Ozil Is 'Just An Arshavin Upgrade'...

And that is supposed to be a compliment. Most of the mailbox is about AVB and Daniel Levy but there's room for mails on Arsenal, being a born full-back and more...

Last Updated: 17/12/13 at 15:23

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It IS AVB's Fault, Actually
Watching Spurs fans go through the five stages of grief is almost as entertaining as United fans trying to protect David Moyes by arguing United's current lack of success is down to 'Mr' Ferguson leaving them in the lurch when he retired.

Reading the mailbox this morning I was dumbfounded by the response by Spurs fans to absolve AVB of his shortcomings and instead take aim at Daniel Levy. The same Daniel Levy that got Spurs 85 millions pounds for Gareth Bale...85 MILLION POUNDS FOR GARETH BALE.

Now as the British media explodes and everyone has their say on the issue some valid issues have come to light. Should AVB have to shoulder the entire blame for the crisis currently engulfing Spurs? No, the transfer policy has failed them. Franco Baldini has played some part in demise of Spurs. The signing of Lamela has his fingerprints all over it. Choosing to spend 50 million pounds on an ageing Spaniard and anyone from Seria A was always going to be a massive risk as those types of players historically do not adapt well to the premier league.

With that being said, AVB was the product of his own demise, just as he was at Chelsea. His p***ing contest with first-team players and staff has seen him get the sack again. Seeing left-backs Kyle Naughton and Ezekiel Fryers this weekend must have had Spurs fans yearning for Championship superstar Benoît Assou-Ekotto. While decision to sell Caulker is still puzzling to me. Judging by their tweet, Adebayor wasn't sent to play with the reserves because of mental health (as suggested by quarters of the Spurs fanbase) but because he and AVB couldn't get along.

Spurs are in trouble now. They go away to Southampton on Sunday and could be nine points off the pace by the end of the weekend. Unless a miracle happens, this season looks like a wash-out for a Spurs side that had so much promise at the start of the season and the spotlight is rightly pointed in the direction of the man whose sole responsibility is to get the players on the pitch to play winning football.
Brian (Hey United fans, how's the weather down there?) LFC

...Paulinho's red isn't the problem, it was the Sandro injury that changed it. After he came off, the replacement (Holtby) is not a CDM. Sandro is a fantastic player and crucial to Suars as he does a lot for that back four. But AVB didn't have anyone on the bench to replace him. All he had was the LB Fryers as defensive cover, then, essentially, all the same players. Townsend, Defoe, Siggurdsson, Lamela...all the while not attacking Glen Johnson whom is terrible right now. He should have put a player on to attack GJ while letting Naughton stay back and cover Sterling shortening the pitch for him.

This left Capoue and Dawson completely exposed and sure, Spurs did have some pressure, but this was always going to be a rout after that. Rewatch the game, and see how many times Pool could have scored. The Suarez touch around Lloris, posts hit, Sahko's header.

Quick side note on Sahko. How brilliant has he been this season? He is such a great passer (if he wasn't 100% passing he was close and not Gallas back passes, passes that move the midfield up), excellent defender in the air (we've lacked that for a long time) and quick getting back. He has to be in the conversation for best CB this season.

But AVB put on a forward CAM type of player AND kept Paulinho forward. What did he think was going to happen against a Liverpool team that is this quick and deceptive? Dembele is an awesome player, I hope LIverpool can nick him in January, but he isn't Sandro defensively and seems to burn out after 75 minutes or so.

In conclusion, AVB was sacked for bad managing. No bench cover except for the same position five times over, inability to exploit other teams' problems, continuing doing the same thing even though it doesn't work and making the pitch bigger that is it by making players overlap too much.
Jay (Philly)

Caulker Again...

