There are a few explanations for why Man United seem so comfortable in Europe but not so at home, while some people really aren't very happy with Roy Keane...
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...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
This Chap Wants An Arsenal Signing
I am a die-hard Gunners fan and am deeply disappointed by the lies year in year out by Arsene Wenger. He is past his use by date and his trick is tired at best. He thinks all Gooners are a bunch of idiots. Every Gooner should boycott the season ticket and support Spurs, Chelsea or Man U instead...Stop wasting our time with Arsene!
Wenger has been as inactive as he usually is in the transfer window, we probably won't get more than one big signing but, I'm just happy none of our star players are being poached. This time last year there was talk of van Persie leaving. The year before it was Cesc Fabregas, and previous years have followed the same pattern. Can we as Arsenal fans at least be happy that Cazorla doesn't have the "Barca DNA", or that Wilshere doesn't have a "little boy" inside him who gives him career advice. I know it's early days and it's your full right to panic if you want to but let's give it some time, this year with the current squad set to stay, it looks like we can only improve.
Joshua, South Africa
...Have Arsenal filled their season ticket allocation? Can they now stop with the annual 'look at all our money and the players we are linked with' parade and go ahead with adding Gareth Barry to their ranks.
TJ (Fourth place please!)
I find Mohammed M. Fahmi's email absolutely ridiculous. First off he claims we have an obsession with a marquee striker signing. It's not an obsession; it is a well thought out game plan for next year. Whilst Giroud had a decent first season (I was quietly impressed) he was not a game changer, nor did we have anyone who was a viable back up option when he got suspended for the last three games of the season. Walcott's best position is on the wing, coming into play on the final phase/pass and Lukas Podolski, whilst possessing a hammer of a left foot, doesn't seem to be able to act as a lone front man and struggles to bring others into play. Wenger has realised that we need a striker who can change a game, sniff out chances and convert what Wilshere, Arteta, Walcott and the magnificent Carzola put on a plate for him. A big name striker is a must this season and frankly I find it amazing that someone is complaining about Wenger breaking the bank (I hope) for a very good international player who is about to hit his peak.
Secondly, to say we rely on Miguel, Frimpong and Coquelin week in, week out is absurd. Frimpong was on loan for much of the season (and injured) and Coquelin and Miguel were used as reserves and only really got game time in the Carling Cup. I also feel that we can and should rely on Jenkinson, Mertesacker and Vermaelen. One is the German national captain, another is our first team captain (although his form was dicey and he was dropped for the excellent Konscielny) and Jenkinson is a very capable deputy right back.
Thirdly, since when did playing Arteta as a deep lying midfielder become a death defying act? Arteta has plenty of positive attributes to play there and in fact his maturity and experience have lent themselves very well to the Arsenal way of playing. He constantly comes deep for the ball, looks to open up play and distribute to our more creative players whilst acting as a responsible holding player, keeping his position and cutting out passes. If he did not play there who would you have? Which player in our current squad has the ability to come deep and keep the metronomic passing ticking over? Additionally, where is Arteta's real position now? Would he play as a left midfielder as he did for Everton at times or in front of a midfield duo? Surely these places are earmarked for Carzola, Wilshere and Podolski.
In addition, would Villa and/or Gomez fit Arsenal's style of play? Gomez is a very robust forward who would act as a decent target man but isn't that what Giroud does? Villa has not been himself since the tibia fracture and would struggle to adapt to the PL at the age of 31 (think Morientes at Liverpool).
Whilst I acknowledge the need for reinforcements, in particular a back up centre back possibly another midfielder and a striker, I think it is clear Wenger realises this as well. He has been trying his hardest to get rid of the deadwood and I think we will see some major singings this summer, especially with Arshavin, Denilson, Djorou and hopefully Bentdner off the books.
I don't really know what to say to you other than lighten up mate.
