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
Fear And Anxiety
I just heard on BBC Radio 1's 'Newsbeat' that Roy Hodgson "Has not felt fear or anxiety ahead of England's must-win game against Montenegro tonight".
That one sentence goes a long way to explain why we English have grown to detest our own international matches. 'Fear or anxiety'; that's what our journalists are asking our manager, not 'pride', 'belief' or even 'excitement', but 'fear or anxiety'. Two games to go atop the group and they're asking him if he's sh*tting himself; no wonder our teams are setup to and duly play with trepidation.
'Must-win'. It's not a f***ing 'must-win' game though is it? I won't bore with the statistics but F365 have already explained that two draws could see us through - it may not, but this game is certainly not a 'must-win'. If we lose then the Poland fixture would most likely be a 'must-win', but this one certainly is a 'would-be-handy-to-win'. This hyperbole matched with the aforementioned pedantry brews a nervous and quite toxic atmosphere ahead of England games which I don't think I'm alone in dreading.
Once upon a time I would look forward to watching England play and probably still would if the media cut their bullsh*t and just accepted our national team as one of mediocre standing within the world game.
Scott (Fearful and anxious about going to the pub tonight for a must-drink beer), London.
Fave Time Of The Season
In an international week, where nothing of note happens for days, idiots drag out the same discussions (Wilshere 'English for the English / Adnan 'could he play?' after one start) to the point where a Buddhist monk would break their vow of silence to scream 'SHUT THE F**K UP'. It's fair to say these International breaks are the dullest weeks of a football calendar. It got me thinking, what is the best time of the year to be a football fan?
The hype machine is in full gear, you're going to sign him from there and pretend you know everything there is to know. Suddenly somebody else swoops in and snap him up. Other fans laugh at your club for being small time, but they don't know the master plan. Instead you end up with someone else, who is much better for sure (for £4m more than his buyout fee).
Repeat x a billion.
Yes! Football is back. The greatest game in the world. By the end of the first weekend you've watched seven games and your eyes are bleeding. You try not to think back over the summer when you actually did things with loved ones, making the most of your leisurely weekends. Racing home for Palace v Coventry in the League Cup beats drinks in the sun with friends, you convince yourself.
The games are coming thick and fast. This season is going well, but your star striker has gone on strike back home in South America. Meanwhile, you manage to convince the Mrs agree to renewing the Sky, BT Sports and ESPN packages in a peace agreement which offers X-Factor, Dancing in all its varieties (Ice/Ballroom/Street), I'm a Celebrity, Big Brother, the Kardashian's doing something and every soap known to man, in trade.
End of season:
Stay up or down? Bag the title? Fade at the last? The excitement peaks. Football is the greatest sport on the planet, no other delivers gripping climaxes like this! (Expect the Ryder Cup, Rugby League, Six Nations, NFL, Darts, Cricket, Athletics, Cycling... Football is definitely more exciting than Formula 1 (but not all other motor sports)).
Finally we can relax, take a break, see friends and family, do things again. Yes, a rest is needed, space from the beautiful game... wait, what was that?A flash of white and red just passed me on the A503, hanging from the window of a Ford Transit.
Oh yeah, the World Cup. FFS!
C'mon Montenegro! Don't let England ruin my favourite time in the football calendar with more football.
Wilshere: Not The New Barton
Being a follower of QPR, and having seen them play a fair few times over the last few years, I can confirm, Jack Wilshere is NOT the new Joey Barton.
Joey Barton is a Championship level player who stays in the media because of the awful things he has done and the "controversial" things he says . A player who claimed he should be in the midfield for England, despite having a passing average of less than 75%. I have watched him break down moves countless times for QPR this season. Away at Leeds alone, I counted seven passes that didn't meet their man, and one of those put the Leeds striker through on goal. He can't tackle, he can't run with the ball, he's got no skill. He is an absolutely rotten player who I have never seen performing with any level of quality.
Jack Wilshere can play football. Maybe he's not the new Messi, but he is a very good footballer who will probably get better with age. Joey Barton is a godsh*te who plays up to the media, who in ten years will be doing Celebrity Big Brother, airing controversial views about how the toilet is blocked and the smoking area stinks.
...'TJ' says that Jack Wilshere is fast becoming his most-hated player.
This is a young player over-hyped by the media (not himself), who has suffered two serious long term injuries (which has undoubtedly affected his form and potential), and who generally avoids the celebrity spotlight - unlike many of his peers and predecessors - and is a bit, to use 365's term, 'uneducated'.
I wish Wilshere would - like most footballers - keep his mouth shut and understand the limits of his little legs when the ball runs away from him, but ... most-HATED!?
Jeez ... that's the kind of pathetic nasty over-reaction you'd expect from someone like, well, Joey Barton.
...What is it with Joey Barton?
I am not going to go into his greatest hits as we all know them by now.
But his latest rant about Alex Ferguson, the FA and the National Team, screams of nothing else but "look at me, I'm Joey Barton, I'm controversial me"
This is a 30 yr old journeyman playing in the Championship, who has the sum total of 1 cap to his name (I am sure he would have had more caps had he not retired from international football mind!), and he feels everyone wants to hear what he has to say about the state of the game and one of the greatest managers in the history of Football.
Perhaps you should look at the state of your own game Joey and how you wasted your talent in your earlier career and became a bitter pro winding down his career by slagging everyone off to anyone who will listen.
But at least he isnt doing it in a comedy French accent.
Glad to get that off my chest.
