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
Simple As That
If your attacking options are Dwight Gayle, Marouane Chamakh, Kevin Phillips, Aaron Wilbraham, Stephen Dobbie, Cameron Jerome and Elliot Grandin you are not cut out for the Premier League, sorry Palace fans.
Paying To See Young Leave
Ashley Young is everything that's wrong with football. He is the stick that fans of other sports use to beat football with. I'm a Manchester United fan and I find his actions deplorable and indefensible. There are others who employ such regrettable tactics - the Ronaldos and Bales of this world - but they can generally get away with it due to spellbinding talent. Young does not have this luxury. Even when he plays well I cannot stand him. I struggle to sit through any game he starts because I know he is going to do one of three things - cut in onto his right and whack the ball wide/over, over0hit a cross or hit the first defender with a cross. It is infuriating. Throw outrageous dives into the mix and I would gladly pay money for him to leave.
Why is this plague so rooted in football? Yes, other sports have their issues and some instances of play-acting but these are usually anomalies and exceptions to rather than the rule. I believe the only way to truly eradicate this disease is through automatic red cards. Of course, I understand the opposition's stance on this i.e. the injustice of a referee getting a diving decision wrong. However, how is that any different to a defender getting sent off for an incorrect decision resulting from a dive? Surely, if a player had gotten away with a dive that would have resulted in a straight red card, if they are caught out that warrants a straight red card. That equals the playing field which is surely the desirable outcome.
Furthermore, Januzaj is better.
Some Thoughts From A United Fan
- Aubameyang's first goal for Dortmund on Saturday, despite Adler's goalkeeping, was excellent. Mkhitaryan was wonderful throughout (surely United could have spared £21m for him?). They might be getting annoyingly mainstream, but Dortmund are still wonderful to watch.
- Unlike Moyes' United. Did Everton fans really pay to watch this football for over a decade?
- Fellaini looked reasonably good. A midfielder of his height and gait is unlikely to ever look entirely elegant, but his passing is reasonable, and he was highly mobile.
- At least Ashley Young can win penalties. Otherwise, he was dire. No penetration, no goal threat, and no meaningful contribution to play. Is there another top-six team he'd be a starter for?
- I do hope the FA ban Young for a few dozen games. He's welcome to play for England in the meantime.
- Valencia was just as bad. If Moyes persists with playing two mediocrities on the wing, this season is going to become mind-numbingly dull to watch, and very depressing. Neither Young nor Valencia will ever worry full-backs enough to deter them from pushing on, which in turn overloads Evra and whoever plays on the right of defence.
- Happily, Januzaj looked exquisite. It was, admittedly, only against a demoralised Palace team, without a defensive midfielder, but he showed an intelligence, elan and lithe movement that only Kagawa offers otherwise.
- Once again, a few Stevie-G patented Hollywood crossfield passes, and a free-kick, will protect Rooney from an embarrassing afternoon. For a player who considers himself a number 10, Rooney is joke creatively, and failed to threaten against a Palace side that were down to ten men for 45 minutes.
- I assume United are crossing so much under Moyes' direction, but it just doesn't work. Valencia either drills the ball into the first defender, or floats the ball and watches it headed away. And Young is unerring in his ability to pick out opposing centre-backs. When camped in the attacking third, retaining possession, waiting for errors or spaces, and playing to draw fouls, would be far better.
- United's formation doesn't work. It allows them to dominate the middle third of the pitch against inferior oppsotion, but they create nothing, have little fluidity between attack and midfield, and hit balls long to van Persie with tedious regularity.
- Is anybody actually excited by any of the football United play anymore?
Too Much Red
The Man U v. Crystal Palace game has me extremely annoyed. The PL needs to get rid of the automatic red card for penalties if they want to preserve their dignity. With one decision (of which the ref has no choice) the ref handed the game to Man U, and made the second half a pointless affair. I watch football to be entertained. The first half was great, when the teams were even. Man U was getting frustrated and Crystal Palace had some fight in them, but with one (let's face it horrible call) and stupid rule you ruin the entertainment value of the game. I'm okay with giving a penalty, but when you not only give a team an almost certain goal, but also remove a member of the opposing team there is little doubt who will win the game. Sure every once and a while the ten-man team comes out on top, but I'm sure some number cruncher out there will tell you it is hardly a common occurrence. So many red cards are given in the box for tackles that don't warrant a card when they are given anywhere else on the field. In my opinion straight red cards should be reserved for bad tackles only, not any tackle in the box, goal scoring opportunity or otherwise.
