One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...
We have an example of league-owned clubs from Australia while Kiwi boys want more respect for refs. Plus, Van Gaal won't stick with 3-5-2 and worried if Koeman will cut it...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mourinho For England
The win for Mourinho and the comments from Terry following the game clarified something for me that I (along with many others) have long pondered: how come some managers (and indeed players) can be immensely successful with a team but not with country (or the other way around). Terry was quoted as saying "We spent a couple of days working on their strengths and weaknesses." And that is it!
Whereas Pellegrini stated before the game that they would not know how Chelsea would play and the important thing was to play their own game, echoing the common sentiment of Arsene Wenger, Mourinho adjusted his side's style to best counter their opponent. Ferguson would similarly take an utterly dominant side in the league to Emirates but line up as a bottom-table club, yet walk out with all three points. Moyes, it seems to me, plays his game regardless.
Many bigger European national teams appear to have a similar approach: "We go in, play our game and on the basis of having better players, we shall win." Top managers from the best clubs of the best leagues are then recruited to play their brand of football. But unless the team is German or filled with players of a 'golden generation' they are likely to drop out on defeats and draws against Japan and Greece or whatever other team with sufficient talent and flexible tactics. Tactics is the key here. With the few games played in a World Cup and plenty of preparation, a tactically smart manager can drill his players exactly how to play the three group games to maximize their fortune.
The added benefit is this anticipatory preparation will likely create a great sense of purpose in the group. You have to swallow some of your pride to adjust your game to the opponent, surely easier for smaller countries and clubs, unless the manager can show some track record doing this. Then there is England. Neither a top world club, nor humble enough to adjust. Sweden, good but not great but certainly humble, has barely been defeated by England in half a century in friendlies, cups and qualifiers and seem to know exactly how to adjust its style of play to counter generation after generation of English teams.
This is why England should hire Mourinho before Portugal snags him away. Conventions matter not to him. He doesn't mind selling Mata, playing with aging forwards or putting defenders in the midfield. He utilises the players that can adjust to his style. In addition, the tabloid media circus only strengthens him as he deflects pressure from his players. He is the perfect fit for England with a new golden generation brewing.
Jonatan, Gunning Swede in America, (I can only remember one time Wenger has adjusted his style to fit the opponent, and naturally they beat Dortmund that day.)
Best CB Partnerships
Aravind, CFC "How good were JT and Cahill last night - game by game they look the best defensive partnership in the Premier League".
Arsenal FC Official Website "Arsenal have not lost a game that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have both completed since January 22, 2012.
I'm not denying that the Chelsea pair are playing well, and were vital in a great win last night. But they have serious competition for the best defensive partnership in the Mertscielny Axis!
Sticking Up For Brendan
In response to Dominic, LFC, Singapore, clearly there have been a number of occasions where BR has talked up LFC's capabilities in the last 12 months which have ended up with a nice juicy omelette on his face. But let's also acknowledge that he's also talked up the team's chances and then gone on to win matches.
Criticising him for trying to instil a belief in his players that they can achieve something great is bonkers given the squad he's managing.
Referencing Mourinho (incidentally the no.1 bull***t artist of modern football) as the example to follow doesn't make sense either. Rodgers has a squad that has basically won nothing and are predominantly lower tier players. Nobody expects or believes they can achieve glory, so BR is fulfilling that role. Mourinho on the other hand has a squad that is full of top tier players, arguable the best in their positions in the world in some cases. Everyone believes they could/should be achieving glory. His job therefore is to reduce that burden before they crumble from that expectation.
Basically, it's horses for courses and Rodgers is still trying to work out how to whip these boys into shape.
Nilesh, Harrow (Also agreed with Arvind, CFC, what's wrong with the kit men these days? How hard can it be organise dark v light shirts??).
I get that it was a great performance by Chelsea, where Jose got his tactics right and players old and new executed their responsibilities brilliantly, but the result was also achieved with a huge slice of luck.
Last night, City were without their best forward, and their second-best one was clearly not back to full fitness. In midfield, the player who allows those around him to push forward without exposing the defence was missing, replaced by a 33-year old centre back/Metallica roadie who would struggle to outpace longshore drift.
