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 email@example.com
Would be eternally grateful if you could let me inform your esteemed readers that Leyton Orient are on an 8 game winning streak to start this season. This weekend we take on the might of Walsall to make it 9.
Much more impressive than a few 1-0 wins
1. Did Sarah Winterburn write about Einstein just to wind up Eyjo, Iceland?
2. Does Stu, Chiswick know how many goals Chelsea have shipped with Terry playing this season? (Hint: Juan.)
3. Does Mourinho want to sign Rooney based on the exact point Jerry, MUFC made about him tracking back pointlessly?
Missing The Point On Villa
Sarah Winterburn's recent piece on Aston Villa misses the point by so far she could be talking about a different team entirely. Her assertion that Villa were poor last season because of Lambert's transfer business is ridiculous. He took over the worst squad we've had in decades, that scraped survival under McLeish more by luck and a scrappy Weimann goal than by having a true Premier League squad.
Lambert has been forced to ship out the dead wood and under performing players on high wages, and has done a great job so far. What Villa lacked last season was experience and anything resembling a bench. With more bodies Villa can now lose players to injury, as will always happen, and replace their stars with internationals and people who have played a bit, despite their youth. Surely seeing Kozak, last season's top Europa League scorer, come off the bench is obviously a more reassuring prospect than Nathan Delfouneso.
Villa still have a weak defence, but a first clean sheet of 2013 last week is an encouraging sign, and whilst Villa are not expecting to be challenging for Europe, there really is enough talent in the likes of Benteke, Agboblahor, Weimann, Kozak, Helenius, Delph, Westwood and Lowton to indicate that we should be safe a little earlier than last year.
A Conflicted Chelsea Fan
Firstly, let me admit then when Mourinho came back to the bridge I was a giddy, clapping my hands with glee and delight, child. I mean... Who wouldn't have been ecstatic that the special one, sorry happy one, had returned? He sells newspapers, he says funny things, and he brings a winning mentality which allows the fans a little peace of mind. Because Mourinho.... Will find a way.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Benitez when he was first put in charge but I understood the appointment. Di Matteo (thanks for the CL you little hero) was really a short term stop gap and a more experienced, tactically aware manager was necessary. We appeared to fill that role with an appropriate candidate and Rafa went about his business professionally and politely. I'm still a little embarrassed by the fans that were so shockingly disrespectful to what the man was trying to do, but again - I could understand it. He was a bit of a, for want of a better word, twunt at Liverpool and we didn't have the best relationship with the Scousers.
However, what I'm starting to feel is that - Rafa had something to prove. He had taken over Inter Milan and, for whatever reason, they were awful. Truly, terribly awful. So after leaving the club his stock was at an all-time low, Benitez was known to be a good manager but owners were wary of his failures. He came in to Chelsea needing to show the world that he was still an excellent candidate for any job. So he made some tactical changes, got the best out of Mata, positioned Luiz where we all wanted to see him play, and did well with the fixtures and competitions placed in front of him.
Now Mourinho waltzed in after failing to get a job he arguably wanted more and has made some tactical changes which have left a lot of us baffled. I can't help but get the feeling that he has no point to prove, that he has come back to a club where the fans (me included) will worship and adore him. But is that hunger and desire there to reshape a club, to bring the exciting football the owner craves and go out and win trophies (that he has already won)?
Benitez has taken over Napoli and they're storming it. He has bought a striker (admittedly after losing one - but having Torres and Ba on current form means we didn't really have a striker either) who has scored goals, made things work with his most talented playmakers and has them playing good football, even in Italy.
Mourinho sanctioned the signing of Willian and Eto'o. Willian we don't need and Eto'o is not going to be the man to lead Chelsea for the future. He has also sent Lukaku out on loan, who my friends and I had tipped to be starting for Chelsea and, hopefully, Drogbaing his way to a high goal tally. Our best playmaker is stuck on the bench, we don't play good football (there is close to zero movement from the men off the ball) and we've recorded our lowest points tally in a decade (at this early stage of the season admittedly).
I am a conflicted fan. On the one hand I love the good looking, Portuguese spin doctor but on the other... I'm not sure if he has made the right decisions and whether he will galvanise the club to the heights we've all hoped, including playing the football we all like to see.
And now we face our old, but young former manager who has a team playing some sharp football with a plethora of talent across the park and on the bench. To say that I'm worried would be an understatement.
Stevie (did I use my bracket allowance in the above email?), Camden.
An Interesting E-Mail That Mentions The NFL. Who Knew?
It's been interesting me for to see pieces written on this site and others about Shahid Khan and his take over of Fulham. Many of them seem to suggest that because he's a billionaire and owner of an NFL franchise that he'll a) be investing lots of money in the team and b) be really impatient with poor performance.
If you look at how he's operated over the last few years, there's a pattern of under investment and wasted money with the Jaguars regressing significantly, in a sporting sense, as a result.
The NFL has a salary cap that is designed to keep teams competitive (essentially Jerry Jones doesn't buy all the best players for the Cowboys). There is also a relatively new rule on minimum spend that had to be introduced to ensure that owners do not just roll out really mediocre teams and pocket the, frankly, eye watering amounts of cash available in the NFL. Take a guess at what's coming next...
The Jaguars spend about $124m on players - about $21m under the amount they could to - and many people would argue they need to. Also hidden in the stat is $27.3m of "dead money" still paid by the Jaguars to players they have released. That's almost a quarter of the money they will spend this year that adds zero value to the team. He's also given up a home game for 4 years, essentially pissing off what little fan base they have, to come over to England to play at Wembley (another money spinning venture for poorly performing teams who would probably not give up their home game if they made lots of ticket sales).
