After Leicester scored four times in 20 minutes to inflict more pain on Manchester United, Daniel Storey picks out his favourite ten Premier League comebacks¿
The mailbox wants to know if Brendan Rodgers has the stones to drop Steven Gerrard. Plus, thoughts on Wayne Rooney's display, sitting down, and thanking United fans...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org...
It's Not Just England
I'm writing this after a night out in Barcelona with some locals (it's a bank holiday here tomorrow, so we're all off) and the conversation gets to football, (as it should with all red-blooded men the week before the World Cup starts!)
I'll point out here, I'm an Everton fan, so my views against the "most-entitled attitude team and fan base in the UK" (i.e. Liverpool) is biased, and something I'm used to putting up with.
But even then most leery of Norwegian or Cockney kopite is not a patch on the people here. Barcelona should win everything, and they will cause merry hell (with handkerchiefs and whistling, and should at cars) if that isn't the case. But when it comes to Spain, they seem to be in two camps: Catalan/Basque couldn't give two **** how the national team get on. The rest of Spain, cares.
I thought this 'We're not Country X' was a mainly kopite attitude. But even then at least they write off England because they think they're poo. Here, they don't care, but pass it off with 'And they'll win anyway...'
Not might. Not could. Just 'Will. And I won't be celebrating'.
Like most Brits, I'm used to the 'Old Countries' of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland hating us. Especially when it comes to the footy. But here it's just bizarre, they may see themselves as 'independent' but they aren't and haven't been! And that, with the balance of saying you don't give two ****s AND expecting a win is nothing I've come across before anywhere! If Spain lose, it will be because of the none Barca players. If they win, it'll be because OF the Barca players. They're actually saying a Spain/Argentina final would be best and then they want Messi to win it and come back confident!
I'm rarely lost for words, but I was gobsmacked! I'm used to Liverpool fans hating Man Utd players when then don the three lions. Utd hating City players. Everton fans hating Gerrard et al. But, mostly, when the game is on, you can dumb that down to the 'token whipping boy status' every Premier League team seems to have (WTF is he doing in an England shirt!? or "Why James Milner..." etc) . And you slag them off after the game, regardless of the result, and regardless of the hat-trick they may have scored. But for the 90 mins, you can, even if it's a little, get together for the collective good and cheers on a win. And then go back to complaining about Lampard and Gerrard being in the same team, it not working, and (for me) explaining why Barkley should be starting alongside either!
But I'm now wondering, seeings as some people in the UK do it, and the whole of Catalonia do it. Are there any other countries people live in where the locals are rooting AGAINST the nation on they where born and still live in? And even then, are they doing so while also expecting said nation to win regardless?
Preferring Di Maria Over Bale
To Rob Phillips: Suarez for Bale in a straight swap? Are you Daniel Comolli in disguise? Why would you trade the best player in the Premier League for the third or fourth best player at Real Madrid.
I'd rather keep Suarez over anyone in world football at the moment, but if push came to shove it would definitely have to be a Di Maria plau £30 million deal. Behind Ronaldo it's a toss up between Di Maria and Modric as the best/most effective attacking players in Madrid. The English media may have celebrated a Welshman bringing La Decima home, but it was Di Maria's work that created that goal.
Stan Millworth, Portland Timbers
... Dear Rob Phillips, please don't ever negotiate in any official capacity for Liverpool Football Club. Commolli and Purslow are gone, and may they never return. I wouldn't take Ronaldo for Suarez, let alone Bale.
Keep up the good work, though.
Scott, LFC, Toronto
Blinkered Liverpool In For A Shock
I couldn't help taking the bait regarding Matt (Send the Ox a Horse Placenta!) Hare, LFC and his wonderfully blinkered view of Liverpool. He rambles on about the inner workings of Liverpool's transfer budget, makes some vague statements about the players they are buying and then goes on to state that none of United's, Everton's or Arsenal's players (bar a couple) would improve Liverpool.
Firstly, none of United's players (bar Januzaj) he would want! Off the top of my head RvP, De Gea and Phil Jones would all be automatic starters for Liverpool. And I know Jones is poor. He's still better than anyone Liverpool have at centre-half. But where I find him being extremely simple, is regarding Arsenal and Everton's teams. Everton's back five are all man-for-man better than Liverpool's. Howard, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman are all better than what Liverpool have. Obviously Baines aswell. Arsenal are in a similar position. Koscienly and Mertesacker are twice the players of any of Liverpool's centre halves. Sagna (when he was there) also far better than Johnson. Ramsey is better than any of Liverpool's midfielders and players like Walcott, Wilshere and Cazorla are easily as good as any Liverpool have.
