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 email@example.com
League Two: Tight
I've been pondering this one for a while, but I have decided to take the plunge and try to fill the void left by Mike, League 2 BRFC and last seasons excellent League Two Winners and Losers, which sadly is yet to make an appearance this year. I can't claim to be as eloquent as Mike at outlining the weekends events in our humble division but what I did want to point out to the mailbox at large is that this season, League 2 is tighter than a nun's chuff.
Oxford United lead the pack on goal difference from Rochdale, but only 3 points separate the top 9 teams. In comparison to the Premier League, Man Utd in 8th are 8 points adrift of the top - the same margin in League Two takes you all the way down to Wimbledon in 15th. Add to this that we are already 14 games into our season (almost a third of the way through) and it is even more astonishing that the League is so close. Generally one or two runaway teams would already be clear of the pack and staking early claims for promotion but this year it's difficult for anyone to even try to lay claim to a clear playoff shout.
Down at the foot of the table it's also nice and close, with 4 teams within a point of each other and all of them only a couple of wins away from the relative comfort of 17th (one of them being Mike's beloved Gas who it must be said have sadly struggled so far).
My lot are sitting nice and comfy in 5th despite their usual lack of consistency, particularly the worrying trend from last season of following up solid away performances with tame home defeats, but considering at the start of the year I was half-prepared for a relegation battle I have been more than pleasantly surprised!
I guess in summary there seem to have been a few mails recently along the lines of expensive tickets in the Premier League giving fans a reason to be less than supportive of the team if they aren't entertained - well to those fans I would say that if you want some good honest football entertainment (at a cheaper price than the Premier League) in a league which is shaping up to the most competitive it has been for years, you could do a lot worse than nipping off to a League Two match this weekend.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (oh and did I forget to mention Portsmouth in 16th place?)
Who'd You Rather?
Simple one this, been debating it myself for awhile.
Arsenal fans, which trio would you rather?;
Van Persie, Nasri and Fabregas
Giroud, Cazorla and Ozil.
Based purely on footballing ability it comes down to a 2-1 win to the old trio (RVP over Giroud, Fabregas over Cazorla but Ozil over Nasri), but I actually think that this current set-up of Arsenal, with Giroud holding up play and Cazorla/Ozil flitting around him is actually better in the whole, with the old cliché about sums and parts and team and everything.
Interested to hear opinions.
Ben (Nasri is to Ozil what Mcleish is to Mourinho) Gleeson, Cardiff.
Nicky B Is Our Hero
So I just voted on the Ballon d'Or question...and yes I had to actually copy and paste that to get the spelling right,
Anyway, imagine my joy when I firstly saw, and then voted, for a gloriously cheeky option: one Nicklas Bendtner.
Now imagine that joy being completely surpassed, as the somehow even more glorious results were displayed...
40% for young Nicklas!
Miserable bunch we may be at times, irrational at all times, but thank you fellow F365 contributors for creating the one forum where most of the fans just get it most of the time.
Manc in SA (If it were up to us...the Ballon d'Or would be a brilliant, and slightly obnoxious, affair every year!)
Would You Prefer Adebayor?
Watched Bendtner struggle in the COC midweek and, like many Arsenal fans, thought to myself - "we need a striker in January". Now I thought of some job requirements for an ideal January recruitment:
- a tall striker
- with proven EPL experience.
- Has previously scored 25 goals a season
- Has Champions League experience
- Has played for Real Madrid
- Has World Cup experience
- Is not cup tied.
And there is such a candidate: his name is Emmanuel Adebayor.
The question is "Would Arsenal fans prefer Adebayor to Bendtner, or has Ade 'crossed the betrayal Rubicon'?"
Lindelwe (Gunner till I die) Moyo, Durban, SA
Just quick one - the last time Spurs won a penalty shoot-out was 1994. AVB is a miracle worker! Maybe he should be the next England manager.
Olly Cole, THFC (and maybe Harry Kane could be good enough after all... one day...)
Goals Goals Goals
I don't know why everyone goes on about Spurs finding it difficult to score goals....... we scored 10 last night.
