As Gerrard and Henderson both struggle with injuries, was it a mistake for Liverpool to sell Jonjo Shelvey? Plus, thoughts on Arsenal, Everton, United and Chelsea's strikers...
They're a team full of loan players and ageing has-beens...can Roberto Martinez do better than David Moyes in the long term? Plus, more on Man United and...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Money Is Why Players Stay
I do get a bit bored of the relentless 'Little England'-bashing that occasionally rears its head in the mailbox, and in the football world more generally. The latest variation on this is from Dave in Telford, who laments the fact that two English ex-footballers could never present a show in a foreign language. There are countless articles devoted to why English players never go abroad, and about how our insularity as a football nation has led to the decline of the national team
No top-level footballers leaves England because to do so would, in almost all circumstances, be madness. As an example, take Tony Hibbert, possibly the most average player in England. Average club, average name, average face, average Premier League footballer salary. Let's say he earns £40,00 a week. After taxes, that's £620,000 a year. There is not one other league in Europe where he could earn that much. It's not a sign of some archaic islander mentality, or an insistence that Britain is best. It's just basic financial responsibilty - earning as much as you can, while you can.
As for the language thing, that's even more yawn-inducing. Due to a series of historical events, English is the one language in the Western world that it is almost vital to know to get ahead in business, politics, culture or, like Dave's unnamed Germans, the media. That is why it is taught for so long, and to such a high standard, to continental schoolchildren, and why languages are given less attention in Britain.
Make Rooney Captain
After reading reports that David Moyes is to hold face-to-face talks with Wayne Rooney about his future at United, I think there really is only one course of action that will entice him to stay - make Wayne Rooney the club captain.
Wayne Rooney has literally accomplished everything there is to do in club football at United, bar an FA Cup victory, so there is nothing left for him to achieve in terms of trophies. Rooney is more of a carrot rather than a stick kind of personality - you can dangle anything enticing in front of him and he will jump at the chance - so the opportunity to lead United to more trophies will most certainly appeal to him. Surely this is the only route left for Moyes to travel in his pursuit to keep Rooney at Old Trafford, if indeed he wishes to do so. However, why wouldn't he want to?
Rooney has scored 197 goals in 400 competitive appearance for United. That is one hell of a record, especially when you take into consideration the amount of times he has been played out of position, and has been forced to play second fiddle to players such as Ronaldo and Van Persie. He has been at United for 9 seasons, and out of those 9 seasons he has won 5 league winners' medals averaging at least 30 league games per season. That is a hell of a record, and one which is worthy of the captaincy of a club he has served so well.
So I say, give Rooney the captaincy, and more importantly give him a dedicated role within the team, then surely more goals and trophies will follow.
Your friend in time,
Varicose Regent (1.21 gigawatts!?!)
In response to Nilesh, Harrow who asks "has your club possessed a brainiac footballer that I should admire lovingly?".. No. In fact quite the opposite.
I remember catching the Soccer AM interview with Aaron Lennon a couple of seasons back. Now don't get me wrong, I love the tricksy little so-and-so, but when asked who was the cleverest member of the spurs squad he looked a bit shifty and said "well, JJ wears glasses so I'll say him."
Not only do I have severe doubts that Jermaine Jenas is flying any meaningful flags in the brainpower department, but I have to say that if the only indicator you've got is that clever people wear glasses... well... you're not putting the bar very high.
Probably a good job Lennon's physically fast.
...Gudni Bergsson: sweeper; solicitor; superhero.
...Juan Mata is just too good at everything. Not only is he a ridiculously talented footballer with a fantastic beard. He is studying for two degrees in marketing and sports science. Not only that, but he must have been the only Spain player on Sunday who didn't feel the need to surround the ref at any opportunity, even walking away after getting fouled whilst Busquets et al were waving imaginary cards all over the shop. Class.
Adam #ManCrushOnMata Bowley
...I think I have found the ultimate dreamboat. Brains, Brawn and Beard.
