After a disappointing end to his three years at Real Madrid, could Jose Mourinho struggle to bring immediate success if he completes his anticipated return to Chelsea?
The Premier League season has only been over for about 20 hours and already we're well into the summer-type Mailbox. Plus, a shout for the 2014 player of the year...
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United To Beat City? No Chance
Whatever's in the water in Mumbai, I want some.
A pork pie has a better chance of escaping John Prescott than United do of beating City.
...I just read a letter as to why United will win on Sunday - I beg to differ and most united fans will agree with me, here's why:
1. Anderson. Or lack thereof. He's been the catalyst for our best football all year. The polar opposite to the 'zombie passing' you'll see from our other centre mids. He's looking like that player Fergie spent a lot of cash on finally and then his hamstring goes, this is a big problem. Which means we rely on...
2. Zombie passing. This is what we do - Evans to Carrick, to Scholes queue a spray out to the wingers and we attack via that route. Not a problem you say? Try do it successfully when Ashley Young is our only fit winger and Valencia (when fit) seems to have forgotten how fast he is? And Nani...well when fit Fergie's as likely to shoot him than play him these days. Without wingers we have no game plan.
3. Yaya Toure. We don't have anyone that can stop this chump. I met him in Manchester airport. He's a giant, Fletcher of three years ago maybe but now he's up against Carrick, Fletch of 2012, Giggs and Scholes. Not good.
4. Yes we have great striking options. I'd kiss RVP passionately on the lips such is my admiration for his form this year. I'd hold Hernandez's hand with pride in front of my mates and Rooney - well, I don't really care for Wayne but that's another issue. My point is we can't use them if we can't get the ball to them. See above points.
5. Solution? Play wing-backs with a back three of Rio and Evans with Carrick slightly forward. Rafael and Evra bomb down the wings and pray they create something. That's all I've got.
Aaron (my girlfriend is proud of my RVP man love, you should be too) MUFC
...In regards to Sagar Deo, MUFC, Mumbai, thanks for the seven points. The laws of averages would suggest that even with red-tinted glasses, you should be close to not looking like a tool on at least a couple of points. And with any real, unbiased football knowledge, that should be knocked up to at least a few points on the right track.
1. How has Mancini had trouble with the 4-3-3 (4-5-1) formation exactly? City are the only undefeated team in the league, so obviously not that much trouble.
2. You are right, united's XI almost picks itself while City have players desperately fighting for nearly every position, with depth all over the park and even the subs fighting to get any minutes at all. Fergie will have no clue who he will be coming up against while Mancini could very well know exactly who is playing where. Exactly which one is the negative and which one is the positive?
3. So one of your strikers is better for being fresh but another, similar striker of yours will be better for playing twice in four days? And the rounder, more established one is the one benefiting from cramming in games? For the record, City's striking options are also range from fresh, to not fresh, and there are more of them and of varying degrees of freshness. But I'm guessing you think they are all negatives...
4. Champions League results and fear of defeat to United will be too much for City? City were in a group of death and arguably the toughest group in the history of competition using the current format and have just finished six games against the current league champions from three of the best leagues in the world. United lost to a couple of teams that no one can pronounce because they never heard of them. And the last derby won't exactly be conjuring up nightmares for City.
5. Rubbish, subjective comment with no value, insight or reasoning.
6. See above.
7. A tip about Evans being captain after Sunday, which is ridiculous.
So how did you do? None from 7. I was really hoping you would have got one point close to being logical, so I could have written 1-6 as your score.
Daniel (Lucky I thought of that last sentence to sneak it in anyway), Australia
How Swansea Have Avoided Second Season Syndrome
Isn't it quite fascinating how Swansea have built half a team (a bloody good one at that) with the sale of one average Oremiership midfielder. Being an average midfielder in the Premiership is not a bad thing but there are a few of them about.
Ki (6m) Hernandez (5m) Chico (2m) Michu (2m) De Guzman (Loan fee?)
If you look at Swansea's best XI last year compared to this year, despite losing Allen, Sigurdsson, Sinclair in midfield/attack (anyone last season would have said three key players) I think they now have a better first team.
Allen/Sigurdsson/Sinclair/Graham vs Ki/De Guzman/Hernandez/Michu.. Which would you rather have?
