That's one question posed in the afternoon mailbox, although it looks like the Japanese playmaker could soon be on his way. Plus, tipping Palace to go down under Warnock...
Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
You know what to do: Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
An Everton Fan Backing Liverpool
I have been an Everton fan all my life. It follows that I have always been anti-Liverpool. I was six at the time of Hillsborough and can remember it and the united emotion that followed clearly, but I was still far too young to avoid being more upset at losing the subsequent 'Stuart McCall' final rather than understanding the tragedy that preceded it.
For the next 25 years I have followed Everton through the glory years of John Ebbrell, Gareth Farrelly and Alec Cleland, consoling myself after the latest 2-0 home defeat to Bolton that 'at least Liverpool won't win the title'. I have always 'preferred' Manchester United to win the title over Liverpool.
Then something strange happened. I have been living in Bournemouth for a few years and been going to Cherries games regularly because a) I can walk there b) decent standard, especially this year, c) £22 tickets. They drew Liverpool in the 4th round of the FA Cup and I managed to get tickets. Bournemouth played well, but Liverpool were seldom out of second gear and won 2-0. Suarez was simply excellent, he seemed to have the ability to be where the ball was without ever seeming to actually move, and the behaviour of the whole team and fans were exemplary.
Maybe it is because of this, maybe it is the quality of football they are playing, maybe it is because three days later they thrashed Everton without relying once upon (myopia warning) 40-yard last minute free-kicks, penalties or Mark Clattenburg, maybe it is because of Everton's subsequent superb form, maybe it is because at the age of 31 I've finally grown up, or maybe it is the fact that Moyes' move changed my perception of Manchester United, but since January I have been totally unable to summon any ill-feeling towards Liverpool whatsoever. In previous years I would have been willing them to lose points, and hand the title to someone else. But this year I don't mind if they win or not, some of their play has been scintillating and if they are top after 38 games - they'll be the right winners and full credit to them.
So I'll leave the 'beat City and get in the Champions League but Liverpool win the title' dilemma to someone else.
Plenty More On Rooney Rule
I've found the mails on the Rooney Rule very interesting and would like to attempt to contribute. I believe there to be lack of equality throughout football, this is based purely on the evidence, how many black managers are there? How many black referees/officials? Chairmen? The same goes for anyone of an Asian background, our society is not equally represented in football. This is obviously an issue that has its roots deeply bedded in to football over a significant amount of time. I don't believe the argument that it is purely based on ability, a young Asian lad will not get the same opportunities as his white counterpart of the same ability. I think this is fairly plain to see.
This is a problem that quite clearly needs to be solved from the bottom up and while quotas for opportunities are not an ideal solution it is the best I can think of once accepting that there is a problem. I think that is where some of the resistance exists in that people don't want to accept that we still have this issue.
...I just thought I would add my tuppence worth to the Rooney Rule debate and the concept of companies (football clubs in this case) having to interview a certain percentage of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Candidates. As a "mixed race" person myself (Dad Black, Mum white) I find myself fully against such a discriminatory mandate.
Firstly, if a company has to be FORCED to interview ethnic people, then guess what? That's not the sort of company I want to be working for, Simple. And no, don't patronise me in to being put forward against my wish or to "try and change them". They don't like me because of the colour of my skin, that's their problem, I have no interest in making it my problem by working for them.
Secondly, how do you define BME? How far back in the family tree are you "allowed" to go? Imagine it now: "My great, great, great, great grandfather was black - I demand an interview!" It's Pathetic
David Aina, Croydon
...Oh dear, I may be about to disagree with a chap I have a lot of time for in the comments section. Minty, LFC. Well, disagree may be the wrong word, I hope he'll appreciate we both seek the same conclusion the Rooney Rule would be put in place to achieve. More managers of black and ethnic minority (B&EM) being considered for managerial positions.
To use Joseph Rice's mail as an example, should the Rooney Rule be put in place, as part of the merry-go-round he mentions would we expect Chris Hughton to be automatically included on any managerial vacancy list? Even if the board already have a candidate in mind? What if Chris Hughton doesn't want the position, must another black manager be found to be considered? Any black manager? When does that become seen as a gesture when it's principle is so important?
I am pasty white, there is more colour in a dead ghost than me, so I have zero experience of racial discrimination. I find the examples Minty mentioned abhorrent and let's be clear morons such as them are lacking the requisite number of brain cells and really should be euthanized or at least neutered for the greater good, but again am I only paying the issue lip service? CAN I only pay lip service?
