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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thayden's Back With A Bang
Andrew, exactly what is it that bothered you about AVB's honest criticism? Did you feel offended, having spent 90 minutes giving everything in support of your team? Did you feel ashamed, after he highlighted the rather muted, mumbly atmosphere that you were a part of? Or were you annoyed because of the ammunition this would seemingly give to the world of "lazy journalism"? Because it seems to be mostly the latter. Given that, I feel comfortable in what I am about to say: f**k off, Andrew. Support is not defined by the media, by a pally collective of back-slapping one-time journalists, now ligging their way around and trying desperately to stay relevant. What Martin Samuel feels about our support, be it positive or negative, is irrelevant. It's Martin Short's acting career. It's Chevy Chase in the modern day. It's David f**king Baddiel's opinion on anti-semitism. Why do you care so much about something so pointless? What matters more to you: the result, or what your non-Tottenham mates say afterwards?
Andrew, you sound like such a pr**k in your opening paragraph. I'm sure you're lovely (I'm not, but it made the sentence seem less inflammatory, and I'm all about the warm & friendly, like a Glaswegian alleyway on a bitter summer night) but "I thought we'd seen the last of this", "do one", "gone to his head"; Jesus, what the f**k will it take to make you less of a God-awful misery? We are trying to build a competitive, well-balanced squad. This will take time, and while this happens it is quite important that we remain strong and solid, rather than shipping goal after goal because Andrew wants to see some gung-ho action before he'll stop sitting on his clammy hands. Yes, it's not exactly a world of sparkle and joy, but these are the foundations, not the f**king house.
"Nervy" is one thing. Moany is something entirely different. All disrespect to Hull (because they're sh*t), we should not be nervy in such a situation. Who the f**k went along feeling nervous? Who the f**k didn't think, "We're going to win this"? 'Oh but we always lose games like this', some people would cry. Those people need to shut the f**k up too. We won, we kept a clean sheet, and all while disjointed and lumpy. That'll f**king do.
As a minor aside, can I just point out that I find something truly hilarious (because I am petty as f**k) about a man bemoaning the lack of starts for Eriksen and Lamela, while failing to spell either name correctly? So brilliant that they simply must be on the pitch, yet not quite brilliant enough for the ever-important Andrew to learn their f**king names.
Andrew, your last paragraph...well, it's bo**ocks. You know that, right? It's just nonsensical. It's Eddie Izzard after a handful of 'shrooms and one well-licked toad. It's lucky that the rest of your mail was such a shower of sh*te, because any salient point - had one existed - would have been wiped out by the tidal wave of wrong that acted as a conclusion.
One little line about Luca James Sparks' missive: when a man has spent £100m on adding several players to a team now shorn of it's most important individual, perhaps it would make sense to let those players develop into a team rather than ranting on like a dusty menopausal crone because they aren't scoring a bazillion goals a game? These are, for the most part, young players who have come from different leagues, different styles, different languages...it's quite a change to go through. Let's not make the likes of Lamela wary of setting foot on the pitch, lest Andrew and Luca get p*ssy when a pass goes astray.
F**k's sake boys, we're doing quite well. We're a bit grim at times, but - and I don't know if you noticed this - when half the crowd starts tutting and huffing, it doesn't tend to improve things. It leads to fear and stilted play. You want some glamour yet you are scaring the players out of their sequins and imposing hessian on all from one to eleven, when it really only suits Michael Dawson and his agricultural simplicity.
Unless these two charmers honestly believe that the best way to help someone grow is to barrack their every mistake? If so, good luck with your kids. Sorry, I meant to say, good luck TO your kids. They're going to need it. Or one hell of a lawyer.
AVB Has A Point
AVB's comments on the fans at White Hart Lane perfectly summarise the state of the modern game, and what watching live football means at the top. In my opinion AVB is a good manager, going about things the right way, and £100m spent does not give any supporter or fan the right to expect instant results if they truly support a team.
