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...
More on the great Keano debate this afternoon, and who is and who is not bitter and so forth. Plus, a footballer who became a WWE wrestler, and Gaius Julius Caesar...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Lambert It Is Then...
I really enjoyed the England-Scotland game last night. There should be more home nations friendlies. Cracking atmosphere. I thought England are playing broadly the correct way which is short, sharp passing (for the most part) and the creation of some lovely moves as a result, for example, Walcott's goal and the pass from Cleverley. This is the right strategy as we were able to combine this with two set-piece goals. Good stuff. A few points:
* Rooney and Welbeck drift too much and the team loses shape. If Rooney was in the number 10 role and Welbeck occupying left-sided forward role, with Walcott on the right, this wouldn't be so bad, but as it stands, Rooney is being played as the number 9 with Wilshere, Cleverley and Gerrard sitting behind. In my opinion, we need a disciplined number 9 to keep team shape better and provide a focal point for the excellent runs and movements by the other forwards. Against the smaller teams, this would be sufficient to occupy two central defenders, and against the better teams, it would offer an outlet for possession and ball retention, particularly when under the cosh.
* That being the case, the position I would sacrifice would be one of the deeper-lying midfield three. It should be two from Lampard, Wilshere, Cleverley, Carrick and Gerrard. As for first picks, I feel Lampard and Wilshere suit this style of play slightly more but all should be good enough picks to make this work.
* Up front, Lambert did a good job when he came on and scored a salmon of a header. He also has the intelligence and physique required. He will be 32 (I think) by the time of the next tournament, so how about tailoring the next campaign towards that? He was the highest-scoring English player last season and takes a mean free kick to boot. The likes of Holt, Zamora and Johnson are well out of the frame now. The other alternatives are Sturridge, who I feel may wander around a bit too much as well; Defoe, who is always reliable; or Carroll who lacks subtlety and is rather injury prone and lacks technique, but isn't half a hell of a battering ram. This may, however, encourage use of the long ball which we want to avoid. Hmm...Lambert it is then?
* Foster instead of Hart? At least for a bit to try and improve Hart's performances? Morrison's effort was saveable, but cracking goal from Miller.
* For me, and I might get laughed at for this, but I think that Johnson is a better bet at right-back than Walker. Both have pace, both like to bomb on, but it appears to me that Johnson gives away fewer fouls and is less prone to lapses when playing offside. The stats may prove me wrong - I haven't looked. Richards would be the best bet, but he seems to have vanished recently. Baines has definitely taken on the mantle from Cole, although I'd still like Cole in the squad as he's the only player I've ever seen keep Ronaldo quiet.
Richard (more concentration at the back and discipline up front and we could go far in 2014), Cambridge
Dreaming Of Beetroot Man
Regardless of his background in beetroots, how nice was it to see Rickie Lambert's unbridled enthusiasm last night, including his not-sure-what-to-do celebration where he just ran around in circles flapping his arms in excitement.
It's been said in the Mailbox before, but i'd love to see an England team selected purely from the small collection of English players who aren't total weapons.
Perhaps their collective enthusiasm would make up for the deficit in ability and perhaps then we wouldn't then have to endure the nails-down-a-blackboard sound of millionaires complaining they're bored of being at the World Cup.
A man can dream.
Rob Davies, THFC
Bigging Up Brown
Thoroughly enjoyed last night game. Wasn't really expecting us to score at all never mind two! There as a few summaries etc this morning so I won't say anymore.
What I do have to say though is I thought Scott Brown played fantastic last night. The guy has come in for all sorts of criticisms from fans of all clubs since he joined Celtic. Since Lennon came in though he has become a superior player to anyone else in our midfield. He harries, presses, breaks up play and never gives anyone any time on the ball, while also being an extra man in attack when needs be. In fact what England really need is a player like him to play in beside Wilshere. Many of you will probably scoff at this but I have been watching Brown progress over the last two-three years. He is the Celtic and Scotland captain and has grown into his role with more ease than I thought was possible. He gives the (Celtic at least) team more bite, passion and drive when he plays and our players seem to put that extra yard in when they see him doing the same.
So yeah, Brown has become an important player for club and country over the last couple of seasons and I feel England could really do with a player with his drive and of his style. Gerrard doesn't have the bite/anger to his play and Barry is just Barry you know, pretty sh*t.
LK Exiled in Brighton (Lets not get started on what Scotland need.)