When TJ (one half decent response to this and I'll be happy) wrote his email to your website comparing the man of the moment, Januzaj, to the world class British athelete Mo Farah and the Manchester United's reserve player Wilfred Zaha he managed to leave out quite a lot of important context that explains why they choose to represent this country.
Mo Farah has a British father and has lived in this country since he was 8 years old, he says he has very little memory of his life before he came to this country. Farah grew up in the same areas of west London as I did, I first heard about him after reading an article in the local paper about an athlete from just across town who was a national cross country champion. Farah was British long before he became an Olympic champion. Likewise Wilfred Zaha came to this country as a four year old, and trained at Crystal Palace since the age of nine. He doesn't play for England because of some trickery with a passport and five years of residency, but because England has been his home for pretty much his whole life and he feels English.
Contrast these two people with Adnan Januzaj who was born in Belgium to Kosovar-Albanian parents and stayed there until he was 16. He didn't move to this country until two years ago when Manchester United waved a big wad of cash in his face and offered him the opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. He didn't come to this country as a child, he came to this country as a professional footballer. Januzaj's past is quite diverse and it's fair enough that he is considering his options, but I highly doubt that he feels like he has a British identity or sense of loyalty towards this country.
I am currently undertaking a engineering degree at a well regarded London based university with a 70% intake of foreign students (the Premier League isn't the only place lacking domestic talent) and as such I know a lot of people who moved to this country in their late teens to spend a few years benefiting from this countries education system, all I can say is none of them give me the impression that they will be renouncing their prior nationality out of a sense of gratitude to the British education system any time soon.
Also, the rules categorically state Januzaj can never be eligible to play for England, due to the home nations agreement. The same rules stopped Angel Rangel playing for Wales and prevented Nacho Novo turning out for Scotland. Hodgson's next embarrassing escapade is presumably to beg the other home nations for a rule change. England would be better off improving the quality of grass roots coaching, like Scotland are aiming to do with their 2020 performance project.
Alec (Still eligible to represent England or Scotland)
Sounds Like A Plan
Kieron, Liverpool's email reminded me of my long term plan for any kids I may have. If my missus ever gets pregnant, for the last weeks of her term I'm moving her to San Marino so that when the youngster inevitably doesn't make it as an England player there's still hope of me having a child play at international level. She isn't too happy about this.
But Kieron's example of a foreign born player fits my first months of life almost to a tee. The exception of it being with the army in Germany rather than the RAF. I'm still waiting for the call from either of them in desperate need of a forward who's lethal from 2 yards. At the age of 27 I can't afford to be fussy about who I play for.
Thomas Dixon, EUFC
Whilst this could go back and forth, in response to Chris MUFC latest blog (Loved the Liz Jones reference), I'm afraid it is you who has missed the point Adonis made, if indeed you took the time to read it in the first place before ploughing ahead with your mail.
It was quite clear that Adonis wasn't elevating tackling to the pinnacle of footballing skill, highlighted by this comment, "You can make a tough tackle and then when you have the ball, you can play some silky football". It's clear he's suggesting the two must exist is unison in order for the team to succeed. Surely you can see that if you make possession football the be all and end all then one team is going to have to chase and tackle. If we were to abandon tackling and try and pass around every team we are going to get given our a*ses on a regular basis. I would also suggest Maldinis comment is tongue in cheek for a defender in as much that I would imagine he had to make hundreds of tackles which were not as a direct result of his mistakes. He's a defender after all.
The players Adonis mentioned were tough tackling, they retrieved the ball and laid it off. Tackling was very much part of their game, and they in turn were very much part of successful teams. The team as a whole should have the passing skills, but they should also have the chasing and tackling skills. This is not to make these skills the national trait, this is to simply acknowledge that not everybody can be Spain. The title of Adonis' mail was Tackling AND Technical. Both are needed. You see the point now?
One final thing, to lionise is to elevate 'someone' to celebrity status or treat as socially important, you don't lionise tackling. Do you use a thesaurus to try and change every word?
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
In response to Nick Miller's excellent piece - It is the ever more ludicrous off-field antics of clubs that have led to me losing both interest in, and respect for, the Premier League. As John Nicholson has said at various times, it has become essentially a soap-opera for men.
If I look at Chelsea or Manchester City, I wonder what it is their fans are supporting? Purchased success provided for by a foreign billionaire, whose money was accumulated from questionable sources, predominantly dour football, brightened occasionally by the quality you'd expect of some of the world's highest paid players. For long-time fans of the club who predate the new owners, I'd imagine this takes the shine off their recent successes (or maybe not). The attention seeking of Mourinho and the off-field behaviour of Terry and Ashley Cole for example, surely all tarnish the club in the mind of any right thinking football person?
Maybe I'm falling for nostalgia, but it seems to me that football clubs were at originally rooted in the communities in which they belonged, symbols of their towns and cities and imbued with their collective values. As football becomes more and more of a business, I understand that this has changed, but it has done so to a degree where I think fans now feel like they're standing on the outside of a party looking in through the window, a third wheel tagging along with the perfect couple of TV money and the various millionaire/billionaire owners.
A "club" infers membership, with an implicit understanding that you as a member or supporter have a say, or at the very least come into the thinking of those who run the club when they are making decisions. The examples that dispute that this is the case in the Premier League are manifold - rising ticket prices at Manchester United despite unprecedented economic success, Cardiff's changing club colours, Hull City's name game are but 3 that come to mind in the past few months alone.
With all this in mind, I'd love to see more clubs run in the mould of Swansea. Partly fan owned, a commitment to an attractive style of play, and run in a financially sustainable way. That is something to get behind.