The difference there is that a supporter, supports, and a fan expects entertainment for their buck - they are fanatical about something only whilst they like it. Yes it's expensive, but why wait to be entertained, when you can entertain and support.
Basically regardless of what you think of the team's style or how they are playing when they're in front of you, singing and supporting a team makes the experience more enjoyable anyway. So why not do it?
Sometimes you end up with a dud game, and being a regular attendee of both home and away Spurs games, I can tell you that not all of them are memorable or exiting. But some are magical and those make cheering through the dross worthwhile. Remember the 90s? To be able to sing when your team are winning, you need to be at least not hindering them when they're not.
I'm sure most responses will say; we don't have to sing as the team should perform better given that they are worth / paid enough to roll over most visiting teams. Thats a poor excuse as it's almost like saying 'well he's not doing his job, so I'm not going to do mine either' and then wondering why nothing ever gets done.
AVB is right, atmosphere makes players better, and turns losses/draws into wins. Just look at the City game last season. When the first Spurs goal went in the atmosphere lifted the team to score another quick 2 and win the game.
Whichever way he said it would have disgruntled fans, so the reaction isn't unexpected, but I won't let those fans waiting to say 'I told you so' about AVB (the Redknapp clingers), have the only say. We're singing for the shirt, not the entertainment value, and that's the point AVB is trying to make.
Andrew (we were all cheering during Redknapp's last away Arsenal game and look how that turned out), 31.
...But He Went About It In The Wrong Way
Whilst I agree with what AVB has said, I'm inclined to go along with Mark Lomas' thoughts that he went about it in the wrong way. AVB must be under a lot of pressure what with Chelsea and City looking nailed on for the top 2, Liverpool and Woolwich looking good (those four are scoring goals and we're not) and Utd being Utd so I imagine that he's just had a weak moment and lashed out.
However, I believe that the reason Spurs fans were frustrated is that we've laboured to a few wins this season and even though they're wins they've been very narrow and could've easily been draws. Basically we haven't been convincing. And this isn't just an isolated period - last season we dropped too many points to bottom half sides at home and this is what cost us at the end of the season. Added to this the toothless display against West Ham a few weeks ago and you can understand why some of the fans were on edge. I was expecting us to come out of the traps yesterday and really get at Hull, however they were the best team in the opening 15 minutes and although we were never in real danger you should expect us to create some chances for Soldado. At the moment, if we do concede it doesn't look like we'll be able to get a couple of goals to win a game.
I think that the crowd were nervous, I was. But generally our home support in comparison to other 'big' teams is brilliant (in comparison to most teams tbh) - WHL has a great atmosphere the vast majority of the time. It's just that supporters are genuinely concerned and that'll obviously affect how excited/loud they are. At least we haven't started making A4 banners like our red and blue London cousins yet.
I'm sure AVB knows a little more about his players than I do but I would really like him to get Soldado, Lamela, Eriksen and Townsend playing every Premierleague game they can so we can get a bit of familiarity and fluidity in our team. Play a complete second string in the Europa until we progress a bit further. Our defence is solid enough with Sandro and Paulinho shielding, so we just need to get players around Soldado because he's had on proper chance this season and scored it. If we start giving him service he'll put his chances away.
I Love you AVB. COYS!
John (If Chamakh was 'The Missing Piece' then Soldado is the whole f*cking jigsaw) Painter, north London
...Ok, the way AVB talked about the Spurs support wasn't too clever. But it does reflect some things I have been concerned about.
I'm not the oldest of Spurs fans, but even I have noticed changes in the crowd in my 15 years of going. I remember a lot more singing in the 1990s/early 2000s (I also remember having to be held up to see things a lot more too), a period of real faith in the team, goodwill and hope in the Jol years and early Redknapp, then a season filled with outbursts of what some might term "never having it so good" while we were in the Champion's League. But since then, home matches have become much more edgy.
