It's all very well having a go at David Moyes (and a few more do), but just who else would they get in? Plus, England in the Group of Death, Pantilimon and the helicopter...
It's the Mailbox all but United fans have been longing for, with Davey Moyes copping so much stick. Also have love for Martinez, Luis Suarez and Southampton. Enjoy...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Small Clubs Can Do Well Out Of Food Chain
I think that Matthew Stanger's article on how Benteke's transfer request is a bad thing for Villa and football in general is a bit one-sided. If we look at some of the players how have moved from 'smaller' clubs to bigger clubs in recent years, the selling club has more often than not done better out of the whole affair, and it has allowed them to move up the footballing food chain despite losing their prize asset.
Andy Carroll - left Newcastle for a ridiculous £35million, the club were able to re-invest that money in the squad that summer and finish fifth in the league and qualify for the Europa League, obviously last season didn't go quite as well but there were other factors at play there. The fact £35million was spunked on him was because Chelsea were foolish enough to spend £50million on Torres, it shouldn't be forgotten that Suarez was signed in that same transfer window, and if Liverpool hadn't have wasted that money on the mediocrity of Carroll, Henderson and Downing they would be in a considerably better position than they are now.
Swansea sold Joe Allen to Liverpool and were able to re-invest that money improving their squad and win the Carling Cup, improving on the previous season. Spurs sold Modric to Madrid last year and had their highest ever points total this season following some strong signings by AVB, Everton were also improved by Moyes after selling Lescott to City. Arsenal have to deal ever season with having their best players bought from them and are now one of the richest clubs in the world, while maintaining the same level of performance, which must be admired.
If anything football needs the big clubs to buy players like Benteke and Torres as it is the only way that smaller clubs are able to progress up to the next level, if they can spend their cash wisely.
Cheer Up, Stanger
Matt - have a holiday, watch the cricket, enjoy life. It's not that bad - I think the Benteke sale will work out well for Villa. He looks to me like a one-season wonder in the mould of Papiss Cisse or Michael Ricketts, and not nearly good enough to seriously contribute to a Champions League club. I'd be astonished if he signed for Chelsea - he wouldn't even be the best Belgian striker at the club and feasibly be fourth-choice striker. More likely he'll move to another mid-table club either in England or abroad - perhaps to Liverpool, or Napoli, or as a replacement for Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund.
On another point - competition isn't dead, and it also hasn't really changed:
Between 1972 and 1981, 5 different teams won the league (Liverpool won 6, one each for Forest, Leeds, Derby and Villa)
Between 1982 and 1991, 4 different teams won the league (Liverpool won 5, Arsenal 2, Everton 2, Leeds 1)
Between 1992 and 2001, 3 different teams won the league (Man Utd won 7, Arsenal 2, sugar-daddy'd Blackburn 1)
Between 2002 and 2013 (admittedly 2 extra years), 4 different teams have won the league (Man Utd won 6, Chelsea 3, Arsenal 1, Man City 1)
The names change, the level of competition stays about the same - if anything gets greater, as I think it's unlikely that the next ten years will see the same single-club hegemony of each of the last four decades. I confidently predict that at least one team other than Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City will win the league in the next ten years (it's not at all hard to see Spurs or Arsenal winning the league). Dry your eyes.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London
Understanding Benteke But...
You're probably getting bored of Benteke by now, but to be honest ever since the agent dropped the misquote bomb in May, you should have seen this coming.
But just to give my point of view: yes, loyalty is dead, and yes, we didn't give a monkey's about him being loyal to Genk when we signed him. And considering he kept us up pretty much single-handed last year, the amount of TV money he's earned us already should mean we give him the £25m we get in a transfer fee really.
But come on, we're football supporters for f***'s sake; my desire for Benteke to stay at Villa is not based on the fact it's the best thing for him, nor that he owes us anything. It's because I support Aston Villa, he's really f***ing good at football, and we're worse off without him.
