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...
Villa are the latest team to get the pub treatment, while the morning mailbox also includes missives on Tony Pulis leaving Stoke and Chelsea's future under Jose Mourinho...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
We Missed This One
From the morning mailbox: 'A young Gascoigne would potentially have enjoyed more success under Ferguson's tutor-ledge at United...'
Tutor-ledge? Is that where teachers go if they are left on the shelf?
Dylan (lecturer-wardrobe) Browne
More Brilliant Diving Headers
Every time the subject of diving headers comes up, I can't help but think of the greatest cup final goal of all time - Keith Houchen in 87.
Lowly Coventry are 2-1 down against a superb Spurs team featuring both halves of the Diamond Lights duo, Ossie Ardilles and 50-goal-a-season Clive Allen. Cue a cross from the right by Dave Bennett, and Houchen's perfectly horizontal, gravity-defying leap to head home.
The rest, as they say, is history: Extra time, Mabbutt's own goal, and victory for the Sky Blues.
The commentary is also magnificent and led to a cry of HOUCHEEEEEN! every time a goal was scored in parks up and down the land.
Keep your Larssons, your Welbecks, and even your bald Bulgars, Houchen'll do for me.
...Sorry for my late entry to the diving header discussion, but I will always remember Klinsmann's diving header vs Yugoslavia in Italia 90.
Being only 12 at the time it was the first World Cup I truly remember watching and this was the first time I'd ever seen Jurgen in action. With the pace on the cross and the way he just deftly guided it into the far post I think this has to be one of the best ones I've ever seen.
That said, Jurgen should have been pretty handy at diving headers given all the practice he got at diving in general!
Neil (Boom, boom), AVFC, Dublin
...In response to Hilditch's question about the dying out of the diving header, it brought back memories of my favourite ever diving header at Upton Park, and it was scored by an opposing player. In 2005 we were struggling to get out of the Championship and were labouring at home to a poor Coventry side during the run in as we looked to secure a playoff place. With about 15 minutes to go Matty Etherington burst down the left and swung over a low fizzing cross. Without a West Ham player in his vicinity, Richard Shaw planted a beautiful diving header past his own keeper and sparked wild scenes of celebration in the stands! Coventry capitulated and we won 3-0, and eventually secured the final play-off spot and went on to beat Preston in the final 1-0.
It is still to this day probably one of my favourite goals at Upton Park, which shows the lack of quality that has been on display ever since. God bless Richard Shaw and his Soul-Glo hair wax!!
Mike (Walker, Repka, A Ferdinand, Ward, Powell, Newton, Noble, Reo-Coker, Mullins, Sheringham, Harewood...Is this much worse than having the likes of Gary O'Neil and Matt Taylor now?!) WHUFC, Essex
...An unsuspecting diving header from Juninho vs Chelsea in 1996 when The Little Fella was in his pomp, it gets me every time. Absolute Genius!
From 0.38 seconds onwards, make sure to pop a pillow over your lap.
...Just remembered this belter from Gabriel Heinze against Nigeria:
And this flying giraffe of a header from Duncan Ferguson:
Richard (Diving Headers Are Like Pop Up Pirate For Grown Ups) Malpass
Recently there have been a few debates in the mailbox over the best thunderb*stard or best diving header, which are great to see but, they're comparable because they're not unique. One may be hit harder than another, or from further out or even in a more important game, but essentially they're the same type of goal. That got me thinking, are there any goals people can recall which made you think 'I've never seen a goal like that before'?
Di Canio scored a jumping, outside of the foot volley, a Spanish u21 player scored a penalty that I'm still trying to figure out and Ryan Babel scored one in the champions league off his arse. Best of all, I seem to recall Laurent Robert scoring an inverted, flying back heel volley from a corner for Newcastle.
Can anyone beat that for sheer originality?
Rhodesy (Luis, it was good while it lasted) 7
Is Owen A Cyborg?
One reason why I loved Johnny and Al's recent article on Michael Owen is because FINALLY someone else has brought up what is in my mind a fact: he isn't just dull, but a pretty strange guy, isn't he? Was he born without a sense of humour? Is he a cyborg? A machine? If you were to visit Owen's house, I can imagine everything being organised in perfect patterns; not a smidgen of dust on the mantelpieces, not a blade of glass rendered unruly, not a speck of turd on the toilet bowl porcelain.
