bury.
Burton Albion - Their home form was the best in the league last season, but their away form was atrocious. Despite a few changes in personnel they have retained top striker Billy Kee and if they can sort their away form will be able to step up from the lottery of the playoffs. A win away to Cheltenham on opening day would be a good statement.
Jamie Cureton - The veteran poacher has once again left Exeter City for shinier pastures/bigger signing on fees, this time for Cheltenham Town. However his last attempt to leave Exeter ended with a disastrous spell at Leyton Orient. A repeat of that season could be curtains for the journeyman's carreer.
Phil Brown - Now very much in the last chance saloon at Southend United. His reign so far has consisted of winning 1 out of 11 league gamea and losing the JPT final. Needless to say improvement is required, starting at home to Plymouth Albion.
Torquay United - Last season was one of upheaval at the Gulls, with massive player turnover and manager Martin Ling needing time out due to a stress related illness. Alan Knill's spell in charge has been made permanent, but with Howe, Saah, Jarvis, and Morris all leaving its hard to see anything other than struggles when their season kicks off at home to Wimbledon.
Newport County - The newly promoted side have traditionally relied on loans and cast-offs from other Welsh and West Country teams. While they have the team spirit and a few quality players, their survival may depend on how well they use the loan market. Their season starts at home to Accrington Stanley.
Aidy Boothroyd - Another manager in the last chance saloon. His Northampton Town side lost bruisingly in the playoff final last year and this season will be without chunky funster Akinfenwa to bail them out of trouble. Boothroyd's agricultural style has always relied more on the team then the individuals, but it could be another long season for Cobblers fans - who aren't been drawn to Sixfields despite a relatively successful campaign last year. Their season kicks off away to York City.
Mike, League 2, BRFC
Last Mail On The Sun
First of all I would just like to thank all those who responded to my question in the mailbox the other day with regard to a me (a Liverpool fan). Buying The Sun. I appreciated every one of the responses and it was nice to see people actually take time to write reasoned, coherent and rational responses to criticise me and didn't simply call me a c**t.
Ive took time to reflect on those responses and on my actions and i have to admit that although none of you did call me one I do however now feel like a c**t. I suppose i was looking for a sense of justification for buying The Sun, which although for me is very, very occasionally, I would imagine for the Hillsborough families that is one time too many.
I'll hold my hands up now and admit that as a Liverpool fan, I have dropped a massive one here. People died, had lies printed about them and didn't have the lies acknowledged by the paper that printed said lies until many, many years later in what was largely seen as a paltry attempt at an apology.
Hasten to say I have learnt a lot through this f**k up on my account and will put it down to experience (or lack of it). I won't ever touch that rag of a paper again and will make sure, in the same way my friend did to me and let other know what they're doing if they buy it too.
I'm sorry to anyone that I may have offended.