If my fiancée gets a shout from Ryan Reynolds and gives me the elbow, the fact it's an understandable decision isn't going to make me feel any better about it.
Two Birds, One Stone
This is my first foray into writing in to this hallowed forum, however I'd like to pick up on a few points raised recently.
Firstly, in response to Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester who discusses the point of brand loyalty in their mail regarding Benteke and their Zanussi washing machine. Benteke was never a Villa fan to begin with. He was being the pragmatic consumer in moving to them in the first place.
Now he has the opportunity to move to a 'better product' by handing in his transfer request. He will be moving to a team who pay better wages as well as attain a greater media presence in a world cup year.
Secondly, Gareth Barry. It has been suggested by a few Arsenal fans that they would not be pleased by the capture of Barry, I'd just like to say that as a City fan I will be very sad to see him leave.
A few mailboxes ago, match of the day highlights players were talked about. This is where you will never see Barry. He's in the right place at the right time and kept Manchester City ticking. David Silva even named Barry as the best player at Manchester City. Not Tourè or Aguero...Barry.
For the prices quoted in the media he will be an absolute steal. Yeah, he isn't exactly Usain Bolt, but as Hamann once said and I'm paraphrasing now "you don't need to be fast if you are in the right place to begin with".
What Would Euro League Do To Premier League?
Once the European super league starts, what happens to the Premier league? There will obviously be a number of 'sleeping giants' who do not get voted in/don't meet the massive stack of cash requirements, how will they react? I expect this league to be very much a closed shop, no promotion or relegation as members will probably have had to leave their own FA. There will be swathes of fans whose club is in a devalued, practically meaningless competition, any victories will be hollow as the biggest clubs will have left.
I would imagine that there have already been a large number of high-level talks between club owners to flesh out how the league will run, as well as a large wodge of cash handed over to the lawyers to prepare the groundwork of exiting the current leagues and football associations.
As Matt Stanger so correctly notes, the rich are only interested in getting richer and the mind bogglingly large TV deal is just not enough for them, it has to be shared, the outrage of it all. There will be individual TV deals for each club and the fans will once again suffer. The number of away fans will be minimal, the matchday atmosphere will suffer and TV will become the only way to see your team.
Clubs chasing the non-domestic market will not care, lucrative pre-season tours will continue and any local connection will be eroded to the point of non-existence, this really could spell the death knell for clubs up and down the league ladder.
Of course, it might not happen, but the money stench will win,
Money Gravitates Towards Money
I'm on a train so apologies for the length, but I thought I'd pass the time with my thoughts on Niall, Washington DC's observation that (with the apparent exception of Manchester - I'll have you know it's a wonderful place) there seems to be a pattern to the nouveau-riche clubs being located in places where footballers might want to live (London, Monaco, Malaga, Paris). With respect, location plays it part, but I think that over-simplifies the issue. Players simply go where the money is.
For example, it wasn't London that Abramovich went for. It was the Premier League. He told advisers he wanted to buy a team, and their feasibility report recommended it. Manchester United was on the list but thought of as too expensive, so it came down to Villa, Spurs and Chelsea. Villa were discounted because they were in Birmingham, but given there was no cap on expenditure or wages, it wouldn't have been an inability to attract players to the Midlands that meant Roman looked further south. It was the brand.
Manchester City were bought by the Abu Dhabi Investment Company primarily to raise their own business profile, not because of an interest in football. Despite the company's wealth they are best known for owning Manchester City, which is the reason for the amount of regeneration and community work they have done in East Manchester: it's all about perception of them as owners of a succesful club run the 'right way'. And the reason they picked City was no doubt massively influenced by the fact the club had 'Manchester' in its name and was therefore an easily recognisable product. Trust me, we're well aware of the irony that City's new-found wealth is as much to do with us having made Manchester an internationally recognised football city as anything else.
