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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Return Of Scouse Maths
So basically the line is that Liverpool shouldn't sign Ince because they should be too proud to, having let him go in the first place? We've all seen it before where a manager comes in and plays a player who has been 'left out in the cold' by the previous manager and it works or vice versa, why shouldn't it work like that with signings? Also, say Ince's wages were 20k a week (We'd be surprised if he was on more than £6-7k a week at Blackpool - Ed), that's 1.5 mil Liverpool saved themselves by letting him go for a year and a half, which added to the 250k fee Blackpool paid for him, means Liverpool are only losing 2.5 odd million from the deal.
Sturridge for 12 million though? Ewwww. There's much more value to be had than that.
We Didn't Sell Him, Actually
Every time I see the Tom Ince to Liverpool story on F365, this morning's gossip column a prime example, there is always a comment thrown in of how Liverpool 'let him go' for a nominal fee last year. Now my memory may be a bit sketchy on this one but google could help you all if you don't believe me. Tom Ince's contract was up at Liverpool. In the months coming up to the end of the season there were various quotes from his dad Paul in the papers of the guarantees he wanted before signing a new contract etc. Liverpool offered him a four-year deal but could not guarantee first-team football to a youngster who was yet to prove himself. He turned down the four-year deal and accepted a two-year deal at Blackpool (with an option of a third) in order to play first-team football. As Liverpool had offered him a new deal and he was under the age of 23 a compensation package was agreed.
This isn't the same as a transfer fee. Liverpool didn't sell him, they were compensated for him leaving at the end of his contract. Now whether they should be looking to buy someone who didn't want to sign a new contract with them is a different story...
The Old 'One Player From Each Team' Game
In response to Kev, MUFC for the team of the year so far, I made a team of the current top 17 teams in the Premier League. The simple criteria is to select the starting XI with a specified formation from the top 11, and name the bench from the following six. The question is which one player will you pick from each team and for which position. Here it goes
Formation is 4-4-2:
1) GK - Jussi J (West Ham/11th/6 clean sheets)
2) RB - Zabaleta (Man City/2nd/6 clean sheets, 1 goal, 1 assist)
3) LB - Leighton Baines (Everton/6th/2 clean sheets, 2 goals, 2 assists)
4) CB - Ryan Shawcross (Stoke/9th/8 clean sheets, 1 assist)
5) CB - Sebastian Bassong (Norwich/8th/5 clean sheets, 3 goals)
6) Defensive CM - Mikel Arteta (Arsenal/5th/3.7 tackles, 2.8 interceptions, 2.5 fouls per game/3 goals/2 ssists)
7) Attacking CM - Michu (West Ham/11th/5 goals/2 assists)
8) Left Winger - Gareth Bale (Tottenham/4th/6 Goals/1 Assist/2.3 Key passes per game)
9) Right Winger - Juan Mata (Chelsea/3rd/6 goals/6 assists/2.6 Key passes per game)
10) Deep Lying Forward - Shane Long (West Brom/7th/5 goals/4 assists/0.9 Key passes per game)
11) Advanced Forward - Robin van Persie (Man United/1st/12 goals/5 assists/1.9 Key passes per game)
Subs: Brad Guzan (5 Clean sheets), Luis Suarez (10 goals, 2 assists, 2.7 key passes per game), Steve Sidwell (4 goals, 2 assists), Ba (11 goals), Cuellar (5 clean sheets), Lallana (2 goals, 4 assists).
Did not guess that Suarez, Ba would be on bench, and Cazorla, Hazard, Rooney wont even make it to the team.
Sagar Deo, MUFC (tired after that), Mumbai
Here's A Team Of Players Born In The 90s
With these best-looking, worst-looking and various other teams of the season so far, how about a Premier League team of the season with players born in the 90s?
Szczesny - This might be a bit of bias, but I do genuinely believe he is a better keeper than De Gea (at the moment, anyway), but he has conceded less goals then De Gea this season. Also, there's been some impressive penalty saves in his short, two-year career.
Rafael - Hugely improved performances this season, he looked quite average in the Olympics but is probably the best right-back in the league this season anyway.
Caulker - Built on his solid season at Swansea last season to force his way into Spurs' first team to make sure that they haven't missed Kaboul and BAE too much. Scoring your first senior goal vs Moneybags isn't too bad, either.
Nastasic - Still in his teens, he's solidified himself into the League Champions' starting Eleven at the expense of the more experienced Lescott and Toure. Huge career ahead of him.
Rose - Crucial part of a Sunderland side who had an impressive start to the season, but have faded off a bit recently. Will always be remembered for that ridiculous volley he scored against Arsenal two seasons ago.
Oxlade-Chamberlain - Has popped up with a few crucial assists this season, dazzled with some lung-busting, skilful runs and scored his first goal for England during the International break as well. It's beyond everyone except Wenger why Gervinho gets chosen ahead of him at times.
