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.
Hands Out Of Pants Please
So the Arsenal bumfest continues. So far this season they have played the following teams:
Any rational football fan would consider Arsenal to be significantly superior to most of the above teams, with only Swansea (on their day), Spurs and Napoli likely to provide much resistance. By all accounts Napoli defended like Crystal Palace last night, meanwhile the Spurs team Arsenal squeezed past fielded several new players. Arsenal have been playing well in patches but they have not been properly tested yet. It is a long old season and the only thing you can be sure of is that they are 'likely' to finish top five. Everything else is pure guesswork (especially this season).
So please take your collective hands out of your pants Arsenal fans, it's starting to get a little bit embarrassing. It's been a solid start, but no more than that.
When Will Gooners Turn Again?
There would appear to be no middle ground with Arsenal fans. They are either trying to push out the greatest manager they will ever have, or there is the current smug 'not bad for a team with no squad' pish. As impressive has they've been at times, beating Napoli and a Tottenham side who I think were introduced to each other just before kick-off are really the only noteworthy results. We all know they are only a couple of bad results away from the Emirates 'faithful' turning again.
...Before I get to my point, Arsenal are looking sh*thot at the moment. Everything is going for them. Defending well. Fantastic going forward. And scoring goals.
My point (beef) is with Arsenal fans. About six weeks ago they were borderline suicidal. When I spoke to my friends who support Arsenal, and look at my timeline on Twitter, they were a combination of:
- Wenger Out!
- SIGN SOMEONE PLEASE. ANYONE!
- Wenger OUT!
- We need a new defence. A def mid, AND a Striker
- Why the hell is Wenger still manager?
- Higuain can go do one. Didn't need him anyway
- WENGER OUT!
Fast forward about month, and one (admittedly incredible signing later), I come across some gems such as:
- Where are all of you people who were cursing out Ramsey now?
- Not bad for a team that you all said didn't have a good squad? Where are you now?
One reply to both above points. Erm, those statements were made by ARSENAL fans! No one else gave a sh*t about Ramsey or Arsenal because Arsenal have been so irrelevant to the top three for the past couple of years. No one cared Ramsey looked a bit rubbish. We all just laughed and pointed. It was ARSENAL fans who were b*tching about Ramsey, Arsenal, no spend etc etc.
How quickly you all went from Wenger Out to Wengerites. Selective memories.
Good Luck To Gervinho
Just a little mail about your title to a Mailbox entry this morning 'Actually Gervinho Is Doing OK For Roma'.
Indeed he is, and I don't know a single Gooner that doesn't wish him well. No one thinks he was a terrible player, he just isn't a Premier League player. He thrived in France and will probably hit his peak in Italy because he makes great runs, shows some lovely dribbling skills and actually doesn't have a bad shot when not under pressure. The problem is he always wants just one more touch and in the Premier League you simply don't get time to take that extra touch. It was as frustrating for him as it was for the fans to watch I'm sure!
Good luck to the guy, massive f*king forehead though.
Luca James Sparks
A Mailbox Regular Is Worried
I really thought the wheels would have come off by now. If they keep this up they may even make me believe we can win something. Which is probably when it will all fall apart.
Adonis (Ozil not good enough for Owen?) Stevenson, AFC
Another Is Just Enjoying It All
A tremendous performance from Arsenal last night. The whole team played well with power, pace and movement from the front and solid defending from the midfield to the back five. I haven't seen an Arsenal team come out of the blocks like that for a good few seasons now and I think about the 10-minute mark a stat popped up showing 70% possesion and 100 passes to 24 for Napoli. They just couldn't get the ball during that period and Arsenal made it count with two well-worked and skillful goals. After all the seasons of dominating possesion around the opposition's area and not having a cutting edge and the lows of last season's cup defeats it seems that Wenger and Bould have really managed to balance attack and defence.
The team all seem to have a good attitude as there is some competition for places and most of the deadwood and wasters are gone and what is left is a team with youth and experience and seemingly a hunger to succeed which has been missing for a while. Giroud has improved enormously and his hold-up play and first touch are really important as the midfielders are making positive runs and getting into good positions.
