Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
Fear is stopping Moyes dismantling Fergie's team, we are told. Plus, one Arsenal fan digs at Gibbs and mails on Martinez, the Group of Death and a Spurs Christmas list...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Encouragement For Coventry Fans
I just wanted to send in some encouragement to all the worried Coventry City fans in the mailbox. In the 80's Bristol Rovers went through a similar situation when an arson attack and spiraling rents at our Eastville ground meant we were close to bankruptcy. So we left Bristol and moved to groundshare with Bath City. This was meant to be the death knell for the club. And yet it ended up being a golden era. While the attendance figures were far smaller than they had been in Bristol the togetherness of the fans became legendary. The knowledge that our backs were against the wall turned Twerton Park into a fortress representing the clubs refusal to die. We ended up being promoted to the second tier (the last time we've been there sadly) and enjoyed famous wins against Dalglish's Blackburn and Keegan's Newcastle. When we eventually returned to Bristol there remained to this day a feeling that the Memorial Stadium was never our 'home' in the same way that Bath felt.
So my advice is that if you all stick together as fans and make yourselves heard you can prove that the soul of a club is in its support and not its owners. I appreciate the worry about SISU so keep raising awareness off their shameful requisition of your club. I suppose my point in writing this was to try and reassure you that it might not all be doom and gloom. As a one club city you don't need to worry so much about losing a generation of young fans to a local rival as happened with us. As long as your supporters have the will, your club will not die - and believe me when I say that every neutral is cheering you on.
Mike, League 2, BRFC
'Arry For England
At the risk of bragging about a meaningless result in a meaningless pre-season friendly, last night Exeter City earned a very creditable 0-0 against a strong QPR side.
The only reason that anyone apart from me should care about this result, is that by taking a squad of players that are man-for-man clearly technically superior to the "minnow" opposition, and then failing to get the expected win or even a goal, I guess that 'Arry has finally proven the doubters wrong that he was perfect for the England job after all.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (fingers crossed for a similar performance in the League Cup in a months time)
Thiago: From A Barca Fan's Perspective
Last night, Sky Italia (the same outlet that broke the story of Pep Guardiola joining Bayern) broke the news of Thiago signing for Bayern Munich. There's bound to be outcry from Manchester United supporters who will be gutted to miss out on such a young talent, but I just wanted to put down the thoughts from someone on the other side of the fence.
As a Barca fan (yeah, yeah, get over it) I feel massively let down by the manager and the board. As you may or may not be aware, the only reason Thiago was available for a cool €18m is because a clause in his contract reduced his release clause. This clause was activated because Thiago played one game fewer than what was agreed upon. One. Game. Not only that, but when it came to light in the press, Tito Vilanova was asked how it happened to which he responded along the lines of, "I don't know the ins-and-outs of every player's contract." I don't think I've ever heard something so ridiculous. Imagine the outcry if Arsenal let Jack Wilshere leave a few years ago, under the same circumstances, all because of Arsene Wenger's ignorance?
A good example of how to, and how not to, use the media to your advantage was showcased by Pep when he came out yesterday and said, "He is the only player I want, that's what I told them [Bayern board execs]. It'll be him or no one.". A bit of a contrast this to Tito's absolute silence, and the inability to reassure his player that he will be a key part of the squad next season or that he's an asset for the future and needs to be patient. Nothing. I can hardly blame the lad for wanting to join a very ambitious football side with a manager who is looking to revolutionize German football - but moreover, I can't really blame him for jumping ship when his manager is unwilling to a) secure him a new contract, or b) sit down with him and tell him that he's needed.
The real reasons behind Thiago's lack of game time during the 2012/13 season is actually down to something which I find much more irksome. Barcelona, after winning the La Liga title with four games to spare, decided that the work was not done and that the next step was to match the record 100 points target set by Mourinho's Real Madrid side the previous year. Although Thiago was involved in 3 of those 4 matches as either a starter or a sub, Xavi or Song played for the majority of those games, and in the final match against Atletico Madrid, Thiago didn't even feature. I honestly feel that Tito's chase for the 100 points record will have repercussions beyond losing such a bright young talent (probably our best player to come out of La Masia since Messi), and such short-sightedness shown by Vilanova and the board is staggering for a club our size.
