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...
10) Juan Mata's Arrival At United
The signs were there. One man looking smouldering in tweed and pocket handkerchief, the other looking slightly disbelieving at the glamour of it all whilst wearing a tracksuit, eyes wide open in excitement like a kitten that has woken to the smell of freshly cooked gammon.
When Juan Mata arrived at Carrington there was only one man who looked at home in such auspicious surroundings, and it wasn't an already under-pressure David Moyes. Questioned regarding his feelings on joining the club, Mata admitted that the most exciting bit was "that they brought me here by helicopter", whilst Moyes whispered in his ear a polite request to say something about his coaching reputation.
Less than three months later, Moyes had fallen upon his sword.
9) BT Pay The Price For Outside Broadcast
It was an idea that should have been made punishable by law in any case, but BT Sport finally gave up its tactic of doing post-match interviews from outside the ground after Arsenal's 2-1 FA Cup victory over Liverpool in February.
The formula is obvious (jubilant football fans + live television broadcast = sweary chants) and Arsenal supporters spectacularly failed to disappointment. "Big f*cking German, we've got a big f*cking German," was the overwhelming sound to drown out Jake Humphrey et al, leading to some rather profuse apologies.
As Ofcom rather snootily stated after the programme, this was a 'clear example of the most offensive language being broadcast before the watershed' in an area chosen by the broadcaster in which there was 'a strong likelihood of such language being used'. Party poopers.
8) Mourinho Picks On A Ball Boy
With his side losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had grown restless at the manner in which the home players were taking time over their set-pieces, eventually picking on a pitchside ball boy.
"I don't like the ball boys provoking the players," Mourinho claimed after the match. Those big nasty ball boys bullying his adult players.
"I told him [the ball boy] not to do that because he runs the risk of one of my players to punch him or to lose his temper, so don't do that because you are risking [it]. But somebody told him to do that. The kid knows because it was what I told him."
Ever the hypocrite, it was less than a month until Mourinho himself was stopping Steven Gerrard and Jon Flanagan getting the ball back into play as Chelsea themselves deliberately used a time-wasting tactic to interrupt Liverpool's flow. Finishing third and trophyless, it feels nice to believe that footballing karma was at work. Unsuccessful 'little horses' owned by billionaires are generally sent off to the glue factory.
7) Joe Kinnear On His Newcastle Squad And Supporters
"I think they've got some magnificent midfield players: Tioté. Ben Afri [Hatem Ben Arfa], Yohan Kebab [Yohan Cabaye], Sissoko are very solid. Then you had somebody like Sissy (Papiss Cissé) he was the next goal scorer with something like eight. Shola Amamobi [Ameobi] is getting better and better, he's a young kid. Galteirez [Gutiérrez], and of course a lot of other players.
"I heard that silly comment what can I attract. I can open the door to any football manager in the world, anyone. That's the difference. I spend my whole life, picking up the phone, talking to Alex Ferguson, week in, week out, what would you do, what would you do? Pick the phone up at any time of day and speak to Arsène Wenger. I can pick the phone up and speak to any manager in the league, any manager in all divisions It's as simple as that. I've certainly got more intelligence than them [Newcastle fans], that's for sure."
Does 18th June 2013 count as this season? Who cares?
6) Alisher Apsalyamov Appointed At Cardiff
It would be possible to start writing now about the relevant and valid concerns over modern football owners that have no knowledge of the game or experience of club management and not finish until Christmas. It would be a weighty tome, including pertinent worries about the strength of the Fit And Proper Persons Test, the continued assessment of the actions of dictatorial owners and the enormous reverse proportionality between supporters' love for their club and the lack of power they hold to effect a considered and positive change.
However, writing such a volume is simply rendered unnecessary (sorry David Conn). Instead, in order to highlight just how warped it has all become, simply read the following paragraph:
Vincent Tan, the Malaysian owner of Cardiff who changed the club's badge and kit colour from blue to his 'lucky' red, sacked the club's head of recruitment Iain Moody. His replacement was Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan who had been at the club on work experience over the summer painting the walls of the club's stadium. The Kazakhstani was a friend of Tan's son, but was removed from his job after two weeks following the revelation that he didn't even have a full-time working visa.