JR, Saigon, Arsenal
At Least Chelsea Fans Are Happy
In complete contrast to the panicking Gooners, I am delighted with my club's early transfer dealings. Schwarzer is perfect as back-up to Cech & I will no longer be terrified by the sporadic sight of Ross Turnbull (the only medal he did not win at Chelsea was the Carling Cup - because he played in it!).
Schurrle & van Ginkel are sound additions who could slot nicely into Jose's Real Madrid formation, with Ramires alongside vG & Schurrle's pace as one of the three up top.
For me we are a centre forward away from something really special. The squad seem to be as besotted with Jose as the fans, so the atmosphere at the Bridge could not be more positive.
Lee (can't wait for August 17!), Fuerteventura
Benteke More Considerate Than Suarez
While I agree that Benteke was stuck between a rock and a hard place over his decision to hand in a transfer request, you can make a very compelling argument that he's actually done his team a service by putting in his request now. It may be cold comfort to Villa fans, but he's surely forfeited his bonus money, and he's bound to start something of a feeding frenzy. Given that we're about a week into the transfer window, Villa should have ample time to sell him on for a tidy profit and put those funds towards a handful of players who can help the club survive next term.
To contrast this with Liverpool's situation, Suarez is dragging his feet on handing in a request, thereby delaying the process, likely costing the team more money (in bonuses and by potentially driving down his price through his constant public statements), and limiting our options on how to reinvest those funds when he finally does move. I'm having nightmarish memories of the Torres fiasco at this very moment ...
...Sell Suarez, buy Benteke. Suarez is a t**t. Banned for half the games he's been eligible for and rarely passes. I bet half the Liverpool squad hate him anyway. How many times have you watched him dribble with the ball and shoot (and miss) rather than passing to a team mate in the box for an easy tap in? And obviously nothing needs to be said about his "personality". Benteke seems like a nice enough guy and he passes. Do they have similar goal to shot ratios? I'll bet they do - I'm not researching it though...
Nick (Liverpool should stick their heels in for 40 mill)
While I agree with much of what Kev (cracking day out) said in his Benteke mailbox entry he used a slight variation of a phrase that bugs me like no other when it comes to rationalising football - the dreaded 'in any other business.....(x,y and z would happen)'. Although his exact phrase was, 'he is entitled to try and better his lot as any over performing employee in any industry would '.
Sadly, it's undeniable that football is a business (or industry) but it really isn't like any other because the one thing that sets it apart is - to use a business type phrase - brand loyalty.
Take, for example, the washing machine industry or pretty much any other you like. John Smith buys a Zanussi machine because that's what was best/cost less at the time. When he comes to replace it six years later Indisit have made a model that is better/ costs less.
Does Mr Smith a) switch to Indisit as he is a sensible price conscious bloke. Or does he b) think no I'll stick it out with Zanussi as my dad used one when I was a kid/ I was born near the factory/ they're my favourite washing machine brand. I'll stick with them through thick and thin hoping one day they may become the top brand once more?
Clearly we know what Mr Smith will do. And aside from football I'm struggling to think of any other business where this wouldn't be the case. Imagine if it were with football, everyone would switch to supporting Barcelona (and perhaps a few others) and the rest would be screwed.
Ramblings aside I think my point is brand loyalty is what ultimately drives football clubs as a business, even though there's people on the inside that distribute and direct the resultant rich pickings. That is why the likes of Benteke - no offence to him, insert any name there - do very nicely thank you out of it.
Obviously it would be naive to expect footballers to be decent enough to return that loyalty. But I still think it's perfectly reasonable to be annoyed and criticise them when they do not. And that's also why to me the whole 'in any other business' argument can't be used to rationalise football and its greed. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest, it's bugged me for ages!
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester
Why Bother With Loyalty Bonuses?
In an age when footballers rarely show the kind of loyalty to a club we expect, why on earth do clubs put loyalty bonuses into contracts that need to be paid out if a player is sold "against" their will?
Suarez stands to benefit financially by pushing for a transfer without actually requesting one. Surely a loyalty bonus should only be paid out at the discretion of the club after a period of time they see as being loyal.
