Are pre-season tours really a problem? Liverpool went to Australia last summer and it didn't prevent them from having a good season. Plus, thoughts on LvG and keepers...
We have a long mail about the travails of supporting Spurs, plus Friday thoughts on Marko Marin, marketing, victory v beauty, travelling and vanishing sprays...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been a huge amount of protest over the signing of Moyes, and some of the things I have read about extra security by The Chosen One banner, extra security by the dugout, and incredibly, abuse being thrown at Lord Ferg at the end of the City game despite him bringing Man U unparalleled success, cause me to guffaw at the preciousness of the Man U fans. I understand that they think the club is in terminal decline and want to air their voices, but the news today that the fans plan to hire a plane to fly over Old Trafford trailing a protest banner takes things to a whole new level.
If this is true Man U fans need to take a long hard look at themselves, because I have read the Kubler-Ross theory about coping with death and nowhere in the five stages does acting like a complete twunt appear, and if Man U fans are really going to go through with this then they are doing nothing more than proving they are more of a laughing stock than the club itself right now.
Honestly. Hiring a plane, to fly over the stadium, protesting against Moyes!? Wow. Stupid just got real.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
The Only Suitable Response
Would it be worthwhile for fans of everyone else to club together and pay for planes showing messages of support?
Let's continue this merriment.
Diarm (Moyes In) Dublin
Liverpool Will Struggle Against The Best
I've been thinking lately that Liverpool could be in for a reality check when they come up against City and Chelsea. I'm a UTD fan so I may be biased, but still.
I see things got a bit nervous against Sunderland which has only reinforced my thinking. They've had a brilliant run and confidence has built and built, but the test will come when a team finally puts some doubts back in their mind. I can't see City or Chelsea having the brain fades or poor tactical set-ups like others have had, especially being that they have already played them this season so they will be very well prepared. These teams also have the man power to really address the threats and expose any weaknesses (maybe even boss them around quite a lot).
I saw someone mention the unusual tactics used by Sunderland where they fell back and had two lines of four defending... have Liverpool not come up against teams parking the bus until now? They've now shown themselves to be a genuine contender and they will be treated a little differently now in my opinion. This is also why a reality check could be dangerous.
Liverpool's attack is enough to terrorise anyone but if a good set-up to counter their tactics/personnel is revealed some more teams could be making it harder for them. I see it as the next test for Rodgers in how he keeps their confidence going and also how he addresses tactics when teams start to work out how best to play them.
I take my hat off to them with how they've gone about their business this season and part of me wants to see them stick it up those big spending billionaires back passages, but I can't help think it's all a bit too good to be true and some testing times are on their way.
Loving UEFA's Nations League
I'm a bit surprised by the relative lack of interest in the mailbox on UEFA's new Nations League idea. For me, this is potentially quite a significant thing in football news. Essentially it's going to be a Champions League for European Nations. I can completely envisage this competition being a big deal... not as big as the classic knockout format of the World Cup sure, but it could take on a similar prestige to the European Championships if all the countries take it seriously. In fact it could be seen as purer than the randomness of the Euros. Some ropey but effective teams sometimes win cups (Greece, 2004) but the cream generally rises to the top in a league format.
I think this is the first time in ages that UEFA have done something as sensible and exciting as this (and amazingly kept it largely under the radar too - I consider myself quite clued up on football and had never heard of this before yesterday). Think about it... who wouldn't be motivated to come top of a league between England, Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Belgium etc. The bragging rights are huge.... And as it's largely a league format (with some cracking potential semi finals and final at the end to decide the winner!) it takes away the randomness/ luck of the drawer of a cup format and the skew that one or two key injuries can have on that.
The genius of the plan though is that (as I understand it) it doesn't create any extra international fixture dates... it just uses them in a more meaningful, competitive way than pointless friendlies. Every country in each of the four divisions will be playing against other nations of roughly their standard... so there should be few mis-matches, and each country has a chance to improve and take themselves to the next level. Literally, through promotion. There will be no more turgid England vs Denmark or Germany vs Albania type friendlies (unless we drop into their division). And as England are in the top division, it means we get more guaranteed matches against the biggest teams Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland etc.