I understand how terribly insatiable this is going to sound to some football supporters reading this, we've had an absolutely glorious 6 or 7 years at the top. But that doesn't mean that fans of Barcelona shouldn't be ambitious and want the best for their club. The cracks are certainly starting to show. Sandro Rosell, our current President, is hell-bent on demolishing the successes of our previous President, Joan Laporta, and everything associated with him This includes the club's relationship with club legend Johan Cruyff, getting rid of Unicef from the front of our shirt and selling out to massive Qatari Airline, constantly banging on about profits the club has made without attending to its issues - predominantly at center-back. Recently we've been chasing Thiago Silva from PSG, a transfer that looks like it's never going to happen, for reportedly double the price we could have signed him for last year. And now we've gone from the possibility of Thiago and Javi Martinez (another target we failed to go for aggressively) to Sergi Roberto and Song. These are club-changing decisions.
Apologies for the rant, but I'd be keen to know if there are any other Barca fans willing to come out of the woodwork. Or am I just screaming into the abyss?
Kev R (London)
Following on from Keith, Liverpool's comments this morning about making the league more evenly balanced, I think I may have a solution. A handicap system.
At the start of each season, each team would receive points immediately that are calculated by their previous season's final league positions (the only exception being the 3 promoted teams, who would get the 3 biggest handicaps, but perhaps slightly altered so that the champions get the highest as a reward for winning the Championship?)
So for the coming season United would start with 0 points, City with 1, Chelsea with 2 etc all the way up to Cardiff who would start with 20 points.
The only obvious flaw I can see is that part way through a season a team, should they have had a crap start and have no hope of winning anything, may start to lose games on purpose just so that they have a better chance the next year but I'm sure this would be unlikely and could be easily offset by giving generous financial rewards for final league positions (or perhaps for winning each individual game?).
Or we could just leave things as they are of course.
Just a thought anyway.
Chris, Reading FC
It's a slow day at work, so I've actually just done the maths on my email below, and whilst not as spectacular as I first thought it would be, it did throw in some interesting changes (some not so much) that would have occurred should this rule have occurred from 2011/2012 onwards. Few highlights as follows:
- Newcastle finish 3rd
- Aston Villa relegated instead of Bolton
- Arsenal 4th (predictably)
- Spurs 5th (predictably)
- Norwich 6th (up from 12th)
- Gap between 4th and 10th reduced to 14 (from 24)
- Newcastle relegated instead of Wigan
- Liverpool in 12th place behind Wigan
- Chelsea 2nd instead of City (3rd)
- Arsenal 4th (predictably)
- Spurs 5th (predictably)
- Gap between 4th and 10th reduced to 12 (from 18)
All in all nothing too drastic, but I maintain that it would just increase overall competition just a tiny bit which should allow for a more open season.
Not sure if Newcastle fans would be happy or sad with this suggestion though! Champions League one year, Championship the next?
Chris, Reading FC
In the 2008 Ballon D'Or, eleven of the top 24 played for English clubs. In the 2012 version, five players in the top 23 played for English clubs, two of whom (Balotelli and Drogba) have left for foreign shores.
Contributors can throw out names ad nauseam, like schoolboys on a playground, but it's all qualitative rubbish. The hard and unpleasant fact is that the world's best no longer play in, or want to play in, England.
Great article John, as usual.
I've been waiting for a mention of the Women's Euro on Football365 (thought it would never come!) and always struggle to understand why the women's game attracts so little attention or, when it does, it's often an incredibly aggressive and ignorant response (it seems even under-21 competitions attract more attention so it can't just be about the speed of the game).
As John mentioned, the girls always seem to play with great spirit and although the game is clearly much slower, you have a lot of flair players and tactical battles that are really enjoyable to watch. The big issue apart from a few exceptional players in my opinion is that the level of goalkeeping is pretty poor (this devalues the rest of the game where the players are actually very good technically and have a great vision for the game).
Quick note though, the USA were runner-up in the last World Cup (not Germany) and in the past two international competitions (i.e the World Cup and Olympics), France have been the most succesful European team, placing 4th in heart-breaking fashion both times. Germany are definitely very good though (so are Sweden) and probably stronger mentally than the French (who in my opinion play the best football).
