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...
That's the real problem they're going to face next year, says one Man United fan who's already looking forward to the end of this campaign. Plus, thoughts on neutrality...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
World and dog have been using sports psychology to improve the performance of their players for years, and now Roy is "considering" introducing one? He thinks "it's very important they're someone who is part of the group" and not someone giving the players a couple of lectures? No sh*t, Sherlock! Mental preparation is one of the four cornerstones of a well-rounded player and of a successful team, equally as important as physical, technical and tactical preparation, and it's required for every aspect of the game, not just taking penalties.
It's taken English football years to accept that technical and tactical preparation are important, and even then they seem to be regarded with suspicion in some quarters, always subordinate to the physical "just run around a bit". So at least it's good to see that mental preparation starts to be introduced as well. Maybe in 15-20 years' time the approach will start to bear some fruit.
Oh, and just three words to Mr ""If we can go to the final then it would be great for us. It would be an opportunity to win another trophy, and hopefully we can do that."" Rooney: No you can't
Thoughts On Spurs' Progress Since Ramos
Ahead of the return of Juande to the Lane on Thursday night, let's look at Spurs since Jol was removed for Ramos:
*We had 2 great strikers in their pomp who scored 80 odd goals over 2 seasons all done in front of a midfield of Malbranque,Jenas,Zokora and Lennon. We sell those strikers and have Bent, Pav and Frazier Campbell instead;
*We then have a midfield of Lennon,Parker/Sandro,Modric, VDV and Bale with not bad understudies who were not used enough by Redknapp to keep them interested of Kranjaer and Pienaar. In front of them we had Pav, Crouch, Adebayor and Defoe, none of them a 20 goal a season striker;
*Now? We have an unbalanced midfield, 1 striker Adebayor and we need 2 centre-halves;
*We lurch from Ramos (Continental) to Redknapp (bangers and mash) back to AVB and then to Dimmy;
*We have had Pleat, Commoli, no Director of football and Baldini;
*We buy 7 players with no experience of the PL and could have got Remy (even on a loan).We should have spent the Modric money on Cabaye;
*13 years and no new stadium and our chairman did Land Management at Cambridge; and
*It is time for ENIC to go. We would all take an Oligarch or Oil money if it meant top players, top stadiums and trophies.
David Harris, Sydney
On United's Rebuilding
I'm starting to see lots of rumours/speculation about who United should try and sign in the summer. This is missing the point. Rebuilding will be required, chiefly because none of the senior players who aren't having their egos and bank balances massaged on a daily basis want to stay to play under Moyes, but how can rebuilding begin when Moyes is still there? Entrusting Moyes to rebuild what he himself has destroyed is like giving a bull in a china shop some superglue and expecting to come back and find everything as it was before he had arrived. Moyes is the sole reason rebuilding is required, which is why it can't happen until he has gone.
Liverpool's Defensive Issues
Few good letters in the afternoon about Liverpool's back four but actually my bigger issue is that it's not strictly clear what our "settled" back four would be.
Sakho and Agger both prefer to play as the left sided centre back. I won't go into whether it is nonsense to think that playing as the right sided centre back is sufficiently different to make this an issue but they have started very few games together this season (partly down to injuries).
There is a decent chance Johnson will go in the summer. He's on a lot of money, he's getting on a bit and with Flanagan showing his promise and Jack Robinson doing well at Blackpool (aside from his red card this weekend) I think the transfer committee would be willing to let him walk if he didn't accept the club's terms in the contract negotiations.
And then we get to our left side. Fortunately Cissokho will leave and remove one opportunity to make every Liverpool fan nervous whenever he is on the ball. In some of the recent games he is often so open and one could be forgiven for thinking this is because he reads the game well and gets into space but in fact you'd be wrong; he's in space because the opposition team knows that if he's on the ball he won't be able to do anything remotely useful with it, so you may as well try and force Liverpool's hand into passing to him. But people who are yearning for a return of Enrique are seemingly forgetting that he's not all that talented himself. He made a couple of defensive errors before his injury and his place was by no means a certainty. Sure the alternatives have looked worse but it's not obvious that he would've been a more able replacement in my opinion. He's certainly not a champions league quality defender if that's what we're looking towards.