My only concern is that this rule would be implemented at a time when I feel it seems less owners/directors unconsciously ignore B&EM applicants, because of the attention the issue itself receives, and therefore the rule would exist in name only as a tick box. Does the discussion over the reasons for the implementation of a Rooney Rule increase consciousness of the issue more than actually implementing it to be checked off? I know that such discussions can only be a good thing long term.
I should end by caveating that I would support anything that increased the numbers of B&EM managers and I absolutely don't want to come across as suggesting there is no problem because there clearly is, I hope he doesn't think I'm dismissive of his mail, I'm not. If Minty is who I think he is I'm reminded of a documentary of the development of black England players and a John Barnes story saying as he warmed up for his Liverpool debut he heard two gents, one of who commented 'I never thought we would have a black player in the side'. Barnes apparently went on, turned the game around with a terrific display and was subbed near the end, only to overhear the same gent say 'he's not as black as I thought he was'. Club and national legend, very vocal about the issue, but I recall he wasn't a fan of the rule.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
...Forgive me if this is an over-simplification, but if those hiring a football manager are actually racist, are they going to give the job to the black (or other ethnicity) candidate even if he (or she.. ahem) is the best person for the job?
It seems to me this rule does nothing to overcome actual racism if its present at all. Perhaps it forces those hiring to scour the country for the best non-Caucasian candidates? I'm assuming here that someone would have to oversee the candidate list to make sure they're actually doing this, or else they could just interview anyone they can easily reject.
The problem of the old familiar names coming up all the time is due to this thing called "experience" being valued (in some cases over actual results).
Perhaps a better rule would be that every job that comes up should have reserved interviewee slots for A) people with no Premier League experience. B) Managers with 5+ years experience outside the top 2 tiers, and C) Managers from the UK who have coached or managed abroad at any level. Maybe with these rules, you'd get young managerial talent of every ethnicity getting a chance to win a job where they might otherwise have been overlooked for Harry f***ing Redknapp?
Elty (Is it Sunday yet?) LFC
...There was a chapter in Soccernomics which looked at whether there is racism in football a criticism that was thrown at Everton in the 80's because they didn't have any minorities playing for them, the fact they were one of the best teams didn't seem to come into it.
Anyway the argument goes that if there is a low demand for a product, in this case black footballers because of market imperfections like racist managers/scouts/chairmen then the price for this product reduces making it cheaper. In essence you can get the same quality of product cheaper because you don't care whether they are black or white.
So a team with smaller budget could compete with the larger teams if they didn't share the same prejudices, which is how Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics were able to compete, they ignored the age old prejudices of he has an ugly girlfriend, he doesn't look athletic.
Basically if there was an outstanding minority candidate for a job a team lower down would be able to benefit from his ability until he showed this quality and was then given an opportunity further up the league.
20 years ago a foreign manager was practically unheard of but now 9 Premier League coaches are not British, England have had 2 foreign coaches and Roberto Martinez has worked his way up from lower leagues to managing a team potentially qualifying for the Champions League after his team won the FA Cup last year. Chris Hughton earned his opportunity after being a coach and assistant at Spurs and Newcastle, and then got Newcastle promoted from the Championship.
I am well aware it looks bad when teams hand management jobs albeit temporarily to Tim Sherwood and Garry Monk when they have little to no experience, but never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity, for example the Sherwood appointment, it is like you covering in the office whilst they are looking for a new gaffer (the stupidity was the 18 month contract). Also do you really think that Alan Curbishley is considered for every management job the papers link him with? If he was he must have a worse interview technique than Spud in Trainspotting.
I don't consider the skin colour of Chris Hughton until somebody else mentions it, all I see is a decent man who got my team promoted after we were relegated and in a complete mess. The fact Norwich fans wanted him sacked had nothing to do with colour it was to do with results.
How do we stop Racism? Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man, and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. - Morgan Freeman
Realistic Targets: United
Bacary Sagna. He's not world class but an actual semi-decent right back in competition might give Rafael a kick up the arse.
From a foreign team it has to be Matteo Mussacchio. Classy centre back who would be £20m+ were he tied down long term. Vidic is off, probably Rio too and I don't see the point in spending silly money on Garay who isn't any better.
As relegation candidates go there isn't much to choose, David Marshall wouldn't pressure De Gea, Caulker is no better than Jones/Evans/Smalling, Fulham have nobody, Norwich have nobody. I could say Medel but for variety's sake...Jordon Mutch. He has had a great season, and could do the job Darren Fletcher was charged with before his illness struck.
Erm...Well He's Been On The Bench 20 Times This Season
Of all the sticks to beat Nani with (questionable diving, hit and miss form, decision making), continually making statements about how he has started JUST 5 games under David Moyes is not one of them.