Are We Still Doing Gerrard v Lampard?
A question for the mailbox that was probably hotly debated nigh on 10 years ago but which I still think is relevant...
Gerrard or Lampard in the middle for England? There's 3 answers to this, both, only Gerrard or only Lampard. For years it seems that the majority agreed that 'if they cant work together then just Gerrard', but why? What has Gerrard done that Lampard hasn't? Conversely, what hasn't Lampard done that Gerrard has?
The reason I bring this up is that last night Gerrard was wasteful in possession, slow in moving the ball and generally without that creativity that the game needed. Many a time it was a case of Gerrard, Wilshire and Cahill playing triangles in the middle but to no avail. For years Lampard has quietly gone about his business, scoring consistently season after season, being the difference in big games season after season and generally being Mr Reliable for England season after season. Add to that the fact that he's been in a constantly changing environment of players, managers and even his family environment I honestly can't see why he's seen as the fall guy in the Gerrard/Lampard Paradox.
Last night when Lampard came on the team had bite, it had imagination and it had a willingness to go forward. There was a time when the ball came out of the box and Lamps chested the ball before volleying a sublime pass out to the wing for Baines, thus keeping up the pressure and preventing the opposition from reorganising. The lad's a born winner who's not resting on the memories of 'One famous night in Istanbul'. The alpha and the omega of all this is the fact that when Lampard retires people won't instantly bring up 'One famous night at the Nou Camp' because they'll have an absolute catalogue of events to reference of when he's made the difference.
The only reason I can think that Gerrard is a nailed-on starter in place of Lamps is that Gerrard's like one those annoying people in the office who walk around shouting "I'm so busy I'm so busy" when in actual fact they're doing sweet FA, whilst Lampard sits in his chair quietly actually doing some work and Mr Hodgson's maybe just been taken in by Gerrard's hyperbole.
Anthony (Got to go cos I'm so busy!), Kilburn
Andrew Cole: A Man Out of Time
If Andy Cole had been born ten years later, I believe he would now have more England caps than David Beckham. Discuss.
Stop Picking On Moyes
Is Moyes the new AVB, the way everyone is hounding after him? Especially the way F365 is going after him at the moment, will F365 be appearing in Mediawatch as they have taken a selective quote and run with it as a major story? "Run around a bit"? In the wider context of everything he said it looked more like a manager on TV trying to say nothing that will offend anyone and it's been picked up to make a story from nothing except to create some hyperbole. If he was indeed as fastidious as Mediawatch suggests in looking at potential targets, then he had 11 years of gathering info, and then not unreasonably has not had time to build up a new portfolio of player info of the same standard with a club at a higher level? As far as fixtures go, they just happen to have pitted Man Utd against Jose, and their two biggest rivals in the first five games of the campaign is a bit suspect, but you have to play everybody twice and to complain about it seems to be setting himself up to deflect criticism of a bad start. Be worried Man Utd fans. For what it's worth I have been banging on about getting Moyes to Chelsea, even above Jose, I rate him very highly. Happy to have Jose back, but has ever anyone ever had a successful relationship with an ex?
Also is anyone else disappointed to see Huddlestone go to Hull? I think Hull have made a great signing and would have assumed he could have gone to a bigger club. Still think there is England potential there but Hull seem to be setting up for a hoof it season by buying a player that happens to be fairly handy at long-range passing. Sorry Hull fans, but we all know what Steve Bruce thinks the beautiful game should look like.
I am looking forwards to the new season and cannot wait to see how Chelsea start the new season, I don't think anything is going to be clear and all teams look like they have the personnel that could win or lose five on the spin at any given time. Jose will instil discipline and tactics, Man City look like they may simply try to outscore everyone, Man Utd are proven and a couple of good signings away from looking nailed on, Liverpool to be fair could finish anywhere from third to tenth, Spurs look tasty and anyone who writes off Arsenal's experience is a fool. This is before we even get to the great business done by the likes of Norwich and Swansea or any other surprise package, West ham could be that package, they may be a bit old fashioned but Big Sam is nothing if not effective.
Gary Clarke, Chelsea fan, London
But He Is Showing Lack Of Class
I never thought I would say this, but I find myself missing Alex Ferguson, and the season hasn't even started.
Why, I hear you ask? This quote from the new Manchester United manager, David Moyes, commenting on United's start to the season.
