He might have been rendered 'unfashionable' even as they bought him, but Marouane Fellaini showed Manchester United why they bought him against West Brom, says Adam Bate...
In recent times Arsenal have appeared cowed against the better teams, so it was perhaps encouraging that they imposed their own game on Everton, says Nick Miller...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just listening to 'Sorted for E's and Whizz' and noticed how much the talking bit sounds more like Neil Warnock rather than Jarvis Cocker. A classic song ruined.
Russell Burns, Aldridge
Save One Man's Sanity
Having listened to the furore about Watford's disallowed "goal" last night, I seem to be the only person who thinks the correct decision was made. From the regular camera angle, the ball looked close to being over the line and the TV commentators were right to initially question whether it was a goal or not. However, when the incident was viewed from the camera looking along the goal line (both in slow-motion and paused), the ball was shown to have not completely crossed the line. It was very close but, I would say, not over. It certainly was not "clearly" over the line as everybody else seems to think.
For the sake of my sanity, does anybody agree with me?
Graeme Stansfield (Stevenage FC)
Backlash To The Etc And So On
So you're having a pop at a fellow Spurs fan for having the temerity to suggest your team attacks a bit more?
Have you only just started supporting Spurs?
Take it from a gooner who grew up in the 80s and 90s and went to school taking stick from Spurs fans who told us we might win but our football was rubbish.
The legacy of Graham's Arsenal and Blanchflower's Spurs lives on in pretty much every 30+ fiveasider in North London. The Arsenal fans are easy to recognise - we defend deep in numbers and kick everything in sight, while the Spurs fans all think their Gazza.
In short, Andrew wants your team to attack a bit more because that's what is expected of Spurs - it's in every sinew of the club. If you can't grasp that I suggest it is you that needs to f*ck off and support Stoke.
Graham Simons, Gooner, (Has many Spurs-supporting mates so know what I'm talking about), Norf London
Praise For Thayden
I would love to have Thayden in the pub with me arguing with my fellow 'loyal' Tottenham supporters after a game spent moaning. A mixture of caustic humour and a good dose of sense? Yes, please.
Stand up and take a bow.
Leigh, THFC, Hong Kong
Cats And Thayden
Yesterday I bought my sister a book about a grumpy cat. Whilst the cat seems to do nothing but display a devastatingly scathing view on things, that cat is a source of endless amusement to her, I guess it's cathartic to see an anthropomorphised grumpy cat saying what everyone really thinks, in what is a quite elegant but concise way. Obviously I can ask for something in return that I would enjoy just as much.
I really wish thayden had a book.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
In response to Gavin MCFC; you state that City's dropped points this season are based on individual errors and then proceed to state that despite not watching Man Utd's games their dropped points are due to managerial errors.
So far this season (excluding pre season games) we have conceded 15 goals. The majority of these have come from the same individual uncharacteristic mistakes that you cite as City's downfall.
Swansea - Welbeck gives the ball away on the edge of the box - Goal (mistake)
Liverpool - Ferdinand doesn't follow Agger's run - Goal (mistake)
Leverkusen - Two Perfectly good goals conceded.
City - Four avoidable goals but credit where it's due City were very good.
West Brom - Ferdinand very weak in the tackle for one (mistake) great finish for the second.
Shaktar - Vidic fails to clear his lines - Goal (mistake)
Sunderland - Vidic fails to clear his lines - Goal (mistake)
Southampton - perfectly good goal.
Stoke - Two perfectly good goals.
So a third of all our goals conceded this season have come from individual uncharacteristic mistakes. if these mistakes had not occurred Man Utd would have conceded ten goals in fourteen games. None too shabby when you consider that City spanked four past them.
Individual mistakes should not be used to protect a manager from criticism and Moyes and Pelligrini have both made mistakes. The true test of a team and a manager is how they respond in the face of continued mistakes. I suggest the right time to assess how these managers have performed is at the end of the season. Let's hope they both get the time for us to do so.
More Last Man Stuff
Tim Benson, Berkhamsted, Herts quite rightly reminds us that there is no "last man" rule. No, of course not; it's about the denial of goal-scoring opportunities.
