That's the question asked by one Arsenal fan, pointing out that they do pay him £52,000 a week. Plus penis stories, Spurs' consistency Arjen Robben and Manchego cheese...
Jose Mourinho is getting a fair amount of credit for what Chelsea did to Tottenham while Daniel Levy and Man City are defended. Oh and there are more penii...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Man Utd v Man Utd
As a Utd fan I am quite positive about the future with some of the youngsters coming through to add to some of the established guys and take over from those that are getting to the end of their careers (Giggsy must only have another 5 or 6 years left tops). We may not win the league this year but I'd like to think we can challenge in the latter stages of a cup or two and also have improved our league form enough to be a serious contender for the following season.
On that thought, bored at work and impressed with some of the youthful attacking play of Utd last night I decided to split the current squad in 2 and see which team I thought would fare better. Fortunately, splitting the squad in half by age gives a pretty even split of positions between old and young as you can see below:
Old Timers (average age 29): Lindegaard, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Carrick, Fellaini, Valencia, Nani, Rooney, van Persie, Subs: Giggs, Young
Young Pretenders (average age 22): De Gea, Büttner, Jones, Smalling, Rafael, Cleverley, Kagawa, Januzaj, Zaha, Welbeck, Hernández, Subs: Anderson, Fabio
I think the old timers would scrape a win down to experience and the better strike force but the youngsters would be a lot more attacking and entertaining - any thoughts? How does your team fare? Man Utd seem to have quite a balanced squad in terms of ages as do Arsenal whereas Chelsea and Man City have a significantly higher age profile which is unsurprising given their spending power enabling them to buy established stars as they have been doing for countless seasons (please spare me the rare examples of Ozil & Van Persie to counter this argument).
Jon, Johannesburg (David Moyes - please arrange this match up in training and let me know)
Arsenal Need To Spank Liverpool Like A Ginger Stepchild
Nice to see Mediawatch condemning the hyperbole of the hacks with regards to the Arsenal. But...
I personally believe we need to beat Liverpool at the weekend and beat them with the same kind of authority we applied towards Napoli. At some point, the myth perpetuated so far (admittedly based on two games, although one could argue it has been a recurring theme for quite a few seasons) could easily become a psychological reality for the players and the knock on effect for the remainder of the week could be catastrophic for our own sense of placement. Make no mistake, we need a result in Dortmund (if we lose, we could be facing Napoli away with the home team needing no more than a point) and the amount of times we have gone to OT recently only to surrender with absolute compliance to both the opposition and the "event" itself is a ghost that needs to be buried.
It is not all doom right now. Overconfidence led to a defeat against a superb Dortmund team and last night told us nothing other than the need to offer some tactical variation the first time we face Chelsea in the league (Mourinho has us licked in this context). But it can be the moment the players start subscribing to a theory I had hoped this season was going to eradicate. That we do not deserve to participate with the big 'uns.
Malcolm, AFC: Just bog off.
A narrow defeat to en vogue Dortmund, and less narrow one against Chelsea's caviar reserves isn't much to get annoyed at. If by the end of November we've been hung out to dry in all of our big games then your point is valid and stands.
Fans of opposition teams whose sole input is to make over stereotyped un-evidenced criticisms are one irritating thing. People whose approach to 'supporting' their own team is to see a mushroom cloud in sneeze and are as baffling as they are annoying. This is why supporters and bloggers are ludicrously inferred to either be a positive or a negative, because these idiots wouldn't know a grey area if they had one in their own skulls. Either make reasoned points based on what you actually saw, or open the curtains and enjoy some sunshine
James, neither pleased no appalled by last night, Gooner in Cardiff
...Oh Malcolm, AFC, why did you have to do it. I was quite happily reading through the Mailbox this morning, relieved that my fellow Gooners had treated our COC defeat with the "meh"-ness it warrants, then I saw your letter.
Now, I did not see the match as I was in Chicago (last time I said I was in the US for a game, a chap called Leighton called me out but I'm willing to take the risk) but even before the teams were announced, I was pretty sure we would lose and not really bothered because:
- Chelsea have (recently and historically) invested far more money in their squad than ours, so they effectively have two first teams, we just about have one
- Chelsea have just a couple of players injured, we have eight including four players who would arguably have given us a better forward option than the Lost Samurai
- In typical Arsenal medical disaster fashion, a number of our most promising young players are injured and could not play (Gnabry, Zelalem and Eisfeld)
So try to retain some perspective, Arsenal fans. For the first time in years, the COC may not be our best/only chance of actually winning something (pending results in the next six weeks and the purse strings remaining relaxed in January).
Carolyn, (travelling) South London Gooner
Mata And Why This Isn't Going To Work
I'm not sure if anybody else felt this last night watching the Arsenal/Chelsea game, but watching Mata in particular last night was a confusing experience.
