That's if reports that Calum Chambers cost Arsenal £16m are to be believed. The English premium shows no signs of disappearing. Plus, worrying about poor Southampton...
Some supporters sound oh so confident on Louis Van Gaal's excellence. Plus thoughts on shirt sales, best signings, football sevens and a good deal more besides...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fanmail For Rachel
Rachel Langley scares the life out of me.
She really seems to take it personally that Suarez is the Player of the Year, and seemingly believes it to be an appalling choice on footballing grounds (moral grounds are utterly irrelevant, it's the PLAYER of the year, not the PERSON of the year, and besides, all of his bitey racisms happened before this season).
He's matched the record number of goals for a 38-game season. He's also top of the assists chart. And many of his goals have been ludicrously brilliant. For Rachel to rant about it in such angry terms in the mailbox - TWICE - makes me thankful I don't have to witness her temper face to face.
Will Graham (Yaya Toure dives. Therefore shouldn't he be discounted from the awards too, Rachel?)
...Twice now I have to read your prejudice mails on my beloved Liverpool. To be fair I have to agree with your observation that the POTY award is not the Golden Boot...well done, very astute. However the POTY award is also not the Nobel Prize for Peace nor is it the Humanitarian Award given out by the Elie Wiesel Foundation so the only thing that should be taken under consideration is performance on the pitch.
I could not gather from your mail whether you understood what POTY stands for. It stands for Player Of The Year. Now that we have cleared that up let's talk about a little thing called statistics...say it with me Sta-tis-tics, yes very good. If we hop on over to our friends at WhoScored we can compare the seasonal statistics of Luis Suarez and Yaya Toure.
Suarez statistics read as such: Goals - 31, Assists 12, Yellow cards- 6, Reds- 0, Shots per game 5.6, Pass % 74.9, Arial duels won- .7, Man of the match-14, Rating 8.47
Yaya's statistics read: Goals- 20, Assists-8, Yellows-4, Reds-0, Shots per game- 1.8, pass %- 89.8, Arial duels won- .9, Man of the Match-5, Rating 7.51
I hope that clears everything up for you...numpty.
Brian (STATISTICS YAY!) LFC
...Rachel Langley, my word, give it a rest! Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I'm assuming you're the same 'Rachel' who launched a tirade of abuse towards LFC in your mailbox entry on Tuesday. I find it quite galling that you've tried to negatively label Liverpool as 'overachievers' in your last mail, whilst bemoaning the POTY gong awarded to Suarez in this morning's Mailbox. What exactly would you attribute to their meteoric rise - Iago Aspas?
The Player of The Year award is not the same the Golden Boot award, no. But it's also not the same as the 'Most Outstanding Human Being On The Planet' award. It's true, Suarez is one of the most dreadful human beings currently plying his trade in the Premier League. However, he's also an absolutely outstanding footballer, dragging Liverpool (7th in the table last season) to second this season. Without his goals they'd be sitting in 6th position. SIXTH! Can you honestly say that the magnificent Yaya Toure has made as large an impact on City's improvement since last season?
Wind your neck in, honestly. You're beginning to sound like one of those horrible football trolls, losing sight of your own club's achievements because you're so busy hating on Liverpool. Haven't you got a league title to celebrate?
Kev R, London
...Is Rachel Langley related to Yaya Toure? That was an impassioned argument for the giant man to get POTY and he's been brilliant but let's not get too upset eh? Suarez has been pretty good too.
I've disliked Suarez ever since the whole Evra debacle and Liverpool's (fans and club) subsequent paranoid mollycoddling of him, the flat-out refusal to accept that he is a bit of c*** on a football pitch was astonishing. Now whilst his personality can be questioned, his performances cannot.
