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 email@example.com
Every season Arsenal have a few medium and long term injuries. Every single season. It's a part of football that some of them will become injured. Wenger has stripped Arsenal down to its skeleton and even people that hate Arsenal and have absolutely no interest in their problems know that they start the season a couple of injuries and suspensions away from a crisis. In any other type of job that type of management and planning would be called incompetent. Wenger out!
That's all I have to say about that but somehow I'm still looking forward to the season starting tomorrow. Good luck all...except for Barnet.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
...Arteta's out for a month at least so apparently we're down to 16 fit players.
If we lose any players to injury tomorrow we'll travel to Turkey with fewer than the 16 permitted.
I'm turning up tomorrow in a full kit - quite like the idea of a free trip to Turkey as I think our weather's now on the turn.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Is It Still 2012?
Arsenal fans do like to argue that RVP owed them something because they "stood by him when he was injured". I'm slightly confused as to why this requires extra loyalty from a player. Of course they were going to offer to renew his contract. What's the alternative, releasing him? In which case they wouldn't have received the incredible season and a half he had injury-free in which he played a huge part in their securing Champions League football in 2012, nor would they have received the £24m fee for his sale. If he wants to play at the highest level, which Arsenal could not offer him, and hasn't signed a long term contract then of course he is going to leave. Arsenal should be immensely grateful they managed to get £24m for a 29 year old with that kind of injury record and one year on his contract.
...When Arsenal fans complain about the "loyalty" the club showed RVP through the injuries, I wonder whether they've considered that the club had no choice.
Unless Arsenal were consistently rejecting bids for him, they were legally obliged to either honour the terms of his contract, or buy his contract out. They weren't dropping thousands of pounds a week into his begging bowl as he lay slumped against the Emirates with his ankles bandaged, and paying a player what he's contractually entitled to isn't loyalty. Also, Arsenal did not pay van Persie huge wages out of the kindness of their hearts and altriusm, they paid him because he's a very good footballer. It was a normal, contractual relationship, just like one gets in any workplace.
Does David Moyes realise the fixture list isn't the FA Cup draw? It isn't balls out of bag Dave, it's a complicated algorithm which takes into account policing considerations blah blah blah.
Still at least he had fergie's chip on the shoulder about the world being against him. It is a start.
F365 are really going for it on the whole 'Moyes is out of his depth' thing, aren't you? I'll admit that over the summer a couple of his answers to press questions have been naive, but they don't merit the kind of conclusions you've jumped to already.
First all, you've been highlighting Moyes' complaints about the fixture list. But this isn't evidence of a man who's scared, it's exactly what managers of big clubs do: they moan, whine and make excuses, with the aim of taking pressure of players, building up a siege mentality, and trying to get better treatment from the authorities. Fergie was the moaner-in-chief for years; Benitez had his 'facts'; Wenger always has an excuse handy. While he was at Real, Mourinho complained that the fixture list was compiled to favour Barca over Madrid. But apparently when he does it, it's 'mind games'; when Moyes does it, he's out of his depth.
Second, Mediawatch's yesterday cited Michael Calvin's account of how meticulous Moyes is in transfer dealings, keeping 1,000 potential transfer targets under review at any one time. It then contrasted this to the fact that Moyes hasn't made any major signings at Man U, which allegedly shows that he actually 'doesn't seem to have a blithering clue what he's doing'. But don't you see that the latter is a product of the former? Moyes clearly likes to spend a huge amount of time and effort tracking a player before signing him. He wants to be as close to sure as possible that the player will be a success at his club (and presumably he's just as scrupulous in assessing the qualities of the players currently available to him).
This inevitably means that it will be hard for him to commit to signings quickly. He, more than the average manager, needs time to build his squad. But, as he's proved at Everton, when given that time he is extremely shrewd in the transfer market (he spent an average of £650,000 net per season on transfers while keeping the club mostly in the top half of the table). The other thing you need to take into account is that he's made a big jump up in the quality of signing he's looking at now compared to Everton. You contrasted Moyes' lack of activity to the signings made by Mourinho and Pellegrini this summer. But those two have already been managing Champions League clubs, so will have been tracking potential transfers of the highest quality. At Everton, Moyes would have been looking at very different players.
It might very well be the case that Moyes can't make that step up, but if anyone deserves a bit of time to prove himself, it's him.
...Moyes! The fixture list complaint! I honestly can't believe that this has happened. Who is advising him? Who has OK'd him to make such a terrible, terrible decision.
It makes him sound mad and scared, United weak and emboldens his rivals whose response of "well we're ready to play anybody as soon as the season starts" just writes itself. And given that a rescheduling of the fixtures is completely unthinkable, what was gained from a public complaint rather than a private one? Except embarrassment.
