One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...
With only two weeks to go until the start of the season, Man United still have plenty of work to do in the transfer market. It seems the enormity of the task is dawning on Van Gaal...
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You just know that with Vidic leaving, Moyes is going to buy Phil Jagielka.
We'll Always Have Moscow
I could handle it when Van Der Sar retired, Wes Brown was tough to take but I knew why, Hargreaves just broke, Scholsey did it his way, Ronaldo was always going to leave, and Tevez turned out to be a twunt.
But Vidic, not you too. He really was immense for United. A real warrior on the pitch. No need for Captain, Leader, Legend banners, everyone knew his quality.
And now you are leaving. Before your time.
This makes me very sad. Very sad indeed.
Yum Yum Yum
The Vidic announcement is mailbox timely.
For certain fans, and almost all pixie-ish outside tricksters, this is latest sign of of a collapsing empire. Handwringing, browbeating, and the continued kicking of Moyes will surely ensue.
For those fans finding much to enjoy about the season, it is all perfectly fine. Vidic is an all-time great. The captain, and undisputed leader, of the last great Fergie side. Yet nobody who has been paying attention to the great man's performances this season can seriously view it as a major blow to the future of the club.
So farewell old friend, you've been bloody brilliant. I expect many mailboxers will have favourite moments to share. For me, you will always be the handsome devil that forced my mum to blurt out 'yum yum yum' during a lingering Super Sunday close-up.
Simon (still scarred), Paisley
When it came to the last days of Ferguson's reign there was plenty of pundits,journalists and ex-players who picked the best United 11 under Ferguson. Surprisingly, Vidic was left out of the majority of these at the stead of Stam, Pallister or Bruce.
Now with the announcement that the Serb is leaving, he might get the appreciation he deserves as possibly United's greatest ever centre-half - in the modern era anyway. Whilst Bruce and Pallister were excellent domestically, they were frequently exposed in Europe. Although Stam had two great seasons, he is often portrayed better than he was because Ferguson let him go a season too early without finding a better replacement. These defenders all played in great teams, but teams with weaknesses that were always at the back (possibly a result of less protection in those swashbuckling 4-4-2 days).
The advent of a more defensive-minded United which garnered more consistent results in Europe (three finals in four years) coincided with Vidic's peak and his great relationship with Ferdinand and Van Der Sar. He was the best of the bunch though. Has there ever been a better centre-half in the air? His distribution was criminally underated and his positional sense was also excellent. He was also a master of the dark arts - a must for any world-class defender (he will love Italy).
He will be missed. His importance in leading the team to the many trophies won during his era (15), his presence during that ridiculous clean sheet record of 2008-9 clearing header after header like the RoboCentre-half Vidicoid that he was and the violence with which he speed-loafed crucial goals in. And more importantly, his ability to at all times not have the personality of Ferdinand -perhaps his greatest feat.
Yes, farewell Vidic.
Looking On The Bright Side
As you trawl through the outpouring of grief from my fellow pilgrims about the exit of our captain (and what a f***ing captain by the way), hopefully this signals the start of the new era.
Football is a tough business. Players and managers come and go. We have been so so lucky in the past near 30 years that we have had the ever-present, the figurehead, the maverick leading us. Sir Alex was a constant, and his players fought tooth and nail for him.
Clearly this isn't the case this season. Apart from, say, Wayne Rooney, nobody has performed up to their usual standard. My explanation for this is that Rooney did not rely on Sir Alex for his performances and never felt that he had anything to prove to him - he knows how good he can be. Messrs Ferdinand, Evra, and to some extent Van Persie have been found wanting this season. Age my be a contributing factor, but without Sir Alex to drive them on, is it much of a suprise?? Rio and Patrice will be leaving this summer, and I don't know that we can say with confidence that Robin will remain. Hopefully he does.
We need to get back the players who want to prove themselves to the manager. Vidic's exit gives Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans absolute responsibility, and that ought to be a hell of a boost of confidence, which will spur them on. The jury is still out on whether they are up to it, but Moyes wants these boys to be playing for him, the same way Rio and Vida played for his predecessor. It will be the making of them.