The other club takeovers are predominantly down to the fact there is potentially huge money and benefit from owning a football club, but you have to be competing in Europe. England is seen as too congested and expensive a race, whereas the French and Spanish leagues grant relatively easier passage. In France, Paris St Germain were bought because they were cheap (years of relative failure) and not only was it based in Paris but there was history to the club. The biggest reason for Monaco's takeover was not just the location, but in the face of Financial Fair Play coming in the tax structure in that province allows players to keep their wages tax free, whereas France players pay 75% top rate.
So of the clubs you mention, Malaga is probably the closest to your theory of 'destination clubs'. Spain has four CL places but only two (Real Madrid and Barca) benefit from any real TV money as they negotiate their deals separately. Therefore, the rest of the league has a relatively even race to 3rd/4th, and Malaga as a club on the south coast is an attractive proposition to players. But I have no doubt the owners' lack of recent ambition is down to Malaga not being a big enough brand to export internationally like the clubs above.
As for whether we'll still be talking about Manchester United and City as forces in world football. Financial Fair Play is about to link expenditure to turnover. This will cement both clubs as spending forces, whilst at the same time stop anyone from 'doing a Chelsea' ever again. So yes, money goes to money, and players go to money. Why else would Brazilians be playing in Russia.
David P, Manchester
Suarez: The Solution
If Luis Suarez is to be believed, the reason that he wants to leave Liverpool is because he has received some less than positive coverage from the English media. He even accepts (now, eventually) that he might have given them cause to have a go at him.
It's clear that Suarez is never really going to change. He has an edge (to put it mildly) and even if he can temper his behaviour, he will always have an edge.
So, is there a solution? Is there a way that Suarez can get the press off his back while still doing what he does?
Well, if F365 is any sort of yardstick for the English media, then of course there is. What's the one thing that he can do to become a media darling and blind the press to his antics.
It's simple. Luis Suarez must grow a beard.
Neal Boland, LFC, Dublin (of course I know that he really wants Champions League football but I don't think that Liverpool have a solution for that just yet)
Why Liverpool Should Take £25m For Dog Suarez
Why are some Liverpool fans saying that Liverpool should hold out for £40m? They'll be lucky to get £25m for him in my opinion or they'll end up losing him on a free at the end of his contract.
Imagine I need a pedigree dog to take to Crufts and I go to the pedigree dog shop in Pedigree Dog Road something, something... I walk in and the little bell above the door rings and a wizened Elf like man appear behind the counter as if by magic. "Can one help you sir?" he asks. "Yes," I reply, "I'm looking for a pedigee dog but I don't want to pay more than £3,000 for it."
Well sir, I have this magnificent tooth hound available right here for £4,000". "Hmm...He's a bit ugly but I suppose I might possibly stretch to £4,000. Does he have any particular traits that I should know about?". "Well, he barks at brown dogs for some reason, bites white dogs and has been banned from some high profile dog shows but when he's allowed back I'm sure you'll find that he obeys commands well and will ace the obstacle course although he might not ignore the treat, as he tends to eat them all himself."
"Are you trying to sell me this dog or not? I'll give you £1,000 for him and you can count yourself lucky." "No sir, the rest of my shop needs repairing and I need the money so I believe I'll keep him as I'm bound to be offered the £4,000 I require". "Ok, bye then".
Ten years later I'm passing the shop and decide to pop in. "Hi, do you remember that dog you tried to sell me. Did he win any more dog shows?". "No sir, I had to have him put down as he had in-growing teeth and started to eat himself".
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
Blame It On The Weatherman
Sarah Winterburn's article on FFP and Big Money Signings is a good one but iIthink she misses another important aspect of why England can miss out on big talent - the culture/weather!
It may seem like not so much of an issue to us pasty white folk who are used to 11 months of rain, cold and miserableness but if you are Brazillian and have the opportunity to play for a big club in England or a big club in Spain/Italy/south of France which one would you choose?!