I mean his argument that it's United's most difficult start to a season for 50 years is the very proof that he's wrong. If it only happens once every 50 years then it's obviously random, David! This is just one of the most absurd and unintelligent thing I've ever seen a manager do. Is he stupid? He can't be. But you'd have to be, wouldn't you?
In genuine disbelief.
Trap Reads The Mailbox
A while back I post scripted a mail with a call for Paddy Madden to get an Ireland call up. Against Wales the dream came through. This means one of two things, Trap pays attention to league one football and acknowledged Madden's form, goals and Yeovil's promotion or Trap reads the mailbox. Now Trap did not know Ian Harte was Irish so I'm forced to assume it is the latter. With that in mind I feel I should point out that Wigan got rid of Conor Sammon and won the F.A Cup. I just ask that any readers who manage national teams think about that.
Rob (Ian Harte has 63 caps for f**k sake) YTFC Eire
Read Fulham Here...
I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed Tyers' and Nicholsons' "Your Team In The Media" series. The Chelsea one in particular was genuinely laugh out loud stuff and bang on the money. It's something of a triumphant return for them both after some muted efforts of late. All I can offer is this series is on a par with the seminal blogs [also from them both?] of Roy Keane/Herr Ballack/Neviller's Diaries and A Day In The Life Of William Gallas. Brilliant stuff from the pair and one of the reasons I keep coming back day-after-day.
I might also be one of the few people who are actually quite glad that Hull are in the top-flight. I was sitting here thinking to myself that we're up next. Then I remembered they were back in the big time. And I was quite glad for that. Given how the Everton one was basically a veiled attack on all things LFC I don't expect we're going to fair well when our turn comes around. Still, it's not as if we've been covering ourselves in glory too much of late so I expect it will be fair; if a little scathing. Well more than a little scathing. Great work chaps so far. Try to go a tiny bit easy on us?
Who am I kidding, it'll be a double-barrelled affair...
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
On Post-Match Interviews
Excellent point from Mr Stanger about the irritating questions journalists like to pose to managers, and I for one would gladly never hear the names Suarez, Fabregas or Rooney ever again (Bale is the exception, provided that he is playing for Spurs at the time). But, to be fair, at least they can try and excuse themselves by having stories to write on a daily basis. The post-match interviewer, on the other hand, has no such excuse.
It is a real irritation of mine. Never do we hear questions about the performance of the team, how individual players perform their roles in a particular system, how they could have done better or were lucky they didn't do worse. We get no insight into how the match went through the eyes of the manager. No reasoning as to why they make certain decisions, which fans often may disagree with. Instead we put up with a bullsh*t question about a contentious decision. Maybe a slighty dubious sending off, a penalty that never was, a foul missed leading to a goal. Essentially, the managers are invited to ignore every aspect of the actual match and criticise the officials (which does no one any favours, and in fact probably contributes to the sorry state of "Respect"). The losing manager in particular will take this invite with gusto.
I suppose it is in the same vein as how basic MOTD/ITV punditry is, but is this really what football fans want to hear? I certainly don't.
Alex G, THFC
Huddlestone Blew His Chance
I am sick to the back teeth of people lamenting Huddlestone's (inevitable) move to Hull -- which is really like a long kiss goodnight to the Championship and below. His problems are entirely of his own making. There are players with a drop of the talent he has that have become top tier footballers playing for the biggest clubs in the world and yet he remains perhaps what is most frustrating about the modern footballer. An intentional underachiever. If he wanted to play for any team in the country (and I genuinely mean "any") all he needed to do was focus a little, lose a bit of weight and concentrate on getting sharp (sound like anyone else, not looking at Rooney?).
Before anyone offers up any type of defence for the lad, there was a 6 month period when many Spurs fans (me included) deluded ourselves that the "player in there" was about to emerge - and no, it wasn't the period under redknapp when he played alongside Modric. It was when Juande Ramos had all the players up in arms about his brutal training regimen (during which our Tom found a spare 2 stone he could shed!), that said during season 07/08 he managed 47 games, and also, by the way looked fit enough to grace the cover of Mens Health. Since then, he just can't be bothered. The really annoying thing is that he's only 26yrs old!
If he had a bit of the old grey matter, he would look at the DM sized hole in the English midfield and conclude that a fitter, more aggressive tougher tackling version of him could yet go to 3 world cups as a starter but he won't and two seasons from now he'll be back at Nottingham Forest probably alongside a 17 stone Andy Reid and Jermain Jenas (hiding in the changing rooms due to the goldfish bowl effect even in Nottingham) all flattering to deceive on a regular basis.
Iheke "I think Spurs should just leave any player born in Nottingham alone" Ndukwe