A Gooner in the Mailbox seems to genuinely think that the world/fixture computer is against his team. Sigh. That, plus more cool footballers & Mike Ashley: Supervillain...
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...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hold On, Is He Saying United > Barca?
Let's face it. Barca are just not that great anymore. Or the other European giants are coming to terms with what Barca have to offer. Xavi, Iniesta, Alves, Valdes even Messi look content, while Puyol is old enough to start coaching. These super footballers have been here and won here for too many years and are looking just tired.
Out of the teams currently playing in the round of 16, there are atleast five teams who can come up against them and have more than 50% chance of beating them. Dortmund, Bayern, Juventus, United, Madrid and now Milan. While PSG with their star power also have a decent chance. With Guardiola going to Bayern next year and Mourinho taking over Chelsea/City, it is safe to say that Spanish football is not looked the most glamorous and perhaps past its best years. Whether they still can compete well in World Cup 2014 remains to be seen, but a potential quarter-final line up without the big two of Spanish football looks extremely satisfying right now.
United Vs. Milan/Bayern/Dortmund in the quarters sounds sumptuous.
Sagar Deo, MUFC, Mumbai
ABB And Proud
Gurdit, there definitely are ABBs out there, and I'm one of them.
I'm sick of Barca's lack of sportsmanship and dodgy decisions getting swept under the rug when Madrid get vilified for it. I'm sick of the most routine goal being called 'brilliant' because Messi or Iniesta scored it. I'm sick of passing it round the centre circle being hailed as the greatest move since the Cruyff Turn.
I appreciate Barca are excellent. I'm also not a Madrid fan by any means (although I, like you, love CR7). Messi and Iniesta can score jaw-dropping beautiful goals. But they also score normal goals like anyone else, and the hyperbole that surrounds them is a joke. Take Pato's great goal against Barca a season or two back - if Messi had scored it we would've never heard the end of it, but because it was scored against Barca most forgot it instantly.
I once sent a lengthy email into the mailbox about how Ronaldo gets an unfair rap compared to Messi, but it wasn't printed. I'll just say that Messi winning the Ballon D'Or four years in a row is a joke - he deserved it in 2009 and Sneijder deserved it in 2010 (treble, great performances and World Cup final). Depending on your criteria, Ronaldo deserved it in either 2011 or 2012, based on of whether you think the award should go to who scored more goals etc or who won more big trophies and games. But there's no way Messi should've been handed all four. The guy is definitely one of the GOAT, but that doesn't mean he deserves every award, especially as Ronaldo is one of the GOAT as well.
An argument that my friends often come back with is along the lines of 'Barca built their team, Real purchased it'. It may be true that Real spent more than Barca, but Barca aren't deities that refuse to spend money and donate everything they have to starving children - they spent money on Sanchez, Pique, Fabregas, Alves etc (I know some of those came from La Masia but they still spent money on them), and they arguably spent between £45-65m on Ibrahimovic depending on your valuation of Eto'o (I personally think he was worth £20m, bringing it to £60m and making it the second most expensive transfer ever), which has to go down as one of the biggest transfer failures in history.
I could like Barcelona. This isn't bitterness because they beat us in two CL finals. This is frustration at what Barcelona get away with because 'they're Barcelona'. I was cheering on Milan yesterday (dunno why everyone was calling it such a giant-killing, Milan are at a low ebb and Barca a high point but in the long run the two clubs are of equal stature) and was delighted for their victory. I'll be ecstatic if they go through, and think it would be very cool if all four four Spanish teams were out by the quarters (it's very possible atm). This dislike of Spain is definitely enhanced by the national team (which is like Barcelona but without the Messi brilliance) but the root cause is Barcelona. I really, really dislike that club, to the point where I would label myself as an ABB. And yes, I see the irony of a United fan being an AB to another club.
Mike, MUFC, UEA (Valdes being nominated for the Ballon D'Or is one of the biggest travesties in human history)
Looking Guff Horses In The Mouth
I felt compelled to respond to a couple of emails from this morning's mailbox given the amount of guff they were spouting.
Aravind surely takes the biscuit with his brilliant observation that a team finds it easier to beat weaker teams than stronger ones, that brings to mind various phrases involving Sherlock Holmes. What adds to this is his remarkable criteria of what makes a 'competitor' and what doesn't - for instance, Chelsea were the first 'competition' they faced in 08/09 (still trying to work out what THO stands for, but I'm guessing it's to do with the ref), yet Man Utd weren't worthy (despite winning the Premiership that year, with Chelsea in third) because they were 'tactically set up poorly'.
