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 add on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Why Karma Is A Bitch In Football
Clubs of the Premier League, set your status to 'red alert'... or whatever the tabloids call it when a coveted, proven Premier League striker becomes available for a big move in the transfer window. A 27-year-old centre-forward with 34 PL goals in 63 appearances is making all the noises that he wants to leave for a bigger club - please form an orderly queue.
That man obviously is Demba Ba, and with news this week that Newcastle are actually going to fine their top scorer for some fairly tame words to a local newspaper, the writing seems to be on the wall.
My question to the Mailbox is this - what is Demba Ba's intrinsic value as a player? Forget the £7.5m release clause, his value to Newcastle this season is clear - 11 goals scored out of Newcastle's total of 19 in the league. That's a greater reliance than Liverpool's upon Luis Suarez (10 out of 23), and lord knows what price Liverpool would pay to keep the Uruguayan tied down, let alone what they'd be happy to sell him for.
Being sensible football fans, we know that intrinsic value has nothing to do with whether a player is English - if Demba Ba's name was Darren Burridge for example, he might command a vastly higher sum in the transfer market and hype in the mainstream press, but his intrinsic value as a striker would be the same. And before we speak of his injury record - Ba has featured in 51 out of Newcastle's 55 PL games since joining the club (93%), and as Robin Van Persie has shown this season, real value is in results (not age, past injury record or nationality). If you were having open heart surgery tomorrow, would you pay triple for a specifically younger less experienced, specifically British doctor, with an impeccable school attendance record from several years ago? I think you'd want the surgeon with the best record at actually doing the task in hand, with being in his prime a bonus, without much care for nationality.
11 goals should sound familiar, not only is this Demba Ba's number of Premier League goals this season, but it's also the tally that Andy Carroll notched up in the Premier League for Newcastle in 10/11, before Liverpool forked out £35m for him. Which brings me to...is karma a bitch in football?
Nobody could have foreseen that the 11-goal Geordie target man would go for £35m, or that his price tag and new surroundings would fail miserably to work out across a torturous 19 months. I think Carroll's intrinsic value was around £18-20m at the time of his transfer, given how important strikers are, his modest record, and other considerations. Not many would have complained too much about that price - even up to £25m in my view. At the time, Carroll was a striker still being spoken of in fearful, rather than comic terms, even with respect to his inexperience.
Liverpool overpaid at least by £15m compared to Carroll's intrinsic worth to a football club - he's English, young, a centre-forward anointed the future of his hometown club, and we all know how the sordid deal was done behind the scenes with Chelsea/Torres that led to the huge price tag. But, knowing that real value to a team is about results, how many goals you score, how you contribute - is Newcastle's main striker two years later about to leave for £15M LESS than his intrinsic worth to the club this January?
Ba's record outstrips Carroll's in the Premier League by a long shot, and at 27, he's a proven quantity in his prime. Forget that his 'price' is £7.5m or his past transfer fees, tell that to Michael Laudrup or £2M=m Michu, the apparent new '£30m man'. Forget his injury record or age, his Newcastle appearance record has been superb, and don't forget to ask Man United or RVP how much an 'injury prone, late 20s' goalscorer is worth to a football club.
If it really is karma, it's really only fitting that it is Arsenal who get Demba Ba for £7.5m, after their own 'injury prone, late 20s' prolific talisman left 'for a bigger club, to win thing'" himself in the summer. After Derek Llambias dared to tempt fate by claiming one star striker was really worth 'f*** all' with contempt and arrogance once the Carroll deal was sealed, it seems that fate has responded in the funniest of ways - as one of the league's most dangerous strikers prepares to leave Newcastle for 'f*** all' just two years later.
Mark A. Rogers
What Next For Messi?
I fully agree with the view presented by various mailboxers that Leo Messi is both ridiculously, possibly unprecedentedly good and is also a bit boring because of that.
But ponder this honoured mailbox.
If we're bored already imagine how bored Messi himself must be. He must surely be getting increasingly tired of waltzing through defences week after week, scoring hat-trick after hat-trick against a stream of hapless opponents. I raise this question because this is not the first time such a situation has existed in sport in recent times, it has happened multiple times, provoking often hilarious results..
The same boredness caused Tiger Woods to go on a crazy sex rampage. Micheal Jordan took up baseball for Christ's sake.
I for one look forward to see what sport Messi will take up once he is thoroughly sick of walking all over everybody at football. Show jumping perhaps? Or pro wrestling maybe? That would be great, I'm sure they could come up with a character with a finishing move called 'The Penalty Kick' or something like that where he basically just kicks you in the head.
Harsha (Haven't had a mail published in a while and it is Friday... almost. Go on then.) Arsenal
Question of the day: If Darren Bent could score 30 at Barcelona - how many could Sandra Redknapp score?
Mike, League 2, BRFC
One Of Many
Yes Chris Wrightson, Croydon, if Arsenal had RvP they'd be up there challenging for the title. If only they'd had a player similar to RvP for the last couple of seasons, they would definitely have a few titles (or at least title challenges) under their belt.
