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Would You Be Happy If Your Team Was Infallible?
On the off-chance that it's a quiet Friday I just wanted to ask if anyone would be happy if their team is good or if the whole reason we watch the football is as a release for all our pent-up whinging and not because we actually like the football.
The level of vitriol on the internet aimed at men who are employed to kick a ball is phenomenal. If a team is really sh*te, a bit sh*te or actually fairly good but not consistently winning then it can reach defcon 5 threat levels and even if you team is Man Utd and wins almost every season then it can still reach defcon 3 going by what I read in the mailbox on a daily basis. Liverpool is a whole other matter and they need to invent defcon 6 just for their fans.
The reason I ask is that when a fantastic goal is scored and the next day you're at work making a coffee and a colleague comes over the conversation is 'Did you see Bale's free kick last night?', 'Yeah, is was good weren't it?', 'Yeah', 'Sip, sip', 'Ok, see ya later'. But when something bad is perceived as happening it's 'What was Wenger thinking playing Santos there?', 'Yeah, I know blah blah blah..' 30 minutes later 'Wenger out!', 'Yeah, let's start a march...etc'.
Anyway, do you enjoy football or not?
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
Sell Rooney, Buy Bale
After this week's European activities I've come to two conclusions: Rooney is no longer needed at United, Bale should be his replacement. It's clear to see for everyone that Rooney is not the world-class striker that the media, and a large section of United fans, think he is. Ever since we bowed down to his demands he has not repaid us with consistent performances. Van Persie has been a God-send as without him we would not be winning the league this season. Quite frankly, we don't need Wayne anymore. On the other hand, Bale has continued to impress on a global scale and is quickly turning into the hottest property about town with his single-handed destruction of teams at home and abroad.
I would love to see him grace Old Trafford linking up with Van Persie. But can United afford the £50mil price tag for him? Probably not. So why don't we offer them Rooney and either Young or Nani as a sweetener. Everyone knows Spurs need a striker, why not offer them the most over-rated stiker in the league! Bale + Van Persie = BOOM!!
Marc (Spurs owe us for Berba anyway), Derry
Worrying About Tottenham
Matt L, London is dead right to be worried about Spurs.
To call us a one-man team would be the sort of hyperbole that ruins sensible discussion about football. But in the last half-dozen games at least, Bale's phenomenal ability to pull magnificence from his regal posterior has been the only difference between three points and nothing.
Last night was one of the most lacklustre, disjointed Spurs performances I've seen for quite some time. No shape, nobody moving to receive the ball, no ideas in the final third. Adebayor was just as awful as before the AFCON, wandering offside and displaying all the touch of a dyspraxic baby deer.
Parker was typically committed but also typically prone to turning in circles and giving the ball away as soon as he'd won it. God we miss Sandro. The worst of the bunch was Clint Dempsey, who has proved over the course of this season that he found his level at Fulham.
In short, if we play like that against Arsenal, in what could be the game that decides fourth place, we will be soundly beaten.
At the moment, the only thing between Tottenham and another end-of-season collapse is AVB. He has shown himself to have the tactical nous that Harry never did, changing things for the better when the tactics aren't working. That's the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. Barring Bale, nothing is working.
Something has to change because at the moment we're lucky and Tottenham don't do luck. Not the good kind, anyway.
Rob Davies, THFC (perfecting heartbreak with flair since 1882).
Looking On The Bright (Red) Side
I think dreadful's a bit far. Visiting teams almost always do badly in Russia due to the distances involved, weather etc (I think Zenit have only lost once at home in Europe since 2009) and although it was generally a bad day at the office and we're probably out of the competition, it wasn't quite the travesty some are making out.
Positives: After weathering the first ten minutes, we were pretty sound defensively for an hour. Carragher and Johnson - second goal aside - were solid and Reina was faultless. We had our chances to win the game and in the second half I thought we were the better side, we didn't look like losing until Hulk's out-of-the-blue wonderstrike.
Negatives: Whenever Lucas is absent there is a gaping hole in front of our defence for the opposition to exploit time and time again. Joe Allen is not the answer to this particular problem (or any, at the moment). Sterling looked a bit overawed and Suarez reprised his profligacy of last season, he should've had a hat-trick. However. given his season so far he will be forgiven an off-day.