It was good to have Tomas Rosicky back but during the second half several of his passes went astray but luckily on the night they didn't result in a breakaway goal for Napoli. You could see that he was a bit rusty after being out for a while but it was a good game to be able to get some minutes and fitness under his belt. Hopefully we'll soon have Cazorla, Podolski and Walcott back so that more team rotation can happen.
Finally, on another note, could I just belatedly chip in about Match of the Day? I don't know why people seem so bothered about it. As I have a Sky+ box I usually pause it (and live matches) for 10 or 15 minutes so that I can forward through half-time or the banter on MoTD. I've seen the game for myself so I have little interest in what the pundits have to say, I just want to see the action.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
I know it's not going to last, and we're going to collapse, and Ozil and Ramsey and Giroud will get injured, and the fans will start moaning again, and Wenger will put his smile away and go back to throwing his hands up in the air in constant frustration, and we won't sign anyone in January and we still won't win a trophy and will end up in another fight for 4th; but can I just say:
Right now it's really nice being an Arsenal fan.
James Pender, AFC
I wonder what the chap with the 'Spend Spend Spend' sign from Arsenal's opening day of the season is doing?
I hope it's flailing himself.
Kagawa > Ozil?
When Arsenal signed Ozil, several United supporters told me they were glad Moyes didn't go for him because they already had Kagawa and that Kagawa was a better Number Ten than Ozil.
Can any United fan explain to me whether (a) they believe that to be true and (b) why they think Kagawa is a better player than Ozil
Aman Anand, QPR FC
Still Glad Moyes Has Gone
*Sigh*. I knew this would happen. The inevitable 'calm down little Everton you've only won a few games' reaction to yesterday's Moyes-centric Everton mails.
Moyes received almost unanimous backing from our fans right up to the 2009 cup final (2-1 defeat after taking the lead). After that loss a very small minority thought he'd taken us as far as he could but most of us we still right behind him. This remained the case until the 2012 cup quarter and semi-finals. Moyes rested half the first team for a derby match (3-0, Gerrard hat-trick) with one eye on the Sunderland QF, which we then drew 1-1. He drew a lot of ire for those two results/decisions but most felt that he could redeem it if he could beat Liverpool in the semi that followed the replay win. Again we lost 2-1 after leading and due to a ridiculous tactical switch that left Cahill as the midfield anchor when Fellaini had dominated the first half in that position. He lost a LOT of support that day.
The final nail for those who felt Moyes had taken as far as he could was another cup match, 0-3 at home to Wigan last year when he selected Phil Neville in centre mid, keeping Gibson on the bench all game before starting him the week after against Man City (won 1-0). Those are the decisions that many Everton fans judge Moyes negatively on and are the ones that highlight his bottling big games and throwing away winning/strong positions.
So much of Evertonian relief about Moyes' departure isn't based on Martinez or our start to the season. After 11 years most of us just wanted to see someone bring fresh ideas to a stale situation. That Martinez hasn't moaned about money or belittled his former club as Moyes has is merely an added bonus (I see this week he was 'surprised at Fellaini's lack of fitness', following on from his 'Roberto will learn' and 'if Fergie came in for Baines I'd have sold him (but I don't talk about other team's players')).
Also, we gained 22 points from losing positions? Well we lost 21 points from winning positions last season so what does that prove? Not much. We had a better points total after six games last season? Well we then won six league matches in the next 5+ months so lets see how we go from here...
The Barkley position can best be summed up by having him on the bench for the cup replay at home to Oldham last season. 3-1 up, he leaves it until the 90th minute and finally brings on his midfield sub, introducing the now-retired Thomas Hitzlsperger instead of giving the kid a run-out in a game that we were 3-0 up in after an hour.
The Moyes that arrived in 2002 and played Rooney at 16 wasn't afraid to take risks and make bold statements with his team selections. The one that left sure was.
So, to sum up: A lot of us were happy that he went and even more of us wouldn't have him back now if he begged. It doesn't make us fickle - we supported him for anywhere between 8 and 11 years and he got a send-off that a manager who won nothing and had already agreed to join a local rival could only dream of.