It's this blinkered mindset that really irritates other fans.
Personally I think Liverpool will be doing well to get third next year never mind challenge. Liverpool were mid-table last year and as such, teams would take them on. That wont be the case next year, every team outside the top five will play 10 men behind the ball, commit fouls at every opportunity and hit you on the counter attack. That is what Utd, Chelsea, City and Arsenal have been facing for years. Imagine 30 or so games like the Chelsea one and you get the picture. If they challenge again next year in spite of this then they can claim to be 'back', but if they concede 50 goals again like this year, they will do well to get 5th.
Not Missing Moyes
To Silvio Dante I honestly can't believe that any United fan is ever claiming they would rather have David Moyes publicly drunk texting every player in his phone book to Van Gaal refusing to let said players use supposed interest from United to bolster the contract they are looking from elsewhere.
Chev (play the game don't let the game play you), Belfast
...Silvio Dante: since Moyes would probably play Fabregas and Kroos at right-back and left-back, I'm not pining for him so much.
I almost want the new manager to keep the same squad just to show everyone what an actual manager can do with "the world's worst squad" (TM David Moyes). Not bending over and grabbing ones ankles against any other top-half team would be a positive start.
AS Camden (we should really be bidding for them though shouldn't we!)
...Silvio Dante, what a sweet innocent young man you must be.
You've clearly not been taking your "how to read football speak in the media" classes seriously enough. Allow me to educate you:
Manager speak: "We're not interesting in [insert name of world class star]" = He's not interested in joining us.
"This performance is all about the team today" = Without my genius and tactics those Neanderthals on the pitch wouldn't be able to distinguish their arse from their elbow.
"The team spirit is excellent so I'm sure we'll bounce back from this defeat" = They all like each other enough to go and get smashed in the town centre three days before a game which is something.
Player speak: "I'm just focussing on my football" = I like my club and while I want to leave, I'd like them to get a hefty transfer fee.
[Having not played all season] "I'm focussed on staking a claim in the first team" = Nobody has made an offer for me. My agent has shipped me out to half the planet.
Commentator speak: "He'll be disappointed with himself more than anything" = I know him and don't want to say how utterly **** that was because we're mates.
"They always say 2-0 is a dangerous lead" = I am so utterly devoid of tactical knowledge that this is the best I can muster regarding why the switch from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3 has had such a dramatic impact on a club's on pitch fortunes.
"It wasn't like that in your playing days hey [insert name of ex-pro seated next to him] = I've just had the producer in my ear telling me 'to make the ****ing pro who we're paying £10,000 to be here say something. Try and extract some ****ing value from that lump of useless clay'.
Hope that helps, no need to thank me.
...Doesn't LVG currently have his handful managing his country in the World Cup?
Methinks hunting new signings for United have been put on hold.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
End The Lefty Love-In
While we're on about Jack Wilshire (Ben Gleeson's comment about him gaining a reputation) I have a theory; I think he's really David Gower in disguise (bear with me on this and apologies to the younger readers who never saw DG batting)
We all loved to watch David Gower in test matches and I think that was in large part because he was left handed. Somehow for the majority right-handers amongst us, seeing a left-handed batsman flashing the blade just seemed so much more difficult, much more technical. But ultimately Gower was massively frustrating at Test Match level; a brilliant century here and there followed by a lazy dismissal for two runs in the next innings
I think that's Jack Wilshire, I wonder if we all think he's better than he is because he's left footed and that somehow just seems so much more 'exotic'? And he's undoubtedly capable of moments of brilliance, but more often than not just seems to give the ball away by stretching beyond his real capability or plays a pass without looking.
I guess what I'm really saying is beware left-footers (and left-handed batsman)
Since the World Cup is still six agonising days away, and since it's Friday, I thought I'd take a good look at the final tables of Europe's Big Four leagues and try to come up with a few thoughts (yeah ok, quite a lot of thoughts).
First to the age old question - which is the 'best' league? A simple way to decide, in terms of entertainment value, is to judge by the number of goals. On this basis, in the 2013/14 season it was clear-cut. The average goals per game in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A were much of a muchness (2.81, 2.77, 2.75 and 2.72 respectively), but the Bundesliga trumps them all with a mighty 3.16 goals per game.