It's no one's fault but Pellegrini's that Dimichelis was relied upon - surely Milner would have been preferable - but it isn't the first time Chelsea have been fortunate in big games this season.
3rd Feb - beat City 1-0 - no Aguero, unfit Negredo, no Fernandinho (no Nasri either), Dimichelis plays
19th Jan - beat Utd 3-1 - no Rooney or RvP
29th Dec - beat Liverpool 2-1 - no Sturridge
23rd Dec - draw 0-0 with Arsenal - no Koscielny, although Chelsea not bothering to attack mitigated that very effectively
27th Oct - beat City 2-1 - last-minute Joe Hart brainfart
Throw in instances like Ramires' laughable point-salvaging dive against West Brom and it's not like they've been suffering the slings and arrows of misfortune is it?
I'm sure Chelsea have missed players too, but Hazard and Terry have played every league game, Ramires has missed just one, Ivanovic and Oscar only two. I'm not saying they would have lost those games above either, but there's no question their opponents have either not been at full strength or have gifted them goals when they've played.
Jose is the man who sold Mata to United when Arsenal and City have yet to play them, you'd think karma would be out to get him. The only conclusion I can draw is he's sold his soul to the devil.
Just to correct Adrian Durham, Ray Parlour didn't win only 10 England caps because he was ginger. Apparently it was all down to a run-in with Glenn Hoddle's faith healer Eileen Drewery.
Parlour, like all the England players, was instructed to see Drewery, only Ray chose to throw his England career away by asking for a short back and sides and was subsequently never picked for the national team again.
There's also a story that when Wenger first arrived at Highbury and there was a fire alarm, when Arsene asked the players what was going on the Romford Pele told him in his best Inspector Clouseau voice that there was a "berm in the building."
Ray Parlour - comedy genuis!
Graham Simons, Gooner and Romford Pele fan, Norf London
I just wanted to elaborate on the Eden Hazard mail from this morning. He really is something very special. I can't remember the last time someone at United when faced with a defender and their back to the corner flag, took on and beat the man down the line instead of the customary cut back or pass back.
Oh I can. Januzaj. He's the only one who has the balls and - let's be honest - as good as he is, he's not a patch on Hazard (lacks the pace for one). Watching Hazard do it, taking on his defender and beating him (over and over) is wonderful to watch. Oscar too. I'm very very jealous.
Actually it begs a separate question. Would I rather have Moyes with Hazard and Aguero, or Mourinho with our current crop...? Hmmm...
Guy S (probably Mourinho! Moyes would only put Aguero in a deep midfield role...)
Defending Ashley is your right to do, and I should respect that. I say should be I struggle to on the basis of your arguments.
Firstly how do you define stability? Whilst there isn't an inbox large enough to take my email on Shepherd/Hall failings, we weren't relegated under them, we didn't yo-yo from mid-table, to fifth, to skirting relegation, back to mid-table under them either. As for having the second longest serving manager in the league - so what? Pardew's cup and derby record are abysmal, and frankly under this owner these are all we're striving for (more on that below), so he ultimately fails on our only meaningful measure.
Our much lauded scouting system is great, if the intention is buy cheap sell high. Don't get me wrong, I'm as happy as any fan to see us build up someone like Cabaye, but I'd rather we kept these players at their peak. Buy cheap, don't sell? I'd take that. I don't buy the argument we need player sales to keep ourselves afloat - no one else in the league is following this strategy. Maybe because they get paid for their commercial agreements? Something Sports Direct, and MA aren't currently doing.
Therein lies the crux of the matter. The club is about making money, not sport. We don't want Europa league, cup runs or glory. All that's required is an 8th - 12th placed finish. How's that for ambition? This is not an angry backlash to (another) season of failing in the cups etc. but a fact stated by the club in their farcical fan forums. It was stated by the club: we do not prioritise the cups, we do not want Europa League football. There's little joy as a fan if you're not even really competing. As said by many before, you can't parade a balance sheet around the city.
