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...
Is it a sacking offence if Arsenal don't win the FA Cup from here? Is it the players, the manager or the board who should go at Spurs? We have a bumper mailbox...
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Loads Of Mails On The Best Players With No Ballon D'Or
John Matrix AFC poses a question I've thought about a few times. In my opinion one player to never win the Ballon D'or and most definitely should of was Kenny Dalglish. He may have finished second in 83 but LFC bought Dalglish from Celtic to replace the departing Kevin Keegan in 77 and in his first season he scored 31 goals including the winner in the European cup and also scoring against Keegans Hamburg in the Supercup final, he was absolutely phenomenal.
It always baffled me that Keegan won it that year only scoring 12 goals and not winning anything with Hamburg.
MickT (always thought Henry should've won it too) LFC
...In response to John Matrix AFC, I can think of many players better than Henry to never win the Ballon D'Or -
Ferenc Puskas, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Jurgen Klinsmann are the ones who spring to mind immediately while a case can be made for Bergkamp, Giggs, Xavi and Iniesta too.
The Ballon D'or is a fairly pointless award if you don't win things with the team to go with it. Henry's only 'really' significant achievement was the season with the Invincibles - he didn't play a significant role in any French success, and it could be argued he wasn't that important to Barcelona's European Cup triumph when playing for them.
That said, the award has been warped beyond any recognition now with its 'tactical' or 'political' voting that it resembles a glorified Eurovision Song Contest! Just so happens that at the moment its rather obvious that two players are head and shoulders above everyone else!
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
...In response to John Matrix AFC's musings on those great players who never won the Ballon d'or, I'd like to suggest that Maradona is probably the best player never to have won it, although others might go with Pele. Both of whom, I'd suggest, were rather more deserving of the honour than Henry, however good he was.
...I'm a fan of arbitrary lists, so John Matrix AFC's email regarding the best player not to win the Ballon d'Or got me thinking. Henry is admittedly a good shout. I'd nominate the following as more deserving recipients,in no particular order;
Paolo Maldini, Ferenc Puskas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cafu (would have been an eligible winner from 1995 onwards), Frank Rijkaard, Iker Casillas, GG Buffon, King Kenny, Andy Moller (only missing the CWC from a full house of medals) Franco Baresi.
Honourable mentions (though perhaps not as deserving as Henry) to Cantona, Bergkamp, Klinsmann, Hagi, Roberto Carlos, Raul, Rui Costa, Totti and Eoin Jess (just because...)
Feel free to call me an idiot who knows nothing.
Fraser (Aberdeen fan in exile), Bucharest
...I thought about this and the list I have compiled is mightily impressive:
Ferenc Puskas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Raul, Ryan Giggs, Paolo Maldini, Emile Heskey, Franco Baresi, Dino Zoff, Kenny Dalglish & Thierry Henry are all greats who you'd have thought would be in contention for one or two of the shiny, meaningless baubles but sadly they never won it.
As a United fan I always thought Roy Keane should've won it 1999 after his superb performances that year but, whilst United almost did, you simply can't win 'em all.
Another United legend who never won it but probably would have if you believe the things said about him is Duncan Edwards. He was described by Bobby Charlton, a winner of the trinket himself, as the greatest player he had ever seen. He was "incomparable". That description is being given by a man who played with and against some of the best of all time by the way and he wasn't the only one who admired Edwards in such a fashion. So whilst there's likely an element of romanticism, Edwards is probably the one player who stands out from that list.
Just my opinion anyway!
Busby MUFC (I never know what to put in these brackets)
This Sort Of Geekery Deserves A Knighthood
I keep statistics on the history of all the Ballon d'Or voting (hours of fun). Basically, I add up the percentage of the vote each person gets each year, to get an overall 'score'. At 16th on the list is Thierry Henry, the highest placed player never to win it. Xavi (26th) and Iniesta (27th) are next in line for this particular accolade.
So. Good shout Mr Matrix.
(Ed. - We can confirm receipt of Andy, London's statistical data, and whilst there is no means to publish it, it is a thing of wonder. Take your hat off to him. All of you.)
Home Nations For The World Cup Only?