So thanks again for the shout out John. For those who don't enjoy the game, fair enough. For those who haven't had a chance to watch many games and are thinking they might give it a chance, my advice would be to forget about the speed. If you accept it's going to be slower than the men's game, I think you might find other aspects of the women's game that are really attractive. My favorite teams to watch in the past few years have been France and the US, they play my favourtie type of football (a perfect blend of direct football and fancy tiki taka) and have great character.
Regarding the Johnny Nic article on womens football this morning.
The worst thing about the women's game is that the goalkeepers are absolutely awful. I've never seen a female goalkeeper who could be considered on the level as the rest of her peers at the top of the game. In comparison Buffon, Casillas, Schmeichel were as good if not better and more important than most of their team mate. The goalkeeping in the Germany 6-2 England match was comical and it was a European Championship final!
It is an undeniably fact that women are smaller than men on average, and yet womens football has the same size pitch and goals. I don't know if this is entirely the cause of the issue but I can't imagine it helps.
Women don't play the game that differently to men, from what I've seen. The tactics are the same, the use of the ball is the same, but because the pitch is bigger in relation to the players (on average) and because the players are slower on average and can't cover the ground as much, the game is played at a slower pace.
Maybe not elsewhere, but it seems from what I've experienced in the UK that the best football games in this country are the ones played at blistering pace with end to end action and a high skill level. This kind of game doesn't happen as much in the womens game to its detriment in this country. The womens game is very big in the USA and their mens game suffers from relatively similar problems (slower, slightly lower skill level) which is possibly why womens football is enjoyed more there and better supported.
Calum (lets see how Chris, MUFC uses womens football to complain about David Moyes, he uses every other issue to have a pop at him), MUFC, Reading
I just wanted to reply to John Nic's latest hagiography on women's football. Initially, it seemed strange to me that so overtly a political writer claims it unfair to assume he has an agenda. The last article I read by him (which I enjoyed, incidentally) was an extended metaphor in which he scored a class war victory over immaculately turned out "rich kids" during a rugby match and this was intended as comment on wider wealth and its use in football. It was pretty clear he was making "a serious point". He does also manage to shoehorn a 50 year old example of "male hegemony" into this article, which seems odd for a supposedly entirely agenda less piece.
That aside, I think it is disingenuous to state "women's football is growing and growing"; John does seem to have cherry picked his figures. Internationally, the game may be growing but the domestic FA cup finals attendance has been in freefall since a 2008 peak. Rounding to the nearest thousand the attendance is as follows: 2008, 24,000; 2009, 23,000; 2010, 17,000; 2011, 14,000; 2012, 9,000 and 2013, 5,000. Reading around the subject, the FA Cup final seems to be the biggest single domestic event in women's football and a fair barometer of the game's domestic popularity.
In a neat inversion, domestic coverage of women's football, especially on the BBC (which, recent internal reports show, whether you agree with it or not, often has its own agenda) has been increasing since 2008 and is at an all time high. I can't help but wonder if all the unstintingly positive coverage and the BBC's clumsy attempts to present female players as equal in terms of raw popularity to the male players, to kick start interest, haven't been counter-productive and denied the domestic women's game a more natural, organic and above all sustainable growth.
As with all these issues, people are keen to divest themselves of latent bias, to be seen as objective, while insinuating people with a different viewpoints are hateful bigots. I am, and I believe many others are, completely ambivalent about women's football. If it is on I may watch it, it does not "offend my eyes", but it does not excite anywhere near the same personal interest as the male game. I do think the female game is played at a slower pace, I do think the close control and tactical approach often isn't of the same standard and I do think the goal keeping can be poor. This is obviously comparative, the worst professional female player is far better than I have ever been, but then this it is the same with male players and that doesn't preclude us all from forming entirely unfair judgements on them. Just as Jon can choose to like it and not be a pinko-liberal, I believe I have a right to not like it and not be a vile sexist.
Ultimately, I wonder if the best thing that could happen for women's football would be for men to stop championing and decrying it on football websites and let women get on with playing and enjoying it. When you think about it, it's a bit patronising isn't it?
This is the link I used for the stats, it's worth a read:
I was actually going to write in today about the women's euros, so you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to wake up to John Nicholson's article. I am in full agreement John, I genuinely enjoy watching women's football.
I began to take interest when the at-the-time all-conquering USA team with superwoman Mia Hamm were almost upset in the 1999 world cup by China, with the US eventually winning on penalties. It was a surprisingly competitive game considering USA had been demolishing teams 7-0 and up at what was supposed to be the meeting of the world's best teams. I began keeping an peripheral watch on major competitions and star players in the game, although women's football was pretty still difficult to follow due to lack of coverage.
