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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A United Fan Who Thinks Zabaleta Is Better
To reply to Marc, Manchestoh, I know you wanted the opinion of the neutrals , but I think you will enjoy this nonetheless. I am a united fan , and I genuinely believe that Pablo Zabaleta is better than Rafael Da Silva. There is an aspect of balance to his game , and his passion and dedication is quite remarkable . That's why he went straight into Mancini's starting XI.
He fights for every ball , and that's what you need from your players when you are challenging for the title, let alone the fact that he scores some very good goals and is pretty strong going forward. On the other hand , Rafael is still developing , and maybe on the long term he will surpass the level of Zabaleta , but at the moment , I have to admit that the latter is better.
Rafael Will Be Better
So after having a good old chuckle at Marc, Manchestoh and his comedic coffee adventures, I decided I should brew my own cup so that I too could spit it all over my computer screen. While this wasn't strictly necessary, I find it a good way to go about belittling someone else's opinion. Once I'd gotten that out of the way, I decided to weigh in with my two cents.
Unfortunately though, I have to admit that I feel Zabaleta is shading the contest so far this season. He has consistently set an example to his team-mates and weighed in with some important contributions in attack. Rafael is definitely not far behind though. He has always had the raw talent to be a brilliant player, but now his attitude seems to be maturing to match it. While Zabaleta may have been more influential so far this year, I still wouldn't swap him for Rafael who, with 6 years in hand, I have little doubt will eclipse the Argentinian soon enough.
Tom (thankfully Pablo's 85th minute goal was inconsequential!), Manchester
...It depends if you are looking at past, present or future performance.
-Since they have both been at their respective clubs - Zabaleta wins by a distance.
-This season - Rafael by a whisker.
-Over the course of their entire future career - only time will tell but for sure Rafael has the potential to be truly great, not just dependable and consistent.
Given that future performance is totally unknown I can understand why Marc saw the red mist. And spot on, Rafael's hair does resemble pot noodles, but that should not cloud your judgement. Which one will appear in more 'Team of the Season's and win more trophies? I know most Reds would pick Rafa. Ain't tribalism great?
Sorry Gunners & Jog On, Spurs
In response to Marc, Manchestoh, I too would take Zabaleta over Rafael. It's an easy decision. I think United fans actually put more pressure on Rafael with their constant "never puts a foot wrong" waffle, when he quite clearly does (and quite often) - but he's only young. By pressing people to point out his errors, you're actually making them believe he's worse than he is.
However, that being said, I do think "Right-back-itus" is at pandemic proportions in the Prem, with virtually every single team saying they've the best one in the country. Ivanovic is a splendid RB, who has the benefit of height as well as the ability to overlap on the wing. I'm a Liverpool fan and strongly believe Johnson is one of the most solid defenders, on both flanks, and his apparent lapses are woefully exaggerated. But sorry Gunners - Sagna? No, it's not 2009, which was approximately the last time I thought he was much cop. And jog on Spurs, Kyle Walker's not even the best English right back in the league.
If I had the choice of any, I'd keep the one Liverpool have, but would happily sign Zabaleta in a heartbeat if he was available.
In response to the mail sent in by "Marc, Manchestoh", I have to confess that as a United fan, I think Zabaleta is the better player. This season he has been very, very good, and I don't think there are many people who would disagree, to be honest. Bbut please, show some respect. To compare them to Lobster Bisque and Pot Noodle displays a staggering ignorance on the part of Rafael. He's been fantastic this season from start to finish, displaying defensive discipline and offensive tenacity in equal measure, and to dismiss him in such a way does you no credit at all, I assure you of that.
He's still very young and has been one of the stars of the season so far. Our defence may have bee somewhat leaky so far this term, but the problems have tended to stem from midfield, more than an inherent problem with the backline. All in, Rafael is a fantastic right back.
A more pertinent question would be; who ****ing cares? All this "He's the best, no she's the best" talks makes me nauseous. Get a grip, it doesn't matter. Both are good players. Such small matters should not interest a man who's team, are, apparently, competing for the title. At the end of the season, are you really going to console yourself with the knowledge that at least you had the best right back in the league. No, I didn't think so.
Harry The Manc.
You Should've Stuck With The Pot Noodle
To answer Marc, Manchestoh's question; Rafael is of course better!
Forget all your stats 'n' stuff, the simple reason is that if Fergie was to break one, we have another on standby to replace him. If Mancini breaks his one, he reaches for his replacement (Micah) and finds that, lo-and-behold, that one too is broken, so he has to go to his sugar daddy and spend £20m on a newer, flashier model.
To use your own analogy, Marc, if you're eating your Pot Noodle and drop it, you just have to reach into the cupboard, add some boiling water and Ta-Da.... more Pot Noodle. Drop your Lobster Bisque and you first have to consider a number of financial, ethical and indeed, socio-economic implications of getting another: To whit, if you take your last 50 quid out of the cash machine and get another Lobster Bisque, will social services take your now starving kids off you and lock you up for being a bad parent, thus adding yet more of a financial burden onto the already beleaguered taxpayer who will have to feed both your kids and your own locked-up self, bringing the economy to the verge of meltdown.... and all for some posh nosh?