Nobody likes change. The way that everything will stay the same is by continuing to change. We'll never die.
RedArmy (ThankyouVida), Belfast
World Won't End If You Finish Seventh
I have to say first that I'm a Liverpool fan. Instead of reading it at the bottom you'll read it here, get the context right and decide early whether you should take this seriously. You probably won't, as this is yet another mail discussing Moyes.
Obviously I'm enjoying this season a lot more than I expected to. You can pretend it's not true, but we do not have a top-four class squad. Our defending is bordering on the absurd, our midfield is hiding its lack of ability behind hard work, and the injury report looks like it's been taken from the NFL rather than the Premier League. And yet with time to gel, the players have a good understanding of each other. The manager had adjusted his 'philosophy' when he realised his players aren't good enough to pass teams into submission and is now playing to maximise their strengths. It's going well. Very well.
Moyes is currently managing a squad worth MAYBE fourth. United's squad aren't nearly as good as Chelsea's or City, who prove that you maybe don't need time, but only if your name is Mourinho or you have a spare few billions in the bank. Arsenal's squad have such great chemistry due to the time they've been allowed to work together with minimal changes, that Ozil almost looks out of place in most games (until he makes one exquisite pass to justify his fee). I will not compare United with Liverpool as I am biased, and also scared I'd end up admitting they're better. And with Everton having a great season, they shouldn't be discounted. Look no further than Spurs to see what happens when you throw everyone in and expect results overnight.
As he is currently seventh with a 4-5th best squad in the league, I'd say calling for his head is premature. If you don't trust his experience, you should try and trust Fergie's. There's nothing to say he won't keep doing badly, but it's too early to say he won't improve. He could improve the squad, he's already trying. You've bought Mata! Who saw that coming when the season started? He could get a better understanding of his players. This isn't Football Manager where you get a report card for every player with marks out of 20 for crossing and finishing. Even Wenger was a bit surprised this year at just how brilliant Ramsey has been, and those two have been together for the football equivalent of decades. Moyes had 7-8 months and you're sharpening your knives already.
The squad is barely worth Champions League football. Drop the sense of entitlement. Pretend to be football fans for a season. Get some perspective. The world won't end if you finish seventh. In fact, the lower you finish the more money will go into rebuilding. Time is important in this business, it's undebatable.
Tom (missing Laudrup) LFC
Change Is Good, United Fans
To all you Man U fans carrying on like you have been since the start of the season, dominating the mailbox with your opinions about Moyes and so on, a change is GOOD. I have been through the same situation as you lot being a Australian cricket fan. Yes, we dominated the sport for 15 years and every time they played we would just about win in three days by an innings and it got to the point where I wanted them to start losing so I could enjoy watching them to see a real game and the team actually fight for a win. Well, as you cricket fans know, I got my wish and it was hard to take but it made the competition interesting and when we won a game it was very rewarding.
You have to move on and the era of dominating has gone for Man U for now but the rebuilding process happens and takes time and when you win you will appreciate it more than when pretty much had the win in the bag before you took the field. I know I loved it when we won these Ashes more than ever before.
Been a silent reader here for around eight years. My virgin post.
Adam (Chelsea FC) Towcester
With yesterday's afternoon mailbox once again containing howls of derision and clamours for Moyes to be thrown headfirst down Busby Way (with apologies to Tom in Dubai and the eloquent lankymanc), and with this rambunctious cacophony of screaming and moaning set to continue for the foreseeable future, I wondered, are there any Man City fans out there who take a look at their neighbours and think to themselves 'f***ing hell, this rabble next door don't half make a lot of noise'.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Stats Not In Terry's Favour
Re Lawrence's email supporting John Terry's inclusion for England.
So apparently John Terry is a world-class centre-back. I'm sure Thiago Silva, Giorgio Chiellini, and the rest are glad to have him in their select group. Just a few points from Monday's game using WhoScored.com though
1) John Terry was the fourth-ranked centre-back in Monday's match.
