...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Roy's Too Nice
Unless they are rare breeds like Winston Churchill, old middle-class white Englishmen don't make greatly inspirational leaders.
Roy Hodgson is very good at managing the media, probably even at managing players and certainly at managing expectations. He understood the need to prepare properly, the value in youth, and didn't do anything crazy as far as tactics, but he is a classic Mr quarter-finals type leader. (We got a tough group this time and lacked the players - or maybe the balls to pick the rights ones - for this tournament, so deal with it.) And critically, he's not exactly been close friends with success.
Compare him to Sir Alex - uncouth, aggressive, driven, passionate, fearless, working-class background who knew success as a player, didn't give a rat's about the media and galvanised even average players to success.
A team is made in the image of its manager whether intentional or not. Their personality rubs off. And as with Roy, England looked organised and calm, but uninventive and generally uninspiring. We need more than that. In another two years we'll have our next crop at the beginning of their zenith. He is just not the man to take them to success. It's Sven all over again.
It greatly pains me to say it more than I can express, but you just know Redknapp would have done better, let alone Pulis. But what we really need is some young gun to take over with exciting ideas, not a grandpa. The Italians may go for Cannavaro. Surely we have someone... Neville anyone?
Guy S (Baines and Johnson didn't help tbf)
I really don't know how some people are defending Suarez and his attempts to masticate on everyone. (You've got a very dirty mind, but that's a different word you're thinking of).
Although I follow football, I play rugby. If we get caught biting an opponent, it is an instant 12 month ban. Minimum! The fact this buck-tooth fister thinks it's OK to nosh down on anyone he sees leaves me feeling that is just not a good advert for the game.
To all those disillusioned England fans, who don't feel they've had the chance to show their passion, because, let's face it, that England performance was p*ss poor at best. Don't worry. Keep your flags, etc until next year when the real World Cup (the rugby World Cup, RWC) comes to these very shores. And the good news is that there is plenty of thumps and smashes (all legal), you can drink beer in the stands and have banter with the opposition fans, who are quite often sitting next to you, not get ripped off on ticket prices and there's a very good chance England can win it.
Rob (Gooner) St Neots
Suarez Getting Off Lightly
In response to Damon (LFC, I can only assume), the Suarez incident hasn't been "magnified to ridiculous levels" because it's Suarez - it's been magnified to ridiculous levels because of Suarez's incomparably ridiculous behaviour. Also, in terms of people thinking he should be banned simply because they "know how good he is and are running scared" I think that quite the opposite is true in this case. If this was a low level player in League Two, I think he would have had to find a new day job long ago!
Found guilty of racial abuse, and sinking his teeth into three separate footballers, I'm pretty sure that banning this vicious sod who is clearly unable to control himself wouldn't be such an issue if he wasn't worth an estimated £70m+.
He's being excused of inexcusable behaviour simply because of his footballing ability and his monetary worth, and I don't think this is the message that should be sent out as a result of this incident. He had the best year of his professional career on the back of a very lenient slap on the wrist after the last time he nibbled on an opponent, and now he's thrown it all away again; people are suggesting the same punishment (or even LESS, just because it was during an international match) should be dished out once more. So basically no consequences then?
The moral of the story is that as long as you've got ability, you can act like the dirtiest, most vicious **** you want? We already have generations of young players throwing themselves on the floor at the slightest breeze because of failure to punish offenders in the game, I can't imagine what the next generation of young players will be like because football organisations are simply too afraid or unwilling to punish the top, most influential players.
Sick Of It
Can people please stop saying things like 'Suarez clearly has a mental health problem'? Unless you're a professional working in the field of mental health, with regular access to Suarez then stop it. Just stop it.
It does a serious disservice to those suffering with actual mental health problems.
Also these comparisons - 'would you rather get a leg break or a headbutt or whatever', that isn't the choice! You don't want any of those happening!
Rob (is being a complete t**t a mental illness now?) SWFC
Can anyone imagine how ridiculous Uruguay would look if they all showed at the next match up wearing T-shirts supporting Luis Suarez? What... you can?
I was updating my amazing World Cup wall chart with yesterday's results (I work in a school, I made it with the children, they lost interest long ago, I get to fill in the results and move the flags in each group. It's massive) and I got to thinking are there too many European teams in the FIFA World Cup?
