That's the question that kicks off an afternoon mailbox full of debate over Arsenal and the size of Patrick Vieira's head. Plus, thoughts on colouring and Chelsea strikers...
The mailbox is very much split between Arsenal fans saying 'f*** you, we got through' and the doom merchants. We also have a mails on Chamakh for Chelsea and...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Liverpool Don't Have To Sell
Can someone please explain to me why most of your Mailbox contributors think that Liverpool should/must sell Luis Suarez this summer?
Yes, Luis wants away; that much is clear. But last summer, when he extended his contract through 2016, he forfeited the right to demand when he would leave.
At some point before 2016 Liverpool will have to let him go but they are under no obligation to do so now and, contrary to people like Cliff Mallinder, AFC, losing him on a free is not the only other option. We could hold out another year, target something a bit better than a knee-jerk, last-minute response and act then. Yes his value will drop over the next 12 months but I'd rather take $25m for him next summer with some quality replacements already lined up, than get $40m now and have our hand forced by a limited window and a market that doesn't seem to have a lot of value in it currently. Case in point: see Torres, Fernando and Carroll, Andy.
I also don't agree with the sentiment that you can't keep a player who wants to leave. If we refuse to sell Suarez and keep him for another year does anyone think he'll stop trying on the pitch? If for no other reason than pure selfishness, he will continue to plug away in training and on the pitch because he knows he's in the shop window and has to continue to perform to get the sort of move that he wants to a Real Madrid, PSG, etc. As other contributors have noted, it's not as if he passes much anyway, so I wouldn't worry about him shooting on sight more and ruining Brendan's system.
I guess the one big concern is that in the next 12 months, if he stays at Liverpool, he may bite/kick/stab/decapitate someone on the pitch and rule himself out of more games through suspension but I think that's a risk worth taking if it gives us an improved chance of Champions League football in 2014/15 and sets us up better for next summer's transfer window. As the Mkhitaryan debacle illustrates, without Champs League football, even a club of Liverpool's stature can't attract the top talent without that carrot.
Matt, LA via Liverpool.
Missed The Point
Cliff Mallinder, AFC...you've missed the point on Suarez. To continue with your dog analogy, while you were in the shop considering the purchase, factoring in these unworthy traits of this dog, he would come out of his kennel, do a back flip, a summer sault and make all the other dogs look like muppets with his dazzling tricks. He'd probably hear your chat and say to you in one of the three languages he speaks "mate, you're a real d*ck if you've not worked out why I'm a hero"
Look you seem quite simple based on your mail young Cliff and I'm worried the metaphor will pass you by so let me make it clear for you: Suarez kicks a ball for a living. He is really really good at that. Other people who are not as good at kicking balls as Suarez have sold for a lot of money so we will probably wait for the right offer.
...Cliff Mallinder, AFC - you're missing the point - since when has being an utter twunt ever significantly affected the value of a player? The only things that matter are their ability, and their commercial value.
Suarez may be loathed by an awful lot of people (I'm an LFC fan, and I'm not going to attempt to defend him) but his footballing ability is undeniable, and that's what makes him so valuable. How many players whose behaviour can charitably be described as unpleasant have continued to be very valuable and very rich. Suarez, Tevez, Balotelli, Terry, Mutu (he still had a successful career, even if Chelski did chase him through the courts), Barton are all cases in point, and I'm sure there are many more. FFS, Barton must have more lives that a room full of cats. As long as the players play well enough for their teams, their transgressions will be forgiven and forgotten - until they do something to screw over said team, of course. But it doesn't really matter what they do, because their ability means that there will always be someone willing to pay them fat wads of cash.
The chances are the Suarez will leave, and go to a club playing in the Champions League for a huge amount of money and will bag a big pay rise. As much as that might leave a bitter taste in the mouth, that's how football works now.
Andy (good god, I've just realised how cynical I am), LFC
PS. The dog analogy is awful, but I did laugh at the idea of Rodgers as a pet shop owner.
He Stopped Reading
In response to Cliff Mallinder, if Arsenal's opening bid was 30 million pounds, how will Liverpool "be lucky to get 25 million pounds for him"?
At the risk of sounding catty, I may have stopped reading at that point.
Shaun Brockman, LFC, Brisbane
Good Mail On The Simpsons
Cliff Malinder's entertaining mail left out the length of time on the dog's deal with the guy trying to sell him.
Either the first or second Simpson's Treehouse of Horror has one of my favorite vignette's where Homer sells his soul to Flanders the Devil ("it's always the one you least suspect!") for a donut, but the transaction isn't complete until Homer finishes it.
After a delay he scarf's it late at night and gets dropped from his kitchen into Hell (as the kitchen warps and he's being pulled down Marge asks him if he finished the donut, to which he replies an unconvincingly limp "No?" -- delicious).