Suarez plays with Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and/or Coutinho. All decent players but hardly the same quality that Yaya has supporting him; Dave Silver, Fernandinho, Nasri with Aguero (when fit) playing ahead of him is the best line-up in the league. Suarez has played in a team with a cardboard cut-out defence that has been pushed by a progressive manager who has brought them up from seventh to a likely second (funny now how it seems fashionable to claim that this is not really an achievement) and inspired by players going beyond themselves and the ability of the best striker in the league this season, Suarez himself.
Suarez is basically the newer, naughtier Ronaldo - the player everyone loves to hate (remember how Ronaldo was just a flat-track bully? What a load of boll***s) and they let that get in the way of their recognition of a player's contribution and ability. Yaya has been immense but Suarez has been better and frankly POTY is not exactly the same as a League winner's medal, I'm sure Toure will be just fine.
If Suarez goes to Real Madrid (and I hope he does) he will tear up La Liga like wet toilet paper. Still a c*** though.
...For the following reasons is Suarez over Toure:
1) 31 Goals - missed first six matches of the season.
2) 12 Assists - that is more assists that Silva, Toure and Ozil. He is joint top on assists with Gerrard.
3) Ten goals in December was a record for scoring in one calendar month in the Premier League.
4) Four goals against Norwich - two of them contenders for goal of the season.
It's easy for bitter fans to hate him, he has had his moments but has improved his attitude this season. As for going down easy - Gary Neville makes the point that you can stay on your feet and get the plaudits from your nan (or Rachel) or you can win your team a penalty (or free-kick). What use is purity in a game becoming more and more ruthless.
Suarez is a player every team in the the league would like to have. As a fan, I don't know what he will do next and for defenders that must be a nightmare to play against.
Assuming he doesn't kill anyone Sunday in frustration at being so close to glory, it will have been a great season for a man who is the third best player in the world.
Somebody Loves A Rachel
Rachel Langley, you have exactly the same opinions as my girlfriend, and voice them similarly, with the same Christian name.
Are you writing under a pseudonym?
Fat Man Scouse, EFC (I entirely agree with your point too, Yaya is the best midfielder in the world right now)
Genuine Fanmail For Ena
I saw Ena's mailbox this morning and heard her call in to 5Live after the match last night. Can I just say that you are my favourite thing to happen all season?
Forget the 3-3 derby, beating Man U home and away, Ross Barkley, the exciting title race, Sunderland's great escape, Atletico Madrid, John Terry's tears. Hearing Ena call Lawro AND Savage to account and then listening to them back-pedal furiously was amazing.
Now that Paxman is leaving Newsnight I think you, Ena, need your own slot to call footballers and pundits to account. Please call into 606 next time Ian Wright is on. Please.
Well played, Ma'am, well played
Matt, EFC, London
Liverpool Did Not Throw This Away
I would just like to put some perspective on Liverpool season and the frankly absurd talk of Rodgers being at fault for them not winning the league/the team choking in the end.
There is no doubt that any Liverpool supporter will feel the pain at missing out on the title but there is no-one that can think it is a failure not to have won it this season. Let's rewind a bit and put some perspective on things.
Midway through the season, after back-to-back defeats to City and Chelsea, Liverpool were on 36 points. Six behind Arsenal and five behind City. They then went on a 16-match unbeaten run of 14 wins and two draws. If they win their last game against Newcastle, the second half of the season will read W15 D3 L1. That's 96 points over a season. One more than Chelsea's Premier League record of 95.
Liverpool will have dropped nine points in the second half. To win the title they would have had to convert that loss into a win and gone undefeated for half a season with a record of W16 D3. Over a season this extrapolates to 101 points. Quite simply, this would have been an astonishing achievement.
So yes they were in a position to close it out and they did not. But no one in their right mind can find any fault in what they have accomplished to put themselves in that position in the first place. Have some perspective, please!
Nick, LFC, Berlin
...If you offered any manager, fans, players, chairmen a guaranteed 34 points from 39 leading up to their final game of the season I think it's fair to say they would all bite your hand off!
