Monday brings the big one with Arsenal under pressure to tell a different story than the one everybody expects. But first, can Liverpool win and go top when nothing less is acceptable?
The mailbox reminds Liverpool fans they haven't won anything yet, while the crisis at Spurs continues to hog our inbox. At least there are no more jokes about a wet night at Stoke...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Football's Function Is To Entertain
Why is everyone in the mailbox so determined to analyse every football issue with a fine tooth comb. Every football issue is analysed like a bloody maths equation. I'd say something if these people actually got to root of these issues or even if people gave us their genuine opinions. But it seems people just want to create a boring analytically dense opinion and hope that their fake opinion warrants getting published. Why do people even bother analysing all this stuff so much anyway? Surely we can think of something better to do with our time. Football is meant to be entertaining, act as a stress reliever, and give us boys a chance to let our hair down. I think these basement nerds with fake opinions could do with remembering that from time to time.
Loaning Out Bale?
The Bale transfer saga is all rather boring so I thought I'd throw another option into the mixer. British footballers, as a general rule, don't tend to settle well abroad. Not so much from a footballing perspective but largely, they're back in Blighty a couple of seasons later because they miss warm lager and drizzle or something equally banal. There have been a few exceptions of recent times but Owen and Woodgate at Madrid, Pennant at Zaragoza, Joe Cole at Lille, Matt Derbyshire at Olympiakos, Jay Bothroyd with Perugia...all back pretty quickly and while admittedly some were loans, they weren't exactly angling to stay. The most obvious exception is David Beckham but he's a pretty exceptional case just generally, so the chances are that if Bale were to head for Madrid this summer, he'd be back over here in a couple of years and that would have to be with one of the moneybags clubs because no one else will be able to afford him. So send him on loan.
I know it's crazy to loan out your best player but hear me out. Tottenham are likely to lose him anyway so why not take a hypothetical £15m loan fee and a lend of a replacement for the year, and then get Bale back a year down the line? When Bale is back in the UK, he's back with Spurs rather than playing against them for Chelsea and while he's been out, you've had Di Maria keeping his place warm for him. Bale gets to scratch that Madrid itch and Spurs keep their star player in the long term. It's likely that Madrid would want a transfer fee agreed for if they want to make the move permanent so in the event that Bale does choose to stay in Spain, then the fee will have been set when his value is at it's highest so again, Spurs wouldn't be losing out.
Losing Bale is far from ideal for Tottenham, but if they can derive maximum benefit from the deal while at the same time, mitigating the chances of Bale turning out in a league rivals' colours, it seems like the least bad way of losing the lad.
Steve Bradley (can't imagine this won't get shot full of holes)
Is Fabregas Saga A Smokescreen For Ronaldo Return?
At the start of this transfer window, the main talking points were based on what managers will go where. Would Mourinho join chelsea? Who would take over at both Manchester clubs. With the departure of Mourinho to Chelsea came the speculation regarding the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. Talks of a return to Old Trafford were high on the cards with boths camps refusing to rule it out and Ronaldo stating "I miss English football". But with time, it all seemed to fade away as nothing more than the produce of the Rumour Mill. United seemed to change their approach to Cesc Fabregas. But something doesn't seem right about their attempts to sign the Barcelona midfielder.
In the past united have never been shy of paying the money for the top players out there. They did it with Van Persie and Berbatov. It seems a bit strange that they have been so reluctant to splash the cash on what is one of the finest midfielders in world football. He is proven in the Premier League and his relationship with RVP on the field seems like it's a match made in heaven and a perfect signing for the Premier League champions. So why are they so reluctant to pay?
I started to wonder could the Fabregas bids be a decoy in order to draw attention away from their top target, Mr Cristiano? Being the world's most expensive player (for now), Ronaldo would of course attract a lot of interest from the world's elite clubs. Man City and PSG have done a lot of business and spent a lot of money in the recent weeks. It seems a bit fishy that in the same week that United "have given up" on Fabregas, Ronaldo has come out and said that he is undecided on his future. With the possibility of the arrival of Gareth Bale for a new world record fee, could this pave the way for Ronaldo to leave? Many Madrid player have been very public on Bale but Ronaldo has been rather quiet. Coincidence?