It's Not About The Personnel For Arsenal
Firstly, regardless of how they won their games, its clear to see there's a big distance between Utd and Arsenal. In the bare facts, Utd have won double the amount of games Arsenal did. That's pretty significant nearly half way through the season. Secondly, Utd's victory over Arsenal earlier in the season, though only finishing 2-1, was nothing short of a mauling.
The discussion is almost as if RVP is the only reason Utd are where they are this season. He's been crucial with the goals he scored, unquestionably. However, the arguement doesn't particularly work because an RVP-less Utd last season were still a mile ahead of Arsenal, without a particularly predatory striker, while an RVP-ful Arsenal were generally making the same hash of things that they have been for years. You can say RVP has 12 goals and 5 assists, but then, Utd generally found a way to win games last year when he wasn't there, while Arsenal frequently didn't, with the very same RVP.
So, from the general evidence over the last few years, I'd suggest that while Arsenal and Utd might well have been closer, Arsenal would still be behind them. I think it's fair to say that it goes beyond mere individuals, through to the psyche of either club. While the Arsenal of Vieira and Henry generally found a way to win, this modern Arsenal doesn't really have that character in abundance. This isn't even taking into account that Arsenal only have the likes of Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud because of RVP's departure.
Arsenal are a good team. They showed that at Reading But keep in mind how guff Reading are. However, they are nowhere near Utd (or City, for that matter) - on their day, they could beat anyone, but they don't have it in them to do that over a season. What Arsenal desperately need is to keep a team together, something that might be aided by the five contract extensions. While they lose key players every year, they will never get a consistency and never grow a team. Hell, even an Arsenal with RVP, Cesc, Nasri, Song et al, couldn't win the title. Think it's a little rich to think they are now 'only a top-class striker away' considering.
A Statistical Breakdown Of RVP's Importance
I was quite intrigued by Chris Wrightson's email discussing Van Persie's benefit to Man United/detriment to Arsenal this season.
It is easy to see that Van Persie is one of the main reasons Man United are currently top of the league but I thought I would look a little deeper and try come up with some simplified statistics to discover just how important he has been to United this year.
A nice place to start is by re-stating Chris' fact that Man United have scored 12 more goals than Arsenal in the league this season and coincidentally Van Persie has scored 12 league goals for Man United.
I then looked at each individual match and discovered that Van Persie has contributed four match-winning goals (against Liverpool, West Ham, Reading and Man City) gaining 8 points, as well as a match winning hat-trick against Southampton, gaining a further 3. He has also contributed goals in 3 games where Man United have won by a single goal (versus Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal) therefore providing a helping hand in gaining 6 points.
So through only goals alone Van Persie has helped Man United gain an additional 17 points this season (a quick look at the league table shows that Arsenal are currently 15 points behind Man United).
If we were to then expand this a little and also include assists then Van Persie is partly responsible for 6 further points. He had a goal and assist in 2 games which were won by 2 goals (versus Sunderland and Stoke) thus gaining 4 points. He also had an assist in the 3-2 win versus Aston Villa, which is 2 more points. So if we were to completely take Van Persie out of the Man United team this season then overall they may have been a massive 23 points worse off.
I then decided to do something similar and compare how worse off Arsenal would be without the goals and assists of Giroud and Podolski (brought in as replacements for Van Persie). Giroud and Podolski as a pair have helped to gain only 7 points for Arsenal this season. Sharing 1 goal and 2 assists versus West Ham (2 points) and sharing 3 goals versus Fulham (1 point). Then Podolski's goal and assist versus Liverpool (2 points) and also his goal and 2 assists versus Reading (2 points).
Therefore, for the sake of this experiment, if we were to disregard any other probable factors (such as Rooney/Hernandez scoring more goals for United in Van Persie's absence or Van Persie still scoring for fun for Arsenal) and take the above as a true hypothetical outcome then the result is pretty interesting. Without Van Persie in the team this year Man United would be 14th with 19 points and without Giroud and Podolski Arsenal would be 12th (on goal difference) with 20 points.
Obviously it would be a tad ridiculous to draw any massive conclusions from the above, such as saying Man United would be struggling outside the top 4 without Van Persie and Arsenal would automatically be top with him. All I would add is that I am mightily happy that the flying Dutchman is now playing for Man United and not for the Arsenal!
Jason Nealon (MUFC), Stockport
What Could Happen At United
Morning all, I couldn't sleep last night and I had all sorts of weird thoughts going through my head. One of them is my dad's incredible prediction about the future at United and I though I should share it with you all as I have nothing better to do at am.
His prediction is that at the end of this current season Fergie will smash open all of his piggy banks and put the money together to buy Ronaldo back from Madrid, thus, beginning another era of dominance for United. He then prophesies that at the end of the 2013/2014 season Fergie will step down and retire from the game. This will then lead to the appointment of Pep Guardiola (who the season before had rejected Chelsea because he wants a club where he can build a legacy). The appointment of Guardiola then leaves United in pole position to sign Lionel Messi and with a little tapping-up and father like chats with Lionel, Guardiola convinces him to sign for United and form one of the greatest attacks ever seen in football history.
Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo; Van Persie
... I know what you're thinking...but we can always dream right?
Villa For Swansea? Yes Please
So I have just seen that some of the bookies have made Swansea favourites to sign David Villa, yep the chap who plays for Barcelona and Spain who has recently recovered from an injury. The chap who scored goals for fun for the past eight years at the highest level of football. I'm not quite sure how to put this any other way but to quote the cool kids when surprised and say, "dafuq?"
I mean okay, he may not be the player he was and I rather like Swansea but even with the Spanish revolution going on there it makes no sense for him to sign. Surely Barca would want to keep him? I saw Barca play in November and he looked fine to me and happened to score a goal too. Every top club would want him. Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, even United and City wouldn't say no. That's not considering all the other top clubs in Europe that he could choose from.
Despite that I would love this to happen, it would be such a coup for the league and a novelty factor that would massively trump Ramirez signing for Southampton as 'Say what now?' transfer of the season. The closest thing to this that I can think of is when West Ham signed Tevez and Mascherano. Even then they weren't quite the names they are now though. Although that didn't exactly end well. A front three of Villa, Michu and Pablo Hernandez wouldn't be bad for a side who were in the Championship the season before last and don't have money trees.
Evan (Hoping that United do the opposite of this and sign Jon Parkin from League 2, just to stop RVP getting complacent) Ireland
Mata Over Cazorla, Common Sense Over Sturridge
I'm hoping the MC (if you were a proper MC, what would your rap name be?) lets me kill two birds with one stone with this mail.
I'm writing this on the 80th minute of an enjoyable game between Chelsea and Leeds and it's got me thinking about this whole debate about Mata v Cazorla. As far as I'm concerned, there is no competition. Mata wins hands down. While he has had the advantage of playing in the league longer, he has never looked like he's struggled at any point. From day dot he has been consistant and has shun in big games. That is one thing I've noticed Cazorla doesn't do. Can any Arsenal fan honestly say he has played really well in any of their big games this season? He was decent against Man City and Tottenham (much easier when the opponent has one less man) but was crap in the Man U and Chelsea games.
Mata's all-round contribution is also way ahead of Santi's. Free-kicks, corners, tracking back. Mr Mata is on dis ting. He is captain material as Jamie 'Top Top' Redknapp mentioned. He never hides and seems like a very likable bloke (not sure about all that man love stuff though).
To my second bird. Let's call it Sturridge. About 18 months ago if my club Liverpool were heavily linked to him as we are now, I woud really be excited as he is a player with huge potential. Now I'm less so. He still has potential but similar to Super Mario, thinks he's there already. The style of play Rodgers wants from the team is based on wait for it...team effort! As Chelski fans will confirm, Sturridge believes he can do it all on his own. He can be a very selfish player which doesn't suit a team that relies on pass and move, closing down quickly and creating opportunities for tea mates. Also, is he really the goalscorer needed so badly at the moment? I would probably still have him at the club, but we should still look to bring in a Demba Ba type striker. If we can get decent money for Reina (you can just tell he's not that bothered anymore) get a good replacement with some cash left, then we must go for a Ba type striker.
Ssino (Mata just got MOTM, case closed) London
Ben's Back With His Fixture Plan
I do understand Kevin, Boston's point that there is always something to get excited about, but can you really say that, for example if the title is already wrapped up, you would rather see two seperate matches to decide relegation or a number of matches between similarly placed teams on the final day, leaving us with the possibility of many important finishing positions being decided? I'm not saying that it would be guaranteed to give us final-day drama, just would increase the likelihood of said drama occuring.
Also, in follow up to Spence, Gooner's plan, I think that the one I posted (playing matches at random first half of season, seeded second half according to first half) as opposed to your seedings all season based on the previous season concept is better as it accounts for summer transfers and summer improvements, doesn't reward newly promoted teams with an ass-whupping on their arrival in EPL and rewards a team's success in the first half of the season. It would give all teams an equal chance at the start of the season and not place teams, who may have suffered through inuries the season before, at an immediate disadvantage.
I do understand that this would just be feeding Sky, but at the end of the day, Sky are good at what they do, even if that is essentially spunking a ton of cash on the rights to show live games and funding the teams in the process. You can say all you want about Sky and the commercialisation of football, but for a fan like me who lives in France, it gives me the chance to watch the games I wouldn't otherwise get to, as well as to watch world-class players.
I'd be interested to see if you agree my dearest mailboxers?
Ben (21 minutes, stream of consciousness) NUFC
The Big Question
So I was a bit pished on my way home from my first new-job work drinks (though they laughed at all my sh*t jokes, the banging finance girl was certainly not 'on it', in case you were wondering) when I got to thinking about mailbox contributors. I'm not going to pad this out - we've all had controversial questions we want quickfire answers to:
Which Chris do you prefer, mailbox readers: MUFC or ITFC?
Simon (please leave your answers here), CFC
PS. You're both just so swell you really are.