It's clear that Jose Mourinho has a problem with Romelu Lukaku, and it appears he will be leaving Chelsea for good. Is Jose in danger of cutting off his nose to spite his face?
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...
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I know this site has been quite supportive of England's efforts in this World Cup and whilst I acknowledge fine margins against two of the top 10 ranked teams in the tournaments lead to our exit, I can't help but think the longer the tournament goes on, the weaker we have looked in hindsight.
I look at Medel for Chile. A destructive midfielder who played in front of a back four, but who then plays in the middle of a back three for his national team. Would Hodgson do something like that? No.
I look at Holland who took Fer, relegated after a poor season with Norwich, but who came off the bench to net the winner against Australia. The idea of Hodgson taking someone like Redmond, well it wouldn't happen, would it?
I look at France. Moussa Sissoko spends half a season in a losing side whilst Nasri wins the league. Could you imagine England making that sort of selection? Me neither?
I look at Germany, and remember Klinsmann getting the job with no experience. Other major countries have done this. England? Of course not.
We are too mainstream, too predictable. There is nothing 'out there' or radical about our decision making in squad selection or tactics.
Personally I think Hodgson went with the media and fans choice in squad selection and tactics so if it went wrong, it would be harder to criticise. This is weak management.
When Holland were losing against Mexico, LVG replaced RVP (Captain and 3 goals in this tournament) with Huntelaar (no goals since Oct 2012), and it bloody worked. There is no way Hodgson would have the cajones, in the same situation to take off, say Rooney for someone without a goal in nearly two years to change a game. Or perhaps it isn't a lack of cajones, perhaps it is a lack of tactical nous.
We are falling further and further behind.
Arsenal: No Longer A Feeder Club
In reply to TJ WHUFC: Wenger realised we were a feeder club years ago. We had a 38,500 capacity stadium but could win the league, had the best team probably in our history, were invincible and yet players still left. And this is why the Emirates was built.
In the absence of a sugar daddy owner Arsenal have had to cut their cloth accordingly. The fact is had we stayed at Highbury we would have won the odd cup but we would never have signed the likes of Ozil without having to fund the transfer by selling a whole bunch of other players.
The reason I said Arsenal WERE a feeder club is because I think the Ozil transfer is proof we're coming out the other end. You can call Arsenal a feeder club if you want but I think that only refers to the Arsenal of yesterday.
If we sign Debuchy, who let's not forget has kept Sagna out of the French team and another centreback to replace Vermaelen, who we don't have to sell and wasn't a first-teamer by any means last season, - have we really lost out?
The proof we're no longer a feeder club is that whopping great stadium in Holloway. In years gone by players left for glory and to play at massive state of the art stadia - these days if they play for Arsenal - the cup winners - there's no reason to leave.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
...The reason why other top clubs bid for the Arsenal players is simple: they have flair and are genuinely gifted footballers, most are foreigners (no strong emotional connection with the club) and have the desire to test themselves in other leagues/environment/challenges.
I personally don't like to see Ex-Arsenal players lining up against us in the league, but can't hold it against them to wanting a change for whatever the reason.
If you look at Pool or United, their flair players? Umm.. over the last 10-15 years I struggle to name a few (sorry - and that doesn't mean they aren't good players). I recently watched the Vieira/Keane documentary on ITV. Keane had to acknowledge Arsenal team had more flair then the United squads. Can you imagine Barca bidding for Cleverly? Fletcher? Smalling? The very photogenic defender/midfielder? Maybe only in Football Manager.
With loads of titles between Wes Brown and John O'Shea - they went to Sunderland not some top club. So what I am trying to say is - Wenger buys players who are generally gifted and maybe ambitious enough to test themselves in unfamiliar waters.
Can't talk about nouveau riche clubs - they need to buy big with all that cash.
...We've known for years we're a selling club. But if we're anyone's feeder club I like to think it's Portsmouth's. Just look at that FA Cup winning side... Campbell, Diarra, Kanu - AFC right though the spine.
Doug AFC Belfast (Didn't Utd sell Beckham, Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo to Real in a six-year period? There's always a bigger fish)
...Ok, I'll take the bait from TJ WHUFC. Firstly, Sagna is leaving for one last big pay day before he retires and he deserves it. Vermaelen played about six games for us last season and although he's a decent defender he has absolute brain farts that all too often cost us points, few would be sad to see him go. Hardly makes us a selling club. True we've let players go in previous seasons that we didn't really go to but always to clubs where a bigger contract was on offer and there was a higher chance of winning silverware (even if you're sat on the bench for half of the games). That's football, it's the way it is.
Arsenal would cherry pick West Ham's players, who wouldn't even have to think twice about moving for a bigger contract and higher chance of silverware, but West Ham don't have any players that would get anywhere near Arsenals reserves let alone first team.
Luca James Sparks
I don't know if many other people have noticed (or care) but what in the tangerine hell is going on at Blackpool?!