Well this is all very dull and numbery but what does it mean... Well, far from Shahid Khan coming in to improve Fulham and hold them to higher standard, he's much more likely to want them to finish 17th with the lowest wage bill possible (assuming he's worked out what relegation is). So any Fulham fans expecting great things, or even Jol to get sacked by a fancy pants new owner - unlucky.
As a point of comparison Tampa Bay (Glaziers) are also underspending by $25m which possibly explains the rampant growth in Man U's revenues but not their spending. St Lois Rams (Kroenke) just slip under the cap by $1m and are hamstrung by overpaying for a load of youngeters - sound familiar?
The win/loss record of the teams this year
Jags (0 wins - 3 losses)
Sorry I didn't use bullet points but these American "saviours" don't deserve them!
James AFC, Wembley bound this weekend
It's Too Early To Say. Cheers Though
WINS against the other 'top 6' teams so far this season (league only):
Arsenal - 1 from 1 (3 points)
Man City - 1 from 1 (3 points)
Liverpool - 1 from 1 (3 points)
Chelsea - 0 from 1 (1 points)
Man Utd - 0 from 3 (1 points)
Spurs - 0 from 1 (0 points)
Are Spurs the new flat track bullies or is it too early to say? Tomorrow will tell us more I guess...so looking forward to 'Mourinho' vs 'Mourinho light' this weekend!
Chris (why does AVB remind me of Napoleon?) Charteris
In response to Patrick (hello to Anthony, Kilburn) London.....
Hello mate, hope you're well, Kudos on the letter.
Seeming as Paddy and I actually know each-other in real life and have both regularly contributed, does this make us the Keys and Gray of the Mailbox?
If so are we able to slag off women on here or should we move our musings to F365's arab equivalent?
Requests For Heart-Sinkers
As someone who somehow earns his corn as a football commentator for a certain betting website, I will do my best this evening to use as many 'heart sinkers' as possible during my game tonight.
Feel free to listen in and have your heart sunk. :)
Sadly, the game in question is in a league that has lots of big men who don't have good feet, so that one might be out of the window. Tonight's offering is VfR Aalen vs 1.FC Köln.
Lloyd Stiles, THFC, Vienna
The ultimate 'heartsinker' is when you open a new mailbox to find a page full of monotonous 'heartsinkers'
Andrew (There must be more to talk about this week...slaves being used to make a world cup anyone?), London
The ultimate heart-floater for me is seeing a goalie go up for a corner or free kick near the end of a game. Watching a giant David James trample defenders to death was a rare pleasure. I think if the opposing teams goalie scored against my team (Leeds, sorry) in added time the net altitude of my heart would be above surface level.
Staying with goalies, it's also always great to see a keeper get closed down by a striker only to produce a sublime bit of skill and nonchalantly go round them and play a pass to feet.
And lastly, Benoit Assou-Ekotto
...Commentary heart-floaters: Barry Davies. The absolute greatest. As much as 'he sums up what you are feeling' is a cliché in itself, it is genuinely true in his case.
eg imagine the horrifying verbal turd that Tyldesley or Pearce would have vomited onto the mic after Maradona's second in Mexico; BD's view? 'You have to say that's magnificent', in a tone of voice colder than Randy Lerner's debit card.
Can we have him back please?
Neil 'Look at his face!' Raines
...Here's a heart floater from way back in 1996...
During the euros that year, the Dutch managed to strike a blank in their first match and didn't open their account until the second game.
Following Jordi Cruyff's goal cue the Beeb's Barry Davies with this gem:
"The future is bright - the future is orange."
It was a rather rubbish attempt at drawing a link between the Oranje and a certain mobile phone company but it was the fact the normally morose Davies had to wait a full match and a half to deliver the line he'd clearly been desperate to utter all summer that really tickled me.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
...I think one of my favourite "heart floater" moments in football is when Steven Gerrard is on the ball about 30 yards from goal and suddenly the world opens up and he winds up for a shot.
Every since Olympiakos whenever I see this coming I am forced to get half out my chair in case I suddenly need to take all my clothes off in celebration of a wonder goal.
What Has Been Seen...
Following Mediawatch's article on Phil Jones/Mariano Rivera, I naturally wikied the outstanding pitcher.
Imagine my surprise when I came across this sentence:
After just nine appearances, Rivera's season was prematurely ended by a freak injury; prior to a May 3 game against the Kansas City Royals, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee after twisting his leg during his routine of shagging balls in batting practice.
I have learned since then that it's something to do with practicing catching. Before I read about that though, only one image was burning itself into my brain:
What would Phil Jones' gurning face look like if he did the same?!
Off to gouge out my eyes.
Aidan, EFC, Strand (NFL on Sunday. Rife.)
Your Friday Task This Week
Friday afternoon activity which has helped me kill an hour at work.
A Premier League era XI, picking one player per club, at the height of their powers (or the height of their form whilst representing that particular club).
GK - Cech (Chelsea)
RB - Kelly (Leeds)
CB - King (Spurs)
CB - McGraph (Villa)
LB - Baines (Everton)
RM - Ronaldo (Manchester United)
CM - Gerrard (Liverpool)
CM - Toure (Manchester City)
LM - Ginola (Newcastle)
CF - Henry (Arsenal)
CF - Shearer (Blackburn)
That is a pretty solid looking team right there. An airtight defence, a midfield combining flair and the heart to LITERALLY run through walls (my trousers are so tight), and goals galore up top.
Jim, Bali (Today is my Monday, I hope everyone has a terrible weekend)