In a Sunday Mailbox which is understandably dominated by Manchester United, there are a few little bits for the rest, specifically Chelsea & a Liverpool Christmas list...
One Mailboxer may have spent lunch in the pub in suggesting Van Persie could go back to Arsenal. Also, some Premier League meh-ing and a fine Acewatch suggestion...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You Fill Up My Senses...
I bet Ashley Coles feels left out as the only defender who isn't a former Blade!
Good Lord ... As a dejected Irish fan who has come to the stark realisation that our team are f**ked as regards qualification, I tuned into the England game hoping to see some decent entertainment from 2 decent teams with something to play for. It's now half time and I've decided to tune into channel 4 instead to check that Sarah Beeney isn't pregnant again.
Thoughts On England
I thought the pitch looked lovely.
Problem's keeping the ball? Yes.
Bring on Michael Carrick ?
No. Let's move James Milner inside. Jesus wept.
Gerrard Is A Hindrance
God that was seriously terrible, from everyone, although I strongly believe that one man is to blame. It is not that he is doing anything particularly wrong, it is just that the style of football he wants to play is outdated and doesn't fit into the style that many people would like to see the England national team play. You may he surprised to learn that that man is Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard, although he is obviously a very good footballer, is a huge hindrance to the team. He is playing as a deep lying midfield player and what I would want from him would be to pick up the ball from the centre backs and move it quickly into the feet of the more advanced central midfielders. That is how the best teams operate these days, they play 3 in the middle with the two full backs pushing on to make a 5 man midfield and they make sure that those three players are technically accomplished so that they keep possession, draw opposing players out and work the ball between themselves high up the pitch in order to create space and feed in one of the attacking players. Xavi does the deep lying midfield role for Barca, Carrick for Man Utd, Arteta for Arsenal, Bayern and Dortmund also have someone that does this. Long gone are the days of 442 where the midfielders win the ball and push it wide in order for the wingers to create space and feed the forwards. Gerrard, for whatever reason, has not worked this out.
What frustrates me is if you took his best bits he looks like the best player on the pitch which means a lot of people believe that to be the case, but that is because he plays the game as a quarterback and makes the team all about him. More often than not as soon as he picks up the ball he looks to spread a 'classy' ball wide and is constantly searching for a ball in behind, despite the fact that there are 6 players in front of him. It is unbelievably frustrating and it makes everyone else in the midfield a lot worse. I want to see England dominating the midfield area, keeping possession and playing short passes between themselves and they have the players to do it. Wilshere was useless last night but that is fundamentally because England do not play the kind of football he is used to. Wilshere wants to drop deep, bring a man with him, pick up the ball from Gerrard in a bit of space and drive forward into the space he has created. That should be Gerrard's job, get the ball quickly into Wilshere's feet and let him turn and drive, and then the game opens up, you drag their midfielders out of position and he can try and find the spaces and the attacking players. Every time Gerrard spins one out wide or lumps it forward it slows the game down, the defensive team drop a bit deeper and the England forwards/wingers drop deep to pick up the ball because that is where the space is. Why is Theo Walcott collecting the ball in the middle third of the pitch? He is an incredibly dangerous and effective footballer but he needs to be played into space, preferably in behind the defence, he will not create something from nothing. Look how Arsene Wenger utilises him, he does it to absolute perfection. He makes sure his midfield players find that pass in between the left centre back and the left full back and Theo Walcott murders teams by timing his runs into that area and getting on the end of those passes. If you don't play Theo to his strengths then there is no point playing him because he is not a gifted technician.
If it was up to me I would drop Gerrard and play Carrick. Michael Carrick knows exactly how to play that role and I have no doubt he would be able to do it wonderfully for England. He would collect the ball, keep things ticking over and find the right players in the right areas. Ok he would get a lot less footage on the highlights edit but the team would be better for it. Basically Hodgson needs to make a decision. Gerrard can be very effective, certainly, but the style of football we play will never be fluid and technical while he is in the team. Stick him on the bench and if we need someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck if the nice stuff isn't working them we have the perfect impact sub.
Tom (Lambert was useless as well, seemingly a lovely bloke but Rooney can't come back soon enough) Goldenballs
Whilst I'm sure you will get a barrage of emails criticizing England and the press will lose their shit, I am satisfied with what occurred tonight. It was almost inevitable that England would line up with Milner and play a little more conservatively to get the job done, which they did. I'd rather England play a boring draw and take another step towards qualification rather than one back with a loss. Here's my conclusions;
- People suggesting England have taken a "massive step" towards qualification are greatly mislead, England still have to play Montenegro and Poland who are good teams.
- Kyle Walker had another disappointing game and England missed Glen Johnson who I think has quietly become a very good right-back over the last few years.
- Theo Walcott had an absolute shocker.. How many times did he complete a pass? His legs are 3 seconds ahead of his brain at times.
- Gary Cahill had a great game and seems to be in the middle of a good bit of form for club and country. Ashley Cole played well also.
