Arsenal fans are largely positive after their top four finish, whilst one wag suggest buying Bale from their rivals. We also have an interesting final mail. Enjoy...
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...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
That'd Teach Him...
I hope Tony Fernandes buys 'arry another keeper before the close of the transfer window.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
Crazy Mid-Sandwich Thought
Here is a crazy mid-sandwich thought. Why not get rid of contracts in football except for one-season rolling ones. At the end of each season either party can terminate the contract.
Could be interesting...
That Walcott Debate Sorted
In response to the Theo Walcott Big Game debate, there's a pretty handy site (that I may or may not run) to prove it either way, whilst also comparing him to Bale, and whilst there, having a look at Mata vs Cazorla.
For those that can't be bothered to have a look, Walcott's 10 league goals this season have been split as 5/3/2 for Bottom 6/Mid 8/Top 6 teams, and he has an average opponent per goal of 11.90. His goals have been worth exactly one point for Arsenal this season. In comparison, Bale has a split of 5/3/1 for his 9 league goals and an average of 12.33. However, his goals have been worth six points for Spurs. So Theo just about has a better quality of opponent per goal, but his goals aren't as important as Bale's. (league only).
For the record, van Persie has the most points won with 22 (he won last season too), and has five goals against Top 6 teams (level with Demba Ba). Fellaini has the best average ranked opponent per goal (of those players with over 5 goals) at 7.75.
Messi has 9 goals against the Top 6 in Spain, Ronaldo just 3, and Suarez, Mata and Lampard have four each in the Premier League.
And in response to Anthony from Kilburn's brief mention of Rooney in an England shirt, there's a equally handy Player Comparison if him vs Owen for England - based on performing on the big stages (on the home page). Rooney has an average FIFA ranked Opponent per goal of 73.63). Interestingly, in the Premier League last season, Rooney had the most goals against the Top 6 (based on final positions).
Villa = RVP (Ish)
I don't expect any transfer activity from Arsenal. If anything did happen I wish it would be a brute of a midfielder or a centre-back.
All the talk however seems to be on Arsenal signing David Villa. What amazes me about this is that how some people are trying to spin this as a desperate move or an unnecessary buy. To me it is basically the same as having RVP around.
If we had signed RVP on a long-term deal in the summer then it is likely that at 29 years of age he was not going to have much re-sale value. Also we would have had to pay him 100-130k+ a week. Hypothetically IF Villa signs for Arsenal it may be for a fee of about 10-15 million and wages of 100k-130k+ a week. Almost identical to RVP, in fact we would have theoretically made a 10 million profit and got an equally world class striker all be it one who is a little bit older.
Initially the talk in the summer was that Giroud was NOT going to be an immediate replacement for RVP so how is it any different if Villa signs no ? Almost all pundits and fans would have wanted RVP to stay along with Giroud so that is exactly the case that might occur, a world-class striker that everyone seems to think Arsenal lack.
Again I have almost no hope of this transfer happening but either way I see it as another rod to unfairly bash Wenger with. Any team in their right mind will have David Villa in their team. Age isn't everything. Bergkamp, Drogba, Del Piero, these guys performed well into their 30's.
Hatim (Hope it happens, if only for because Arsenal on PES 2014 will have at least one world-class player) Abdulhussein, Melbourne
Rooney Is Good
I'm one of the many regular readers who is content to read submissions into the mailbox and only actually write in when I get annoyed at someones opinion. Well, this has happened today...
I feel compelled to get involved into the age old Rooney debate as it's a recurring theme. This e mail may come across as extremely simple and not laden with information about stats and formations, but I wanted to reaffirm an issue I feel strongly about. It is argued by some that 'Rooney plainly lacks either the pace or precision to play as a striker for United now' (Chris MUFC). I realise it's every football fans right to their opinion, even if it does defy logic. Indeed, these viewpoints give the fan in question an elevated status and make them feel superior, as they hold thoughts and opinions which contrast with generally accepted beliefs.
But can we stop all of this Rooney bashing. Yes I get fed up with his occasional poor displays in which his touch and killer instinct seems to desert him and he has lost a bit of pace since he was 18. But this doesn't stop the simple fact that he has and will be absolutely vital to our success, both as a creator and most importantly as a goalscorer. Look on wikipedia for his stats and 'big game' record.
Regardless of the contract disputes in the past which have tarnished his reputation with United fans, we have an extremely good player who does not mind playing second fiddle to his superior strike partner. He also doesn't moan when he is benched for big games. These qualities, coupled with his natural talent, make him one of our most vital players (Yes, more important than Kagawa - who is showing good potential). And whilst he is not the national team's saviour that we may have hoped for, he's still the best English player in the Premier League and criticism of him/talk of selling him should stop - especially amongst United fans who watch all of the games.