I suspect that Sakho will be good but it isn't clear at the moment whether he will avoid injury troubles. We need to get a top quality left back in this summer, I would love to suggest Luke Shaw but I suspect he might get a better offer from a West London club with an ageing English left back of their own. Agger has been very injury prone for a long time and Rodgers took him off this weekend despite Skrtel being on a yellow card so you wonder if he might be shown the door too. Toure should be a backup and while he looked a bit antsy on the ball recently he was quite composed early on in the season.
Who knows what the rest of this season will bring in terms of our defending. One can only hope that the mind farts which keep leading to goals will be phased out since it's getting a bit crucial that we win games to close out what has been a very successful season so far.
A Depressing Mail On West Brom
Well, I think we're down. Failure to beat Fulham at home. And we were losing for a large part of the game. It really doesn't get much worse, yet it's been the result of a season of woe where we have posted the division's lowest wins tally of a paltry four and contrived to draw about a billion matches, some from losing positions and some from winning positions. We even managed to mastermind a defeat to Villa after being 2-0 up. Other "highlights" include defeats to Norwich, Cardiff, Hull, Crystal Palace and Swansea. On the pitch, we haven't played a good first half of football ONCE all season and only seem to spring into some sort of life in the second half when we are inevitably one goal down. The effort and quality from the players has not been good enough all season, particularly offensively where we have a lazy set of forwards epitomised by Le Sulk and Anichebe against whom Andy Carroll appears the epitome of gymnastic flexibility. Even Berahino, I feel, is guilty of not working hard enough. Sessegnon appears to have a panic attack every time he touches the ball and Vydra, whilst a promising talent, is not yet ready to lead a line in the Premier League.
The single biggest factor in bringing about this shameful run has been the quality of transfer business overseen by Jeremy Peace, Richard Garlick and Steve Clarke. In their infinite wisdom, we shipped out Odemwingie (1 goal in every 3 matches), Long (1 goal in every 4 matches and going great guns for Hull at the moment) and failed to retain the services of Lukaku (17 goals for us). We've replaced them with Anelka (2 goals all season in addition to an international incident), Sessegnon (2 paltry efforts) and Anichebe (2 league goals) for the princely sum of around £12M (for us, that's a lot), alongside a free transfer on the highest contract in our history. Add to this the inherent awfulness of Lugano and Sinclair and the unfortunate longer term injuries to Foster and Vydra and there you have it. Poor planning across the board. Every Albion fan could see that last summer, new fullbacks were a priority and we signed no-one to rectify this. Key forwards were sold and not adequately replaced with the same level of quality or talent.
The fault of this lies with our management and structure. Under Ashworth, transfer targets were identified and brought in in line with our policy of securing hungry and talented, yet relatively unknown and cheap players. My goodness, how one man's leaving can really screw things up. Under Peace and Garlick, we have spent a record total in the past season in terms of fees and wages on incredibly lazy mediocre replacements for good hard-working talent which has been inexplicably let go. When we go down (which we will), I hope that Garlick is relieved of his duties, and maybe Peace should follow him out of the door as well. Garlick and Clarke were his appointments and he has had the final say over our atrocious transfer policy (which he has been extremely reluctant to sanction in the first place - after an 8th placed finish and a new record TV deal). I'd like to see Mel given a chance as his half time turnarounds have been tactically very sharp, although we have STILL not turned up for the first half and he has defeats to Crystal Palace and Villa to answer for.
As evidenced by our complete decline in 2013 and 2014 to date, and that of Fulham recently, is it possible that the loss of Roy Hodgson has been instrumental in both clubs collapsing on the pitch? Under Roy, I believe that both ourselves and Fulham posted top half finishes with Fulham doing some serious damage in the Europa League. Ever since his departure from both clubs, Clarke and Jol did not manage to replicate the organisation, environment or mentality instilled by Roy, and both have since been replaced with good managers, but the jury is still very much out on their effectiveness. This will ultimately be judged by whether both clubs stay up. A little sad when under Hodgson both clubs flourished to fulfil respective potential.