- Wilshere, Lampard and Gerrard had a poor game as the central three. Wilshere isn't playing his best football at the moment and I hope he can start to rediscover some of his old form because he looks out of sorts. Lampard and Gerrard played well against Moldova but against a better opposition are again made to look ordinary and they struggled to impose themselves on the game in the second half most notably.
- Why on earth was Carrick not brought on when it was evident that England's midfield were struggling to stay composed and keep the ball? Instead of this Wilshere is taken off and Milner is moved into his position.
- Ukraine's left winger is a great little player, some serious pace there and a brain to go with it (start taking notes Theo).
All in all, England should qualify but there is still some work to be done, however I have faith that we will scrap by Montengro and Poland and then the hype can begin.
I'm sure the term "bravery" will be mentioned several times to describe Roy's Dogs of War, but what is bravery?
It was the same during the Euros. Is sitting in 2 banks of 4 and hoofing the ball long brave? Is taking a bad touch and then committing a stupid tackle brave? Is running a few extra kilometers brave? Apparently they all are. But I disagree.
To me, bravery is having the balls to shout for the ball during a tough game in a hostile environment. To take the ball when you're being marked, take a touch, get your head up and pass the ball to a teammate. That is bravery, that takes balls, not what we saw last night or during Euro 2012.
It seems there is a thin line between bravery and cowardly in International football, but I think it's clear what side England are falling on under Hodgson. It's better to die on your feet, than live on your knees. It's all well and good to blame injuries but ask Liverpool fan's about him.
All we hear is the moans about foreign players in the Premier League ruining the English team. No English players to choose from etc etc.
Last season the Premier League team of the year had three English players in it which is quite good considering. Now Rio has retired but the other two didn't even get a subs appearance in the England game against Ukraine. Is it really the foreigners upsetting England or a succession of English managers choosing the 100 cap players all the time and not going with form? Baines and Carrick should surely have featured at some point if not started. Move on Roy and move on England
I'm out of the country and didn't see the England snoozefest but I see that F365 referred to Kyle Walker as a 'walking accident' after his performance against Ukraine.
Welcome, football fans, to the reality that 50 per cent of Spurs fans don't want to acknowledge.
Pace does not a footballer make.
Rob Davies, THFC
...If Kyle Walker is ever in position, it can only be by accident.
Ross, AFC London
So I'm watching Gerrard's post-match interview after the predictably dull England game, and he gets asked about the late header from Lampard and says 'normally Frank gobbles up that kind of chance'. Clearly Stevie Me is a fan of 365!
CB, Gloucester, FORZA ROMA! (I hate international football)
More Ireland Woe
I seriously think that I could get in contact with 15 people that i have played with or against in any sport, train for a month, and we would put up a better performance than that pile of crap tonight. Connor f*cking Sammon, Paul f*cking Green, Mark "lets keep shooting from about a mile out" Wilson, that pile of cardboard in goals. God Help Us that was chronic.
johnnybruff, Limerick (At least Crapattoni will be gone soon)
...It's the 81st minute. The paint is drying. You're drawing 0-0. You need a goal, if only to kick the can of inevitability down failure road. You never know. We're sh*t but surely we're no worse than Sweden or Austria. Oh we are? Oh, Ok. How about, Iceland or Hungary?
You look to the bench. Slim Pickings' anorexic brothers. Then a brainwave: Conor Sammon. Plan A: Mark 2. Same hoof, slightly different player (he's taller and has less hair than Long). No offence to the lad, he seems like a nice guy and he has a hell of a leap for a Sam......sorry, I couldn't go through with it....... but what is Conor Sammon doing coming on to an international football pitch. A game of head, shoulders, knees and toes, fine but Football, no. What are Brady, Hoolahan, hell even McShane thinking when they see him come on instead of them. If Conor Sammon is the answer, then what the c***ty f**k is the question?
Fionn Mac Cumhaill (We couldn't possibly look any more neanderthal-esque or just downright sh*ttier, could we? Oh.......)
PS. The paint has been drying since the Big Jack days. Maybe it's time to try wallpaper. Whats that? Roy Keane? Really? Dulux again?Alright, I'll grab a brush......
Well seen as you lot managed a rather drab 0-0 which I think most will agree was actually a good result I assume there won't be much chatter on the England match, other than the usual reactionary bullshit and Mediawatch slamming Martin Samuel / Adrian Durham / whichever other idiot journalist goes with the "Hodgson out" style story.
As such, perhaps we will all share in some joyous reactions from Skopje? No? Well I'm giving them anyway:
- Anya? I had never heard of him before Saturday (and yes I realise the Jeff Powell-esque nature of that statement) but he was the stand out performer. Always wanting the ball, running at players and just generally a nuisance. On top of that, he was 50/1 to score first which seemed rather high for a winger/forward ;)!
- Maloney may not be world class, but he is the most talented player we have. It's a shame it never quite worked for him the Premier League yet. He is perhaps too diminutive but he has a sublime touch and his set pieces are always class.