First off, the positive: He was actually playing and scored a cracking goal against a very good team. However, the negative aspects continued to cloud my thoughts during the game: Why was he playing in such a deep-right midfield position, sometimes to the point of a kind of inside-right back? Where was his usual short-passing interplay high up the pitch? For that matter why was he so often at least 20 yards back from the front line when the likes of Eto'o and Willian needed that third cog? When you have a combination of Mikel and Essien screening, it strikes me as a massive waste to play such an incisive yet subtle attacking player so deep in midfield. For me, Mata is a bridge player, connecting the middle of the midfield with the striker and wingers, dancing through little collections of short passes and through balls around/into the 18 yard box.
It then struck me properly that I still didn't understand what Mourinho was expecting of him. You would have thought that Chelsea's superior possession in the first half would have meant he'd have gotten on the ball frequently...but he didn't, he still sat back. So as far as I can see Mata doesn't suit Mournho's counter-attack game where Oscar is preferred OR games where we have lengthy possession because he's told to hang back from the front three. You have to conclude that it isn't looking great for Mata at Chelsea.
After the game Mata was being interviewed by Sky and was being his usual professional self, doing the whole "I train hard, the manager picks the team" thing. As I watched the interview progress I found myself thinking about the rumoured Mata/Luiz swap deal with Rooney from the summer: A story that, although seemingly far-fetched and frankly mad to many of us, must have come from somewhere. It's a horrid feeling when you know deep down that your darkest suspicion is probably accurate, and I think that Mourinho did offer Mata to Manchester United. Whether it was simply knowing that the player didn't fit tactically or a conscious powerplay based on the fact that this player was well liked by two managers Mourinho had previous beef with, I don't know, but I think the offer was made. And worse than that: I think Mata knows it as well. As a result I don't think there is any real trust between player and manager, and Mata's face in the post-match interview said, to me at least, "I don't know why I'm being asked to prove myself after these last two seasons of Premier League football". Not in a bitchy, arrogant way, mind: It was more of a sadness, I think, as though he was starting to understand that his love of Chelsea, his love of London and all it has to offer may have to come to premature end.
I've made it clear on here before that for me Mata has embodied everything good about CFC for the last two seasons: On the pitch a creative force intelligent enough to deal with a dynamic, modern formation - a symbol of post-Mourinho progression (tactically and stylistically), and off the pitch a friendly down-to-earth-ness not evident in the previous Abramovic-generation players. I think his frequent omission and the way he is now expected to play somewhere where he isn't able to perform, is very sad. I know the Mourinho fanboys will point out that results indicate that I shouldn't be upset with the sporadic nature of Mata's appearances, and of course I do get that...but I can't help feeling that this wasn't the way things were supposed to go for him. He's too good for most benches, and for that reason alone I hope by the World Cup he finds a starting 11 he's the first name on, whether it's Chelsea or anybody else.
I was interested to read about old D-Beck looking to set up a MLS franchise, potentially in Miami however I cant help thinking America is missing the point of football/soccer support.
Please note this is not an anti-American rant at all. I enjoy most American sports and I think the franchise system works extremely well in Gridiron and I know having been there how ridiculously passionate some of the fans of the four main sports are towards their teams.
However it has always baffled me how a team 'franchise' can literally move from coast to coast and back again. I have also read that 'local' college and school games of Gridiron and Basketball are very well attended and feverishly supported. To me this sounds more like the football league systems of Europe. Therefore given that most of the other sports operate on a Franchise system wouldn't it make more sense to organise a league system like ours based on local support and pride in your club? Just to try something different? A more fast and loose system where clubs are what they make themselves and relegation seasons are a reality that offers its own strange excitement.
I realise that the country is huge and the travel costs alone must mean this is difficult however a solution must exist. I would put forward a quartering of the country for four lower leagues with a Premier (MLS) type league covering the country, four relegated teams and four promotions, with a cup competition across all leagues.
No doubt there is lots of holes in this but I would be interested to hear what your North American letter writers think?
Phil (started playing basketball last week for the first time in 12 years and I thought my heart was going to explode) Thompson.
*Makes Note In Big Book Of Witty Puns*
Damn you David why did you have to choose Miami. The headline writers will be rubbing their hands with glee at the countless times they will be able to use the 'Miami Spice' headline.
Why why why?
On The Hop
Just a quick email to try to dispel a myth. In his otherwise excellent feature on Joe Hart, Adam Bate suggests that a technical fault might be a key part of Hart's suspect form:
"...with Hart the problem may begin with his trigger movement - a small mini-leap that delays the dive for a split second before pushing off to either side..."
This is a theory that has been advanced by a number of sources, and indeed I remember a mailboxer offering it not long ago. Its origins are plain; prior to many speculative efforts eluding Hart and crashing into his net, he has indeed made a small hop prior to making his dive.