I'm not saying it would have solved all their problems, but Spurs must regret selling Caulker now (kept another clean sheet in Cardiff's win this weekend).
Strevs, Canada

Actually, You Can Blame Mark's Friend

Spurs fans fear not - the shellacking you received was not AVB's fault. Nor the players. Not even Liverpool deserve the plaudits. You see, a Spurs-supporting mate of mine went on Facebook after the Man City vs Arsenal match and taunted the Gooners he knew. Now I think you'll see that karma kicked him up the arse fairly damn quickly and rightly so (especially as Spurs themselves got hammered at City so he didn't have much to sing about anyway). So fear not, as long as you do not go around taunting opposition fans then the universe will stop messing with your collective shizzle and you may not have the further embarrassment of David Moyes masterminding his way above you.

Or maybe you are actually a bit pants...
Mark, Cambridge

No, It's Levy

Carrick, Berbatov, Modric, Bale...

Is it any wonder we're unable to consistently challenge for the top four? Every time we start to look decent Levy decided to sell our best player.

I'm not saying AVB shouldn't have been sacked, but my god does the next man have a tough job. You'd have to be pretty confident to take on the challenge of pleasing Mr Levy...

It's going to be a long season(s)...
Matt (do people even still do brackets?) Huntly. COYS

...I think Spurs' recent challenges underline that spending over 100M on several average players won't improve a team overnight. Ironic that Liverpool made the same mistake a few years earlier and you would think Spurs would learn from that.

Another irony was Spurs' desire, need even, to win Eriksen over Liverpool. I was surprised when Rodgers said that Eriksen was over-valued and not as good as most thought. But the recent displays and results seem to prove his point.

Clearly buying one or two quality players to fit into an existing system is a better way to go than buying many average players. But the greed for instant results drives this mentality.

While I get Nicholson's point about not grieving for the well-rewarded managers - one of the reasons they are well rewarded is that it is a form of hush money to cover the bad decsisions made by the chairmen. In most businesses, firing your manager in such a short time would indicate a bad hiring decision - reflect badly on the hiring manager.

How culpable is Levy in the current Spurs' challenges? The media was lauding Levy in the summer for making such a great deal. Basking in his ego, Levy was quite happy to splash the cash and show off his new-found wealth and fame. Lauded as driving a hard bargain and wanting to win one over near rivals, Liverpool, he paid over the top for Eriksen. All I read was how he sold Elvis to buy the Beatles. But now, it was all AVB.
Paul McDevitt

If Liverpool Had 'Done A Spurs'...

It's interesting if you look at Spurs situation and compare them to Liverpool.

Hire a new manager in summer 2012 who has a vision and a project that the board gets behind.
Big club who have spent the last few years striving to try and get into the Champions League.
Extensive squad turnover since Rodgers arrived, with a net spend of £40m in the first season.
Struggled with consistency in the first season, but showed overall signs of improvement.
Held on to their star player, with a further net spend of £15m in his second summer.
Players clearly identified by the manager (Allen, Coutinho, Sturridge) are brought in to fit with his style of play.
Second in the league, no genuine questions over Rodgers' position.

Hire a new manager in summer 2012 who has a vision and a project.
Big club who have spent the last few years striving to try and get into the Champions League*.
Extensive squad turnover since AVB arrived, with a net spend of £1m in the first season.
Struggled with consistency in the first season, but showed overall signs of improvement.
Sold star player, with a further net spend of £3m in his second summer.
Players brought in that don't fit with the manager's style of play (Soldado, Lamela).
Seventh in the league, just five points off a Champions League spot, AVB is sacked.

* Before the pedants jump in, yes Liverpool are a bigger club but Spurs have finished above them three or four years on the bounce now, were in the CL/top four more recently and at the point where both managers were hired I think their status would be roughly equal for any prospective signing.

The obvious difference is that Rodgers has been backed with money, support in making his own decisions and the decision to keep Suarez. Suarez could not have been any clearer about wanting to leave but Liverpool put their foot down and he is largely the reason why they are doing so well this season, but I don't think it ever crossed Levy's mind not to cash in on Bale. Fair enough the performances recently were terrible and this summer's signings uninspired, but I think Baldini had more to do with the latter which affected the former because they didn't fit.