All in all its the best thing that could have happened for Swansea was for Rodgers to leave. I'm not saying Rodgers is a bad manager, far from it. He over-achieved last season with Swansea and did a fantastic job that quite rightly got him noticed by other chairman. The problem with him staying at Swansea is the fact he did over-achieve.
See in the Premiership punching above your weight is incredibly hard to sustain. Look at Reading under Coppell, they finished 8th after being promoted then they were relegated. Look even further back at Ipswich under George Burley where they finished 5th and then the next season they were relegated. Look at Newcastle this season, I'm not saying they'll get relegated but lower mid table and certainly not 5th. I'm sure there are more examples that I can't think from the top of my head right now.
Everybody knows about second season syndrome but whats the best way to avoid it? Get a new manager the second season. Look at Norwich now under Hughton, Lambert is a great manager but he would have really struggled in my opinion to match the enthusiasm and motivation of last year, maybe bringing in a new manager brings a renewed freshness. Maybe I'm talking bollocks. I'm certainly not advocating sacking managers when you succeed but its an interesting observation nonetheless.
Some people will argue Moyes consistently over-achieves but I disagree, his finishing positions each season reflect his team's quality (notable exception the fourth-place finish) He should really be in the champions League mix this season with this team.
Sam Allardyce is the only manager I'd say has put in a consistent run of over-achieving. What he did at Bolton was unbelievable, improving ever single season until he managed a 6th-place finish with Bolton!
One Of Many
Paul, Dublin - I'd rather be Manchester United on December 20th as they are the only team you listed that could possibly draw Celtic...ZING!!!
(ooh aah) Mike McGrath
Barca Have Earned Right To Rest Players
I'm really not a fan of the line that it is unfair or unsporting of a team who have already qualified, such as Barcelona last night, to play a weakened team when it may affect another team's chances of qualifying, such as Celtic last night (no disrespect meant to the Bhoys; I was rooting for them the whole way).
Forcing Barcelona to play their first team would be more of an injustice. The match was non-competitive for them because they earned that situation, by winning more matches. If they want to gain the advantage of resting players that's their prerogative. Celtic are somewhat unlucky to be in this position (in that they played Barcelona earlier), but if they had wanted to avoid it they should have won more matches.
It's not quite as simple as that, of course, as Barcelona's resources exceed Celtic's etc, but this is all acknowledged by the seeding system. Once in the competition, each team needs to be treated as equal to ensure a fair winner, and to somehow change the system to ensure each match was played by a team's 'strongest eleven' (a relative concept in a game like football) would undermine the competition, the manager and the structure of the team.
The real problem is not Barcelona playing reserves, but the unequal wealth distribution in the game, how difficult it is to displace a top team. Lower teams are very likely to find themselves in this situations because the top sides are so vastly superior, they win their group handily (or at least they should *ahem*...).
And Shakhtar Have Earned Their Qualification
Intresting point in Winners and Losers about the fact that Shakhtar Donetsk knew they were through last night because they had a superior head to head over Chelsea, whereas Chelsea would have gone through if goal difference had been used. Matt Stranger clearly feels that this rule meant that Shakhtar didn't have to give their all because they knew they were through. They were below their best, and it's a fair comment. But I believe they earned the right to be.
This issue reared its head in the Euros, where pundits seemed bafflingly baffled by quite a simple rule Many also appeared not to understand the logic behind it. To me this seems pretty clear: head to head means that the best team goes through. I'll admit that the aggregate score was 4-4, but if these fixtures were played in the knock-out stage then Shaktar would have progressed due to the two away goals they scored when losing 3-2 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. That judges them the best side. I may be biased in both my support and the fact that I thought Chelsea were the inferior team in both ties (although fair play to them for pulling a win out late on in the tie), but to me that means they deserve to go through.
It's more clear cut if, for instance, Shakhtar had won the first fixture and drawn the second, but due to other results they ended up on the same points. However, by the logic used later on, Shakhtar were the overall winners between these teams, and deserve to go through. And that, frankly, is good enough for me. When teams are tied on points, I'd always prefer to go for the one who won the matches between the two as the barometer of who is the better side.
Will Donovan, THFC, North London
Balotelli For Chelsea?
