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...
There are a few explanations for why Man United seem so comfortable in Europe but not so at home, while some people really aren't very happy with Roy Keane...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Should United Look To Replace Carrick?
As much as it pains me to agree with the 'old enemy' I think Jon Gibsons mail on Gerrard/Carrick is bang on the money.
Whilst Carrick is obviously a decent player he certainly isn't one you should be playing ahead of Gerrard for England because he just doesn't have the qualities to perform well against top opposition. Much is made of Carrick's vision and legendary passing but put him under pressure and his passes are more often than not straight to a ball boy, we have seen this time and time again in the Champions League and to a lesser extent against the better Premiership teams.
Carrick had a very good season for United last time round but it's sad to see that us United fans have become so accepting of the midfield mediocrity that he is seen as the mainstay of our midfield. All summer the talk was of United buying a player to compliment Carrick but in my opinion we should be looking to replace him. Carrick can certainly still do a job for us but surely a club like United (biggest and best team in the world apparently) should be recruiting the best players, instead we are left with a mediocre group of midfielders because of Fergies criminal neglect of this area for the past five years.
I don't want to see a team of galacticos at Old Trafford but I do desperately want to see a genuine world class midfielder to lead the team, Fellani is not even close to being that. Fabregas would/could have been that player but he wants to stay at Barca which is fair enough, De Rossi another great candidate too but we should have gone after him four or five years ago making him and Roma an offer they couldn't refuse. Instead we lose the potential lynchpin Pogba and still rely on a forty year old and the hopeful 'new signing' of Darren Fletcher.
...Reading all of the "if Carrick was playing it'd be like having Pirlo in the side" emails made me sad. When I was younger, at least we could blame England's stodgy performances on the manager's failure to pick a player with genuine imagination and flair.
In the 1970s, it was Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles.
In the 1980s, it was Glenn Hoddle.
In the 1990s, it was Gazza and Le Tissier.
In 2013, it's Michael Carrick.
Lord help us all.
Tom, Brighton Gooner (any excuse to dig out the Le Tissier montages on YouTube...)
Dunphy > Giles
While John Giles does provide many memorable quotes, he's doesn't quite compare to Eamon Dunphy.
"Just at the end there with 7 or 8 minutes to go.. City are looking for a goal.. Mancini takes off Aguero the goalscorer.. and brings on James Milner!! Thats brain damage!"
Dunphy on Jamie Carrgaher/Djimi Traore centre defence partnership "Carragher would be better tying a wheelie bin to a bit of rope and trailing it around behind him"
During a poor World Cup 2010 Last 16 match - "The guys up in the joint have asked to be put back in their cells, and they said let them out for the penalty shoot out"
"Sergio Ramos ? No Bill the chaps a head banger...Paul McShane on steroids"
On Djibril Cisse - "Here we have Cisse, right wing, attempts to put in a cross, bang...hits the full-back. Again...bang...hits the full-back. Bang...off the full-back again, and once more, bang...smacks the full back again. Millions of Euros and he can't clear the first man, I mean what is he trying to do to the full-back here, kill him?"
"Kilbane's head is better than his feet. If only he had three heads, one on the end of each leg."
"I'm not going to address the Niall Quinn agenda. I think Niall Quinn is a creep. The man's a Mother Theresa."
As usual, following an International break the letters page has at least one smug assertion that 'real' or 'proper' football will now return - this time it's Stu from Chiswick. Funny how these types are never fans of League 1 and 2 clubs, which continue their 'proper' football through the international break, but that's not my main point.
By 'proper' football I assume Stu means the Premier league, which has recently featured such classics as Liverpool - ManU, ManU - Chelsea, and Arsenal - Spurs. For lower league fans in this country, and all fans in most countries, international football is the highest level of the game, uniting a country in hope of qualification (Scotland excepted) for the biggest prize in football. Contrast with the usual parade of overhyped oil-money skewed uncompetitive toss you are so quick to embrace.
For me and 99% of other global football fans the epitome of proper football, despite Blatter's best efforts, remains the World Cup. Without an international break there would be no qualifiers therefore no world cup. Still, this would give Stu's beloved Chelsea/Arsenal/ManU more time over summer to arrange lucrative 'tournaments' in the Far East.
This Man Wants Answers
A couple of questions for Oliver Dziggel...
1. When you say you were "half-living in Tottenham Hale", do you mean (a) you lived on the outskirts of Tottenham Hale; (b) you lived there from Monday to Thursday and spent the remainder of the week somewhere else; or (c) you were bleeding from a nasty head wound which caused you to float perilously between this world and the next?
2. Why on earth were you picking your favourite football team at the age of 17?
Please publish this. I need answers.
Ever since the appointment of David Moyes I had known there would be a time when I would have to open the England World Cup Ladder without seeing half of the greatest brotherhood in football, ever. A question that I hoped to never ask would be answered on September 11th 2013;
Who is the new 50th man for England?
I read the table as I have done for years, laughing at the correct places and nodding in agreement with whatever was said about Ashley Young. As I continued I felt a surge of nerves, desperation and anguish, but there he was, the 50th most important player to England's World Cup run;
Only two things can make a 26 year-old man feel certain emotions in front of a computer when he's in his pants. Well done to Football365 for being one of them.
Dan (my girlfriend knows about this website, I'm sure she knows about the others too) Hayward, WFC
...Waiting for the day 27 England players get injured so Phil Neville can go to the World Cup.
