If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Where Is England's Freak?
I get that we are never going to churn out amazingly technical players one after the other and build an incredible international team all of a sudden, the likes of Brazil and Argentina have been doing this for years. As have Germany and now Spain and even Belgium, you can argue that their coaching is better or the format of their youth games are better or having less foreigners in the league is better, there are certainly things England can do to improve the overall standard of our players and to try and mirror sides like these.
But after watching the Portugal v Sweden match it made me wonder where is our one off freak superstar? Why can't we produce a Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic? They haven't come from amazingly technical countries and you can't argue their country is doing anything we are not it's just a freak of nature that happens every now and again. But I can't think of any time in footballing history when we had one of the best players in the world, I mean who is our best player ever? And how many countries greatest player ever is better than ours?
Henry (just one player is all I'm asking for!!) M
Should England Play 3-4-3?
With all the talk about Sturridge and Rooney should play together as England have looked better in a 4-3-3/4-5-1. It got me thinking on a new formation going forward (yes, I know it be silly to change as the World Cup is so close but bear with me). What if the England team implement the 3-4-3 played by Liverpool?
With this team you solve the problem of Johnson and his defensive brain farts and also fit two of the best left backs into the side.
Cole on the left side of the back three with Baines bombing on can solve the problem on the left side. Gerrard and Sturridge are used to playing this way for Liverpool and Carrick is so positionally aware I feel he won't have any difficulty slotting into this role.
This will also allow the impressive Lallana to be deployed in his best position and the formation will allow Rooney to drop deep and not affect the team's shape that much.
Maybe I am getting a little bit excited with this but what does the rest of the mailbox think?
Shaahid (Maybe Brendad Rodgers would have implemented this if Harry got the job) Nottingham
Or, Play Townsend AND Walcott
I know you said in the World Cup ladder that those who forget Roy loves Danny Welbeck have short-term memory loss but I honestly think that playing Walcott and Townsend could be the answer.
Hear me out. Sturridge needs to be a lot better than he was the other night. I also felt Rooney came far too deep to try and make things happen. Rooney central, flanked by Townsend and Walcott interchanging could be the way forward. The three of them have 7 months with their clubs to prove that they can be the answer as opposed to Welbeck/Sturridge. Welbeck will obviously go and will play (no, I dunno why either) but if the north London two get the chance to flank Rooney/Sturridge I think they could be a serious combination.
Genuine pace is something Arsenal have lacked this season in Walcott's absence, and unlike Townsend he offers genuine end product (well, more often than Andros anyway) and doesn't just look to smack shots from anywhere within 30 yards out.
Behind a three of Rooney, Townsend and Walcott could sit Gerrard, Carrick and I suppose Wilshere (as long as he improves and proves he can actually be fit on a full time basis). I honestly think this six, with Welbeck, Sturridge, Lallana, Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench gives England real options and real reason for optimism.
Granted, at least one of these lot will probably break his metatarsal sometime in May.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex
A Statistical Case For Cleverley's Prosecution
Chris MUFC, defending Cleverley, implies that he's a top passer for a top passing club. He says, speaking of last season, "Cleverley averaged 90% pass completion, when United had the highest possession and pass completion statistics in the league". It is incorrect. If we're going into statistics, let's go deeper.
Firstly a factual error - possession statistics for last season:
1. Arsenal - 58.2%
2. Man City - 58%
3. Liverpool - 57.2%
4. Man United - 56.2%
While he correctly states that United had highest pass completion of 85.7% (compared to Arsenal's 85.6% at 2nd), they made much fewer passes, reflecting a direct style of play. Average passes per game below -
1. Arsenal - 595 (516 short passes + through balls)
2. Man City - 566 (492)
3. Swansea - 562 (479)
4. Liverpool - 560 (478)
5. Man United - 558 (474)
Now to individual statistics - Cleverley made 22 appearances, 18 starts. This is enough to get a decent picture statistically.
Lets look at number of passes per game, accuracy and number of key passes per game by some deep lying players:
Cleverley - 40 passes, 90.2% accuracy, 0.9 key passes per game
Arteta - 81, 91.5%, 1.9
Carrick - 77, 88.1%, 1.0
Yaya Toure - 79, 88.9%, 1.4
In fact, Aaron Ramsey played a poor half a season, played a lot on the wing and had 53 passes per game at 88.2% accuracy and 1.3 key passes per game.
