In this Mailbox it's England v Algeria in 2010 that is seen as the nadir, but there's potential for worse, surely. Plus, one man says we should praise Rooney's honesty...
The morning mailbox ponders Luis Suarez's current predicament, cool footballers, the Lion City Cup, Spurs' transfer policy, Kanu's absence and lots more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
And People Call Scousers Delusional
Now I'm not for one second saying that the race is over, far from it (even though Sky will have it that the title is decided...then undecided on a weekly basis starting from about late August), but I would like to question the 'myth' of the 8 point gap which keeps getting bandied around as evidence of City's ability to claw back a deficit.
The media spun us a nice little line about how the race was all but over last year, knowing full well that it was anything but. Teeing themselves up for a lovely story at the end of the season.
City were 8 points behind with a game in hand. Assuming they were working on the principle that they could win every game, that's actually 5 points behind. One of the remaining games was against Utd, so that's 2 points.
So right off the bat 8 points becomes 2, and given the goal difference (which would only be improved in City's favour assuming the Utd win) the fabled 8 point gap actually becomes one Utd draw away from City winning the league, and given the way momentum would be shifting at that point I still had City as the favourites at the '8 point gap' stage.
...but I admit that doesn't make a very good read.
City (and others) can still pull it back, because there's 13 games left, we've yet to play a convincing 90 minutes and they've have got one of the best squads money can buy (thankfully they've also got Mancini).
But enough of the '8 point' dramatics.
Marky B. MUFC
If It Had Been Mario...
On Saturday night I tuned in to MotD as normal. The internet had been alive with talk of former footballer Michael Owen trying to punch Mikel Arteta in the back so I was purposely looking out for the incident. It wasn't even shown during the normal match highlights. Something about nothing perhaps.
When this moment was brought up in the studio for the knowledgeable consideration of Alan Hansen he said something along the lines of 'there's nothing in it, a load of nonsense'. I couldn't disagree more, what the bloody hell else was Owen trying to do? I can only imagine his reaction had it of been Lord Mario of Balotelli. 'Irresponsible, reckless, madness' would all have been wheeled out as per the norm.
I was understandably confused by this differing of opinion based solely on who the player is, and then it dawned on me...Michael Owen has worked for MotD before hasn't he? Weird that....
A Gooner Defends Stoke
Correct me if I'm wrong but hasn't Pulis managed to take Stoke to an FA cup final in the past few years?
Converting Stoke from the rugby team us Gooners like to knock to a balanced Premier League team isn't going to happen overnight but it is happening gradually.
The Launchpad that is Rory Delap has moved to Barnsley so we'll see less of his massive long throws into the box and they have signed two former England internationals in Crouch and Owen.
Given what Pulis has achieved if gooners are going to question his position for being all defence and bluster then it would seem hypocritical not to question Wenger's future given his team is all attack and no defence.
I'd actually like to see some anti-football from our defenders. It's worth remembering on Saturday the greatest Arsenal right back I've ever seen wear the red and white was honoured for his contribution to the club on the anniversary of his signing. He was of course signed with our current assistant boss - their names? Lee Dixon and Steve Bould - and the club they signed from? You've guessed it - Stoke.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
2 Arsenal fans questioning whether Tony Pulis' style at Stoke, and his general TV demeanour, is holding the club back? I do love the ironing.
Perhaps Stoke should spend big in the summer and start trying to keep the ball more next year, playing in the style of the afore mentioned Swansea who seemed to have picked it up over the last 2-3 years. Pulis should start respecting the other managers and fans and stop demanding decisions go his way. You don't deserve anything Tony unless you win, and win stylishly. 5 years as an established Premiership side with a jaunt into Europe is failure especially when being well run and solvent means there is clearly an opportunity to take a gamble one year to push for Champions League places along-side your Liverpools, Evertons and Arsenals, you know, the 3 teams not actually IN the top 4 places at the moment. You'll probably need around 7-8 times the net spend you have spent since 2006/7 for the 2013/14 season alone to have a fighting chance, but just to make sure a mortgage of £750million wouldn't go amiss.
Do it Tony, Stoke could become the new Barcelona, more so doing it every other week at Stoke, and probably a few rainy nights on a Wednesday (the pantheon of sporting arenas), and if it fails and you financially cripple the club, you'll be told the risk was worth it, probably by all the new clubs like us you'll play in the Championship the following season (I hope). Assuming you're still there of course, and if for some reason you aren't you can work on the cross-over sport of Pulisball.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
(Pulisball: Similar to baseball but all players have bats and there is no ball. One player must be 2 meters+ and is called the Crouch. The winners are the last team standing or whoever puts the Puliscap on the Crouch)
Best Keeper In The Premier League?
A thought occurred to me as I was reading this morning's mailbox.
There is a lot of talk about high profile keepers being crap at the moment.
