We have one Chelsea fan who recognises the job done by Rafa Benitez while there's maths from Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester. And Shawcross to Arsenal? Nah...
You might notice that we haven't included a single mail about teams in pubs, because most of them were terrible. Instead we have a disgruntled Fulham fan and Scouse maths...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm writing in to do something which seems to cut against the grain of quite a lot of the opinion doing the rounds on Football365 following Michael Owen's decision to call it a day; I wish to defend him. I don't intend to defend Owen for his latter career club hopping, with moves to Newcastle and Man Utd smacking of a greedy prospector lazily hacking away and somehow always striking gold. I won't defend his appalling injury record, his lack of playing time and his continuing lack of goals. I wish to defend his past.
There have been some interesting posts on here over the past 18 months about the Stalinesque revisionism amongst factions of the footballing world from sensation starved journalists to rouge nosed gaffers. Owen seems to be falling victim to this hideous practise. Owen may not be loved as much now, but he was once loved and underwent the same unctuous fawning from the press in the run up to major tournaments as Beckham and Rooney did when their injuries prostated the nation, leaving us, as The Sun would have us believe, bereft of hope.
I don't know anyone who didn't love Owen when he gave the world a message that England had an explosive threat when he scored one of the finest goals ever to grace a world cup, or anyone that wouldn't have licked his boots clean for him after his demolition job on the Germans in their own back yard. His goals against Argentina, Arsenal, Barcelona showed off the timing and instincts he had that made him deadly, and in the days before his hamstrings were knacked his pace was something genuinely feared by defenders across the world.
Also, with the seemingly weekly references to flat track bullies and the annual talk about big-game-bottlers with the mentions of players like Rooney, Ronaldo, even Messi going missing in big champion's league games or on the international stage - just remember that Owen scored one of the greatest goals in the history of the world cup, scored a winner in an FA Cup Final, Uefa Cup Final, Super Cup Final, a hatrick against Germany in a stadium they had never lost a world cup qualifier in, in a world cup quarter final against Brazil and got goals at Euro 2000 and 2004. The man even managed to have the best goals to minutes ratio in a bloody Real Madrid side stuffed to the brim with galacticos. He is England's 4th all time top scorer, averaging a goal every 155 minutes in international football - a record we'd kill for now.
So, beat the man with a sh*tty stick for grabbing cash, selling out, being self delusional and arrogant. Do it for being the footballer he has become. But please, leave his past out of it - he's given most of the England fans some of the better memories they've had over the last 15 years and whilst he might not have had the all-round game of Cantona or Henry, in his pomp he scared the living sh*te out of back lines. Any Premier League club would take the 24 year old Owen in a heartbeat and it is the 18-24 year old Owen I choose to love.
Richard 'this is getting better and better and better' Malpass
...I can't help but feel that the overwhelming anti-Owen sentiment is revisionist at best.
Let's not forget this is a man who has scored 40 goals for England and would almost certainly have gone on to become the nation's all-time leading goal-scorer were it not for injury. Not to mention the fact that he won a cup final almost single-handed and became the first man since Geoff Hurst to score a hat-trick against Germany.
Admittedly, in the latter years of his career, his reputation has suffered somewhat owing to a succession of injuries and his making fewer and fewer appearances. But, this isn't Darren Anderton, Emile Heskey or Abou Diaby we're talking about. This is a player who was once voted Europe's best by his peers, an accolade which ensures his place as one of the most talented players this country has ever produced.
And on a personal level, despite Sarah Winterburn's best efforts to portray him as a disdainful character, he has always seemed to me to be a thoroughly likeable and down-to-earth chap whose only crime is not being the most charismatic of footballers.
So yes, perhaps Michael Owen didn't achieve as much as he could have given his talent, but he deserves his place among the pantheon of great English players, and to suggest otherwise based on his refusal to play in England's second tier - and who can blame him for having delusions of grandeur after having once been described by Pele as the best striker in the world - says more about his detractors than it does about him.
Clock End John (will still never forgive him for THAT cup final)
..."Does anyone have any real affection for him?" you ask, F365. Odd question. I am a 38 year Liverpool fan who still cares about the England team - I blooming loved Michael Owen.
I'm sure you'll get a different opinion from Newcastle fans, and yes - he stopped being a footballer when he signed for Man U, and the Stoke thing was just weird - but when he was fit he was excellent for England and Liverpool.
