That's the difference between him and someone like Cristiano Ronaldo - his body just isn't right. We have mails on him, Sparky, Brendan Rodgers and the Europa Lge...
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
Have PL Clubs Dodged A Pep-Shaped Bullet?
So I see the papers are full of doom and imbecility over Pep's decision to choose Bayern Munich over the bestest league in the world ever TM indicating that German football and the way it is run is inherently superior.
I for one am of a different opinion, Utd, City and Chelsea may well have dodged a bullet. It's been pointed out many times before managing Barca with their conveyor belt manufacturing...I mean training facility, that Pep has managed nowhere else and given that since Villanova has taken over little seems to have changed performance-wise. Not to diminish Pep's record and successes but for the huge wages that were offered it would have been a massive risk. Therefore I think he's decision is the best all around, he gets a club with tradition and structure under which he seems to thrive, the rest of the world gets to see if he really is that good, although worryingly if he is and let's say Fergie retires in 2-3 years...you can see where I'm going with this, that's no disrespect to the Bundesliga as a league but when you are talking globally very few people ever admit to supporting a German side, well not in this neck of the woods anyway.
For me (as a Chelsea fan) is where does this leave Abramovich now? He has seen the man he wanted slip away from him and let's hope he takes the message in between the lines about the way he has beem running Chelsea. It seems he has three choices, carry on as he has done, accept it's going to be increasingly difficult to get managers of the standing he requires to take the job. 2) Pack it in and sell up, to be honest he doesn't seem to be the quitting type. 3) Mend his ways, get rid of Gourlay, Buck, Emanalo and the stooges and let the new manager actually manage and start something without undue interferrence, to my mind the only way he can prove this is to rehire Jose unfortunately I can't see that happening either...so what now?
At this point I'd rather see Big Sam in than another season under Benitez!
Tommy (There's something wrong when the Germans need a Spaniard to play good football) Cape Town
On Which Side Is Your Bread Buttered, Chelsea Fans?
My admittedly scant memory recalls that the structure in place at the club provides that Mr Abramovich has simply 'loaned' Chelsea lorry-loads of cash and he could ask for these loans to be repaid. Were he to do this, Chelsea would surely be drowning in brown, smelly stuff.
Of course it may not be practical for Mr Abramovich to do one from Chelsea, but Chelsea fans - do you really want to test Mr Abramovich's famously short patience with the continued abuse about Benitez, the treatment of Di Matteo and Frank Lampard and/or Torres' continuing footballing amnesia?
Please stop moaning and have some respect for what Mr Abramovich's strangely obtained roubles have got you: from the brink of bankruptcy to multiple trophies. If I were him listening to you boo at Stamford Bridge, I might starting thinking that he doesn't have to put up with such ungratefulness and that it is time to sod off to more welcoming climes.
Then where will you be?
Leave Poor Rafa Alone
A great deal of vitriol was aimed at Liverpool supporters (what's new?) for our perceived bad treatment of Roy Hodgson but that pales in comparison to what's happening now to Benitez.
Well Chelsea fans, the source of your feelings might be rooted in football but there comes a point where it's just thousands of people abusing a single individual.
You've made your point, nobody misunderstands your position but anything more from this point is just bullying.
I suppose the people who act like this at Stamford Bridge consider themselves morally superior to the Suarez', Terrys and other pantomime villains but you're not and you're on the verge of being utterly contemptable scum.
Rafael Benitez might be a football manager but he also has a wife and young children. He didn't fire Di Matteo and is a more than decent manager. Time to leave him alone.
ScousePride, LFC, Liverpool (waiting with anticipation for Rafa's return to LFC - can't come soon enough!)
Jad H, CFC. I read your mail shaking my head, culminating in a crescendo of disbelief, disgust and reprehension, on why you say Rafa is doomed. DOOMED I TELLS YA!
He could get to the League Cup final by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the second leg of the semi-final, despite the fact you have already dismissed any chance of that in your previous paragraph.
He could win the FA Cup, Big Deal!? BIG DEAL?
He could win the Europa cup, the cup he is actually in, regardless of what Chelsea did last year when he wasn't even there.
He could easily qualify for next years Champions League with a 2nd/3rd/4th place finish, currently sitting in third.
He's doomed at Stamford Bridge, because he could win three cups and qualify for the Champions League? You poor unfortunate souls, I bet not even Jesus knows the trouble you've seen.
