It's not all about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, you know. We're talking about the pressure on Iker Casillas, Luis Suarez debuting in the big one and Isco's big chance...
Those being sniffy about Erik Lamela's rabona are given short shrift in the afternoon mailbox, where criticism of Brendan Rodgers is smashed out of the park...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
The What Now?
Since 'Net spend' and 'Andy Carroll' were both used in the last mailbox, I would really like to write in about a conversation I recently had about the 'sunk cost fallacy'. The idea of the fallacy is that once you've spent money on something, that cost should not factor in to any future decisions about the 'item' you paid for, but of course we all do and it is one of the reasons we try to win back money if we've lost it while gambling.
The interesting thing is, once a team owns a player they need to completely disregard how much they paid for them and concentrate on the value they have in the present. To use Andy Carroll as an example, in 2011 Liverpool paid £35m for him and clearly they thought that was his correct value to the team. By 2013 Liverpool had a striker on the books and a bid came in for £15m which clearly exceeded their valuation and they sold him. Now, the argument is Liverpool 'lost' £20m on Carroll but they way it should be looked at is they sold a striker they didn't need for £15m (which in isolation was probably quite a good move).
I hope no one writes in to the mailbox about the combined cost of Suarez and Carroll in 2011 and the combined amount they've been sold for as it is completely irrelevant. In 2013 a not-terribly-good striker was sold for £15m and in 2014 a terribly good striker will be sold for (what appears to be) £80m let's just leave it at that.
It's All B*llocks
"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."
Fraser (Skid Row rules), Edinburgh, I think you answered your own question in yesterday's mailbox. For the first few years of Messi-mania his 'down to earth, quiet lad who never dives' persona (which sat in stark contrast to the image many of us associate with footballers possessing a tenth of his ability) is what made him so much more attractive than the run of the mill egos we were used to. At first agents and advertisers weren't sure how to market this but they soon realised that we haven't really had an understated superstar in the modern footballing era. That was Messi's hook and I don't think it's a coincidence that he was modelled as the antithesis to the garish, in your face machismo of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sadly, as time's gone by, poor Leo's been revealed to be exactly as much of a prick as you would expect a multi-millionaire triple Ballon d'Or winner to be. It's all a load of b*llocks Fraser, b*llocks to generate a cult of personality to give their brand some edge. They're all pricks and all saints as much as the rest of us are, it's just that we don't have a PR team.
Now it seems we've gone full circle and people are loving the mega-ego. Zlatan (C) says c**tish thing after c**tish thing and we all think he's brilliant for doing so. Ronaldo's head has been steadily growing to the point he rips his shirt off and points to various body parts and we all forgive the fact he's being a c**t because that's what people want to see, this is how we imagine them and their brilliance and bellishness become one and the same thing. Football is celebrity these days and every top footballer looking to make top dollar needs to get his act just right.
Balotelli's probably not that troubled, John Terry probably wouldn't take a bullet and Juan Mata probably voted UKIP. Messi isn't the first and won't be the last to have a costume change so try not to worry about it too much and just enjoy the football. I'm really not sure where I've gone with this and I'm not having a go Frase. Maybe I'm just bitter.
Don't Blame Johnny Foreigner
It's easy to put the blame on the foreign players in BPL for the showing of the England's national team, especially with the showing of teams like Germany and Spain in recent years.
Foreign players as I see it however, is an inevitable by-product of the all-conquering ambitions of English clubs with the amount of money in the game today. To put it in a way that any male reader could relate; If you were flushed with obscene amount of money, surely in no time you would be seen with the hottest chicks from around the world - Colombians, Spaniards and Germans - rather than just the ones at home right now. It's human nature that we want the best there is, and unfortunately, the ones at home just don't cut it at the moment.
