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?
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Have United Forgotten Their Bilbao Schooling?
In response to Tony MUFC saying that Real Madrid would fear united as well - I found myself nodding along until I realised the fatal flaw in your argument.
You seem to think that being Top of the EPL is a similar achievement to being Top of La Liga. I.e. that the top sides in La Liga need to assume that the top team in the EPL is at a close-ish level. That the English pack leader deserves respect from the Spanish pack.
They don't. Its false. The top team in England is not a match for the best few Spanish sides. How do I know this? Athletic Bilbao.
While a country mile off the pace in La Liga they managed to not just beat - but humiliate Man United at old Trafford.
Following Barca's slaughter of Man U in the champions league final 2 seasons back a lot of people seemed to think the hierarchy in European football was:
This is not true - its more likely:
4. Take your pick of good La Liga, Bundesliga and EPL sides
This is a side that's lost to bottom half EPL sides about to come face to face with the white fury managed by the best manager in the world -with a point to prove- starring the 2nd best player (possibly of all time?) -with a point to prove.
What we have seen (over and over and over again). Is that English football ain't what it used to be. Its still bloody good to watch but United are top of a league that isn't anywhere near the level it was even 5 years ago. The EPL has regressed in quality while La Liga and Bundersliga have kept moving forward. The gap is now huge. I wouldn't bet on the top EPL side against any top 4 side from La Liga or Bundesliga.
I'll leave it to Cristiano Ronaldo to support my argument. Expect him to say something in Feb.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide.
...Poor Jose Mourinho
He must look at that league table, and shiver! How on earth will his putrid paupers like Ozil and Alonso find a way past the mighty Zinedine Cleverley and Diego Kagawa?
Incredible. I thought Arsenal had comic deluded fans (Arsene Knows LOL) but this is jokes.
Sure Real are behind in their domestic league, but this ManYoo side was given consecutive footballing schoolings by Bilbao (a Bilbao side that now staves off relegation), has been embarrassed by the Spuds and couldn't handle Everton.
Beyond all of that is the underlying factor that whenever teams attack ManYoo, they look vulnerable due to a combination of a mediocre midfield, a nervous keeper and a defence that looks as if they met in the Trafford centre car park ten minutes prior to kick-off. This is different to Real, who frequently face teams who put 10 men behind the ball - the teams that have embarrassed ManYoo aren't even scared enough to defend for 90 minutes!
I know they're deservedly top but it's a reflection on the shambolic state of the PL more than anything. Fergie is a legend but he should thank his lucky stars that his best North London scout gave him a nice Dutch Xmas gift or else I dread to think how painful ManYoo would be...
Stewie Griffin (how can Arsene compete with Bradford?)
Credit To Rodgers
Matt Stanger asked in Winners & Losers, whether Liverpool's victory and improved performances have been despite Rodgers' instructions, rather than due to them. He bases this question on the fact that the goals we scored on Wednesday, and Suarez' strengths generally, do not conform to what is perceived to be Rodgers' tactics.
I think its a fair question, but I think Rodgers does deserve credit. Regardless of how the goals go in, Liverpool are certainly playing the football he wants - only two clubs in Europe have more average possession than Liverpool do (Barcelona, Bayern). In possession, shape, pressing, number of passes - these aspects of LFC's play show that Rodgers' message is being received and implemented on the pitch.
If we score a goal from a ball over the top for Sterling to run onto, do you think Rodgers' reaction is "damn it, that pass was not rooted to the ground, I will have to have a word with Suarez about that..."? Of course not. Rodgers' tactics and style of play are meant to control the game defensively, as well as to create chances to score, and if the club continues to keep clean sheets + two-thirds of the ball each match, that will be accomplished. If you offered Rodgers the chance to win each match for the rest of the season by 1-0, through a header from a corner, I'm sure he would take it as long as his players are doing everything else the way he wants it.
Oliver (not an ardent Rodgers supporter to say the least, but haven't seen LFC play so well against an average team in a long time) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Now I'm not putting myself out there as a brilliant strategist and I'm sure there must be some logic behind Liverpool's latest acquisition (Other than desperation). But, surely if you want to challenge the top teams in your league you don't do so by buying players who can't get a starting place in said teams.
Sturridge, please prove me wrong.
Neil, LFC (Exiled in USA)
...So, I see both Stevie 'Fulfilled Potential' Gerrard and Brendan 'Pass Me The Thesaurus' Rodgers have told Sturridge it's his last chance. They never cease to disappoint, do they, the eternal self-delusionists?
What is it exactly a last chance to do? Win trophies - having just left the European Champions, and having previously been at Man City? Perform for a club on the up? Learn from a proven, knowledgeable manager? Pick up from fellow professionals on the training pitch - see who he played for before, and now see who he stands to 'learn' from. It's not even a chance to learn a new way to play - it hasn't taken Brendan Barca too long to ditch the tika taka philosophy he inherited from Martinez/ invented, has it?
Let's be honest - it's not a last chance. It's another chance. Another chance to join a mid-table club and bang in some goals. As per Bolton - about the same level then as Liverpool are now. It's a chance to play more games, since he is at a club where the players he is up against aren't the same class as the ones he has been unable to dislodge in these past few seasons.
Basically it is the chance to be a big fish in what is, let's be honest, a small footballing pond - or even backwater if things such as quality of play, class of player, potential and, you know, that whole 'trophy' thang are all taken into into.