Zaren, Spurs, Berlin
There is a commentator in Irish gaelic games called Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh (and no I didn't have to google his name, I already knew how to spell it). But he is without doubt one of the finest sports commentators of all time. Here is a sample of his finest (and funniest) work.
"Pat Fox has it on his hurl and is motoring well now, but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail... I've seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!"
"Colin Corkery on the 45 lets go with the right boot. Its over the bar. This man shouldn't be playing football. He's made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition. Lazarus was a great man but he couldn't kick points like Colin Corkery."
"The stopwatch has stopped. It's up to God and the referee now. The referee is Pat Horan. God is God."
"Teddy McCarthy to Mick McCarthy, no relation, Mick McCarthy back to Teddy McCarthy, still no relation."
"I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them. The priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! 40 yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field, Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage... it's a goal! So much for religion."
"Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal... the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick... Fox, to the 21, fires a shot - it goes to the left and wide... and the dog lost as well."
"1-5 to 0-8... well, from Lapland to the Antarctic, that's level scores in any man's language."
Jr, Saigon, Arsenal
Explaining Villa's Move
So people are complaining about David Villa's ridiculously cheap move to Atletico, and wondering why no English clubs managed to snatch him up. Isn't it rather likely that, being in his early thirties, having a family, living in Spain his entire life and now having won every single club trophy possible, he has zero interest in moving overseas? You see similar scenarios with us Arsenal fans, cursing van persie for not moving overseas like Vieira, Henry and Fabregas did, but I guess the answer is they are settled in the country with their family and don't want to leave.
As for Gomez's very cheap move to Italy as well, after a frustrating season for him, personally (playing second fiddle to Mandzukič, despite winning the treble), maybe it's just that he's desperate to be first choice at a club in a top league before the World Cup.
Which isn't a good theory when it comes to Schwarzer moving to Chelsea...
Andrew M, AFC (given up on Higuain), Australia.
More Footballers As Musicians
Ryan Giggs and Thom Yorke - Consistently at the top for 20 odd years, many titles, having reinvented how they do what they do as time wears on
Eric Cantona and James Murphy - Short but sweet career, encapsulating everything that was good about the group they were with at the time, before leaving on their own terms much to the disappointment of their followers
Steve Staunton and Ian Astbury - Perfectly respectable careers in their time before moving on to a massive job they were completely incapable of doing, and ballsing it up with hilarious consequences
Shane Tallon, ManYoo Fan, Dublin
Location, Location, Location
Clubs like Monaco and Chelsea give us a glimpse into the future of football, and it's fairly obvious that location matters. I don't want to knock places like Naples and Manchester, but the trend in the game seems to have newly monied clubs springing up in the likeliest of places: London, Monaco, Malaga, Paris, Milan. The one exception to this would seem to be Manchester City, but that looks like a bad bit of business for the long term with players already accepting less money for better weather. How long until Aguero and Silva leave and fans are left uttering foolish nonsense about how the team just didn't try hard enough when it's clearly a lack of talent. It may be the jet-set lifestyle, but you still have to live where you work, and players, dumb as they generally are, seem to grasp this fact of life. So with this trend emerging, will the future Super League be Monaco Money vs. Capetown Cash?
I'm taking the initiative adding second team names given the sport has reached a saturation point in Europe and you will need to appeal to foreign tastes to continue growing. But more seriously, the same trend that favors the elite cities where everyone rich wants to live like London and Monte Carlo casts out the older, working class cities where football lived and thrived from the cradle through adolescence. Does anyone in this forum honestly think that we will be talking about teams like Manchester United 20 years from now for anything other than their well-deserved and rightly-celebrated history? When the Premier League started, Manchester United understood what it was and Liverpool didn't, and the result is clear. When this next change happens, location matters most, and the Manchesters aren't in the right place.
Niall, Washington DC
With Olof Mellberg signing for Champions League-qualified Copenhagen for next season, is anyone else moistening at the prospect of them being drawn in the groups with Pirlo's Juventus, leading to some barely-legal beard-on-beard action (before the watershed, too)?