Cleverley's 40 passes per game are just not enough.
The more offensive players like Cazorla, Suarez and Rooney usually make fewer passes too, but make many more key passes per game - 2.5, 2.7, 1.8 respectively. Cleverley has 0.9.
Overall, what these statistics seem to indicate is that while Cleverley is a decent player, he's not involved enough in the game for a deep lying midfielder, and he is not making enough key passes for someone who is involved that less. So the general opinion that while he's okay, he's not particularly great in any specific role seems to have a strong ground.
What About Jenkinson Over Walker?
After watching the England game at the pub on Tuesday, it's horrible to notice even after 4 pints how bad Kyle Walker is.
So, my question; after reading the World Cup ladder (I think you lot are pretty spot on for Roy's job if he goes, get off Football Manager..), imagine Glen Johnson being injured for the World Cup.
Who would you take, given game time and form, as your specialist right-back - Kyle Walker or Carl Jenkinson?
Jenkinson needs to force himself into the Arsenal team, but is getting great game time for the U21's, and has played well in huge games like away at Bayern. I know it's a long shot, but given our decline in defensive talent compared to a few years ago (Rio, Sol, Terry etc), it's an interesting future position for the national team.
Ben (Theo > Townsend - he just runs!)
Tiring Of Zlatan...
So I reckon very few people will agree with me, but I am beginning to grow very tired of Zlatan's massive bloody ego.
First off I will say that yes he is a fantastic footballer and arguably the best striker in the world (I count Ronaldo and Messi as forwards not strikers which are different in my crazy brain) However I must say that I no longer accept that as an excuse to be a pretty nasty human being.
This website often lets his behaviour go as his talent allows him to be like that, but can I just ask why? Why does being a great footballer mean it's OK to kick your team mates on a basis regular enough for him to be known for it? To threaten to beat up your manager, or deliberately injure your own team mates? Why is it OK to constantly tell everyone how great you are and claim that the World Cup won't be worth it because you aren't there?
If Zlatan was just a normal bloke in an office saying he created the best spreadsheets and that the Coventry conference will suck because he won't be there, he would rightly be labelled an a**ehole and very few people would put up with it. I put up with it for a while and to be honest he doesn't exactly effect my life, but can we please stop acting like it's OK and call him on his dickishness.
... And P*ssing On Ronaldo's Chips
So according to our usual excitable press, Ronaldo's hat trick means he's won the Ballon d'or?
Just think, if he'd pulled his finger out and scored more than 2 goals in the qualifiers, his team wouldn't have needed the play offs.
It's sort of like when the Championship Play-off winners win a trophy by finishing below the team in second who miss out on one.
NZ Fanmail For The International Break
Austino (The Real Ronaldo will eventually be Cristiano) Reyes mail on love of the international break for countries with weak domestic leagues is spot on.
Last night 35,000 Kiwis (admittedly there was a decent Mexican travelling contingent) got to view a team of quality not seen on these shores in years. Yes the home team lost (though scored 2 and had a pen saved), but the pleasure of watching quality footballers live was immense. And this was a Mexico team that has limped through qualifying.
To the folk in the UK & Europe, I'm so jealous that you get to have teams of much better quality playing on your doorstep week in, week out. You may be desensitized to it because of the wide range of leagues and football on offer, but last night I got to see the best quality players I've ever seen live (honourable mentions to when Del Piero visited with Sydney FC and when Becks came with the Galaxy). So thank you international football.
George (and I still think Mexico will get pasted in the World Cup) AFC, Wellington, NZ
Original Not Always Best
Never thought it would happen, but:
Stroppy Ronaldo > Fat Ronaldo
The Ideal Tactic
I Know it was a typo, but Andy, London's hit the nail on the head - England will only look any good if they play a 4-3-5 formation.
I expect to see this against Denmark else Roy out.
Jim (or, my other thought during the game, if we're allowed 6 subs so we can press for 90 minutes) Essex