And to bring up another small point, Man U was playing for penalties given that Moss gave the most penalties last year with nine. It was obvious to everybody except Moss what Man U was doing. He denied them a penalty twice and gave a card for simulation before falling for their only strategy that day.
Mark (United States, where I'm entertained 24/7)
Raging At Macca
I'm sure a lot of you watched the Utd vs. Palace game on BT Sport and some of you will have your own thoughts and views on the penalty decision, but I'm not here to discuss the decision, I'm writing to discuss the behaviour of the BT sport pundit Steve McManaman during half time and after the game.
I understand that the punditry bar has been raised by Gary Neville and many pundits are now trying to be a little more edgy and controversial in order to seem more insightful. However, Steve McManaman has taken this new era of punditry on BT sport to a new low this afternoon and produced one of the most embarrassing and shameful performances I have ever seen. McManaman was incredulous during the half-time show and couldn't believe that the penalty and red cards decisions had been made, questioning the referee's view, etc. Now that's fine but when he begins tutting and dismissing any other interpretation of the event then it becomes quite evident that he's got his mind set on one outcome only. The pundits then moved over to an in-studio penalty box and began simulating the Ashley Young diving incident and again McManaman was irritatingly insistent that there was no other possibility than a dive. Guess what Steve, most of us agree with you, but there's no need to be a c*** about it.
The most disgraceful moment came after the game when all the pundits were again discussing the penalty decision again and behind them Mark Halsey came on the screen to give his interpretation on the penalty. McManaman jumped in as soon as he could to ask Halsey "do you think it was a penalty?" - Halsey was clearly indecisive because he had both his pundit and referee cap on at the same time and was thinking about how he would have approached it. An increasingly agitated McManaman began to pressure Halsey who then said that he, if having to make the split-second decision, would have given it. McManaman then proceeded to fling his arms up in disbelief and rather rudely dismissed Halsey's expert opinion, but not before he chipped in again and asked "after seeing it a few times would you give it?" - Halsey again pressured by McManaman says yes he would.
Now the way McManaman acted after Halsey said yes to that question he should of been sacked on the spot. He threw his arms in the air, shook his head and then turned his back on Halsey. How f***ing unprofessional is that? I felt incredibly sorry for Mark Halsey, he has been asked for his opinion and has given it honestly but is berated and dismissed by Steve fucking McManaman.
Steve you have nothing on Gary Neville and your attempts to be controversial just come across as c***ish. You're a disappointment to BT sport and the way you treated a fellow colleague on the show is nothing short of disgraceful. Next time leave your Liverpool hat and scarf in the changing room you biased b***ard.
Also, a special mention to Neil Warnock who was equally as biased.
Feeling Sorry For Moyes
I can't have been the only one who felt a touch aggrieved on behalf of David Moyes for the circle-jerk over Martinez that appeared to be happening on Saturday night following Everton's win over Chelsea. Players, pundits, even Martinez himself were quick to assert that there were 'huge changes' in style afoot and Everton were trying to play the game in a 'different way'. The underlying narrative being that Everton were a bunch of plodding workhorses under Moyes, whilst the mastermind Martinez is trying to develop some kind of blend between Barcelona and Brazil 1970.
This really all feels a bit wrong, and not a little disrespectful. First, if you compare the stats between Everton vs Chelsea last year and this year, the only improvement is in the scoreline. In possession, shots on and off Everton appear to have regressed. And frankly if one of the 20+ sitters that Chelsea fashioned had gone in, it would have been a comfortable win for Mourinho. The truth is, Martinez got very, very lucky.
But I also disagree with this re-writing of history, positioning old Everton as a plucky, workmanlike side. I always remember Everton under Moyes as easy-on-the eye and full of technical players: Rooney, Coleman, Pienaar, Mirallas, etc. The fact that he also managed to get fantastic performances out of guys like Osman and Naismith demonstrates the character he created in that team. Even players like Barkley are a result of Moyes investment in youth development.
The fact is, Martinez has had a hit-and-miss start to his time at Goodison. Teams are creating far too many chances against them, a criticism levelled at his Wigan side too, and he won't always be as lucky as Saturday. He has inherited a decent side from Moyes, with technical players throughout and a phenomenal team spirit, and would do well to be a little more respectful when describing the changes he is trying to make. I think when all is said and done we'll be looking at evolution not revolution. And big bold statements like the ones made on Saturday could really come back to haunt him.