Jack (beard) Francis, Bristol.
Feiti, in response to your mail comparing the Konchesky/Liverpool deal to the purported transfer of Baines to Man U. There is a significant difference between the two situations. Namely, Baines is a good player while Konchesky was complete and utter poison.
E. McHale, LFC
A Rare Mail On Coventry
Very surprised at the lack of mail re Coventry City in the mailbox, a team with genuine problems. Problems that could result in the club as we know it no longer existing! Instead I am reading mails from Arsenal fans moaning, Liverpool fans moaning, (insert team here) moaning ...
If you are unfamiliar with what has happened with Coventry over the past few months, I suggest you have a google. The club has been destroyed by the new owners, who sold all our assets, pocketed the money, lost the money, drove us into administration, employed their own administrator, who funnily enough gave the club back to SISU, even though they were up against a fans supported American Businessman who had planned to buy half of the Ricoh Arena (Richard Keys liked him aswel - nuff said)! and to make matters worse, ignoring fan protests the Football League have once again covered themselves in glory by allowing the club to move 34 miles away to play home games in Northampton for the next 3 years, even though the company that own the Ricoh Arena has offered that the team can play at the ground rent free!
Once again, the Coventry fans have been shafted! Pass me that Arsenal shirt, life seems easy for them!
Sean (SISU OUT) Coventry
Why The Hatred Of Young?
Is it me or did most United fans turn on Ashley Young somewhere between him not hitting Shaun Derry's leg and hitting the Old Trafford turf?
Not the best signing we've ever made but by no means the worst, some great performances (e.g. Arsenal and Spurs last season, City away this season) interspersed with a fair share of injuries and anonymity. Maybe he hasn't lived up to the £15m transfer fee yet but I do wish United fans would get off his back - especially when they extol the virtues of Nani (obviously a far better player but similarly inconsistent, even lazier and unsportsmanlike than Young - methinks absence will make the heart grow fonder when he leaves this summer) and Kagawa (undoubtedly better, an incredibly exciting player but hardly set the world alike last season).
Young can still come good - better fitness, a bit less selfishness and a bit more consistency and he'll be a very useful squad player. This is a player who has twice featured in the PFA Team of the Year, won the PFA Young Player of the Year and was arguably England's best player in 2011 (and was, to be fair, rubbish at Euro 2012).
As a United fan I never like us to see us turn on one of our own players unless they show utter disrespect to the club (e.g. Tevez and Heinze trying to engineer moves to our biggest rivals). Ashley Young isn't even in the top 25 worst signings we've ever made and, whatever you think about him personally (and a lot of the bile aimed at him seems to have started after he was exposed as a bit of a diving sod), we could do a lot worse than having him on the bench.
Mike Coxon, HA2 via Northwich
...Whilst by no means his biggest fan, I think the abuse of Ashley Young in comparison to 'the wonderful Kagawa' is a bit wide of the mark. For one, I have yet to see Shinji curl in glorious strikes versus Arsenal and Tottenham, or in fact, do very little other than show for the ball and immediately lose it or just chase some hopeful long punts versus Real Madrid. Whilst needing to improve and get back to the performances provided when he first signed, at least Young fits a defined role in the Utd team, rather than require the whole team to be built around him.
Whilst signing Ozil would have been fabulous, once Madrid came in for him there was only one likely result, with Young, Valencia, Zaha and Nani all preferring the right wing I fail to see what signing a homesick Spanish right winger would do for us and whilst both brilliant, Reus and Mata again occupy the Rooney/Kagawa central support role - not the left wing. After seeing Tosic amount to the square root of f*ck all, Utd bailed on an agreed deal for Ljajic, again not a left winger.
Until at such point that a realistic, affordable improvement on Young/Nani can be found for the left wing, I'd suggest giving them your full support, rather than suggesting unrealistic alternatives who play in a completely different position.