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 email@example.com
Big Fan Of The World XI
There COULD be a place at every World Cup finals for a World XI made up of the best from countries that didn't qualify!
Aaron Maguire's point may well be dismissed out of hand by erudite opinion as ludicrous fantasy..but imagine how it would feel to know that the likes of Bale, Eriksen and Lewandowski WILL be playing in Brazil next year!
Too late alas..but only for now! In the future, once qualifiers are finished, FIFA could commission the selection of a standard 23 man squad drawn from every continent to represent 'the rest of the world' and appoint a suitably renowned coach and staff on short term contracts...Who would then have just six months - or,if that were logistically infeasible, just the standard period based in the host country before the tournament begins - to weld these gifted multi-lingual strangers into a team... Either way, a thrilling challenge for some of the game's top coaches, or what?
This would introduce a fresh new element into the world game and intensify the World Cup interest in up to 23 countries which didn't qualify but which would now feel represented by their kinsman;good for business too. But most of all it would mean that world class players, both those who happened to be born in less succesful countries and the outstanding individuals from not-so-golden-generations, would not have been been denied the chance to impress us and prove themselves at the highest level, as were Best, Weah, Giggs etc. And we would no longer have cause to lament the sporting tragedies highlighted in Adam W's list of notably absent names from the grand World Cup heritage we cherish.
Traditionalists might freak,purists might fear somehow devaluing the international game, but why shouldn't, say, England v 'World XI' in the group stages, be every bit as top notch not to mention intriguing as any game between two nations? And in the (surely unlikely?!?) event of 'World XI' winning the competition, wouldn't they have done so on merit and against unique and considerable odds? (How romantic would that be,o lovers of the beautiful game?!)
FIFA could provide the relatively modest funding needed (surely it would not prove unprofitable over time?) and obviously the same idea could also be applied to the Euros,African Nations Cup etc. Now,apart from a paucity of lateral imagination and courage in high places, can anyone think of any insurmountable obstacles I'm underestimating or unaware of, please? If not,please could somebody put this under the noses of the Platinis and Blatters and Joey Bartons as I'm too busy.
And A Naysayer
In response to Aaron Maguire, London and his World XI - Yes. That is a stupid idea.
Skip, Sydney, LFC
Does Sepp Blatter just make up the FIFA rankings himself?
Because there is no f*cking danger that Switzerland are the 7th best team in the world.
Mickey Mouse qualifying group and now seeded for the draw. Someone at the Swiss FA has some seriously compromising pictures of Herr Blatter.
Are Luxury Players A Dying Breed?
Just a random thought I've had during the international break. Has anybody else noticed that 'luxury players' seem to be a dying breed? It seems like nowadays fitness and work ethic play a part more than ever. We are seeing 'superplayers' like Ronaldo who combine incredible skill with incredible physical attributes and drive. Systems are increasingly important with even attacking players required to press relentlessly for clubs like Bayern and Barcelona, and in some cases seemingly attacking players are selected at least for what they can contribute defensively (Welbeck?).
This is very different to what we saw maybe 10 years ago, when it seemed like every club had at least one 'luxury player' who was often fairly lazy and contributed nothing without the ball, but got away with it due to the devastating impact they could have when the ball was at their feet. In the Premier League I'm thinking of players like Dugarry, Jay-Jay Okocha, Laurent Robert (remember him? Scored some incredible goals but was capable of having an absolute shocker!) and many others. Even great players like Cantona, Zola and Ginola were basically luxury players who could hurt you at the top end of the pitch but wouldn't be required to do much when not in possession. Abroad there were the likes of Ronaldinho, who is perhaps the greatest luxury player I've ever had the pleasure of watching. Would Barcelona tolerate a player like him now, even considering his almost offensively good technique? I don't think they would.
Right now off the top of my head I can only think of a few current examples. In the Premier League Berbatov is the main man that stands out, with commentators frequently making reference to his "languid style". Abroad, Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems to fit the bill as I can't recall ever seeing him do much defensive work. Nani could possibly be considered part of this category too though I do think his laziness/lack of defensive ability is overstated by some of my fellow reds.
Who are some of the mailbox contributors' favourite luxury players of all time? And can you think of any more current examples?
Tom - MUFC (Cheshire)
So after reading a few articles describing England's abundance of left backs but lack of center backs (covered by Belgium) it got me thinking, which country has the best players in any given position? Or more precisely, if you were forming a team with each position covered by one country, who gets the nod? For the sake of variation, each country can only fill one spot (no putting Spain and Germany everywhere).
I'm old school and prefer a standard 4-4-2
GK: Poland (Szczesny, Boruc, Fabianski, Kusszczak)
LB: England (Cole, Baines, Gibbs, P. Neville)
CB: Belgium (Kompany, Vertonghen, van Buyten, Vermaelen...)
CB: Italy (Chiellini, Bonucci, Ranocchia, Maldini could probably still do the job)
RB: Brazil (Dani Alves, Maicon, Andre Santos)
LM: Holland (Robben, Sneijder, van der Vaart, Strootman)
CM: Germany (Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Ozil, Kroos, Muller...)
CM: Spain (Xavi, Iniesta, Mata, Silva, Febregas, Busquets................)
RM: Croatia (Srna, Rakitic, Perisic, Kranjcar and Modric if need be)
FWD: Argentina (Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Lavezzi...) Flexible enough to adapt to a 4-4-1-1
FWD: Uruguay (Suarez. Cavani, Forlan)
GK: Denmark (Andersen, Lindegaard, Schmeichel (preferably the elder))
OB: France (Debuchy, Evra, Sagna, Clichy, Koscielny)
CB: Serbia (Nastasic, Subotic, Vidic)
OM: Switzerland (Barnetta, Shaqiri, Behrami)
CM: Portugal (Moutinho, Meireles, Ronaldo, Veloso)
FWD: Sweden (Ibrahimovic. Elmander, Toivonen)
Holland was originally going to get GK (Krul, Vorm, Stekelenburg), but I needed a LM even though they feel a little forced in a classic 4-4-2.