Lisa secures her father a 'fair trial' where the wonderfully sleazy Lionel Hutz (RIP Phil Hartman) combs his hair back with a fork, tries to reassure Marge ("I watched Matlock in a bar last night, the sound was off but I think I got the gist of it") and opens his defense by summarising the prosecution's case succinctly:
"What is a contract? Webster's (American-English dictionary) defines it as an agreement under the law which is unbreakable. Which is UN-BREAK-ABLE! (awkward pause) May I please use the restroom?"
Luis Suarez is 26, scores goals and he'll be 29 when he can "walk away on a free", that's 182 and 203 in dog years just so you know, but that'll certainly feel old to a player preparing to experience the dramatic drop-off from his peak earning years as he leaves his 20's behind. No way in, erm, Hell he waits LFC out.
He plays at a 'premium' position, multiple premium positions, in fact. Tim Stillman's excellent mail yesterday pointed out quite rightly that deals for stars tend to shake out over time as the complexities of international player movement mean that big money moves take time.
No matter how simple it may seem to observers to plunk a wedge on the table it's not. It's not. Liverpool have the edge by such an obviously wide margin any suggestion otherwise is, frankly, reludicrulous!
Ian, LFC (sell him in January to an underperforming giant with a rabid fan base and unhinged tabloids, we know there'll be at least one) Hartford, CT USA
More Rainy Nights In Stoke
Reading Tim Stannard's piece on the best Spanish signings so far this summer I notice this
"Let's see how Neymar gets on in those wet Wednesday nights in Pamplona"
Obviously the Spanish equivalent to a "wet Tuesday in Stoke"
It got me thinking is there one of these for every league.
Also is Tuesday the worst day to play football in England but Wednesday is the worst in Spain?
Here are some I made up:
A windy Sunday in Seattle (MSL)
An overcast Thursday in Longford (Eircom league)
A sunny Friday in Perth (A-league)
In response to the mail yesterday from Sean (SISU out) Coventry, I too was surprised by the lack of Coventry voices until I realised that, like me, they were probably all too busy rocking back and forth in a foetal position silently sobbing whilst listening to The Smiths. That or violently stabbing homemade voodoo dolls of Joy Seppala and Tim Fisher.
Having tried to discuss the affair to non-supporting friends, I also find it's too emotionally draining to explain the subtleties and nuances of events that really make it so painful. Like detailing the grim realities of your terminal illness to someone more concerned with their broken nail. All fans should all be interested though. Think of us as the ghosts of Christmas future.
So thanks for your summary of the situation. Here's mine:
1. We're f**ked.
2. The Football League are spineless.
3. SISU (the pantomime villains of the piece) have so far proved themselves to be masters in the game of chicken, if nothing else. ACL, FL etc all forced to back down. For Coventry fans attempting to embark in a new game, my concern is that this will pan out in exactly the same way. We have far more to lose.
So. To go or not to go (to Northampton)? That is the question.
HJ (PUSB) Coventry
In response to Thom, Newport, I have to completely disagree with your statement that United "rarely bother with overseas talent" and simply take "the best players from rivals and aspiring rivals". For example, if you take the current first XI (although in fairness, several are interchangeable):
DE GEA - Purchased from Atletico Madrid
RAFAEL - Signed as a youth player from Fluminense
FERDINAND - Came from West Ham, not exactly a rival (no disrespect).
VIDIC - Signed from Spartak Moscow
EVRA - Arrived from Monaco
VALENCIA - Bought from Wigan (another club you wouldn't really call a rival to United).
CARRICK - A former Spur player, from a time when they weren't really a top four challenger.
KAGAWA - Signed from Dortmund
NANI - Formerly of Sporting
ROONEY - Bought from Everton, a perennial 5th-8th team.
VAN PERSIE - Signed from Arsenal, a top four rival.
So aside from RVP, pretty much all players buck the trend you stated. If you look further into the squad you see a mix of youth players from both home and abroad (Fabio, Evans, Welbeck, Cleverley, Fletcher, Giggs, Macheda, Johnstone, Amos, the Keane bothers, Cole, Januzaj, Lingard, Tunnicliffe), players who have been brought in from clubs lower down the league (Jones, Smalling, Young, Powell, Zaha), and promising foreign imports (Hernandez, Anderson, Lindegaard, Henriquez, Buttner, Varela).
Basically, the only rival/aspiring rival that we've ever really consistently bought players from is Spurs (and by consistently, I mean two in the last 15 years that immediately come to mind).
Gaz (probably a tl;dr), MUFC
Why A Wage Cap Might Work
I wholeheartedly agree with Matt Stanger's piece about Christian Benteke's transfer request, as it's a view that I've long held myself. I was also interested to read the comments on the article, some calling for a salary cap and others decrying it as a terrible idea and insisting that it would never work.
The first point I hear made against a salary cap is that it would be in breach of European law. I'm not an expert in European labor laws, but I don't see how this could be the case. Aren't the Financial Fair Play laws effectively a salary cap? A cap on a sliding scale, based on the football income of the team, but a cap nonetheless. "Sorry Bill/Werner/Pierre/Mario, we can't pay you 800k a week unless we double ticket prices or sell more branded polyester to third world teenagers." However, FFP rules are designed to prevent insolvency, not to promote competition.