Wilshere (C) - Doesn't need much of an explanation; has shown that almost 18 months out through injury hasn't dampened his performances.
Allen - Well-publicised move to Liverpool didn't impede on his ability to influence a match with apparent ease. Has kept the expensive (and pointlessly signed?) Nuri Sahin on the bench.
Sterling - It's more of a question of how low in the table would Liverpool be without Raheem's energetic shifts on the wing this season, has stepped up to fill (and expand) the Borini-shaped hole left on the field.
Benteke - Has taken the Premier League by storm in a similar manner to Cissé and Jelaviã last season, he's been hailed as the new Drogba, and his last game vs Liverpool is testament to him being one of the buys of the season.
Lukaku - WBA's third-choice forward, but is one of their top scorers and his bullying performances led to their early season form and an early recall back to Chelsea in January is still on the cards.
Bench - De Gea, Walker, Jones, Jenkinson, Romeu, Balotelli, Welbeck.
This team of young uns could probably win the league, anyone know of anyone born in the 90s who could manage them?
Andrew M, AFC, (even as an Arsenal fan, I couldn't put Ramsey anywhere in this team), Australia
Clever Thinking From Chris
I suppose we all like to see our own mails included in the Mailbox and so we could do a lot worse than to follow the example set by Chris, Hampshire who is sending in his mid-season review in instalments. So far, he's had two mails included and he's only up to team 10! Even if his promised review of teams 11-15 is absolute crap (and I don't for one minute think it will be) the MC is more or less committed to finishing off Chris' entire review otherwise it will be sort of unfinished business, don't you think?
I'm guessing that his review of the bottom five sides will even be split up into teams 16/17 and 18/19/20 for maximum exposure. So, at least four mails and possibly five from one main subject!
Sheer genius, Chris.
(I'll be commenting on Chris' top five reviews in my next mail, then I'll comment on 6-10 later ... and so on. I reckon I'm good for five or six mails here).
And Here Is Chris With The Next Batch
West Ham - Vied with Q.P.R to see who could throw around the most money in the name of survival, and it seems to be more or less paying off. Baring all the hallmarks of a Sam Allardyce team, I do occasionally feel like I'm watching Bolton circa 2004. That Jussi Jääskeläinen, Kevin Nolan, among others are there doesn't really dispel this idea. Still, as usual, it seems to be working.
Player of the Season: Kevin Nolan. He has captained pretty much every club he's played for, and it's easy to see why. Has filled the gap left by Scott Parker with aplomb.
Liverpool - It must be an odd thing being a Liverpool supporter. Just as most are finally getting to grips with the rebuilding and philosophy developing stage the club is clearly in, your manager then says you can finish in the top two. The flip side to that coin is that they are only seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Player of the Season: Luis Suarez. On his day is completely unplayable for defenders. Unfortunately, despite the increased goal tally, still requires far too many shots on goal.
Moment of the Season: The 3-0 demolition of Wigan. After struggling for so long at Anfield, Liverpool finally produced a performance of quality at home.
Fuham - Fulham have yet to string together two wins in a row this season and despite the addition of Dimitar Berbatov I don't think this will be a good season for the Cottagers Weak in defence, and having lost their two best players, Fulham now hold the unenviable moniker of being the first team to lose to Q.P.R.
Player of the Season: Bryan Ruiz. He had a shaky start to his Fulham career, but they have looked desperately short of creativity in his absence.
Moment of the Season: Opening-day rout of Norwich. Though they have yet to hit the dizzy heights expected after that 5-0 win, it did show what the team was capable of.
Aston Villa - Paul Lambert won't like seeing his old club so many places above him, but slowly Aston Villa are beginning to get some decent results. Much has been made of the average age of their team and the omission of Darren Bent Like Liverpool they have signed up to develop a philosophy, and with the emphasis on youth the dire Villa of last season may end up getting eradicated from memory.
Player of the Season: Andreas Weimann. The young Austrian has been exceptional in nearly every game this season. His performance against Manchester United deserved more.
Moment of the Season: Thrashing Liverpool at Anfield. This could be a pivotal moment for Villa. Will it be the launching ground to a bit of sustained form, or will it be the peak of their season.
Newcastle - Last season could best be described as calm for Newcastle, especially by their standards. This season, however, the batsh*t mentalness of the club has returned. After awarding Alan Pardew a ridiculous eight-year contract they failed to win a game until Wigan travelled to St.Jame...The Sports Direc...St. James Park. It's a good thing for Newcastle the teams below them are completely bobbins.
Player of the Season: Fabricio Coloccini. Has been doing his best to dispel the notion that Newcastle are a bit suspect at the back for a couple years now.
