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...
We thought we would have to resort to another mailbox about maths but we've had some grand opinions about Man United, Newcastle, Tottenham and more. Oh and maths...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feeling Optimistic About England
What I quite like about England at the moment is that they have a really decent mix of experience and youth.
From a goalkeeper coming up to 30 caps, two full-backs with nearly 150 caps between them, midfield being run by a guy with over 100 and a centre-forward with almost 80 it struck me last night that the team is quite well balanced with an eye on future development whilst keeping a few wise and experienced heads around to make sure the younger players don't fall apart too easily (as nearly happened last night).
Are we going to win the next World Cup? No. Will we be a decent side if we qualify for Brazil next year, be hard to beat and play some decent football? Yes.
Three Points On England
1) Nice to see Roy play three in central midfield. England certainly aren't Spain, but at least avoiding being outnumbered gives them a chance to wrest control against quality opponents.
2) England have some nice potential options for a 2014 three-man central midfield. In addition to those who played against Brazil, there's Carrick, Henderson and maybe Shelvey and McEachran.
3) Youngish fringe players ought to eye the roles in the centre of defence - Kelly and Wisdom at Liverpool, Richards at City and all ought to consider positional changes.
Brendan Leary, Sydney
11 Conclusions From England v Brazil
1) Firstly, what a treat it was to see Brazil play. Regardless of whether you thought they played well, the ease with which their players wanted, received and gave the ball was wonderful to watch. The Harlem Globetrotters of football, bringing flair where Spain bring autonomy, the vindictiveness with which Fred took his chance was a reminder of their constant danger and talent. If Neymar had only lived up to his hype and not tried to dive tackle an easy tap-in, it could have been a very different game.
2) The fact that I have to say whether or not you thought Brazil played well is testament to how well this England team did, but it wasn't a Chelsea v Barca. I watched the game twice (it was a long night at work) and it's one of the genuine moments that I felt I was watching a Premier League side, rather than the slim English pickings from the greatest melting pot in world football. They harried, they passed, they attacked at pace, and you always felt there were goals, and then you remembered people like the Ox, Lennon, Defoe and others were in depth. I genuinely wondered whether they could challenge for the top three, rather than being a just-missed-fourth-place-bridesmaid.
3) One big reason for that, and acknowledging we'd still probably go out on penalities in a quarter-final, was the performance of Wilshere. The amount of ground he seemed to cover in wanting the ball, chasing down, and attacking space when going forward was an absolute hope, especially knowing that players like Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, and an excitingly cutting inside/defender-panicking-Walcott were likely to be on the end of it. Too many times it's been on players like Gerrard to do it all by themselves, but with a player like Wilshere, and to a lesser but not much of an extent Cleverley and Welbeck, who want the ball at all times, aren't afraid to work for it and whose first thought when they get it is to go forward, there's a big reason for optimism (rather than confidence) at the next World Cup.
4) That said, Welbeck is a thoroughly frustrating player (and I'm a United supporter firmly in the 'yes' camp). His work rate is fantastic, and the highlights show how important that was. But whilst he's quite clearly capable of flashes of brilliance (goal against Sweden immediately jumping to mind) the sight of a professional footballer running the ball out because it's out his control, or refusing to use his left or cut back inside despite the tight angle makes you wonder: is it enough (a la Heskey) to be a forward that doesn't score but allows others to play? If Sturridge continues his seemingly new work ethic and always evident shooting ability, it'll make for interesting competition.
5) I thought Cahill and Smalling were a joy to watch first half. Yes, Cahill got himself out of trouble against Neymar with a proper sprint (which is impressive in itself but shouldn't make up for the marking), made a mistake with the first goal, and Smalling under-hit a back pass, but considering how dependent we have been on the ageing talents of Ferdinand, Terry, Jagielka, Lescott and even King, it was thoroughly encouraging to see a young and mobile pair deal so adequately for the most part with one of the most threatening forward lines in world football. Comfortable with the ball, a threat at set-pieces, Cahill deserves his place and, on this evidence, Smalling beside him. Please Mr Hodgson give them time together.
6) Admittedly, that suggestion is partially attributable with a) how impressive the midfield were in front of them, and 2) how capable Johnson and Cole/Baines are. Johnson looked like Maicon pre-Bale, and Baines would probably walk into most teams were it not for probably one of the world's best ever left-backs being in front of him. Add that to a confident Hart, and you really are starting to talk about a potentially excellent, young and mobile unit that can play with the ball from the back.
7) I'm not a massive fan of Hart, but I am a fan (that might be the effect of being a United fan). The amount of times he seems to parry balls into the path of attackers, flap at crosses, and his tendency to anticipate shots worries me, especially as de Gea gets quite publicly ripped for when he does the former. However his shot saving and a penalty save from Ronaldinho's swerving hips is no joke, and the reaction speed and (quite frankly) balls to stick his face and hands in front of oncoming feet was top draw. Well done also Cleverley chasing it down so quickly.
8) Wembley does not come across well on TV. It might be the fact the entire halfway line is absent at both kick offs because they're still at the VIP bar. It might be because of the non-tribal nature of England at a national level compared to club. Either way, you can see why England tend to perform better away than at home. I would blame the band but they're just as annoying away.