The amount of shi*e been thrown around at Rodgers is unbelievable, the reason Liverpool were top going into the last week of the season is purely down to Rodgers and how he has the players performing.
Has he made mistakes? Yes. Have the other top managers in the league also made mistakes? F*ck yeah!
Some opposition fans are trying to claim we threw the league away when the reality always was we knew the results against City and Chelsea would decide our fate, we beat City but were unable to break down Chelsea. Chelsea have shown all season that they are up there and in my opinion with a change of manager for a more positive/attack minded manager they could be looking at a league title themselves. (Yes I know they also need a top striker)
As a Liverpool fan who can remember when we won league titles I can safely say this season has been fantastic to watch, yes we concede goals but we also bang in a huge amount and any real neutrals out there will have enjoyed watching us play most weeks as they will have done with City, Everton and Arsenal when in full flow.
In summary while am I disappointed that we won't win the league this year I would have been happy to be in fifth spot needing a win from our last game to grab fourth.
Dave (already looking forward to next year) Walsh LFC
Who Has A Plan B?
Watching the first half of the City v Villa game last night made me wonder if most teams really do have a 'Plan B'? Each team is set up to play a specific way and train during the time between matches to play that way it seems...City tried the same Plan A (play it around until an opening for a winger/full-back to get in behind the defence comes up) all the way through the first half without really changing it up. Eventually it worked but it did make me wonder what their Plan B would be should they not score when they did...do they have one, or are they just so good that they don't plan for anything other than Plan A.
The only alternative most of the time, and no doubt one we will see at the World Cup from the England team, is to throw on a 'big lad' and lump long balls at them. Are there any teams out there that ever really change it up apart from long balls (and I'm not talking about going from a four-man flat midfield to a four-man diamond midfield)?
Chris (sad the season is nearly over) W, LFC
B For Blooming Ridiculous
I'm sure you'll get plenty of emails on this subject, but I'd like to wade in on Greg Dyke's announcement.
While I completely agree that something has to be done about the state of British/English football, this idea of B teams is completely insane. What good is farming our youngsters out to some random fourth tier going to do? It doesn't make any sense - surely the new reserves league completely negates any need for this idea, given that only three over 21-year-olds can be fielded each match.
With all due respect to the clubs in the Football Conference, is throwing our youngsters into a league with ten teams of this level really going to improve them? Not a cat in hell's chance.
Instead of taking these, frankly, ridiculous steps to sanction the use of players, more emphasis needs to be put on providing a much higher level of coaching and facilities to kids at an earlier age, as well as a real integration of any professional training with a thorough non-sporting educational program.
Without addressing the more serious problems earlier in a player's development, enforcing a strict minimum '13 home-grown players per squad' rule isn't even remotely realistic within five years. All this cockamamie 'solution' is going to achieve is a significant reduction in the quality of football and footballers we produce in this country.
Off the top of my head, I would rather see the abolition of the loan system, or at least significant reductions on the number of young, homegrown players who can be loaned out by a club. This would stop clubs 'hoarding' these young players, or at least the number of them who are cherry-picked by the Premier League teams and then never play for those teams.
Couple that with a ban on players being bought and sold until they reach the age of 18. If a young player is released by a club, or decides to leave because of a lack of playing opportunities at reserve level then they would be permitted to move on (a minimum number of appearances would also have to be met in order to retain the player, subject to injuries).
I'm sure there are flaws in my ideas, but they're no worse than Greg's.
...It's clear that when Greg Dyke took up his job at the FA, he was convinced that his job was to get the national team to match the the Premier League. Having got down to work and realised how hard it would be to improve the quality of English players and coaches, has Greg Dyke decided to bring the Premier League down to the level of the national team? That way he can sit back smugly and say 'job done' while getting lauded by the press for his commitment to Englishness. Surely the point is to improve English players, not force mediocre ones on the top teams?
Also, if the top six teams had 30 home-grown players regularly playing for them, would they still be the top six teams?