I write further to Stu (6-1? We could have scored 10. #rafaout), Chiswick thoughts re Chelsea buying Balotelli, and whilst I appreciate Stu giving some thought to our lack of firepower up front, I must disagree with his conclusion.
Chelsea court far too much controversy as it is and the last thing we need is someone with Balotelli's attitude coming in and causing a stir. What we need in my opinion, is not another 'marquee' signing but someone like Michu. He is a class player (his finish at the weekend was Fifa-esque... you know the type - the triggered finesse shot) and he'd probably get on with our ever growing Spanish quarter and he'd be cheap as chips. Another option is to recall the impressive Lukaku (now he's a proper 'Drogba type').
Our marquee forwards haven't worked out and I think it's time to get a player in who can capitalise on the skill-sets of the three who play behind him. This does not necessarily mean an expensive striker (although Falcao is a deliciously attractive option) but simply someone who can receive the ball in the box and put his foot through it.
Ed (my xbox has just got the red ring of death thing and I've got the FIFA withdrawal sweats as a result. It feels like that scene in Trainspotting, but instead of a baby climbing my ceiling it's Juan Mata. God help me.)
Standing More Dangerous Than Drinking? Really
Sorry Martin (Warrington), I have to bring you to task on the following statement. I'm not promoting alcohol or for one minute saying fans should be allowed to drink in their seats (though this would be safer than bringing back standing).
Are you suggesting that having a designated area where you can stand is less safe than allowing everyone in the stadium to drink. That's absolute utter nonsense and you know it. Standing areas are not responsible for all the troubles we experienced in the past. People and poor organisation are. If you took the time to read the report by the Footballer Supporters Federation (I think the link has already be posted) you will see that.
I agree to a certain extent that a few scoops makes you more inclined to sing along, I usually always go for a few looseners before a match, but I rarely drink whilst in there, two hours of footy can fly by, I don't need it, its ridiculously expensive and tastes like, well you know. Remarkably I agree with Silvio to an extent in as much I want to watch the match as much as possible rather than pointing at home/away fans telling them 'I own a shed bigger that this' or asking 'where the atmosphere is'.
But a stadium allowing drinking safer than a designated monitored standing area? No. The fact that the Germans do both without major problems should really serve to be a source of embarrassment to us. They didn't say we will not do it, they said we'll do it and make sure we do it right. Typical bl**dy efficient Germans.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Where The Chants Come From...
This took a bit of finding, but should answer all Jonesey's questions on how chants get started:
(...and is an all-round cracking read)
Marky B. MUFC
...To Jonesey, Melbourne, the answer to your question is in the pre-match gathering. Most clubs have a traditional base (local pub) where they gather pre-kick-off, and sing through the repertoire of songs and there is usually a core group of people leading the proceedings. In Manchester the pub is the Bishops Blaize, just around the corner from the ground, where the United fans gather to sing and test out new songs. There is a fella (Pete Boyle) up on a stool orchestrating the chants, the whole pub chants non-stop through all the songs and back around again for a few hours. Every so often the room quietens on his command and he'll kick off a new song, leading everyone through the words until the rest of the pub takes off like riding bike without the stabilisers for the first time... a little wobbly at first then getting more confident.
The atmosphere is amazing, and really shows you what the ground would be like during matches if more of the 'salt of the earth' fans could get into a game. In many ways its the highlight of match day, feckin hilarious really...but it can also get very poignant and emotional...the camaraderie in there is second to none. So basically when proceedings move to the ground, the new chant will start as they walk up the Matt Busby Way and inside the ground and as a few hundred people already know the words it hopefully takes root from there...
...Interesting question in the mailbox about how terrace chants start. There are loads of chants people come up with that don't catch on, so the perfect chant has to be catchy, easy to pick up, and to a recognisable tune. For example "we've got Steve Elliot, he's f**king brilliant" repeated to the versatile tune of La Donna e Mobile (also used for "that's why you're going down", "that's why we're champions", etc...)
As for how terrace songs stick I can at least tell the story of how Goodnight Irene became Bristol Rovers fans' anthem. Goodnight Irene was played by a band before a game against Plymouth Argyle long before my time. With Rovers winning some of the away fans headed for the exit, leading to a chorus of "Argyle goodnight Argyle, Argyle goodnight" from the home fans who still had the tune in their head from before kick-off. It then kept being sung in its original version whenever Rovers scored. I'd be interested to hear how anyone else's club songs came to stick. A Friday mailbox filler perhaps?