The most pressing problem is our mental fragility. Comparing points gained from losing positions with points lost from winning positions, I reckon off the top of my head we are on around -20. As soon as we go behind, heads seem to drop and faith in our game plan wavers. This combined with a defence that cannot concentrate for 90 minutes is costing us dearly. After that second goal you could see confidence drain and we were reduced to chasing shadows for the last 15 minutes.
Finally I am sure the mailbox will be full of the likes of Ash, 'Scousepride' and one man argument against free speech Danny Benvenuto venting about Rodgers. All I will say is this: Wenger has selective myopia, Fergie has official-baiting, Jose will say absolutely anything to grab a headline. Rodgers' version isCcomical Ali levels of relentless misplaced positivity. Anyone who thinks he genuinely sees that or any of our last few performances as 'near perfect' needs to think a little more.
Jon Gibson LFC (disappointed but patient)
It's Not Rodgers, It's Suarez (Again)
This season is going the same way as the last: always playing better than the opposition, should be up by two or three, Suarez can't finish his dinner, Reina can't save a shot (last night aside), and now we're in 9th. Dalglish and Rodgers both sent the team out to play a certain way and in my opinion its not half bad. It's not them two missing penalties and sitters, it wasn't Rodgers that turned off at the back to allow the second last night, it wasn't him that missed 4-5 golden chances not least a one-on-one with the back of the net.
There's not a player in the top four flights of English football that could miss the chances that Suarez missed last night. But hold on, he might score two against Wigan in a week's time and people will think he's world class all over again. Does he have 17 league goals? He should have 40. Liverpool will most likely drop out of the Europa League now and it's his fault by and large. He can't bring his game against anyone better than Sunderland and as a result neither can Liverpool. Everything passes through him because of his position (he's a striker you know, as unbelievable as that may seem after watching him last night) and more often than not he tries an unnecessary flick on, the ball bounces off his shin, he throws himself to the ground looking a foul, or he actually takes control of the ball then puts it in row Z. Livescore.com can only give you so much information, when you watch every game he plays you realized the cancer that he is to the team. Goes crazy when you don't pass him the ball and actually have the cheek to try a shot yourself, then when its a 4 on 2 and he has the ball he'll shoot from a tight angle rather than square the ball across goal for someone to have a tap-in. You can nutmeg all the players you want, when you miss sitters with such alarming regularity (last night is by no means the only example) you simply cannot be labelled world class.
Rodgers shouldn't be sacked, Suarez should be sold to some fool that thinks he's worth 40 mil (is Pep a fool?) and then try for the love of everything good and holy to spend the money on players who aren't rubbish. Playing better than teams week in week out shows the manager is getting it right but he can only do so much. The lack of wins is down to the players and more specifically Luis 'but I score loads against the rubbish teams' Suarez.
John Glacken (Enrique should play on the wing, he's stronger than a rhino and has pretty tidy feet)
Giving Up Liverpool For Lent
I've got into a habit of ignoring football completely for at least 48 hours after a Liverpool loss, mainly to avoid Brendan's latest absurd evaluations and the inevitable mailbox backlash, as well with my regular Joe Allen themed nightmares (where I'm the ball, and instead of passing me forward, he plays me sideways into a pool full of sharks) ... As this has happened twice in the last week, and coincided nicely with Shrove Tuesday, it got me thinking whether the best idea would just be to give up Liverpool for lent. It means I could sit back, relax and just enjoy football for once, not worry about the impending 0-0 draw with Swansea on Sunday that 'puts us out of the race for 4th' and the 'we're back' after throwing away a lead to draw against Chelsea.
My full support will now be poured into my other team, Elgin City, of the irn-bru 3rd division, where players don't play in the 7.5 role, and when they lose, its generally because they're rubbish, not 'near-perfect'.
Peter, LFC in Scotland
Shouldn't We Be Talking About Football?