Of course, it's a logical balance to have a minimum number of English players in the team, but tilting this balance further will bring the quality of the teams down, which may result in English teams becoming irrelevant in the Champions League - Like the Portuguese/ Dutch leagues for example. This is the way that some ex-players have called for, but it's not ideal either. And if the BPL ever loses it's relevance, viewership/ money will flow out and BPL may see itself becoming the new Serie A.
The main problem that remains unsolved however, is the lack of identity in English players. What do you think of when you think of England? Good Keepers? No. Good Defenders? Maybe. Good Midfielders? No. Good Strikers? No. How about good team-play? Absolutely no. If you answered these questions truthfully, it's really no surprise that England has failed to perform on international stage in the last decade or so.
The core strategy should still be instilling of an identity - Whether it is to be good at simply parking the bus, or bringing back great wing play and wingers, English players need an identity. My football knowledge may be limited to just two decades or so, but I vaguely remember that English teams were the ones who popularised the 50-yard, cross field pass. It worked well for a while, but sadly, it hasn't gone further than that since then.
Lastly, one pertinent question is this: Considering the number of high quality foreign imports that are brought into the league every season; Surely - theoretically at least - English players can only improve by playing and learning beside them? If so, then why is there a need for protectionist measures to ensure that English players get enough playing time? Competition should bring out the best in individuals and quite possibly, the sad truth is that the mindset towards self-improvement is sorely lacking at the moment, and removing foreigners from the league is hardly going to solve that.
Gabriel, MUFC, Singapore.
I know that Belgium vs USA was a couple of days ago but it's been a busy week at work and this is the first chance I've had to write in.
During half time of the Bel v USA game Gary Lineker asked whether the Belgium strikers had researched their opponent (Tim Howard) and noted that in a one-on-one situation he goes down early every time, leaving the Strikers with a chance to chip the ball over him. All three pundits (Ferdinand, Waddle and Shearer) nodded in agreement and said something along the lines of "Yeah when I was playing I would always research my opponent".
At the same time in my head I immediately thought "Well Lukaku and Mirelles have been training with Howard all season. Surely if it's such an trait of Howard's, then they would have informed all the attackers in the Belgium squad?" (Except for Chadli...it's best to keep things simple with that lad...) All four of these 'experts' missed this 'Punditry Open Goal' and I'm betting I wasn't the only one at home thinking it either.
As a massive footie fan who reads this lovely website of yours almost daily, this really p*ssed me off! It was my dream to be a professional footballers (all those page 3 girls...sigh...) but I realised about 15 years ago that I was never gonna make it and now would quite happily spend 8 hours a day researching teams, footballers, managers, formations, tweaks of formations, players within a squad best suited for said tweak of formation, etc etc and then share what I'd discovered with other like minded footie fans. Sure you might not agree with what I'd just said, but you couldn't accuse me of going on a lads jolly up and improving my handicap with Sav, Chrisy Wad, Big Ally, Scottish Ally, Rio-ally and Gazzy Lin!
I remember watching Argentina vs Nigeria in the 2010 World Cup when Juan Sebastian Veron was popping the ball around in midfield and Mick McCarthy actually said "Is that THE Veron?!" FFS MICK!!! How many Bald 6ft Argentinian midfielders called Veron do you think there are? The fact that I knew he'd been ripping it up for Estudiantes, and his Father also played for them many years ago is my problem. But it was still evidence of a man being paid to watch one of the greatest shows on Earth and deciding that his extensive knowledge of all things relegation was enough for him to get by.
Rant over...Bloody Pundits!
Money's Too Tight To Mention
While some reaction from Arsenal fans to being called a selling club was expected, I have to take exception to the absolute nonsense spouted by Dhruv (AFC).
To start with, defining what makes a 'flair' player is much more difficult and subjective than even defining 'world-class'. If Dhruv has difficulty naming more than a few 'flair' players from Liverpool or Man Utd (in the past 10-15 years!) he should firstly switch the channel from Arsenal TV to a normal sports network like Sky Sports or ESPN or Star Sports or whatever, and take off the Arsenal-branded blinders that only allow wearers to see Arsenal players... or Barca. Look at the world around you and enjoy all the glory of football.