After working on this for over 2 hours I realized I know very little about African football, and this is trickier than I thought. It doesn't seem there are that many countries with a huge amount of stand out players in one spot... Good luck.
Beefcake (USA would have had a shot a GK a few years back) The Viking
Just wanted to put a question out there which has been on my mind for the last couple of days.
With the European World Cup playoff draw still to be made, and with France confirmed as not being top seeds for it, I was just wondering whether readers of the Mailbox would prefer a World Cup without France/Portugal/both or with them. The main reason for not wanting them there would be to boost your own team's chance of winning the thing (I understand that England would still not be anywhere near favourites). But on the other hand you feel the tournament would miss out if the likes of Ronaldo were not there.
I came to the conclusion that I would want all the biggest teams and players at the World Cup (sounds a bit obvious) but was just wondering whether any readers would prefer it if either France and/or Portugal missed out.
Oh, Look Who It Is
Hello mailbox. I don't write in much anymore, and though we split up sometime ago, I still think about you. I'd like to think we can remain friends. To tell you the truth, I'm still hoping for one final night of passion where we have a 'sex with your ex' romp-tastic goodbye, and make sweet sweet love by a fireplace dusted with rose petals. But anyway, all I really wanted to say was this:
As i said I don't write in anymore, but now that I work (in an office) I realise what everyone was saying about the truly thrilling buzz of slacking off work, opening up mediawatch and slowly reading, all while pretending to send draft emails to business partners, and being extra-careful when someone walks behind you (just in case an eagle eyed colleague realises a 'man has penis cut off' title isn't exactly work-related).
God. Does this mean I'm getting old? Come on kids, I'm still hip... I listen to that Arcade in a fire band, or what have you, that everyone talks about...
Jack, 19, London (foreeeever young, i want to be, foreeeever young)
Best Players To Miss Out On The WC
Here's my 2 cents on the best players missing out on the world cup.
GK: Shay Given (125 international caps, legendary keeper)
RB: Seamie Coleman
CB: Richard Dunne
CB: John O'Shea
LB: Ian Harte (Deadly left foot)
DM: James McCarthy (Deep lying play-maker)
RM: Aidan McGeady
LM: Damien Duff
AMC: Wes Hoolahan
AMC: Andy Reid
FC: Robbie Keane (Captain fantastic)
I have no bias in selecting this World XI.
Eamon, Limerick, Ireland
To answer Paul's (Gooner in Munich) question on why left footers appear to have "a lot of ability compared to right footers", it's down to how are brains are wired. Basically, from what I've read, the brain is split into 2 hemispheres.
Right handed/footed people have a dominant left brain hemisphere, which is associated with logic, language skills and rational stuff like that. Left handed/footed people have a dominant right brain hemisphere which is associated with spacial awareness and imagination. This explains why a disproportionately large number of visionary artists throughout history have been lefties e.g. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Picasso...Puskas, Maradona, Messi etc.
That said, Titus Bramble is also left footed, so please unread everything above and sorry for wasting your time.
Sean, LFC (middle footed)
...As someone who is left foot dominate I read your email with interest. The answer to your question is simple. Once you announce to your team that you are naturally left footed you are limited to two positions, left-wing and left-back.
I fondly remember wanting to play CM as a child, but the story was always the same. Once the coach found out I was left footed I was automatically relegated to the wing. I guess coaches feel there is an adage that goes why have a right foot when you've got a left.
I am 28 and still relegated to the wing on my current Sunday league...
Brian (I just want to dance) USA
I think I may have finally found a way to put to rest the thorny issue of what defines a football hipster. A definitive question, to which if you know the answer, you are a hipster, and if you do not, you are not. If you do not know and then google it to pretend you did, or knowingly say "ah dammit I should have thought of him", then you are a wannabe hipster (and in the latter case, probably lying as well.)
The question is, as of 15th October 2013, 3 players have scored 11 goals in WC 2014 qualifying matches. Two are Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie. Who is the 3rd?
For anyone currently saying "That's so easy, it's Deon McCaulay from Belize", congratulations, you are a confirmed hipster.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (the only appropriate response to that answer is, who?)
I'm not normally in to these You Tube show reels; football porn normally comprising a mind numbing blinding blitz of net busters flying in from all angles. However, I took exception to the Michael Laudrup...The Ultimate Passing Collection. Hells bells, probably the best decision I've made all week, and certainly the most enjoyable hour, outside Wembley on Tuesday night.
Totally mesmerising and strangely more satisfying than any goal, tackle/hack or save compilation. How, just how, did that man see, let alone pick and execute, some of those passes? Genuine genius. The only frustrating thing was when a striker narrowly missed, or fluffed, the laid-on-the-plate chances this maestro was conjouring up. A criminal waste of utter magic which just made me want to shout at my screen. Anyway, thank you, Stu (So. Many. Backheels.), Chiswick, beautiful contribution to the mailbox.
Richard, in praise of the slide-rule, London
I was a bit alarmed by Adam W. Belfast's mail about the best players not have played in the World Cup. I'm not alarmed by his list as that is all fine with me. It's more the bit where he says Aaron Ramsey narrowly misses out. NARROWLY misses out!
Here's a quick list of players that never played in a World Cup that would be miles ahead of Ramsey...
Matt Le Tissier
That was just a quick 2 minute list in my head that I can't elaborate on as my son needs picking up from school. Aaron Ramsey narrowly misses out. Why? He's had a blinding couple of months and looks like he will go on to be a great but he's certainly not that good yet.