Moment of the Season: Keeping Demba Ba past August 31st. It's not been a good season for Newcastle, but keeping Demba Ba after the transfer deadline was a key bit of business. Time to play that game again in a couple weeks.
16-20 to follow...
Messi: So Good He's Bad
Although I wouldn't agree with Guy S that Ronaldinho was a better player, I would without a doubt say that I prefer him as well.
I think the thing with Messi, for me, is that he is so good that it's actually a bit boring to watch. How many 'cut across from the right hand side of the box and hit a reverse shot in to the net' can you go crazy about? He is so good that he makes things look too easy. I used to hate Pete Sampras, because you knew exactly what was gonna happen. Where is the fun in that?
Now, don't get me wrong, I think Messi is the best of his generation, easily, but I just prefer to watch some other players.
Ronaldinho was magic, in his prime.
Rivaldo was as good if not even better. Remember this? - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS2bomiDOko - To get his team in to the Champions League in the last game of the season. Big game player.
The fat Ronaldo insanely good. Zidane also.
People laugh at the World Cup thing, but it is a valid argument. Whether you like it or not, the World Cup provides moments that talk about forever. That doesn't mean it'a higher standard that the Champions League, or that Messi is sh*t. But do we talk about the European Cup final of '66 so much? The World Cup always throws up things that will be remembered and talked about forever.
Maradona's hand of god and then goal.
Fat Ronaldo's comeback.
The 'was it over the line' goal in '66.
Gordon Banks save.
Zidane winning it all and then headbutting.
It's something that Messi is missing. You may say it doesn't prove anything about his talent, but it still is a shame that he is missing a magical moment, story or whatever cheesy cliche I can call it.
It's the biggest stage of all. And to play your best on that stage is what really makes players remembered. So, when people say Messi needs to win it to be any good, it's not true. But he does need to win it to really go down in history as the best.
Mousey Brown, live from France
Messi: Really That Good
Not sure if Guy is trolling the readers of this fine site, but if he is then he's got me hook, line and sinker. I totally agree with your praise about the great man Ronaldinho (would rather send my grandmother on a date with Wayne Rooney than have him running at me with the ball), but how on earth is Lionel Messi overrated?
Over the past five years he has scored 245 goals in 244 games for Barca. This record alone is enough to convince most but you are clearly a hard man to impress. Not only does he score a s***load of goals year in year out, he consistently does so in the biggest games (Clasicos, Champions League knockout stages and finals). His team might play to his strengths but many of his goals are down to individual brilliance.
The way people talk about his international career you wouldn't think him fit to lace Andy Carroll's boots let alone be Barcelona's all-time leading goalscorer. Turns out he's not too shabby for Argentina either; scoring 16 goals in his last 22 games (Horrible form that), and was easily Argentina's best player in their doomed 2010 World Cup under Diego Maradona.
Then there's this crap that Barca only have one decent opponent in the league (who Messi happens to tear apart almost every time he plays them). La Liga has four teams in the last 16 of this year's Champions League and the Spanish teams that play in the Europa League are consistently good. I'm getting pretty sick of this perception that players haven't proven themselves until they've played in the Premier League aka THE BESTEST LEAGUE IN THE WHOLE WORLD TM. Oh, and he's also scored 56 Champions League goals which is 15 short of Raul's record (not sure if you consider Europe's elite as 'top-level teams' though).
So what I'm trying to say is that he really IS that good and I'm not sure what more poor Leo can do to convince you Guy.
Giving 427 Penalties A Game
Daniel Storey is totally correct in what he writes, and its a thought I've often had myself. If I were a ref, I think I'd be handing out bookings like candy, penalties left, right and centre and actually stopping my watch for stoppages, rather than producing a random number for stoppage time.
Why don't refs do this? My guess is its either top-down pressure not to 'ruin the game' (and by extension the value of the product) or that they don't feel like trying to decide whether the defender held the attacker before the attacker fouled the defender or vice versa.
My guess is, they take the view that they're both as bad as each other and they can't penalise one side more than the other. The FA don't seem to want to push this as a campaign either, so it won't change any time soon.
Rich (off to book a ref course), AFC, London
Behind Enemy Lines And That
February 28th 1981, Anfield. My 11th birthday. Got my dad to drive from Bath (where we lived at the time) to Southampton to pick up my old next-door neighbour and then up to Anfield for Keegan's first game back there since leaving for Hamburg in 1977. Having driven all that way he then found out it was an all-ticket game. Unwilling to pay a tout more than the face value of the tickets the old man was only able to get two, both at the Kop end. So he went off somewhere for a long coffee and told us to meet him at the same turnstile where he left us after the game.