There are two things responsible for this: raised expectations and the way opponents set up. We used to face anyone with an old fashioned "I've got a bad feeling about this one" attitude. We could be plucky underdogs (as much as anyone in the top league with a lot of support and fair bit of money can be - privilege checked), frustrated while we were self-deprecating, fancying a bit of a cup run, and occasionally jubilant at beating one of the evil big teams, or at least snatching a point off Arsenal. Now we expect to sweep away about 15 of the other Premier League teams, and have a proper go at three cups. And do it in style.
This has happened while over the past five years or so, teams have come to White Hart Lane set up much more to frustrate. Because that's how they'll get points out of us. This is really quite simple. Unlocking teams like that is quite difficult, especially when you're trying to create a style and integrate a lot of players at once. This is something we've struggled to deal with for quite some time, it was an issue under Redknapp where we used to drop a few daft points here and there, and it is still one now, although it's only really the points against West Ham which can be categorized as that (and they came with a perfectly executed game plan). It is something Spurs have to learn how to beat.
The fans do seem to now be expectant, and impatient. I've been to Stamford Bridge as a neutral a few times on occasion, and they're a few years further down the line of this progression. The atmosphere can really turn against the team at moments when they haven't been able to get through a side who only want to defend and hit on the break. It's not something I would like to see at Spurs, but my hopes for future success makes me worry that the better we do the higher the expectation, and the more the criticism when we fall short of something I could barely dream of ten years ago.
The change of attitude of the fans is something which has been noticed. A group called the 1882 Movement have started going to under 21s and Europa League matches and taking up an entire block of singing fans, which is much more like the support I remember. But the main attraction of these is that they're cheaper games, and these fans can't get in to cheaper matches. I have a lot of sympathy with paying £50 and being annoyed to see Spurs lose, because I've done it plenty of times. But win or lose, I know I've always had a better time if we've had a sing, got behind the team and made the best of it. There'll be some AVB backlash (unfortunately, but self inflicted, because I'm behind him and I agree with him here) because he could have phrased this better, and he still needs to work at breaking down those teams. But the fans need to make White Hart Lane the all-singing, behind the team place it once was. Teams know they can get something out of the match if they sit back and soak up pressure. But they also need to know they won't get an easy time from the crowd.
Will Donovan, THFC, North London
(My dad casually dropped into conversation yesterday that he'd been at school with Steve Perryman, having forgotten to mention it to me for the previous 25 years...)
Credit Where Credit's Due
It's a well-worn cliche that goalkeepers are easy to criticise because their mistakes so often affect results - and in Petr Cech's case, they can be criticised even if it's not entirely clear that they made a mistake in the first place - so I'm writing in to give the Goalkeeper's Union some praise after a weekend when Joe Hart's brainfart overshadowed a number of fantastic performances.
As it decided a game between the two sides expected to contest the title this season, the Hartfart is probably the most important individual 'goalkeeping' act of the weekend (as an aside, what the f*ck is his high-pitched banshee screech all about?), but elsewhere a series of brilliant interventions saw three goalkeepers put in man-of-the-match displays that continued their clubs' impressive starts or earned vital points. Wojciech Szczesny started it off with a couple of exceptional saves to keep Arsenal top of the league (Julian Speroni also did well when Arsenal managed to break through Palace's massed defence).
Tim Howard deserves adulation for his beard alone but his superb penalty save and, critically, the WWE celebration thereafter, as well as a couple from two-on-one situations, was every bit as key as the goals Everton scored in beating Villa, thus making their best start to a season in almost a decade. And then there was David Marshall's one-man mission to earn the point at Carrow Road that kept Cardiff above Norwich and out of the bottom three. Elsewhere, David de Gea, Asmir Begovic, Jussi Jaaskelainen and John Ruddy also did well.
Of course the play of Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero deserves to garner headlines, and Hart's too for the wrong reasons, but this was a round of games where the weirdos in the gloves were often the heroes. They're forever getting the flak, so credit where it's due.