Essentially what he's done is cherry-pick a few games that Barcelona actually did lose and glaze over the times they actually did beat some pretty damned good teams in order to win the Champions League three times in six years, as well as La Liga numerous times ahead of notorious 'competitor' Real Madrid.
Gavin started his mail very well by reminding us that Milan aren't exactly a pub side, but then he went and ruined it by comparing all-time records. Using the same logic, it wouldn't be a shock if Nottingham Forest beat Man City or Chelsea. The fact remains that last night's result was a shock and the only good input of his was to suggest that scale of it wasn't as big as it was made out to be.
Oli only spouted a whiff of guff, as he nearly posed an interesting question about this Barcelona teams' all-time standing, but I personally hate it when the Real Madrid team of the 50s is held in such high esteem because they won the European Cup five times in a row. Yes, they were undoubtedly the best team of the era - the first (and at the time, only) superclub and they could only beat what was put in front of them, but I defy anyone to suggest that the competition they faced were anywhere near as fierce as the teams of today. Comparing teams of different eras is always prickly, especially regarding the equipment used (i.e. the ball) and rule changes, but I'd strongly suggest that in today's environment, they wouldn't be able to compete as the strength, speed and technical ability have all risen, as is to be expected, in much the same way that if you put Jesse Owen alongside Usain Bolt (or even the tenth fastest sprinter in the World today) then there'd be no contest.
Nick Hamblin, (Sure I've spouted some guff in my time, but not a serial guff-merchant) Bristol
..So according the Aravind...
Barcelona beat a team = team not good enough to be called a competitor.
Team beats Barcelona = Barcelona cannot beat team a team classed as a competitor.
Chris M (I enjoy watching Barca and I enjoy watching Real, I've been told this isn't allowed), Glasgow
...You can't say Barcelona are a flat-track bully and say every team in the world except for one each season is a, erm, flat track. If nobody else is up to Barcelona's level, that doesn't mean everyone else is useless, but rather Barca are just good.
Alex (Bradman was the ultimate flat-track bully), LFC
...I have to take some exception to Aravind's mail on Barcelona. It's clear to me that he simply does not like them, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, he seems to take a swipe at them for their 'dramatics' against Real Madrid and then a swipe at those who have had their opinion on Chelsea's 'luck' calling them haters. Now, if I recall correctly Chelsea resorted to all sorts of 'dramatics', Drogba should have been sent off in the first leg for diving, and there was lots of cynical professional fouls.
Why not go back to 2008 either when Man Utd ceded possession, shadowed certain players and broke quickly when possible? Arsenal were a rival in 2010/11, but for some awful refereeing might have stood a chance. Chelsea did have a big degree of luck, but that's what it takes to win these tournaments, Real Madrid were willing to kick Barca up and down the pitch so why not have dramatics. Inter were just quite simply brilliant against them, as were AC
Call a spade a spade please, and give the appropriate credit where it's due. It's the singlemindedness of football fans which turns me off it.
Pete F, Eire, MUFC
Barca Will Be Remembered
To all those people trying to make out that Barcelona aren't that good, Messi is overrated etc. Just type Barcelona into Youtube. And then do the same with Messi. I know that is cherry picking, but no one else's videos will be one-hour-long highlight reels! None of those sides that beat them will be remembered for their football, how they elevated the game to levels no other side could match. Arsenal fans remember being torn asunder, and I am sure United fans will also remember them. 20 years from now, I will tell my kids about Messi and Barcelona. I won't tell them about the Chelsea or Inter sides that beat them as they weren't as memorable for me, a neutral in that situation.
Not that good indeed.
John (nice to read emails not about Arsenal) Matrix AFC
I'm not too sure I get the point made by Gurdit (aiming to become a mailbox regular) when he said Barcelona 'showed a stunning lack of sportsmanship (turning on the sprinklers at home to prevent some team from celebrating their triumph)'
You've just triumphed in the Camp Nou, and they turn the sprinklers on? Sounds bl**dy brilliant to me.
Sprinklers are great.
Chris, ITFC, Liverpool
Liverpool: The Kings Of Wasting Money
I love how Ader (sunny Devon) uses Liverpool as an example of how Arsenal have wasted money compared to their rivals. I see your list and raise you:
Andy Carroll (£35m) I could stop there to be honest but...
