There's more in the afternoon Mailbox about Jose Mourinho and his potential return to Chelsea, while there's also a link to some pictures of eagles that look like Arsene Wenger...
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?
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
I don't know who penned the Friday quiz but I love the use of the word "Golazo" and the links to the relevant goals. Brightened up my morning and reminded me of Channel 4's coverage of the Italian league in the 90's. Please use it more often. Thanks a million.
...Look - I'm sorry. I love you guys, really I do. And I mostly hate people writing in to criticise rather than contribute - but I can't let this go.
An article on poachers, and a quiz on 90s strikers. And yet, one of the greatest poachers of all time, from the 90s, is mentioned in neither? He never ran more than 10 yards at a time, and only did that 3 or 4 times a game but that 10 yards was devastating. 929 career goals, 5 in the 1994 world cup, FIFA world player of the year in 1994, scored 30 goals in 33 games to help Barcelona win the title. He was joint top scorer with 22 in a season in the Brazilian league when he was 40.
So, MC, Question 21:
About which World Cup winning striker did Roberto Baggio say "he is one of the greatest players of all time. He has good technique and personality. He is a master of art in the penalty area"?
Jeremy ("when I sleep too much, I don't score. That's the reason I like to go out a lot") Aves
I was wondering why, with the players that Arsenal currently have they don't try a radical new formation. I'm thinking 2-6-1-1. Pair Koscielny and Mertesaker at the back for that mixture of pace, height, tackling ability and positional sense. This then leaves Sagna and Santos to play left and right wing. With them running the lines to the byline along with Walcott and Gervinho this will take four to six of the opposition players away from midfield.
The next phase is for Wilshire, Arteta and Rosicky to make cross-field diagonal runs which will be tracked by three or four of the opposition. The final phase is for Szczesny to hoof the ball upfield to Giroud who runs through an empty midfield as the opposition are now all in the corners and spanks it past the keeper.
Sorted. What could possibly go wrong?
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
... AST spokesman Tim Payton: "This is the most difficult time in Arsene's 16 years and both the club and himself need to change direction quickly if his wonderful era is not to end on a sad note.
Arsenal are currently 7th in the Premier League, 5 points off 3rd place, and through to the final 16 of the Champions League.
Yes we there are definite issues (tactics, no plan B, the defence, lack of spending, admission of mistakes and sticking the boot into the players) that seem to have become more worrying over the past few years, but if this is the worst we have had it in 16 years, we should be bloody thankful.
Chris, Adelaide, Australia
The Messi Award
The build up lasted weeks and weeks, but soon after Lionel Messi bagged his 86th goal of 2012, the Zambian FA informed us it wasn't in fact the most prolific year for a professional footballer - instead, that honour belongs to Godfrey Chitalu who supposedly scored 100+ goals in Zambia in the 1970s.
So there you have it, Messi doesn't get the record, Chitalu keeps his place in history and everyone waits for 2013 when Messi goes for 100+.........
Well no, nobody really wants that - people (in general) want to celebrate Messi's achievement because, let's face it, I think we all recognise it's slightly harder to score 88 goals (and counting) in La Liga then it was to score 107 goals in the Zambian league in 1972. So what can be done about it?
Well, if I was Sepp Blatter, I would create a new award and call it the 'Lionel Messi Award', given to the player who scores the most goals in a calendar year in one of the top 5 leagues in Europe. What better way to honour the little genius that creating an award in his honour, given for achievement that will probably not be beaten for a very long time. That way, Chitalu keeps his place in history and Messi is honoured in his own special way.
Friends Sing Together, La La La La
Glad to see Mike BRFC League 2 is still about. Until 2000/01 I was a relative quiet Ipswich fan in Liverpool, but in that season securing a 5th place finish we beat Everton home and away, and Liverpool away with a draw at home. I decided that was the time to let the local patrons I was an Ipswich fan and proud of it. (I thought a successful period would follow, instead we bought Finidi George). Known now amusingly as 'Ipswich Chris' in my local they never miss a chance to ask how my team are doing despite knowing full well we're bobbins, in fact many patronising tell me they look out for Ipswich after they have finished looking at the Premiership.
