He is one of a number of solid shouts for players that look old before their time. We also have the final words on lovely D-Beck and a rejection of end of season playoffs...
That's one opinion, but others give their thanks to the man. We also have ideas for a relegation playoff, happy memories of the season and a defence of Liverpool's campaign...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Why United Will Win: An Irrational Argument
It's Friday afternoon so this might just be left-field enough to get in the mailbox.
I have read with interest the various emails regarding the likely outcome of the derby on Sunday and I have noticed a change in perspective. United fans have seemingly become far less confident in our attitude towards our 'little brother' (nice analogy Ole) across the city. Reading the mailbox yesterday and this morning was almost a surprise in that there appears to be only two United fans (Sagar Deo, Mumbai and LOH, Basel) who think we can win at the Etihad. Well, I'm also in the 'we can do it' camp. And here's why...
I have two away-end tickets so United will play better.
In isolation this is a ridiculous statement I know, but somehow, amongst the reported 30,000 United ST Holder applications for circa 3,000 tickets, my application was pulled out of the ballot and I got two tickets and consequently, I have this ridiculous and totally illogical feeling that this now gives United a chance. It's like I can influence the game just because I'm there. Crazy and deluded I know but, as I'm taking my 10-year-old son who is yet to go to a losing game, allied to the fact that my presence will have miraculous effect on our form, means that surely we must now be favourites?
All pre-match superstitions will be followed to the letter on Sunday morning (I already have them planned) including lucky underwear and 30-year-old scarf so trust me, everything points to a United win - after going behind first of course!
Come on United!
Chris Wilkinson (grasping at straws and licking windows) MUFC
United Need To 'Do A Napoli'
1. This season's PL is a joke. United's real calibre has been shown in Europe, and it isn't great. No tactical identity or cohesion, no creativity, and total reliance on Rooney, van Persie, and substitute appearances from Hernandez to win matches.
And City's defence appears, domestically, to be recovering the parsimony of last season. Add to this that Mancini has the midfield options to deploy a destructive, disruptive double pivot in front of Kompany and Nastasic, and I'd be surprised if United create the chances to score. 90 minutes of sterile, Carrick-tastic possession, and a defeat, I suspect.
And Rooney has been playing relatively well, but in the absence of any other creative spark at United, Mancini can easily enough neutralise Rooney from midfield.
2. Competition for places is no bad thing, and, even if City aren't hitting the heights of last season, they still have all the tools to beat United; pressing, disruptive midfielders, excellent attacking midfielder, and prolific striker.
3. Toure has always tended to play well in big matches and when needed for City. And there's always Aguero, Silva, Tevez and Nasri if he doesn't fire. However will they cope?
4. Oh good. We can replace Ji-Sung Park, who was excellent in many major games for United (including the 2008 1-0 victory at Old Trafford, still the best tactical United performance I've seen), with Ashley Young. Joy unconfined.
5. See 6-1. Pro-active attacking is risky, and City have the ability to hit United very hard on the counter-attack.
6. I'd rather Milner or Barry than Fletcher. Milner might not be great, but Barry is an excellent water-carrier in midfield.
7. Valid point, but of no consequence to the match on Sunday.
8. And three-man backlines, with wing-backs, work very well against United, as Fergie invariably plays either with wingers or two central strikers, both of which a back three and wing-backs are excellent at defending against.
The only viable route for a United victory, to my mind, is to play Jones as a Busquets style holding midfielder/ auxiliary centre back (with special responsibilities to cover Silva and Toure), use Rafael and Evra as genuine wing-backs, use Carrick and Scholes as a sitting double pivot who play the ball quickly forward, and then have Welbeck, Rooney and van Persie as a floating front three. Think Napoli.
Barry And Milner? Well, They Dominated You Before
This is in response to the United fan from Basle (SHOCK).
You said about Milner and Barry in point 6 that you 'really hope these two play'.
That's strange because I'm a City fan and I'm praying these two play! Is this the same Barry and Milner who dominated midfield in the 6-1 at Old Trafford last season?
Are you seriously more frightened of Javi Garcia? I'll have an Allardyce moment and suggest if Gaz was called Javi Barcia you would not have mentioned him..
Also; attack is not the best form of defence, defence is. The title winners nearly always have the best defensive record in the league.
Christian The Goat
...After reading LOH, Basel's email and his view of Gareth Barry got me thinking. All City fans appreciated how good Barry is, how much he helps the team tick and he selfless none showy way he wins and keeps possession. That's why David Silva voted Barry his player of the (last) season. However it appears most other fans think he's rubbish, as he was out-paced by Ozil when not fully fit in one game. Now compare that with now highly rated Adam Johnson was by most non-City fans last season. They obviously saw his best bits on MOTD and thought City were holding him back, whereas City fans knew how average he tends to be. And how exactly has he done at Sunderland now he's playing week in, week out?
Are there other club examples where one of your best players is massively underrated and one of your poorest is massively overrated by fans of other clubs?
And LOH, I also really hope Barry plays on Sunday so we can dominate midfield once again like we did twice in the league last season.
