There are some harsh words for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini in the Mailbox this morning, as well as some rather nicer ones for Tony Pulis and his magic hat...
We have a long mail on why Giroud isn't very good at all, plus some more thoughts on neutrality. Plus, who do you want out of you club this summer and Liverpool moving buses...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't Worry, Spurs Fans
You'll win the Champions League now.
Stu ("and I'll miss your ginger hair, and the way you like to dress...why don't you come on over, AVB") Chiswick
There it is. The end of an error. 'Had him', says Levy as he smugly carves another managerial notch to his bed post.
When I saw Levy's beady little eyes bearing down on AVB from the posh seats yesterday, I knew. He knew. And AVB knew. Last night I read Villas Boas's 'I will not quit' comments as anything other than 'you will have to sack me and pay me lots of money'.
In fairness, the axe had to fall across Andre's little mulleted Portugese neck. Not because of results and not really because of performances either. More because Levy is Levy and he doesn't tolerate bad results does he? And he'll show anyone who delivers bad results, wont he? Oh yes. Actually, I'm getting tired of this strange half-Kim-Jong- Il -half Dr Evil persona that Levy has created and that the media cultivate.
As a Spurs fan, I began the AVB era full of hope. We had a young manager with progressive ideas with young team he could mould. Time was on his side. Levy had take a gamble on the appointment of Villas Boas, a gamble based on the fact that he would be given the time and resources to build a team that played in his preferred style. AVB made no secret of the fact that these were the raw materials he needed to build his empire. However, when the going got tough, Levy bottled it, undermining himself and removing one of the key criteria that his gamble was based on: time. Bluntly, he lost his nerve.
At the time that Daniel was looking for Redknapp's successor, he was not short of options. AVB was the man Levy selected and doing so represented a gamble with the club's future. Levy has decided that the gamble has failed (I'm not 100% sure I agree) and that it's time to cut his losses.
So, let's recap on the last few years. Levy sacks man who does good job. Appoints man with questionable credentials on the basis he is given time to build a team. Loses patience and sacks man. Sacks man at time when no good replacement available, at key point in season.
What is becoming increasingly clear to me is that Daniel Levy is equally inadequate at learning lessons as he is brilliant and downright awkward at negotiating prices.
There is a part of me that wonders if DL has put his reputation over the club in the timing of his sacking of AVB. Is it a case of his hatchet man reputation taking precedence over what is most pragmatic for the club? Is it a case of a breakdown in the relationship? Does he have something better lined up? Whatever the case, Levy's folly has and will continue to cost the club a lorra lorra money and, more importantly, his decision has seen us lose momentum. Some would even say that we are now in a negative spiral.
Levy's next decision, therefore, is absolutely crucial for him personally, I really don't think he will be given latitude by the fans or the rest of the board to get another one wrong. As a fan, I genuinely want him to take some responsibility for the AVB mistake. And a mistake it was, I can see that now. It had to end. I know that. But the timing is odd and irresponsible.
We are a team in an awful run of form and are now potentially managerless for the busiest period of the season. So, unless Levy has a dastardly plan B already lined up, I think that AVB's sacking is foolish in its timing.
I can't think of anyone decent both available (maybe Frank Rijkard?) and suitable. Capello would be a short term fix and would undoutedbly play the dour style of football that so infruriated the fans. And he'd leave in 6 months. Laudrup would be another experimental appointment, although one that would excite me. Hoddle would be just weird but with lovely hair. Levy is under huge pressure to get this right but I'm not sure that there is a right answer, just a less wrong one.
I am firmly of the option that AVB wasn't given a fair crack of the whip, jettisoned by an increasingly unreasonable and unrealistic Chairman.
However, I am also of the opinion that he had lost his way and the dressing room (how do you lose a room?) and was not capable of turning the team around.
The fault her lies primarily with Levy. He made a long term appointment and judged him on short term metrics. By doing this, Levy has cast considerable concern over his judgement. His next decision is crucial.
