Nice one UEFA, but not far enough. We have some ideas to make the Europa League better as well as more views on Wayne Rooney, Vermaelen in midfield and...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do You Want Jose At Your Club?
As a an aside to what will surely be another mailbox dominated with fallout from "super Sunday", looking at the league table in Spain and another abject result this weekend, do you still want Jose Mourinho to manage your club?
I don't think you can dispute Mourinho as the turn around king, Champions league victories with unfancied Porto and Internazionale surely make him one of the great managers. But because those sides were unfancied and not expected to do what they did, tactically and as far as man management was concerned, Mourinho could set those teams up any way he wanted and get them to play a defensive counter attacking game that essentially conceded that their opponents were a better footballing team. Now that Mourinho has effectively the biggest job in football with FIFA teams of the last century, a team that is expected to lead from the front and not sit back and counter...he doesn't seem to have what it takes.
He has done well enough, a league title and a kings cup...but in three years for the self-styled 'special one' that is surely mediocre, at best ,with the most talented squad of footballers possibly ever.
It seems Mourinho's tactics and vaunted man management skills have a shelf life, as other have pointed out...three years. This is supposed to be his sweet spot, this was meant to be the year when he wins the league again and wins the champions league before nonchanlantly giving his medal to a steward and telling the world "my job here is done, I have delivered a special 10th crown for the president. Its time to move on"
That doesn't look possible now and in all probability they will capitulate against united in the last 16 and Jose will be fired by Perez.
Do you really want him taking over from Ferguson, this is a man who has done amazing things but built his success on a short term recipe...is he really the long term successor?
Sizwe (my mail published on Friday was appallingly written. My apologies.) JHB RSA
Does It Matter?
A lot of doom and gloom over Arsenal this season, the perennial speculation that we won't finish top four is picking up pace as it does at the start of every year.
Question though, would it really matter if we finished 5th? even 6th?
If we don't get into the Champions league, will our best players leave every year? They already do! Will we only be able to afford cheap, young talent that we have to nurture and grow? That's what we already do! Will ticket prices come down? Probably not.
If we 'drop down' to the Europa league I think Arsene would show it some respect and have a proper go at it and might actually win the thing, if we drop down to 6th maybe it will be the kick up the arse some of these players need and we can finally get rid of some of the players who show zero effort and just stay at the club because they are guaranteed CL football and a decent salary.
Luca James Sparks
...To all those Arsenal fans worried that we might miss out on the Champions League and worried that would be a tragedy...fret not! It would be good for us. The club would have missed out on the only 'trophy' (sic) they had any chance of winning, and then maybe, just maybe, they would change. Without all that filthy European lucre in the board's pocket, they would have to move on dross like Denilson and Diaby (I don't care how we should give him a chance, if he was a horse he would have been made into glue years ago!) and maybe reinvest in the squad with professionals, not zygotes who will be great in 18 years.
Sometimes, as in the film Touching the Void, you have to go down, deeper into the abyss before you come out the other end.
John Matrix AFC
Not Their Fault
It's with a resigned lack of surprise that I read that De Gea and Rafael were at fault for the Liverpool goal yesterday.
Cleverley's pass to Carrick, from which Gerrard won the ball, shot, and prompted Sturridge's rebound shot, was appalling. From the angle Cleverley passed it from, he could comfortably see Gerrard behind Carrick, should have anticipated Gerrard's pressing Carrick, and passed the ball either further forward, or wider to the flanks.
Rafael was slow to respond, and De Gea was perhaps a little too far to the left of his goal (although, given the power with which Gerrard can shoot, and the angle he was running, covering the angle for a straight drive was more sensible. And Gerrard's shot was very good), but the fault was entirely Cleverley's for playing a thoughtless pass in a potentially dangerous area.
Otherwise, I thought Cleverley had an excellent game. He seems to be developing the range, accuracy and subtlety of passing to complement his mobility and work-rate, and his interchanges with Carrick, Kagawa, van Persie, Welbeck and the full-backs were excellent. I still feel there's a need for a genuine left-winger (as Kagawa is far better played centrally), and Nani would be a massive improvement on either Young or Valencia on the right, although would expose Rafael more, but generally United played with more composure and cohesion for 60 minutes than they have done for many moons. Moot point, possibly, as he'll play anyway, but one does wonder whether Rooney might not be a hindrance to a van Persie led United.
p.s. Carrick was really rather excellent. His defensive movement, and particularly covering of Liverpool's counter-attacks when Rafael and Evra had pushed on, was hugely impressive, as was his passing.