2) He was ranked 7/8 out of all the defenders on the pitch
3) Cahill's scored a rating of 8.5. Terry had a rating of 6.8.
Over the course of the season there are the following stats.
1) Jagielka and Cahill both have higher ratings than Terry.
2) Terry has the same rating as Dawson, Sterling and Henderson. Should these players also be the first name on the team sheet?
I'm well aware that stats aren't everything and that Terry does bring experience and organisation. Nevertheless, England's defensive organisation in qualifying showed that they don't need him. He would be a back-up at best.
I would think that the final, and possibly most important, nail in his coffin would be the lack of respect he shows for managers. AVB and Benitez at Chelsea, as well as Capello at the last World Cup, all had to deal with him undermining them. Why would Hodgson want to bring that on himself?
To summarise, Terry may have once been world-class but not anymore. Chelsea's improved defence this season is down to a more cautious approach than to JT's heroics. He's also likely to be poison to the morale of the squad and the management.
However, were England to do the seemingly impossible and win the tournament, I'm sure, selected or not, he would be there, shinpads and all, to take his deserved share of the glory.
Another Fantasy Squad
As a big fan of the World Cup Ladder, I couldn't help but respond to Tom (Anyone else have a good idea on how to rank English players? Would it be sexist to do it by most attractive WAGs) from yesterday's mailbox. I think it rather depends which fantasy football you play, and what its scoring system is... I play the excellent Bluebones (ff.bluebones.net), where players are divided into divisions, and players can only be owned by a single team in each division (acquired through a blind bidding system). Admittedly their system rewards clean sheets, goals and assists over less tangible statistics, but their ladder (tweaked to feature three keepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders, and four forwards) would be:
1. Rooney (66)
2. Sturridge (62)
3= Lallana (57)
3= Rodriguez (57)
5. Terry (56) (retirement and... issues... notwithstanding)
6. Lambert (54)
7. Gerrard (53)
8= Cahill (46)
8= Adam Johnson (46)
10. Welbeck (44)
11= Shaw (43)
11= Nolan (43)
13. Jagielka (41)
14. Shelvey (40)
15. Baines (39)
16= Henderson (37)
16= Sidwell (37)
18. Kyle Walker (35)
19= Walcott (34) (obviously won't go because of injury)
19= Dawson/Clyne/Bardsley (34) (fighting over the last defensive place...two places if we ignore Terry)
21. Ruddy (27)
22. Hart (24)
23. Foster (11)
24. Puncheon (32) (to replace Walcott)
The most obvious conclusion is that I really struggled for keepers - the best, Ruddy, was only the 15th best keeper! I don't actually think that this would be a disastrous squad in defence and up front, but like I say, obviously prioritises goals and assists for midfielders (I'm looking at you, Kevin Nolan). Somehow, Steve Sidwell also makes this squad! I don't know what Roy isn't seeing in him...
For reasons I'm not quite sure of, I've spent the last half an hour fondly remembering childhood summers spent down at the playing fields (Deansgate Lane or Smithy Green in Formby, if you're interested - it all depended who was playing out), where we'd try to perfect some of our favourite famous goals in games that could seemingly last for days.
Shouts of "Letchkov!" would perforate the balmy air every time someone attempted a diving header from an improbable distance,
"YEBOAH!" at every very hard shot in the vague direction of the crossbar, and no one could go home until someone had managed to do an actual scorpion kick (not a goal, admittedly, but impressive enough to warrant thousands of kids across the country ruining their school trousers at lunchtime for in the year or so after that game).
So, a question for mailboxers - is there one goal that you tried to recreate when you were a kid more than any other? As I imagine is the case for many of a similar age to me, mine would have to be Gazza's dink-then-volley against Scotland at Euro '96 - with a special mention for Trevor Sinclair's scissor kick (I never succeeded, unsurprisingly) and Jamie Redknapp's last minute freekick against Blackburn in 1995, which I practised for hours in my garden using the patio chairs as a wall.
Andy Craig (may or may not still do this in my head when playing), LFC