Second is the suggestion that a global salary cap would have to be implemented, which would be unmanageable given the different tax laws and economies involved. If the cap wasn't universal, goes the theory, then English teams would be unable to compete. Compete against who exactly? There certainly would be more competition in the league, that's the whole point of the cap. So the inability to compete would only be against European teams. In the 58 year history of the European cup it has been won by an English team 12 times. But those 12 wins have been split between only 5 teams. Forest is currently in a lower division, Villa narrowly avoided relegation last year, and Liverpool haven't qualified since 2009. So why would the average fan care if their team can't compete in a competition they're unlikely ever to win anyway.
I don't think anyone is suggesting bringing the wage cap down to the level of the leagues lowest paid teams, but when you compare salaries across Europe I've seen numbers indicating the average player at Atletico Madrid is only making about 2k a week more than a player at Fulham. Unquestionably you wouldn't be able to compete financially with the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, but that's not the same as not being able to compete in Europe.
Incidentally, the MLS already has a salary cap. I'll agree that the standard of football isn't the highest, but the aim is to build a profitable and competitive league that appeals to fans. If LA Galaxy win every year it will go the same way as the NASL.
I still enjoy watching football matches, but I have less interest in the league table each year. Besides, if ManU wasn't allowed to pay their players as much, maybe they could pay off some of those staggering debts that everyone in a green and yellow scarf is so upset about.
Andrew (Can't think of anything amusing and creative to put in brackets), Canada
IT'S ALREADY HERE!
Everyone keeps talking/writing about the inevitability of a Euro Super League which will be contested by the "Euro Elite" and thus will create a wealth gap of epic proportions between the teams within the walls and those on the outside, *leading to the demise of Football as we know it* (trademark by JN)
It's already here and everyone loves watching it. Sponsors love sponsoring it. The best players do what they can to play in it. Coaches get fired for not being competitive enough in it (Mancini, the anti-holistic manager).
It's called the Champions League.
John MUFC (am I the only one who sees this??)
More Pop Star Footballers
Simon Le Bon and Frank Lampard - adored by their fans, do actually deliver hit after hit (goal after goal) despite being somewhat underwhelming when you managed to see them live / on TV. Rumoured weight problem.
Bono and Johan Cruyff: Very good at what they do but annoying preaching righteous guilt-merchants. Too old now.
Phil Collins and Lionel Messi: you want to fault them but have to admit they're rather good. Sold/scored millions. Tax issues.
Amy Winehouse and Paul Gascoigne. Oh what could have been without the self-destructing tendencies, the bottle, etc.
Jack Johnson and Gary Neville: Annoying headboy whilst performing his craft but surprisingly good at commenting, with frank views, on their industry
Axl Rose and Tony Adams: ex-hard man now turned soft, spouting philosophical nonsense. Blonde.
Bob Geldof and Joey Barton: Not really a musician/footballer. Good at keeping a higher profile than you'd expect with their talent alone.
Mike, Auckland Blue (Think Rooney playing for Mourinho would be a surprisingly good fit)
In response to Tim Colyer: how much more Anglo-centric can you be when you claim that a player is nowhere good enough for your beloved Chelsea, but that he would fit right in at Borussia Dortmund - Champions League finalists and twice champions of Germany in 3 years - or Napoli - runners up in Serie A last year. You said that he wouldn't fit in at a Champions League club then promptly named two, and I would fancy both of these clubs to beat or at least seriously challenge any team in England. Also, no player at Chelsea scored more goals in the Premier League than Benteke last season. Bit of a strange decision for a supposedly fourth-choice striker.
Gregor Meehan, MUFC
Just wanted to draw attention to a public delusion, that English players don't have flair. English players have flair, it's just something that they're often criticised for, because flair also means you run the risk of giving the ball away when it doesn't work out. Flair is taking a chance, trying a trick.
It's something we love to see from Brazilians and Spaniards, but for some reason not our own. Three players stand out for me: Joe Cole, Rooney and Wilshere. Cole had the spontaneity ground out of him, but I used to love his tricks. He was special, different. But Mourinho demanded he play the less adventurous higher percentage ball, because it was still early days in the development of the Special One. The result was success, but at what cost? England lost some of the best bits of one of our rare world class talents.
Rooney has followed the same path, Sir Alex as Jose has driven Rooney to play intelligently rather than with flair. We don't see those goals like we saw against Newcastle, though we do see the occasional chip because for Rooney that's actually a pretty high percentage shot. But I miss the old Rooney, and I think most fans do. But by 'maturing' he has had more success! Hopefully Moyes can revert this... I'd rather have more invention from him and less safety.
Now of course I have the same fear for Wilshere. I seem to remember him getting a bit of grief when he chanced his arm but lost the ball a few times against Barca, but as long as there are others to pick up the pieces, that's exactly what we want from him. He can be our Iniesta, our Mata, our inspiration.
And my god, England sorely needs that flair, to open the door in close games.
Guy S (Cole was underrated)