Stewart Downing (£20m)
Christian Poulsen (£5m)
Paul Konchesky (£ doesn't matter)
Charlie Adam (£7m)
Jordan Henderson (£15m)
Joe Allen (£15m)
Fabio Borini (£10m)
Alberto Aquilani (£17m)
Seb Coates (£7m)
Ousama Assiadi (£3m)
Raul Meireles (£12m)
Robbie Keane (£22m)
Albert Riera (£8m)
I could go on. I know every one has hits and misses but I can think of maybe two or three players we've signed since 2008 for a lot of money who've had an immediate, or even positive, impact. Suarez, Johnson and, er, Sturridge (clutching at straws here).
Not to mention £80k a week 'free' Milan Jovanovic and £100k a week 'free' Joe Cole.
We are the kings of wasting money (at least we're the best at something).
Whilst I think Henderson, Allen and Borini might prove their worth, the rest were over-priced, awful or both.
Gary Orford, LFC
Who Arsenal Should Have Bought...
In riposte to the statement this morning that Arsenal bought the wrong Everton man, I'd suggest you are quite correct however I think the issue was not choosing Arteta over Fellaini (we won only one game last season in which he didn't play and he has been a very decent addition) but that we didn't buy Baines and Jagelika.
Given the obvious need for a LB and a CB, confirmed in the signings that followed - the BFG Per Mertesaker and BBB (that's Big Bellied Brazilian) Andre Santos. This was yet another fine example of Arsenal poor transfer dealings, penny pinching and profiteering getting in the way of ambition and progression. Clearly Arsenal were in for Jagelika, bids were made but we baulked at the price (no doubt inflated by Man City's 23mil Lescott saga) and opted for the cheaper alternative. We likely saved ourselves 8million signing Per, likewise in the left-back department we opted for the cheaper Santos, probably saving ourselves a further 10million - all this at time when we raked it in from the Nasri/Cesc departures (and the Toure/Adebayor cash as well burning a hole)
Given both our eventual signings would obviously require a bedding-in period and neither of which were guaranteed to settle in the squad/league (Santos proving a spectacular failure) surely that 18million would have been a risk worth taking on proven players, familiar with the league and even with each other coming in as half of a new back four. Man Utd may have splashed big on Rio Ferdinand but they've gotten their money back over the years in their performances since, whereas Arsenal's policy has fallen into the buy cheap, buy often realms. The prime example being the further 8million on Monreal that would have been saved and no doubt further would have been recouped by a better performing team had we invested in Baines/Jags.
Brian Belfast Gooner (oh and we turned down Julio Cesar on a free as well - money well saved there!)
More On Townsend
A lot of deserved criticism about Andy Townsend in yesterday's mailbox, and apologies for this late observation.
At one stage Clive and Andy (a proper comedy double act) were discussing the fact that in a recent Bundesliga game, Manuel Neuer had performed an impromptu warm-up session with a substitute, with his back to goal whilst the game was actually still in play, albeit up the other end of the park.
I laughed out loud when the cameras panned in on Manuel Neuer after he conceded the Arsenal goal and jingoistic Andy growled, "You're not turning your back now Neuer, are you?" in the manner of an angry Ray Winstone.
ITV commentators, the very definition of impartial.
Chris Nixon, CFC, Surrey
...JV says any criticism of Andy Townsend is 'from twerps who probably haven't even played a 90-minute game of football' and, in his defence of Andy manages to highlight the glaring problem with him (and Shearer. And so many more) The problem is that Townsend offers nothing that someone who has never play a 90-minute game of football could also offer. He takes stating the obvious and banality to a new level. There is no insight, based on his 20 years as a player, no analysis. It is just 'say what you see' mixed with bias and the occasional cliche and 'oooh you can't do that'. Anyone could do that.
Another comment from JV was that Townsend 'might not know that Kroos has been playing well in his domestic league this year but so what'. It's his job to know how Kroos is doing in his domestic league this season. Why would anyone expect him to pass comment on players he knows nothing about, especially with the wealth of resources available these days.
The same applies to Shearer, zero insight delivered in monotone and it is a lazy attitude that is seeping into the industry. Redknapp, while inoffensive, offers nothing. The contempt from Gary Neville toward him has been a joy. When you have Lee Dixon taking the time to do some research on a player and then being mocked on air by his senior colleague for doing so, you know something is wrong. We need more insight and comment. These guys are meant to be experts who share the knowledge they have earned over a career.