As to indirectly referring as savvy to Ashley? This is a man who renamed a stadium the Sports Direct Arena, appointed Joe Kinnear and Dennis Wise, wrongly hired and then ruthlessly dispatched two club legends in Shearer and Keegan, bought Xisco and Nacho Gonzales (who? Exactly.), put the club up for sale on two separate occasions and accepted sponsorship deals with Wonga. One of the 20 richest clubs in the world was relegated under his tenure. He's good at flogging cheap sportswear but he knows f*ck all about football clubs.
It's rumoured 4,000 fans cancelled their season ticket renewals after Saturday, and Joe Kinnear goes. There's something to be said for fan power and maybe now is the time to stand. No one's asking for Sheikh Mansour but the Fat Controller needs to go and the only way it happens is refusing to defend his disgraceful conduct with our football club. Mike Ashley out.
Moyes Moyes Moyes
Imagine there's a fighter of some repute. He's pretty good at his level which is around the middle somewhere. He's not the best at this level but certainly considered to be up there. He's dying to have a shot at the bigger fighters.
Finally he has his chance! Out of nowhere the opportunity presents itself. He's excited, he knows all he has to do is fight like he's always done, indeed it was this reason he got this opportunity in the first place so logic dictates that all he has to do is what he's always done.
Against these better fighters things don't work out however. He tries his usual hits and moves but they get swatted away pretty easily. He starts to panic a bit now and knows he has to try something different.
Out of nowhere he tries a new super move and for a second it staggers his opponent. Has the corner been turned? The answer is no, his opponent wipes his face, laughs and floors him in one punch. The sad realisation comes to him that he has nothing else left to try. The best he can do now is just swing wildly and hope for the best.
You've just imagined David Moyes.
...Regarding @Reg_Draw's post about formations at Manchester United, that is pretty much EXACTLY the formation that Moyes has used in every game. Two in midfield, three ahead, main striker up top. The only difference is that when people have written the teams down it reads as a 4-4-1-1 rather than 4-2-3-1. They take up the same positions, problem is the tactics that are being used are in no way similar to Mourinho's version.
Pedantic perhaps, but to talk about a change in ways of writing a team down as a way to improve United seems wide of the mark. The issues are down to a mixture of individual errors/poor performance, and a bizarre way of playing whereby the attacking players are encouraged to 'get the ball wide' and 'put it in the mixer' in an attempt to fluke a goal in off a defenders arse.
I actually like David Moyes, but his issues aren't down to a formation, it's the selection of players, substitutions, signings, training and tactics that are proving to be the sticking point. Not too much to ask then hey...
...It comes as little surprise that Silvio Dante has decide it's time to cut short Moyes' United tenure. After all we've lost 8 times in the league, we're out of the domestic cups and without a midfield we'll be out of the Champions League shortly. On the face of it sacking Moyes seems the common sense approach.
But unlike Silvio, I believe United would be wrong to sack a manager halfway through a season. Generally I think any club should let a manager are through to the end of his contract. They have chosen a manager and given him a fixed term contract so presumably that is the amount of time he has been given to see his project through to the end. Moyes was given six years not 24 games and I would expect United to let him see through at least two of those years without real pressure.
I agree that United have been less than inspiring, I'm not convinced that Moyes knows how to turn it around and I have no idea what style he's attempting to impart on the team. But he's having to do so with no midfield, a hell of a lot of injuries, Rooneys contract ticking down and having brought in just two of his own players - one of which has been injured all season and the other that has only just been signed. Whoevers fault it is that our summer transfer window was an omnishambles Moyes deserves time to build his own squad and be judged on that.
Furthermore Phil Neville was definitely an inferior player to Scholes and Butt. I don't think I need to tell you how moronic you sound for suggesting that because of this he must be an inferior coach. I think we're aware enough of all the excellent managers who've had modest playing careers for me not to have to list them (I'm sure another mailboxer will though). And Steve Round is the managers choice of assistant. Just because you haven't heard of him doesn't mean he can't do the job. No one had heard of Carlos Queiroz and he was an excellent assistant.
Basically Dante, stop bitching and support your team. It's depressing seeing us where we are but as mentioned previously in the mailbox we have no right to be near the top it comes with hard work from the playing staff and support of the team and the manager from the fans who have it far too good for far too long. Remember, before Fergie we were about as good as Spurs.
Ashley (7 points behind Liverpool, it's on bitches) Metcalfe