It Had Just Gone Stale
The 'Moyes was holding back Everton' charge is quite an interesting premise and one that I hadn't considered until I read it here yesterday.
It doesn't necessarily suggest that he held them back due to a lack of ability on his part; but, perhaps, after ten years of stability and 'success' at Everton, the risk/reward for striving further became a sub-conscious impediment to Moyes forcing more from the team and club.
Is Martinez a better manager? Probably not but I can see why Everton appear rejuvenated now Moyes has gone.
Moyes: Been There Before
"I've been in situations similar to this at Everton and Preston North End".
Well that's helpful if United want to recover from their worst start to a season since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, and try and finish in the Top Six. Next season we could see if we could win promotion, and add to Moyes' heaving trophy cabinet.
Born Into Newcastle, The Poor Bugger
As a Newcastle United fan I've often wondered why I bother, the heartbreak, the anguish and the pain has always far outweighed any glory and fun. I've been to hundreds of games home, away and even abroad and I have spent thousands of pounds of my hard earned cash following them. Would I change any of it? Probably not in truth. But now at 30 years of age, married and a father of three I regard my 'die-hard days' are well behind me. But I'm still a 'proper fan' attending games as often as possible and still living the odd high and frequent lows.
Which brings me to my point. Why Newcastle United? There has plenty of talk on 365 recently regards glory hunting and how people came to support the team they do. We have our Irish Mancs, Yankee Reds, Tokyo Blues etc but my story is far less complicated. Born in Northumberland with a Black 'n' White mad father and grandfather I had no chance. It was Newcastle United or nobody. Simple.
My first game? Leeds at home 1989, first day of the season. 5-2 home win, Mickey Quinn scores four. Magic.
Or was it? It turns out 31 years ago today 02/10/1982 Rotherham United v Newcastle United at Millmoor, Newcastle win 1-5 away from home, Kevin Keegan nets four (spookily similar to the Leeds game in 1989 as it happens) and my parents were both in attendance. My mother was 'with child', she was five months pregnant with me. So the truth is, I REALLY never had a chance did I?
It's tantamount to child abuse really.
On ITV's Coverage Of The Celtic Game
Having read 'Tom - MUFC (Cheshire)''s mail this morning, I agree completely that it was a blatant (if rather silly) sending-off, and when the replays showed it as such, Townsend just glossed over it. This brings me on to my main point about the blindly patriotic jingoistic coverage ITV continue to broadcast for the Champions League and their football output as a whole.
If San Marino/Andorra/Luxembourg etc had served up that kind of home display against our 'brave English Lions', Townsend et al would inevitably have spouted some poppycock about teams not making a game of it, showing no ambition, making up the numbers etc etc. Instead it's hailed at half-time as a 'rope a dope' strategy (oh Chiles...), or 'brave', 'resililent', 'backs against the wall' stuff. Why then when it's a British team sticking 11 behind the ball is it courage and spirit and when it's a collection of bank managers, butchers and window cleaners from a football outpost it's negative and cowardly?
The Celtic performance did however give our Andy an opportunity for one of his 'heart sinker' moments previously mentioned in the mailbox. When Celtic finally strung four passes together and kicked it vaguely towards goal, his cry of "that's better!" at least amused me this time round.
Nathan - Exiled Pompey fan in London (nice touch, the usually deplorable, Dani Alves wearing Abidal's shirt number in tribute though)
What About Forster?
To add to your 'uncapped and English XI', I can't understand why Forster hasn't been given a chance at international level yet. He's one of only two English goalkeepers playing regular Champions' League football and the only one actually performing well. Whilst the quality of the SPL is, to put it kindly, a bit sketchy, the kind of saves Forster was pulling out of the bag last night in the last quarter kept Celtic in the game.
Some of them were the kind of instinctive saves that show a natural talent for pre-empting the striker's movements, even more impressive considering the striker was the very tricky Neymar.
He can't be worse than Hart currently is and it might actually make Hart up his game...
Mark S, London
Clubs Do Punish Bad Boys
Why does Big Red assume clubs don't punish their naughty boys?