The weather, the food, the women (they are hotter, you have no argument against this so dont even try) still at a big club and probably getting paid just as much with as much chance of winning trophies as our lot do and possibly speak the same language or close to it, its a no brainer.
England sucks, be happy with what you have!
Orts (still love Ronaldo but wouldn't begrudge him from wanting to stay in Spain than live in Manchester) MUFC
Ashley Young: Grey, Mediocre Blur
Not to be pedantic, but Marco Reus generally plays on the left, Mata plays as a wide attacker for Spain (and drifts across the attacking three for Chelsea behind Torres) and Jesus Navas, whilst as mono-dimensional as Valencia, is much better as a right winger than Young. Tosic never got any game time (perhaps not unfairly, given he had Ronaldo, Tevez, Nani, Berbatov and Rooney ahead of him), but has subsequently become a bloody good player at CSKA, and Ljajic is already far better than Young, whilst costing less (and having a far, far less punchable face).
So they're all very valid comparisons, and Young is indeed ten kinds of awful compared to all of them. Just because he occasionally gets his patented 'step in, curl burl towards far corner' move right, and it really is very occasionally, doesn't make him any better. Nicklas Bendter occassionally looks like a decent striker, it doesn't mean he actually is. Young wastes a colossal amount of possession and opportunities by slowing down play to cut in, whereas Kagawa recycles possession well in the final third, and Nani, able to beat defenders on either side, draws at least two defenders to him, and if nothing else, creates space for others.
Ashley Young is just a grey, mediocre blur. An attacking midfielder bereft of flair or intelligence, with sod all technique, and whose primary virtue is being predictable in his mediocrity.
Does anybody dispute that better, more adaptable, and younger, attacking midfielders could have been bought for a similar sort of money? So why defend him?
Just Don't Play Him On The Left
I don't hate Young, I just hate how he plays when he plays on the left. It's not his fault, he's not a left winger...if you can't cross the ball with the appropriate peg for the side of the pitch you're on, and so always just cut in onto your stronger foot, you're not really a winger.
No, if you remember back to the Euros, Young was playing in the centre behind the forwards - filling the hole that Rooney would normally play in. And he played well enough that we didn't miss Rooney. Because he actually played like Rooney of old: tricky, running at defenders, shooting and passing, nice link-up play.
I don't really know why Sir Alex and other managers have put him there - presumably, you have to try and fit your best players into a formation even if they're out of position (see: Rooney and Tevez when playing with Ronaldo; Scholes/Gerrard on the left when playing with Lampard). But I would love him to have his chance playing in the right role, as he's pretty rubbish anywhere else.
That said, if we had Baines busting up the left wing, then I wouldn't mind Young cutting in because at least crosses would still come in! Actually, maybe I'd go a step further, and move Baines to left wing outright, with one of our other million left-backs behind him. Which of course does for Young. But then what's the point in having a square peg in a round hole? Maybe we can exchange him for Coentrao?
Guy S (Baines + Coentrao would be quite fun)
Ease Off The Boy Young
I was glad to see a couple of mails defending Ashley Young in the mailbox this morning. While I agree he can be frustrating, he is also a very hard-working player who is probably burdened by the weight of expectation following a large transfer fee. I firmly believe he has a lot to offer the team and is worth his place in the squad.
The amount of work he does, which often goes unseen by the cameras, is incredible. He always offers support to the left-back and tracks back whenever we don't have the ball. He is a decent dribbler and he certainly has an eye for goal.
However, he does have a tendency to be too negative in attack; he doesn't take on defenders enough and often looks to pass back into the middle when a drive towards the byline is possible. But for me this is just a mindset problem, which can easily be coached out of him.
I think a little genuine competition (not Nani/Zaha/Kagawa - square pegs for a round hole) for Young would see his performances improve but, if not, you'd always have the other option. Left-wing has been an issue since Giggs moved to the middle so it would be nice to see us sign a left-footed wide player as well as a central midfielder; only once that's sorted should we look at extra defenders/strikers.