Christ, how selfish can you be, Marc? Look at the trouble you've caused. You shoulda stuck with the Pot Noodle mate....!
I've got to say, I'm getting pretty fed up of the sniping that goes on at Danny Welbeck at times.
People are quick to forget how well he did in his debut season last year, particularly in the big games. He made the shortlist for the PFA Young Player Award, and then went on to become England's leading goalscorer in 2012, impressing not just with his goals but his all round performances. The France game at the Euros was a particularly impressive display, and it's no coincidence that England lost what little attacking threat they had once he got subbed against Italy.
Let's be honest, his composure in front of goal is pretty poor (at the moment - let's not forget that Rooney wasn't very prolific in his early days either). But other than that, his all round game is fantastic. Gary Neville has said it many times, he already has 90% of the tools. Watching United both this season and last, and it's clear that they're a more dynamic side when he plays. His link up play with the other midfield and forward players is top draw. His energy and pressing is ridiculous. His movement and awareness is also excellent. He played really well in the 2 recent matches against Liverpool and Spurs, playing a big part in all 3 of the goals Utd scored in those games.
For what it's worth, I don't think he's anywhere near as effective on the wing, but plays a crucial high energy role there for the good of the TEAM (I expect him to start out wide against Madrid to help stifle one of their wingers). He's still learning his trade, and if he can just add the finishing touch to the rest of his game, he'll be an absolute beast of a forward in a couple of years.
I'm glad Daniel Storey chose to raise the issue of clubs attempting to buy success at the expense of history and tradition. It's a symptom of the current world of football and it troubles me greatly.
My own team, Tottenham, were recently threatened with the prospect of moving from White Hart Lane, the ground they have occupied since 1899. Fans were divided in their opinions on whether this was, or was not, a good idea.
For me, it is quite clear. I support Tottenham Hotspur, playing in brilliant white, at White Hart Lane, with the cockerel on the crest, and perched immaculately on top of the West Stand. Spurs have been moderately successful over the course of their history, but by no means are they up there with the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United.
Now, does this bother any Tottenham fan, so much so that they are willing to leave behind this brilliant heritage for a shot at the bigtime? Well, not me anyway.
I support Tottenham because my dad did before me and I grew to love everything about them. Tottenham represented everything I loved about football: fantastic individual players, classy players, playing incisive and inventive attacking football.
It is quite simple for me really. If what happened to Cardiff City was allowed to happen to Tottenham the magic would have dissappeared for me. Of course success is the aim of every club, of that there is no question. However, if it is all about following a team to ensure rarely being dissappointed I would support Manchester United. They would offer me the chance to celebrate a league title every couple of years. How wonderful.
At what point do fans draw the line? Club colours? Club name? Club Stadium? If this doesn't matter to you, then follow the team most likely to gain success on any given year. If it does then support your team proudly and resist any attempts to destroy a proud heritage.
I support Tottenham Hotspur F.C., of White Hart Lane.
Alan Dunne, Ireland.
Re John, Winchester
We're now lauding players for having stopped diving when a month ago, they were diving. What has the world (football) come to?
Michael, EFC (nobody dives like Phil Neville dives)
...In response to Jon, Winchester's mail in giving praise to Gareth Bale. There is no doubt he is a talented footballer but to say "Not once, did he play act, dive or simulate in anyway. Good on yer Baler." and sincerely mean it as a compliment is worrying!
Players get abuse for diving because it is wrong, Bale, Ronaldo, Cazorla, Busquets they all get negative media for it but we can't start applauding someone for not diving! Imagine that mailbox on a Monday morning, "Congratulations to the following 10,000 players for not diving at the weekend..........!"
On Liverpool Target Balazs Dzsudzsak
I saw the story where Balazs Dzsudzsak batted his eyes at Liverpool and thought of the original Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episode's segment "Hungry are the Damned" where the family is abducted by a UFO and one of the aliens responds to Marge asking his name with:
"To pronounce it correctly, I would have to pull out your tongue."
For the record, I would have also believed that (a) Balazs Dzsudzsak was:
- a delicious pastry that's light but whose sweetness lingers on the tongue and is best eaten fresh from the oven
- a traditional folk dance performed with clothing so ugly it actually ends up looking kinda, you know ... (wink)
- a treacherous high-altitude pass through the Caucasus Mountains
- a deadly disease ("It's so sad, they say he has full-blown Balazs Dzsudzsak now because they didn't catch it early enough.")
Ian, LFC (<-- actually typing in Rigellian, through an astonishing coincidence, both of our languages are exactly the same) Hartford, CT USA
More On Keepers
Bano, I'm glad you knew a slating reaction was coming, and it's because you have managed to do my favourite thing which is claiming your list is based on some sort of sensible information and then producing an entirely subjective list. Well done. Based on your list I think you were probably working off Match of the Day highlights from last season and the comments section of the Daily Sport or whichever website you normally visit to keep up with current affairs as you seem like an all rounder to me.
