The Premier League title race is shaping up to climax in quite remarkable style. That is, unless Chelsea and Manchester City stuff things up this weekend. Please don't...
Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mine's A Double
Personally I wouldn't care if Liverpool lost 6-0 on Sunday to Arsenal if it meant making the Champions League, or CL play-offs in May...but I don't think we'll lose 6-0, I think we'll win, and it's going to hurt every Gooner out there. A lot.
I don't think it's unachievable and I hope Arsenal's desperation plays right into our counter-attacking hands, or feet so to speak. The challenge for Liverpool is our serious lack of depth in attack. There appears to be little or no faith in Aspas, Moses or Alberto, evidenced by Texeira getting the nod ahead of all three on Wednesday, so a couple of injuries to key men up top could be quite costly. I don't think tiredness will play a major part because of the number of injuries we've had or players simply not being picked. How many of the current team are looking at a full season of games? Mignolet, Henderson and I think that's it?
And I don't want to say this, but I will anyway, and hopefully it will stir up some of the haters out there (y'all know who y'all are) and the fans too, including myself at times, who are petrified at the thought of mentioning Liverpool and title in the same sentence but if we win on Sunday....
Is it completely unimaginable that we are on for the double...I've probably cursed us but we have to believe we can do it.
Dazza LFC, Dublin
Those Poor Chihuahuas...
One has sympathy with Gary Orford LFC in this morning's 'Mailbox' with his exclamation that Liverpool are actually doing better than reports suggest.
It must be very difficult with only, every newspaper, MOTD, Skysports, ITV sport, Talksport and practically every other media outlet firmly on your side 24-7.
Resting players for the FA Cup? The cup is probably our last meaningful chance of any silverware but what does Wenger care? He's got a shiny new three-year contract!
The way our manager picks and chooses the importance of trophies quite frankly disgusts me given he's won bugger all for the best part of a decade.
Is there any other club in the world that would put up with a decade of disappointment? I understood we would have lean years after the stadium was built but now he actually has money to spend and it almost seems Wenger resents it.
I've called for his head before and you know what? I'm doing it again. This was the season to save his legacy and he's stuffing it up again and I fear we'll end up pot-less and if that happens he should do the decent thing and step aside. If he doesn't - sack him. Groundhog season is beyond boring now.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
If someone told Arsenal fans that they'd be where they were at now this season at this time last season they would be ecstatic. None of the injuries or suspensions are that long-term, and Ozil is a great but sometimes subtle addition to the team. Everyone relax.
Jeff, Portland USA
Is United Really The Biggest Job?
Why do Manchester United fans always refer to managing their team as 'the biggest job in football'? David P, Manchester described it as such yesterday but he wasn't the first I've seen do this.
Manchester United are undoubtedly an immensely popular football club - I wouldn't be surprised if they polled the largest global fanbase - and their domestic dominance was very impressive but in terms of European success (surely the most objective measure of a club's 'greatness') their record doesn't compare to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Milan. Why isn't managing any of these clubs ever called 'the biggest job in football'?
Why isn't managing Liverpool ever considered the 'biggest job in football'? They've got a simila- sized following to you, comparable domestic success and a better record in Europe yet I've never hear a Scouser talk about managing Liverpool as the 'biggest' anything.
Is managing Manchester United really the pinnacle of managerial success? Greater than managing Real Madrid? Manchester United had the class of '92 - Real Madrid had the Galacticos. Who's ever left Real Madrid to join Manchester United anyway? Maybe I'm making too much of this Real Madrid comparison, after all why is the 'biggest job' necessarily reserved for club football; is there really more pressure, prestige and expectation to win games managing Manchester United than there is managing the Brazilian national team? Shouldn't managing the greatest footballing nation in history be regarded as a 'bigger' responsibility?
The only legitimate argument I can make for considering managing Manchester United the 'biggest job in football' is because anyone taking it on has to follow after Ferguson - that's the only thing truly unique about Manchester United. His legacy must be what makes the job 'big' - which I guess is somewhat damning because that is tantamount to saying that Ferguson was the essentially made Manchester United 'big'.
Take him away and what do you get? Well, you get this I guess.
Simon (this has all come out a little more pointed than I intended) CFC
No Good Manager Needs Time
Interesting question from Mark O'D regarding whether any manager has turned things round after a disastrous first season.
I wrote to F365 at the height of the Hodgson debacle at Anfield to argue that the cliche that managers need time is a nonsense and in fact no 'successful' manager has ever achieved anything after a terrible first season. The 'successful' managers lay the groundwork for longevity by improving on what their predecessor did either in terms of points of positions either by the end of the season or in their first full season.
The classic examples of managers needing time are Wenger and Ferguson and they are in fact anything but that.
Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford with Utd 21st and took them to the giddy heights of 11th before a second-place finish in his first full season.
Wenger finished third following Rioch's previous fifth-place finish then won the double in his first full season!
In other words instant improvement or success. How these two are arguments for managers being given time I don't know!?
Indeed every single 'succesful' manager of a top side has improved upon his predecessor's performance in some way within 18 months or has been sacked - Mourinho and Ancelotti won the title, O'Neill (Villa), Keegan, Robson (Newcastle) and yes even David Moyes at Everton all improved their team's position/points total in their first season. Hell even Redknapp improved Spurs - he doesn't mention it much but they had two points from eight games!
In fact the only manager at a top-level club who has finished below the previous years standard and survived/thrived I would suggest is Rafa Benitez as Liverpool dropped from fourth to fifth but had the small consolation of the European Cup at the end of his first year - they then finished second in his second year.