Neville might not be the most likeable chap but his knowledge of the game and ability to deliver it to the viewer are exceptional. Souness is another who knows his stuff. And, the golden trinity of Giles, Dunphy and Brady on RTE are what everyone should aspire to. Yes, they are grumpy arseholes at times but their analysis of the game is exceptional, something that is all but missing from Sky, ITV and BBC.
Kev (grabbed this mail by the scruff of the neck)
...Talking with 'passion and purpose' is simply not good enough for someone whose job it is to provide 'expert analysis' on a football game. I'd sooner listen to someone talk sense, and occasionally say something that wasn't blindingly obvious, in a deadpan voice, than listen to someone talk absolute b*llocks with 'passion and purpose', as you put it. If by 'passion and purpose' you actually mean 'undisguised bias towards the British team and complete absence of any insightful comment', you're bang on.
Again, 'he might not know that Kroos has been playing well in his domestic league this year' - completely unacceptable. He is paid very good money to watch and provide 'insight' on football games, so is it too much to expect he spend the bare minimum of time doing his homework, and familiarising himself with the teams and players he is being paid to watch?
Whilst I may have never commentated on a football match, having never been employed by a sports broadcaster, I hardly see that makes my, or my peers, opinions invalid. Given that the average man in the pub is able to better analyse and understand what they see in the game without resorting to meaningless gibberish like "Arsenal have to take the game to them" (serious, WTF does that even mean?!) or "if anything he's hit it too well" makes Andy Townsend's failings as a well-paid analyst all the more shameful. He clearly has no desire to elevate his performance beyond spouting clichés and employing rudimentary, and frequently incorrect, knowledge about the players on show, and therefore deserves every criticism levelled at him.
And that goes twice for his jingoistic, patronising, must-mention-'One night in Barcelona'-at-least-twice-per-game mate Clive Tyldesley and that pumpkin-headed curmudgeon Adrian Chiles. ITV coverage is an utter mess from back to front.
Steven (love football, hate ITV coverage) Mole
It's Not All About Townsend
Andy Townsend really isn't the problem. He is part of it, because he is more noticeable, but from my perspective, the true problem of ITV and BBC football coverage is the lack of real analysis before a game, at half-time and post-match.
I can tolerate Townsend and Lawro during a match. Yes, I'll roll my eyes at their 'jokes' or stupidity occasionally, as I understand that ITV and BBC want to make the show more accessible to knuckle-dragging idiots, but that should really only happen in-game. When watching you get enough replays of the big incidents to make your own opinion, and those commentating on the game can be partially excused a lack of knowledge as their job is to make the game interesting to as many people as possible. The balance though should be in the studio (or pitchside) where 'experts' should be able to give real detailed analysis about the game.
I don't know about any of you, but given the poor levels of analysis on television in general (Neville excluded), I mute the TV and find other things to do until the match is back on. Let me put it this way, would you rather have Neville in the studio giving his 'Monday Night Football' style analysis and have Townsend or Lawro commentating, or would you rather he be commentating with Gareth Southgate and Alan Shearer in the studio talking to Adrian Chiles?
Daniel ITFC (obviously you'd lose the brilliant sex noises from Neville, but I know which I'd prefer)
They're Not All Bad
With the ITV football coverage taking a bashing I would like to put in a good word for one of their commentators who actually appears to do research on players/teams and always has a good knowledge of the teams that he is commentating on.
As a co-commentator he is there to offer an insight as a former player or coach that the primary commentator might not be able to, and I feel that he always offers an interesting observation in to what the players might be thinking or what tactical changes could be made.
I present you...Jim Beglin.
Townsend Is A Popular Man
On the recent criticism of Andy Townsend, a friend and I had a debate about him in a bar in Kampala the other day when we saw how many African countries get the ESPN coverage of the Premier League for which he is a studio pundit on every game. When I remembered that he was also on television in India and much of the Middle East, who also get ESPN and further reading saw that China and Australia also get this coverage as well as the UK's ITV programs, we put the potential audience of Mr Townsend at around 3.8 billion people, or roughly half of the world's population, making him surely one of the most famous people on the planet.
So be careful who you criticise, as he's probably got a lot of fans.
Thanks Graham. Love You Too.
Can I just praise F365 on their attitude to the latest guff about possible summer Arsenal transfer prospects?
It's very telling the new and improved Arsenal website now has its own mediawatch section highlighting these very stories.
Wouldn't have anything to do with this being season ticket renewal time?
As a great man once said: "Fool me once - shame on you, fool me twice, won't get fooled again."
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London