I know Arsenal-bashing is very much in fashion at the moment, but I have to respond to two points made in the mailbox this morning.
To Sandeep, who said that this defeat was 'nothing to do with money, resources, or lack of using them.' How not? One team, through no real talent of their own, could afford better players, and that team won.
And to the editor, who posed the question: 'is this the worst Arsenal team in living memory?' - no. Not unless there is nobody alive today born prior to the 1980s.
Joe Rice (surprise surprise, a grumpy Arsenal fan complaining about financial doping.)
...I normally agree with Graham Simons' emails, but he is far off the mark on this one.
Take yourself back to 1995. We were in relegation trouble! We had a midfield consisting of Hillier, Morrow, Selley, Mark Flatts. Our big signings to get us out of trouble were Kiwomya and Helder.
We had splatterings of class - namely, the back five, Schwarz in midfield and Wright up front. But Schwarz was not in the class of Wilshere and Carzorla for me. And as for Wright being "world class"? I loved the guy, but he was fifth choice striker for England (Shearer, Sheringham, Ferdinand and Fowler were all ahead of him). That is not world class.
I am not happy with what is happening. We have no ambition whatsoever. We will finish fourth as usual (in case anyone has not noticed, we have this "not top four quality" debate every year) and the board will be happy with it. I would be happier if we took a risk and look for players that might not be up to Wenger's "exceptional" class(!) and maybe finished outside the top four.
But do we need this self-flagellation ever time we have a poor result? It says something that there is none of the coverage of Tottenham's dour 0-0 draw with QPR that followed our dour 1-1 draw with Southampton
Jaimie (why do Arsenal make January worse than it is?) Kaffash, London
...In regards to Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London, it wasn't difficult to guess that he would not be dating back any further than 87/88, those of us with slightly longer memories can categorically state that no, this is not the worst Arsenal Team ever, try from 74 to 78 or even the early 80's when the only hope was a decent run in the cup, when only one team got a sniff at being Champions of Europe and that was never going to be us, so yes, we are not brilliant by a long way, but nor are we the worst.
Andrew Brown, Goonerabroad
Can we please put an end to the tacit bashing of Chelsea supporters please? It's getting ridiculous. I'd usually trust f365 to look beyond the paper thin narrative but it seems your writers are incapable of it.
I'm not one of these fans (i.e. 95% of regular match goers) who has convinced themselves that their home ground is anything special in the atmosphere stakes. The truth be told, Stamford Bridge has the same tepid atmosphere as any of England's other 'top' sides and the idea that it has been turned into a swirling cauldron of hate in the weeks since Benitez was appointed is pretty laughable. He was booed when he was announced as Chelsea manager, there's been boos at the end of our less sterling results and, whenever there has been an opportunity (such as last Wednesday), there's been boos for the club's hierarchy. That aside, the 'hostile' home atmosphere hasn't extended beyond the normal moans and groans of a football crowd, the singing of Di Matteo's name for one minute of the 90 and the odd bout of 'Super Frankie Lampard'. Am I to believe this standard humdrum has reduced Chelsea's players to quivering wrecks and their manager incapable of thought? This latest line of criticism is something I'll admit to struggling with- we're pathetic plastic flag wavers (wink wink) until it suits people for us to be vitriolic abusers instead. Make your minds up, please.
Confusingly, you were able to identify and mention what Chelsea's real problem with their home form has been, just not appreciate the true weight behind it. There will be no entente cordiale between Benitez and Chelsea's support because while there is largely a dislike of the man and opposition to him being at the club, there's no pressing need for it. Stamford Bridge's atmosphere is best summed up as resigned and defeated, not bilious and difficult. Take a look at any Chelsea forum where traveling away support congregate- they're busy slating the home fans for not sticking it to Benitez the way that traditionally more vocal away fans do, but it's apparently easier for him to work near them!
I have to admit I'm somewhat baffled by some of Nick Miller's conclusions from the United v Liverpool match. I'm sure most fellow United fans will agree that, in terms of the back four/five, that was one of our best performances over 90 minutes this season. Aside from the goal, which was the result of a momentary lapse in concentration from Rafael and a not-insignificant amount of luck, Liverpool's only notable opportunity was Sturridge's conversion attempt which fell his way thanks to a much more significant slice of fortune.
