That's the question that kicks off an afternoon mailbox full of debate over Arsenal and the size of Patrick Vieira's head. Plus, thoughts on colouring and Chelsea strikers...
The mailbox is very much split between Arsenal fans saying 'f*** you, we got through' and the doom merchants. We also have a mails on Chamakh for Chelsea and...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's it. I'm putting my foot down. We need to have a separate section to F365 with the "Non-Football Story of the Day" that is published at 3 o'clock, when lunch has been safely eaten and digested. Thanks to your cat vomit story I now have a half eaten baguette pushed to one side of my desk, never to be looked at again.
I am also now questioning why I have drawn the line at "Cat Vomit" and not "Penis Beaker/Breaker", so thanks for that!
Paul M (Glad I'm not the only person who read Breaker and not Beaker) LFC
It Landed On Our Desk This Morning
I really quite enjoy reading football books while travelling, so I bought Redknapp's autobiography. I was happy with this purchase, until today's revelations in Mediawatch, about how Redknapp is either lying about verifiable facts in his autobiography, or has such a shoddy memory that his stories are woefully factually inaccurate.
I now regret the purchase. Not because it won't be an entertaining read, but I'm worried that I'll eventually confuse some of 'Arry's claims with reality, and end up being very wrong in some future football discussion.
So I was wondering...would F365 be willing to give 'Harry's entire book the full Mediawatch Treatment, so that your readers can avoid being duped by everyone's favorite wheeler-dealer? Or, if that would be too much effort, what about an article along the lines of "Top 10 Factually-Inaccurate stories from Redknapp's autobiography"?
Oliver (conflicted on whether to buy SAF's new book or not) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
An Important Question
As it's Friday I wondered if I could get readers' views on this international football query.
In the movie Short Circuit - the robot Johnny 5 gets is awarded US citizenship at the end of the second film but his inventor (his father if you will) is Indian so does Johnny 5 qualify to play for the USA or India?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Before the whining from Little Englanders about how International games should be killed off and how the Champion's Money is the way forward for the future...a quick update from a few thousand kilometres away. Down here in South America, this weekend is BIG. The streets of Bogotá, Colombia have been filled with shirt vendors (got my 'official' Abidas shirt earlier), horn tooters and flag wavers for the whole week...this morning it's already starting to wind up towards fever pitch.
Why? Well, at four, the city will shut down and the entire country will be glued to the sets because a result against Chile in Barranquilla on the hot and humid north coast will put (us) into the World Cup for the first time this century. It might not mean anything to a certain section of English Big Club supporters, but make no mistake, the World Cup is HUGE in other countries.
Oli, Santa Fé, Bogotá
PS if you can watch it somehow, do. Two very good teams (Colombia are ranked 6th in the world) with some genuinely thrilling players...
I found 'Eight Options To Be Spain's No 9' to be an interesting read during a slow Friday at work. However, I'm rather more interested in some of the brilliant names within the Spanish squad when translated into English.
We currently have Freddy Towers, Johnny Kills & Bobby Soldier strutting their stuff in the Premier League. But I'm also a fan of Spain manager, Vinny of the Forest and legendary keeper, Ike Boxes.
Is anyone able to make up a full 11 man squad from these?
Kev R, London
I'd like to thank Chris, ITFC for defending my argument that football isn't just about being good at one thing, and being good at tackling doesn't necessarily make you a neanderthal. You see what he did as opposed to everyone else that criticised it was read the whole thing. Just as in life, football is all about balance - and I don't mean Ashley Young's lack of it.
His defence was much more eloquent than my one so I can see why you printed his instead. Shame that people didn't get to see the video of Cannavaro making a slide tackle on Messi so here it is in case you decide to print this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V2ATk1R4_c
And Chris (the good one, not the evil one) is quite right, Maldini did make a lot of tackles. Here is the proof - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-4gw7mmE0c
Next time I'm in Liverpool, I'll buy you a drink Chris!
Adonis (Now for some actual football to talk about) Stevenson, AFC
Joey, Joey, Joey
So, Joey Barton's said something willfully controversial which he knows will get him a lot of news coverage, so everyone's said it's controversial and given him that news coverage. No, this isn't about the fact that he's apparently started wearing an Alice Band in his hair, despite not being Luka Modric or Patrick Berger. He has said that the ten man commission to look at the game is a waste of time and just to dilly and dally and be seen to be discussing things, while not actually getting anything done. Some of this is stuff we fear may happen, of course, but his idea that a "totalitarian" should be put in is quite absurd and reductive.