(Eleven if you count Brad Friedel's tap-in.)
I imagine they'll be a few more people lining up this morning to label Lamela a massive waste of money. But for the first time yesterday I saw some glimpses of his potential.
Firstly, he visibly grew into the game. Not surprising given it was his first full 90 (I believe). In the first half he seemed reluctant to get his head down and take people on but he did much more of that in the second half - shrugging off a few challenges and getting the step overs out.
Even in the first half when he looked tentative, his passing was very crisp and nearly always 1 touch. After I'd noticed it I was genuinely surprised how few times he controlled the ball when he had his back to goal - it was all one touch (and accurate) lay offs. In the context of Spurs struggling to break down teams at home, the importance of moving the ball quickly in such a fashion can have massive value. He stood out compared to the likes of Paulinho and Sigurdsson who seem to dally on it for too long and allow the away side to regain their defence shape.
The lad is clearly a confidence player and he visibly seemed to grow when he realised he wasn't about to be subbed. Although missing the penalty won't have helped him, and you obviously expect more for £30m then beating the odd player and some nice (usually safe) passing, I saw enough last night that I won't be jumping on the bandwagon any time soon.
Actually Miller Is Working Today And Is Delighted About The Red Sox Winning, If Tired Despite Falling Asleep Before The End Of The Game. Anyway, More On Bolasie
Chris Henderson's comments about Yannick Bolasie in yesterday afternoon's mailbox struck a chord with me. I think I would share the majority opinion that Bolasie is not as good as Wilfried Zaha, but I thought he was underappreciated by a lot of people.
Bolasie's main contribution to Palace's relative success last season was to give them a balanced attack - without making a like for like comparison, Bolasie was the Kanchelskis to Zaha's Giggs. I'm not making a direct comparison, but I think it still holds up. What I mean is, Zaha is the better player, renowned for his ability to take on and beat defenders as well as supply a cross to a capable centre-forward, and because he is young and British he is held up as the bright future of his club; on the other hand, Bolasie is a capable player, but not quite as talented or as lauded for his abilities (maybe because he's a foreign) as his teammate. However, the secondary winger - the Kanchelskis figure - makes a contribution to the primary winger - Giggs - by simply being there and bit quite good. If there is a superb player on one side and a rubbish one on the other, defences know which way the play will be channelled and will double up on the star man, making it harder to do his job. However, often just the threat of switching the play from one capable wide man to another is enough to keep defences playing one-on-one.
I honestly thought that last year's Palace team, led by a front three of Zaha, Bolasie and F***sake Murray would have been good enough for 17th in the Premier League, although this was largely down to how bad a lot of last season's lower-lying PL sides were. This season, with the new TV money allowing those teams who had narrow escapes to invest in their squads and try to give themselves a slightly more comfortable ride this time around, Palace have been shown up for the average Championship side they are. However, Chris's comments about Bolasie were welcome, someone saying something positive about the Glaziers and taking my mind oh so briefly off the search for our new manager. As the latest name to be linked to the job is Mr Breaded Ham (copyright Nick Miller I believe) himself, Alex McLeish, it's nice to have a break from crying to remember the good bits of last season.
Ed Quoth the Raven (F365 presumably reaps the benefits of a freelance Miller today by not having to listen to him crow about how the second-richest team won the World Series last night), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
Old Chelsea v Young Chelsea
I thought I'd take up Jon's challenge of a young v old Chelsea match, teams as follows:
Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Kalas, Bertrand, Van Ginkel, Romeu, De Bruyne, Hazard, Oscar, Lukaku (average age 22)
Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Lampard, Essien, Mata, Willian, Eto'o, Torres (average age 29)
I'm not certain where Jon gets the idea Chelsea have a significantly higher age profile than Man Utd as by coincidence (honest) the above teams come out with the same average ages as his ManU teams. Yes I could have put Schwarzer in, but then he could've put Giggs in.