- The performances as a whole have improved drastically under Strachan, without really a change in personnel. I didn't really think that he could be make a difference because the quality isn't there but he has steadied the ship and pulled off a couple of good away wins in amongst two reasonable performances in defeat.
- Unfortunately I am still not confident in our defence and there doesn't seem to be much coming through in that respect. He's obviously improved us going forward but we can't afford to lose a goal to comedy errors every game.
- Not a conclusion but I was really hoping that Peter Purves anecdote was coming when I opened the mailbox; lovely stuff!
I anticipated a 0-0 to the Eng-er-land, therefore decided to tune in to the Belarus - France game (mainly because it was the last leg of a 4 fold). If you didn't watch it and you go to the pub this weekend and end up in a discussion with your friends about 'who is the best goalkeeper in the premier league', they all tell you "it's Hugo Lloris", point them in the general direction of the highlights feed from last night. The sexy ba$%^£d made me sweat for my money!
Adam (I knew it was going to be 0-0 yet I still bet on Russia Bulgaria Denmark and France) TOON
Another Transfer Ripple
In response to Barry Marelli, I just came across this transfer ripple this morning actually:
1. Arsenal sold Andre Santos to Gremio.
2. Gremio sold Rafael Marques to Atletico
3. Atletico Mineiro sold Bernard to Shakhtar
4. Shakhtar Donetsk sold Mkhtariyan to
5. Dortmund sold Gotze to Bayern.
6. Bayern sold Gomez to Fiorentina.
7. Fiorentina sold Ljajic to Roma.
8. Roma sold Lamela to Spurs.
9. Spurs sold Bale to Madrid
10. Real Madrid sold Ozil to Arsenal
Amazing, I think you'll agree.
Duck, I am a Spurs fan.
It is not as fun as it looks.
Jon (Agree with your logic completely but the scars are deep), Lincoln
...In yesterday's mailbox Duck said his Man Utd mates from Leamington Spa had asked who he would support instead of Villa if he wanted to change to a team who would win more often.
Take my advice Duck me old pal. Stick with Villa and get some new mates instead. By the sound of it you may have to move nursery to get away from them, but it will be worth it.
...Regarding Duck's mail about the team you might support if you could do it all again.
It's quite simple mate. You are mad but your friends are d*ckheads. I know which I'd rather be.
Rob Davies, THFC, Peru
Ps Mad, in case anyone wasn't sure.
If You Could Choose Another Team...
In response to Duck; First off, I'm sorry you had to deal with those kind of United fans. The worst thing about being a United supporter is often the other fans who seem to grasp little of the game outside of "winning = good".
Secondly, and in response to your question, I've followed United for 26ish years (slightly too young to remember pre-Fergie era United unfortunately) and I have to say I often find myself wishing I could change teams. I would even plump for the same choices as you. Swansea are sort of my second team anyway (Welshman, used to live there etc) and I love to watch them play; win, lose or draw. I'll admit I've shot some very envious glances at Spurs recently too. Not so much with Bale, but with the squad they have now I sometimes find myself wishing I could jump ship like one of my mates did a few seasons ago. Arsenal are also fairly easy on the eye. Unfortunately, none of those will happen as I'm bound to United until I die a very hoarse middle-aged man, blue in the face from screaming at Welbeck for first touching another sitter into the stratosphere. So all I have left is to grit my teeth and pray for the return of both Big Carlos Q and the style of United football we exhibited when Ronny, Giggs and the Fat One were all on fire. The best football we ever played, and it seems so long ago now...
TheOneTrueGaz (I apologise on behalf of all of United supporters for Chris MUFC too)
...To Duck's query about which team would you support if you could start again I direct him to Lord Palmerston (Old PM not footballer) during a meeting with a French diplomat. The French trying to compliment said "If I were not a Frenchman, I should wish to be an Englishman"; to which Palmerston replied: "If I were not an Englishman, I should wish to be an Englishman."
Thus Duck if you were not an Aston Villa fan you should wish to be one, but it could be worse, you could be a Middlesbrough fan.
Michael (How has Southgate got another job after getting us relegated?!) Middlesbrough
I thought given our latest round of footballers being zinged I would pass on a case of our glorious footballers zinging back.
It's the early 90s, and instead of chasing girls or attending KLF concerts, I found myself watching a glamorous Scottish Premier League game between St Mirren and St Johnstone. As the game meandered on, St Johnstone substitute Roddy Grant started to warm up in front of us and the rest of the cardboard cutouts in the family enclosure. Inevitably someone shouted out "You are F*****N shit Grant!" - at which point Grant turned around and very genuinely said "Of course I'm F*****N shit! I'm F*****N substitute for F*****N St Johnstone!"
Cue big laugh and our loud fan sitting down shrugging in a "fair enough style" - at which point Roddy paid a young kid a fiver to go and get him a pie. Given I just watched a video of Roddy fixing a roof for a Sportscene segment, it's fair to say they don't make em like that anymore...