Without wishing to sound like a spoilt brat, I have to say I find Daniel Sturridge incredibly frustrating at times.
He has a tendency to just switch off after he has scored a goal, as if that's him done for the day and he can relax.
I've noticed this on several occasions in the past where Liverpool have been a few goals to the good and cruising, he just saunters about the pitch, in complete contrast to Suarez who runs his arse off until the final whistle.
There was one moment in particular which summed this up on Saturday. Suarez collected the ball on the edge of the area and sent a rasping drive low to the bottom corner which was well parried by Myhill. Suarez then ran past Sturridge, who was ambling around ten yards from goal instead of following the loose ball in, and almost got the end of his own shot.
This may well be the reason Sturridge rarely scores more than one goal a game, which is all well and good when we're winning comfortably but the lackadaisical attitude will prevent him from becoming a real international class forward.
Here's hoping for more effort against Arsenal. We'll need it.
Bigger World Cup = Gooder World Cup
I have to take exception to Mediawatch's point of view regarding the World Cup and Michel Platini's proposed expansion. I've not exactly been a fan of him in his current role, but I have to say that I'm largely supportive of his suggestion and I think you're being a bit churlish in saying 'increasing the size of an already big World Cup is stupid.'
Though the primary purpose of the World Cup is to decide which is the best national team on the planet, it's not the only purpose. If only teams that had a realistic chance of winning it were allowed to enter, then we'd struggle to muster 8. Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany are pretty much guaranteed a place, but after that it'd be the Netherlands, Italy... ummm... no, struggling to suggest any more. Everyone else may as well f*** off and not even bother.
It's ironic that only a week ago, Mediawatch was (correctly) giving Adrian Durham a dressing down for his absurd piece on how one of Portugal or Sweden would be denied a place in Brazil, whilst Australia and Iran would participate. Yes, there is a question of whether the quality would be diluted in any expansion, but I think any change would have minimal impact in this regard - in this qualifying alone, again, one of Portugal or Sweden would be stern tests for any team.
Think of all the surprise packages there have been over the years - not many would have fancied Cameroon in 1990, but their run to the quarter finals is perhaps the greatest story of that tournament. Senegal in 2002 were similar, South Korea though were the shocks of that tournament. Romania in 1994, Croatia in 1998 - Trinidad & Tobago didn't do themselves a disservice in their performances in 2006 and how many would've imagined New Zealand securing a memorable draw with defending Champions Italy in 2010.
You could argue 'yes, but those teams earned their opportunity in the current format' - maybe, but who's to say that a team that narrowly misses out doesn't have it in them to cause similar surprises and write their own little bit of history, if only within their own borders? Football's popularity has grown and is played at a higher level globally than ever before, so to expand the World Cup by just 4 teams is surely just representative of this. Given that it only comes round every 4 years, one extra group game is something to be savoured in my mind. Also, it could be strongly argued that an extra game depreciates the value of any one-off, abnormal results, meaning that the strongest and most worthy teams are more likely to be the ones that rise to the top of the group.
There's a good case for both sides, but to label one as 'stupid' is just plain... stupid.
Nick Hamblin, Bristol
Can we please nail this down once and for all? After once again reading a comment on F365 (by a contributor I hasten to add) about Arteta being the 'last man' and commentators always using the phrase, can I please remind you that players do not get sent off for being the last man. You get sent off for stopping a goalscoring opportunity. The Arteta sending off was the perfect example of when there is a difference. Arteta was unquestionably the last man, but whether it can be said that he was stopping a goalscoring opportunity from such a long way from goal is the question (especially when the man attempting to score that goal was Chamakh, although I suspect the referee can't take that into the equation!!)
Should Arteta have been sent off? Questionable, but I can see the referees point (and that's speaking as an Arsenal fan). However, was he sent off for being the last man?? NO, because there is no such rule!! Therefore, stop using the phrase please!!!