As of right now, they have seven senior players on their books. That's seven! I'll name them, since it won't take very long: Charles Dunne (def), Tony McMahon (def), Gary MacKenzie (def), David Perkins (mid), Steven Davis (fwd), Bobby Grant (fwd), and Tom Barkhuizen (fwd). They also have Harrison McGahey (def) who is contracted until June next year, but he only played the last 4 games of last season, while still technically a youth player.
Jose Riga was appointed as manager on 11th June, on the customary Blackpool one-year rolling contract, following the release of caretaker-manager Barry Ferguson and 16 other players on May 16th. Since then, only one deal has been conducted; the activation of an extension clause in Tony McMahon's contract (by 12 months).
Among the 17 released players were all three goalkeepers on the books, all of whom have now signed for other clubs. So, as the astute among you will have noticed, Blackpool FC are not even able to field a competitive 5-a-side team as things stand. Just to put things into perspective; the new season starts for Blackpool in just 36 days (9th August), and they have not recruited a single new player.
The point I really want to make is; how can an owner allow this to happen? Surely there has to be some kind of official duty or responsibility to preserve the integrity of a football club he owns? Or at least actually just run the damn thing, which would be a vast improvement on the current situation. What happened to the FA's "fit and proper persons" system? Surely there has to be an investigation into the way he is running the club at this point.
Finally, I do have a question I was hoping someone might be able to answer; what will happen to Blackpool if they are unable to register the minimum number of players by the start of the new season? I worry for the future of the club and really feel for the fans (they're my second club, as Mrs Ted is a lifelong fan), who deserve so much better than the farce their club has been forced into.
Belgium Can Win It
The general consensus seems to be that Belgium have been pretty mediocre, but have they been that bad? In their 3 group games, they were pretty rubbish in one (Russia) but won anyway, went down to ten men in another but won anyway (Korea), conceded an early goal to a good side but won anyway (Algeria). In their only knockout game they played a team that was properly pumped, who had given Portugal and Germany a good game, and whose goalkeeper managed to make a frankly ridiculous 18 saves (from any equally ridiculous 38 shots on goal) but... they won anyway.
Belgium look exactly like the type of team that wins tournaments to me. They've faced a number of adverse situations and managed to eke out a win. They've got a defence that has generally made sure that they haven't got caught with their pants down whilst looking for a win and that mostly stood firm when they were rocking in extra time against the USA. They've got an attack that might not look the most fluent but still churns out abundant chances, and a subs bench that has made a real difference in each of their games to date. It might not be the most fluent stuff, but they're solidly finding their way through the tournament.
Jack Saunders (Still prefer Colombia!)
Jon Bon Messi
Bruce Springsteen's manager has previously spoken about the enduring blue collar appeal of "The Boss", that people would phone him up and ask him where Bruce worked Mon-Fri. There was a public perception that although he'd sold millions of albums and was enormously successful, Bruce was so much of an ordinary Joe that you could find him cleaning cars somewhere during the week.
Part of Messi's appeal (in my subjective opinion) has been that the wee man seems accessible. When the fizzy drinks and trainers ads show him walking down the street and getting involved in an impromptu kickabout, part of me wants to believe he would actually be like that. Just a decent guy who loves playing the game, no airs and graces.
Not to criticise CRon, but part of me thinks that at night he ascends to the heavens in a spaceship, in order to properly gaze upon all those who worship him, a superhuman, not one of us mere mortals.
Recently though, it appears that the mask has started to slip with the wee man; Zlatan's typically explosive autobiography shed light on the creative tensions within the Barca dressing room, and more recently it's hard to imagine another player in world football being allowed to criticise the coach's tactics in a World Cup, with the coach agreeing and changing plans for the next game.
As a football fan I think we're incredibly lucky to have been able to witness these two footballing behemoths at their absolute best over the past few years, but is anyone starting to think that perhaps Ronaldo is actually the more genuine guy? A divisive figure for sure, but he makes no apologies or pretense about who he is (much like Zlatan), whereas with Messi it seems that an 'ordinary bloke in the street' persona has been carefully created, and is starting to unravel.
What if Messi is less Boss and more Bon Jovi? It's a horrible thought.
Fraser (Skid Row rules), Edinburgh
I wanted to query Toby Sprigings theory that by paying £30m for Luke Shaw, United have somehow ruined him and have broken the poor boy before he has even got his career going. The problem with Toby's theory is the fact that transfer fees are all relative.
Using the Andy Carroll example, Liverpool vastly overpaid due to a number of factors, lack of talent being the major one. However, it's about expectation - Andy Carroll at £35m was meant to be a like for like replacement for Torres and was meant to step up immediately (cue mocking laughter).
Shaw has been bought as the United left back for the next decade. He won't play every game next season (especially as Evra seems likely to stay), there is no expectation on Shaw to be 'the bestest left back in the world ever' by 18th August. His price is based on potential, not on the fact he is the finished product.
You may recall we paid £14m (a lot of money) a few years ago for a gangly, lanky kid who was partial to a step over. That seemed to work out quite well for everyone if memory serves. United fans tend to be patient with young players - look at Tom Cleverley's Old Trafford career if you need further proof of that!
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
Brace yourself people. Liverpool fans will soon be using the words 'net spend' an awful lot this summer/year/decade/millennium.