Anyway, thanks for listening,
Simon (because I evolve, I don't revolve) McEvoy
Walcott A Loser
I think one of the first names in your 'Losers' section this week should be Theo Walcott.
Özil created two great one-on-one scoring chances for Walcott, and in both cases he had the time to think and finish. He failed miserably with both. He was also set free once where he had all the time to pick the right pass to the middle - he somehow fluffed that too.
A striker can have a bad day, and it's not just that he missed some chances - he missed, repeatedly, the kind of chances that can wrap up the game. Against Sunderland he got three opportunities, against a Chelsea he might just get one, and it may be the difference between winning and losing.
That's not all. Now with Özil in the team, there are no excuses left for Walcott. WIth Özil around, he'll be a lot more involved, and he's going to get many great chances to make decisive contributions. If he uses them, he can truly be a world-class player.
The onus is very much on him now, and time is running out.
Some Sympathy For Atkinson
I'd imagine the mailbox will be inundated with people writing in bemoaning Martin Atkinson's role in disallowing a goal for Altidore on Saturday.
However, I have some sympathy for the ref on this occasion. If you watch the replay of the incident, Sagna and Altidore are jostling with each other for a good 3-4 seconds, and it is just at the very moment that Altidore breaks away that Atkinson blows for a foul. I think Atkinson was actually playing the advantage, waiting to see if Altidore could free himself, but the wrestling went on for so long that Atkinson had to blow up, and it's just poor luck for him that they happened to separate just as he did.
Put yourself in his shoes, the two players are just about stuck together, you can't let that just run on forever.
As well as that, the Arsenal player who narrowly failed to clear the ball off the line was running back towards goal and hesitated for a fraction of a second when Atkinson blew, before continuing back to the goal line. If Atkinson doesn't blow, he doesn't check his run and he gets there before the ball goes over the line.
Pete (how about that Özil kid - he'll be a great back-up to Aaron Ramsey when everyone's fit) McCallum
All Hail Eriksen
Quite happy to go along with the Ozil bum-fest as he's a really great addition to the Premier League (and I'm a Spurs fan!). However, Eriksen's assist for Spurs' first goal was far more impressive than Ozil's. Eriksen was really impressive and looks like a real bargain at £11m.
James Pow, Somerset
Two Saturday Thoughts
1. Watching Christian Erikson made me sad.
2. Watching Alan Shearer made me angry.
Fortycoats (and fifty pockets) LFC
Some Chelsea Thoughts
* Chelsea had three strikers on their books on Saturday. The one who started the game joined on deadline day looked so much better than the other strikers who have led the line over the last two years.
* And Samuel Eto'o was woefully short of match fitness or sharpness. This should tell the tale of our other two strikers rather than Eto'o himself.
* How hated are Chelsea with the media? Man United - Played 4, won 2, lost 1, drawn 1. Man City - ditto. Chelsea - ditto. Yet looks like four games in to the season and already there are articles and stories about Chelsea's wagon being derailed. In fact I thought Chelsea played their best game of the season at Goodison. The finishing was poor and defence was rusty during the time we conceded. Compare it to the losses of United (they had no shot on goal if I remember against Pool) or City (who did not exactly create as much as we did at Goodison against Palace) and still stories are that we are done.
* I'd happily take a loss early in the season than six wins out of six and then the winter collapse.
* Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp are woeful. How can Jamie (the Carragher) compare Lamps and Gerrard with Scholes is beyond me. I am a big fan of Lamps but even I feel it was atrocious to say Lamps was better than Scholes for England. Jamie (c) you cannot compare an apple and an orange. Lamps and Gerrard can never have what Scholes had. That's why a certain Xavi admired Scholes. But however, I always believed Lamps was undervalued by the English fans (and pundits) compared to Mr Hollywood (Gerrard) Opinions. Wait, Jamie (r) was at Luiz after Everton game. Luiz was amazing bringing the ball from the back and charging the team to go and win it. Jamie (r), times have changed when defenders don't cross the six-yard box and keep shy to their goal. That's why Luiz is a wanted man by a certain Barcelona and a host of clubs. But I'll take it that his decision making has to improve as to when he needs to storm out. He is one of the world's best CB imho.