There are a lot of 'what if they had stayed fit' players, but I'm convinced that had Owen stayed fit, he would have become England's top scorer. In an age where top club sides seem to want more than 'just' scoring goals from a front player Owen may have found himself a tad out dated in the major European leagues, but for an England side that can't keep the ball, a nippy fella up top with a big lad along side is probably still our best bet. I suspect we'll see more of Walcott up front for England than for Arsenal for the same reason. He's 9 goals short of Sir Bobby, and barely got a game for England when he should have been in his prime.
I've watched with sadness as he signed for United and then for Stoke. Moves which did indicate that he was not too concerned about playing time. I really wished he had got a good spell with a club, any club, and had a couple more seasons banging goals in, because he really was very, very good at doing just that for a time.
When Owen played for Liverpool, as an out-and-out playing off the shoulder type striker, he was one of the best I've seen (maybe Romario just edged it), and he played for a Liverpool team that still gave you a little bit of hope that next year might actually be our year. He was our top scorer for something like 6 seasons, despite the start of his injury problems, and we won a cluster of trophies (of varying importance) in a 3 year spell. He scored almost a goal every couple of games for England, and I honestly can't think of any England player since who I'd trust more up front in a big game where chances are few and far between.
I'm sure Owen and football fans alike will look back on his career and wonder what might have been, rather than celebrate what he did achieve, but there will always be a place in my footballing heart for the nice lad who scored that goal against Argentina, and gave me one of my biggest footballing highs.
...Amongst all the jibes and jokes, I hope I am not alone in regretting the premature demise of the career of one of England's best players of the last twenty years.
In 1997, I was 15 and listening to copious amounts of the Verve for some reason. I also had a season ticket to Hillsborough where I saw a bright young talent stick three goals past Wednesday. As I recall it was his first senior hat trick.
From then until his ill-fated move to Newcastle, he was quite simply England's most consistent striking option. Even now there's no one in the squad you'd bank on to grab a goal like you used to do with Owen. Thinking back to the mid noughties and it seems amazing that he never beat the England goal-scoring record.
Yes he's boring, and you always got the feeling he was more out for himself than his club. But he was a cracking player for England and for Liverpool and more than that, for a few of us in my age group, he is indellibly marked on our football history.
Best of luck Michael. Please don't do punditry.
...Having grown up as a Liverpool fan, being a small, quick striker for my local team, Michael Owen was my idol. Even after he left LFC Liverpool fans idolized him. However, it was clear the type of player Owen was, not when he left us, or joined Man United, it was the day he Joined Newcastle.
I don't want to insult NUFC, I have recently moved to Newcastle from Liverpool so I'd get quite a bit of grief if I did. But Newcastle were not in a position to challenge realistically for trophies. Certainly not in the way Real Madrid were. A former Ballon D'or winner and one of the best strikers in the world should be joining a club that can win trophies consistently. But he didn't. This was a choice Owen made either because of money, or (which I think is more realistic) to cement his spot in the England squad.
I have my own opinions on the club vs. country debate (club, definitely!) but should one of the best strikers in the world need to sacrifice his club career to ensure a spot in the national team? After winning the Ballon D'or at just 22, Owen won one League cup a year later. Afterwards, the only trophies he collected were sitting on the bench for United on his way to retirement. A player of his caliber should have spent his career on the biggest stage, winning trophies. Throughout what is supposed to be a players prime, he won nothing. I understand that injuries played a significant part to this but I certainly believe that my boyhood hero's career was over the day he neglected club football just so he was in the England team.
Michael D'Arcy, LFC
And Why He's Disliked
Michael Owen? He's hated for what he became. When he burst onto the scene it was the first time in a long time that England had someone who could take the world by storm. Even though Beckham was the poster boy there was a belief that England would only go as far as Owen took them. Sadly he didn't have a good tournament in an England shirt after 2002. Even worse was how quickly his career tailed off at club level but his ego didn't shrink with it. He simply didn't stop thinking he was 'world class'. Despite five years of non-service and huge wages he still had an odd sense of entitlement, while a trail of angry club fans were left in his wake, all wondering if the old magic would ever return. Maybe there wasn't much magic in the first place.
A pure finisher who relied in pace becomes useless when he loses his first yard. He became a luxury player in an era when strikers have to do more than just finish. And he did it all while being a charisma vacuum.