Maybe sticking my neck out a bit here writing just as the final Group F games kick off but as 50% of the groups games of done it's worth thinking about just how the European teams have fared up to now. Of the six European teams who have completed their group games only two have qualified. Of the remaining European teams, France and Belgium are through, but Bosnia are out and Germany could go out, Switzerland's fate hangs in the balance and Portugal need some complete and utter madness to take hold of Group G to qualify. At best six of the 13 European teams will qualify who went to the World Cup who made it to the knock outs. That's poor and in all probability it could easily be just five European teams with an outside chance of merely four.
So what's the problem here. Climate? Temperature? Doesn't stop Holland or France from playing exhilarating football. I think it's a combination of the number of places offered to European teams in the World Cup plus the ridiculous number of teams allowed to compete in the qualifiers. Limit the number of World Cup places to eight, streamline the European qualifying format. Two tier it, three tier. How many of the European FAs know before a ball is kicked that their team has no hope of qualifying for a major tournament? If they're afraid of losing out on TV revenue because the big boys of Europe won't be turning up on their patch any longer, then offer massive financial reward for promotion between tiers. UEFA can afford to subsidise.
In all probability European teams will always be involved in the later stages for a long time to come and there have only been two finals in which at least one European team wasn't involved (1930 and 1950) but does Europe have to provide the whipping boys also. Surely other confederations can fill that cash rich role?
Rob Y (Stockholm)
Johnny Come Lately
I enjoy football. I watch football. I read about football. I am neither an obsessive or a hipster but still like to think I can hold my own on the game and have my fair share of random knowledge based on wasted hours of watching TV coverage through the decades.
But just occasionally I realise that something has passed me by and wanted to admit it - In this case the gossip column highlighted this one for me in the form of James Rodriguez. How on earth did I come late to the party and miss a 22-year-old moving for £35million last summer from Porto who is, according to wikipedia no less, "one of the most exciting young players in the world"?
With that in mind and to make me feel better I wondered who else mail boxers have found themselves to be shamefully blindsided by?
Pete (To be fair ever since Italia 90, Columbia have been some sort of dark horse so maybe I have been blinded by disappointment to all of them) C
Suarez Is A Genius
Here's a wee conspiracy theory for you: Ol Snaggle-tooth Suarez is not simply a dental case but a Machiavellian mastermind.His bite on Chiellini was intended to create the sort of furore in Britain that will give him the
perfect pretext to say he simply has no choice but to leave for Madrid/Barca. It will also help the move along by lowering Liverpool's leverage in negotiations and therefore the asking price because all parties know 1) Suarez is utterly determined to go. 2) Liverpool have little choice but to sell.
Yes, he may get some sort of ban but it's FIFA and we all know they are a bit toothless.No, it doesn't explain his other bites but then I'm not trying to.Yes, I did smoke a lot of dope as a teenager.
Suarez's agent (doing the bidding of Florentino Perez, allegedly)
Hoping Hodgson Stays
Given all the hyperbolic bile we've been subjected to in the media and even in the esteemed mailbox since England's exit from the World Cup, I found Sarah Winterburn's recent article refreshing.
When the draw was made, few expected England to qualify... both Italy and Uruguay are higher ranked by FIFA (for what that's worth) and have greater recent tournament pedigree.
England played better than they have done in either of their previous two major tournaments, and essentially performed roughly as was expected... as Ms. Winterburn states, "they simply lack a little bit of quality and, in this tournament, a little bit of luck".
I have been dismayed by calls for Roy to be sacked and replaced with the likes of Glenn Hoddle (who has been out of work for around a decade for a very good reason). Roy has began a process of revolutionising the national team - gone are the days of 4-4-2 and hitting the big man. Perhaps we should stick to what we know and the result of change is a poor showing at the World Cup...or, perhaps with time, the players will adapt to a new system at international level and we might even shock a few people in the coming years. At the very least, Roy deserves the chance to conclude the process.
Clock End John (those 1/4 finals under Sven don't seem so bad now)
Substance Over Style
Reading through the review of the England players at the World Cup, Sarah Winterburn said she'd prefer a swashbuckling style over safety. Well, fair enough, but you can only go far in tournaments if you have the players to swashbuckle and England's are nowhere near good enough to do that.
Very, very, very few teams can win tournaments playing swashbuckling, flair football. The rest have to defend their way to it, including Spain you may remember.
So, what do England fans want? To go hell for leather with attacking football and exit at the group stage? Or to be more defensive, sacrifice the attacking side of the game, and probably progress to the latter stages? Because, and this is absolutely without question, you CANNOT have both.
I say we defend our arses off in the next tournament, bore the hell out of everyone, and then somehow find a way to tolerate every pundit in the land spewing out some variation on "but it gets results and that's what matters".