But at the moment, because of injuries and inconsistency, it seems that Young's role is team scapegoat. Ease off, people.
Young A Typical United Buy
In response to Andrew, Banbury 'Whilst signing Ozil would have been fabulous...'
What often seems to be overlooked is that Utd very rarely gamble on overseas talent, preferring to use the 1990's Juventus model of taking the best players from rivals and aspiring rivals.
Carrick, Berbatov, Tevez, Young, Ferdinand, RVP, Rooney, Valencia...it works, and the players are already used to the division when they join.
Kagawa a rare exception to this, and he wasn't exactly a fixture in the side.
Don't Panic, Arsenal Fans!
Dear worried Arsenal fans, I have some news for you. I have just checked the calendar and it the sodding 10th of July! Start worrying in about 4-5 weeks, meanwhile enjoy the sunshine, enjoy The Ashes, and relax!
Seriously, though, in the modern age of 24 x 7 rolling news and information overload, people want instant results and constant changes and updates in status. Sadly for them, in the real world sometimes days/weeks pass without movement simply because a key person is on holiday or somebody, quite rightly, is waiting for all of the facts and information before making a decision. Buying a new player is not as simple as going to Tesco's for some milk. These things take time, so relax and trust the professionals to do their job.
Or, take a Valium.
Philip Lewis, Relaxed Gooner
...Jeez Gunners, calm down a bit, will you? One would think people might be a tad grateful to the man who has won the club several trophies and earned the respect of just about everyone in football. Even without silverware recently, he has maintained Arsenal's stature as a top tier club by seamlessly moving them to a beautiful stadium that holds 20,000 more people. Despite having not won anything in the last 8 years, players always state their dream of working with the reigning UEFA Manager of the Decade 2001-2010.
On another note, did JR, Saigon just say Per Mertesacker is Germany's captain?? That made me laugh quite a bit. This guy called Philip Lahm would be offended by that.
Greg Tric, Nairobi
Are Arsenal Players Worth Poaching?
Joshua, South Africa...did you ever think that the reason none of the Arsenal players are being poached is because none of them are really that good relatively speaking?!
Is Cazorla hands down the best attacking midfielder in the league? Is Wilshere the best centre midfielder? Perhaps he will prove so in the near future but his injury record has so far hindered his claim to that title for me.
It may in fact be a reflection of how far Arsenal are falling that your players are no longer coveted by superior teams. I know it has made not a jot of difference in terms of points and goals but Spurs seem to be strengthening and I wonder if Arsenal's time in the top four is finally coming to an end next season. But then this argument has been made for two or three seasons now too so perhaps I'm just filling my toilet break with wild thoughts.
Earn Your Acronym!
So, Lee (can't wait for August 17!), Fuerteventura, is already referring to Marco Van Ginkel as 'vG' ?? Now I'm as excited as the next CFC fan about the coming season, but surely the first rule of the Mailbox is that a player must earn such an honour as to have an acronym rather than using their name?
Sort your sh*t out Lee!
Tony (www.justgiving.com/tony-muir, 325 mile run - sponsor me please!!)
You And Us Both
Forget about FIFA corruption, exorbitant ticket prices, the rise in player power and the money-obsessed juggernaut that is the Premier League - personally, the accidental mis-spelling of Santi CAZORLA to 'Carzola' name, might be my biggest bug-bear in football today.
Given how he's such a talented, gifted ball technician, hearing his name spelt incorrectly is like listening to the crescendo of a wondrous soundscape interrupted by a chorus of blaring Vuvuzelas. It's continued misuse also gives Jamie Redknapp licence to keep saying the name wrong in the studio in his dulcet tones, and it makes me think that Gianfranco Zola's started up a new line of work in the auto-mobile industry (which I would love to see).
Please. For all that is sacred, the name is CAZORLA. Thanks very much.