"I hope it's not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last year [that] the fixtures have been made much more difficult."
No Mr Moyes, they haven't been made any more difficult. The rules are still the same. You play the other 19 teams in the league home and away over the course of the season, same as last year, and the year before that. You remember that right? I mean, you must have been paying some attention to the fixtures while managing at Everton? Or to football in general during your playing career?
If you think you have a hard set of fixtures to start with then all it probably means is that you have an easier period later on in the season. Plus, as you rightly point out, your team won the league comfortably last year, so surely you shouldn't be worrying about the standard of other teams you're playing - they should be worrying about facing you.
The fixture scheduling is decided by a mix of random computer generation, negotiations with police to ensure there aren't too many fans in one city on the same day, and Sky to line up some nice-looking Super Sundays. To my knowledge that's pretty much it - unless there's a 'screw Man United over' function in there, which if there is hasn't been working too well judging by their 13 league titles in the last 20 years.
Don't get me wrong, Fergie was an arch complainer in his day, but at least he would moan about things after they had happened.
Honestly, what a tool. As a Chelsea fan who has watched successive managers going through the Stamford Bridge revolving door, it was nice to see United had seemingly taken the long-term view. I was actually kind of rooting for him to do well before I read this.
Now I hope they 'do a Chelsea', and that he's gone by mid-October with United languishing in the bottom half, and then sits back and watches his successor win the 'easy' fixtures, ideally on the pundit's sofa on 'Goals on Sunday' with Alan Curbishley so I can watch those bitter tears or remorse slowly trickling down his face as van Persie scores last-minute winners and hugs the new manager/Alex Ferguson's cardboard cut-out on the sideline.
Blunders (slightly grumpier than I realised when I started that mail), CFC
I Owe You Nothing
A quick reply to Harry The Manc, who is quite right in his description of the manner in which RvP chose to leave Arsenal, and we undoubtedly didn't have to sell him, but were faced with the idea of keeping an unhappy player until his contract expired or cashing in on him (as I still believe United are going to do with Rooney) and actually making some money out of the deal.
However, you blow your own argument out of the water when you claim that Rooney and Suarez both owe their clubs something, yet RvP didn't. In his seven years there, he spent a large percentage of the time injured, yet we showed him loyalty by renewing his contract, despite this.
Then after one injury-free season where he demonstrated the real ability we'd always known he had, he chose not to renew his contract with us so that he could bugger off somewhere with a bit more glamour. Hate to break this to you, Harry, but in my mind, he owed us just as much loyalty as you seem to think Rooney or Suarez owe their respective clubs...
Rodders (Gunner #1), Johannesburg, South Africa
...In response to Harry the Manc, I don't know where to begin.
You mention 'Luis Suarez, whose club have shown the patience of a saint with his behaviour and conduct over the last 24 months'.
What about the patience Arsenal showed with a consistently injured RVP? Consistently paying him very good wages while being consistently injured? Yes he's entitled to do what he likes, but I would like to think he would have some modicum of loyalty to a team which looked after him, provided medical care for him, and paid him whilst sitting on the sidelines. Not leave after your probably first full season in an Arsenal shirt, stripes not earnt. So I would say he was exactly the player you mention, 'who owe their club something; who are obliged to put a little back, having taken an awful lot.' Like I said, after just one full season, I don't consider that particular debt paid.
And not to split hairs, I'm pretty sure he has an FA Cup winner's medal.
Interesting read on my club Fulham in the media - one trifling quibble though...terraced houses surrounding craven cottage worth 700k? What decade did they pull these stats from rightmove? Try getting on for two mil if you want one of those babies. That's banker territory down in deepest darkest SW6. I would suggest the only real estate surrounding a stadium that is on par is probably up the road at Stamford Bridge. I shudder to think what the stadium site is actually worth, Mr Khan might just fancy flogging it and shoving us into a ground share with QPR again - but we get to bring the Jacko statue.
The Peng, FFC, SW6
If Andy Smith (Scunthorpe) thinks he's got it bad, he should try being a Notts County fan. For several matches last season, we played with a midfield four of Judge, Hughes, Labadie, Campbell-Ryce, which fits earworm-tastically to the tune of 'I'm blue, da-ba-dee da-ba-di'.
We've now sold half of them, so I was hoping this season would get better. Instead we're giving a regular starting role to Greg Tempest, which has a knack of kicking off a mental rendition of the Stingray theme tune