I think it could be a very close match with attacks very much on top, they'd have to get past two of the world's best keepers though. I'd just about have my money on the young bucks though, with Sideshow Bob leading them to a famous victory while Lukaku's pace eventually seeing off the ageing legs of JT.
Chris (too old for either team)
Old Liverpool v Young Liverpool
I quite enjoyed Jon, Johannesburg's mail on old v young at United, although I'm sure Jonny Evans will be disappointed to be in the old team when he's only 25, the same age as Hernandez on the young team!
So I decided to do it for the Liverpool squad. In my head when I started, I thought Liverpool might well have a better young team, but this is what I got.
Young- 25 or under
Kelly Ilori Sakho
Sterling Hendo Allen Coutinho Moses
Old- 26 or older
Toure Skrtel Agger
Johnson Lucas Gerrard Enrique Cissokho
Obviously both teams are 3-5-2s in keeping with Brendan's wizardry. (My favourite Brendanism yet was at the weekend when he said Henderson 'plays in the corridor on the inside') The trend from the teams is that there's better defensive depth for the old ones, but they're a bit light further forward, but Enrique in midfield would be.. interesting! I'd say the older team would still win despite this, although if it was 27 or older they'd be without Lucas and Suarez and that'd swing it!
From The Archives
As well as being my favourite game of all time, Holland V Czech Republic at Euro 2004 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XFVwZLPLWA) also included a wondrous individual performance from the Czech captain Pavel Nedvěd. The game had everything. Goals (including a trademark van Nistelrooy tap in and a Milan Baros wonderstrike), chances galore (21 shots on target!), two excellent goalkeeping performances (Cech and VDV), a red card, an Arjen (with hair!) Robben paddy at being substituted and an underdog comeback.
This comeback was orchestrated by the magnificently haired Nedvěd who controlled the game from deep, creating Baros's equaliser and included this 40 yard thunderthwacker that had Edwin van der Sar well and truly beaten - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OkHOE1qV1c.
He was one of those players, similar to Zidane who just made football look so natural and effortless and a captain that led by simply being brilliant.
The Wahster (struggling for more Nedvěd superlatives) Shropshire
In response to Phil Thompson's question about how the MLS is set up, you have to remember that the MLS had to be set up in a way to avoid the very real threat of bankruptcy.
The MLS founders did their best to learn what lessons they could from the failure of the old NASL, which broke apart just a decade earlier. The two biggest faults of the NASL were that most of the league's talent was concentrated in just a couple of teams and there were a number of teams in cities that just didn't have large footballing communities, both of which meant empty stadiums most matches.
That last part is hard to understand if you've come from a country where the game is a nationwide passion. But in the US, the game is much more regional, and some regions with smaller populations can produce more fans than some with larger populations. The MLS was originally founded with teams in areas where they thought they could thrive, but the teams were given the ability to move if they found that they were in the wrong markets (which some were).
That's why they no longer longer have teams in Tampa Bay and Miami (which was added in 1998 but moved later), but they now have teams in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. The game is just much more popular in the northwest compared to the southeast.
Anyway, the point is that everything about the MLS setup (salary caps, designated players, franchised teams, etc.) is designed to allow them to run a successful league for a game that still isn't all that widely popular in the US and Canada. It would be like trying to set up a successful basketball league in the UK. The game just doesn't have the popularity to follow the Football League blueprint.
Jacob (Yank in Luton)
And The American System
As an American reader of the mailbox, I thought I'd respond to Phil Thompson's question about franchises in US sports. On the one hand, I definitely would prefer if we had a European based system for all of our sports, but on the other hand that's not realistic. Just as you have your tradition of a league system hierarchy with promotion and relegation, we have our system of just one main professional league (admittedly there are lower leagues of soccer, but they aren't as fleshed out as yours are).
Generally speaking, most feeder programs are either colleges or minor league teams that are owned/affiliated with professional teams (kind of like a reserve system). Teams also can't just buy whomever they want as most sports have salary caps and the like. Additionally, instead of relegation, a team that finishes last in a league gets "rewarded" with the #1 pick in the upcoming draft. This gives them the first crack at the new talent and an opportunity to improve their team (rather than the global football set up where the top teams have the most money/appeal and can purchase the best talent- often at the expense of struggling or smaller teams).