I think Hugo Lloris has only made one mistake at Spurs so far and that was wind assisted at Norwich last week.
Best keeper in the division by a country mile.
Chris (Yes, better than flavour of the month Begovic, Spurs)
Is Rooney/Will He Be A United Legend?
There's a debate I've been having with one of my friends recently. He claims that Wayne Rooney is already a Manchester United Legend. He claims he should be spoken of in the same breath as Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and all the rest. Now, I do agree that Wayne Rooney is a great Manchester United player and might go on to break the goal-scoring record at Old Trafford. He's also one of the shining lights at Manchester United and when he plays well, Manchester United play well.
But I'm not sure he can be considered as a legend in the same breath as those players I've just mentioned just yet. My reasoning behind this statement is based on 2 things that are closely linked, and I'd like to know whether the mailbox readers agree or not. The first being the transfer saga (translation: big bumper contract) that saw him force Fergie to go all guns blazing at the media (a moment Gary Neville claims is Fergie at his best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0GzLRnzuwU) when Rooney handed in a transfer request and was set for a move (to City if rumours were to be believed).
And the second being that since that incident, most local fans from Manchester that I've spoken to seem to agree that Wayne Rooney is a great player, but we won't be seeing a statue of him outside Old Trafford because his reputation is still being "rebuilt" (easy use of that term) following that transfer request 2 seasons ago. In my opinion, he's a great player, but he's not a legend...yet. He has more to prove to the die-hard United fans than most of the other players who could be considered as "Legends" (also, let's not bandy the word Legend around and let's leave it for the ones who truly deserve that title).
What is the mailbox's opinion on this?
Anthony Semaan (The Football Supernova)
Thoughts On United
- Please, please drop Valencia, play Nani on the right, and Kagawa on the left.
- I suspect that playing Rafael further forward, and Jones behind him, would be more threatening than Valencia.
- There is a certain charm in a genuinely one-footed winger who is still able to wreak havoc (Robben, Ribert etc.). Valencia is simply a one footed winger who does bugger all.
- Nani's performance was encouraging. Genuinely unpredictable, able to beat a man on either side, cross and shoot. Given a little faith by Ferguson, he would compliment van Persie, Rooney, Kagawa et al. very well. Simply by needing two markers to cover him, he creates a lot of space for players around him.
- Jonny Evans has grown up. No doubt it's been evidenced earlier this season, but I thought it was striking how often he took the lead against Fulham where he would previously have passed the ball to Evra, Ferdinand or Carrick. (heading a cross over with Rio and Evra either side of him, playing the ball upfield for Rooney's goal)
- Nice finish by Rooney, and generally a neat, effective presence. Excellent distribution; long passing in particular much under-rated. Still not convinced he's particularly good for the side, as he plays at a much slower pace than Cleverley, Kagawa etc.
- Cleverley needs a break, he tired appreciably after c.50 minutes. Although he and Carrick play well together, Cleverley cannot do the running for both every match.
- There are few things more joyous in football than when Riise properly connects with a shot.
- Bryan Ruiz is wonderfully laconic to watch.
- Convenient hip injury for Carrick. I wonder if it'll have recovered in time for the Real Madrid match?
- The Madrid match is going to be ugly. Really, really ugly: comparable to the defeats to Barca in 1994, Bayern in 2001, and Milan in 2007 in revealing the dearth of Champions' League winning quality, or tactics, at United.
Quit The Kvetching
A quick note to Man Utd fans who are getting fed up with the press highlighting De Gea's faults but not those of other "big" team's keepers. I do understand your concerns/paranoia - the press are a bitch. However, you do realise that this is only happening because Reina & Cech are keepers for teams that are not going to win anything this season, right?
I'd be more worried (and I am) if the press weren't highlighting De Gea's errors.
In conclusion then, stop moaning, you're winning.
Michael, Chelsea, London
Thoughts On City
1. We are still in it but that is more a mathematical projection than a performance one. I'm sure Fred Done will have a say shortly though.
2. Liverpool were the best English team to visit the Etihad so far. Took the game to us, pressed high and great intensity. Technically Arsenal were better but they tend to match up rather than take a more expansive approach.
3. Taking Silva off was a clever decision by Mancini as he wasn't effective, isn't a winger and we needed consistent width to occupy Liverpool's full backs. Having such a ponderous midfield of Barry / Garcia was not clever as it allowed Lucas and Gerrard time and space, particularly once the Gerrard-radar started working (after he misplaced yet another 20 yard pass in the first half a wag behind me shouted "Hooray for Hollywood", amusing but untimely) and nullified the influence Silva should have had.
