Are pre-season tours really a problem? Liverpool went to Australia last summer and it didn't prevent them from having a good season. Plus, thoughts on LvG and keepers...
We have a long mail about the travails of supporting Spurs, plus Friday thoughts on Marko Marin, marketing, victory v beauty, travelling and vanishing sprays...
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Build England Around Liverpool,Everton And Southampton
I really think Tom - MUFC (Cheshire) is on to something. I was recently thinking about some of the power-houses of International Football and there is a key trend that England doesn't follow. Spain, Italy and Germany build there international squads around two club teams (Barca/Real, Bayern/Dortmund, Juventus/AC). Without even trying to blend anything, there is a natural cohesion to their international squads and a defined way of playing that mimics their two club teams.
The long and short of it is England should do the same. They should build the national team around Liverpool and Everton. These are the teams with the largest selection of English players (no research behind this statement) and they play a very similar style. End result is an English team that is used to playing together as well as playing attractive modern football.
Actually,while I'm at it I'll go for a complete blend of Liverpool, Everton and Southampton. They have by far the best selection English players and footballing style. But hey, what would I know - I'm Irish, I enjoy penalty shootouts.
Cleverley's 'Modelled' On Xavi
With Tom Cleverly getting another round of slating on the comments section for being neither destroyer nor goal scorer, doesn't anyone else think he's modelling his game on Xavi? Not saying he's in the same category, but Xavi isn't a prolific goal scorer, doesn't play as a number 10, doesn't smash attackers to get the ball back, often plays it nice and simple and, yes, sideways, to retain possession.
I think Cleverly's problem is that he plays in a league that doesn't favour that style of player, and at United in particular a team that doesn't have any use for a centre-circle-hanging ticker-overer. Next stop Swansea?
Jack Francis, Bristol
Pellegrini and Mourinho arguing about who spent what, where and on whom is a joke.
It's like two Chelsea mums draped in Hermes and Chanel arguing over who has taken the most 'holier than thou austerity measures in their house'.
Mourinho has bought titles for Chelsea, Pelligini is about to.
Both talk about the fairness but in reality neither has a leg to stand on.
It's frankly offensive.
No cheeky midweek punts, so let me have an attempt at throwing some 'gut feeling' bets out there, I'm feeling lucky tonight!
West Ham V Norwich
Two defensive teams lacking fire power, this game screams low scoring draw. While 0-0 can be backed at 11-1, a safer bet may will be the U2.5 goals market at 4/5.
Hull v Southampton
Being a Saints fan I do fancy them to win 2-1, (again at 11-1) though with Hull's new strike force and actually being a realist, both teams to score market looks safer at a good value 5/6.
West Brom v Chelsea
Sometimes a bet seems too good to be true. West Brom have been a dodgy team for Chelsea in the past, but on the current form of both teams I can't see how Chelsea can mess up. Chelsea HT/FT can be backed at 5/4.
Cardiff v Aston Villa
Quite a tough game to call this. I fancy Cardiff to get something, but Villa are pretty good on the road. Whats sure is that both teams will be scrapping desperately for points.
Based on this i'm going for a late goal after 73 minutes (also in honour of the super sub himself) at 5/6.
Stick £5 on a nice 4 way accumulator and this adds up to around £68.
More On The FA Panel
Rich in this morning's mailbox highlighted the work that the NHL do in presenting videos explaining clearly the rationale behind each suspension. As a fellow ice hockey fan, I would like to make a some further points off Rich's excellent suggestion.
1: This is not an original idea, but the first thing the Premier League need to do is stop hiding behind their policy of "if an official sees it and doesn't act, then we won't do anything". Plenty of other sports - where officials are treated with more (rather than complete) respect - will overrule these decisions, acknowledging that officials do make mistakes from time to time, which is unfortunate at the time but it does ensure that the right outcome is reached.
2: Because of the nature of the NHL's setup, all games are televised through the NHL Network, which is based in Toronto. This means that the technology for reviewing goals is there are a designated central location, and more relevantly to this it means that there is high quality footage available for use as evidence (for both sides) in any disciplinary cases.
3: The presenter of that video, Brendan Shanahan, is the NHL's Chief Disciplinarian. He is also a Hall of Famer whose final career stats put him 13th all time in goals scored, 52nd all time in assists and 22nd all time in penalty minutes.Basically, he was incredibly skilful and also tough as nails, but his penalty tally made him a surprise choice for many for his current job, but his status as a player (and as that type of player) give him a unique insight.
I'm not sure if there is a direct football equivalent to Shanahan the player (other than Alan Kelly; Shanahan used to claim he was the reserve keeper in Ireland's 1994 World Cup squad), however perhaps there needs to be one for retired Shanahan. Having an ex-pro with a checkered history and collection of red cards and suspensions ruling on the disciplinary transgressions of others may seem hypocritical, but Shanahan has taken a firm but fair approach, seeing his role as creating a safer environment for everyone without removing any of the physicality from an undoubtedly tough sport.
There is no reason why, with the right person in the job, this wouldn't work for football, unless we're going to make facetious jokes about "ex-pros" and "insight" in the same sentence. I'm not sure who I'd nominate for the job - among media pundits Messrs Keane, Souness and Vieira fit the mould of skill, toughness and accumulated red cards. Anyone got any other suggestions for the job?
Ed Quoth the Raven, CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
Lovely feature on hat-tricks. I'm sure there'll be plenty of people wanting to add to the list, so here's my thoughts.
Whilst I'm slightly miffed that Kuyt's triple against United isn't included (surely the most goals scored from the shortest collective distance, and worthy of inclusion as such), I'm seriously miffed that Crouch's perfect hattrick against Arsenal - ensuring we ran out 4-0 winners at Anfield in the 2006/07 season - wasn't included.
It was the overhead kick that sealed its majesty, for me; watching a man of 6'7" (and all limbs, to boot) throw his foot over his shoulder to womp the ball home was a thing of real... well, not quite beauty, but certainly spectacle. Even more remarkably, he scored with his head.
Nick Glover ("He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed"), Scouser in Brum
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has tweeted the following having heard of Yaya Toure being cleared of any wrong doing in Saturday's match between Man City and Norwich:
"Good to see Toure not getting suspended. Players like him belong on the pitch!"
"Things happen on the pitch. But we all enjoy watching him play. So get on with it and enjoy the football. That's what it's all about."
Someone's changed their tune!
Lee "Ref! Ref! Send him off! Send him off!" Hagger, Long Crendon