There are a few explanations for why Man United seem so comfortable in Europe but not so at home, while some people really aren't very happy with Roy Keane...
After blaming a lack of fortune for Man United's problems, David Moyes made his own luck in an improved second half on Tuesday. More of the same is required...
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First Signs Of Strain?
Chelsea pursuit of Willian under the noses of Tottenham looks like the re-ignition of the feud between Mourinho and Abramovich. I do not understand the transfer - Chelsea are well stocked in the attacking midfield area (even before this summer's acquisitions) and their only indication of any further transfer activity was to purchase a striker. It appears though that Roman has decided that he simply likes the player (not taking into account Jose's wishes) and he could help his 'former Dagestanian president' friend out with 30million. It looks like another Shevchenko type signing which can only lead to another fallout between Mourinho and Abramovich.
I'm probably just bitter. At least we have Townsend though...
Jonesy (Spurs Fan)
A Plan To Annoy Mourinho
Following all of Jose's bluster that he is now the 'happy one', all mellow in his attitude towards management, his slights against Lambert's animated nature on the touchline and Villa's 'style which is not my style' (Really, I thought you turned the most expensively assembled squad in history into a counter attacking team that would kick seven lumps out of your opponents if they couldn't beat them fairly!), I thought it would be funny if a national chant began doing the rounds whenever a team score against Chelsea: THAT'S ONE IN THE EYE, ONE IN THE EYE, ONE IN THE EYE FOR JOSE!
We may then be treated to an exceptionally funny, and potentially explosive, post-match interview where he is asked what he thinks of the chant.
Carl (beat this managerial award JFK: 2024 European Manager of the year with York City - granted it was on Football Manager but yours weren't real either), London
More Football Board Games
After reading the mail on Wenger playing some form of 3D chess, it got me thinking (it's a Friday after all), what other board games people from the world of football would be good/bad at...
Starting with Wenger, I reckon he would be rubbish at Monopoly, despite all his economic 'brilliance'. He would spend the entire game refusing to buy any properties, whilst just collecting £200 every time he passes go and claiming small successes as impressive ("Second place in a beauty contest is, for me, the same as a trophy"). Then when the game nears it's climax, he will suddenly realise he needs to act and offer someone else about £50 for Mayfair, despite the fact it has a hotel on it. Eventually he'll panic and up paying £1000 for Whitechapel Road. He wil repeat this everytime he plays the game.
David Moyes would be really good at Trivial Pursuit. He has clearly spent all summer playing this with Fabregas...
Sam Allardyce, Grant Hoult and Andy Reid would scoff everything really quickly at a Hungry Hungry Hippos session. They might even get round to playing the game afterwards.
And most English players would probably struggle with Connect 4, as I'm not sure they can actually count that high.
Michael, Basel (A high percentage of mailbox entries do seem to come from Switzerland...)
Will Suarez Push For A Move Again?
Through the whole of the summer, as a Liverpool fan, I have been happy at LFCs stance over Suarez. But I really feel like Suarez will have his head turned by this actual interest from Madrid.
It may be late in the window, but if Liverpool were clever they could do a cash plus players deal. Our first XI has generally been good, but squad has lacked depth for years. Yes Suarez is pure quality and hard to replace, but strength in depth is vital over a premier league season. We could get 3 players for Suarez, and with his ban keeping him out a hefty chunk of the season, our attempt at champs league qualification could take a dent before he is even back. Any new players brought in could have an instant impact on the team/squad.
Chance creation has not been a problem in recent seasons, it's been our inability to finish off games. We need to add goals to this squad. Bring in 3 players with the Suarez money/deal, and then add any additional investment from the owners, we could add 5 players to our squad by the end of the window.
I do love Suarez for all he does on the pitch, and he is one of the few players who does something genuinely exciting each game, but his baggage does harm LFC and its reputation. Suarez's departure could actually strengthen LFC if we played it right. It's just a shame Madrid didn't come in earlier, this would have made our position so much stronger and given us time to prepare for this situation. As it is, we will probably keep a player distracted by the lure of Spain and the Champions League. Ah well!
Paul Goodings (LFC)
More footballing education...
I enjoyed Tom (ridiculously small)'s email on football lingo being used in every day chat. Reminds me of when I was in primary school (c.'96) - having spent the best part of my six week summer break obsessing over Championship Manager 2.
For those who've never played (*chortle*), the game rates coaches, managers and other backroom staff from 'Superb' down to 'Very Poor', with 'Unproven' being the bottom level for those poor virtual coaches that haven't been able to demonstrate a prolonged track record. Naturally, as a 9 year old, I got the wrong end of the stick and began using the word 'Unproven' in almost every conversation and piece of work...to describe something as being sh*t. Horrible school lunches were now 'unproven', when someone scuffed a shot in the playground, it was 'unproven', you get the idea, ridiculous...I only stopped when my teacher brought it up with my parents on parents' eve, which of course they couldn't explain.
I was quick to let them know that though I was feeling a little jaded after the summer break, my morale was superb and that I still hoped I was considered an indispensable member of the school
SS-E (bet they never managed to get Stevenage into the European Cup in sub-100 hours...) Canary Wharf
...I sort of get what Vijay, Edinburgh (NUFC - styles were fine until Debuchy arrived!) was saying about Tamogotchis and tattoos since, like Vijay, I was born in the '80s too. The problem is that I genuinely wanted a Tamogotchi but couldn't convince my mum that an egg shaped ball of plastic and silicone was worth £30 so I ended up getting some knock off £4 imposter from Lewisham market - that only ever grew in to a turtle mind - about 18 months after Tamogotchis were in.