Kirk MUFC (We've got plenty of home grown players and look how well we're doing)
Biggest Club? By What Definition?
So Man Utd are the 'biggest club in the world' then?
Someone better go and tell Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona etc...
Can anyone tell me the criteria being used to define this in football terms please?
It cant be European Cups - they only have one more than Nottingham Forest;
It can't be player signings: Have they ever signed a world class player at his peak?
It can't be stadiums: They have a small large one, if I could use the term, big domestically, smaller than some European standard-bearers.
It can't surely be brand recognition? Madrid are ranked ahead of them.
Would appreciate an answer to this!
Kevin, stumped in Dub
...I think what is going on with Man Utd is like South Park. How could they be the biggest club in the world? Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world, if Man Utd were the biggest club in the world, he wouldn't have left for Real Madrid all those years ago. It's a clever moniker so when Van Gaal says it is the biggest club in the world he either a) is playing politics, sucking up is a great way to play politics, or b) Didn't really say anything.
It is an empty declaration, if there is an official biggest club in the world, it is Madrid (and this doesn't mean I get a boner for Madrid, I actually despise them), but it's empty. The reason Man Utd is talked about in such a big way is the "You can't come in" technique used by Eric Cartman when he buys his own theme park and won't let anyone in because he wants it all to himself". Ferguson was basically Cartman, a little sociopath who wanted everything for himself, and wouldn't get the hell out of there and just kept on talking about what an amazing place this was and how it was the 'best' club in the world. And he wasn't leaving, so nobody could come in. This made people crazy, and he did it for 26/27 years and at least 20 of those were major gloating.
So United fans are RIGHT when they just seem to think they can lure the likes of Pep and Klopp because they are United, these two and others have just been desensitized, they are happy with what they have, gotten to other nice shiny places that keep them warm at night, that will be enough. But people like Louis, they have been chomping at the bit ever since they fund out they would be allowed into Cartmanland, they have bought into all of the hype and want to ride all the rides.
Oh yeah, the guy who got left to carry the can, David Moyes, is Butters in this whole situation. David Moyes is Butters.
Why Pulis >> Poyet
In reply to Daniel Yates's mail about Poyet deserving manager of the season over Pulis: The simple difference is quality of squad. With players like O'Shea and Brown (won Champions League), Steven Fletcher (cost 12 million), Borini (capped for Italy), and yes Connor Wickham (8 million) Sunderland were massively underachieving when Poyet arrived and continued to underachieve until the final five games of the season. (Where, admittedly, they went a little wild.)
Palace meanwhile were overachieving simply being in the Premier League. Our players were signed on a free (Jedinak, Chamakh, Delaney), or under a million (Ward, Speroni, Bolasie, KD). Many of them were rejects from Championship clubs (although Jedi came from Gençlerbirliði) and before Pulis we were 1-33 to be relegated.
I fear the cup runs are further evidence that this Sunderland squad was perfectly competent when motivated. The question should by why Poyet couldn't get them motivated sooner - indeed one could argue their recent results are less down to brilliant management, more a group of under-performing players suddenly realising their careers were on the line. This was no 'miracle', only an illusion, a trick of the mind. That water was wine all along, pal.
Max CPFC (Poyet is manager of the month, not manager of the season)
Excuse the vitriol, City are about to win the league with Liverpool second and it's not even Friday, so I'm having a hate the world day.
Adonis, yeah, Mourinho is the real specialist in failure. Forget that he won 20 trophies in the ten years before the two-year period you pick to prove your point, finishing the year before it nine points clear of Barca and setting new records for most games won, most away wins, most points obtained in any European League and most goals scored in a season. Or that he took a Chelsea side that was dumped out of the Champions League in the group stages to the semi-finals this year and challenged for the league this year rather than being 14 points off, whilst Arsenal did just enough to finish fourth (again). He's useless.