I mentioned Mike BRFC League 2 because following his erudite League 2 contributions I decided Bristol Rovers would be the team to keep an eye out for in that division. They currently lie second bottom, although I'll keep my fingers crossed relegation can be avoided. (Blue Square Winners and Losers doesn't quite have the same ring to it). I doubt I would have paid as much interest had Mike not initially appeared.
Maybe I curse teams, maybe Mike introduced his Winners and Losers a season too soon, but it got me thinking, surely I cannot be the only person to declare an allegiance to a team only to have said team bomb spectacularly with my association forever attached to it. It wouldn't surprise me though.
Ipswich Chris, Liverpool
Dear esteemed editor and readers of the Mailbox,
A couple of days ago, during the justified fawning over a certain Juan Manuel Mata García, I noticed someone (forgive me for not remembering your name) suggested drawing up an XI of good-looking/handsome specimen to have graced the finest football pitches around the world. I was surprised it didn't get many responses, but thought that with today being Friday and all, it would be the perfect day to have a go. So here goes...
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
Defenders: Thomas Vermaelen, Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini
Midfielders: David Beckham, Daniele De Rossi, Xabi Alonso, Zinedine Zidane, Juan Mata
Forwards: Roque Santa Cruz, Cristiano Ronaldo
Substitutes: Gianluigi Buffon, Nemanja Vidic, Fabio Cannavaro, Clarence Seedorf, Steven Gerrard, Sergio Aguero, Robin van Persie
Manager: Pep Guardiola
As well as being good-looking, these lot aren't too shabby when it comes to kicking a ball around, the squad contains nine World Cup winners, four European Championship winners and 11 Champions League winners.
Not bad (looking) hey?
Dear Adam (grumpy northerner in Japan) MUFC,
Two words: Shebby Singh
Sid (John Dykes was a god) LFC.
...In response to Adam I am currently living in South Korea and the TV coverage is not much better. First the choice of match shown is determined by Korean involvement. Not only this but also by fame of said Korean. This means that QPR are on a lot. If Maradona was cloned by Daniel Levy and MaradonaII made his debut this weekend, QPR would still be on instead of Spurs. If QPR weren't playing then Swansea or Sunderland would be on instead. Also the commentators love shouting SHOOTING!! and HEADING!! a lot so I normally mute the volume after a while.
On the plus side, the 3pm Saturday kickoffs are on TV and are on in most bars on a Saturday night. Also they have Cha Boom in the studio, who was not only one of the best strikers in the world in the 1980s (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeTclenhedk) but he also has a great nickname.
John McGrath, South Korea
... To Adam (grumpy northerner in Japan), MUFC, who was asking about football analysis 'out foreign'...
Living in Canada I get to see more live footy than I ever did back home (given the amount of coverage here and the popularity of the sport, it's bizarre how poor the national team are. They recently lost 8-1 to Honduras in WC qualifier).
Anyhoo, the halftime/post match analysis/premiership roundups here are mental. Craig Forrest leads they charge, primarily just talking about the goalies performance or how the Canadians have faired on a given Saturday. This is followed by clips and highlights of Junior Hoylett (who hasn't declared for Canada yet) or Simeon Jackson of Norwich blasting it into the stands after a 5min substitute appearance.
Then there's the nightly show Fox Soccer Central from the US. It's what you'd expect from Fox; presenters and analysts with big shiny faces staring directly at the viewer, it's pretty freaky. There's a Dutch guy with a massive dickie-bow who declared that the Bent/Lambert stand-offs happen when the manager has no previous footballing pedigree (that drove me mad, Lambert's a CL winner!). And then there's the young male presenter with perfect hair and luminous white teeth constantly hitting on a suited up Danny Dichio (suit is 2 sizes too small), who is completely oblivious to what's going on. (I aint gonna beat up on Danny, he keeps staring at me with that shiny shaved head as if he's gonna tear me a new one).
Eoghan MUFC (I miss Giles and Dunphy), Cork via Vancouver
...In response to Adam (grumpy northerner in Japan)... Anyone familiar with ESPN's Champions League coverage will know and loathe Tommy Smyth... An Irish-American whose opinions suggest he's never played the game at any level, argues with co-commentators and pundits on any and every point (I assume he thinks that's what punditry is all about), and constantly spouts a string of ridiculous catch phrases like a WWF wrestler taunting a rival ('bulge in the old onion bag' is the most common and refers to a goal being scored).