For argument's sake, let's say Arteta doesn't foul Chamakh. Chamakh is then free to move away from him and can either run into/toward the box, with the ball still under control, or pass to his supporting team mate who can also shoot. Ask yourself this, Tim: Is that not the very definition of a goal-scoring opportunity?
As someone else said on this site: referees aren't in a position to judge on how good a player is (in all likelihood MC would have screwed his shot wide or fallen over his own feet) so it doesn't matter if Chamakh would have actually scored, but the point is this: if Arteta hadn't fouled Chamakh there would have been an opportunity for his team to score.
The reason people talk about the "last man" being a red card is because he's literally the last outfield player who can physically prevent him from having a goal scoring opportunity. Therefore if said player fouls the man in possession he has illegally prevented this, therefore it's a red card without question.
Had Chamakh been running towards or already in the corner then no; it's not a red. If Arsenal had another defender covering as well as Arteta; also not a red. If Chamakh had been on the edge of his own box; not a red.
It's not always the case, but in this situation it is. It's just a hell of a lot easier to say "last man" than "prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity" in commentary.
The London Lot
I've written in about this before (a long time ago, can't remember if published), but what is it with London fans and booing their own team? Arsenal fans do it a lot, Spurs fans do it a lot. England fans do it at Wembley. The Utd fans were right behind Man U this weekend despite the uber-knee-jerk media furore, and you won't see City fans booing our own team or manager anytime soon. You didn't see England getting booed when Wembley was being re-built and England toured the provinces.
Basically, you London lot... take a chill pill every now and then, step back and smell the smog. Booing your own teams makes you look pretty bloody short-sighted, when it is Arsenal or Spurs especially, and does nothing but piss off your managers, who are two of the best on the planet. Booing OUR England team is plain annoying and rather embarrassing for the rest of us, I can tell you.
Spurs have pretty much broken even on transfers this season and re-built their team. City spent a f*ck load on tweaks. Spurs are outperforming City to some degree, but your fans feel the need to boo and ours don't? Batshit mental. Can't understand the mentality - we have won some proper trophies recently as well so would have more of a right to feel a bit impatient. Utd fans have even more reason than anyone else the way the season began, but there they are with banners hailing 'The Chosen One' at the Stoke match, getting behind their boys.
Arsenal fans, if Wenger decides that due to the fans booing him and acting like children, he feels he can't meet their expectations and goes off to PSG, Madrid or any other of the top clubs on the planet who are dying to sign him, how will you feel then? Who will replace him? What if the damage has already been done during the Villa game? It has seemingly got him questioning if can be doing with you anymore.
Lastly, Moyes. The test of a manager at a big club is not one win here, or a defeat there. It is about how he reacts to situations that arise during the season, how he gets the team to react to hard times. I would say that after how bad it had got during the transition at the start of the season, as he got to know the players properly (i.e. as his football team rather than from outside the goldfish bowl), getting a win away at Sociedad and then turning the match at Stoke about shows that he might well have what it takes. If you accept that after losing Fergie, things were going to be shaky for a bit, then Moyes first big test was whether he could pick the team up and get them moving after the West Brom and Southampton results. He has passed it.
In Defence Of Nani
I'd like to defend Nani after some of the stick he got on Saturday and on the comments section of the article on F365.
Firstly, your article claims he's had "a number of ineffectual performances this season" - eh? He's been one of our few bright spots since he returned to the side a few weeks ago. Created more chances per game than any other Utd player and along with young Adnan, has finally given us some zip in the wide areas after the uninspiring performances of the wingers last season . Yes he had a mare on Saturday but that was his first poor game of the season. It's funny how someone like Valencia went through an entire year of poor form without the boo boys getting on his back.
One of the good things Moyes has done lately is put his trust in creative, technical, flair players like Nani. For the last 2 years Fergie was obsessed with playing limited, predictable workhorses like Valencia, Park and Young on the flanks. The irony is so many United fans pride themselves on attacking football and playing "the United way", but they fail to understand the nature of flair players. Yes, they'll frustrate you, but that's because their game is based on taking risks. I'd rather see my wingers do that than pass the ball 5 yards sideways at every opportunity. As long as players like that are productive in terms of creating chances, you accept the frustrations.
