These are truly exciting times in Spain. There are three teams who could end the weekend top of the table and there's a very decent chance that Atletico could lead...
Yes, that means we have some cracking mails on Andy Townsend. We also have a selection of the dozens of retorts from Gunners to a Liverpool fan and much more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Seven Conclusions On Arsenal v Dortmund
As there was no analysis of the Arsenal vs Dortmund game in this morning's mailbox, I thought I would give my two cents on the subject:
* Flamini was missed, that is for sure. We left possession to the opponent for too long periods of time and I'm convinced that with Flamini on the field, we would have been able to break up their play much more efficiently. We would have had a much better grip on the game.
* Although Ramsey is a brilliant player, he is by no means a defensive mdifielder. The way he lost the ball on the first goal is actually not that uncommon for him. However, usually, when that happens, he is much higher on the field which makes it less dangerous. I think Wilshere would have been more suited to play alongside Arteta. Ramsey should either be played on the wing or right behind Giroud. That's where his link-up play can be lethal.
* Giroud had a superb first half. Always offering solutions, always asking for more pressure on the ball carrier. His goal, albeit lucky, was a reward for his persistance.
* That being said, he looked tired in the second half. We need more options up front, because we can't go a season with only one attacker. (And if anyone says Bendtner is the solution, I'll shoot him)
* Where was Ozil? Apart a few flashes of brilliance (especially with Cazorla), I barely saw him. It was quite a disappointing performance on his part. He really should have done better. this might be why he has a reputation of not showing up in big games. But before giving a final judgement let's wait for a few more games.
* Cazorla on the other hand made quite an entry. He took a few minutes to get comfortable, but then offered a lot of solutions to the rest of the team. Even though this is not a surprise, he will be a mighty addition once he gets back in shape. The potential with Ozil could be unstoppable.
* The pressure applied to win the game led to Lewandowski's goal. I agree with Wenger on that. However, with our start to the season, not to play for the win would have been disappointing. A point would have been nice though.
Breathe fellow gooners. This is just one defeat (for the moment). This might be what the team needs, with the list of fixtures that awaits us: a reminder that we still need to work hard to achieve a title this year.
Louis Bazy, AFC
Just to be first in with this...after a fantastic run of results and providing us fans with some very entertaining football. After losing a game to a very good side I'd like to say 'Wenger Out!'
You can add your own pitchfork gif image underneath this e-mail if you want.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
I don't know what Cliff Mallinder is talking about when he says 'Just to be first in with this...after a fantastic run of results and providing us fans with some very entertaining football. After losing a game to a very good side I'd like to say 'Wenger Out!''
I'd personally say it's been a nice learning curve for the team. After a good run of results to build the confidence and team spirit this defeat, which still leaves the team in a healthy position in their group, has come at a good time rather than going into the upcoming games in the league against Liverpool and Man U with overconfidence.
It's a tricky balancing act and by mid November we'll have a better idea of the true quality of the squad. Wenger is currently doing a good job.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
Vermaelen In Midfield? Yes Please
In agreeance with Graham Simons Gooner's suggestion that Vermaelen could have been utilised last night for his experience; I've always seen Vermaelen more as a midfielder than a typical centre-back. I know we'll have Flamini back for the away leg but I'd also like to see Wenger try Vermaelen in the defensive midfielder role. We have an abundance of attacking midfielders and only one (or so it seems) defensive midfielder.
It will be a long season and imagine the confidence our 'captain' will get marshalling the team from in front of Mertesacker and Koscielny without the worry his mistakes will directly cause a goal. It'll be like signing a new player.
Vermaelen in defensive midfield?
No. Not now, not ever. No.
He's Warming Up
Stewie Griffin (Groundhog Day begins here! Not Arsene's fault tbf, they probably thought the team in yellow was Norwich)
On The London Teams
Schalke vs Chelsea
* Good to see Jose break his Germany hoodoo.
* In ways, it was a typical Jose-away-Europe performance.
* But I was still not happy with sloppiness in the first half - especially the last 10-15 mins. Misplaced passes and clueless possession.
* Maybe, you expect the home team to dominate during a part of the game.
* Torres has same goals for Chelsea in CL as he did for Liverpool - as the saying goes, he scores when he wants.
* JT-Cahill was a stable defensive partnership where things looked safe, we won't concede. But there is no fun in that! I want Luiz back!