I can only assume when ESPN first took an interest in football they just assigned the first European they could find, and knowing nothing about sawker at the time they didn't realise that Tommy Smyth ('With a Y' - that's another catchphrase) was just as clueless. Thankfully these days his airtime has been reduced, and whenever he is involved his fellow pundits like Shaka Hislop and Derek Rae treat him like the old uncle at the family gathering, occasionally indulging him but quick to cut him off before he can really get going.
...A thanks to Adam, (grumpy northerner in Japan) providing to chance to talk about the global punditry fayre on offer to ex-pats. In India we get a show called 'Countdown 2 Kick Off' that comes on before the Champions League games. As you read on it's worth noting that CL kick off time in India is about 12.30AM and an eye-watering 1.30AM when daylight savings kick in back home.
The basic format is - and I'm sorry for the image this conjures - basically a ménage-a-trois between Carlton Palmer, Geordie goalkeeping hero John Burridge and some northern presenter bloke called 'Joe' whose second name I forget. The exchanges follow pretty much the same template every week - the presenter will spend an hour covering a number of pretty standard football debates i.e. 'best grounds', 'best managers' etc while trying to lure a slightly dotty 'Budgie' into saying something ridiculous to which the erudite-by-comparison Palmer will summon some of his famous deconstructive midfield work in tearing apart. Invariably Budgie will stand his ground having not really registered anything CP has said and will wearily contradict himself later in the show.
However, and having thought about it, after being originally underwhelmed by the 'depth' of opinion and the cardboard set, I actually don't long for the stale, clocked-in chumminiess of MOTD. The relationship between the pundits here is actually quite refreshing; while Budgie is obviously a bit of an on-screen liability he's fairly funny on occasion (think Gazza mixed with Geoff Boycott minus the alcohol) and teased and wound up in a fairly endearing way; a bit like you would your dozy-but-well-meaning mate in the 'Gumbo' mould from the film 'ID'.
My personal opinion however was sealed when during the Champions League Final this year they came to present the show live from the big sports bar over here - obviously it was a terrible idea from the off, every ex-pat was there smashed waving and singing songs which drowned out the sound on-air. However the double act were perfect gents and stayed behind for a chat and few drinks as well as a mini indoor kickabout after - best part being Mr. Palmer's kick up total of 6 which was met with hilarity by those of us who had tried to erase memories of the England team circa Graham Taylor.
Pricey, (Bradford QF, ET, penalties, 4.30am finish - and you thought your morning was bad!) Gooner exiled in New Delhi
...In response to Adam (grumpy northerner in Japan), MUFC, I see your "4 or 5 talents", and raise you a Warren Barton, Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride on the "Fox Soccer Channel" here in the US of A.
To be fair to my adopted home, McManaman and Darke are decent on ESPN and far better than any of the guff on MotD, but not even they can make up for the Barton, Wynalda, McBride three-ball on Fox Soccer. Awful. Just, awful.
Dawson, SCFC in Chicago
...I live in France, but I pretty much gave up on following French football when Juninho left Lyon, because, well, it's a bit sh*t.
However, I can very much relate with your experience with regards to television programmes.. here in France, there are two blokes that present EVERY national sporting event, from football to rugby to handball to (I expect) curling, and not only do they know pretty much nothing about the sports they are paid to commentate, but they also happen to be extremely bigoted and arrogant.
In comparison Lawro, is actually quite a nice bloke.
Mat (be thankful for what you have), Lyon
...Adam in Japan reminds me of one of favourite subjects... Turkish commentators. Whilst I try to do my bit for Anglo-Turkish relations, there is no getting over the fact that they see us Brits as a cold bunch, as portrayed over the years by many TV and film characters who prepetuate this myth (or is it reality?). As I introduced a group of Turks to the delights of Cheltenham v Hereford last week, one of them asked me why the tone of the commentators voice never changed, regardless of what was happening on the pitch. Here in Turkey pretty much anything goes. Blind patriotism and favouritism are rampant, with commentators regularly screaming "Hadi cocuklar!" which translates as "Come on, kids!". Descriptions of international matches use the words "we" and "they", whereas woe betide any BBC commentator who dares to support his/her nation.