4. Dzeko certainly over-played the effects of the Henderson foul but the cause was still a clear foul. That Liverpool played on despite the 'corpsing' was fair enough and the ref has made a judgement so maybe this will serve as a warning to so many who try it on. (It's a team game Edin, stop thinking about yourself, get the f--- up and help your team)
5. The "greedy b---d" chant goes back several years and at the time he was.
6. Yaya's return is not the solution. A deep lying playmaker is.
7. Do Utd fans spend the weekend hoping for a mistake from another keeper so they can whine about DDG's 'unfair' treatment? You would genuinely believe no one else has ever been criticised. (That Red Nev prompted the most recent incidence is both amusing and timely. Eventually they'll get the irony too.)
8. On the subject of 'persecution', nice to see that Mario played well on debut. He certainly didn't do enough here to avoid criticism but there must be a point where there's headlines on your hair and the rest of your head's eventually off-colour too.
9. Downing or more correctly, someone who can do what Downing is supposed to consistently do is a must for Liverpool. Narrow teams like ours can be hurt by a technically gifted wide player. Reus did/does that for Dortmund and the spaces that Downing found himself in once he showed a bit of ambition were always threatening. Maybe it's Sterling or is he just a winger?
10. City have not shown any progress this year. Whatever you think of the summer spending, circumstances, etc,.. that Roberto is not good. The top brass wouldn't make an approach for Pep because any review will be done in the summer but we now know Pep's at Bayern because he wanted a lavishly funded carpet ride anywhere other than Chelsea. I'm still in the 'for' column but it's a more contentious debate than it should be.
Agreeing With Miller
With Jermain Defoe limping off yesterday, not bringing in another striker in January seems even more dangerous. But I (and Mr Miller, as it appears) do not think this is as worrying as people make out. W&L says that the enforced switch to our previous 4-2-3-1 formation has disrupted our flow but, from what I saw of the games in which we employed a 4-4-2, I don't actually think there was much of a flow to disrupt. Defoe impressed me earlier in the season by adapting his game to suit his role of a lone striker. Instead of always being in a goalscoring position around the box, his movement became (slightly more) unselfish. Runs were made into channels to create space for others. Ironically, this change of style made the move back to his favoured position and formation more difficult, as he and Ade were often too similar in their movement and as a result were not a very cohesive partnership.
I think the injury to Defoe, whilst unfortunate in terms of the lack of depth to our strikeforce, could actually be a blessing. We now have Adebayor returning and a very VdV-esque player to play behind him in the shape of the wonderful Lewis Holtby (Miller's not wrong there either), which should definitely improve the fluidity of our attacking play. Adebayor can now have the role he prefers with no one in his way, he will have the creativity of Dembele and Holtby and the devastating pace of Lennon and Bale to compliment him. Spurs as a whole have not played particularly well yet this season other than a few 45 minute spells, and we can certainly go up a gear or two. The optimist in me believes that the return of Ade as a lone striker and the wonderful Lewis Holtby adding some much needed creativity (did I mention that I think he's wonderful?) will see us up the ante in the push Champions League spots. Good options on the bench in Dempsey and Siggy (and Harry Kane of course!), and capable enough cover in all other positions other than up front. Unbeaten since December and not anywhere near hitting our potential as yet, AVB is looking like an inspired choice. Game on!
Alex G, THFC
As a Newcastle fan let me just put all of what has occurred over the last few days into very easy to read bullet points:
- We win a game from behind for the first time in 27 months. Pardew finally has broken this horrendous 'record'.
- We beat the European Champions in the last minute to complete back to back victories.
- New signing Moussa Sissoko scores a brace on his home debut.
- Jonas Gutierrez doesn't just score but does it with his head? What? Really?
- Demba Ba gets his nose broke by Colo kicking him in the face...after he misses an open goal.
- The mackems lose, Villa get done in the last minute as well as Southampton as Wigan share a point
- Tiote gets knocked out the ACoN (after scoring) so will join up with Sissoko and Cabaye in a dominant midfield earlier than expected.
- I'm now hearing mercenary Loic Remy (boooo) may be out for the season with a groin injury.
- ...and I look upon this mornings paper as N-Dubz himself soon to be leaving Simpson gets knocked the f*ck out!
We haven't had many weekends to cheer this season as Toon fans but this one is right up there!
Vive Le Toon!
Bano (A lot of schadenfreude in there but I don't really care to be honest)
Hole In The Head
I love language when its used so completely inappropriately so I should thank Mr Kirkfor bringing a smile to my face.
"* Man City miss Yaya Toure like a hole in the head. I don't think Javi Garcia is capable of the driving runs that epitomise Toure's play, goals and assists which won City an awful lot of points last season."
People don't miss holes in their heads, they don't want them (unless they are into trepanning, look it up, t'internet is your friend)
To need something like a hole in the head is to not to need something at all. As you try to later explain Man City do miss having Yaya Toure, so therefore they don't miss him like a hole in the head.
JT, AFC, N5 (Hail the orc slayers)