I present Arjan de Zeeuw. Ex Wigan defender, qualified doctor and generally a good guy.
Josh, Dublin *Swoon*
...In response to Nilesh, we Gooners boast of a qualified accountant who has an economics degree amongst our squad. Despite this, I doubt you'll see his name sported on the shirts of even the most discerning fans, it's Chamakh.
*Nicklas Bendtner's claims to have a phD alongside an IQ of 205 are yet to be verified.
So it's looks as though Arsenal have finally made a signing.
Yaya Sanogo! And apparently he has quite an injury record to boot!
It seems we've finally signed someone who can replace Diaby as after he's moved on, once his contract's up, someone will need to take that place in on treatment table.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Cool Thy Jets, Gooners
I knew this would happen. As soon as we sign a young player from France, Arsenal fans start losing their s*** about us not signing a ready-made big name. Guys, you know we can still sign other players still, right? Getting a promising 20 year old on a free transfer does not mean that we have given up on signing anyone else this summer, especially as this has basically been a done deal for months.
I thought this sort of thing was obvious, but, yet again, seem to have overestimated the majority of my fellow fans.
Ross, AFC London
I'm sure I won't be the only person to point this out, but in Roy Yorkes NY attempt to put down Neymar he says "Yes, that's the Oscar that won the ball and played it to Neymar to score his goal in the final", clearly he didn't watch the goal as it was Neymar who passed the ball to Oscar before Oscar passed it back.
...Is the mailbox the only place on the planet where people are having the Neymar v Oscar debate? I have heard nobody anywhere having that conversation, and I talk to at least 5 people every day.
Dave, Singapore, yet to find a team here (some of the time a couple of those 5 people are real too)
Mailbox Master and all contributors - let me start with a big thanks for all the football sustenance in this slow season! We've only just begun July :(
Cracking mailbox yesterday! On Nilesh's q about footballers and brains - I remember reading somewhere Frank Lampard has a genius IQ (his score might have dropped a bit now hanging out with the like of Terry/Cole though)
Roy, NY - So you think Brazil/Chelsea couldn't function without a tireless Oscar working the pitch? Are you sure you've got the right Brazil/Chelsea midfielder in mind? If I'm not mistaken, I'm not sure Oscar would even be in the starting XI if aforementioned horse had been fit...
Dig, Ireland - I too was wondering the same thing about why Neymar wasn't booked. The same thing happened earlier as well during this same tournament. Perhaps this being a 'friendly' sort of cup is a reason? Can't think of anything else as he certainly should be booked by the letter of the law.
On Spain - I think it is time for them to innovate. Other teams have caught up and can counter their style, and the Confed Cup final reminded me very much of the Bayern-Barca games. I don't think the midfield is a problem (as long as its fresh), and the defence isn't too bad either - the real area of concern I feel is probably upfront with Villa/Torres who, safe to say, aren't what they used to be. They don't have a Messi upfront and too many times they have started to lose possession in promising situations or shoot wayward, or cannot find the final short incisive pass. That is why, the more I see him play the more I feel Iniesta should covert into a forward and be more in the box - has a fierce and accurate shot, is great dribbler, can see the short pass where no one else can, and the amount of times he will wriggle free a la Suarez/win penalties a la Hazard would be unbelievable. Of course they might lose a bit in midfield, but its not exactly slim pickings for the Spanish there is it...
Ron, 'Luffbro' (Torres Golden Boot again? Seriously??)
Spain Need A Siesta
With everyone queueing up to declare this is an end of an era and the Spain team is finished, talking about tiki taka, false nines, slating Ramos (108 caps, 3 La Liga Titles, World Cup Winner, 2 Euro Championship winners medals - absolute carthorse!), and Pique (57 caps, 3 CL winners medals, 4 La Liga Medals, World Cup Winner, Euro Champion - absolute donkey),
its easy to forget that all this team needs is a bit of a siesta.