Maybe it's just speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if I saw Ronaldo playing in the Premier League next season. There's a five-year deal sitting on the table for him at Madrid. Will he sign? And if not, surely he must go!
Ian S, Dublin
It does amuse me when certain gooners say things like 'don't worry Arsene would be mad to ship all of these players off and then not replace them'.
After all the departures and suspected departures of Gervinho, Arshavin, Djourou, Santos, Chamakh and even Bendtner we will be left with around 18 established first-team players.
However in 2005 Wenger sold in my view his best signing Patrick Vieira with no direct replacement.
In 2006 he allowed Dennis Bergkamp to retire with no direct replacement.
In 2007 he let Henry leave with no direct replacement.
I agree Wenger would be mad to let all of the aforementioned players go without replacing them but just as Paddy, Dennis and Terrence were all replaced with, in my view, sub-standard youngsters I can see the same thing happening again.
Graham Simons, Gooner, (Wouldn't put anything past Wenger), Norf London
While reading John Matrix AFC's analogy between Arsenal and Sony, I felt the opportunity to flex my nerd muscles (okay, muscle) and state that I think Arsenal are actually more like that childhood filler, Nintendo.
Both were once at the top of their game, crushing all opposition and beloved (or despised, depending on your allegiences) everywhere, while also being hugely respected. Nowadays, we find them a pale shadow of their former selves. Either through poor choices (selling their best players, relying on gimmicks to flog consoles) or the rise of richer competitors (Microsoft, City/Chelski) they've lost their way. Both are held up as the 'enthusiasts choice'; Arsenal through their style of play, Nintendo for their legacy and catalogue of childhood classics. However, these are beginning to be seen as a lack of evolution. Arsenal are viewed as a Barcelona Beta test which still runs because nobody has had the heart to shut the servers down, even though the full game has been out for a long time now and is vastly superior. Nintendo have become stuck in a cycle of Mario/Smash Bros./Zelda to appease what the core fans want without ever attracting anybody new with a big signing from a major rival. A shiny new stadium for both doesn't hide the fact that it's still the same product inside, not really moving anywhere fast. Fans of both will forever argue that what they do is the right way to do it, but facts are facts and both need to pick up their game, look to move forward, and make some big changes. Otherwise, neither will successful on the fabled European turf/shop floors again.
TheOneTrueGaz (I have seen a naked lady, honest) MUFC
Happy Enough With Rodgers
Classy Kaz, I think most Liverpool fans are pretty pleased with Rodgers. Allen was good at the start but definitely lost ground as the season wore on. But Rodgers saw this and didn't persevere - he dropped him for Henderson who has become a bit of a hero for some of us with his energy and motivation. I've even forgiven him for his silly hair. Compare that to Dalglish who played Downing week in week out for an entire season. It was miserable how inevitable our team sheet felt every week that season.
You are also forgetting he brought Sturridge who has come in with a brilliant attitude and had a great half season. And then there's Coutinho. That boy has the makings of many a scouser's wet dream. His curly locks and cheeky smile and just an appetiser, there are few players we have been lucky enough to see deliver passes at Anfield which leave you wondering how on earth he saw that at ground level but Coutinho is one of them.
So far Aspas looks decent although pre-season is nothing to go by. Borini was injured for too long so I'm reserving judgement on him and hoping he puts in a good shift this time round.
No manager can make consistently perfect signings but managers can be flexible to see that and change when necessary and so far Rodgers has done that. Hats off to the man for not being arrogant enough to simply carry on with a single minded policy regardless of outcome (thinly veiled swipe at Wenger!)
Remember When Spurs Were Good...
'Many a team has been known to rip up trees in preseason only to flounder when the real stuff starts,' said Fred, Belfast. He's right.
I often recall the glorious Tottenham pre-season of 2008/2009. Eight straight wins, 36 goals scored, just six conceded, with results including a 5-1 win against Norwich, 2-0 against Celtic, 3-0 against Borussia Dortmund, and then a 5-0 thumping of Roma, who had just finished second in Serie A. David Bentley, Darren Bent and Giovanni Dos Santos had all been among the goals.
Then the real stuff kicked off.