However, I would suggest that to posit this hop as a direct cause of the error maybe does both Hart, and his many goalkeeping coaches throughout his career, something of a disservice. Every goalkeeper at any sort of professional makes this small hop prior to a dive; a quick YouTube foray in searching for "best saves ever" will produce numerous videos of Buffon, Casillas, Schmeichel et al launching themselves gracefully through the air to extend their entire body in making diving stops. In each of these instances, these leaps are proceeded by the small hop. I wish I could give a detailed breakdown of the biology behind this, but I'm simply not qualified (though I would certainly hope that any mailboxers with a more technical knowledge of this will offer some elucidation here). I'll speculate a little though; with both feet planted normally, you reduce your ability to jump. To my knowledge, no one is able to perform a standing jump to any great length as a reflex action. This is exacerbated when you consider that goalkeeper are rarely jumping forward; the majority of dive attempts involve a horizontal leap. This is best made from a crouching position, with your back bent forward, as one leg will perform the majority of the work; the left leg if you're diving left, the right if you're diving right. You "spring" through uncoiling from that crouched position and extending yourself fully, with the operative leg pushing significantly harder than the secondary. With your feet firmly planted, I'd guess (again, I want to emphasise I am no expert here) it'd be much harder to perform this preparatory motion. If, in your mind (or if you work in a more forgiving environment than mine, you act this out) you run through the motion of diving sideways, it's hard to contemplate doing so effectively without the short hop.
Perhaps, if it is to be singled out as the cause of some of his woes, the question marks should linger over Hart's timing in performing this leap, which may be a touch later than other keepers. It is most usually performed prior to the ball being struck, and perhaps Hart's hop comes after the contact, thus causing the suggested "split second delay." The existence of the hop itself, however, shouldn't be highlighted as a cause of his problems - all the great and good goalkeepers have and continue to perform it. It would be hard to imagine so glaring a technical flaw would make it past the coaches at Hart's five clubs and the two international levels he has played at, as well as the self-analysis of Hart himself, a strident examiner of his own performances.
Kielan (Goalkeeper for a month, back in 04) Thompson, London
On Stadium Names
Srinivas it's pretty simple. Emotional attachment to the ground and it's name.
No, Arsenal fans wouldn't prefer the Emirates to be called Ashburton Grove. We have no real connection to that name. It's also a crap name, and The Emirates sounds somehow grand and impressive. It does essentially mean principality.
Now if the club had tried to rename Highbury as The Emirates, there may well have been Arsenal style protests in the streets.
That's why Newcastle fans and other football fans had a problem with the re-naming of St James' Park.
Manchester United would never get away with renaming Old Trafford, yet they could have, but instead sold the naming rights to their training ground (still referred to as Carrington), when they could have got a lot more money for the naming rights to the stadium.
..."Sports Direct Arena for St James' Park was met with huge protests (and rightly so) while no one seems to complain about The Emirates the same way. Wouldn't the Arsenal fans prefer Ashburton Grove? "
All arsenal fans work in marketing, media, government, law and finance. They are completely used to selling their soul for cash and this was a name sellotaped on a completely new stadium with no history.
Newcastle fans are still largely working class and are keen to hang on to the long (and generally unsuccessful) history of their glorious but aging area, stadium included.
Matt L, London.
A Keane Reminder
Prompted by this morning's eulogy to Ramires, and his Barcelona performance, I wonder what other moments or performances stand out? Keane's performance at Juventus in 1999 remains an all time favourite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2RVQx8J2Sk
A particular highlight, aside from the perfection of that header, is the tackle on Edgar Davids a minute and a half in, where Davids knocks the ball past a rushing Keane, who promptly stands on Davids' foot, then looks round at the crumpled heap of dreadlocks with a look of beatific innocence, arms aloft. His passing is excellent all match, too.
In a month when Keane has been comprehensively knifed by Fergie, it's worth remembering quite how terrifyingly good he was, and how important his immovable, fierce refusal to contemplate defeat were to United.
Can you please add Phillip Lahm to your poll of Ballon D'or winner (if not for Messaldo). Seriously, he's been genuinely outstanding for a team that won everything last season in three separate positions. Yes, Ribery, Muller and Robben may get more of the plaudits, and even Schweinsteiger in a day of passing stats and assist-assisters (incidentally, I think Schweiny is a touch overrated and I prefer both Kroos and Thiago, but that's for another day), but Lahm is far and away the most important player in the side.