I tell you who Owen reminds me of. I've left school for 8 or so months now, but as everyone should remember, there are always those weird - somehow too placid or perfect - student specimens. They are usually school officials. I and my mates would genuinely have conversations about certain kid's robotic tendencies; almost as if they were Government planted to spy on the rest of us, or to make school statistics go up. There was something mechanical about them, in their movements. You can make a robot but I guess to truly replicate the palette of human emotion, flaws and spontaneity is impossible. Maybe something with Owen's wiring went wrong, hence his injuries.
The only thing I disagree with is Owen's gaze wasn't 'non-descript', but haunted. One international tournament when England were lining up, I swear to God my dad once said - "look at Owen...the haunted stare of Michael Owen!" Maybe somehow, he became envious of human emotion - he knew that after the game, he'd be going back to the house to have his batteries removed, and to just stand still until he was required again.
Jack Heaney, 18, London (don't even get me started about the evidence showing Michael Carrick's connections to the criminal underworld)
...Michael Owen achieved a lot very young. A lot of which seems to have been trivialised because it happened such a long time ago.
However achievements are achievements regardless of the time scale. I can't help but feel if Owen had started his career from 18- 23/24 always injured/rubbish, then gradually got into the English team scored over 40 goals for England, won the European player of the year and scored a hat trick vs Germany in 2011 at 31 instead of 21 and then finally at next years world cup in Brazil scored his 1998 Argentina goal he'd be a lot more celebrated than he is now.
He has done all of these things but because he did them at the start of his career rather than the end they appear to have been forgotten.I know people will say he didn't fulfill his potential but maybe he did, maybe aged 18-21 was as good as he was ever destined to be. If Owen had been forced to retire at 22 rather than 32 would his achievements have been more lauded?
At the moment so called experts and punters alike are calling Lionel Messi the best player ever to kick a football. I'm not saying Owen is in Messi's bracket but what if Messi went on a similar decline of injuries/loss of form and never reached the glorious peaks we've seen over the last 6 years, would his achievements to date be trivalised or even forgotten and instead he be labelled as injury prone and a mercenary.
What I'm trying to say is achievements are achievements, regardless of age!
Vince, (I know I'm late to the party) Cork
Are Spurs Fans The New Liverpool Fans?
Anybody else getting extremely tired of Spurs fans? Like that fella in yesterday's mailbox saying they're possible title challengers in the coming seasons. Ridiculous. They're only 9 points above the much publicised 'worst Liverpool team in history' with an upcoming fixture list that will likely see that gap diminish. They're 4 points clear of this 'shocking' Arsenal team having played a game more. They booed their manager at the start of the season and again on Sunday after a couple of undesirable results. They rely on one player hitting an occasional (more often lately) screamer once in a match (whilst his other 5 efforts sail high and wide) to make up for their lack of any other attacking threat. Yet all we hear is how amazing they are.
In the same way Bale is not in the same league as Messi/Ronaldo, spurs are not in the same league as the top 2 - figuratively speaking, obviously they literally are in the same league.
Remember a good season does not a good team make. Liverpool 09 were the best team around, beating Real Madrid 4-0 (0-1 victory in the first leg), Utd 4-1 at OT (with Ronaldo mkII in the team) and Villa 5-0 at Anfield within a week. They should have won the league that year. The very next year they finished 7th.
All I'm saying is wind your necks in for your own sake. For what it's worth I strongly predict Chelski and Arsenal will both finish above you and this St.Totteringhams day will be more unbearable than all those before purely because of the amount of premature bleating coming from certain spurs fans all season long.
Laud it over Arsenal and Liverpool fans all you like (that's a big part of the fun and games of supporting a football club), however wait until it's a bit more certain before you go tooting your trumpets for your own sake.
For my sins I am a Liverpool fan so I know how galling it is to be lumped in with the idiots who think we have a divine right to be challenging for honours, so I apologise to all those sensible spurs fans for what may seem like a generalisation, but it really seems to be every spurs fan I know right now, and working in London, that's a lot.
Spurs title challengers? Ridiculous.
