They're a team full of loan players and ageing has-beens...can Roberto Martinez do better than David Moyes in the long term? Plus, more on Man United and...
Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Agree with article on Chicharito's lack of suitability with current tactical trends. Defoe and Eduardo also struck me as players who would have done a lot more in the 90s when 442 was en vogue. Also Shevchenko was never going to suit a Mourinho team adopting the 451.
You wonder how players like Wright, Fowler and Shearer would fare today? Would they have molded themselves into different types of player if they'd arrived post Mourinho/Drogba? (when I think 1 up top took off?) And would number 10s who flourished in 442 like Bergkamp, Cantona and Le Tissier have adapted to being target man or a deeper lying playmaker? Anyone think of other players careers who could have been rather different if they were born into a different era?
James, Gooner in Cardiff
...It is all well and good having good defensive qualities & linkup play, but at the end of the day a striker is on the pitch to do one thing - score goals. If there is one thing I hate it is a striker who doesn't score.
The midfield & defence are there to stop the opposition, if they don't they aren't doing their job properly. Thus it has always seemed odd to me Hernandez doesn't get more games given his impressive scoring record.
Welbeck at least looks a bit more dangerous this season but I would certainly be giving Hernandez a larger portion of the going playing time.
Letting The Ball Do The Work, Or Not
Due to the quiet nature of the mailbox today I'd figured I'd have a shot of getting published.
Graham Simmons highlights a popular myth which shows the tactical naivety of the majority of English fans - the myth of 'let the ball do the work'.
Over recent seasons, we've seen the rise of a new type of possession football - Barcelona, Dortmund and Bayern being the key exponents. This new type of possession football is based on a high intensity pressing game when the team does not have the ball, but also incessant movement off the ball whilst in possession.
Generally what people fail to notice is that not only do these top teams pass more and keep the ball for longer, they also very often out run the opposition - going against the received wisdom. (Frankly the only situation nowadays when 'letting the ball do the work' applies is the Big Sam lump it and leave it approach.)
The reasons for this change are obvious.
Possession football is actually relatively easy to defend against. Stay compact, stay disciplined, pack the midfield and defend deep (ask Inter Milan). Therefore to get past this you need to move the ball fast, play one touch passes, switch the play and keep the defenders moving. To do this, the only way is to move, and to keep moving fast.
Honestly, watch Bayern play now, they never stop.
And this to me is one of the big problems with England at the moment. Our movement is simply woeful. We are blessed with some really good passers of the ball, but frankly you cant pass to someone who isn't there, and a lot my frustrations with our team is simply the lack of options available to our players when they have the ball.
For me Jack Wilshere is one of the very few England players who can play this way, and saying that his dip in form is due to his desire to play like an Englishmen is frankly rubbish. He is simply always on the move, taking up positions to receive the ball and give it, nothing at all like an Englishman! If we had more players like this perhaps we'd begin to see the flowing football being played by some of the top teams
Joe Weston, London
Sometimes you just have to take your hat off to people's willingness to say things online which are so painfully stupid they wouldn't dream of saying it out loud. I just have to ask Alex, Leeds how an 18 year old boy, Raheem Sterling, can be 'failing to live up to the hype'? At 18!?
I don't know why Sterling doesn't just pack it all in because if he hasn't made it nearly 12 months after his first ever senior appearance he's obviously wasting everybody's time and the exagerate button on Alex's keyboard is going to wear out soon. Will Raheem pay him back for that? Will he bollox! Pampered f***ing failure!
Luke, Red in Sussex
No. Just No
Is Townsend better than Walcott?
I just don't want to get into it alright. I read the Mailbox when I'm trying doss off from work and it makes for better reading when we're not doing that Arsenal vs Spurs thing.
Tommy, a Spurs fan
Not Rocket Science
Why does England and English players polarise opinion? I understand that headlines are made in sensationalism and taking things to the extreme but England sit top of the group, and have to win their last home game against a team that has nothing to play for to qualify for the World Cup. It's not great but it's not bad, in fact you might say it's pretty good. The group wasn't the hardest but Montenegro, Ukraine and Poland are technically good sides and away games are tricky in Eastern Europe. Yet everyone wants to paint the picture that the national team is either garbage or world beaters.
Yes, Andros Townsend played well, scored a goal and looked menacing. The opposition weren't great but it was his debut and he did well. The reports said it was either he was the best thing since sliced bread or Montenegro were rubbish. Now the debate has begun about who is better, Townsend or Walcott. By the time the World Cup comes around they both might be playing great or they could both be off form. Wingers are strange creatures and everyone was talking about Aaron Lennon a few years ago but he has fallen from favour and even Raheem Sterling has flattered to deceive recently.
Play the players who are on form and you will probably have a team that plays well. It's not rocket science.
Can everyone just calm down a bit and not get carried away on Tuesday whether England win or not. If they win the group that doesn't mean they're going to win the World Cup and if they lose it doesn't mean we need to take a long hard look at ourselves and kick all the foreigners out of the Premier League.