* Draxler had an off day, but the kid is an amazing prospect (wonder why united never bid for him, he is a good winger you know).
* Always felt bad that for his intellect, work ethic and professionalism, Frank Lampard did not possess natural technical abilities with the ball as a footballer. But if that is added to frank and remove 10+ years, we have our no 10 = Oscar.
* Brilliant on the ball, tactically astute, energetic and has a superb awareness on the pitch. Watch Torres' second goal build-up. What presence of mind to get the ball to Torres - in Andy's words, take a bow son. (I'm describing Oscar)
Dortmund vs Arsenal
* Saw the second half in parts, last 20 mins in full - Arsenal's old problems were suddenly back - a back door that was open!
* But really did the problem vanish - I don't think so. Flamini was an important signing but he alone cannot take charge for a huge campaign.
* Having said that, a draw would have been a fair result for Arsenal. They did take the game to the Germans in the second half.
* Jurgen Klopp never ceases to amaze - apparently he was eating sandwich (or something) with coffee during the half time! The sooner we get to see him in the Premier League the more fun.
* This group now has three teams on same points. Still any one of the three will goto Europa league.
Aravind, CFC, (what can Sociedad do today?), Chennai
The Redknapp Seal
Does anyone know if Jamie Redknapp as described Alex Fergusons book as a revelation? Want to know if it's worth getting.
Gareth (Fergie would have put an extra striker on at the 70th minute against Southampton) Dublin
The Redknapp Gazump
I think everyone is missing the key point about Fergie's book.
It will take the focus off 'Arry's book and really damage sales, which will annoy him.
Which is a great thing.
What Rafa Should Say...
If I were Rafa Benitez and wanted to respond to Ferguson's book criticisms, I would simply note that while Benitez's book reveals his tactical insights and knowledge of the game, Ferguson's revelations on his management style is seemingly entirely focused on tyranny and having undue influence over others.
Also, seeing as Ferguson's own 4th Commandment Of Football Management in his Harvard Business Review article was 'Never, ever cede control', his description of Benitez as a 'control freak' can only be seen as a compliment.
Oliver (Rafa's Biggest Fan) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Fanmail For N O'Reilly
N O'Reilly's anti-Fergie rant had the kind of tone that, if you were sat in a pub and weren't even in its direct glare but just sat somewhere nearby, you'd still have your head in your hands at its one-eyed foolery.
Here's a few things, O'Reilly:
1) V Persie 'injury-plagued and aging'. He's just turned 30, which means they might get another good two years out of him at least, on top of the one (and probably two) they've already had. His last serious injury has been buried by the glut of goals and quality since - but, just to stick to the facts, it was in 2010-11. Oh woe these plagues!
2) '[Ferguson's] approach was always short-term.' I mean, I can barely find the strength to write it, but, as briefly as I can: Beckham Butt Scholes Giggs Neville G Neville P.
3) 'Ferguson never resolved the Rooney problem.' Apart from, obviously, in whatever way meant he added another 50 goals, and played another 80-odd games for them since the high-profile dispute. It might seem odd that in a world where star players adorn billboards, Coke cans, and every piece of marketing bumf in between, you do sometimes have to 'give in' to their demands - but then again, it might not. Managing Man U is not managing a pub team, and it isn't Champ Man either.
4) 'Ferguson wasn't planning for what would happen after his retirement as all conscientious managers do.' Care to give the list of conscientious retired managers you're basing this on? And - he did pick a successor. And he did create a team, whether you rate it or not, that had strong involvement from Welbeck, Smalling, de Gea, Cleverley, Jones, Hernandez - who I'm guessing he didn't see retiring alongside him.
5) 'Compare that with Wenger who clearly wants to ensure the stability of Arsenal football club.' Pretty sure most Gooners wouldn't much enjoy a 'compare that with Ferguson' exercise based on the previous decade.
6) 'All of United's current problems stem from him.' This is when I'd get up and look for a new table.
...Am I the only one who sees the irony in N O'Reilly calling Ferguson a 'bitter old man'? In fairness, I don't know how old N is, but blimey is he bitter! Yes, RVP was a little bit short term, but £24m for one of the best strikers in the world is hardly throwing money at Stewart Downing. And then to extrapolate that as 'Ferguson didn't care about the long term future of Manchester United' is just bizarre. The last time Ferguson spent £5m or more on a player over 25 was Dimitar Berbatov. Five years ago. City and their 'holistic approach' did it three times this summer alone!