While it may be that Evans would have started if fit, to imply that Vidic and Rio were anything but immense yesterday (particularly considering the pressure they were under in the closing stages) is plain wrong. The worry for us is more that our midfield tired to the point where they were no longer creating the space required to offer an out ball and, as such, we found it impossible to alleviate pressure.
I'm convinced the problem is to do with the upper body change.
I couldn't believe the bulking up that had taken place when he returned pre-season.
How the fek had that happened? But why leave out the legs?
He's out of proportion and lost his balance.
Kinger, MUFC, The Annexe, Bristol
I am a patient man. 24 years supporting Aston Villa will do that to you. I have been saying all season to give Lambert time, he's a good manager, it'll come good: but after Saturday I'm beginning to wonder if Lambert is simply the right man, but at the wrong time. I am growing more and more frustrated with his naivety and decision making. I don't even need to go back too far for examples.
1. Played the same 11 versus Chelsea in Stamford Bridge just because they beat Liverpool 3-1 in Anfield. Did he seriously think that we wouldn't get over-run in midfield? Horses for courses Paul.
2. Continues to persist with Barry Bannan (ok, I know he only came on as sub on Saturday but up to now he's been a regular starter). I have never seen a more average Premier League player being played as often. What we are clearly lacking is a tough-tackling ball winner. Why does he not end Jean Makoun's loan spell at Rennes?? Mind-boggling....
I know he is working on a tight budget but as Jim, Birmingham mentioned in today's mailbox, I think he is forcing austerity measures too quickly. Only Ciaran Clark in our starting line-up vs Southampton also started our last game of last season. Its not like we're decimated with injuries.
Even if he had a fully fit squad to chose from I'd say only Dunne and Petrov would have been the only changes on Saturday. We need some experienced players to compliment the youth talent yet the likes of Warnock, Makoun, Delfouneso and dare I even say it, Hutton, remain in exile. Time to wake up and look at the table Paul.
Neil (gone to have a wash after typing the name 'Hutton'). AVFC, Dublin
Cliff Mallinder AFC makes a very good point about penalties and red cards. I read the Observer every week and on the back page of the Sports section they have a feature called, "You're the ref." Now, I'm sure that several times this has pointed out that you can't send off a player for DOGSO (denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity - or something like that), if you've awarded a penalty, as the goal scoring opportunity is still there. It seems obvious to me, but I've also seen pundits/managers/players give different interpretations, so what is correct? Does ref365 have a definitive answer for us?
Michael, (I bloody well sent an email in for Friday's afternoon mailbox and wasn't published - I don't suppose this one will be either. Must have really p****d off the MC), Chelsea, London
Ref In Yellow Boots
A word on Mike Dean. They say that the best referee is one that you never notice, however Mr Dean seemed to think that yesterdays game was all about him. You know the ref has had too much influence on the game when the sky cameraman runs onto the pitch and focuses on the officials. At the start of the second half, perhaps in anticipation of the barrage of abuse that he knew he was going to get from the crowd he waited for all 22 players to line up, sent out his two linesmen, waited a few seconds and then stode out alone as if playing up to the reaction from the crowd. Would it not have been better for him just to sneak out amongst one of the sets of players so as not to draw attention to himself? But I guess that sort of thing doesn't cross your mind when you're wearing fluorescent yellow boots, as he was yesterday.
TT (Big teams get all the decisions) AFC
If Koscielny had been playing rugby I think he might have been red carded for not releasing in the tackle.
Steve, MCFC France
Haven't seen it mentioned anywhere but did anyone else hear/admire the chant for Luis Suarez at Old Trafford? To the tune of Sloop John B.: Your teeth are offside, your teeth are offsiiiiiide, Luis Suarez etc. etc.
Angus, LFC, Oxford
Worst Performance Ever?
After seeing Jon Walters' performance for Stoke at the weekend suggested as the worst ever premier league performance by the ever excellent winners and losers column, it made me wonder about the other worst ever premier league performances.
Was Jon Walters' performance the worst ever?
I'd suggest Massimo Taibi's 'heroics' in Man Utd's 5-0 defeat to Chelsea some years ago as a rival terrible performance. I wanted to throw it open to the other mailboxers who might be able to suggest tales of their teams worst ever individual performances...
Legendary Eric, MUFC