Peter Stevenson (as Cypriot as Andros Townsend)
Iceland Coming To Get Ye
If England fail to beat Poland on Tuesday, it's quite likely that one of the four teams they can be drawn against is Iceland. Yes Iceland, the volcanic island at 66 degrees north in the Atlantic ocean. It's population is about the size of Coventry (320.000). If Belgium is the hipster's team, there has to be a stronger term for Iceland.
In the last two qualifications, Iceland has gathered up a total of two wins, so it's fair to say not many believed there was a chance of reaching Brazil 2014. But the Icelandic FA hired Swede Lars Lagerback as coach and that together with the u21 side that reached the Euro finals in 2011 has made reaching the playoffs a possibility.
Lagerback has played to the strengths of this team, which are not in defense but attack. And attack they have, which was best displayed in a 4-4 comeback from 4-1 down away against Switzerland. The main players in the team are known to many from the premier league. Gylfi Sigurðsson is the mvp, but is supported by his midfield partner, captain Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, main striker of Ajax, Alfred Finnbogason, top scorer in Holland this season (10 goals in 7 games) and Birkir Bjarnason jack of all trades viking from Sampdoria. All these players are 24 years old or younger.
An ageing Eiður Gudjohnsen is still with the squad, even started the last game. When he was in his prime many felt he wasn't playing at 100% with the national team. Now however, when he's playing in Club Brugge reserves, he gives all that he has left to Iceland, and has been surprisingly good (form is temporary - class is permanent).
If Iceland win Norway in Oslo on Tuesday evening Iceland will be in the playoffs (or if they just don't get less points than Slovenia get in Switzerland). I'm hoping England will fail against Poland, then I will immediately book a flight from Reykjavik to London so I can witness Iceland's biggest football game ever, on Wembley.
Why This Man Loves International Fitba
1. Excitement. No club occasion matches the trepidation and anticipation leading up to a Euros or World Cup. Admittedly the fact they only take place every two years plays a part, but there is that undeniable magic of seeing the best of each nation fighting it out while millions watch on, united in support for their team. I am not a patriot, but I do think sport is a good place to exhibit it, hell, I like the car flags and the sudden carnival atmosphere inside pubs as the tournament is played out.
2.The whole thing feels cleaner then club level. No agents, transfer fees, wages or nu-rich oil funded playthings taking all the best players. There is infinitely more joy in seeing this Belgium team emerge on the back of their own talent than watching Monaco or City buying the trophies.
3. Memories. Many football fans I'm sure mark the progress of their lives by the international tournaments. I know where I was when South Korea played Germany in the 2002 semi-final, or when France won in 1998. And my favourite team to watch ever has to be the wonderful Czech side of Euro 2004 (That game against Holland!).
4. It's all on TV! For those who lack Sky it's the best chance to see the world's finest play, and there are matches on every day.
5. Finding second teams. The afore-mentioned Czechs in 04. Chile in the last World Cup. There is always a surprise package who play exhilarating and exciting football and grab the worlds
Dave (anticipating Qatar responses to the 'cleaner then club level' point) Aberystwyth
Bored People Are Boring
Andy in London mentioned playing club fixtures at the same time as the internationals to see if players would rather play for their employers to try and "win some silverware" or play in mind-numbing international qualifiers to have the chance to get knocked out at the World Cup quarter finals.
This whole "international football is sooooo boring" malarkey is, well, sooooo boring. It's as though people are so blinded by the Premier League hype that they fail to notice that a lot of that is rather mind-numbingly boring too. And as for having a chance to win silverware? Well I can only assume Andy is a fan of one of the top few teams since the rest of the Premier League have almost no chance or desire to win silverware whatsoever. The majority certainly have no chance of winning the league, and also most of them give up on the cups as a distraction from their main task of trying to finish 13th, and all the glory that brings.
Is this really more satisfying than reaching the quarter finals of a World Cup, and yes, losing on penalties? Frustrating as that is, at least the team will be trying to get as far as they can, unlike many clubs in cup competitions.
International qualifiers are boring? Yes I can accept that at times they are. Certainly when there is quite a mismatch. I think there needs to be a look at a pre-qualifying round for the smaller countries so only the better of those make it through to meet the big boys. And UEFA's suggestion last week of a nations' league to replace friendly matches seems like not a bad idea, and would mean more interesting matches than meaningless friendlies. But I'm drifting from the point here. In any qualification group there are dull matches yes, but always one or two key matches that have drama and tension and are therefore more enjoyable. Does that sound a bit like a Champions' League group at all? Many of those games are dull as dishwater for many fans since many watch those without any vested interest in the clubs playing and therefore little excitement if the game isn't fully enthralling.
Personally I love international football. But I also love club football. Both can be extremely exciting. Both can be dull. There are far more club matches and so it's not surprising that there are more exciting games too. There are also more dull games, but selective memory seems to cause those to be forgotten. Whereas if an international match is anything other than a sheer delight, it brings all the same tired old whinges that it wasn't the most exciting. Quite why some people have to always make it a club v country thing is strange. Can't it be possible to enjoy both?