Just think, where would Liverpool be now if they had sold Suarez and not given Rodgers extensive funds to build his own squad? A lot worse off than Spurs I'd bet. Levy is to blame for the mess Spurs are in for not fully supporting his manager, and as an Arsenal fan long may it continue.
Paul (Gnabry is the best #44 in the EPL) Halt

Why Rodgers > AVB

As a Liverpool fan, I don't want to rub in that result too much for knowing we will be on the receiving end again one day, but I would like to point out a major difference between BR and AVB. BR does not seem so absolutist to refuse to abandon something that isn't working. With Sturridge and Suarez, he abandoned his preferred tactics and played both of them. With Soldado floundering and evidence that two-man strike forces can work again (see opponent and both Manchesters this weekend), AVB can't seem to adjust. No sense beating a man when he is down, but this stands out.
Niall, Denver

Sacking AVB Idiotic But As Idiotic As Stanger...

Sorry but what is Matthew Stanger on? Yes F365 put some matters straight over the media and AVB but now in this article supporting the sacking of AVB you seem to be jumping on every media-led idiocy there is.

1) Equating vaunting expectation with reality. Spurs are not a top-four team in every way that's evident. They have no history of being a top-four team. Just because Spurs fans think they're a top-four team and Levy desperately wants them to be it doesn't mean they are. As such they need to give managers time, the idea that sacking a winning manager (a manager who has won more than 50% of games for any team is pretty damn good, including having won over 50% this season too) when they're seventh in the league and doing pretty well on the whole is ludicrous.

2) Why do people believe that buying four players for over £100million equates to losing one player for £85million. It's been said many times here but football players are a finite quantity. You can only ever have 11 on the field and thus one player who is 10%+ better than anyone else who can play in that position is in no way replaceable except by another single player of the same quality. As this cannot happen then losing Bale is a massive blow to their ability and thus to expect them to achieve as much as last season, even with a better squad is hopeful at best.

3) 'Invest' is a stupid word to use, Spurs sold as well as bought. We don't know the balance sheet of those deals but basically Spurs have merely spent the money they could already expect from the coming season and their sales while knowing they were secure in the Premiership.

Basically Spurs are not going to achieve as much as last season. There are many first teams that are better than their first team now Bale has gone. To sack a winning manager because you have ambition I suppose is pro-active but I also think it's grasping at straws and should be seen as such by everyone else and not as a sensible decision.
Will 'And I hate Spurs and frankly want them to lose everything so I should be happy tbh' Goodey

Go For Jurgen

If I was Daniel Levy, I'd be moving heaven and earth to install the USA's manager as soon as the World Cup ends.

As he's foreign it will p*** the gentlemen of the press off no end but he still speaks better English than 'Arry.

I have a lot of mates who support the wrong team in north London and that club's inability to never play the long game or see the bigger picture never ceases to amaze me - it's your fans that suffer in the end Levy.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

Or Cliff Jones?

For Mediawatch's information, double-winning superstar Cliff Jones is presumably alive and well, unless his health has deteriorated markedly since appearing on the pitch at half-time versus Liverpool.

Nonetheless, if he has carked it since Sunday, he could still do no worse at left-back than Kyle Naughton.
Rob Davies, THFC (We've got our Tottenham back, sadly)

Moyes Next?

Since Tottenham have sacked AVB due to under-performance, because he couldn't get the best out of his star players and high-profile signings, surely it's time - teams below Spurs in the league table should sack their manager too.

Especially the ones who have won the league last year.

At a canter.

With 13 points.

After adding a star, afro-haired midfielder worth 28million (after paying 4million extra ofcourse).
Donnie, (AVB is a hero) MUFC

Ozil: Probably Just A Sad-Looking Fish

Not so much a rebuttal, but a few thoughts in reply to Jamie Bedwell's interesting email on Mesut Özil in this morning's mailbox.

