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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Fancy Man U
I fail to understand why Stanger always bashes Man U..week in, week out!!! Should Man U batter teams 10 nil weekly so that they are worthy champions? Should Man U score 100 goals and concede zero for u to be content? that done, what will u write about? I admit that this Man U team is not the fancy Man U of past seasons but you fellaz gotta give credit when due...
1) Man U has collected 24 points from losing positions do far.
2) Show me a team in the Premiership that keeps chopping the defence and goalkeepers due to injuries and still doesn't concede often!! Apart from Evra and Rafael, the central defense and the goalkeeping department have been changed way too often. Let's get real, this destabilizes teams. How about if Evra, Rafael, Vidic, Rio/ Evans and De Gea are chosen more often, then u yap abt the goals!!!
3) Finally..if Man U is really awful as u claim, then luck will just catch up with them. Beating Man U at the Etihad, that was luck! coming from behind thrice and beating Newcastle, that was luck! coming from behind from 2 goals to beat Southampton, luck!! beating Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal away, luck!!!! really????? give credit when due and go slow with ur endless criticisms!!!! Whether they concede 100 and field a team of 50 year-olds, they keep winning, they entertain.
...Interesting comments from Matthew Stanger in Winners+Losers, being very critical of the Manchester teams- United especially.
I find this a little odd, because by any reasonable standards, United are doing extremely well this season. They're on course for a total of 92 points, which would be second only to Mourinho's Chelsea machine in the Premiership era. They won their Champion's League group with two games to spare, and they're seven points clear at the top of the league.
They're also extremely attacking, the most positive top four team since Newcastle under Keegan. This season's first choice eleven typically has two strikers, two genuine wingers, two extremely attack-minded full-backs, two passing midfielders and two ball-playing centre-backs. Not one of their outfield players does their best work when the opposition has the ball- even Evans and Ferdinand are very technical defenders, better at passing the ball than winning it. Considering the era, they're very direct, getting the ball forward quickly and playing with a lot of width rather than taking the sting out of matches by keeping the ball or congesting the play.
When everyone in the country had agreed that what the team needed was an energetic midfielder to break up the opposition's play, Ferguson instead spunked £25m on yet another striker. In every sense, this is a team much more concerned with scoring goals than not conceding them. They're always going to concede goals, but the hope is that they can be strong enough going forward to win most of their games anyway. The defence isn't weak by design, but attack is the priority- as it should be. Yet having pulled this off, they're still coming under an awful lot of criticism.
My point is: Is there a formula to avoid copping criticism from pundits? When you're attacking, but unsuccessful, you're criticised for style over substance, as Arsenal have been for several years. When you're successful, but not attacking, you're criticised for lacking imagination and systematically producing dull games, as Chelsea were when Mourinho was in charge. But United this season have been attacking and successful- and they're criticised anyway, because attacking football brings with it the appearance of chaos; the impression of a lack of control.
I suppose it's generally more interesting to focus on weaknesses, and no one wants to hear constant fawning over Van Persie's thunderous thighs and firm manly buttocks. But when a team that generally fields ten attack-minded players (and a toy goalkeeper) moves seven points clear at the top on Boxing Day, it's a little surreal to see a lengthy rant about how bad they are.
On Fergie's Outburst
What on earth is the FA doing in not punishing Ferguson for his disgraceful behaviour at the Newcastle game on Saturday ? They give the pathetic excuse that the referee didn't report it ! Well he didn't need to did he it was witnessed by thousands if not millions on TV including goodness knows how many impressionable youngsters.
Where is their much publicised Respect campaign ? Their spineless response has, effectively, given licence to players, management, media, and fans to hurl whatever abuse they please at match officials. I wanted to send these comments directly to the FA but trying to contact them by e-mail is like trying to break into Fort Knox !
Macca (following football for more than 50 years but getting more disillusioned with whole set up every season) Herts.
...It's amusing that the latest Wenger/Fergie spat in the mailbox was started by someone saying the reason Fergwe was a class act was the way he welcomed Ronaldo back, compared to Wenger's 'whining' about the Walcott situation.
The day after this mail, Fergie accused Williams of trying to kill RVP and called kicking a ball at someone the most dangerous thing he has ever seen on a football pitch. EVER.
Then a few days later, to top it all off, he busted out more of this magnanimous behaviour as part of his usual usual treatment of any ref that doesn't fall in line. The man doesn't know the meaning of the word respect.
So compare Fergie and Wenger all you like, but please don't tell me Fergie has class because that is the one thing everyone knows he doesn't have.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
On Liverpool's Transfer Policy
Liverpool haven't learnt a f**king thing - spending grossly exorbitant amounts on distinctly average or below average players and continue to be linked with the same for ridiculous transfer fees.