Mike, League 2, BRFC
What Happens When You Try To Go Alone
In reply to Jonesy, I think the reason you get synchronised singing/clapping when a large enough group in one section of the crowd start and others start to join in, pretty simple really. As for who writes these chants, I'm not sure, but it does remind me of a game I went to. Liverpool played Lazio in pre-season about five years ago, utterly forgettable game except for a goal from the ponytailed assassin Andriy Voronin.
Anyway, the most interesting thing was the middle-aged chap sitting a few rows in front, who sang from before the game started to after it was finished his own chant. To the tune of 'Hey Macarena'-
He's big and he's bald and his name's Pepe Reina,
He's big and he's bald and his name's Pepe Reina,
He's big and he's bald and his name's Pepe Reina,
Heeeyyyy Pepe Reina
Inspired. I like to think he still sings it to this day, but sadly I've never heard it since. And Reina is a bit sh*t now as well.
Why Do Chelsea Fans Need Instructions?
In response to Jonesey, Melbourne who asked the question about how chants get started, I would have to ask, how big were those leaflets outside Stamford Bridge? I mean, you don't need much space to repeat; Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea over and over, you could just write Chelsea, repeat, to no particular tune. Or the imaginative 'We all folla the Choowellsee' to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory. There is of course the classic, C'mon Chelsea, C'mon Chelsea, C'mon Chelsea, this might be tricky to learn for new fans so practice is required.
The only actual song I've ever heard at Chelsea is that awful 'One man went to mow' that they've been singing since the Stone Age!
Enjoy the Thursday nights, or stay at home and write some different songs.
This Joke Isn't Funny Amymore
Why must you now write 'OK' at the end of every headline relating to Brendan Rodgers? Yes, as seen on Being Liverpool, he says 'OK' a lot, we get the joke, very funny F365.
Much like the hilarious way you used to write Woy instead of Roy all the time when referring to Roy Hodgson until a paper you didn't like (and maybe even think your better than) decided to do the same thing and you took exception to this. Like some sort of hipster kid who liked the latest floppy fringed, skinny jeaned, trendy band before they were famous, you tried to claim some sort of moral high ground that you calling Hodgson 'Woy' wasn't as bad as the tabloids calling him 'Woy'. Frankly, that was a little pathetic.
Perhaps it's time to prove that you're better than these papers that you look down on and stop with the same tired, old jokes that weren't even that funny the first time.
I love F365 but this really has to stop...ok?
Mark (Tired and cranky today, can you tell?), LFC, Dublin
You've Been Gomezed
A big thank you to Matt Stanger (CL W&L) for making a fool of me just now.
I went to http://www.gomezbutton.de/ on my work PC, seen the big red button and thought no, hold on now...this may not be suitable for the work-place... God knows what might appear on my screen if I click on this.
So being the 'clever' guy that I am, I whipped out the oul phone, went to the above mentioned link and I literally pressed that big intriguing button.
Unfortunately, the sound on my phone was on full volume.
Well played sir, well played...
Gary K, Dublin (Mariooo Gooomez) MUFC
...It's difficult to put into words how utterly P****D off with Stanger and the W&L column right now. Let me explain...
I have just picked up my two-year-old daughter from nursery, because she's ill. It doesn't happen very often, she's a hardy lump and is mostly resilient to these things. But this time, even though I have had to cancel a meeting this afternoon that was fairly important, it seems she really is ill. So - I went to the doctors, and couldn't get her an appointment. Back to the house then, on to the sofa, and after an hour of crying, fussing on and scratting about, she finally drifts off to sleep. After chewing my own arm off to get out from under her without waking her, I grab my laptop and head to F365 for some much needed relief.
After settling down to read the Winners and Losers column, I - foolishly - pressed on the Mario Gomez link (and YES - I pressed the damn button), thinking it might be a goal or at least something funny. But no. It was some RANK eurodance Mario Gomez song that came on at full blast and woke up aforementioned ill toddler.
And now I'm back to listening to hysterical crying, thrashing around, trying to get her to take a slug of calpol, watching CBeebies and reading the F*****G gruffalo for the 289th time. Thanks a bunch, Stanger, thanks a bunch.