I'd like to be able to say that when I started this mail I had envisaged I would cleverly tie this depressing episode of my childhood in to some kind of analogy about modern football and tattoos but that would be a lie.
F*ck you mum.
Simon (sharing's caring) CFC
Liverpool Are Better Than Arsenal Blah Blah Blah
I'll admit it, as an LFC season ticket holder it is has taken me years to throw off the August expectancy that this could be our season. I don't even expect us to finish top four, but I hope we do, and there's an outside chance we might.
Arsenal, on the otherhand, have now qualified for the Champions League an impressive 16 consecutive times. Does that make us an inferior league side to Arsenal? Absolutely. Do I look back on the last 15 seasons of European football with envy at the those famous European nights at Highbury, The Emirates and those classic Arsenal encounters on the continent? Absolutely not.
And therein lies the difference between the two clubs. Arsenal is respected as a consistently good performer in the Premier League era and a regular participant in the Champions League. Liverpool is as a club of genuine European pedigree, currently punching well below its weight. In Europe, at least, we are capable of results which exceed the talent at the Club's disposal (assuming we ever get back into Europe of course). Djimi Traore and Igor Biscan's CL winners medals bear testimony to that.
It is all well and good getting into the Champions League, but you have to be competitive for it to mean anything other than an annual boost to a transfer kitty that never seems to get spent. So what have Arsenal achieved in the last 15 years of qualification for Champions League football? One appearance in a final, an embarassing thumping by Man Utd in a semi-final finish, four other QF finishes. I am not an Arsenal fan, so cannot recall all the classic European nights from those campaigns, but I think even the most ardent Gooner would struggle to come up with more than five classics? I may be wrong, but if not, that equates to one classic European night every three seasons or so, only two semi-final appearances in 15 years, and at the risk of stating the obvious, one final appearance and no actual trophy to show for it all. Arsenal have also exited Europe at the Group/R16 stage in 9 of the last 15 years. Thrilling stuff, no?
Liverpool, on the otherhand, have produced some truly memorable European occasions. Yes we may have only qualified for the Champions League 8 times, but in those 8 campaigns we made the quarter-final 6 times, progressed to the semi-final 3 times, and made it to the final twice. "Istanbul" needs no further explanation. (Over the same period we have also made two UEFA cup finals and won one of them 5-4, which is about as good as European football gets outside the more illustrious Champions League).
So if Luis Suarez is desperate to leave Liverpool for Champions League football, at least go to a club that is more likely than not to progress beyond the Group Stages/R16. Otherwise, is the prospect of Champions League group stage elimination really all that tempting?
Charlie, Birmingham, LFC
Europa League Could Cost Spurs
I'm a Spurs fan of some 45 years standing am very encouraged by the business we've done - and continue to do - this Summer. The Liverpool fan (letters) made some fair points but, overall, I think we'll net out with a far stronger side (and squad) - even if the Welsh boy leaves, as seems inevitable.
But I find it absolutely staggering that Spurs look set to once again pursue this pointless tin pot Europa League thing. I'm in Asia but my heart sank this morning when I saw not only the result v Tbilisi but the scorers and your lead photo of the participants. There's no question in my mind that last season's corresponding pointless pursuit cost us 4th place.
Twice in the run in we had hard fought Thursday night pyrrhic "victories" and then went out at the weekend to lose to Premier league also rans - Fulham (at WHL) and Liverpool. (Take that Mr Roberts); Fulham played in flip-flops from about February (Jol first to be sacked this season anyone...?) If Dembélé doesn't score that devastating equaliser late against Lyon (I was distraught), we finish fourth. Instead we fight to the death and are condemned to a Sysyphian task; Groundhog Day.
If we wanted to treat the competition à la Wenger/Ferguson used to the Carling Cup - run out youngsters and/or fringe players and/or players coming back to fitness - then fine. But we continue to play Soldado, Paulinho, Capoué, Chadli etc....and it's still August! If we drop points at home to Swansea this weekend then what was the upside of a tiring 5 - 0 trip to Georgia?
The (consistent) corollary is I was delighted with the Arse's win in Turkey as I'm hoping they'll continue a hard-fought though inevitably doomed path in that competition. And, not to wish ill on any individuals, if they pick up key injuries on the way so much the better.
I don't think there's a betrayal of Blanchflower here since there's no glory to be had in the Europa league; this trophy is less suited to a cabinet than it is to be stuck on the fridge door to encourage aspirational children. Thursday night, Channel 5 indeed...
People say it's a competition close to AVB's heart but let it go...and let's focus on loftier pursuits. Please?
Big Pete (THFC) in Phuket.
Predicting Willian To Be Rubbish
So having heard so much about this player called Willian and not having a good recollection of his performances in the CL I decided to log on Youtube and check out his compilations. Now generally compilations should be highlighting the best of a player so even Chamakh looks like RVP.
After watching 3 compilations of him, I have realized that all this transfer talk and money being offered for his services, plus Chelsea apparently offering him more despite him completing his medical, he could just be the fall guy for the summer transfer window. Another Gervinho in the making, but way overvalued. Come on, every window needs an unsuspecting hero like Michu and a fall guy as well. Shevchenko anyone? Please don't take it as sour grapes Spurs fans because as he's supposed to be another Spurs signing,