...Chris (MUFC) - are you seriously, honestly, suggesting that Welbeck (who doesn't score goals), Hernandez (who scores goals and does nothing else - which admittedly is a good trait to have, but none-the-less not always ideal), Henriquez (who has potential, but is at loan at Wigan), a young kid in the reserves, and some as-yet-unnamed players that will definitely be really, really good (and probably from a really cool team like Dortmund or Shakhtar) are better options that a 27-year-old Wayne Rooney, who is full entrenched into the 'United way', has scored 44 goals over the last season and a half (and has scored in his last two games), and can play in any number of positions along the front line and in midfield.
Not only that - but remember where the £80million from the Ronaldo sale went?
Yes, he'll have a crap game every one in eight, which will get magnified to the nth degree (unlike someone like David Silva who disappeared for half a season but who is lovely and Spanish), yes he's got a little fat pudgy scouse face, and a boorish attitude that effete football hipsters don't like, and yes, he acted like a royal tool with the 'open letter' bollocks a few years ago. But, and I know this isn't a terribly fashionable to say, but he's still a very VERY good player, and a much better option than Kagawa who, frankly, has done sod all yet.
I know that contrariness and demagoguery are rife in football, but you're in danger of confusing opinion with fact.
By the way, isn't Highgate in Surrey? I lose interest in anywhere south of Urmston.
R Milne (now, let's all kiss and make friends, no reach-arounds)
Dissing The Hipster
I was going to let Chris, MUFC get away with his email, but then he took an unnecessary swipe at Arsenal and Liverpool at the end, so I won't.
Chris, while your point is stupid and reactionary (get rid of Rooney and replace him with an academy player...), it's not that which irked me so much about your email. It's your active attempts to sound like an intelligent football thinker. One example - 'he therefore needs to play as a 10/enganche/trequartista'. What? Why did you say '10' if you were going to follow it up with two translations that mean exactly the same thing? Oh right, to prove that you must be a different level of football fan because you listen to James Richardson and agree with everything Phillippe Auclair says.
You later go on to use the term 'regista', in a sentence that, as far as I can tell, is written in English. The term you are looking for, Chris, is a deep-lying playmaker.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for intelligent football debate but inserting a translation of playing positions, particularly when they're also written in English in the same sentence, just makes it seem like you're trying too hard.
Don't get me started on the liberal sprinkling of academy players you dropped in to prove your fan credentials.
Joe Rice (to be fair, I've never disagreed with Auclair)
Big Yellow Taxi
Interesting piece on Balotelli by Stanger this afternoon, if not perhaps, slightly overly sentimental. It's often the way with the English (and perhaps with other cultures too) and I'm not entirely sure whether it is a good or bad thing. A similar outpour of mawkish sentimentalism filled the mailbox when Drogba left these shores. As a Chelsea fan I was pleased to read some of the respectful comments submitted by rival fans, but it struck me as strange that for years before his departure he was regarded by some as something of a hate figure by reason of his diving and feigning injury.
Balotelli similarly was largely disliked for his rash, often aggressive challenges and his worrying lack of respect and neglectful professionalism towards the game. This certainly cannot be excused, as Mr Stanger suggested, by reason of Mario being a normal 22 year old with normal 22-year-old problems. When I was that age I was relying on snakebite (not Cristal) to get me inebriated and super noodles were damn near on the menu every night. The girl I was tapping wasn't an Italian model for that matter either. Mario however, was clearly a talent and one which unfortunately for us, could not be refined and sculpted into what we all knew he was capable of being. (Let's all spare a thought for the ever-frustrated Roberto Mancini).
A wise man once said (something along the lines of) 'golden ages are always in the past, or the future. We're not capable of recognising them at the time.' Perhaps dear mailbox, we'd do well to appreciate all that we've got in our domestic football product when we have it, and not once it has departed, when perhaps it's too late.
Ed, CFC, London
The National Game
It's a long-argued debate, but In defence of Chris MUFC, I have to admit that the given the dynamic way that football is now displayed throughout the media, and the ease with which people can travel up and down the country, people now have a far greater ease of access to each and every club in England. No longer is a club bestowed upon youngsters from parental figures, brother, aunts and uncles, and whilst I am sure it still exists I imagine going to the nearest stadium to watch live football on a Saturday no longer forms a crux to a weekend if your local club is at home.
