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 say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rafa Benitez: Poisoned Potato
So Nick Miller wonders if it would be best for Benitez to go now, and is now the latest amongst your staff to point out at this 'poisonous atmosphere' at Stamford Bridge as a reason why things are not going well under the Fat Spanish Waiter. And yet, Chelsea's last, and only win in the last five games, came against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.
One can only wonder how this 'poisonous atmosphere' has affected the team during the three away draws and one away loss away that followed that Arsenal result against, let's face it, inferior opposition (no offence meant to Swansea, Reading, Brentford or Newcastle here) How exactly do those results fit into into this 'poisonous atmosphere' narrative of yours? Is it the away fans constantly singing for the team? Is it the 'Champions of Europe' ditty that's affecting them? Or could it just be that the FSW is a clueless muppet with the tactical nous of a boiled potato?
If it's all the same to you lot, I think I'll go with the 'potato' theory.
Tony (Potato) Pintos, CFC
Carra Would Not Have Made It Anywhere Else
I think the only reason that people who don't support Liverpool like Jamie Carragher is because he has shown that there is hope for us all to be professional footballers.
An incredibly limited footballer, no pace, terrible on the ball, prone to an own goal and errors that were always ignored by Liverpool fans, poor passing range and couldn't for the life of him shoot (four goals). He would never have made it at any other club than Liverpool, and that's because he loved the club, so much so that he was capable of great 'heroic' performances, like in Istanbul, putting everything on the line for the club he loves.
If Jamie had come through the ranks at Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea he would probably have been released at 19, deemed not good enough and probably would have had a moderately successful career at a Championship/League 1 club with a more 'agricultural' style of play. Alas, he came through the ranks at Liverpool and his passion for the club shone through on those around him and he had a real affinity with the fans.
He did well to get 38 caps for England, let's face it he was never in the same league as Rio, Ledley King, John Terry or Sol Campbell, he was more like a poor man's John Terry, showing us all that anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it and truly care about the cause you are fighting for.
Like Djimi Traore and Vladimir Smicer it's amazing he won a Champions League medal, that Liverpool side winning the Champions League was like Bradford in the League Cup this year, he was never going to play for a club challenging for a league title but he will surely be considered a legend on Merseyside.
A Very Nice Boy
Dani Agger, turning down money owed to him by Brondby. Reminds me of a chat I had with an old Danish couple on holiday a couple of years ago and mentioned that Dani Agger played for my club. The old guy said, "Ah yes. Daniel. We know his parents. He's a very nice boy."
Simon, LFC, Coimbra, Portugal
Get Lescott To Everton
Okay guys. I have to admit to being ever-so-slightly-and-tentatively, very, excited indeed(!) about seeing this England team have a crack at some other decent teams in a major tournament. I started watching the match in the background whilst playing Football Manager, and ended up nigh-enthralled, perched on the edge of my sofa and wringing my hands with happy nerves, thinking:
'If this idiot commentator's fate-inducing verbal 'cascade' doesn't bugger it all up (I'm not superstitious but why drawl on about a soon-to-be great/historic victory when Brazil have the ball in England's half? Are you trying to kill me? You great ****!), then we are about to deservedly beat Brazil... Bloody hell.' Which was nicer than thinking: 'If I squint a bit, and look at the screen slightly leftish, then we look a half-decent team.'
However, as per the World Cup Ladder, I too am worried that Lescott and Jagielka are probably our first-choice defensive pairing. Cahill made a bad cock-up, however, his pace was pretty handy - I saw him surprise a couple of Brazilians last night. Cahill can offer a goal threat against average teams who are just sitting back as well.
If we have this group of exciting midfield players and attackers, a decent keeper and good full-backs (all sides and roles covered by specialists at top clubs, no Hinchcliffe/Sinclair anywhere), then we need Lescott and Jagielka to be on top-top(tm) form. Tip-top just will not do, so we need them both playing together (or in Lescott's case, at all) at Everton next season.
If every England fan sends Moyes a quid and a ball of cotton wool, in an envelope marked 'For Lescott and Jagielka', then we can make sure it happens. I'm doing it tomorrow.
Ben, MCFC and Ingurlund (it's coming home x 2, cackle, twitch)
Why Jack Would Join United...
Well Graham, why would exactly would Jack Wilshere want to join Manchester United? Besides the United bashing and the many reasons I've seen in the mailbox that fans of other clubs seem to trot out, one thing that cannot be denied is that under Ferguson the club has been a consistent trophy-winning machine. Whatever method has been used, no matter the arguable quality of the squad or the rest of the league, mind games or not if you're considered by Fergie to be good enough for United, chances are you will win the league at the very least.
Has there ever been a start to a Premier League season in the last 15 years in which United were not considered favorites?
For all the fancy football sometimes played at Arsenal these days there is not much end product. If the club were at least challenging as they were just a few seasons ago then that might be enough for a player of the quality of Wilshere to want to stay.