Spurs took two points from their opening eight games, Juande Ramos was sacked, and everyone knows the rest.
They're for fitness and money, and they're friendly. Don't get excited about them.
The Old Firm: You Don't Get To Choose
Agree with Michael Shepherd to a certain extent, it's always a bit grating, (and a little bit sad) to listen to fans vicariously waffle about their team's merits when they clearly have never known a time when their team weren't dominant. Due to the ubiquitous nature of Premier League, TV coverage and Wikipedia they can achieve their validation despite the suspicion they have probably never been to the ground. We all know them.
However, I can't agree with your choice of teams to highlight this, the Old Firm. Most, if not all fans support one of the two sides do so because of something more than Bill Shanklys 'It's more than life or death' quote. Religion. There was an excellent documentary on how ingrained the strength of feeling for the religions of both clubs is last night on BBC3 (actually based in Northern Ireland, 'Petrol Bombs and Peace' if you have I Player access) and the rivalry that exists between them, and how supporting one side or the other defines you. Having been there on July 12th (family visit before you say anything) I can tell you the number of shirts from either side of the Old Firm was marked, although I must caveat this with the fact that the documentary wasn't about the two teams, and the overwhelming majority of the locals in Northern Ireland renounce violence in any form, as do we all I hope. With regards to the Old Firm you simply don't choose one or the other based on glory, in fact you simply don't get to choose really.
So I agree with Michael, but I wouldn't use the Old Firm as an example. A simple life rule is to never suggest an Old Firm fan is a plastic. Man U fans though...
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Choosing A Team Is Kids' Stuff
All this talk about glory-hunting fans and who a real fan should be supporting seems to assume that we're all adults when we 'pick' a team. I'm sure I'm not the only one who started supporting his club at the age of about six. Kids aren't worried about what makes a proper fan. They follow who their Dad/brother/best mate at school follows. I grew up about 40 minutes from Manchester and 40 minutes from Liverpool. The local team was Sandbach Saxons (non-league) and the nearest league team was Crewe Alexandra. Why didn't I follow them? Well I did go and see a few games but it just wasn't cool to support them at my school (they were in Division 4 at the time). It had to be either Liverpool or Manchester United, otherwise your opinion on football just didn't matter, and let's face it, the average six-year-old is not trying to be all cool and alternative. I have followed my team for about 32 years, and even though I now live in Canada, I still watch every game on TV, I read the footballing news first thing in the morning, I wear the shirt when I play 5-a-side, I argue incessantly with other fans and contribute actively on discussion forums. I believe I am a real fan.
I chose Manchester United at the age of six because my elder sister supported them. There, I said it.
Rob (and it wasn't glory-hunting in the 70s 80s because Liverpool were by far the dominant force, so maybe I was being cool and alternative)
...To Michael Shepherd...I implore you to return to lurking. If you had taken an extra 30 seconds of your time to read Chris, Barnet's excellent email (it was the next one down), you would see how unnecessary it was to share your hackneyed opinion.
The fact is generally people choose their team when they are very young. Normally it is influenced by whichever team your family owes their loyalty. If it isn't that then, as an impressionable child, you will likely choose to support the team that excites you the most. The outcome of this process becomes predictable when Sky are shoving fireworks, montages and super-bazooka Sundays into your face at every available opportunity.
But, no. You just may be right. These disgusting 4-10 year old glory hunters probably are hiding their glaring inadequacies. God, they are so sad.
On a related note, I wonder if your righteous support of Aberdeen has anything to do with their relative success over the last thirty years.
Try living where I do.
Steve, Gravesend (Cristiano Ronaldo or Andy Hessenthaler? Tough one.)
Cameron Jerome About To Hit Peak
Reading the news of the latest footballer to love a bit of gambling, it wasn't the fact he throws a few quid at the bookies that caught my attention. My reaction was 'Cameron Jerome is only 26?'. He has been a very poor striker for a very long time now. The fact that he is 26 is as astonishing as the £4m that Mr Pulis paid for him.
However, he will soon be 27, the peak of his powers. That £4m tag is there to be justified, that 1 goal in 7 appearances is there to be improved. Vidic, Kompany & Co, be very very afraid.