Then let's get on to the comparisons with Wenger and Mourinho, shall we? Now I don't really want to take a cheap shot at Wenger, as I have a lot of respect for him. However, when you say 'for a club to be truly successful', you realise you're talking about a club who haven't won a worthwhile trophy since Saddam Hussein went on trial? Is that truly successful? And as for Mourinho, to imply that any success since his departure is down to his influence is to do a disservice to Ancelotti and Hiddink. It's interesting that after these two highly experienced managers left, those 'Mourinho traits' seemed to a wane considerably (not withstanding the Greece-at-the Euros style Champions League victory).
So just bite your tongue for a few weeks during the aftermath of his book, and then after that it'll all be over. You'll (probably) never have to spout such nonsense again to try and discredit the incredible achievements of a man whose personality you dislike.
...I know I shouldn't do this, I know I should just rise above. And I know the rest of you are bored of United fans moaning. But the thing is that this time, I really couldn't help myself. I feel the Mailbox is for discussion and not for trolling, which is why I feel that N O'Reilly's letter shouldn't go unnoticed for the absolute drivel that it is.
- "All of United's current problems stem from him. Ferguson's 'win at all costs' mentality has not set United up for the future'. This is total nonsense. First of all, that mentality has served United pretty well for 26 years. Second of all, it wasn't just Ferguson who had that mentality - he picked players who were winners and the results followed. This discounts the impact he had on the club in the longer term, such as eradicating a drinking culture and putting the youth system at the heart of the club.
- He bought van Persie (injury plagued and aging) as a stopgap measure. Why? A nice and easy one - it's because he's f*cking good at football. Seems like his injury record has been pretty good now that he's out of the clutches of the butchers at Arsenal's medical centre, and one shouldn't confuse a loss of form with the signs of ageing. United fans know what these both look like.
- 'Yes, yes, we know they won the league last year at a canter but it was an aberration.' Was it? Off the top of my head, I can remember winning fairly easily in 93-4, 99-00, 00-01, 06-07, 08-09 and 10-11. The 'win at all costs' mentality seemed to serve us pretty well in that time - every year neutrals would come up with some excuse for United winning the title, but the simple fact is that United were better than everyone else almost every single season of the last 20. The only constant there? Yep, the manager. Who do the players credit for picking them up after 11-12 and losing to City? The manager. Do I need to continue here?
- 'Ferguson wasn't planning for what would happen after his retirement as all conscientious managers do'. Which great managers would these be then? Did Busby leave a well-oiled winning machine? Did Brian Clough? Shankly, Paisley and Fagan left behind some pretty decent teams (i.e. title winners) and the men who followed hardly 'led' said teams to 8th place after 8 weeks, so maybe the current manager might need to bear some responsibility.
- 'Compare that with Wenger who clearly wants to ensure the stability of Arsenal football club long after his tenure has finished. Arsene knows that for a club to be truly successful you have to instill a philosophy that lives on after you've gone.' OK, let's compare that with Wenger. Shall we talk about the last eight years or just the whole period of Wenger's tenure? Either way, we know the final score.
- 'We're now seeing what the true level of the current United squad is, devoid of the 'air of invincibility' that used to surround them when Ferguson propped them up by force of personality alone.' This is absolute bollocks, quite frankly. Either his force of personality was a good thing and led to success (which contradicts your suggestion that his 'win at all costs mentality' was damaging) or the squad are, as most suspect, underperforming at the moment, for which Ferguson can't be held accountable.
- And if Rooney has a problem, why doesn't he ask Paul Stretford to help fix it? He seems to want what is best for Wayne after all...
N O'Reilly, you're a f*cking idiot.
One Of Very, Very Many
I'm sure you'll get a lot of these but Dan (intentionally obnoxious 'ya'll'), USA should really note that the expression 'Y'all' is a contraction of 'you all' so the correct spelling would be 'y'all'.
Rhysmanc (I love Americans when I'm over there but every single Yank that contributes to the mailbox really grinds my gears)
The Lion King
Every time I hear Villa's winger's name, Bacuna, it gets me singing Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.
Then it dawned on me, when Villa and Chelsea meet again next year the commentator could potentially utter, as the Villa player miscues a clearance to the opposition, 'Bacuna to Mata'. That would cheer me up no end.
Andy (It means no worries, for the rest of your days) Sime