Fast forward to the 2011world cup in Germany and the improvements in sponsorship, coverage and general support were clear for me to see. I believe the majority of the games were played in front of full stadiums, I could watch every game on Eurosport(?) pretty easily and the standard of football was getting a lot better as a result of aforementioned sponsorship and global interest.
The reason for my email though, is to mention a player that really caught my eye (not peripherally) at that World Cup, who I think is slightly underrated because she isn't brought up in any arguments I've come across over who is the best female player ever. She is Louisa Necib of Lyon and France, and holy christ, this gal is sick at football. To draw a comparison from the men's game, she is like a female, French Iniesta but scores more often and more spectacularly. She plays in the heart of midfield and likes to take the ball from deep, drive up the field and pick defence-splitting passes to her forwards. She's got extremely quick feet and has a bag of tricks up her sleeve, and she has a shot similar to that of C. Ronaldo where her technique allows her to get the ball to move all over the place before finding residence in the top corner. Nasty.
Now when the topic of best female player is brought up (Where does this guy hang out?), I usually hear the same names regurgitated because people haven't really seen enough of the players to make to make an informed/hipster decision. They end up going with the popular names such as Marta, Mia Hamm, Christine Sinclair, Birgit Prinz etc. Now I think these women are the best and deserve to be mentioned so regularly, but I also think they all gain their fame mainly on their goalscoring records. They are quick or big powerful strikers who have a very direct style of play, and they definitely know how to finish. In Marta's case, there's a higher skill level (being Brazilian, of course) but none of these play with anywhere near the elegance of Necib. She is still only 26 as well, so hopefully we haven't seen her best yet.
Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is if you do get around to flicking on BBC3 at any point during the Euros, make sure it's a France match. I'm on a crazy campaign to get this girl some recognition, and I think the most hip football corner of the internet is a great place to start.
Oh and here's a little taste:
DS United (No pressure, Louisa)
Am getting a bit fed up here with everyone (including F365) having a good laugh at the apparent 'irony' of Moyes etc saying Rooney is as fit as he's been in ages, just before he does his hamstring and has to come home from the tour. Hamstring injuries have NOTHING to do with a player's fitness. Footballers and all athletes in fact, even at the absolute peak of their fitness, can suffer from a pulled/torn hamstring. It is usually down to not stretching properly. That's all.
Martin Burkitt, London
So Nick Smith doesn't like my logic, eh. Fair enough. Each to their own. I'd like to reply on a couple of points though if I may.
I don't really care which league is the 'best' as there are so many different way to consider quality in football (both on and off the pitch) and certainly don't subscribe to a "Premier League is the bestest bestest bestest league in the world" mentality. What I can tell Nick for a fact is that the England has a far higher UEFA co-efficient than Italy and has more Champions League berths as a result. So for the purposes of the argument, I think its reasonable to assume that Serie A is 'weaker' than the Premier League.
Nick puts a lot of weight on Juventus and Milan being a step up from Man City in terms of prestige. Whilst I am also of the opinion that both are certainly more prestigious than City, I'm not sure that a player from Argentina or a lad that came through the ranks at Milan's local rivals would necessarily see things that way or even give a rats *rse for that matter. What I am pretty confident of is that neither player is earning anywhere close to what they were at City, which in any walk of life rarely represents career progression and is a useful indicator for the purposes of my argument. In addition, and this is only an opinion of course, I don't think that either team has a squad of a standard comparable to City's. I would suggest that a player transferring from a better team to a poorer one is a possible symptom of a regression in their career.
I note that Nick makes no observation in relation to my comments regarding the sale price of the players in question, which was a significant part of my original email.
Nick suggests that the lack of a transfer for John Terry disproves the theory that if his actions had affected his career he would have been transferred to a weaker team/league. We are in agreement on this one. That is a ludicrously simplified idea of how football works, which is why I never made that argument in the first place. The straw man has been defeated.