No, Stevie and Brendan, the last chance is actually all yours. Stevie mate, you've no more chance in your ultimately unfulfilling career now to win the league, and will never win the Champions league again; so this new chappie you're 'welcoming' having an apparent final hurrah actually represents a last chance for you to pick up a final Mickey Mouse cup or two. And Brendan this should be your last chance to manage a club in the top ten.
You'd both better hope he succeeds. So maybe the heap the pressure on approach isn't perhaps the brightest tactic, is it?
...Liverpool fans. Do you have an unsettling, deep-lying and difficult to communicate fear? In short, do you believe that the problem at your club is not in fact the theory-cited-as-fact "lack of a goalscorer", but indeed something entirely different that no-one has taken the time to focus upon given the all consuming "fact"? In December, they scored in every game, on 4 occasions 3 or more times. They only failed to score 3 times in the whole of October and November.
Therefore, goals are not so rare, surely? Yeah they come from one man predominantly, but teams have won the league on that basis. So £12 million on a not prolific forward the solution? Hmm. I have a fear.
How in the world did no top European club pay £12million for Pato? That's got to be a bargain missed by all!
Sami Magoon (Pato would have been a great fit with all the other Brazilians at CFC)
Don't Wish Away 2013
Did David Moore compare the day Fergie leaves Man U to Wolves sacking Mick McCarthy or Blackburn sacking Sam Allardyce? Is he really assuming that behemoths such as Man U, and, yes in a slightly less successful way, Arsenal would go the same way as the clubs he listed if the current managers left? This in a mail in which he bemoans fans of these clubs as being ridiculous.
I, as much as the next man would love to see Fergie leave only to be replaced by a big barrel of crazy like a Cantona, supported by a global advisor such as Paddy Crerand or the like but it's not going to happen. With the financial clout the top 3 have even a poor manager will still push for Champions League regardless of who is in charge, and the chances of Man U or Arsenal replacing said managers with a 'chancer' are slim in the extreme. Yes Liverpool made some big old mistakes with managers and spending etc but they still continually finished top half and will undoubtedly challenge for the top 4 soon enough. The clubs you list are simply not comparable
The day Fergie or Wenger leave there will be an abundance of talent to take over, it will be frightening. You should really focus your attention on knowing how to handle their fans ridiculous bitching, it's going to be around for quite some time to come.
Lordy, I resolved to curtail somewhat my contributions in 2013 after poor Barrington's 'Britney' meltdown at the end of 2012, (Hi Barrington!) but having read your mail David, seriously, don't waste 2013 wishing for something that isn't ever going to happen.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Just Celebrate, Would Ye?
Enough is enough. I can just about accept players refusing to celebrate goals against ex-clubs where they made their name, enjoyed hero status etc. But SWP scoring a crucial winning goal for his relegation-threatened team in a local derby against a club he represented without particular distinction for a couple of seasons...I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.
Far from showing a mark of respect to his former club, it shows a complete lack of respect, priority and appreciation for his current employers. If I was a Harry or a QPR fan, I would be less than impressed...aside from feeling utterly elated at a quite remarkable result, of course.
Richard, NCFC, London
Thoughts On Newcastle
Everyone has had a good chuckle about what a brilliant piece of business Newcastle did when they sold Andy Carroll for £35m (the chuckling was obviously at Liverpool's expense). Their business dealings looked even better when they brought in Cabaye, Tiote, Cisse and Ba for less than that £35m. I wasn't the only one thinking they had really turned a corner in terms of how they were being run as a club.
I wonder how much it costs to pay off an 8 Year contract to a manager plus backroom staff though. I heard earlier this season that Tony Fernandes didn't want to fire Mark Hughes because doing so would (and eventually did) cost QPR £10m. Surely that is less than Pardew's exit costs would be though!?
This thought extends naturally to the question of what happens if he brings about relegation, that doesn't seem entirely impossible right now, and is exaggerated by the thought of a season finished with Ameobi instead of Ba. Newcastle could be in a world of trouble although on the plus side the last relegation cleared so much dead wood off their books (although I hear Xisco is still there! Anyone remember him?!) and this time they would be able to sell their prized assets for a decent wedge.
More All-Star Teams
Whilst I agree that it's a great idea to hold a a knockout tournament for All-Star teams. I think its a little to easy to just pick a Barcelona/Madrid mash-up and throw in Falcao, so how about making it a bit more difficult and saying no more than three players from any one team? Makes it more interesting, I think.
So, leaving Spain/England/Italy for other people...
Russian Premier League
GK I. Akinfeev (CSKA)
RB C. Ansaldi (R. Kazan)
CB C. Samba (Anzhi)
CB V. Corluka (Spartak)
LB D. Criscito (Zenit)
CM I.Denisov (Zenit)
CM Romulo (Spartak)
CM K. Honda (CSKA)
ST Hulk (Zenit)
ST S. Rondon (R. Kazan)
ST S. Eto'o (Anzhi)
GK M. ter Stegen (Gladbach)
RB L.Piszczek (Dortmund)
CB H. Hummels (Dortmund)
CB B. Howedes (Schalke)
LB P. Lahm (Bayern)
CM J. Martinez (Bayern)
CM L. Bender (Leverkusen)
CM B. Schweinsteiger (Bayern)
RW J. Farfan (Schalke)
ST R. Lewandowski (Dortmund)
LW A. Schurrle (Leverkusen)
Shame this won't happen because it could really raise some money for a good cause, and give people the chance to experience some of the worlds greatest players live, and to learn more about other European leagues...
Barney Stinson, Thailand (Fancy the Brazilian League could put together a pretty impressive XI these days too!)