Number of mailbox entries pointing and laughing at Brendan Rodgers and his latest wildly unrealistic false-positive assessment of another poor result: 8
Number of mailbox entries criticising the players or discussing the actual game in any capacity: 2
Jon Gibson LFC (the lasagne one was good though)
...I've really had enough of all these mails about Brendan Rogers. Excuse me if I'm wrong but I thought this was a football website where people discuss football. If people are to write intelligent mails about Brendan's tactics, the way he is managing the team or anything football related I might enjoy reading it but it seems the thing that most people complain about is what he says in press conferences.
I don't tend to judge managers by their ability to manage the media otherwise I would be a fan of 'Arry, but I'm not. Everyone agreed at the start of the season that Liverpool would finish upper mid table this season and it still looks like this is the case, but every week now I feel like avoiding the mailbox after Liverpool matches to avoid the same old crap. When Liverpool win a couple of games everyone talks about fourth place and when they lose they all lay into Rogers for what he says to the media after the game. Today is just too much too take, anyone would think that Zenit were some sub standard team with a lovely welcoming stadium. They're not. They're bloody good and Russia is a horrible place for an away game.
I never used to like Liverpool but I've been interested to see how they do this season, with a number of English lads in the team and a manager who is trying to be progressive, whilst dramatically reducing the wage bill. As far as I can see the season has gone pretty much as expected and I'm really tired of reading the same mails over and over again after every Liverpool match. Surely Ian LFC hit the nail on the head and any true Liverpool fan actually follows the clubs mantra "You'll never walk alone". Therefore I can't read the stupid mails because anyone who supports a team but pays no attention to the fundamental mantra of the club is just a plastic.
Simon (hate the term plastic but it's so true in this case) London
How Some Norwegians Ruined The Night
I was left in disbelief last night as not one, but two of our goals were ruled out for offside by some inept Norwegian officials. The replays quite clearly show the first one was onside (with the flag being raised particularly late) and the second one was a very close decision (benefit of the doubt should have been given to the attacker). It didn't help that the scorer of both was Cisse who is in desperate need of a return to his instinctive goal-scoring form from last season (he missed about three or four clear chances aside from his disallowed goals).
This now means we have to travel to Ukraine next Thursday having to score to progress rather than defending a 2-0 lead. This is compounded by the fact we will likely need to field a weakened team to save our better players for the Sunday visit of Southampton.
That all said, I was very happy again with Sissoko's performance (I don't think it's too early to compare him to Vieira, he's that good) and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa also put in a steady home-debut performance albeit in a right back role.
Under The Wall?
On the subject of freekicks and walls, a thought struck me. Why does nobody try the cunning 'hit it under the jumping wall' shot a la Ronaldinho and Ronaldo any more?
Not massively useful from 30 yards out, but when closer to the edge of the area it becomes bloody difficult for players who knuckleball freekicks (Ronaldo, Bale, Juninho, etc.) to get the ball up and down in the distance, and sneakily knocking the ball under the wall and into the undefended bit of the goal is an excellent idea.
To Wall Or Not To Wall
In response to the question as to whether a keeper would be better off having a wall or not I have thought the same, but come to the conclusion that yes it definitely is better.
With a wall, a keeper only has to cover 'his' half of the goal, the wall also means the attacker has to get the ball over the wall and then back under the net. If you remove the wall the keeper would have to stand in the middle of the goal, meaning he couldn't get to either corner, while the attacker can just hit it as hard as he wants in either direction without the need for getting the required height to beat a keeper (Ronaldo's free-kicks without a wall would be terrifying!)
Or that's my view anyway!
Jon, Bath City FC, Bath (obviously!)
My older brother used to play goalie in the first league here. Now, while the league is, quite honestly, a new kind of awful, he was actually, if I may say so myself, pretty good. The thing he was best at was the mind games bit.
one on ones, penalties, he was generally quite good at getting into his opponents' head. Used to tell the penalty taker where to kick it etc.
My personal favorite of his, however, was his free-kick trick. Anything over 20m away, and he'd tell his players not to form a wall. The taker sees that, always thinks to himself 'what is he doing? I can totally hit it in from here'
and every single time they did, clear view and being alert, he saved it. He played for years in the top level and I can't really recall him ever losing that bet.