We could have had the Newcastle scouting department for £1m instead and I am sure they would have found a player twice as good as Joe Allen for half or even a third of the price. Let's not even start on Carroll, Henderson, Downing and Borini. Some comparisons below
Carroll - £35m vs. Aguero (£37m) or Huntelaar who left Real for £17m
Downing - £19m vs. Cazorla (£16m), Mata (£23m)
Allen - £15m vs. Cabaye - £3m (I rate Cabaye higher) or Dembele - £15m
Henderson - £20m - he is in his own league with that one (that is no compliment)
Borini - £10-12m vs. Michu (£2m) or Ba (who has a release clause for £7m)
Liverpool seriously need to sack the entire team who negotiates these transfers and scouts these players. It is shambolic that whilst spending north of £200m in three seasons, we had a team that could compete for the Champions League and were in it regularly and have turned that into a mid-table team AFTER spending £200m spend (who does that?), you may say what about the players we sold, that is irrelevant. The gulf in class between Suarez and the rest of the team is evident (shame we will lose him next summer), the misery is only compounded with the imminent signing of another overpaid British player who has not achieved anything and isn't all that good.
Future, future, future - how many 5 year plans will it take? It's been 21 years, the club is becoming a laughing stock. Under Benitez we had 4 of the back 5 that played yesterday and have been playing most of the season and they barely shipped any goals, what's happened to the defending with these same players under Rodgers? Let's not even start with the attack.
2008-2009 - We achieved 86 points
2012-2013 - 25 points after half the games - after spending £200m+ since that season, and 3 managers. Seriously - WTF.
Ash, LFC (rant over till the next one)
Losing Faith In Brendan
I'm trying to keep the faith in Brendan Rodgers but he isn't half making it difficult.
Let's face it Liverpool have finished 7th-8th the past three seasons and with the embarrassing disaster of the transfer window leading to our lack of strikers I felt that had to be the sum of our ambitions this season even in such a mediocre league.
What I expected however was to see BR implement a system and style of football (his 'philosophy') this season, clear out some of the expensive deadwood from 3 very different previous managers, experiment with the squad and move the team in the right direction in terms of gaining more points than last season where we regularly dominated games and simply couldn't score enough goals.
Well he has talked an awful lot about his philosophy (has any manager ever talked so much or so openly and in such detail about his tactics?) but I'd suggest we actually seen more of it on the pitch in his first 5 or 6 games than the last few games despite playing stronger opposition. There is now little or no pressing the opposition, a key factor in the Barca 4-3-3 we espouse to, we aren't dominating possession in midfield and Allen's confidence and energy are shot.
In fact our midfield is a complete mess. No matter who is played in there BR has been incapable of finding a combination that both provides cover to the defence or supports the front man leaving us equally exposed at the back and lacking up front. Still our fullbacks bomb forward leaving our centre backs alone to deal with counter attacks when we do lose the ball. All the while Suarez is left in splendid isolation to somehow beat the opponents on his own.
On top of that Gerrard's physical decline let alone his tactical indiscipline mean he should be pushed further forward to utilise his goalscoring threat (as BR suggested in pre-season) and allow younger legs to be introduced in central midfield as well as resting him more often but instead he has played almost every minute in central midfield no matter the level of his performances - it suggests BR isn't comfortable dealing with such a big name.
We are playing a 4-3-3 when we don't have the personnel to do so and it is difficult to see that the players we signed in the summer have improved us in any way and the lack of intelligence of anyone on or off the pitch in being able to deal with Kenwyne Jones simple knock down to an always in space Jonathan Walters was as embarrassing as it was astonishing.
I'd even go so far as to question whether the BR Barca-lite style will get us where we want to be in the Premiership. Without wanting to go down the "Could Messi do it on a cold Christmas Wednesday at Stoke?" route the Premier League IS different to other leagues.
It requires a physical power, pace and directness that other leagues do not (Mourinho's Chelsea, Ferguson's use of pacey wingers, Yaya Toure's impact for City) and as Arsenal have found the loss of that directness and power in the form of Overmars, Henry, Vieira even Gilberto Silva has left them being an aesthetically pleasing art installation but incapable of winning the league. BR trying to do this with inferior players is not a recipe for success and his fundamentalist belief in pass, pass, pass is the polar opposite but as ultimately equally limited as Tony Pulis belief in hoof, hoof, hoof.
Our points total and win percentage is as poor as it is has ever been, even worse than Hodgson, and previously we could argue that at least the style of football was better and therefore we were moving in the right direction but are we? And even if we are how much does a prettier style make up for this when the results are worse?