9) Neymar needs to move to the Premier League, otherwise he's in danger of being the new tabloid Zlatan: apparently a great player but can't do it on the big stage (i.e. a one off friendly against England).
10) Cesar really did cement the recent F365 mailbox chatter about being a great goalkeeper (if that's the criteria...). Confident in the air, positioning excellent, I really can't believe he's exchanged playing Champions League football for the chance of moving upstairs at QPR.
11) Oscar and Neymar look about 12. The picture on F365 of Oscar and Wilshere tackling made me feel nearly as old as when I saw Rooney score against Arsenal and realise I was probably never going to be a professional footballer.
David P (the 2 was deliberate), Manchester
Jack Is That Good
Honestly, I thought Jack had a reasonable game, maybe a 7/10 by his high standards. I've seen him play a LOT, LOT better for Arsenal recently, but then Arsenal don't bypass the midfield as much as England do, so he has more opportunity to play. In my head this means I am right and Jack is the best thing since...well...ever!
Noddy (doesn't like sliced bread)
...I thought Jack Wilshere was very composed and definitely the most probing creative player, I was also impressed by how unfazed he was given the opposition, definitely a star performance. Now watch the media completely f**k this up.
Stephen Manick, THFC
Blood Tests Please
So this Jack Wilshere is supposed to be English. Looking at nearly every other player I have seen from England, I dare to say it is more likely young Jack is actually Spanish, Dutch or German.
Michiel Jongsma, The Netherlands
Woah There ITV (And The Sun)
So we beat Brazil.
We played relatively well.
Does this mean we have to listen for two-and-a-half years to The Sun proclaiming that we are going to win the World Cup and Jack Wilshere is the saviour of English football?
Could ITV be any worse when it comes to football (just general television broadcasting come to think of it)? Adrian Childs proclaimed that if you want to win the World Cup, you have to beat the best in the world. Last time I checked that was Spain.
Now I am pleased that we beat the Brazillians, and over the moon that it wasn't our usual dire performance, but let's use this as a confidence boost going into the remainder of the qualifying campaign and try to build on this performance, and qualify before the Sun and ITV types whip the nation into a frenzy which will inevitably end up crippling our players with anxiety and fear of a backlash when they don't win the World Cup.
Been here too many times before to actually be excited by England.
Lori Peri, CFC, London
Last night was like a microcosm of Frank Lampard's career. I didn't realise he was playing till he scored the winner.
I'm not sure that's good or bad, it just seemed apt.
Adonis (can't remember when two Arsenal players played so well for England at the same time) Stevenson, AFC
A Quick Note On Ireland
A win, a good win, is always welcome. However, as happy as I am with the result, I have one serious complaint about the match. Several times, James McClean had tracked back and, when the defence had won the ball, he called for a pass while in space. Most times, the ball was hoofed away and young James expressed his frustration. The same could be said of James McCarthy, who tried a few times to engage in some neat passing with his midfield and defensive colleagues, only to see panic set in and the ball passed back to the keeper to hoof.
Given the poor quality of Forde's kicking last night, it was the cowards way out. Basically, there are still too many footballers in the team who are terrified of playing football. That is all mentality and that derives from the manager. Changes in approach or personnel are needed to build on this.
Kev (all hail Wessi)
Spare A Thought For Norn Iron
I know you will get lots of mails today about how England looked good, that Joe Hart is the world's best keeper and that Neymar isn't all that but spare a thought for the Northern Ireland fans who travelled to Malta to watch us try out our 4-5-1 formation. The match was so exciting the commentators started discussing an episode of Cheers they had seen. Still we are now four games unbeaten.
Onwards and upwards
Sam Campbell, Newtownabbey
What I Missed...
I have been a reader of your site for a number of years, but have never felt too compelled to write in until I saw the mail from Si (international breaks can eat my balls.).
Now I can't compare to missing as an important goal as Gazza vs. Scotland, however, I can offer up a similar experience.
Me and a few friends often popped along to Selhurst Park to watch a game when Wimbledon played in the top flight. On one occasion, we were all excited to see Leeds play, with the mighty Tony Yeboah the main attraction.
The game was approaching half-time with Leeds one up, and we thought it was safe to pop out for a half-time burger (I must add, the opening goal was a corker from Carlton 'what the bloody hell...' Palmer). As we were wandering down the stairs, we heard a cheer...clearly we'd missed a goal. Then another. Then another. It was now 3-1 to Leeds.
Brilliant we all thought, three goals missed, has to be a record. It then got even worse when we realised later on, one of the goals was THAT goal by Tony Yeboah (Ok, he had a few 'that' goals, but you know the one). Unbelievable.
Can't watch the goal on TV now, without thinking the burger I had was never worth missing that goal for.
Was It Worth Being Late For Work?
Leighton Baines (LB), Marouane Fellaini (MF) and Manuel Fernandes (MF) - In recent times it would appear that Everton like signing players with initials that mirror the abbreviation of their playing position.
Don't suppose anyone can cobble together a team of such players (they don't have to have played for Everton but if my suspicions are correct Moyes may see the list and try to snap them all up...)?
Dave (I should have started getting ready for work a while ago) Allen, IOM