"Based on consistency, lack of mistakes, shot stopping, handling, one-on-ones, command of his area"...Personally I do agree that something like shot stopping is very important. A goalkeeper certainly can't often be faulted for a shot occurring (that's likely down to the defence or midfield) but they can be evaluated by the regularity with which they save shots. This isn't perfect as not all shots are born equal (just ask Liverpool players last season) but let's assume, on average, over a long season that most keepers face a similar array of shots, be it long/short distance, hard struck/placed etc etc.
Looking at the percentage of shots which turn into goals, Tim Krul ranks 27th out of the 32 keepers that have played 5 or more games this season. 13.2% of all the shots Krul has faced this season end up as goals...compared to Tremmel for Swansea at the top of the list who has only conceded 6.5% of all the shots he's faced. Incidentally Pepe Reina, who got a bit of a slating in your email, and has definitely had a dodgy season or two between the sticks is two places higher than Krul, 12.6% of the shots he's faced have turned into goals.
Sadly I can't get access to pass completion rates for the premier league but I remember a few weeks ago that long ball accuracy was a list which Begovic topped it from the goalkeepers (but Stevie G topped overall)...so that's another handy attribute that you'd expect Keepers to have in which Krul is definitely not number one. MC Can roll in here with some dandy info on this if he wants - maybe a table constructed in excel with the top 5 keepers for pass completion?
Look Bano, I like you. Your name means "Bath" in spanish and I like the letter B in scrabble. They are good features to have going for you. I am going to give you some advice for the next time you pick your most favourite goalkeepers in the world. For a start when you're picking out the best keeper in the league, look closer to the top of the league. Second of all, don't assume your instincts are correct.
Sometimes it is worth having a look and surprising yourself by accessing the plethora of data that's made available to Joe Public these days. When I pulled the data what surprised me most is that Julio Cesar is 3rd on the list, conceding just 7.7% of the shots he's faced. Given the woeful state of QPR that is the sort of information that would be comforting to have while Samba gets back to match fitness and Harry Redknapp continues to try and either save the R's from relegation or think of the perfect excuse which absolves him of any blame for their oncoming relegation and potential financial ruin.
More On Rooney & United Legends
I wish I'd persevered yesterday with my reply as to whether or not Rooney is a legend, as posed by Anthony Semann, but it wasn't coming together as I'd hoped so I binned it in the sure knowledge that others would send in their own mails. But, inspired by Darren, Chris, Harry and Mick (sounds like a boy band, doesn't it!), I've now completely reworked it. And, for what it's worth chaps, I thought you all had good, valid points.
Firstly, I firmly believe 'Legend' can only be bestowed on someone when their reputation stands the test of time. By that, I don't mean the number of games current players like Giggs and Scholes - who surely are headed for Legendary status anyway - have played to date but more whether they are still being discussed at the club, or in pubs or on the telly some years after finishing up at Old Trafford. So:
Best; Joined 1963 Left 1974
Law; Joined 1962 Left 1973
Charlton; Joined 1956 Left 1973
(Thank you Wikipedia. What? You think I carry this stuff around in my head)?
It doesn't happen often but the 'Holy Trinity' or the 'Triumvirate' are still very favourably mentioned to this day and you can sometimes see highlights packages of the three of them to the extent I would wager even teenage United fans are well aware of just how great these players were for United, even though they last played for the club some 40 years ago. Read that again, please. 40 years ago! That has to stand for something, surely? Actually, all in all, that's not a bad criterion to judge whether any player is a true Legend, although it's by no means the only pointer.
Secondly, these three were all voted 'European Player of the Year' which at least shows they were broadly acknowledged as great players by a fairly discerning audience. No, of course it's not mandatory; I'm just saying it helps.
Thirdly, it also helps if you play for just the one club for the most part like Charlton, Giggs and Scholes. That Best and Law moved around a bit speaks volumes about how great they were when they were at United, given their status within the club, even now. Though both players had lengthy careers at Old Trafford, I think my point about playing for just the one club only is valid, even if not essential.
Now, unlike Mick, I saw Best play in the flesh many times. I even mixed with him socially a few times in one particular Manchester club (Annabelle's, was it?) although that may be stretching it a bit as, each time I saw him there, I was p*ssed legless, insisted on throwing my arm around him and talking gibberish until his mates/minders (all wearing sheer, frilly shirts and nutcracker trousers) herded me out of the way. All I was trying to do was tell him where he went wrong, the ungrateful prat...
Ah, the times we shared, eh, Georgie?
Best's clothes boutique was just over the road from where I worked and, to his credit, he graciously nodded his head at me the few times we bumped into each other in the street. I always suspected that he then dashed into his shop yelling 'There he is, that's the guy. I told you he was fecking real!'
As far as Rooney or any other current player is concerned, I think it's way too early to draw any conclusions. My best advice would be to ask again in 30 or 40 years.