Richard of Engerland
Wishing He Was Suarez
He had the world at his feet, but now they bay for his blood. His dream is shattered, his World Cup is over, FIFA are about to slap a record ban on him, the tabloids want him locked up with the keys thrown away, and no doubt his Mrs has him in the dog house. None of which deserves any pity...but clearly the guy has mental health issues.
In an ironic twist of fate, the same uncontrollable red mist is probably also what makes him competitive to the bone. All his greatest attributes, his speed of reaction, anticipation and utter dogged determination are all fuelled by the same demons. It's the flip side of the same coin. He lives his life on a constant knife edge.
Now I may be completely wrong, it's just a train of thought, but if his good and bad are so interlinked, I'm not sure any amount of counselling could eradicate his misdemeanours without sacrificing something in his performance. There's probably a happy medium, but at the very top of the game, 'medium' just isn't good enough.
Which brings up an interesting hypothetical question for anyone who ever dreamt of being a footballer: Would you rather have been a nice, decent, honest to goodness solid pro who never really amounted to much or a flawed genius who had the world at your feet only to throw it all away?
Don't know about you, but I'll take a big slice of that flawed genius pie please. The one with the massive bank account.
Sean (LFC, obviously)
Bad Day At The Office
...Mike Paul does not make a fair point.
No one is comparing an office job (the description of) with that of a footballer and what he does on a day to day basis. A sliding tackle and going up for a header are part of the job description for a footballer. If Lampard started checking his emails on his laptop, during a game, I think Jose may start asking questions.
Mike, what people are comparing, is that of biting a human being whilst in the work place (ANY work place). You cannot go around biting people while at work. (or out of work for that matter).
...In response to Mike Paul - there is a legitimate comparison insofar as biting someone on the pitch is just as inappropriate as biting someone in the office. In both cases biting isn't remotely related to either workspace.
Being caught biting three times is ridiculous. And hilarious.
I'm as bored as the rest of you regarding Mr Suarez's antics but I had to point out a key difference regarding biting and other forms of foul play using a famous historic sporting example.
Boxing is a sport in which competitors are encouraged to knock ten bells out of their opponent. Physical violence is the name of the game (literally) but when a certain Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear he was banned (initially for life but was eventually allowed to return to the ring after a year).
Even UFC bans biting along with a few other attacks such as eye gouging.
Bottom-line, it doesn't matter what the contest is, biting is not OK anywhere except for under threes (where it is discouraged, trust me, I have two nephews who are occasionally guilty of the odd nibble!)
If spitting carries an automatic six-game suspension in FIFA rules (which seems a little harsh) then surely biting must be 10+.
...I hate to compare two totally different sports but when Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear off his licence was rightly revoked.
The fact that some Liverpool fans seem to find so difficult to absorb is this is not the first time Suarez has done this sort of thing.
Following Tyson's suspension, despite being the self-styled "baddest man on the planet", Iron Mike never repeated the offence again when he resumed his boxing career.
The reason Suarez should be hit hard is he doesn't learn. This is the third time he's done this and then he has the nerve to say these things happen on a football field as if biting a fellow professional is a normal part of the game. His defenders seem to suggest that because this is what Suarez does, his should be a routine punishment but this is abnormal behaviour and it's because of this FIFA have to act.
A two-year international ban and removal from this year's competition isn't enough. Personally I think he should be given a World Cup ban for life and should be warned that if he ever tries to pull this crap again that ban will spread to all football competition the world-over whether at international-level or otherwise.
On a separate note, couldn't agree more with the lad who wrote in about Jack Wilshere. The guy thinks he's made it and he hasn't. The reason Chambo has had more success in an England shirt is he has remained grounded as opposed to being grounded by opponents.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Why Does Only England Care?
I'm not going to wade into this Suarez thing too heavily but here is what I find weird: Yesterday it was reported that only British journalists were interested in asking questions about the bite, the rest of the world didn't care. The world media in Brazil (aside from the English) think it was childish and deserves a one game ban.
Who knows what will pan out but why are we so much more focused on it than others? Glossing over national team failure? Or just obsessive media compared to other countries? Maybe the media here are desperate to flex muscle and show to themselves as much as anyone that they can influence the game.
Don't Believe The Hype
I'm really not sure who I believe less - the people who tell me they've been big fans of James Rodriguez for a very long time, or those who swear they've always had Andrea Pirlo down as one of the world's greats, long, long before Euro 2012.