The best commentary is saved for international matches or when Turkish teams play in Europe. The commentator practically has a coronary every time the Turkish team is on the attack, whereas an opposition goal results in stunned silence. Credit to the camera crews though - unlike the UK, where one ugly bloke running on to the pitch is not shown in case it offends somebody, every detail is shown and pored over in delicious slow-motion. It is brilliant to see someone being mown down in a hail of bottles while taking a corner, a la Willem Defoe in Platoon, while the commentator pretty much ignores it! Oh, and this is how the fans react when you lose the title on the last day of the season to your biggest rivals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldCoN7kKDCc
I reckon foreign coverage is ripe for a bit of social commentary by Johny Nich. It really is quite insightful towards the culture it represents, although in the interests of my marriage I should point out that not all Turks are nutters!
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire (via Antalya)
Sorry About That
Could you please stop the use of the word p*nis on your website? I work for an outdated, stuffy, overly controlling organisation who block access to any pages that contain rude words (Isn't p*nis the nicest way to say d*ck? Bet d*ck would get through the filter or no d*cks would receive any emails at work and I wouldn't be watching a d*ckie davies world of sport clip on youtube to prove it).
Whilst I can just about handle not being able to read media watch most days what with your regular dick annihilation stories being denied access to an entire mailbox on a quiet afternoon is disheartening to say the least...
Matt (upon reading that perhaps supplement the word P*nis with dick) C London
It sticks in the throat for a Chelsea fan to write this but the situation with Lampard is just another highlight of the dysfunction of Chelsea versus the likes of a top class well run club like ManYoo.
Lampard's situation is not so different from that of Scholes or Giggs who like Lampard, have both been dyed in the wool (admittedly Frank didn't start at Chelsea) club men who have been linchpins of their sides throughout their long and distinguished careers. Lampard again like Scholes and Giggs before him has now reached the point in his career where he can no longer play every week nor in the way he was accustomed to.
The difference with the red twosome is that ManYoo found a way to keep them happy, to keep them motivated and to keep them contributing hugely to the team whilst extending out their contracts yearly. It could well be that Lampard is more money focused than the other two or it could be that Chelsea simply don't know how to handle their ageing players properly but either way, it is being done with a huge lack of class by all concerned.
Lampard may feel he has one last fat contract left in him - neither Giggs nor Scholes ever agitated for a move - and in that case Chelsea have some mitigating factors but it is yet another example of Chelsea showing that whilst they have come so far on the pitch, off it they still have a huge amount to learn before they can really say they are one of the big boys.
Steve McBain, Singapore
Nothing To See Here
I feel I should clarify the whole Evan vs Piers Morgan vs Twitter vs The Mailbox escapade. I should have clarified this, but the mail was getting long enough as it was. I stopped following Morgan pretty soon after due to the reasons stated in the mail yesterday. I would have assumed it was obvious that I did so, sorry I didn't make myself clear. People that I happen to follow tend to retweet him thus it's inevitable that I will see him even if I don't wish to. I then did a little research on his account as to try and not sound ridiculous. That clearly went well. Apologies for the minor kerfuffle it caused. So lets move along, there's nothing more to see here.
I guess there should be some kind of football related material mentioned even if it is a Friday. As the Premier League is a lot more open in recent seasons i.e no real defined top four which leads to a more even mix of talent. Here's my Premier League XI with one player per team allowed:
GK: Begovic (Stoke)
RB: Sagna (Arsenal)
CB: Agger (Liverpool)
CB: Hangeland (Fulham)
LB: Garrido (Norwich)
CM: Toure (Man City)
CM: Fellaini (Everton)
RW: Mata (Chelsea)
LW: Bale (Spurs)
CAM: Michu (Swansea)
ST: Van Persie (Man Utd)
Subs: Jaaskelainen (West Ham) Shorey (Reading) Olsson (WBA) Lallana (Southampton) Ben Arfa (Newcastle) Benteke (Villa) Fletcher (Sunderland).
Evan (I really wanted to squeeze "The Berb" into that team) Ireland