A Mailbox that offers best wishes to a departing hero, defends Olivier Giroud, tells us to steady on over Calum Chambers and makes some amusing predictions...
If there's one loser in all the machinations at Man United, it's poor TC23. We have mercifully few mails on United, but lots on Arsenal and in particular Olivier Giroud...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hitting Out At City Prices
I was utterly shocked and amazed to see the ticket prices that Manchester City are charging for their game against West Brom next month. Yes, for the small price of £56 you can go and see the mighty Baggies against City. Now, I know most people are thinking 'well, it's the game of the season, who wouldn't want to go'? It is more than they charged United and Barcelona fans apparently. But it's on television on a Monday night. On a Bank Holiday when a lot of people will have other plans and commitments and public transport will be non-existent as usual. I always thought of City as a club who didn't rip off their fans and were more in line with the realism of today where people actually don't have endless supplies of money to go to a football match. They're obviously just as bad as the others.
I know a lot of Albion fans won't be going to this one. I hope City fans have the same attitude and stick two fingers up to the powers-that-be at City who have clearly lost touch with reality.
Liverpool Aren't Punching Above Weight
Liverpool have been playing fantastic football, are a surprise title contender this season, and are rightly being almost universally (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) lauded for both achievements.
But I'm not entirely sure how they've managed to somewhat successfully push the agenda that they're somehow the plucky little underdog in a crowd of tyrannical oligarchs on a blitzkrieg toward the destruction of football as we know it. Rodgers is piping up about the money City and Chelsea have spent while there's regular comments and mails about Liverpool punching above their weight.
Granted, very few expected Liverpool to perform as they have this season. But I feel that was more in spite of their presence as a club and brand than because of it. Liverpool are a global super brand with one of the largest fan bases in world sport. In the last five years they have spent a lot of money. Some of it on very good players. Some of it on not very good players. They have spent that money because they have that money and they can spend it. They have a hell of a lot of punching power. They are not punching above their weight.
Will (ok I'm just a bitter bluenose, but not that bitter) Wymant, EFC
An Arsenal Fan Picks His Title Favourites
So we are coming to the end of another cracking season and as usual I am a depressed Arsenal fan. So because of this I need to decide who I want to win the title. Here are some pros and cons.
Pros: Hazard is quite good. But no Ronaldo/Messi/Barton.
Cons: Mourinho is just a poor example of a human being isn't he? I've been watching that Hannibal show on the telly lately and I swear I can see some similarities.
Pros: They flog Man Utd consistently, probably causing fans to break up their marriages after one disappointing season following decades of dominance
Cons: Too much money! Honestly I would like to see a level league where anyone can realistically win, these teams are bad for football.
Pros: They are doing what Wenger should have done a while ago, challenging the league without crazy investment. Plus they beat Man Utd. Something Arsenal couldn't muster.
Cons: Suarez is a bit of a d**k, I would have still had him at Arsenal though.
So with much deliberation I will choose...Southampton. They are just a pleasure to watch.
Who is everyone else going to fanmigrate to and why?
P.J. (Once I develop telekinetic powers the first thing I will do is take Arsenal to the Quintuplet)
...Neil Henderson points out that many Arsenal supporters are not geographically tied to the club and so, he says, it "begs the question" of why do these fans stick with the club to face another year of disappointment instead of switching to another, better team. First of all, to beg the question does not mean the same thing as to raise the question, begging the question basically means using circular logic where you act as though you've already proven what you are saying when you haven't, and it is one of the most widely misused phrases in the language and should generally just be avoided.
Whilst I don't think it's time for Arsenal fans to give up just yet (they're just one top top striker away ...) and they should stick to their club in good times and bad, after the last few days I do think they need to start "supporting" one of the other teams above them on the grounds that one of them is going to win the title this year. After cheering each time one of them dropped points, Arsenal fans must now decide which is the team they don't want to win the least. Liverpool have less money than Arsenal so it would make Arsenal look silly to show you can win without a sugar daddy, and they have two good strikers and Arsenal have none; City winning would mean another medal for Nasri, which would make it look even more like he made the right decision to leave; and Chelsea's boss was mean to Arsenal's boss. So, Arsenal fans, which second team above you are now "supporting" and cheering on to win all their matches?
Respecting Guardiola's Swag
Really enjoyed Nick Miller's testament to Pep Guardiola's rather fantastic impact on Bayern Munich's season, and astonishing improvement, after such a vintage year they enjoyed last term. I often wonder at those who critique Guardiola and try to negate his managerial credentials by saying he hasn't taken over a team that needed building from complete scratch. Surely the only evidence he needs to point towards his excellence is the fact that at the age of 38, he was deemed talented enough to inherit an already talented Barcelona team and proceeded to maintain and improve an astonishing style of football, and enjoy extraordinary success. He is now repeating that success, at the age of 42, at Bayern Munich - inheriting a wonderful array of talent yes, but improving on it and maintaining that winning mentality and bullish, juggernaut-like flattening of opposition teams is just a joy to watch.