1) the commission is drawn from people right across the game. If you're trying to deal with issues which affect the whole game then you're dealing with things which affect players, youth players, administrators, managers, and possibly the media too. You need people represented which have experience of all those different sides of the game - both with long experience and the experience of what this is like right now (someone could have 20 years as a player, 10 as a manager and 10 as an administrator, but that means their earlier experience is completely out of date).
There's an issue here of course that the Premier League isn't sitting on this, but that's the fault of the Premier League, and they appear to have been invited in but not taken up that chance. This means they will be sitting on the outside shooting down suggestions and saying "nah, we/clubs won't make as much money", rather than sitting in their meetings saying shooting down suggestions and saying "nah, we/clubs won't make as much money". It's no loss.
Of course, a dictator could have a board with that membership feeding into him, and could take decisions based on that, but then that causes further problems:
2) Dyke's in this job because Bernstein hit the age where he had to retire. Bernstein was in the job because Triesman said some silly things and had to quit. Those are the independent chairs of the FA we've had just in the last five years. The buck can't stop with one person - they shambles of English football means they'll be out on their arse before long. Longevity doesn't exist. Some scandal happens, and they have to fall on a sword, or they're in the job for a few years before they hit a mandatory retirement age. Then there's a new dictator. Who rips it all up and starts again and you're back at square one.
Sunderland ripped everything up when they appointed Di Canio (I assure you any totalitarian reference here is entirely incidental) who decided everything had to be ripped up and started from scratch. Then things went so badly that he had to be removed, and a new man with new ideas is in just a month later. Swansea City have directors of football guiding player recruitment, taking into account a club style which goes beyond the manager (while still being adaptable to what the man in that chair might want) and even keeps an eye on which manager might be a good one to bring in further along the line, if their current manager takes a different job or needs to be removed. They've been successful enough to get into Europe, Sunderland have a season of relegation ahead of them. An overall system isn't infallible, but it's less fallible than just one person - and it's got much more longevity.
So Mr Barton, that's why this non-perfect committee is certainly far more preferable than any idea of a single figurehead. I would say of course you have a right to reply (and I imagine you are a keen F365 reader), but I'm sure you'll say something else about all this soon enough anyway.
Will Donovan, THFC, North London.
...I would like to make the bold statement that Joey Barton doesn't annoy me. Not even slightly. He is a rephrensible character, for sure, but that is all he is....for now.
"Why only for now?", I hear you ask. "How does the little bleeder not irritate you?", others cry out. I'll tell you for why. I want Joey Barton to continue playing football until he is in his grand old 80s, because that way he has something to distract him before he inevitability becomes a columnist for the red tops or even the Daily Mail, and we have to listen to him spouting his hyperbolic look at me look at me I'm controversial and I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread etc. nonsense opinions on a weekly basis. No one needs that. Let's just be grateful that he only opens his moronic gob once in a while and hope that football (the thing he actually gets paid to do) keeps him sidetracked for as long as possible. Please.
Praise For Laudrup
The praise currently being enjoyed by Messrs Wenger and Rodgers following fine starts to the season for Arsenal and Liverpool respectively is quite justifiable. Both clubs had rather below-par seasons last time out, yet now sit one and two in the League following seven matches.
The main plaudits coming the way of the two managers is for their willingness to tweak their systems in order to become more lethal going forward, expressed in greater detail by Matt Stanger in 'Ceding control for greater efficiency'. The style of play used by Wenger and Rodgers has been continuously likened to the way in which Barcelona have conquered in recent seasons, that was until the subtle changes implemented by the pair this season. Both sides have looked considerably more dangerous and the statistics back up what has been said.
To get a bit of detail from his article as well as a little more from whoscored.com, the average possession enjoyed by both sides has significantly decreased from last season to this, Arsenal 58.2% (2012/13) down to 54% (2013/14) and Liverpool 57.2% (2012/13) down to 51.7% (2013/14). Both sides are also averaging fewer shots per game this season, Arsenal are down 1.3 shots per game while Liverpool are now taking 6.4 shots less per game. This might appear at first that their attacking threat has actually gone backwards but it's quite the opposite. Their efficiency has improved with Arsenal scoring 2 goals a game (up from 1.89) at a goal every seven or so shots. Liverpool may be down on goals per game, 1.57 compared to 1.87 last season, but they are now scoring a goal with every 8 shots in comparison to having to take more than 10 shots to score last season. Thus, more efficient.