Its clear that the players are out on their feet. The commentator the other night said that this was Mata's 75th game this season.
These are top (top) class players and invariably are involved in big games at the end of the season. They battered Italy 4-0 only a year ago to win the Euro Championship again, and they are clearing up at underage level too.
So lets hold off on the obituaries for the time being.
This time next year when they have walked off with the trophy again, we will all be drooling over the way they play and looking to sign up all of Barcelona's and Real Madrid's academy players.
Just a final note on Pique, as rapper Nelly once said, "what good is all the fame if you ain't f**kin a model", well done Gerard, well done.
'This Bullsh*t Has To Stop
I was never that good enough to play up front, but then the teams I have played for were never good enough to provide a decent service. As such, on the occasions I was played up front I would generally wander from that position to go and get the ball. 'Inclined to wander' was my descriptive attribute but it appears that in my youth and for my current local team I am a 'False 9'.
I'm sorry, but this bullsh*t has to stop.
As the description goes a false 9 plays in the position of a regular 9, but deviates from this position to move and drag the defence out of place. When not looking to be played in, surely that's what a number 9 is meant to do? An attacking midfielder can also be played in the role of a false 9 apparently, except attacking midfield is already a position, attacking midfield! Wingers that don't hit the line and come inside are called 'inside out' wingers. But they're not, that's what wingers do. Does that mean a winger that comes inside then draws the defence out of position would then be a false inside out 9? Don't talk slobbocks.
I cringe when I see these terms, I loathe the term hipster too, as if there can possibly be any aspect of supporting football that can be considered cool outside of your team winning. Enjoying watching another team play well when they're not in direct competition doesn't make you cool, anything but, it makes you normal, or at least a little more normal than your commoner football fan.
Maybe I'm overreacting, or maybe there are actual cool hipster fans who'd appreciate a team of false players playing nowhere near their designated positions (I'd be interested in John Nicholsons opinion on whether playing the false nine in an attacking front three where both wingers play inside out is not simply an interchangeable front 2 with a sodding attacking midfielder). By all means play the formation of choice. Look at the common three. 4-4-2. 4-3-3. 3-5-2. Any normal football fan would look at those three formations and could tell you the names of each position. What the players in those position do depends on the player himself and his opponent. If a player doesn't play somewhere they're not false in that position. Are all outfield players false keepers?
If you believe yourself when you call a position a false 9, you're a false fan. You probably think you're hip too. You're not. You're stupid and you're following the herd. Call me grumpy today, but you've all been told, and I hope there are others who share a similar grumpy disposition about these false falsehoods that have entered the game.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Is Dave Tindall's article on the lack of 'magic' surrounding this current Brazil team not a little unfair?
In my opinion, this current Brazil team has everything you expect an classic Brazil team to have... 2 full backs who never defend; a crazy centre half who does things like trying to overhead kick it out of his own 6 yard box (hi Luiz!); a centre forward with only 1 name; a goalkeeper 10 years older then the rest of the team; and one of those players who just confirms to you why you love football.
Yeah sure their midfield is a little pragmatic but those yellow shirts, the Maracana bouncing - there's still enough magic there if you ask me.
Mark (still hope Messi wins it), Watford
This Could Get Bitchy
Jono, Nottingham; some great points made but completely undermined by your weird and arrogant statement that Ramos needs a haircut and Navas needs a shave.
I like Ramos' haircut. I love Navas' beard. If anything needs to change it's your nickname - operating under the most generic and weak Sunday league alias (suffixing your name with 'o' or 'y') instantly nullifies your right to offer advice on style.
Scotty (El Sharaawy really does need a haircut mind), London
During one of my frequent and aimless sojourns into the virtual vaults of YouTube, I came across this cracking montage by the BBC from Euro 2004.
If you didn't feel a bit teary halfway through, you have no heart. One of the best montages from a football broadcaster. Can anyone find any better?
P.S. Chris MUFC using the word 'eviscerated,' I'd hate to play him in scrabble.