People nowadays have access to teams across the globe with most people living in England having at least a passing interest in another team in another country. Marketing ploys from clubs are specifically designed to focus further and further afield to attract the latent support from fans who are yet to know they are fans. If clubs are targeting people from further afield then it's a little disingenuous to blame fans for then supporting them. I suppose that we have to accept that football is now more of a business and supporters, from wherever they reside, generate revenues, and revenues are king, just see Arsenal. On that basis I am no longer surprised when I speak to people from across the country and find that their allegiances are far and wide and broad. It shouldn't surprise any of you either, remember, there are 92 teams out there, all vying for your support, and you can choose any of them.
I am, however, always surprised at just how many people from London seem to have chosen Man U though. It's not because they always win is it? Surely not.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
The International Game
Chris MUFC asks '2; Why does it matter where one lives?' To put it simply, it doesn't. I live in New Zealand and have been an Arsenal supporter for the past 15 years. I'm a club member, and try to make it to at least two home games every season. You lot complain about paying £62 for a match ticket, try flying in from NZL for a game! Yet, it is money well spent. Watching Arsenal play at the Emirates is a greater joy even than watching the All Blacks play at Eden Park.
We don't have a professional football team in Auckland (although our local amateur team has made it to the Club World Cup a few times recently), so I get great joy from watching Arsenal play, even if we have struggled of late. Every now and then I get Englishmen try and tell me I'm not a real fan of the club because I do not hail from north London - yet there I am, every Sunday morning at 3am, waking up in the dead of the night to watch the Gunners struggle through another match.
A real fan is someone who supports their team through thick and thin. Unlike that glory-chasing plonker from Nelson a few weeks back who wanted to switch teams.
P.S. Ryan Nelsen is an absolute legend of the game here in NZ and it is sad to see him retire.
Being Local Matters
Why does it matter where one lives? Because football clubs, with the exception of your local club Arsenal are named after places - now the local area has taken on the club's name.
Football clubs are part of their local communities - it's the reason why journos will refer to Arsenal or Spurs as the north Londoners taking on whoever.
In 1998, 2002 and 2004 the whole red side of north London celebrated us winning the league at the expense of Man U while you were probably crying into your United duvet cover.
You don't have to support your local club but I actually pity those that don't as they miss out on a vital part of being a football fan.
Graham Simons, Gooner, proud I can write Norf London and not AFC like it's some sort of actual place
...Being from Highgate doesn't mean you cannot be a Man United fan. You can do what you like. Nobody is going to stop you.
There will be people out there that suggest the reason you support Man United is that they are so successful. That you tried to back the winner The logical conclusion being if they became unsuccessful you would move allegiances. That you lack emotional investment in a club tied to your local community. A club that reflects local character traits. That many of us fans of now successful clubs resent spending years with them in the widerness only for a bunch of people who could not find the stadium without a Sat Nav to jump on our band wagon in the good times.
The tribal nature of football ingrains this into you. I met a London United fan who said he liked Liverpool and the rivalry doesn't bother him. Liverpool? He had no appreciation of the industrial rivalry that is still burnt on the minds of the collective conscious of the two cities and as a result their biggest football clubs. It is the same reason people recently could not appreciate the rivalry between the archetypal Northern, flat cap, whippet and dark ale club that is Leeds United and the swaggering southerners of Chelsea. You have to be there to get it.
The fact is you will never be a true fan. It is a false support base. A mile wide and an inch deep. Infrastructure doesn't matter.
No Angel Gabriel
Please can we highlight Agbonlahor's horrendous dive last night? Absolutely disgraceful. Stood on Debuchy's foot and threw himself to the floor.
Allez Les Bleus!
David Loxham, Newcastle
Bouncing Back: Not Easy
Good idea. However, I'm sure that the men in charge at Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves were thinking the exact same thing at the start of the season. All three have ended up sacking managers due to poor form and are currently languishing in 16th, 15th and 18th respectively, and if any of us end up getting out of this division it's more likely to be to League One than the Premiership.
The Championship is not as easy to win as you think. In the past 10 seasons, only seven teams have gone straight back up after relegation, West Brom and Birmingham have done it twice, and Sunderland, Newcastle and West Ham did it once. Villa might be able to do it, but then they should have been able to beat Bradford and Millwall.
Chris (What was Almunia doing for that first goal last night?), BWFC
...It was mentioned in today's mailbox that Lerner might want Villa to take the drop in order to benefit from increased parachute payments, and that Villa would be strong favourites to be immediately promoted back to the top flight anyway...can anyone (Villa fan or otherwise) really think it is that simple?
The Championship is notoriously hard to get out of, even with the generous parachute payments that lean things in favour of those departing the Premier League. Last years relegated teams are currently 15th (Blackburn), 16th (Bolton) and 18th (Wolves) - other recently relegated teams occupy 13th (Derby) and 17th (Birmingham). The promotion places are occupied by Cardiff and Leicester (last in the Prem in 2004), with the playoffs currently going to Hull, Watford, Crystal Palace and Middlesborugh Of the chasing pack in the top half, only Burnley have a recent Premier League pedigree.