Baines On The Wing?
I know there's been a lot said about England recently but here's something I don't think anyone's come up with yet...
Why didn't Roy play Leighton Baines instead of James Milner? I think there'd be a few advantages really. You'd solve the Baines v Cole debate, Baines would offer better defensive support than Milner, he's actually better at getting down the line and swinging in a cross than Milner, which probably would have benefitted Lambert, and if Ashley Cole wants to bomb up the wing for a bit, no problem- Baines has it covered.
Admittedly, we've been here before with Wayne Bridge. Personally, I think in an important game and with no Welbeck, it would have been worth a shot.
Thoughts? Also, one last word on Rickie Lambert- I think he's genuinely class. Yes, he's no Rooney but he uses the ball well most of the time. Definitely in the squad on merit.
Alex (I'm probably alone here, but I actually prefer international football. ITV's commentators and analysts are awful though), Leeds
Players Can't Win
Since the transfer window has recently ended and what with fellow mailboxers suffering from Post Transfer Blog Syndrome I would like to point out to a certain aspect of the transfer market which rather irks me. That is, in what circumstances can a player transfer to another club with the blessings of the fans and in good grace?
Take situation A. Where a player (Benteke, Fellaini et al) hands in a transfer request. They are slated by the fans for being mercenaries and not showing any loyalty. They are asked to fulfill the contract they have signed and criticized for being petulant.
On the other hand we have situation B. Where a player like Lorrente, Lewandowski (almost certainly) sees out the contract at the club and gives their 100% till the last match. They then move on to another club on a free. They take the risk of not having any security in the form of a long contract lest they get injured. Yet, despite them having fulfilled their contract they get pilloried for not signing a new one.
Surely the fans can't expect to have it both ways. Take for example the RvP episode. He was slated by Arsenal fans for leaving. What if he had stayed on for the last year and "fulfilled his contractual obligations"? And then moved to United on a free. Could Arsenal fans then have any gripes as to which team he joined? Would the fans have praised him for seeing out his contract and wished him well on his new venture?
I realize it's a rather slippery slope this argument and maybe I'm missing a very big part of it and would like to know the views of fellow mailboxers on this subject
Prajay (of the situation B type, fulfilling all obligations) AVFC
Perspective For England Fans
To put things into perspective, for all the whining and moaning about how England are top of the group but are yet to beat any of the bigger teams - Afghanistan (ranked 139) beat India (ranked 145) in the SAFF cup final held yesterday in Nepal.
As a fellow countryman pointed out, India have yet to qualify for a major tournament in the last twenty years - and our star player could not even make it in the second division of Portugal's league. Yet, there are a million followers of EPL and football is slowly on its way to catching up with cricket in terms of followers. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the infrastructure and investment that is required to actually bring Indian football out of the dark ages where we've been residing for the last fifty odd years.
All credit to Afghanistan though. With the current state of their nation, it is a fantastic achievement to have beaten the defending champions, gained revenge for their 4-0 loss last time out and show why they are ranked ahead of us. India are no pushovers in this competition having won it 6 out of the last 9 times - but this time Afghanistan were the best team throughout the tournament and absolutely deserve their victory.
A million football fanatics still dream of the day when an Indian will don the colours of United/Chelsea and compete in the Champions League. The likes of Michael Chopra and Vikash Dhorasoo may not have made a splash but we're still dreaming.
World Cup Dark Horses
All this talk about Belgium and Colombia being the dark horses of the upcoming World Cup has me in a bit of a state. Surely two teams in the Top 10 cannot be considered dark horses? The latter is even in the Top 3 for Christ's sake. My two picks to be the dark horses are Japan and the USA. Both teams can play an up-tempo style for 90 minutes in over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be as critical to success in this tournament as technical ability. And with Zaccheroni and Klinsman taking raw materials - speed in the case of the Japanese and strength with the Americans - and adding a touch of technical ability and tactical nous, these two teams are built to last beyond the first round.
As evidenced in the qualifiers, both these teams can change their styles to suit an opponent much better than their last serious runs at this level. So, if any team not named Brazil, Argentina, or Uruguay wins next year's World Cup, I would be willing to bet it will be Japan or the USA over Belgium or Colombia, or any of the European teams that play so perfectly in their own climate. In any event I'll be paying attention since it's clear it's only a matter of time for these new soccer powers to emerge. It's about population, resources, and interest, and in these two countries, there is no ceiling and the room for improvement is immense.
Niall (Peter Crouch and Lebron James are the same height; all we have to do now is get our 6'7 monster playing the right sport), Washington DC
GTF- Get To...?
In reply to Darragh, Spurs, Ireland, you'd written a pretty good piece, but then had to spoil it all in claiming that the RoI has better resources than Scotland. Are you actually having a laugh? If we go through and compare each (fully fit) squad player by player, you'd have to be either mental or Irish to claim that the RoI has better resources.
I would, seriously, only take Seamus Coleman from your squad that would improve our team. However that's no complement as such as a blind, fatter Rik Waller would be a significant upgrade on Alan Hutton.
PS - to all Irish, you thought you had it bad with Trap? Try 1 ½ campaigns with Levein
Just a quick comment - does anyone else look at that new handshake picture of Bale and Ronaldo and think of that scene from Predator when Arnie sees Carl Weathers; "Dillon! You son of a bitch."
Andrew M, AFC, (No? Just me?) Australia