So then, all I've said has backed up exactly what Mr Stanger wrote, why am I bringing Michael Laudrup into this? Well, firstly, his beautiful brown hair perfectly caressing his unblemished forehead. His voice pitched perfectly in the lovers range, his eyes peering into your soul after managing to make contact. His jaw line, the epitomy of masculinity. His bu...., oh wait, the football, right. Last season, the handsome Dane arrived in South Wales, taking over from Rodgers.
In 2011/12 under Rodgers, The Swans averaged 58% possession, third in the division. However, they only managed 12.4 shots per game, 16th in the division, scoring 44 goals, 1.16 per game. Under the Dane, they ceded 2.7% possession last season and yet enjoyed 13.3 shots per game. And while they only managed 3 more League goals, they only scored 9 in the final 11 matches following their League Cup success. If we look at the first 27 games of the season before they went on holiday, they scored an average of 1.41 per game. Had they kept up that rate for the final 11 games, they would have scored 15 goals, taking their tally to 53 for the season.
Wenger and Rodgers have utilised the same "Barcelona" philosophy for many seasons, Rodgers at various clubs, and their slight changes have coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, come following the arrival of the great Dane to the Premier League. While Wenger and Rodgers should be applauded for the success their sides have enjoyed this season, as well as their willingness to change, perhaps Mr Laudrup deserves a little more credit for being the first to innovate the "Barca-way".
Mike (Manchester United) Laudrup is making me question my heterosexuality.
For the past few days, your mailbox has been flooded by Hodgson, Wilshere, Januzaj, Barton, Moyes, etc which I found really really boring.
To be frank, I am missing Mario Balotelli. I miss his antics and weird behaviour. His goals and arrogance. The league and the media are missing him, too.
I am not a Manchester City fan, but I was quite sad when the news of him leaving to AC Milan. After that move, I heard he has scored so many goals for Milan and missed only one penalty. No sensation?
Is there any news about Balotelli that I missed? And what's up with AC Milan who seem can handle all the bad boys quite well (eg: Cassano, Inzaghi, Robinho, Balotelli, Gattuso)? Do they have a great psychiatrist?
I miss you Mario.
Vincentius, Newcastle upon Tyne
One of my colleagues has been singing the Animal Hospital theme tune around the office all week.
It's resulted in some frankly insane behaviour: All of us are now singing it, whistling it, looking up dubstep versions on youtube (a freakish, brain-melting experience), we've occasional jumped out on each other doing a sort of dance to it...it's just madness. We've even watched the Shooting Stars spoof version about four times in two days. I'm lost. It won't stop. This week has reinforced what I've always known: That the stuttering, international-break infested start of the season causes madness. We, as football fans, simply must act. This is what must happen:
No more qualifiers or friendlies. Simply pick the national teams that are likely to be the most entertaining (voted for by a combination of fans, journalists and really intelligent computer), then play the tournament as usual over a summer in half decent first world country with a history of football and pre-existing infrastructure. Sorted. No more stuttering seasons because of international breaks and no more "we've given the tournament to Congo because football is truly global/the current military leaders are our friends" stuff.
This way normal football can continue. Let's fight for this to happen. Because that way, maybe, just maybe I'll get this nightmarish combination of saxophone and cartoon-drawing bearded Australian out of my head.
Stu (make it stop), Chiswick
Speaking of disillusionment, I too am disillusioned LD, but not for the same reasons that you are. I note LD didn't leave his 'club mark' so to speak and I presume this is because he is a supporter of a club outside of the top four, five or six, depending on how you view the current season.
Views such as LD's do hold water and yes, I wish my club was more media friendly and paid more attention to their supporting body. However, in no way do the antics of my club's players affect my support of the club because I simply do not care that much about what they get up to in their spare time. This contrasts slightly with my view in an earlier published email of mine when I said quietly, that I am looking forward to John Terry hanging up his boots because of the effect he has on our brand. However, when he's on the pitch plying his trade I'm a massive fan. I still believe him to be one of the best centre backs in the league and provided he continues to work hard on the pitch I don't really care which parking bay he parks in nor the price his mother/father/brother sell their drugs at. The quote I used was that I support JT the player, but not the man and I stand by that.
Footballers are in general, an odious and uneducated bunch and I concede, that some are more odious than others. But it seems odd to judge the enjoyment one can derive from supporting a club by correlation with the number of douchebags they employ.
It's a curious dichotomy, but it annoys me nonetheless when people like LD get up on their high horse and preach how we, as supporters of clubs funded by oligarchs, sheiks and what have you should feel about their team.
Ed (CFC) London