But I don't want to talk about that. Though I have spent half this mail doing so. There was one thing missing from Miller's piece. Someone needs to speak out about the raw Spanish sexiness emanating from Pep's every pore. This guy...this guy...this guy is the most stylish motherf**ker in football. Standing on the touchline with his coolly kept 'hey guys, I just don't give a f**k...or do I?' grey-trimmed beard, skinny dark trousers and pointy Italiano shoes...it's an inspiration Goddamit. I used to think Mourinho was cool. But Guardiola makes him look like a conservatively dressed, po-faced head judge in an upper class wine tasting competition who wears braces not because it's recently come back into fashion, but because to him, it never went out of fashion.
Guardiola is cool as f**k. No one comes close. Nick...do you have his number?
Jack, 19, London (Pep baby, we could be so good together)
I'm afraid I have to be the person to highlight this to Kieran, LFC, Cork...
Your team of Mignolet, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Flanagan, Allen, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Suarez, Sturridge sounds great. But I must admit, you would be the greatest manager of all time if you managed to get 12 players on the field for any game without the officials noticing it!
Paul (I am assuming you will have a goalkeeper and play with more than a single central defender) Man Utd, Kerry.
In Search Of A Lefty Right-Back
So I'm watching the Liverpool game yesterday and I'm looking the right footed Jon Flanagan operating at left back. Not really a strange thing. Liverpool have had Glen Johnson playing left back regularly over the past few seasons. At other clubs Phillip Lahm began his career at LB for Stuttgart and Germany, Gael Clichy is naturally right footed, Davide Santon is right footed, Azpililcueta has been converted to a LB by Jose, in the recent past Zambrotta operated both sides regularly. The list goes on I'm sure. Then the thought came into my head that I can't remember for the life of me, a left footed right back who played there on a regular basis, not just in an emergency. Not a single one. Can anybody offer me a suggestion as to why this is or are there a barrel load of these guys I have overlooked. The obvious explanation would be that there are more right footed people in the world, but I'm not having that as there are any number of left footed right wingers.
Shay (These are the issues that keep me awake at night) In T.O.
As a Liverpool fan, I am obviously delighted about how this season has panned out. I am under no illusions that neutrals are cheering us on- and really why should they?- but what I think is beyond doubt is that this is the maddest and most unlikely title challenge of the premiership era. Think about it:
-A team with probably only two players who would walk into a top 4 side (our strikers) with the rest of the team a mix of young and raw talents (Sterling, Flanagan), a player who was a laughing stock as recently as last season (Henderson) and a once world class midfielder who is considered past his prime and who has been converted into playing in a position that reins in his better instincts (Gerrard).
-A manager who hasn't had any previous tangible success and whose Brentian monologues have made him a figure of fun and very hard to take seriously.
-A team with one of the weakest benches in the top half of the table (seriously look at that bench).
-Liverpool fans being largely cautious and non-commital on the title challenge in a season where we are challenging for only the second time in the premiership era (we've been a lot noisier about our prospects in the past even when we were struggling to break into the top 4).
-A team that is scoring an ungodly amount of goals yet have one of the most porous defences in the top 10.
It's madness I tell you. And yet here we are. Love it.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda
Keep Calm Hammers Fans
Our future is built around the Olympic stadium, and we must be in the premier league when we move there for us to take full advantage of that massive commercial asset we have been so lucky to acquire. Sam, love him or loathe him, will get us there.
In five or six seasons times, we will (hopefully) be entrenched as a Premier League team, in the Olympic Stadium, with a huge chunk of debts paid off and Sam will be in his mid Sixties and likely eyeing retirement.
Then we can bring in a new philosophy, back to the days of playing on the floor, exciting football with (gasp) two strikers playing at the same time - and pump the Olympic Stadium money into the playing squad and youth set up (who have not produced a decent player for years now).
Please, my fellow Irons, don't boo the players or the manager - they are planting the seeds now, so that we can enjoy the fruits of their labour in years to come.
Tom, (Allardyce is not the manager West Ham deserves, he is the manager we need right now), WHUFC
Sounds Like A Mean Idea
Chris MUFC is onto something with his idea of a very, very public sacking of the Moyesiah. Although I think he severely underestimates the potential global viewing audience. Assuming the vast majority of the clubs 679m 'fans' aren't now bonafide Chelsea, Liverpool or City fans (about 50% of them I'd say with more lost with every hilarious defeat) then it wouldn't just be United fans who'd gladly sign-up. I think every single man-in-the-street with even a passing interest in football would put their £1 on the table to watch him get the chop.
Just think about what could be done with that money? United's debts could be cleared and the Glazers gone. They could compete with those nasty Nouveau riche clubs again given the United team of 2014 cost such an absolute pittance [and not at all more than Citeh's the other night!] and is why Moyesiah can't buy them a win. They could be competitive again. They could even get in a man with half a clue! Imagine that?
It'd be the must-watch event of 2014. Top, top idea Chris! Quite literally T'Internet could break in half...
Where do I register?
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
Team Of The Year
I've seen Ben Foster's vote for team and player of the year flying about social media today so I guess it's about that time of year, I want a go.
CF: Luis Suarez
CF: Daniel Sturridge
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Player of the Year: Luis Suarez
Young Player of the Year: Luke Shaw
My wordy, I hope i'm the first to write in with this and thus proving my credentials as a Moyes-esque football genius,