5) Sam Allardyce Laughs At Chico Flores
Sam Allardyce is a man that one imagines it is very easy to get angry with, with one whiff of his gravy-heavy breath enough to get you riled. However, even we were Team Big Sam when Swansea's Chico Flores went down easy after barely any contact.
Swans manager Michael Laudrup admitted that he would reprimand Flores, but the best reaction came from Allardyce himself, who simply uttered an enormous fake laugh in the Spaniard's direction. Then, just as Flores began to react and angry, the West Ham manager responded in the only way he knew how: he did exactly the same thing again, only more raucous. We just won't tire of watching the video, and nor should you.
4) Alan Pardew's Headbutt
The majority opinion normally dictates that violence on (or just on the side of) a football field is A Bad Thing. We must tut, we must wring our hands and we must scream to the heavens: "Won't someone think of our blessed children."
The problem with Alan Pardew's headbutt is that was funny. Really funny. Even before people had managed to be outraged there were three people around them giggling and telling them to lighten up a bit.
This was a manager stopping an opposition player taking a simple throw-in, the most petulant of actions to waste three seconds in a game that was utterly meaningless for a Newcastle side marooned in mid-table. This was a man of allegedly questionable moral repute aiming a headbutt at a player. And this was a grown adult explaining said incident using the following excuse: "I have moved my head forward. I tried to push him away with my head."
If you can't get on board with that, then you're doing it wrong.
3) MUTV Zings David Moyes
When David Moyes was sacked by Manchester United and Ryan Giggs made his temporary replacement, internal TV station MUTV had the exclusive access to the unveiling. Bizarrely, they chose to show a montage of David Moyes' 'era' with Coldplay's The Scientist as the backing track.
"I was just guessing at numbers and figures.
Pulling your puzzles apart.
Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard.
Oh, take me back to the start."
Chris Martin may have whined such tedious melancholia, but it might as well have been Moyes himself, his painful cries emanating from a quiet corner of the Old Trafford car park like a cheated lover at a late-night karaoke bar. That day was also Moyes' birthday.
2) Rickie Lambert Is Off To Brazil
I may have cherished the ridiculous and congratulated the very pissy, but we've all still got a little bit of time for the heart-warming, and there can't be many outside of Andy Carroll's immediate family and friends that aren't enormously cheered by the prospect of Rickie Lambert going to this summer's World Cup. In March I wrote on fears that Lambert could suffer from having almost too 'good feet for a big man', but his form has been too hard for Roy Hodgson to ignore.
Lambert is a trier and a hard worker, a champion of the 'not quite but you never know'. Without getting too misty-eyed and soppy, this is a victory for the everyman. Expect beetroot to become the salad vegetable of choice this summer.
1) Iago Aspas' Corner
It would have been easy to include Steven Gerrard's slip as the indicative moment of when Liverpool let the title slip from their grasp, but given that he had already mis-controlled the ball, it fails to make the grade. Instead, it is Iago Aspas' corner from the same game that must be eternally revered.
It's stoppage time, your side is 1-0 down but a draw will do to secure your side's position as the frontrunners in the Premier League title race. You win a corner, which you are permitted to take. It's quite an honour, given that a record of one shot on target in 13 matches doesn't exactly scream accuracy. You should probably put it close to the penalty spot given Martin Skrtel's goalscoring record this season.
But that's what they'll be expecting, isn't it? Yes, that's right, do something so outrageous that when it comes off people will forget both how poor you've been all season and that, whilst everyone assumes young, you're actually 27 in August. He who dares wins, Mamadou, he who dares wins. I'm going to play it short.
Oh sh*t. They wanted us to #makethemdream, but I've just made them sick with rage.
Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter.
@jd.quench & @metal; think it was the 2-2 draw with Swansea at Old Trafford. The one where Fergie was sat with Mick Hucknall from Simply Red.- baldini