Andy Davies, Manchester, MCFC
An Informed Opinion On Welbeck
A few weeks ago I criticised Welbeck for being good for England and crap for United, although as a non-United fan this is the ideal scenario. I was castigated by someone the next day, accused of only watching Welbeck for England, thus not knowing anything of his United form.
I make an effort to watch as much football as I can get my hands/eyes on, so I took this criticism hard. I decided that maybe I was glazing over some good things Welbeck does for United, so I have made an effort to watch him closely over the last few weeks. It's a shame that this has seemingly coincided with Welbeck managing to achieve the square root of f**k all in pretty much every single game. I'll continue watching him though, and apologise once he stops proving me right.
Ross (it's not that I couldn't get over the criticism, I just needed a big enough sample size) AFC London
Terrible, Terrible Idea
I really have to disagree with the emails this morning claiming that 'Europe 20' will be a good thing. Apart from all the usual complaints about UEFA's greed and Platini being an idiot (both justifiable) there are two major issues for me.
Firstly, as always, the fans have not been considered. Let's say if by some miracle England go all the way and I wanted to follow them I could end up having to pay for flights, tickets and accommodation to/from Germany say, for the groups, then Holland for the second round, Italy for the quarters, Spain for the semis then a trip to Dublin for the final. All within the space of two to three weeks, who the hell could afford that?
Secondly, and in my opinion more importantly, it is the host nation(s) that give any tournament its identity. Recent successful World Cups and Euros have had the hosts stamp all over them, the African flavour of the last WC springs immediately to mind. If there's no host nation there's sense of all of Europe coming together for a tournament, just a series of interlinked matches. Remember Euro 96? Remember how great it felt to have the best of Europe coming to our country for a tournament? There will be nothing like this in 2020. Major tournaments need a host no matter what Platini thinks.
...I thought I'd write in to just give a different view on the whole Euro 2020 debate. I understand to an extent why Uefa have taken the opportunity to make the competition Europe-wide, but I don't agree with it. I was in Switzerland for Euro 2008 and I've never experienced anything like it, the whole country was buzzing, there were football fans on trams and buses making their way to games or to watch the games on large screens in city centres. The atmosphere was surreal and I wouldn't change that experience for the world. What I'm saying is that I don't think anything can beat the coming together of football fans in one country and I think that having them scattered across Europe makes the competition a little less special.
...To be blunt, supporters of this 'A Euros for Europe' idea are emphatically wrong.
Apart from the 16-team format which ensures great games at every stage of the finals, the best thing about the current Euro format is the strong identity that goes with each tournament being hosted by a single country (I'm still torn on shared bids). England, France, Germany...each one sticks in the mind vividly because of the signature the host countries and the atmosphere in the country created by it. If you split Group games across cities in different countries, you remove the pride that goes with hosting the event, and with it will go the carnival atmosphere. Going to matches will feel no different to an important away match, not like you're part of something bigger, something special. Especially if these are now going to be dead rubbers in a 24-match format.
Put it this way, imagine how different the atmosphere and excitement for the London Olympics would have been if the track events were held in London, the swimming in Paris, the long distance in Berlin, the field events in Amsterdam. It sounds a great exotic idea, but it would lose what makes it special. The village. The pride. The community.
Or to put more simply, if you find yourself agreeing with Mr "let's vote for a summer WC in Dubai then lobby for it to change to winter/do our best to ruin the European Cup and UEFA Cup" Platini, stop typing.
David P, Manchester
Euro 2020 Decision Taken Too Early
The decision to share Euro 2020 around Europe may turn out to be the right one, but it was taken too early. Turkey were desperate for Euro 2016 but lost out to France and then immediately turned their attention to Euro 2020. However, they have been trying to get the Olympics for years and as it looks like Istanbul may well win the bid for 2020, the govenment rightly decided that two major sporting events in the same summer was not a feasible proposition. Turkey currently has four stadia fit for a major football tournament, though admittedly three of them are in Ýstanbul. However, another three with capacities of over 30,000 are planned to be finished by 2014, so Turkey is more than capable of being ready by 2020. Factor in Europe's largest population and fastest growing economy, plus the fact it has some of Europe's most passionate fans. Take a coach journey between cities and you'll currently find levels of comfort and service which National Express can only dream of. In my mind there is no doubt that it would be a wildly successful tournament.
As the decision for the 2020 Olympics takes place next September, couldn't UEFA have held off one more year before making a decision? I realise that they are not obliged to change their bidding procedure for Turkey (or any other country) but surely six years' notice is long enough for any nation to organise an international tournament?
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire (via Antalya)
Career Suicide? Really?
I think people who describe the Chelsea manager's job as 'career suicide' (as Duncan did this morning) are missing the point. Being fired only matters if it stains your reputation - if the club that fired you does so all the time to all kinds of managers, it does nothing of the sort. Imagine Di Matteo's interview:
"How do you explain being fired by Chelsea?"
"This is the club that fired Mourinho and Ancelotti. Oh, and by the way, I won the Champions League and FA Cup in my half a season there."
"Fair enough - the job's yours."