Dom (man I hope we retain El Pistolero, if not, we really will slide into mid table obscurity) Littleford
How About A Qualifying Month?
Having read John Nicholson's piece about the international break upsetting the season I had to wonder why I agreed with it so much. I love international football, Summers with a World Cup or European Championships are fantastic, I regularly am glued to the action even if it is Poland V Greece. So why is it so utterly annoying when it's on during the season?
Well, basically because like John says, it's seen as an interruption, rather than something to be enjoyed. My proposal would be to realign the international football calendar with regards qualifiers.
At present, each nation needs to play 10 games over 2 years, whereby we lose 3 weeks of two domestic seasons. How about we merge this into 2 "international months", being this May and mid August/September. The Premier League this year finishes us 3 weeks earlier (based on the 3 weeks saved from not having international breaks). They then play 5 international games over 4 weeks in May, have their summer, play another 5 international games from mid-August-mid September, and then the Premier League runs from Sept - May as usual.
Same net effect of number of games in a season, and the non-WC/Euros years, we get 2 months of qualifiers, rotating games so that there's football on every night of the month. International football played in summer months, better for away trips, builds up a bit of excitement for international fans, and gives the managers a chance to work on things over a period rather than having players for a week, then gone for 2 months.
Mark Canning, Cork
Having read the article on The Telegraph's web site about United appealing a potential 3 match ban for Nani in next season's Champions League, I was wondering why there was no mention of it being an indication of United wanting to keep Nani next season? Nani being left off the 2013 Manchester United calendar was enough for 'the papers' to run a story saying it was a clear sign he was leaving, so why have they not picked up on this?
I'm not saying that Nani will definitely stay, but it would seem odd United contesting a 3 match ban for him if he is going to be playing for someone else. Why haven't 'the papers' made this link?
Or is Nani potentially staying not sensational enough for them?
Kev The Clarke, MUFC (Unless he's off to a lesser team that won't have qualified for Europe, but I doubt Fergie would sell to Liverpool) Skem
Managers Don't Grow On Trees
David Clarke in this morning's mailbox forgets that a manager's Premier League experience has to come from somewhere. This is often one of these newly promoted managers does well and then becomes an established Premier League manager. I can think of Lambert, Rodgers, Hughton and Pulis (however much of a pantomime villain he is around here) who have fairly recently been promoted who have all become relatively secure managers in the top flight, as I don't think Villa will be relegated.
The other options when appointing a manager are either appoint from abroad (where were they before they were at the Big Foreign Club?) or appoint from within or someone else with little managing experience, which in itself is very risky.
If people appointed only experienced Premier League managers, Southgate and Curbishley might still be around!
...I read with interest David Clarke, Cambridge's email, regarding clubs hiring a manger specifically to get them promoted, before handing the reins off to another man to 'take the extra step'. Well I give you the following:
Leeds United and Neil Warnock.
Warnock was basically hired for exactly that reason: to drag Leeds up by the bootlaces no matter how he got them there. Unfortunately the (perfectly promotion-capable) players he inherited from Simon Grayson didn't fit the Neil Warnock game plan that's worked for Neil Warnock for 30 years. Neil Warnock's been promoted "a record 8 or 9" times, don't you know?
So after trying to shoehorn inappropriate players into his system (If I ever see a worse central midfield pairing than Michael Brown and Danny Pugh, I'll be appalled), Leeds predictably finished last season awfully. The nadir of which was the 7-3 shellacking by Forest. Our best players decided they'd seen enough and f**ked off, leaving a summer for Colin to bring in players 'that know how I like to play'. Enter the 'Neil Warnock Promotion History All Stars': Browny, Tongey and Kenny, among other ageing s**thouses like Norrisy and Varney(y).
Ultimately, it's a lose-lose situation because he's going to leave at the end of the season. So next year a new manager is going to be stuck in the Championship with the same failing squad of 30-plus cloggers. Alternatively, had Leeds got promoted, the entire team would require building again pretty much from scratch, and in doing that, you'll be gambling again on an entirely new group of players gelling instantly. And I think most QPR fans could tell you how that plan's going about now.
Fact is, and let this be a lesson for other teams, this level of ignorant short-termism doesn't, and never will, work.