* Everton already had a fantastic defence. When Martinez took over, I was curious to how he'd change their attacking prowess while hoping he does not mess with the defence. He has done exactly the same so far, adding a new dimension to their attack while retaining the defensive cohesion. A deserved win Roberto.
* Schurrle for all his running and technique on the ball was woeful on the finish. But the kid is 22 and he will learn.
Aravind, CFC, Chennai
...You're losing 1-0 with 22 minutes to go. Having already made two subs, you take off your left-back, bring on a striker and instruct one of your center-backs (Luiz) to provide defensive cover on the left. Two minutes later Luiz is running up with the ball on the right flank.Your defense almost gets caught off guard twice, nearly conceding a penalty on one occasion.
Going by all this, I bet Mourinho's tactical notes are always signed off with #YOLO (Being an annoying chap, It's highly likely he uses a hashtag).
Thumi Kelvin, Nairobi (Did Torres actually kick or touch the ball after being brought on?)
Mark Halsey: The Celebrity
I am disgusted to learn that Mark Halsey has written an autobiography. I am equally horrified to learn that people are interested in reading this pile of gash. You have to question what the hell happened to football that made referees believe they are somehow worthy of celebrity.
I don't care about a single thing that has happened to him in his life. I don't care whether he was BFFs with Ferguson and I don't care what his views on football are. Not because I hate him, but because I have no feelings on him, or any other referees at all. Referees are no-marks and should go completely unnoticed. The Sky era has somehow convinced people that they are part of the main event. Books like this show they themselves believe this true. I hope nobody is sad enough to buy this garbage. Send a message that the plebs in black (or yellow, green, whatever...) need not provide an insight into their world, as the only time they should be under the spotlight is after they've made a series of bad calls. Only then do I wish to hear from them.
You might say ref bashing is easy, and that any form of official deserves respect for the job they do, but my respect level for people like Halsey is zero to minimal due to this sort of self-gratification. Be quiet, do your job, and do it properly. You're not footballers, you have no skill set worthy of stardom, all you have is your rulebook which is not yours to interpret. Make the right calls so we can enjoy the game as its meant to be played, then go home never to be seen or heard again until the next game.
The Yid Question
The last time I was at White Hart Lane was last November, when this silly controversy raised its head for the last time. The crowd did indeed sing 'We'll sing what we want' at intervals throughout a sedate 3-1 win over NK Maribor in the Europa League.
Then at half time Fabrice Muamba was brought onto the pitch for the first time since his near fatal collapse there a year before. He was applauded warmly throughout his walk and was obviously very moved by the reception he got. The crowd also sung 'Yiddo, yiddo' at him - a black African, who had been playing for the opposition and who began his career at Arsenal. Because if the Tottenham crowd take you to its heart, a Yiddo is what you are to them.
And that's all that needs saying on the subject
Andrew (We also sang 'You're not singing Maribor', which was quite witty IMHO) Warmington
On Barca's Deplorable Behaviour
If there is anyone out there who still cannot work out why so many football fans detest Barcelona FC, watch this.
The match itself was a cracker, a real top-notch advertisement for why the BBVA is one of the most exciting and entertaining leagues in the world. The ever-dominant super force of Barcelona stride in to a 2-0 lead against the stubborn underdogs and the fate of the game seems to be inevitable, only for Sevilla (led by the severely under-rated Rakitic) to spring a couple of deadly counter-attacks and level the game at 2-2 with seconds remaining. Messi, who was quiet all game, then takes it by the scruff of the neck and sets up Sanchez for the winner. Brilliant match.
Then you see Pinto making a wagging-finger gesture that you would expect of a six-year-old, and these pair of immature muppets making hand gestures as if to mock the financial disparity between the two sides.
They make it so hard to like them.
Ben "It's not too late Milner, look at Barry!" Gleeson, Cardiff
A Mail From An Unhappy Man
Why did you write this idiotic drivel? Are you still in sixth form?
I think the general consensus among supporters is that he's a good player who deserves a fair crack of the whip and a consistent run of games.
The players who have been picked ahead of him this season are Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs. Kagawa is a better player than both and just requires a bit of faith shown in him.
It's pretty basic really. Not that you don't realise that: intellectual dishonesty being one of the pre-requisites for anyone working in the meeja.
So, go f*** yourself and f*** your anti-Manchester United site. Remember the cold hard facts: We have been Champions of England twenty times.
How does that feel?
MANCHESTER UNITED: CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND 2012/2013 (20)