Anyway he is right that Barca would probably not sign Cleverly, Fletcher or Smalling, or the handsome Mr. Jones. But then they would probably not sign Bendtner (perhaps in big Nick's alterante reality), Diaby, Flamini, or Jenkinson either. And they would probably take Henderson over Wilshere given the diminutive one's form over the past year. But then they signed Dymtro Chygrynskiy for 25 million EUR so what do we know!? Monster Masch has also been a regular for them for a while now, and only the reddest of the red Liverpool fans would describe him as a 'flair' player.
As for Brown and O'Shea they both spent more than a decade with Man Utd, never becoming more than squad players, and were let go only after they turned 30, to make room for younger apprentices to Rio and Vidic. The fact that despite their limited talent they have more titles/trophies than most of Arsenal's 'flair' players speaks more to the genius of Sir Alex than anything else. They left to simply prolong their playing careers, and not to achieve their ambitions/trophies elsewhere like Forlan or Pique or Ronaldo or Becks or (this still hurts) Pogba.
The best line though is "Wenger buys players who are generally gifted and maybe ambitious enough to test themselves in unfamiliar waters"... I think you meant to say good enough to earn a higher wage and more trophies elsewhere. Arsenal have famously lost Ashley Cole for 5k a week and Vieira and Campbell for not offering longer than a year-long contract. If these 'invincibles' were treated this way, could Adebayor, Nasri, Sagna or Clichy expect to be treated any better? Respect is a two way street. While the fans have showered love from the stands, the powers that be at Arsenal have let the players down. That is why they appear to have become a selling club.
Vik M, MUFC (at least the Glazers are writing the checks needed to cover SAF's absence)
Next season Pep gonna make Neuer's position as False One and everyone will laud him for changing football again.
(For the record Pep you s**k)
I know it's the World Cup and everything but I just wanted to point out how imbalanced the current United team looks, given how van Gaal likes to set his teams up. Typically, he likes playing a 4-3-3. Assuming no more signings are made this summer, United's squad looks like this:
Keepers: De Gea, Lindegaard, Amos; Will play in back four: Shaw, Evra, Jones, Rafael, Varela, Smalling, Keane, Evans (Vermaelen?); Can play in middle three: Fellaini, Carrick, Cleverley, Fletcher, Herrera; Will have to play in the front three: Kagawa, Rooney, van Persie, Mata, Hernandez, Januzaj, Valencia, Nani, Welbeck, Young.
So unless Jones or Rooney or someone else is played out of their natural position in midfield (and we all know how consistent and reliable they are in midfield), I don't see how there are many options in the middle of the park (any 3 out of those 5 looks very weak). And TEN players competing for the three spots up front? I'm sure there'll be some more activity as far as transfers are considered (get rid of Young, even if you have to pay to get it done).
The other option he has recently meddled with is the 5-3-2 (or the 3-5-2, depending on how you look at it). Rafael and Shaw can inject the much needed pace down the wings, thus eliminating the need to play Young, Valencia, etc. This will however mean a dearth in defensive options, the same lack of quality in midfield and a waste of the copious attacking talent.
Sasank (and what's with van Gaal almost always revealing tactics and formations ahead of games, interesting time ahead!) Bangalore
The Long Goodbye
Bye then you amazing b*****d
Am I the only person who is truly appalled that a human being can bite people and still, businesses want to pay this much money for publicity and shirt sales? FFS - Football, I'm sick of it. Go on, write those letters!
Gifford in Sydney
Bring Your Boots
So basically what I think Ted, Manchester is saying is that all I have to do is turn up in Blackpool with my keeper gloves and I am pretty certain to get a few games for Blackpool next season! Get in! The dream is back on!
Gavin MCFC (Blackpool's No.1, Blackpool's...Blackpool's No.1, Blackpool's No.1)