Now I'm not implying he would actually ever join United if the offer ever came in after another five lean seasons I'm sure the boy would be tempted.
As for the weather in Manchester, would you turn down a job in which you would be working at the most successful company in the land, with the possibility of truly global recognition and recognition in the form of medals to prove it?
Raoul, Sunny Durbs, SA
...Reading Graham Simons' email about the impossibility of Wilshere joining United - I had to skip to the end to make sure this wasn't a wind-up. All that was missing at the end was mystical, plinky plonky harp music and the image of Wilshere holding up a United shirt slowly appearing in front of us. I've actually copied and pasted that email into a word document so I can regurgitate it on here in about 2 years when Fergie is sitting beside him in the unveiling press conference. Brilliant! The best set-up for a prat-fall I think I've ever read.
James (can't be arsed to think of anything) S, Carlisle
Manchester v North London
In response to Graham Simons, as someone who grew up around Manchester (in Cheshire, where the majority of the north west's footballers live) and used to live in Finsbury Park (a mere stone's throw away from the Emirates) I know which one I'd rather live in. And as 'interesting' as Holloway Road could be at times it certainly isn't the latter.
London might be the 'greatest city in the world' (and living here, I can tell you that it isn't) but to quote Ian Brownm "Manchester's got everything but a beach". And that includes the two best teams in the land.
And lots of trophies.
Mike Coxon (I live in Harrow now though and that's nice, maybe Mr Wilshere will sign for Harrow Borough?)
I recently read an article on Guardian sportsblog (sorry to direct traffic away) based on some statistical analysis of the importance of goals scored. It got my goat. And so I'm chancing a Friday mailbox entry. The outcome was that Gerd Muller had the highest weighted importance of all the goals he scored. For the contemporary debate, Cristiano Ronaldo was higher than Lionel Messi.
Now I can't help thinking that this quantative analysis is elementarily flawed, and not just because 'Wet Stoke Wednesday Night' wasn't worth more points.
Firstly, eras of football are not comparable statistically. The amount of coverage and research today makes international tournaments more difficult as smaller teams defend and counter-attack. A more in-depth review of the evolution of tactics in conjunction with this statistical points would be needed.
Secondly, there is no weighting given for age. Obviously Messi has had a shorter career than Ronaldo and Muller (so far) thus it stands to reason that he is further down the list. The amount of important goals is not a like-for-like comparison.
Thirdly, why does analysis have to be quantatitve? Surely the qualititative nature of how people play is more important, and why we love the sport? The recent discussion (in mailbox) on Ronaldinho being more exciting than Messi and/or Ronaldo was far more important than an arbitrary apportionment of the 'value' of goals.
I'd much prefer that we don't succumb to the Americanisation of quantifying quality and enjoy the riches that we currently have.
Glad I got that off my chest. Enjoy your weekends.
An Ex-Boro XI
It's Friday (get in there)! So, in order to battle through the standard mundane administrative tasks of the day, how's about a random XI for mailboxers to get involved in?
At the moment, I could easily make a starting XI of players who have gone through the Middlesbrough squad; whether first team or youth academy development, and are currently plying their trade in the Premier League...
GK - Mark Schwarzer/Brad Jones/Ross Turnbull
RB - Chris Smalling
CB - Robert Huth
CB - Emmanuel Pogatetz
LB - Joe Bennett
RM - Adam Johnson/Gary O'Neil
CM - Chris Brunt
CM - Lee Cattermole
LM - Stewart Downing
AM - James Morrison
CF - Danny Graham
I doubt you could say it would turn heads...but it isn't that bad. Potential mid-table mediocrity. At least I'd hope they could beat Stoke! Can anyone else come up with a half-decent XI of players from a team not in the Premier League?
Phil (remembering the optimistic times following the '04 Youth Cup Winners for 'Boro) Pearce, London
Come On Armenia
Can you please pass on my sincere congratulations to David (time on my hands), Salford for bringing my morning tea break to an end with a wonderful high followed by a devastating low.
The high was a result of his brilliantly statty comparison of league placings to FIFA rankings (lets ignore the fact Brazil are artificially low due to not competing in any 2014 qualifiers) and the thought that I should immediately find out which international team my lot compare to.
The low was finding out that it turns out I support Armenia.
So yeah, thanks a lot, David.
Terry Hall, Switzerland
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Been wanting to write in now for a while, but never had an interesting enough topic. However, recently at Uni we were discussing which Premier League footballer is the strongest, and by that we meant which would be able to win in a one-on-one fight with any other Premier League footballer. This discussion came around with the re-arrival of Chris Samba. This naturally got us onto talking about which Premier League footballer would lose in a fight with any other player, and we came up with Sterling, but seeing as he is so young I feel like that is a cheat answer, so we decided that he must be at least 21 and playing regularly in the prem. o I put the question to mailboxers, who is the strongest Premier League footballer? And who is the weakest?