Even disregarding this, in the last month this Villa squad that they would hope to be able to retain next season have lost to Millwall (currently 9th in the Championship) and lest we forget, Bradford City (currently 10th in League Two).
It might look good on paper, it might make a decent joke on twitter for a bookie midway through a match - but if (and it still is just an if) Villa do go down this season, I don't think many would have them pegged as favourites to come back up.
Terry Hall, Switzerland
Retro Kit Heaven
Hi handsome Mailbox Ed and Co (creep)
Curse you Ian! Just when I thought I could have a productive day you mentioned Sunderland's 91-92 kit and I had to go check it out.
And whilst looking I found this:
So much for today's workload....
Simon J, Cheadle (the real one in Cheshire not the bogus one in Staffs)
...Our chocolate brown one - voted the worst kit of all time! - You all know which one I'm on about!
I have a limited edition one from about 2008 - I love it!
Adam (Cov fan) Coventry
...Ian, I have been saying this for ages and ages. They already do it in the States (with, ahem, 'throwback uniforms') and I think to have one weekend a year where every PL team looks as sponsor- and clutter-free as United did in the Munich anniversary match would be fantastic.
Everyone at the time said how great the teams looked, and it was true!
They could even go the whole hog and have them in shirts 1-11 with the subs 12-19!
The only people to lose out would be the shirt sponsors - even the manufacturers would get a fourth (admittedly logo-less) kit to sell.
Forget the 39th game, Super Grand Slam Erection Sunday, this is something that really would add a little something to the League. Make it a festival of past glory years, eg Sunderland wearing the 1973 Cup Final kit and wheeling out the team at half time, get them doing the televised games etc.
Still can't see it happening though. I can hear it now, "What a stupid idea, the football IS the product, don't bring any of that American crap over here diluting the greatest league in the world." Shame. We should be welcoming Retro Round 2013.
Retro Shirts And Other Great Ideas
In response to Retro Ian in the mailbox I've had similar thoughts, partly due to the fact the NFL currently have something similar in place. Where I feel it falls down in football compared to the NFL (where some of the teams didn't exist during their retro shirt games - that's franchises for you) is that football shirts are emblazoned with sponsors. I love my 89 league-winning retro Arsenal shirt (that the original was my first ever Arsenal shirt adds to the beautiful nostalgia) however I don't see how/why JVC would get the free sponsorship out of it when football is very much a money game. How this could be avoided of course if you go back further to sponsorless shirts, much like City v Utd Munich anniversary shirts used in the Svennis/Benjanni era.
Sort of tied into this were my own thoughts on watching the Swansea-Sunderland game, or not watching it as was the case. Coming in from my regular five-a-side I flicked on the box to a live game, saw the many many empty seats and thought if people in Sunderland don't want to watch this why should I and proceeded to watch the latest episode of Sky Atlantic's GIRLS. Now there were more factors in play than attendance but my point is if a game is going to be live on TV and given the cost of tickets it's not unlikely the game will not be sold out. This in turn reduces the atmosphere at games and damages the overall 'product' from Sky's point of view so I would propose that rather than using their influence to simply dictate the footballing calendar Sky could exert their pressure on clubs to ensure suitable attendance rates for all televised games. It would be as simple as putting a clause in their contract to dictate that a % of TV revenue is linked to % of capacity being achieved. This would force clubs to alter their ticket prices to ensure compliance or even give out free tickets rather than miss out on the Murdoch Moola.
With the money pumped into football by Sky I think they would be in a fabulous position to propose such initiatives such as a weekend of sponsorless retro shirts (clubs already sell retro shirts and this would boost sales so it would benefit them as well as giving Sky something to market, though sponsors may feel a bit put out). Similarly as a PR boost I thought there could be another week where by clubs wore shirts with a charity sponsor. After the game fans (players - no swapsey this week) could bid on shirts and that money could go to the club sponsors, likewise clubs could for a limited time sell these charity shirts to benefit charity. As someone who has been effected by breast cancer I'd love to see my club line out in a pink/white shirt to support the cause.
Personally I don't see the downside to any of this - charities benefit, Sky get a better product to sell and fans can get cheaper tickets. Obviously there will be the argument that Sky shouldn't interfere with the league but given they already do with scheduling of games it would nice to see some benefits to the fans for a change.
Brian, Belfast Gooner (feel free to pass on the suggestions to your Sky overlords)
How Do You Say...?
Surely Skrtl's name is best pronounced by a deceased, Glaswegian Detective and prefaced with 'there's been a...'
Jm (no vowels). ssx