Many other websites and publications would get a bashing from Mediawatch for clever interpretation of statistics, so why F365 feel it necessary to have the piece in today's gossip read like this is an indictment of his form, as opposed to the fact he has been injured for 4 months is beyond me. It has been happening for weeks on end now whenever his name is mentioned
I can see him being forced out of the club, which is a shame. He may not be perfect, but at least he's not Ashley Young.
Why Tim's Getting A Rough Ride
In response to Ross Coughlan, Tim is getting a hard time because of the way he is, he wants to be one of the lads and a fan boy...he needs to be The Manager! When Levy chopped Villas-Boas, there was no clear plan of what the next step would be. It seemed that creating a set-up of Sherwood & Ferdinand (or Sherdinand if you like) would bring back the Tottenham style. It really hasn't.
Tim had it very easy to start, lost his first game at the club to Wham in the league cup...but after that, had a run of bottom half opposition, the only exceptions being Southampton & Man U away. Up until mid-Feb he didn't have any extra games to content with, no Europa games on a Thursday night. He had 2 months to get his point across, set the team up how he wanted and playing in his style. What has been served up is a mish-mash starting line-up, not once naming the same starting XI with the only tactic being "go out there and win the game". His attitude is one of "we're better on paper, so all we have to do is show up & win". He hasn't tried to address the constant defensive balls ups.
When things started getting a bit tough, he went into some weird mental state where he didn't know where he was supposed to be. On the touch line....in the stands. What Tottenham need is a manager with a clear plan & identity when we step out on the pitch, it's obvious that this is not the case with Tim. He's winging it with every game that passes.
He lucked into the job, but somehow he feels he deserves it and has what it takes....he doesn't, he needs to admit it to himself, go back to school, get his badges and maybe he'll get another chance.
Martyn (Maybe he'll let the world know where he's buried Lamella) P, THFC
...What possible reason is there to keep Sherwood after this season? Since Tim showed up he hasn't displayed any kind of tactical nous, or pattern of play, any gameplan and has been an embarrassment on the touchline (or in the stands) as well as in interviews. Added to that, he has no management experience, let alone experience in a top European league. I honestly think that (at the moment) his level is League 2 (no disrespect intended - to League 2 anyway).
He came into the club thinking he was Zorro on a horse about to save us all. But it turns out he was a drunk Zorro, on crack and with a retarded horse with 3 legs. He told us all that these were good players and didn't need to strengthen in January. He said that we could get Champions League but what he didn't tell us that his sole tactic would be to 'show a bit of grit and determination'. Sorry Tim, but that won't wash mate. Then to top it all off after the Chelsea game he said we were dreaming if we thought we could get Champions League. Make your mind up you tit.
He seems to have no idea of how to set up a team. He played 4-4-2 away in the cup to the scum (at the time when their midfielders weren't all laying on the injury table) which is stupid. He went to Liverpool without taking Woolwich's loss at Anfield as a reminder at how dangerous they are in the opening stages. His lack of ideas against Norwich and Hull away. Punting the ball up to Soldado's noggin at home to Southampton when he's about 4 foot tall and not renowned for his aerial ability was my particular favourite.
He clearly doesn't have the temperament to manage in the Premiership either. Throwing his gilet at the floor after 20 minutes in the north London derby is a perfect example of this. Chucking the ball at Sagna was embarrassing. He's also an easy target for opposing managers - look at the Benfica manager winding him up after they scored the third goal at WHL. That's not to absolve the players from any blame entirely - the majority have been awful and are either too thick or too lazy. Either one is damning.
I could go on and on but there are literally not enough hours in the day to express how inept Tim is, in every aspect.
John Painter, north London, Spurs
For me, Jason Puncheon has got to be given credit. You don't hear much about him or read too much praise in the media but for a newly promoted team struggling to survive he has directly contributed a lot. He has scored the only Palace goal in a 1-1 draw against Norwich, a 1-0 win against Stoke, another 1-0 win against Hull and 2 goals and the free kick that directly led to a goal against Cardiff. By my reckoning that is 10 points, I know some were penalties etc and someone else might have scored them, but they didn't, he did. And all this after that penalty against Spurs.
These are crucial points to us and so I'd like to highlight Puncheon's impact on our season. Who has been crucial to your season but has gone under the radar? I'd love to hear from some non-Premier League fans as well.
Watch Your Crotch
I swear Mediawatch is deliberately looking to make me a reclusive, shutting me away from crazy partners, cheating on partners (or even making them think I have cheated), getting into fights and various other reasons for penile mutilation. Now if that wasn't enough I can't even drink to forget my worries in case the beer makes me remove my member myself!
I'm going to die alone and sober...