Get this one wrong and he has to go too.
...Ok, so AVB is out. But what of Daniel Levy? Every two years we have another go-round of failed optimism, managerial instability, and the sale of our top players, who are then replaced by substandard options. So much disappointment.
Yes, Spurs may be a successful business, but as a football club, we look utterly disfunctional. Sometime soon, Levy should have to account for this mess.
And now Ramos looms in the Europa League, as a kind of Ghosts of Failed Managers Past. Delicious irony.
Eric Breitman, NYC
Just wondering: would AVB have been sacked if Paulinho hadn't been sent off, and the result been 0-2 instead of 0-5? After all, Spurs were looking pretty decent in the first 15 minutes of the 2d half: Lennon was beating Flanagan easily, Holtby was sending in dangerous passes, and Liverpool were pretty much pinned back in their own half. If the game had stayed 11 on 11, 0-2 would have been a much more likely result, and Spurs might even have closed the gap. After the sending off, AVB showed some courage by keeping his team going forward, even sending Capoue to join the attack and leaving a three-man backline. Under those circumstances a rout was almost inevitable, but that approach was better than merely settling for damage limitation.
I suspect AVB was heading for the sack anyway, and you can't deny he got his tactics and personnel wrong for the first half against Liverpool. But it seems that managers frequently get fired after fluke results like this one, if only to save face after a humiliation. That's the nature of the business. But if Paulinho had stayed on the pitch, I think AVB would still have been given a chance to turn things around. And we'll never know what might have happened.
PeterG, Pennsylvania, USA
Well, He's Retired, But...
How about Jupp Heynckes for the spurs job? He's:
4) A proven winner
and (according to Wikipedia)
'Heynckes' face is known to redden noticeably when he is under stress or in a generally agitated state, especially as a manager on the sidelines during a match. This has earned him the nickname "Osram" (in reference to a German lighting manufacturer).'
Will Sturridge Get Back In?
Am I the only person wondering how Sturridge is going to fit back into this Liverpool team? In the last few games our front three of Suarez, Coutinho and Sterling have looked incredibly dangerous, and I can't help but feel we seem to play much better as a team when we're not trying to shoehorn our two strikers into the same team by playing a 3-5-2.
Where Do West Brom Go From Here?
So here we go again, new manager time at West Brom. It does make me wonder why we don't just vote them in on an 18 month term. I feel for Steve Clarke (as I did for Di Matteo) in that he hasn't been given time to rectify his mistakes, and amongst the headline grabbing results there have been mistakes.
I know a lot of people will say we overachieved last year. We didn't really. We had a great team and an awesome striker in Lukaku and deserved to finish the season towards the top end of mid table.
We started last year strongly with the Hodgson discipline still in effect, which coupled with the great form of Yacob and McCauley in particular was the launch pad for our season. Clarkes free flowing attacking certainly complimented Hodgsons disciplined structure at the back, it was a terrific start to his tenure. However things began to slip in 2013.
I beg anyone saying that Clarke's sacking is a kneejerk decision to not only look at the stats (possession in particular) but also our 'style' of football over the past 10 months or so. I don't deny the high points, such as Man Utd home and away, and what should have been a great result at Chelsea. But given the money spent for a club our size, we should be at least be on a par with what Hodgson was able to produce in his time at the club.
Clarke had no easy task in moving the squad up a level from great championship/low premier league team to a consistent established premier league team. Players like Long, Morrisson, Dorrans, Ridgewell and Brunt all shine on their day, but can just as easily be poor. Roy was able to consistently get good performances from them, Clarke hasn't, and some of those players have actually been worse under him. The fact that the replacements bought in by Clarke have not improved results or performances has not helped his cause.