Jad fella, I love chatting football. If you were in my office, I would avoid you like the plague and pretend I knew nothing if in your company (insert Ipswich joke). Honestly, Chelsea fans don't know they're born. Just be thankful thaydens latest cosmic vituperate was aimed at Stuart in the previous mailbox to yours, or I would imagine he would go supernova on your sorry ass.
Chris, ITFC, Liverpool
I see Rafa Benitez is under pressure again due to his team throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to relegation battlers Southampton.
One contributor (ChelseaR) notes how it was obvious that chelsea were tiring after 60 minutes last night. Well he had his tactics bang on to be 2-0 up at the 60th minute mark but was it his fault that they tired in the last 30?
Well considering this is the first time in Chelsea's history that they've had to play in every single possible match available to them in the season up to this point, I think not. As last year's FA cup winners they started the season with a match in the Community Shild, as winners of the Champions league they also took part in a Super Cup match with Athletcio Madrid as well as havineg to fly half way around the world to take part in the Club World Championships (2 more games and a nice bit of jet-lag). They have also played in as many games as possible in the League Cup up to this point by getting to a two-legged semi final against Swansea. Oh and are still alive and kicking in the FA cup.
So what does this all lead to? Well an absolutely crazy fixture schedule pile-up that has seen Benitez field a Chelsea team 16 times in 53 days. That averages out at a game every 3.3 days for 7 and a half weeks solid. Hell, he had nine games alone in December (won 7 lost 2) and will have nine more in January before it's out. No one else in the league comes close to having this many games in such a short notice.
So when you see Chelsea dominating matches against QPR, Swansea and Norwich (all three at the end of this busy schedule) only to tire near the end and lose out to a few late goals, rather than blame it on Rafa how about you stop and think that it might be one of those other phenomenons in football. The ones that all you armchair managers never need to worry about! Its a simple thing called 'tired legs'. Usually leads to squad rotation and the odd slip-up.
With a great team but not the biggest squad in the world, personally I think Rafa has done a great job to pick up 10 wins, three draws and three defeats from the craziest fixture schedule I have ever seen.
Same Old Rafa, Same Old Weaknesses
I have this rose-tinted fondness when I think back to the days of Rafa Benitez at Liverpool. Istanbul, 1-4 at Old Trafford, 4-0 against Real Madrid, all wonderful moments. But it's funny reading the Chelsea fans' complaints how familiar they feel.
I remember so many Liverpool fans getting the impression that Rafa made his substitute decisions before the game. Regardless of how the game was playing out he would make those changes at 62-65 minutes and then would sit back. It was infuriating then, and I'm sure it's infuriating now.
He brought Liverpool a more consistent brand of success and improvement in the league and cup competitions than we've ever enjoyed since the 80s so I am still rather fond of him but that doesn't mean he was perfect. I guess Chelsea fans are experiencing the slightly stubborn, rigid (and unchanging) part of his management style. That said I find it weird how the media were trying to lynch him before he left Liverpool (I remember one particularly rude post-match interview on ESPN near the end of the season he left) and now that he's at Chelsea they've decided they quite like him. I wonder how much of that is to do with him being on Soccer AM, Match of the Day and Revista de la Liga...the cynic in me says a bit of self-promotion never hurt anyone!
Humble Pie On Jack
I wrote in a little while ago to ask what was so good about Jack Wilshere. I now consider myself educated. Yes, I know it was only Swansea and only the third round (replay) but he was immense. And it then brought to mind his performance against Barça in the CL a couple of years back which I'd forgotten.
One of the other fine compliments I have to pay Jack, aside from his footballing ability, is that he seems to be a target not only for opposition teams (sure he's thanking Citeh for all those fouls committed against him on Sunday) but also for opposition fans. Spurs fans in particular seem to hate him in a way they reserve only usually for our very best players.
In brief: I heart Jack.
Andy, Gooner in Colchester
So young Jack's a future captain? That's him off then.
Just sell him now and spare yourselves the future agony.
Fining Suarez For What?
So when Rogers says that diving is unacceptable and will deal with Suarez internally, is he doing so because he doesn't want his players to dive, or because he's angry Suarez admitted to doing so, thus further reducing the chances of him winning decisions in future?
Nick Hamblin, Bristol
...Brendan Rogers has deemed Luis Suarez's admission of diving to be "unacceptable" and stated that the matter "will be dealt with internally". Surely this begs the question: what exactly does Mr Rodgers find unacceptable, the act of diving itself, or simply the public admission of said simulation?