Tim Benson, Berkhamsted, Herts
Pellegrini v Moyes
In response to John Daniels....probably when he consistently does something wrong, which he hasn't done in the League this season. City may be two points from United however City's league defeats have been down to individual uncharacteristic mistakes (Zabaleta - Cardiff, Kompany/ Nastasic - Villa, Nastasic - Chelsea.) Now I don't watch United so purely using their fans opinions from this mailbox I believe United defeats have been due to the manager being rubbish/out of his depth/not buying players soon enough/not picking Kawaga, Zaha or Hernandez/playing Vidic & Ferdinand/not playing Vidic & Ferdinand/Giggs being too old/Giggs being under used. Overall then a big difference really.
For what it's worth I think he's doing ok. The fact there were no emails from City fans in the mailbox could imply other blues think the same. He has improved Aguero, brought Toure, Silva and Nasri back to form and brought The Beast to the Premiership. What he does need to address is the defence switching off to which I think he'll have a 6ft 4 Belgian solution.
...John Daniels makes a point I've been thinking about over the last week or so. I completely agree with him that, in comparison with others, Moyes is getting a rough time of the editorials, mails, comments etc from supposedly non-knee-jerkers, commentators with more than just the surfacce knowledge of football. Really they should know better.
One thing in particular I feel hasn't been properly developed in any article I've read so far is how rare the situation is that Moyes finds himself in. Many people have commented on the skills needed by a manager of a top club, and have rather lazily compared Moyes to others at big clubs. The truth is, very few others in the history of football have ever had to replace a legend such as Ferguson, and of the others who have, how many did it in the heightened media spotlight of the modern game?
Moyes shouldn't be judged too quickly, simply because there is very little to compare him to. He's at the top and bottom of a class of one.
As a connected point, someone mentioned a lack of belief in United's squad as being Moyes fault. Surely it should be clear to most people why a lack of belief may have existed? A team who have been used to hearing how Ferguson was a genius, and how any manager would be a step down from that genius... well their confidence without the miracle-worker is going to take a little bit of time to build back up again surely?I think Moyes isn't doing too badly to even slowly be improving. It could have all become a terrible downward spiral very easily.
Still might I guess, but give it a season at least!
And One More Email On Spurs
Eurgh. It's typical of the modern football fan to demand a performance on the pitch before they part with their hard-earned "support". AVB is right. The comments he has made may have come across a little harshly but his point is completely valid. The atmosphere was dire against Hull. Supposedly, the average age of attendees at the Lane in the 1980s was 19, whereas it's now in the 40s. Young fans are often, simply, priced out. The phenomenally high ticket prices at the Lane coupled with an expensive squad has bred a toxic attitude at White Hart Lane. Fans are expectant. They go to be entertained, not to support. When AVB was new in the job just over a year ago, the players were booed off at half time at 0-0 in two consecutive home games.
"The fans pay their money so they're entitled to do what they like" is the response so often trotted out. It's pathetic. Everyone involved would enjoy their expensive day out if they sang more. It buoys the players. They play better. Spurs win more. You, the fan, are happier. Sounds a bit far fetched? AVB's comments were made of the back of things the players had said in the dressing room. He was just relaying their message that it felt like the fans were on their backs. They were burdened under the weight of expectation from the kind of fan who defends their constant, droning negativity by saying things like "I've been coming here for 25 years" or "I was here when we played with Jason Dozzell and Paolo Tremanzzani and were happy with finishing 15th".
AVB's comments come before two home games that will be attended by Spurs' excellent 1882 movement set up by the Fighting Cock podcast. A group of like minded Spurs fans sit in the same section and sing for 90 minutes regardless of performance or result. It's why I'm in favour of singing sections such as the one being suggested at Man United. If the fans who want to get behind the team even if they're playing poorly can all sit together it's better for all involved.
Will, THFC (I've even seen a picture on Twitter of a guy at WHL playing Candy Crush on his iPad)