If Ribery gets injured, no problems, Robben, Muller and Kroos will make up the '3' behind the striker (with the excellent Shaqiri and Gotze in the wings). Schweinsteiger out? Just stick two of Thiago, Kroos or Martinez in midfield. But if Lahm got injured, the whole side would be significantly weaker - they would lose their captain, their little general on the pitch, and the defence would weaken substantially (indeed, having him in midfield has actually allowed him to influence the defence more in recent games, with him able to martial both his centre backs, and drop in and pick up the ball from deep, almost acting as a bit of a libero).
The man is an absolute champion, a top bloke, and in need of some well-earned recognition.
Alex (if old Bitey hadn't done a bite he'd be in with a shot of third), LFC
Amid the bluster about Ian Holloway's departure from Crystal Palace, I think a special mention should go to Yannick Bolasie. For those/both of you who keep up with the Championship you'll be aware that the entire front three from last season of Zaha, Bolasie and Murray has been unavailable so far this season. While I'm not one to normally defend the Bristolian berk, Holloway genuinely had been unlucky with this situation.
I went to see the Palace vs Blackburn match at Selhurst Park last season with a lot of pre-match hype surrounding Zaha. Following a comfortable 2-0 win for Palace I couldn't see any superiority between the two players. Although the combination of the trickiest of slippery b* stards in Zaha and Bolasie providing lump de jour (Miller, 2011) Glenn Murray was a trio which barely any defence could handle.
In the Blackburn game, Bolasie considerably outperformed Zaha as he struck a post and set both goals up but all the post-match analysis focused on Zaha - bizarre. Having said that, I thought Pavlyuchenko far outshined the much-hyped Arshavin in Euro 2008 so take all of this with a fist of salt.
Having suffered an injury a week before the start of this season, Bolasie's Premier League debut was put on hold. He was confident before the season began, 'I've been watching every team I can, looking at their full-backs; what they're good at and what they don't like.' He was true to his word last week as he came off the bench to give Sagna a torrid last half an hour. He fits into that exciting brand of player whose first instinct is a step-over and a trick to make the full-back look like a right d* ck. For a 24 year old, he has a great deal of experience in the semi-professional arena as his career has grown incrementally. One can only assume this background has toughened him up considerably as he presumably had to overcome some rough-housing tactics along the way.
Although there appears to be a stand-off regarding the new manager, Bolasie is talking big guns about his return to fitness. Much will depend on the new manager and the type of player he prefers. Pulis would most likely pick Walters over Walcott and Crouch over Crespo which may be a stumbling block for player's of Bolasie's style. However, Palace's next six fixtures read West Brom, Everton, Hull, Norwich, West Ham and Cardiff. That appears to be a nice springboard for both Bolasie and Palace to kick on in the league.
On his recent return, Bolasie said of watching the Premier League, 'for myself as a winger it looks like you have a chance to run at players...I'm very confident I can do well.' So am I.
Chris Henderson, BRFC
On A Missive From Sam
I am obviously really happy to be in the quarter finals of the League Cup but something just grates,
I got this email today from Big Sam (I'm sure he wrote it personally, for me)
"For the last 20 minutes against Burnley on Tuesday night, we had a back four that included Leo Chambers, Pelly Ruddock and Dan Potts and had Joey O'Brien, a full-back, at centre-half."
Realistically the League Cup and the FA cup are the only chance that West Ham fans have of anything resembling glory and Sam is saying how well we did with a weakened team........ BUT HE PICKED THAT TEAM!!!
It really annoys, that cup competitions seem to be regarded as a hindrance which gets in the way of finishing 10th - 12th rather than 13th - 15th.
We are not going to get relegated this season and we're not gonna get into the top 6, so why not go all out to win a cup competition and play your best team.
I would rather finish 15th and try for the cups, than finish 10th and put out weakened teams.
It's the old adage of the money for a slightly higher premier league position being more important than winning something and as has been said on these pages before, what is the actual point of football if you're not trying to win anything.
Toby (hoping for a full strength team in the next round now we're 180 mins from Wembley) London.
Simon CFC remarked about every Arsenal player wearing long sleeves. I'm pretty sure our captain for the game decides whether the whole team wears short or long sleeves. It's just a tradition thing.
Ramires did look an absolute numpty in those gloves though.
Luca James Sparks AFC
A Wednesdayite you may be Glenn, but a scholar of language you are not. In Portuguese, it is indeed correct to pronounce the J as we would in English, whereas in Spanish it becomes a 'Hose'. This information was provided by my former Portuguese house mate who used to constantly correct my pronunciation of Raul Meireles ('Ra-hul May-reilsch').
I thought you would get my hilarious joke about Carl Jenkinson, but it was obviously disguised too well. I was comparing him to our current English right backs, who are rubbish at defending and good at attacking, then commenting that he isn't even good at attacking.
Next time I'll be sure to spell it out in the first attempt. Maybe add ROFLcopter at the end?
For what it's worth, I reckon he's a decent enough right back given regular playing time, as he was at the start of last season.
Ross AFC London