I think it would be interesting if the home nations formed a team UK for World Cup but were allowed to compete as home nations in the Euros. This may mess up the seedings of the all the countries but its our best chance of us actually winning the World Cup. And lets be honest anyway, there is a large proportion of the non-England home nation teams that are basically English but opt to play for a different nation through a grandparent or something, plus, when was the last time a home nation team other than England qualified for the World Cup finals? Scotland in 98? I see it as mutually beneficial to all the nations and it would be nice to have the whole 'state' supporting one team in the world cup rather than the typical 'anyone but England'.
Although saying this, out of the other home nations the only players I can think of that could be 1st team for UK would be Jonny Evans, Ramsey and Bale, but traditionally Scotland usually have a couple of stand-out players so perhaps they are going through a bit of a blip at this moment in time. That being said, they seem to make good managers...
"His talent and ability to produce something special far outweighs his inconsistency"
Might want to check your internet connection there Dave, Dublin. Only just got your mail on Nani which I presume you sent in 2011.
Changing The Points System
Rather than change the points for a win/draw, why not reward and encourage teams who score goals with bonus points?
One for a win by 3 or more goals, and/or one for five goals scored.
Currently goals scored and goal difference only matter if you're level pegging with a team on the same number of points.
Bonus points would reward the more adventurous and free scoring sides for taking risks and playing more expansively.
No doubt you'd see a few teams be more concerned about keeping down the score rather than throwing caution to the wind if chasing a game, but I'm sure the positives would outweigh the negatives.
...Here is my suggestion for a W/D/L point system. (I know there have been multiple suggestions on this topic already. Still, I hope this gets published.)
Similar to American sports, lets just not end any game in a draw. If the score remains tied after 90 mins, then let there be a penalty shootout. The winner of penalty shootout will get 2 points, and the loser will end up with 1.
A straight up win or loss will continue to give you 3 or 0 points respectively.
A penalty shootout is one of the most exciting part of football, so even if the game ends in a boring 0-0 tie, we'll have something fun to look forward to.
Also, having all possible point scenarios from 0 to 3 will make the league more interesting.
Nilesh (long time reader, first time poster), San Francisco, LFC
On Chelsea's Matic Move
Football club spends millions to invest in extensive scouting network. Expensive scouting network discovers young footballer with lots of potential. Football club buys talented young player for not insignificant amount of money. Football club realises that it is easier to just buy ready made talent and sells talented youngster in part exchange for ready made talent. A couple of years pass. Football club identifies need for dynamic defensive midfielder so re-signs originally bought youngster (who has been developing since he left after getting a proper chance) for more than 3 times at which they sold him.
Chelsea football club embody everything that is wrong in modern football and this particular transfer leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth.
Niall (Iniesta is the greatest to never win the Balon D'Or)
...Chelsea's midfield is already formidable, even with Lampard's ageing legs coming on for a cameo. The defense has solidified and stopped (more or less) the silly mistakes. Cech looks like he could play til he's 50. Why o why are we re-signing defensive midfielders? Torres works hard but is missing that one thing strikers need, luck.
What we need is a jammy b*stard in front of goal. Martinez fits the bill nicely.
...I've seen on various social medii this week much trepidation over Chelsea's silly transfer policy that has led them to bring in Nemanja Matic for a second time in 5 years.
Now - I do not deny that bringing Matic back is a sign that Chelsea have not, for all of our 'investment' in youth and youth development, actually been able in the past 10 years to develop players from the fringes of the first team to quality starters. But, it's no worse than any other purchase Chelsea have made in that regard. There was a need, there was a player Chelsea knew who filled that need, and Roman cut a check. We're funneling money down the line like always, and Benfica are cashing in on developing a player. So it goes.
The far more worrisome transfer is that of Kevin De Bruyne, and while it bothers me that we are giving up on such a talented player it should bother the rest of the league far more. Chelsea bought one of the big talents in Europe, loaned him out once, kept him on the bench for half a year, and now will sell him for a massive profit!
So not only are we buying up young talent and not developing it, in this instance we are being rewarded for it! At least with Matic we are having to hand out cash to other clubs for our own inadequacy. This is a real problem with us and with City, and we should all worry that this kind of horse-trading will continue apace.