Clarke isn't the only one to blame though, I must draw to attention the fact that there was a bigger change at West Brom than the Manager in 2012. Our 'sporting and technical director' Dan Ashworth was taken with Roy to the FA. Dan Would have a big say in the nominees for any position the 'Head Coach'(manager) wanted at West Brom, and more often than not, the player chosen would be an improvement on the current incumbent. The same cant be said of Richard Garlick so far, and I'd imagine that based on his acquisitions recently any January transfers may well be his last if they are as unsuccessful as those last summer.
As for who is next, the hipster in me wants Rangnik or Solskjaer. But a big part of me wants to wait until the World Cup is over and to have Roy back, with his lovely owl face and disciplined training drills, provided he doesn't go and win the bloody thing of course!
Rusty (never a dull moment) Gray, West Bromwich Albion
Not Right With Mesut
A couple of weeks ago I sent the following to the mailbox:
"Speaking of Özil, I cannot have been the only one who noticed how he directed a volley of abuse (the F-word is hard to mistake) to a teammate who misplaced a pass to him on Saturday. I read recently in the mailbox that Arsenal was a distant second choice for him, and watching his body language I cannot help but feel that they may have been right. Something is not quite clicking with Özil and Arsenal, despite his fairly impressive stats"
Following his altercation with Mertesacker and failure to acknowledge the away fans at Manchester City, plus his by turns disinterested and frustated demeanour, something is definitely not right. I wouldn't be suprised to see him leave in the summer, even if Arsenal hold on to win the league.
That said, it really is turning into a thrilling season in the Premiership and I cannot wait to see what will happen next.
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire
So, I was wondering a few things after MotD this weekend.
First, where have all the superstar strikers like Henry, Drogba and Ronaldo gone? (Don't say Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo - they are not strikers ). I miss them. There are no strikers around the leagues that get my heart racing any more (even though Falcao for one is a machine). Shame. That highlights reel from Henry just reminded me of the great goals we used to see.
Which then lead me to the second: how much would the current Arsenal side be selling Henry for in the summer if he was at his zenith?
Third I wonder how much we'll end up selling young Januzaj for, presumably to Real. I'm guessing around £80m or so. I just hope we get a good few years out of him, because that lad is class. Likewise, where Ramsey will end up after Arsenal collapse their league ambitions again (I'm hoping United, where he should have gone in the first place).
And finally, who in hell we can convince to part with actual cash for Ashley Young. I'm thinking Newcastle in cash plus Young for Cabaye arrangement. Over to you Dave.
Guy S (Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do)
Now I don't normally get tempted to write in to F365 but on Sunday I saw something so amazingly mind blowing that I just had to do it. Antonio Valencia actually crossed the ball with his left foot! It's so amazing in fact that I'm starting to doubt that I saw it at all. Maybe I just imagined it. Did anybody else out there see it? Or am I just going mad?
Another Chris MUFC
I have to take exception to number 10 in your "Worst Individual Performances Of The Season". Marshall had every right to bounce the ball, it's still in his control....it's in the laws of the game. He wasn't to know Eto'o would blatantly cheat and the ref wouldn't be able to understand a quite clear rule.
How on god's green earth can this be seen as an individual error?
Martyn - Great, Tim No 'kin Good THFC
There's a lot of names being bandied about for the various prem manager jobs in the offing and it's easy to get caught up in the fanfare. It is also easy to forget that at this time of year some are not so fortunate and I think it's best that we all take a moment to remember that.....
Take Alan Curbishley for example, a reputable manager with a solid track record who can't even get an interview. He spends days yearning for a tracksuit with his initials on, a matchday to prepare for or even just a dug-out for shelter. Starved of club chairman attention and without a lucozade bottle for nourishment Alan has turned to the odd punditry slot to get him through the winter months. Like Phil Neville occupying the 50 slot in the world cup ladder Alan knows he'll be a 50/1 outsider for most jobs and yet he still sits by his phone dreaming of a better life.
Therefore seeming as 'tis the season of giving I implore the chairmen of this world to give him a call, send him a letter and please, please give the guy a home.
Anthony, The Give a Curbs a Home Foundation, Kilburn