Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
There's plenty of excitement surrounding Angel Di Maria's attacking threat, but Adam Bate says he's more than just an assists machine. United are getting the full package...
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Give Rooney A Break
What a familiar performance from Wayne Rooney - The sluggish performance. Poor touch after poor touch, lack of sharpness and very rusty. Yes, it was a familiar tale - Rooney coming back from injury/suspension just before/during a major tournament and miraculously not being 100% straight away. The nerve.
Saw one chap on the BBC website say (and I like to imagine the voice being one that is often bitter and seething, usually talking about 'bloody foreigners', and/or, why can't we just stick to 4-4-2 - the real man's formation - instead of this namby pamby football lark), 'I wonder if Roy has the bottle to leave Rooney at home'. I can only assume by 'bottle' he meant 'total disregard for rationale' as Rooney will be England's top scorer soon enough, and has two more games to reach full fitness.
Let's take some of the pressure off the chap and give him a fighting chance shall we? Plenty of time to berate him afterwards don't worry.
Malin, Stourbridge (thought we were going into this tournament with no expectations?!)
He Should Be No.9
I'm really starting to tire watching Rooney hang around midfield, pick the ball up from defense, pass it back, and generally just make a mess of things. Why can't he be played as an out and out striker? The idea that Rooney is a world beater has been floated to the detriment of English footballer. He needs to realise that there's nothing particularly wrong with being an aggressive, nasty sod on the pitch, but why not do it in the opposition's box instead of hanging around midfield and killing the play? I'm sitting here watching this dross trying to work out what position he's supposed to be playing. I can't help but feel that someone has been in Rooney's ear, telling him "you're a playmaker, a wizard", the sad thing is, he's not.
He's a bloody talented footballer who (when focused on what he does best) can be a real pain to opposing teams. He should be sitting on the shoulder of the last defender (where would England fit him in? Maybe get that idiot Welbeck off the pitch? Those runs are spectacular but you look like you're being controlled by a seven year old with a PS3 controller). With Rooney playing as an out an out striker maybe teams would start to fear him, he quite simply is not a threat from outside the box attempting to ping balls around like Scholes, Oscar Wilde once said "Be yourself, everybody else is already taken" - Rooney could do with heeding that advice.
The Flan - North London
There was much gnashing of teeth in Brazil when Diego Costa chose Spain over his homeland of Brazil having previously represented the country of his birth in a friendly match.
I notice that Italy have named a forward in their World Cup squad with the surname 'Immobile'. Is it possible that young Andy Carroll has done a cheeky nation swerve also and defected to the Azzurri?
Steve McBain, Singapore
This Makes No Sense
I've no doubt you'll receive a number of emails on this subject, but anyway. To those mailbox contributors today stating City must be more attractive to watch that Spurs because they've scored more goals. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but Spurs main problem this year has been a lack of goals from their strikers or an inability to convert attacking possession and opportunity into goals. Therefore, the use of this statistic is in no way indicative of the attractiveness of their football. A better comparison might be of chances created, shots on or off target or just maybe, you could not resort to statistics and just watch some games and base your opinion on what you see!!!
With the news that the England Supporters band aren't being allowed to play in Brazil, this might already be the best World Cup ever.
Defending Hendo And Sturridge
Curious as to how Jeff can state that the Premier League only had 3 high-quality teams last year, include Liverpool in those but argue that Sturridge and Henderson, two players widely believed to have been key in everything good Liverpool did this year (and massively missed in the final few games), are actually a bit pants?
Sturridge has had injuries this year and missed key games over Christmas against Chelsea and City no doubt but from an injury sustained through Hodgson picking him for England while already injured. Despite this he still played more games than Wilshere and scored more than Rooney including 3 against Everton and the winner against Utd.
As for Henderson being a liability in possession I'm not sure what games Jeff watched (I'm assuming just the big ones like City where he was excellent except for one miscontrol in the 92nd minute) but he may be surprised to know that over the season Henderson had a better pass completion record than Wilshere and made 40 more passes than any other England player on Friday night - weak opposition but then it was weak for everyone.
I'm not making the case for Sturridge over Rooney or Henderson over Wilshere, though I do think it makes sense to play England's in form players in their best positions with players they already have an understanding with, merely wondering what it is that Jeff 'doesn't get'?
No South American Advantage
I know that South American teams have always won the world cups in that continent. However, a South American team stands to have no clear advantage over an European team in this tournament.
All the top players (barring one or two) that play for Argentina or Brazil today ply their trade in Europe. Their fitness levels are clearly a function of the country they play football in and not just the country they were born.
The last time the world cup occurred back in 86, most of the players played in the south american continent. They were used to playing in those conditions and as a result had a distinct advantage.
I bet Suarez feels just as hot as Gerrard when the two go up against each other this time around. Crowd support or Fan support could be a big factor but I doubt if it will be make or break in this case.
Sudarsan Ravi (A South American team will not win it this time - You heard it here first!)
In response to the MC's question about whether any other Gooners agree with Ted and would take Wenger over any other manager in the world, I would just like to say that yes I wholeheartedly agree. I have never ever understood the criticism. Yes he has his flaws but his achievements over the last 8 years alone have been exceptional, bordering genius. The way he has competed with teams spending 100+ million every year whilst having to make money in the transfer market is extraordinary. Not once in 17 years has he ever failed and I dread to think where Arsenal would currently be without him. My guess is a top 6 team with a half empty stadium and not much money.
No other manager in the world could have achieved what Arsene Wenger has done and he never get s credit in the press for his loyalty to Arsenal. It is not like he never had other offers but he sacrificed his reputation by staying at Arsenal over the last 8 years, knowing it was impossible to win the title but turning down Real Madrid basically every year and of course PSG and Bayern Munich. The man has acted with complete class since the moment he walked through the door and I am excited to watch Wenger dominate English football again now that he finally has a fighting chance.
Thank you Ted, for your optimistic email. I don't want to nit-pick but, a quick word on your first point:
"you have to admit that 2013-14 was the first real time that Wenger had money to spend at least at a comparable level to Man United, City and Chelsea, and he immediately delivered a trophy. "
This last season Wenger spent 42.5 million. However, in 12/13 he spent 52.3m, then in 11/12 he spent 53.2m.
People often use the new stadium as an excuse for lack of spending, but the season before the move, he spent 36.9m and after the inaugural season at the Emirates (with 14m spent), he spent 31m.
His transfer activity seems to suggest that he's never had any monetary restrictions, rather he just seeks to find the right players at the right price. The real difference is that he has to be judged on his choices, while we can keep ours secret (if we're fortunate).