Given Suarez's frankness about the incident to a journalist, one can only assume that Rodgers is also privy to this information. If so, he would surely have already dealt with the situation by now, if it was the diving that he found unacceptable. Yet his use of the future tense (will be dealt with internally) implies that it is the admission of guilt that troubles him, for only now has he decided to act upon it.
Infer from this what you will, but unless Rodgers truly knew nothing of the deliberate nature of Suarez's indiscretion, which seems hard to believe, he doesn't come out of this in a particularly positive light.
If this interview was captured on video, It would be interesting to see if there is a David Brent like glance at the camera in subconscious acknowledgement that he has said something he shouldn't have...
Andrew Bolderson LFC, Xiamen, China
...So Brendan 'David Brent' Rodgers is ok with watching Suarez dive and cheat, week in and week out, but when he admits to it...THEN it becomes a problem? Jeez, truth really is dead in the modern world, and only spin remains.
Additionally, Suarez justifies his behaviours as some kind of a valid response to an unfair and ongoing persecution of him because he is South American? That kind of victim mentality suits him to his current club very well. However, 'Griff' on the comments page of the F365 story, eruditely summarised the reality by commenting, 'People in this country generally don't discriminate against South Americans, but they *do* tend to discriminate against c***s. This has clearly confused Luis Suarez'.
Well said Griff, well said.
Well Done, Brendan
Nice of Rodgers to reveal how he intends to guarantee Daniel Sturridge a starting spot: alienate his team's best player.
Hernandez Offside? So What?
Yes, let's get annoyed every time Hernandez 'strays' offside. You know, the striker who plays on the shoulder of the last defender and is a constant threat to break the offside trap, which he has done countless times. I'm not sure how people can be thick enough to not realize that players like Hernandez are going to be flagged offside quite often. Get over it.
It's Business Time
I'd like to echo the sentiments put accross by Andi Thomas' Michu profile, though it was less of a player profile, more of an analysis of modern attitudes towards football. Speaking of Andi, I found his early stuff to be completely indecipherable but I've really enjoyed his recent articles and his latest contribution is no exception.
There is something deeply disheartning about fans and the media referring to football clubs as businesses and their players as tradeable commodities - that is what they are, though it is not all that they are. I recall Man United's share float some months back and I was furious that assorted Glazers had personally pocketed a percentage of the proceeds, rather than put it back into the club from which they have done so well. Presumably these funds were required for Glazer-brand patchy beard trimming implements and future super-injunctions.
I was quite surprised at the reaction of some United fans who declared that, as United was a business, its owners are entitled to buy it, sell it, pawn it and/or swap it for a pack of really rare shinies. Now whilst this is technically correct, the owners can do whatever the hell they like as long as the board approve, I find it astonishing that some are so cynical that they are comfortable with the fact that they do. They didn't care that Malcolm had put a portion of Manchester United into his grandchildrens' Trust funds.
I suspect that this cynicism is borne from watching football clubs get a financial pasting through mismanagement and seeing their icons severing ties and buggering off to a rival (love you Robin) and so is understandable. It is still f***ing annoying.
Football is not just about money, business and the pusuit of profit - it is to the chairmen and those responsible for the business side of things but it shouldn't be for the fan. Business is a large (and sadly increasing) part of it, and we have it to thank for watching some seriously sexy footballers forsake beautiful Latin climes for Stoke-on-Trent, but it shouldn't consume all that football is.
What's that? It already has?
A Shaw Thing
I'm putting my bollocks on the line now and say as soon as Luke Shaw gets an England look in he will be in the team until he retires.
His run with the ball for Puncheon's goal of the season has been on loop in my head for the last ten hours and for a 17-year-old showed nothing but concentration, ability and a will to win that you cannot put a price on.
The youth development team at saints are probably the best in the country in my opinion. How many clubs can claim to producing players of Bale, Walcott, Shaw, Warde Prowse, Lallana, Oxlade Chamberlain, Surman (dont snigger solid player) even Baird's quality. Nobody since Man U's and their 'golden kids' generation.
Just those names above are the nucleus of a frighteningly talented Premier League team but now we longer need to raped of our homegrown talent anymore.
If Saints go down as predicted by all you saucy buggers I too will happily comb all your barnets. Especially Sarahs'. I sort of love you.
Martin 'buzzing like a broken vibrator' Ansell (www.facebook.com/filmedfilms)