In addition, Nick seems to think that because Terry hasn't been transferred indicates that his career can't have been affected by his behaviour. This of course ignores the possibility of a players career regressing whilst staying at a club, which I exactly what I discussed in my email in relation to Terry. As readers may have noted, I was inconclusive regarding the impact Terry's actions have had on his career, but to demonstrate the point I will give you another example (which incidentally I mentioned in my original mail) which is hopefully clearer. Nicklas Bentner has, alas, not been transferred from Arsenal yet, but I challenge anyone to argue that his career is on the up, or even stagnant for that matter!
My original point was that, in my opinion, the suggestion that a players actions would not affect their career or value because only ability counts is flawed, although I did point out examples where actions do not appear to have led to consequences. I don't feel that I have been disproved by Nick. My conclusions? I'm happy with my logic, thanks.
I do think it's quite funny that Moutinho, Falcao and Cavani moving to France can be dismissed as players chasing the ridiculous sums of money on offer at certain oil rich French clubs, while at the same time Yaya Toure, Aguero, Silva, Oscar, Mata, and Hazard are unselfconsciously heralded as examples of the quality of the Premier League. I don't share the bleak view about the overall quality of the English league, but I do think it highlights a valid recent trend, that rarely do we see an English club compete with one of the big, wealthy foreign clubs for a player and come out on top. Isco, Cavani, Thiago (seemingly) and others have chosen clubs on the continent despite stated interest from some on England's finest, and you wonder if Aguero, Mata or Carzola would be plying their trade in Blightly if a Barcelona, Madrid or Bayern had made a concrete offer
In the last few weeks, we've seen top players like Falcao, Isco, Gotze etc. opt to pick continental clubs instead of our own. The reason for this isn't to do with the decline of the leagues or failure to match their own footballing ambitions. It's simply down to one thing - TAX. Falcao will receive a monumental wage at AS Monaco simply because of the tax loopholes for residents of the principality. Isco and Gotze will receive sizeable wages too given their preferred destinations. But, if Isco was offered £70-90k per week by both Real Madrid and City (which he probably was) then he would come out with more after tax from Madrid. This is simply because footballers are getting taxed at nearly 50% of their income. Yaya Toure is on one of the top EPL wages but could only be drawing level with a Spanish-based player on 2/3 of his salary. We all saw this from the leaked Carlos Tevez payslip a few months ago. So before people start wailing on about the failure to attract the top targets because English football is in a Serie A-style decline, it's not the clubs, blame it on government regulations.
Enda (Higuain or no Higuain, just sell Bendtner)
A Positive Penis Story
While reading Mediawatch a warm fuzzy feeling came over me as it was great to see a positive penis story. A real story of David and Goliath as the little willy-waving moth manages to escape its larger foe. I have decided to use this ballsy tactic in future if ever cornered in a dangerous situation.
Thankyou F365 for potentially saving my life.
...No more slamming closed the laptop with Mr Miyagi-esque speed. No more feeling guilty, empty and alone. No more I tell you. I'm a hawkmoth and I'm sitting here on my own creating ultrasonic responses as a form of self-defence.
Diarm (I'm not, I'm in work) Dublin
As I scrolled down mediawatch I realized that I got rather excited (mentally not physically) when I finally saw 'privates' and 'junk' in the non-football story. But alas there was no severing and with great dismay I realized I am now suffering from an acute case of Cockholm Syndrome. I know the stories treated me like a mental garbage bag and the scars will never fade but my life just doesn't seem the same without them. Will they have me back?
Missing you fondly, your ex-prisoner,
Can I just take a moment to reflect on what has been a fantastic week for mailboxers the world over, after last weeks poor enough showings some of the truly excellent mails this week have restored my faith in the F365 readership, this morning in particular has greatly helped me with my hangover.
Thank you, one and all, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
In light of the possible transfer of Fabregas back to arsenal I thought best to give the tabloids a proverbial treasure chest of headlines:
If he goes on a free - Fafreegas
If he goes for money - Fabrecash
If he goes back to arsenal and ends up terrible - Fabregash
If it turns out his legs have gone - Fabregone
If there's a clause that he cant play until February - Febregas
If he sticks two fingers up at his old club - Fobregas
If he gets in a tear up in the parking lot with Bob Wilson over an old gambling debt - Bobregas
If he tears up the Prem upon his return - Fabregas
If he gives his reasons for returning being that he loves Fab ice lollys and cant get them in Spain - Fabregas
If he gets in a tear up in the parking lot with Fabien Barthez over an old fab ice lolly - Fabregas
Happy Friday gents