The Nations League idea already makes me more interested in international football. It remains to be seen whether it just means we'd have the tedious club vs country debate ore often... but I'd suggest that if countries take this seriously as a trophy worth wining, the players will want to commit more to their national teams. It's certainly an improvement on the current friendlies calendar.
I can't really see too much of a downside... so why isn't anyone talking about this more?
How To Judge Success
If you think about great politicians, great business men and great managers, they are the ones who had a long term plan to get where they thought their country, company or team needed to go. Something that people of this ilk never do is suffer from knee jerk reactions to setbacks, you never get anywhere if you give in to populism. Your decisions are no longer your own and you can no longer take the credit if things work out well. That said, you will shoulder all of the blame if you give in to the popular sentiment of the day and it doesn't.
The first thing a good leader does is establish what is and what isn't success. Once they know what they want to do they set about trying to achieve it. The first step in doing this is NOT working out how to do it, it's working out IF you can do it. Using the Premier League as an example, Southampton may want to win the league, but it isn't a realistic aspiration for them. So, if your leader concludes that your goals are attainable, then, and only then, can you begin planning How to achieve your goals.
Now, after a great manager attains his lofty ambitions his next challenge is maintaining that level of success. This is the really hard bit. What makes this so difficult is that the status quo never remains the same, everybody is trying to knock you off your perch. There are only a handful of managers have done this, such is the difficulty of being successful over a long period of time. When a great manager is usurped by a challenger or challengers he has to go back to basics.
Can I win again? And if so, how?
This brings me to Arsene Wenger. He had great success but he has been forced to re-evaluate his teams circumstances, the ground under his feet has moved a long way in the last nine years. The reality for Arsenal is that they cannot yet EXPECT to win the Premier League, and neither can their fans or the media. That is a realistic appraisal of their current situation, and if the fans and the media looked at it in a realistic and practical way they too would accept the situation as it is.
You cannot EXPECT Arsenal to finish above teams that are bankrolled by billionaires, you are a fool if you do. The only team to finish above Arsene Wenger's Arsenal in the last 17 years that wasn't spending someone else's money is Manchester United (that of course may change this season), and from a revenue point of view Arsenal don't come anywhere close to United. At the end of the day Arsenal finish where they should finish, they made a long term financial decision (the stadium) which they knew would prevent them from winning the Premier League for an extended period of time, that's just a fact, but it's a fact that a lot of people don't acknowledge when they criticize the manager and the club. The majority of judgments are made after a bad result, but frankly that's not when professional people make their judgments. The professional person waits to see the whole picture and then makes a judgment.
The club chose to build the stadium so therefore the club chose not to win the Premier League for an extended period of time, it's that simple. The bar for success at the club was lowered to incorporate the lack of spending. Next season will be the real acid test for club because the money really starts rolling in from the new Puma deal and the stadium will be almost paid for, this year we just wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we have. If you look at the squad for this season (including Mesut Ozil) it was still only the third or fourth strongest in the league, and that's exactly where they will finish, third or fourth. Listening to football fans and the media on this subject is very much akin to listening to my teenage daughter, she wants it now, she wants it because someone else has got it, and she can't understand why she can't just spend someone else's money to get it. On the plus side I know that she'll grow up, and I'm fairly certain she'll appreciate the fact that I gave her a solid foundation to work with in the future. Not sure I can say the same about the media or some so-called fans. Be careful what you wish for fellow Arsenal fans, you might get it.
Football And Arranged Marriage
In my part of the world, the concept of an 'arranged marriage' is quite relevant. What this means is, your parents pick who you'll marry. In some cases, it's often decided at a very early stage. You could quite easily find first cousins (it's an archaic, but still seen custom), only a few years of age, already 'engaged' by their parents' decision.
The concept of having your spouse chosen for you may seem odd. But divorce, is an unheard of concept, with almost all marriages ending happily.