Amazingly a few extra players in the shape of goalscoring widemen would see us pick up immediately as it is a truly terrible league with lots of teams to be steamrollered (A Utd without a defence or midfield has only drawn once this year) but I'm beginning to suspect that BR philosophy is going to be as much a hindrance in achieving our goals as it is currently a cover for his poor results.
Lindsay Bell, Belfast
A Few Thoughts
The mail box has felt a little empty lately so I would send in a few thoughts:
1) Man United have been heralded recently for their excellent corner (and freekick) conversion rate, see goals from Evra & Evans (7) as evidence, and nobody seems to have pointed out this is due to RvP. United have not had an excellent left foot in a few years and with both Rooney and RvP on in-swinging corner duties (left and right respectively) it is winning us points. I'm not exactly sure how many assists RvP has direct from corners or freekicks but would love to see the stats on 2nd balls etc.
2) Now this might seem controversial but is Carrick now United's most important player? Most might argue for RvP but if everyone else was fit then Rooney (on a good day) and Welbeck or Hernandez would make do. Without Carrick though, seeing as Scholes isn't able (evident this season), United have no one else to play the screening/passing game, the other options Cleverly, Ando, Fletch are all much better as box to box midfielders. Who else can dictate play?
3) Who else can dictate play? Looking first just at the Premier League are there any decent options to replace (or backup) Carrick, even expanded world wide I cant think of that many available options.
4) United need a new winger! That might sound like Fergie talking but it's true. One functional winger (Valencia) as an out ball is fine but we are desperately in need of some creativity on another flank. Nani appears to have died and Ashley is not the answer (or any answer), it's a shame we missed Moura but hopefully Fergie has something lined up in the summer. People complain that United are crap now, it's only because we don't have a tricky winger who doesn'tly constantly give the ball away.
5) Liverpool are really ****.
6) That goal was definitely offside! I know this because Robbie Savage disagrees with me (on all levels).
A Sad Blackburn Fan
The true joy of being a football fan is not following a winning team. The true joy of being a football fan is in having a distraction from the monotony of life, having a mutual interest with like minded others, and having something to rely on - a constant in a fluid and unpredictable world. Defeat is bad, relegation is worse, but football can only really break your heart when you have to bear witness to the death of the very soul of your club.
Now Henning Berg cannot argue he was doing a good job at Blackburn. Even the comically incompetent yes man Steve Kean was picking up more points before he left than Berg was mustering. However ten games between the end of one transfer window, and before the opening of another, thus allowing him no time to form a team of his own isn't a true reflection of his abilities. How perverse that Steve Kean should evade the sack at Ewood despite obviously being in well out of his depth and Berg should be given no time at all.
However, things obviously weren't going to plan and his firing would be a justifiable act if there was an obvious course of action to take that would instantly turn the club's fortunes around. This was the case when Paul Ince's ill-fated spell was brought to an abrupt end.
Sadly, even if such a course of action was obvious, Venky's would not and will not take it. Ever since the sacking of the unloved but respected Allardyce, everything the Indian chicken merchants have done has given away their utter lack of understanding and expertise. The hiring of two inexperienced and largely unproven managers will I fear be followed up with another comedy appointment to the Ewood dugout, further poor results, and the continuing zombification of the club.
I should stress that I am very much a Blackburn fan from afar, I have no geographical connection to the club and willingly accept that it is not possible for me to feel as deeply about the team as the people from the town the team represents, and those who every week continue to fund what now amounts to a vanity project very much gone catastrophically wrong. My allegiance to the club is based entirely on the fact that they were successful and exciting when I was young and in the infancy of my obsession with football.
But with time, I came to realise just how much this Premier League football club, one regularly in the top half of one of the most talent packed leagues in the world, shared the very same ideals and values of the clubs in the level of football that I attend regularly. A strong link to the fans and local community, a focus on developing young talent and a long term perspective in planning and setting targets. For a long time Blackburn Rovers Football Club were a shining beacon of what it was to maximize your potential. There may not have been glamour, there may not have been head line grabbing publicity stunts, but that was a football club for football people.
That description bears no resemblance to the putrefying corpse in blue and white halves that continues to bear the Blackburn Rovers name. The purpose of this email is two fold. Firstly, I just want to vent my annoyance with the regime of clueless individuals who have destroyed a club. Secondly, I fear amidst the "Blackburn farce hits new lows" media coverage that has emerged again and will continue to hold traction that the message of the Blackburn fans will be lost.
The source of ill feeling towards Venkys is not that their decisions have brought poor results, although that can't help, but rather that they have robbed people of the club they identified with. Whatever grand plan was actually behind the ill thought out Indian takeover, the only thing the current owners of Blackburn Rovers can be said to have achieved is to have torn the still beating heart out of the club and tossed it aside.