I'd be very surprised if Torres gets any kind of ticking off at Chelsea for a bout of naughtiness that caused literally nobody any harm, but they've certainly dished out punishments to players in the past. So have, I'd imagine, every other club if football.
But they do it largely behind closed doors, because that is the professional and ethical way to discipline staff. Punishment is about the people involved, not satisfying some public demand for retribution. Can you blame clubs, especially those under the media microscope, for not making their disciplinary procedures public when the press will seize on any slight opportunity to discuss infighting and mutiny?
Clubs generally don't suspend their players because that doesn't punish the player- it punishes the club. A red card and ban awarded by the FA is a slap on the wrist for the club that fails to control their player. It barely registers with the player at all. They hit the naughty boys where it really hurts them - their bank accounts.
Jose Is Premier League Manager No. 3
Erm...Liam, I appreciate that Jose hasn't had a blinding start this term but x2 league victories (over Wenger and Fergie) in three years in charge. How many League Cups? How many FA Cups? Mourinho is comfortably the third best.
Or No. 2?
Er...Mourinho? In fact you could even make a case Jose actually is second best...
Purely domestic trophy-wise his haul of two titles, two League Cups andone1 FA Cup in three seasons compares very well with Wenger's three titles and four FA Cups in 17. Especially as the core of the team Mourinho built (admittedly sans Mourinho) won a further title and three FA Cups between 2007-2012. I suppose it depends whether you think Wenger's longevity counts in his favour (brilliant achievement) or not (shoulda won more!). I believe the former but it's hard to argue that Mourinho wouldn't have surpassed Wenger in the silverware stakes had he stayed a few seasons longer. Indeed Mourinho won 1.4 trophies a season compared to Wenger's 0.4 - even if you only measure Wenger between 1998-2005 he still 'only' averages 1 trophy per season.
This is, I must admit, a ridiculous way of measuring 'who the [second] best is'. Mourinho couldn't last 17 years at a bridge club, never mind a football one, and his trophy-per-season average benefits from having Daddy Roman's millions to play with, plus taking over a team that finished second the previous year. But hey, it's lunchtime, and I'm unemployed. Let's all argue over whether we should count the League Cup, since Wenger doesn't seem to.
Max Wykeham, CPFC (4th best? Hate to say it but maybe Harry...)
And How Could He Forget...
RE: Liam Kirrane's email regarding the best PL managers of all time; I can't believe he's missed this person out. He's won everything as a player and a manager at a canter including European Trophies and is now, by all accounts an absolute genius in the transfer market. Christ I'm actually disgusted in Liam for missing this person out, hang your head in shame young lad.
It's clearly Joe F*cking Kinnear!
What About Managers As Housemates?
I briefly misread Liam Kirrane's email thinking it was about which Premiership manager would make the best housemate, which I found an entertaining diversion. Sticking with his top three premise (third place obviously Mourinho):
Fergie - I'm the oldest, I'm in charge. Double locks the door at 11, moans about everything; toilet seat up, out of date milk, bringing girls back, etc. When doing the food shop however, used to do a good job, always one good steak dinner a week, but recent austerity measures have led to Alex only coming home with minced beef and sausages. Does his share of the chores.
Wenger - Questions everything. He means well, and genuinely wants you to eat better, drink less, be on time for work, but f***, it can be annoying. His food shop will always keep you fed and healthy, although there are a lot of cheap items right on the 'sell by' date. Never any treats in the bag. Mind you, rather out of character, he did come back with a massive cake and a case of beer last week. Does his share of the chores, although it does seem like he cuts corners sometimes.
Mourinho - Always has to be the Alpha Male. Will only live in a house where everyone is well paid to feed some expensive shopping habits. Does not like to do any preparation and so only ever buys ready meals, or components thereof, from the Finest range. Stopped buying trifle lately, which is a shame as everone likes it. Does no chores, has a daily cleaner.
The mind boggles at further Premiership housemates, Brendan Rodgers most obviously, but I won't divert from Liam's top three idea, lest this mail have absolutely no relation to anything.
Rob, AFC, London