Richard (pride of the Midlands, we're having a laugh), Cambridge
Forgive The MC For Saying You Sound Quite Annoying
Following on from the email about Sam Allardyce yesterday I thought I'd add my two penn'orth on meeting dubious football royalty.
Whilst out for a beer or 19 with my friend to watch Wales ruin the French in the Six Nations I was unceremoniously asked to leave the bar for making a girl cry. A key tenet in any good night. Anyway, whilst remonstrating outside with the bouncers, a certain ex-Coventry, Leeds and Liverpool, penalty missing Scottish midfielder stumbled out of the same bar I'd been in.
"It's Gary F*****g McAllister" I shouted to no-one in particular, expecting this particular drunken helmet to receive no reply. But no, the follicly-challenged herp turned to me and stated that "Actually it's just Gary McAllister mate, and if you apologise to the lass they may let you back in". I obviously ignored his advice and merely shouted after him "No, you're wrong, I'm pretty sure your middle name is f*****g". Not really sure what the point of that story is, but it tickled me all day Saturday (whilst still drunk).
Thom (have since checked Wikipedia and it really is just Gary McAllister)
More Feedback For Andi
Following the email in yesterday afternoon's mailbox from Kevin Walsh, it seems like I am in a minority in that I find the pieces by Andi Thomas amusing. Too many people take football far too seriously, from the petulant millionaire adult babies on the field, to the angry managers on the touchline, to those within the media intent on finding controversy where there is none, and fans who overreact to the slightest little thing. Few people seem to actually enjoy football (especially since Dwight Yorke retired), although as John Nicholson wrote this week, there isn't always a lot to enjoy.
Then again, as the Guardian's Barry Glendenning often points out, football is a serious thing, and should not be the subject of amusement. Even so, when someone does write something as an attempt at being amusing, people still feel the need to comment and express how they found it unfunny, or (in the case of this week's Diary) that it/the writer is "scum". One of the best things I have read that Andi wrote was about the plague of banter, and at one point suggested its omnipresence online was down to the fact that no one wants to be seen as being humourless.
Presumably, what Kevin wants is profiles without humour, so here, I hope I can help:
Wayne Rooney is a footballer. He plays for Manchester United and England. He used to play for Everton. He earns lots of money.
Alan Curbishley is a football manager. He was at Fulham for a few weeks, but he hasn't managed anyone for a long time.
There you go, Kevin, that's Profile 365 without the Andi Thomas magic. You might like it, but to me it's nothing I couldn't have found out by reading Wikipedia.
It seems like Kevin's email - and the comments that follow Andi's columns - are part of a wider identity crisis among F365 readers. This is a site by and large for opinion pieces, whether it's the thoughts of a particular writer on a subject, or a weekend preview/review, or who/what a writer thinks is the top ten of a certain subject. Then, there's Profile365, which, as the name suggests, is a light-hearted profile of someone, so dismissing the writer for not doing tactics is like complaining that your car won't work if you take it to Wroxham and try to sail it up the Norfolk Broads. My use for the site is to while away my lunch break at work reading things about football. I don't want to read anything too serious, and all the writers (even ones Kevin likes) have a lightness of touch about their authoring style. I would be very surprised if I was the only person who used F365 in this way.
I suppose my point is that a world in which the likes of Andi Thomas are banished from football websites in favour of writers who prefer a dry, statistic-intensive style over something written to amuse, would make football rather joyless. Perhaps the fact that Kevin (and others) don't appreciate Andi's writing (and think he's "terrible") says more about them than about him. I don't see myself as superior for liking his writing when other people don't, just being of a different opinion.
Ed Quoth the Raven (Andi's apparently not doing Profile365 anymore, they're dancing in the streets of Luimneach), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
We Would If We Could
I like Andi Thomas's pieces. Please keep him.