Resplendent in our Southampton hats and scarves my best mate and I entered the Kop - two 11-year-olds both measuring less than 5ft each - where we sat on the shoulders of two Liverpool fans who were there with their elderly father who insisted his sons chair us on their shoulders, reminding them of a time when they stood in the same place, unable to see anything due to lack of height. My father had left us with no money so the old Scouser bought us a matchday program (which of course I still have) and a bar of Galaxy chocolate each at halfers.
When the teams ran out a large section of Liverpool fans stood up, each holding a placard with a single letter on it that together spelt the words, 'FUCK OFF KEEGAN'. Very impressive to a pair of 11 year-olds!
We lost 2-0 so there were no goals to celebrate but I seriously doubt there would have been any trouble at all had Keegan, Mick Channon, Charlie George or Steve Moran popped one in and we'd celebrated, such was the atmosphere. Despite our obvious allegiance there was no hint of animosity in the Kop. Least not that we were aware of.
I don't seem to get published very often anymore - I used to be so prolific I could simply sign off with the word 'Snort' - but if this gets in could I also reply to Ben (26 Minutes) NUFC on his idea for the fixture list? Ben, you are essentially talking about rigging the fixture list. My god mate, imagine if Man U had to play the second-placed team away on the last day and didn't win the league! Even if Fergie ever stopped crying you can be sure their fans never would.
I think supporting a s**t team is great and would hate to support a team that is expected to beat everyone. The ride I've just been on over the last seven years as a Saints fan has been far more eventful than anything a modern Man U/Chelsea/Arsenal/Spurs/Liverpool fan has ever experienced. I think it telling that the Man U fan who sent the original email on this subject wrote it in a vein that suggested he couldn't believe anyone reading it would actually support a team who doesn't ever win anything.
Finally can I say Happy Christmas to fellow Saint Martin Ansell who has mentioned me several times over the years. I've never acknowledged him before and I feel bad about this. Buy yourself a beer Martin and pretend I bought it for you. You deserve it fella!
Mort Snort, Saints
Support Your Big Team Like They're A Small Team
Whilst going through the day's mails, I was intrigued by the mail regarding the easier team to support, because the best mentality to have is to support your big team like a small team.
I am an Arsenal fan and I have never complained about anything except Gervinho, as I understand that generally we come third or fourth in one of the top two leagues in the world. Yes, we don't win trophies, but we have a consistent level of play with a decent playing style. It's good to watch, it's sad if we don't win. Which brings me to Liverpool fans: they still have a pretty decent team, but if it wasn't for their ridiculous fans, they probably would be in a much better state.
Therefore I strongly encourage the notion of supporting Manchester United, but having the expectations of a Norwich fan, success feels much better that way, it's the perfect combination.
Thanks, this took a while...
Albert Troost, Cape Town, South Africa
Fixing The Fixtures
Ben (26 minutes) NUFC I wrote in suggesting v similar a while ago, my theory was take the league positions from the previous season though (with promoted teams 18,19 & 20) and have 1v20th, 2v19th as the first kick-offs. This would culminate in 2nd v 1st (and 4th x 3rd etc) on New Years Day. Winter break (and Jan transfer window) 2nd-16th of January then all of the fixtures again (home/away reversed).
- More chance of final matches being six-pointers (winners or relegation).
- It can be arranged so CL clubs have equal home and away games after CL matches .
- No unfair fixtures of playing a team twice before they spend heavy in Jan.
- Lose some of the unpredictability
A Wet Wednesday Night
Mediawatch outs SHOUTsport's Ian Abrahams tweeting 'You can batter me if you like, but he's won it all at Barca, let's see if he could do it on a Monday night at West Ham or wet Weds in Stoke', seemingly without a hint of irony.
It's an argument that has been around for ages but I wonder why it's only used in football? You don't get people in F1 saying 'Yeah that Sebastian Vettel might be able to win a few Grand Prixs in a fancy Formula 1 car, with a team of expert mechanics, on tarmac that's as smooth as a baby's bum, but could he do it in a Ford Fiesta XR2i around the ring round in Leeds on a wet Tuesday night'? Or tennis, 'That Rafa Nadal might be able to win a few Grand Slams on pitch perfect clay and grass at world class venues, but could he do it on the concrete municipal tennis courts round the back of ASDA in Birkenhead'?
You Can't Wish That On Justin
I would love to see the ghost of Justin Fashanu sign for Zenit St Petersburg. Whilst I appreciate it's not likely, I believe in Christmas miracles.
Si (Merry Crimbo)
'Hard' Is Always The Right Word
So Fergie has ruled out any January signings - which means I can rule out any hope of us doing the business in Europe for another season. Of course, you can never trust what Fergie says whens it comes to this sort of thing, so maybe I'll just keep dreaming until the window shuts. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Transfer Window everybody; and thanks to all at 365 for all your hard (if this is the right word) work.