Talos, yeah Villa are going backwards under Lambert. Never mind he has a win percentage of 31.76 as opposed to Alex McLeish's 21.43 who finished 16th, since which you've finished 15th, are currently there now and can finish as high as 12th. It's definitely Lambert you need to blame rather than the mess McLeish made after inheriting a top 10 side from O'Neill and Houllier and Lambert doing well to steady the slide and not being given the funds to sign anyone of real significance (Benteke being a find rather than an established player). Sack him.
Dave Yates, I have less hatred for you as Poyet has done a great job, but Sunderland were an established Premier League team for seven years that had signed 19 new players, most of which were internationals. Crystal Palace had never survived a first year in the Premier League in four previous attempts and were a Championship side that signed 18 players mainly from lower-league clubs. Sunderland are safe with one game remaining and sit in 14th, being only the second club to come from bottom at Christmas. Palace though were safe with five games remaining and sit in 11th, rising nine places from bottom in October with the previous record being three. Poyet has an average of 1.26 points per game, being 46 points and good enough for 11th right now. Pulis has an average of 1.5 per game, being enough for 8th, above the media darlings Southampton. Poyet wins on the cup front but everything else says Pulis.
I didn't read the rest of the Mailbox for fear of rising blood pressure.
Angry in Manchester (going to spend the weekend in Livepool rather than Manchester... can't help but feel I'm tempting fate)
I'm all for ridiculing journalists, particularly those of the quality that seem to pervade the mainstream media of the country, but I think Mediawatch must have really struggled for stories today. Whilst Brian Reade may have beeen slightly over the top in calling the signing of Toure 'insanity on an unimagined scale', his analysis of the sale is pretty much spot on.
Toure was a defensive midfielder who scored a grand total of four goals in three seasons at Barcalona. Whilst maybe not a 'squad' player, he was certainly not essential to the Barca squad, both because they sold him and because he played never played more than 26 matches for them in a season. Also, it was pretty mad to sign Toure (as he was then, a defensive midfielder) for £24m as they did have adequate cover in the role he had been playing at Barca and, in any case, £24m and wages on £185,000 p/w is a lot for a DM. Indeed, it is only this season that Toure has scored more than six league goals since arriving at City, so to try and impose perfect hindsight based on a season so recent that it is still in progress on a legitimately held opinion typed in 2010 is a bit much.
I am sure the F365 archives hold reams of articles criticising players who have subsequently come good. Your most improved player of the season perhaps???
I am sure this won't be published as Mediawatch rarely publicises its own failings, but it is a rare occasion that F365 manages to make itself look more ridiculous than the people it tries to send up. The only way you can make up for this unforgivable mistake is by publishing an article 'players we got wrong' with quotes, dates and names along with suitable punishments for the authors for not being able to see their future growth and adaptation as players.
Matt (I advise sending Nicholson to a Miley Cyrus concert) London
Marshall For GK Of Season
From the poll on your front page - who's been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season, with the choices of De Gea, Szczesny, Mannone, Cech, Begovic.
It's fair to say that Cardiff have been pap so he's had a lot to do but, from a neutral's perspective, David Marshall has been the standout goalie by a mile this season.
Revise the poll please!
A message to Nick (gone a little delirious) Burgess from up here in Pendantry in the North of England:
1. Vinegar (both malt and balsamic) is a condiment not a sauce.
2. Olive oil is...well, oil.
3. You should not be using olive oil to make roast potatoes. They will not be delightful.
James (it's for your own good), AVFC
...Let's forget this thing called football for a minute. Someone has suggested balsamic vinegar as a compliment for strawberries. Either he cares about his football and is trying to get us all to appreciate a little-known luxury, or he is merely using football as a medium for a trick on par with the time that guy convinced Stoke to spunk £4m on Cameron Jerome.
All I know is, I have been left with no option but to pop to Tesco later.
Kev, (Edgar Davids for the United job), Dublin