Tomer (Not sure if it would work the same way with the force some of the players are kicking it in the big leagues though.), Israel
...I've questioned this recently with some guys on my Sunday league team and I came to the conclusion (although they didn't) that a wall is a useful defence against a free-kick from relatively close to goal (let's say between 18 - 25 metres) as it provides a barrier which the free-kick taker must either go around to hit the target (something that can be made extremely difficult with good wall placement) or he must go over which, given the close(ish) proximity to goal it is difficult to get the ball over and then down.
Any free-kick from farther out however gives the taker a better chance of getting round, or up and over, a wall and hitting the target so I agree that the wall could be more hindrance than help as the ball has already travelled ten yards or so before the keeper gets a good view of it. Generally (my take on it) is that a keeper will set up the wall to cover one side of the goal (normally the near post no??), and on the kick takers run up will often take a step to the other side anticipating that the ball will be headed for the more open side of goal. Often free-kicks are scored when the keeper has anticipated one way, yet the balls gone the other and they haven't been able to react quick enough to get across to the other side to make a save.
By not having any wall at all for long-range free-kicks would it not remove the need for the keeper to anticipate towards one side of the goal as he will (in theory) have a clearer view of the goal, plus it will give the defensive team more free players in the box therefore outnumbering the attacking team and potentially double marking the more dangerous players on the opposition.
Conversely I suppose you could say that having a wall generally ensures that the area immediately in front of the keeper/behind the wall is generally clear of players as there's not really much point in standing directly behind the wall. Perhaps removing the wall would lead to the situation we now have at corners with an attacking player just standing directly in front of the keeper, with then a defender having to step in to try and give his keeper some room, causing all sorts of argy bargy for Andy Townsend to get in a thinly disguised xenophobic rant about when an Italian team does it against our good, honest British boys in the Champions League.
I don't know, I've never been a keeper (and the 'keeper' in my Sunday league team barely warrants the title himself), so the above could all be absolute balls. I would be interested to hear the views from some proper keeper's, so I can go back to my Sunday league team-mates and pass these better informed opinions off as my own.
Tim (I will take non-publication of this email as confirmation that it is, in fact, all absolute balls and will hate myself a little bit more than I already do), EFC
Get Behind Nick Miller In The Queue
Sat down last night to watch Spurs V Lyon as a special Valentines Day treat and developed a worrying crush. Lewis Holtby. What a boy. Came across as a smashing lad in his pre-match interview which made a refreshing change from monotonous drivel usually served up by Premier League Footballers "Erm...You know what I mean Geoff" As a Gooner, and a heterosexual male, worrying on two counts. Anyone got a soft spot for an 'enemy' player?
Mark (Oscar is my number 2) Boulton
Fanmail For Kevin Walsh
Kevin Walsh, I doff my hat to you sir. That might be the best email I've ever read on F365.
Actually, you can have my hat and I'll go pick up a new one.
I look forward to Part 2 of the story.
...Please can you give Kevin Walsh, Luimneach his own weekly column. His letter this morning featuring Brendan Rodgers discussing Findus lasagne with his wife, was comedy gold. I would gleefully drop-in every Friday to read Kevin's take on the Rodgers' family conversations about the big issues of the week. Genius, Kevin, sheer genius.
Carolyn, (still chortling), South London Gooner
...Kevin Walsh, you need to pay my work for a new computer monitor, because your mail this morning made me spit my lunch all over mine from laughing!
Ryan Maclean, MUFC, Aberdeen
It Was Near-Perfect
I wanted to say this morning's mailbox was near-perfect, but then I wouldn't want to pander or insult your intelligence...
...Simple question, was this morning's mailbox the best one ever?
I've been an avid reader of Football365 for many a year and today's mailbox was the best I can remember ('magnificent' if you will). Kevin Walsh's mail was the icing on the cake, pure mailbox gold!
What does everyone else think, what was the best f365 mailbox ever and why?
Alan, Dublin via Carlow
An Unanswered Question
Dear BNabs. Nice points, and well made but you completely missed the point of the e-mail...what happened with the girl? You get a call out of the blue on Valentines Day's from an estranged girl whose boyfriend has ditched her but we don't hear this human side of the football story developed.
I demand closure.