Despite Özil's fawning over Wenger upon signing for Arsenal, I think it's probably a fair assessment to say that Arsenal wouldn't have been his first choice. Let's face it: he was leaving Real Madrid and Arsenal is a step down whichever way you look at it. I'm sure there are a number of clubs around Europe that he'd have rather signed for if only they'd shown the necessary level of interest and financial ability; probably one or two in the Premier League.

As much as green-eyed fans of other teams have resorted to painting the Arsenal support as cocksure fantasists this season, we're actually a reasonable bunch and most of us would accept the above.

But will Özil really be leaving in the summer?

Probably not, no.

Özil is what Bergkamp would term a 'decisive player'. He is basically the anti-Gervinho or the anti-Hleb: less action, more end product. He doesn't dominate games as players like Ronaldo can, and you might not see him for long periods. As a result, his body language often looks slightly disinterested.
But he's capable of working the ball into the opposition's net, whether by a goal or an assist, at any given moment. In this sense, he's like an Arshavin upgrade - and without the blubber. Having seen myriad Hlebs and Gervinhos in recent years, Arsenal fans are rather content with this arrangement.

Long story short: he seems a quiet, humble guy, and I doubt he'd be setting off fireworks in his bathroom or opening museums dedicated to himself even if playing for the Arsenal was his boyhood dream, thus resulting in a constant state of euphoria. His 'altercation' with Mertesacker is barely worth further exploration: they're close mates who very briefly got a bit argy-bargy with one another after a mutual disappointment. Sounds like a standard Saturday night in any of Britain's provincial towns for most pals.

Accept it: it is entirely possible that he's just a bit boring, like a rather sad-looking, sympathy-inducing clown fish.
Dane, North Bank

Born Full-Backs?

After the Spurs-Liverpool match, Jon Flanagan was rightly praised in the media for having a good game, which he must have done, because he scored. However, it came as a sharp contrast to one F365 Mailbox of a couple of weeks ago, and brought back to mind another.

When Liverpool lost to Hull, Flanagan was a player who came in for criticism, given the way in which Hull 'City' Tigers created their goals. One contributor I believe urged Brendan Rodgers to never let Flanagan anywhere near the first team ever again, presumably down to his defensive shortcomings. Yet one factor in Liverpool's comprehensive wins of recent times has been the willingness of the full-backs - Flanagan and Johnson - to get forward and support the attack. I'm not exactly Jonathan Wilson or Michael Cox when it comes to analysing tactics but it seems fairly obvious that if you have strong attacks down both flanks then it will stretch the defence horizontally and provide more space for Suarez in the middle (quick word of praise for Suarez: one underrated aspect of his play this weekend was his ability to use both feet to beat opponents, a rare thing these days).

In the NHL, among the end of season awards is the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the player judged the best defensive forward in the league. The irony is that often players are only noticed and praised for their defence when people notice their goalscoring, whereas a lot of good defensive play can easily pass unnoticed. In contrast, when the defensive play - or primary role - of defenders Flanagan and Johnson was under scrutiny, they weren't looked upon favourably; yet their talents in their attacking play has won them plaudits. Mediawatch amusingly picked up on Martin Keown's assertion that Chelsea miss Didier Drogba's defensive work as much as his goals, but that - and this observation about Liverpool's full-backs, threw up an intriguing comparison.

This idea of 'full-backs as secondary wingers' came up in the Mailbox the other week, and it got me wondering: is there some sort of determinism involved in footballers' positions? Is there such a thing as a 'born full-back'? I'm sure people will take me to task on this, but what sort of person is one, and how do they play kickabout games? Take the Neville brothers, both accomplished full-backs in their own way - as youngsters did they spend their evenings in the back garden playing three-and-in like the rest of us, or did they do full-back things, like throw-ins and shepherding the ball out for a goal kick?
Ed Quoth the Raven, CPFC the Glaziers, Notts

He'd Only Spend It On Drink

Timely article for Degsy this week, what with year-end reviews coming up no doubt. £10 on each game would have returned over £250 quid this weekend.
Andy (Shame I didn't put anything on myself) Brighton

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


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