However, you might argue instead that a league is more exciting when it's competitive - for example, when the goals are spread out more evenly among all teams, rather than having a few big teams scoring most of the goals. To measure this we can look at the standard deviation of goals scored by each team, which paints a different picture. On this basis, the Premier League aka Best League in the Whole Damn World (TM) comes out on top, with a standard deviation of 12.4 (a low value means goals are evenly distributed among the teams). Then we have Serie A (13.6), Bundesliga (14.75) and finally La Liga (17.4), where Real and Barca arguably epitomised the concept of flat-track bullying (but of course the title race was pretty f*cking exciting).
Now on to individual teams. In the Premier League, Liverpool easily claim the title of Most Improved Team, winning 23 more points than in the previous season, while the opposite honour obviously goes to Man Utd, who won 25 fewer points than in the previous season. Incredibly, Man Utd had exactly the same defensive record in 2012/13 and in 2013/2014 in terms of goals conceded, but they scored 22 more goals in 2012/13. But just how good was Liverpool's season, and just how bad was Man Utd's?
In Serie A, Roma pulled off a similar feat to Liverpool. They too improved their points tally by 23 points compared to the previous season, but just like for Liverpool this was only good enough to earn them second place. Rudi Garcia has done a stellar job with the Roma defence, as they conceded a staggering 31 fewer goals than in the previous season (while only scoring 1 more). Not too shabby, especially after selling star defender Marquinhos to PSG for 25-odd million quid last summer.
For Man Utd fans, there is a small consolation - there is one team in the big four leagues that capitulated even more dramatically. Real Betis finished with 31 points less than the season before. Staying in La Liga, Athletic Bilbao deserve some praise for turning their fortunes around and improving their points tally by 25 points, registering both the best improvement in goals scored (+22) and conceded (-26) in La Liga compared to the 2012/13 season.
Finally, a look at the top scorer charts shows some interesting trends. Diego Costa and Ciro Immobile both surprised more than a few people with their contributions this season - 28 and 22 goals respectively (the latter making Immobile the 2013/14 Capocannoniere), and now they both seem to have earned themselves lucrative moves (to Chelsea and Dortmund respectively). On the other hand, Lewandowski had already agreed his move to Bayern by November 2013, but he still went and won the top-scorer award anyway.
In Serie A, somewhat stereotypically, the golden oldies enjoyed a fine season, as Toni (now aged 37!) and Di Natale (a youthful 36) managed an astonishing 20 and 17 goals each.
It might also be surprising to notice that, across all four leagues, the top goalscorer and top 'assister' did not belong to the title-winning team.
James Bruschini (CFC)
More World Cup Memories
Best memory - for those old enough - it was 1966. We won it.
Winning - I thought that was the whole point of the ****ing thing - or we just glad to take part?
John (Calgary Addick)
...Although a rabid football fan and certainly old enough to know better, my brother decided to ignore warnings about possible World Cup date clashes and booked his wedding day for Saturday, July 1 2006.
As the days rolled by and the big day approached, it became apparent that England would be playing Portugal at the very moment we sat down to eat at the reception.
Needless to say, the majority of male guests spent the next two hours glued to their phones, and the mood after after the penalty shoot out and England's exit was decidedly grim.
As best man, it wasn't the best moment for me to stand up to deliver my speech, and I didn't get many laughs.
I also missed the 1990 semi-final through having booked tickets to see the Stones months in advance, although I consoled myself by standing in the centre-circle at the Wembley Stadium while the game was being played.
...I too have a fairly random player who was my favourite as a child. Dominique Rocheteau. I can't really explain why, I remember he had great hair (although so did lots of players at Mexico 86 -showing my age) and he had a cool name. I'm not overly sure I can even remember Rocheteau doing anything on a pitch ever but he was a hero of mine.
Looking him up now, I'm happy with that choice, he seems pretty cool, if maybe a little too right on.
Watched the England match over the weekend and the performance so predictably bad that you have to wonder about the future of the team, and even if they will qualify for such events in the future, The lack of creativity in the middle, the fits and spurts of the wingers, the one dimension-ality of the strikers, the unispirational tactics from the bench, wing-backs not up to the task - its the same problems we've seen for the past 20 years. These problems seem to be endemic throughout the whole English set up. In saying that, well done to the Rest of the World, thoroughly deserved their SoccerAid victory.
Based on the adage that 'it takes one to know one' should Liverpool fans be worried about Jan Age Fjortoft saying, Emre Can is average?!
Nick P (Sign Sidwell please, Dyche), Burnley FC