Owen will forever be remembered as a player who never fulfilled his potential, but maybe he did. Maybe the game just evolved and he was left behind. Or maybe he couldn't live up to the nations hopes after one amazing game in 1998. Either way this is a decison he should have made 3 years ago.
Keith - Maidenhead.
...I've been trying to work out why I hate Michael Owen. It's partly his assertion that he wasn't going anywhere, just before he went to Madrid, it's partly the way he joined Newcastle when Liverpool were trying to re-sign him, but mostly it's that he got to live the life I dreamed I could have and chose to spend it sat on a bench.
I hate this kind of footballer, the kind that is happy to collect his pay-cheque rather than actually play. From 2009 onwards, he chose to sit on a bench rather than play at level that was "below" him Each and every one of us would give our first born to play at the top level (and he was at the VERY top level) yet he chose to let that pass him by. For that reason alone, he and his like are twunts.
Lee (would also like to announce my retirement though) LFC
Qualifying For CL Won't Solve Spurs' Balancing Act
So Spurs fans would rather prioritize a 4th place finish over winning the Europa League because 4th place gets you into the Champions League.
How then do they then propose their squad is going to handle playing in the Champions League while they simultaneously fight for the 4th place the following season to get into the Champions League?
If your team can't juggle its squad to fight for 4th place AND actually try and win the Europa League, a competition where the teams are weaker apparently, how then are they going to do it in the Champions League against much harder opposition? Fair enough, you might attract better players the following season, but then they are going to be up against better players in the Champions League compared to the Europa League anyways, so that neutralizes any added advantage of having better players.
What if spurs where in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, would there still be outrage if AVB tried to win the tie as opposed to prioritizing the league? Or are they merely happy with pocketing the group stage money and winging it once they're in it, similar to Arsenal I might add.
Muhammad Peer (It's the same issue with Liverpool and its subset of fans!) LFC, Durban
...Top four or win the Europa cup. I'd take the cup please. Winning the thing will do the club and players a lot of good and start to instill a mentality that most of our players don't have yet. We have a squad of good players but most were bought young and from smaller teams so haven't experienced winning much yet and it's clear for all to see that this squad lacks a certain something in that respect.
Maybe if you offered me 3rd (stop laughing at the back) and automatic qualification I'd consider it as we're guaranteed for the group stages and a nice pot of dosh to go towards our new stadium (and to attract the naming rights we need) and that in itself would give the players a boost but not in the same way winning something would.
Lifting a trophy and experiencing the jubilant celebrations would surely stick in the mind more than the day we finished 3rd or 4th in the league.
Perhaps one day winning the Europa cup will get you into the CL that would make the decision a lot easier. If you can be sh*t and finish 3rd in your CL group and get entry to the Europa it's only fair that if you win the thing you go the other way right? I'm sure if Chelsea finish outside the top four this season but win the Europa UEFA will suddenly decide that this is a good idea and they get in over us anyway!
Dave Bartle, Spurs, Essex
Why Does Everyone Want To Play In The Hole?
Just seen the email from Samuli saying spurs should put Bale back on the wing and I'm so glad somebody agrees with me. I'm just sick of it. Sick of every time a winger gets good people start saying he should play "in the hole". Every time a midfielder scores a goal or 2 he'd be more productive in the hole. Every time a striker gets a few assists he'd be better off playing in the hole and dropping off than at the front of the attack. I'm just waiting for someone to suggest Chelsea should play Ivanovic in the hole because he's gotten a few goals this season.
Why does nobody want to play on the wing or upfront anymore? I used to admire watching Scholes do it behind Van Nistlerooy, and Gerrard behind Torres, because they actually tried to throw in some tackles and track back as well. But then Sneijder did it for inter, and VDV for Spurs without having any defensive responsibility and now everyone wants to copy it. Players are just getting lazy I think. Gareth Bale has been good in that position but its killing Tottenham. There playing the best out and out winger in the world at the moment in the middle and trying to find attacking midfielders to fill in his place on the wing.
If this epidemic keeps going there will be no more wingers left and the new formation of 4-2-1-1-1-1 will be all the rage. If one day I turn on a match and I see Aaron Lennon, (the only decent player who seems to want to play on the wing left on planet earth) playing in the hole behind the striker I'm giving up watching football and all forms of organised sport forever.
Pierce (Why dont Everton try Leighton Baines in the hole), Waterford, Ireland