You get people constantly throwing words like "inconsistent" around with Nani - he's got 45 assists and 31 goals in the last 4 years, and that's having spent most of the last 18 months out of the side due to injuries and a falling out with Fergie. Read those numbers again and then tell me he's inconsistent. His Utd career so far has proven that if he has a consistent run of games, he's one of the best wingers in Europe (Ballon d'or nomination anyone?) Unfortunately over the last couple of years he's been playing in a side where creativity has been marginalised, hard work has been prioritised over technical ability, and the fans get on his back at the slightest error.
You wonder what sort of treatment Zaha will get when he eventually gets his chance in the team, because he's much the same sort of player.....
Platini And The Business Of Gathering Votes
So just like any other politician trying to get voted in, Platini is trying to get votes from the 'weaker'/'under represented' confederations and wants 40 teams represented at future World Cups all in the hope of being elected President of FIFA. First of all, let's be honest about this - love it or hate it, this will probably get him votes so there's every chance that this could actually happen.
Those that love the idea do so because they want more teams from other confederations joining in the world's greatest party. Those against it are primarily worried about the quality dropping. Both are valid points, but what if we could have both:
Going back to Aaron Maguire's suggestion of a FIFA XI, how about instead allocating 5 of the additional 8 slots to confederation teams made up of players whose nations did not qualify to create an: AFC/OFC XI, CAF XI, CONMEBOL XI, CONCACAF XI, and UEFA XI (giving the 3 extra slots to the AFC, CAF, and CONCACAF).
It would result in more nations having players at the finals and surely a confederation XI would be stronger than the weakest qualifying team from that same confederation, so the quality of participating teams should also increase.
Peter (or maybe they should just do this for the confederations cup instead) Slater
Climbing Down A Few Rungs
Climb down the ladder quite a few rungs and you will discover The Conference.
You will also discover a quaint little outfit called Forest Green Rovers (FGR) who have for some strange reason assumed the mantle of the longest serving team in that league. (Despite being technically relegated and reprieved on at least one occasion).
They are also very wealthy.
Owner and marketeer Dale Vince has made it his mission to get FGR into the Football League and in time honoured style has chucked bucket loads of cash at it. His publicity team at the green energy wind farm company Ecotricity that he owns are putting all their might behind Vince's money along with meat free burgers, eco mowers, electric club cars and chucking cow shit on the pitch. Just one problem. The team are also shit on the pitch.
Long standing (by Conference standards) manager Dave Hockaday has been given the overdue boot. All sorts are rumoured to be replacing him (Tony Adams and Sylvan Legwinski are the latest) plus the usual nutters - Warnock and the ever unpopular Martin Allen - the latter not allowed in nearby Cheltenham.
Vince though has a problem. Informed rumour has it the wage bill is nearly a million. Players have been signed on previously unheard of long contracts (2/3 years in the Conference?) And they're not very good.
As I write they languish in the lower half of the league having lost the last 5 games on the spin. Last Saturday Bishops Stortford from the Skrill Conference South ko'd them out the FA Cup and Vince is increasingly looking like he's stuck with a very expensive donkey.
Hockaday left claiming the club was in great shape (explain please?) but to Joe Public it looks a disaster. Especially when you add some hard facts.
Mr Vince has no doubt ensured their future but the truth is they rarely break the 1500 mark on attendance (contrast with Luton - 5,000 plus) and it's difficult to see where they will ever grow that number from. Cheltenham (10 miles away) struggle to make 3.500, only 2 and a bit for a recent evening game.
As far as I know there are no plans to increase the population of Nailsworth by 50,000 so how does it all stack up? It doesn't.
It's all a very interesting conundrum that really only one man can sort. He doesn't look like your archetypical wide boy but his patience with Project Promotion must be getting a bit stretched.
Let's hope his grand plan does not get blown away .... literally.