In other words there is nothing wrong with judging a manager after 6-12 months if there are no signs of improvement and if anything it is after three years that even an instantly succesful manager needs to be reassessed and possibly given more time.
Admittedly Moyes was hugely unlikely to improve upon Ferguson's record in his first season given that they were Champions and few title winners change managers but the sheer drop in performance has been surely unacceptable and ranks up there with Scolari, AVB (Chelsea), Ramos (Tottenham), Hodgson (Liverpool) who were all swiftly shown the door.
Can we finally put to bed therefore the idea that a manager needs 'time'? At the top level it simply isn't the case and why should it be when they have so many advantages on and off the pitch over most other clubs?
Timness Not The Issue
I read A, quite obviously, very paranoid Tim, EFC's (Mailbox Tim) musings on reactions to Tim Sherwood (Proper football man Tim) with interest. Being middle-class and rubbish at football myself I naturally sympathized with Mailbox Tim but could not help but feel that he had rather missed the point about Proper football man Tim.
If we take only the Murdoch media as a sample, the upmarket elements of it consumed by the middle-classes (i.e. The Times and Football365) have been universally scornful of Proper football man Tim whereas Sky Sports and the Sun hail him for his proper footballing man credentials and have been very supportive. I am sure that if you look at the Guardian, Mail, Mirror and so on you will see a similar pattern.
So, Proper football man Tim's name is neither here nor there. He is not very middle-class, he spouts guff about desire and hunger being more important than tactics and intelligence. He is disliked by the football intelligentsia (Michael Cox of Zonal Marking thinks he is an idiot) and admired by traditional football culture. He also has an amazing record to date as Spurs boss. I see three possible reasons for this.
1. Everything he says is bluster designed to get the tabloid media on side after seeing the contrasting treatment of 'Arry and AVB - actually he is very tactically astute and focuses a lot on systems as well as motivation.
2. He means everything he says and has had an incredibly lucky run where things have gone his way but very soon the wheels will fall off and we will crash and burn.
3. He means everything he says and also he is right (at least to some extent).
In fairness to Proper football man Tim, just picking 11 of the best players (including Ade) and getting them to play with a smile on their faces is probably enough to get Spurs playing up to around 80% of our potential. Given how good our squad is, that should be enough for us to beat most teams most of the time. Understandably when trying to integrate so many new players as well as changing our whole approach after losing Bale, AVB's more prescriptive approach was difficult to implement (although we were still doing ok). Proper football man Tim just probably will never get us playing up to 100% of our potential which is what we will need to win in the really big games against the sides with better players than us.
Oscar (expecting Arsenal to wobble just enough to fall fifth behind us for a few days, get our hopes up, and then finish fourth and ahead of us by one point on the last day as usual - the b"£$@rds) THFC, Geneva
...Fascinating subject, this 'Timness'. I just wanted to point out that Sherwood's Timness is pretty much completely undetectable to us in the States because of the obvious dearth of EPL media coverage here. The only time I hear the whole 'how is he still winning??' narrative is when I visit yours or a few other neighbouring sites.
From our view across the pond all we see is a man of strong convictions who, though not the most tactically savvy, is a talented motivator and gets his squad to play as one cohesive, effective unit. Most notably, he's not full of #$% like the last Englishman who managed Tottenham or the current Scotsman who manages Manchester United. Quit the nitpicking, let's enjoy Tim and his Timness while it lasts.
Vish (Stick it out with DM until the end of the season, I'd rather no Europe at all than Europa League), MUFC
More On Tims
Tim Lovejoy. Now there's a Tim no-one wants to be associated with.
Eurgh. I'm off for a wash.
Dan Jestico (THFC)
...I'd have to agree with you. A quick search on Google for 'Tim' gives us Tim Berners-Lee - inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Minchin - a satirical songwriter, Tim Tebow - an American Footballer who is known more for being a really nice, devout Christian than for his ability with the pigskin and Tim Burton - 'director, writer poet and stop-motion artist'. No soldiers, boxers, wrestlers, stunt-men or anyone with a bit of grit.
I should know, as despite my love for Man City (one of the traditional working-class 'people's clubs'), I am deeply middle-class: residing in a fairly affluent suburb of Birmingham, working for a recruitment consultancy and originally hailing from a market town in Hampshire.
Oh the guilt...
Make It Timothy
Interesting letter yesterday from a 'very paranoid Tim'. I believe he has a great point and gives an fascinating insight into what it must be like to suffer from 'Timness' in 21st century Britain.
Could this be why people aren't banging on about Tottenham's chances in the same way as people wax lyrical at Liverpool's title hopes? If so I think I might have the answer.
Enter Mr Timothy Sherwood
Typing Timothy into Google gives up the following four results: Olyphant (beefcake hollywood actor) Spall (respected English actor) Bradley (Professional Boxer) and Dalton (James Bond!!)
All pretty cool dudes me thinks and not an ounce of 'Timness' about them.
Nick...No! NICHOLAS Hodgson (To be honest Dalton was a pretty poor Bond and perhaps not the best example)
We Were Discussing This Only Yesterday In The Office
Is Sherwood to Tottenham what Di Matteo was to Chelski? Anyone else see the similarity?
B For British?
Just heard about the Premier League B proposal by Richard Scudamore. I think it's a great idea, in theory, and a fantastic opportunity to develop young British players and managers. I'd like to see the home-grown rule finally enforced. I also think it would create an affordable Premier League experience, with a decent standard of football at top venues for affordable prices. Maybe it could even run over the summer months?
Nik (optimistic) NUFC