Don't cry for Blackburn Rovers, they're already dead.
An Annoying Palace Fan
I have been laughing out loud at the goings on at Blackburn and Nottingham Forest over the past couple of days - needed to laugh in order to put the pain of Zaha hitting the bar then Palace losing against Cardiff (strangely wish Cardiff get to go up this season, in spite of the change from Blue to Red...after Palace of course). Having just read about the appointment of Alex McLeish though, I feel for Nottingham Forest fans. Wealthy owners with delusions of grandeur have appointed a manager with 'Premier League experience'.
Unfortunately, that is not enough to take them up. So-called 'yo-yo' teams can bounce between Championship and the Top Flight thanks to a Premier League squad and parachute payments. Forest have not been in this league for many years. It strikes me that the appointment of Big Eck is an extension of the owners' thoughts that Forest are still a Top Flight team. Sadly they haven't been for years. And Cardiff - or am I just bitter in defeat? - are proof of that. They have been up there so many times, but the last hurdle eludes them. Such is the Championship. Forest at present are nowhere near Cardiff in terms of ability, yet their owners place them at the top of the league in terms of ambition.
For a Championship (and by that I mean in the league for 4+ years) club to achieve promotion, they need to have a long term plan. The Kuwaiti owners of Forest do not seem to have that much patience. Palace's business model is geared around our well-respected academy. Produce great young players who one day may become good enough to assist the team in promotion. Forest this season have 6 Prem players on loan, plus the signing of Henri Lansbury. An attempt at a quick fix if ever I saw one. I'm not a McLeish fan, but I'm sympathetic to the task that awaits him...his bosses will surely be gunning for him next June when Forest achieve their (expected?) 10th place league finish.
Nick (now watch Forest stuff my Palace, grr...), CPFC
League Two Winners & Losers
Merry Christmas fellow mailboxers, and as a Christmas treat here comes a League 2 Winners and Losers. Think of it as a Christmas special that might make a more regular return if I can get back my enthusiasm which has been drained by a drastically bad Rovers team.
Port Vale - A 2-1 victory over Rotherham United sees them move to 2 points off top spot. Having clung onto Gillingham's coat tails all season they need to take advantage if Gillingham slip up again as the last time Vale got into this position the pressure told and they fell away again.
Tom Pope - The League's top scorer notched his 20th goal for Port Vale as he delivered against his old club Rotherham for the second time this season.
Barnet - A 1-0 victory away at League leaders Gillingham is a great achievement, but the greater achievement is coming from 7 points off safety to being 3 points clear of the drop zone since Edgar Davids surprise arrival in October. A word of caution though, both the teams in the relegation zone have games in hand (2 in Wimbledon's case) so the Bees are not out of the wood yet.
Cheltenham Town - Four different scorers in a 4-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers sees the Robins keep their head above the playoff water in 3rd place. While automatic promotion would be a huge achievement Gillingham's recent form means that Cheltenham are a mere 3 points off the summit. The title race is getting very interesting now!
Chesterfield - One of the many inconsistant sides in the League who threaten to go on a run before succumbing to a limp unexpected defeat. Boxing day saw them convincingly put York City to the sword 3-0 to move a point off the playoffs. They easily have the ability to get their act together, but you never know what side will show up (which to be fair is also true of most sides they will face).
Gillingham - This is a not the same side who for 3 months were runaway league leaders likely to stroll to the title without a challenge. Only 1 win in their last 6 and 1 point from their last 3 games at Priestfield has seen the chasing pack erode their once daunting lead.
Bristol Rovers - In the losers column as a result of an appalling last month which culminated in the sacking of Mark McGhee; who's legacy is a succession of bizarre formations, players out of position, and a team at the bottom of the Football League. New manager John Ward will take heart from a 2-2 away draw at Aldershot in his first match in charge and that Rovers are not cut adrift yet. The January transfer market will almost certainly be the make or break element of Rovers' survival chances.
Torquay United - Having kept the neutrals entertained by their Keegan-esque attitude to both atracking and defending it is starting to look like the League's most unpredictable team are going to drift away from the playoffs. Plymouth snatched a last minute goal to deny the Gulls what would have been a hard earned 1-0 away win in a Devon Derby. Torquay are 'only' 3 points off the playoff spots, but the table is so congested that they sit midtable in 12th place halfway through their season.
Paul Tisdale - The Exeter City boss admitted to being perplexed and annoyed by their poor home form in the wake of a 3-1 defeat to Oxford United. The Grecians sit 2 points (and places) off the playoffs, but worryingly are the only side in the top half with a negative goal difference. With the table so close that could end up biting them in the backside come May.
Mike, League 2, BRFC