The closest thing there is to a football league type system may be baseball which has 3 tiers of minor leagues under MLB, but every one of those A, AA and AAA (think League 2, League 1 and The Championship) teams is part of a particular MLB team's system, so rather than the team itself vying for promotion, it's individual players hoping to get called up to the parent organization.
The biggest college football teams in the country regularly draw 100,000 fans per game. This is because in some cases they're the only show in town, the nearby professional alternative is of terrible quality, or because they're massive state schools with huge student and alumni populations who feel more connected to the community than do their professional league counterparts. As you mentioned, it's probably the closest equivalent in terms of local interest and supporter passion to your football teams.
Also, as you mentioned, the US is a vast country and that helps to explain the difficulty in establishing teams or franchises and the support that local university teams receive. Just for an example, where I'm from (right in the middle of NY state) is about 150 miles away from the nearest NFL or NHL teams (Buffalo) and 250 miles away from the nearest MLB, NBA or MLS teams (New York City). So were I to support my "local" professional teams, I'd be supporting teams from either a city that's 2 hours West of me or teams from a city that's about 4 and a half hours Southeast of me that I've never even been to. We do, however, have a pretty big university in town (Syracuse University) and although they're awful at American football, they're pretty good at basketball and regularly break the attendance record for college basketball games.
Being in this kind of professional sports no-man's land gives rise to people supporting whomever they choose. Obviously, this leads to a lot of bandwagon fandom or people liking teams that were either good when they were growing up, have broad national appeal or both. There are no truly local teams to support, so you choose a team for whatever reason (which applies to choosing a Premier League team as well, for an American). We're not like England where every little town and village has their own local team somewhere on the league pyramid.
In terms of mobile franchises, teams only tend to move from their cities if there's a change in ownership, a dispute over funding for a new stadium (which by and large are heavily funded by tax-payers) or something of that nature. For the most part, teams stay put where they're from. There are notable examples (many more historically than recently), but it's not too frequent an occurrence and always comes with a sizable amount of negative publicity (although to be fair, it's mostly the jilted city being rightfully upset, whereas the new city is ecstatic to have a team).
To wrap up this long-winded, rambling, not necessarily all on topic email, I would definitely prefer if our sports (or at the very least our soccer) were structured like the rest of the world's, but there's just too much money and tradition in place to tear it down and start over at this point. I don't know if this answered your question or even contributed anything worthwhile at all to the discussion, but this is just my take on the American sports structure.
Keith R. Liverpool, NY LFC/CUFC
More Portuguese Pronunciation
Not sure how much we're running with this Portuguese pronunciation bit but to add another footballing name to the mix: I was having a chat with a taxi driver in Luz last year about the Portuguese connection at Chelsea and he was pronouncing Villas-Boas as 'Vilz-Borsh'
If you're struggling, try doing a Martin Jol accent at the same time (apologies for confusing message).
Simon (gave him a Di Maria sticker I found, totally didn't notice the Porto flag on the dash #ladsontour) CFC
...Just writing in with a completely pointless message on Portuguese pronounciation for Alaistar, Lancaster...your housemate must not have drilled it into your head enough that in Portuguese if the R is at the beginning of a word it is pronounced as an H, so Raul would actually be pronounced Haul.
Scholar of language THAT.
More Miami Vice Joy
Paul McAlister, wait until the Miami Spice team sign Owen Hargreaves and Frank Lampard to anchor their midfield.
'Crocked and Tubbs' will make a spankingly good headline!!!
I now have the Miami Vice theme tune playing on endless loop in my Head...
And A Wonderfully Strange One To Finish
David Moyes shares the same initials as 80's cartoon hero Danger Mouse.
Don't believe me? Take the first letter from his first and last names and see for yourself.
Freaky? Hardly, there are literally dozens of people in the world with the initials DM. Here's a list of footballers:
..and there's probably more.