What this shows us is that the identity of being the one meant(albeit not chosen) for you, is enough to make you deeply bond (if not fall in love in the traditional sense) with anyone. By virtue of birth, your were symbolically married before you could even speak. You don't bother if they're unattractive, unintelligent or uninteresting to the world. To you, they're all you know and all you'll ever want.
Now falling in love doesn't happen so readily to all of us. We have to search, interact and wait for things to 'click'. Granted, we are more likely to fall in love with a stunning, exotic, intelligent, talented knockout, but most of us do eventually find the one and plan for the rest of our lives with them. Now if that girl, for some reason disappoints, like a petty argument or something else, it doesn't make her any less special. You're in love and that won't change.
I understand that falling in love and following a club are not the same thing, but this answers Niel from Scotland and his question. No, I don't have a local club (it's more about the academies/groups rather than geography here), but I support Arsenal. Yes, they were a relevant, established club always on the cusp of success. But that's not why I still follow them. Sure, they're a mess right now, but why should I stop following for that?
Most of us 'plastics' are aware that by being able to choose, we get a better run at being a fan than most others. I know that even if Arsenal got relegated, heck insolvent, and ceased to exist tomorrow, I still would have seen more success than a supporter of say, Exeter.
To us it's a commitment, not by birth, but by choice. We take pride in sticking to our guns. We know that the sorrow of today, would be more than compensated for if we stuck around for success. Moving to another club won't make us happy.To be truly happy, we have to have had experienced at least some sorrow. And most of us know that.
Girish(not that we wouldn't complain, though), AFC, Chennai
Glory-Hunting Is Just Less Enjoyable
In response to Neil Henderson and his suggestion that logic dictates that a 'global' fan should be 'glory hunting' because a real connection to any global team is lacking. Fortunately, logic and sports fandom are as opposite as opposite can be.
We all have watched some games between teams that we never identify with (supporting wise), and usually we seem to pick a team that we want wining for some arbitrary reasons, maybe the style football, being the underdogs, or maybe for being the favorites (glory hunting?), etc. Nonetheless, we never get overly joyous or disappointed by a result. A connectedness is lacking. The fan experience is lacking. The game means less to us.
The intense experience of supporting a team through thick and thin offers much more. It gives a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a community. Being a sports fan actually improves social life, even for the 'global' fan, some of whom are more fanatic than the locals, believe it or not! Being a fan provides a reason to identify with other fans, a feeling that they share the same 'values.' An illusion, but a beautiful one!
A fan is comfortable expressing all sorts of emotions in support of a team, despite being illogical in investing such emotions for a bunch of over paid people kicking a ball around! Being a 'supporter' provides a distraction from real life, a much needed one!
The sports industry is based on the biases and irrationality of human behavior. Without it, football would not be the game that is today. Football is absurd, because we are! And that's why we love it!
A.I. Alaskar, Saudi Arabia (LFC, through thick and thin)
The headline on the mailbox link (at the time of writing) asks "who do you want to win the league now, gooners?" Really? Liverpool, Chelsea or Citeh???
I'd like to quote Zlatan at this point and say, "I don't give a sh*t who wins, I'm going on a holiday."
Mr Green, AFC
More Of A Klopp Man Eh?
It is very disturbing to engage in reading a football website and see that you would publish a guy fawning over Guardiola's "raw spanish sexiness emanating from every pore".. that's just embarrasing to print. Then describing every single aspect of him being allegedly so irresistible in such painstaking detail that just makes you want to vomit.
I was thinking it was hillarious coming from a woman but people seriously... you do a disservice to your "football" site when you engage in publishing these embarrasing mails under a pretense of modernity.
Raúl H. García (unless a woman nowadays is called "jack") Liverpool FC 1892-YNWA
Question For Everton Fans
It's the last game of the seaon, you go into it level on points with Arsenal for 4th spot and Liverpool go into it level on points with City/Chelsea for the title.
My question is, would you give up a Champions League spot if it also meant that Liverpool would not win league? And likewise, would you take the CL spot if it also meant that Liverpool would win the title and with that, all of the attention on Merseyside?
John Whelan, Dublin