Most of Chelsea's fired managers went on to get good jobs - Mourinho managed Inter and Real Madrid, Ancelotti got the PSG job, Scolari is now Brazil manager again, AVB went on to Tottenham. It's a job that gives you a good platform to perform, and will allow you to move on unstained and with a sizeable pay-off if you do badly. It should be one of the most attractive jobs in football!
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London
Roman = Squirrel
I really enjoyed the article on club owners/chairmen, but If John Nicholson and Alan Tyers are trying to get Squirrel Fart-Squeak to stick as the nickname for the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich they may have some trouble. For Squirrel Fart-Squeak to stick as Roman Abramovichs nickname then Squirrel Fart-Squeak needs to be associated with Roman Abramovich as much as possible, so when you see Roman Abramovichs name or picture you think 'ah ha, that's Squirrel Fart-Squeak that is'. The more you see Roman Abramovich in the same sentence as Squirrel Fart-Squeak, the more you'll think Squirrel Fart-Squeak when you see Roman Abramovich.
Not sure if I can help with that, although it cracked me up when I read it, and still is.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Matt Stanger's article on Rodgers is a mixed bag with a lot of the sort of shoddy sports journalism we see in the red tops. Take one instance to make a point.
The reason Rodgers moved out so many players in the summer was that he was forced to for two reasons. One, he was going to go no funds to buy new unless he sold because of the horrible job done by his predecessor. Two, and the big one, he had to reduce Liverpool's wage bill. Not only had Liverpool paid over the odds to other clubs to buy mediocre players but they had dangled top-drawer wage packages to those very same players. To get finances in order they had to reduce the wage bill, which often meant getting rid of some decent, but likely to become more marginal, players - Kuyt, Maxi, etc.
In addition, where he did keep players he kept the younger ones who he felt he had a chance to convert. And let's face it, in many cases the player's poor performance had reduced their value and I am sure management at the club didn't want the optics of selling a player they paid £30m going for £10m.
All in all, he was dealt a rather crappy hand and hasn't been helped by a mediocre GM.
Yes, the article says some positive things but starts from the wrong premise.
The Myth Of Arsenal's Youth (Or Why Zaha Definitely Shouldn't Join Arsenal)
I'm not sure I would agree with the notion that Arsenal bring young players to their full potential, as stated in Adam, Gooner's mail about which club to join this morning. If you cast your mind back to the Arsenal squads of five or so years ago when their youngsters would tear apart the Carling Cup, very few I would argue actually achieved their early promise. This is obviously the case with many a young footballer but few teams had the excitement that Arsenal did about their younger players.
There are notable exceptions that have gone on to differing levels of success, Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy have all done well since leaving. Then there are players that have made careers for themselves in and around the top level but some I would argue have not had the success that could have been reasonably expected of them, players such as Carlos Vela, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, David Bentley, Seb Larsson, Nic Bendtner and Fran Merida.
And as with any young player there are those that have dropped a level or two and were probably over-achieving at Arsenal, Mark Randall, Kerrea Gilbert, Justin Hoyte, Gavin Hoyte to name a few.
Of those still with the club, Theo Walcott looks like he has spent a couple of years now in stagnation and could benefit from a move elsewhere and Kieran Gibbs looks in danger of regressing. Oxlade-Chamberlain is being given chances but is he better off at Arsenal than he would be at Tottenham, Everton or Liverpool? Jack Wilshere fits with Arsenal in my opinion and it is a couple of years until we see if he develops. So the idea that Arsenal help young players any more than any other club I would say is flawed.
While looking through the young Arsenal teams of old one name stood out for his fall from grace. Arturo Lupoli, looked like a natural goalscorer and his 27 goals in 32 games for Arsenal's reserves as well as his Carling Cup performances emphasised his potential. Thierry Henry said of him 'he will score goals in any country, in any division, on any training ground - he is a proper goalscorer.' He played for Italy at every level up to Under 21 but unfortunately, at the age of 25, is playing for Grosseto in Serie B and not scoring many goals at all.
Response To TC23
Right, that's it. Enough is enough. This madness has to end.
What is this obsession with merging a player's initials and shirt number? It's bad enough that people like Ronaldo do it themselves but we've seen in the mailbox of people trying to be clever and create their own.
A few weeks back I felt the bile rise into my throat as someone tried to coin the moniker LS7 for Suarez. There was a bit of backlash and I thought I'd seen the end of it.
UNTIL this morning, when I see someone has done it for Tom Cleverley. TC23? Are you kidding me? It may have been a space saver, you may have been in a rush but NO! No more. I can just about grasp people doing it for good players but Tom Cleverley? Jesus wept.
F***mumpery of the highest order.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
Chris, Basildon, how strange - just yesterday I hit myself in the teeth with a claw-headed hammer while putting up my curtains. Not ironic, just stupid. FML, y'all.
Craig Morrison, Athens
...That's nothing, Chris from Basildon. I was once knocked on the head by a framed copy of the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 falling off the wall of my office.
I needed three stitches, and we decided we'd just put up a laminated copy instead.
Dara O'Reilly, London