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...
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Lower League Thoughts On Dyke's Plan
Some thoughts on Grey Dyke and friends' horrible idea.
1) Excellent English players are already playing for professional first-teams by their late teens.
2) So are lots of mediocre ones, outside of the top flight. Playing first-team football each week doesn't automatically turn these medicare teens into world beaters, they overwhelmingly remain mediocre.
3) If you do want young English players to play more, then limit the size of Premier League squads. This would force a lot of these young players out, to be signed permanently by other professional clubs, who might actually be able to reap some real benefits from developing these players, instead of temporarily farming them for Premier League sharks.
3) Even if we accept (for argument's sake) the proposal that this would help England win the World Cup, permanently running the day-to-day experience of football for the a huge swathe of the population that actually supports it financially by going along on a match-day would not be a price worth paying for a one-off event.
5) England is not a huge country in a global context. Pound-for-pound, in terms of population, its football team is already disproportionately good. Expecting it to be the best is not actually realistic.
6) The one outstanding thing at which English football currently excels head and shoulders above the rest of Europe is the strength, depth, vibrancy and support of its professional and semi-professional pyramid. If the FA had a clue, they would realise this and work to conserve it, not keep making proposals to destroy it by shovelling even more money and power to a small, disinterested elite, who couldn't give a shit about the state of the national team.
7) As F365 often points out, in the 70s, the top flight was full of English players, and the national team was a lot worse than it is now, in a much less competitive global environment. Simply "having lots of English people playing first team football" is not an automatic guarantee of success...
8)...you need to actually coach them properly at a young age. This is where the FA should be looking to improve standards.
9) Because of points 1) and 2), in practice this idea is basically to rip up 125 years of history and competition in the world's oldest and deepest league structure, in order to give nurture to the next generation of Wes Browns, Carl Jenkinsons and Neil Mellors.
Liam, Shrewsbury Town
...I'm a Forest Green Rovers fan so have never really thought of writing in before as the issues have never really affected me in the doldrums of the Conference. There are few upsides to live in non-league.
The football is usually poor and Forest Green shoot themselves in the foot so often it's surprising we even reach mid-table. But while you are watching this ou are always aware that you might be one good run away from league football, or that one of your players may make it to the big time. You always have hope, but for the league to be used as a test bed for the rich clubs would kill the league.
It might be brilliant to see the stars of tomorrow playing, but not to see them blunted. Teams in the Conference are usually big and physical, it's essentially a league with 24 Stokes (apart from Braintree, who are the Stoke of the Conference with takes some doing).
Forest Green, for the last few seasons at least, have been far less physical than pretty much all the teams in the league and we have been punished for it. We get bullied out of games and our individual performances suffer as a result, especially those players who are smaller and relay upon superior technical ability to get through games and make an impact. Any young talents who are coming from big clubs and playing against these big physical teams will have the same problem.
Players with talent will struggle as they are just not strong enough to cope, especially when many of these players will be 16 or 17 years old and may not be fully developed. When you're a club like Chelsea and have oodles of players on loan or in a B Team, you're going to be pretty ruthless if a youth player Isn't making an impact against these unskilled sides, despite the fact that these players may actually be able to develop into premier league quality players given time.
We had a friendly against Manchester United academy a couple of years ago and they played a 16 year old lad who happened to be a certain Adnan Januzai and he did bugger all against us before being subbed. He was just not allowed to settle from the start and I'm fearful that this could happen to the "English Leo Messi" or whatever the Daily Mail wants to call him, resulting in him being cut as he had 2 years in non-league football to prove himself and he did nothing.
Admittedly, players of a certain class often find a way round their physical disadvantage. But this takes a maturity hardly ever found in very young players and if you think they're that good that young, they'd be loaned out to a Championship side, not bunged into non-league. It's a bad idea for youth development and It's a bad idea for non-league football.
Alex (Forest Green fans are so rare you might have to publish this for novelty)
Footballers Are Born, Not Made
It's the coaching much much more so than it is the structure of the leagues.
The problem isn't (so much) with the league structure as it is with the coaching at an early age. Practice does not make perfect.......practice makes permanent. So if your football education is spent learning how to win at all costs and pass to the star player on your school team/play safe first....you have a hell of a lot of bad habits you need to unlearn before you can develop that perfect first touch/playing with your head up and picking out passes/thinking about trying something unusual/creative to open up a defence.
Good footballers are not born - they are made. To be truly great, they need to be made early with the right technique and emphasis on developing skill from a young age.
The "key players" who make up the England squad - their "stars" as it were generally haven't had to be loaned out all across the nation. Their ability was obvious to their managers at their club. Gerrard, Barklay, Walcott (at Southampton), Terry even Owen and Ferdinand a few years back....they were so good that their managers saw them at training and instead of thinking "I'll loan them to 5 different championship clubs until their 24 and then sell them to a yo-yo side" ...they saw them and thought - "the first team needs them". Good young players tend to get the odd loan out, but it tends to be at most one season, because its bloody obvious to everyone they have what it takes.
How do they get that? Good coaching and a willingness to put in the hours. I'd bet if you talked to their youth coaches they'd say that those were the kids who 1. Came to the academy at a high level (suggesting good early coaching) and 2. Seemed focussed and willing to learn.
You won't get that good coaching in the current England set up....because the nation simply doesn't have enough great coaches to compete with the elite.
England is far behind other nations in terms of coaches who are actually hold high level qualifications. Wondering why the national team struggles in this situation would be like the national health service deciding to employee doctors and nurses without any degrees and the scratching their heads when health outcomes are poor compared to Spain and Germany.
Premier League clubs not giving enough chances to youth is one thing, but the youth would force themselves to be picked if they were that good. The reason they are not needs to be addressed through coaching, not a b-league.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide.
Yearning For Sven
I think I'm alone here, but in the last few days I've developed a yearning for a return to the days when Sven ruled our national team. Maybe I'm just becoming more cynical as I get older, but I feel like supporting England was more fun back then.
Aside from that damned Gerrard/Lampard debate and his off-field antics, he seemed far more prone than Capello or Hodgson to throw a really random player in in an important match - like playing Jermaine Jenas instead of Beckham, which was always fun. Not only that but he used to try random experiments like playing Wayne Bridge (whom I'd like to wish a very happy retirement) on the left wing because he wanted to include him but didn't want to drop Ashley Cole, or playing Carragher in midfield just for funsies.
I've also got pleasant memories of Joe Cole's tenure as the resident no.11 - the goal against Sweden is an obvious highlight but there were others too. He was one of the few players in the England team at the time who had technical skill and could make things happen with the ball at his feet.
But the thing that really makes me miss Sven is his YOLO-esque (sorry, I feel dirty but couldn't think of a better phrase) attitude to the World Cup squad in 2006. Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, our first choice strikers, weren't fully fit. Peter Crouch had, in the preceding year, established himself as a clear favourite to provide cover, and with good reason. But after that... Jermain Defoe, an almost like-for-like replacement for Owen, who already had a great record when playing with Crouch? Naaahhh, what about a 17 year old with just twenty one championship appearances and 4 goals? Throw in the uncapped Aaron Lennon and inexperienced Stuart Downing for laughs too.
Lets face it, if we list the realistic pool of players from which Roy Hodgson will choose his 23, there's probably only about 26 in it anyway. That's boring. It was far more fun when there was always a chance that someone really random would get called up - Harrison Reed, Danny Ings and Will Hughes anyone? Course we'd do no better, but it'd be refreshing, right?
Dear Brian, The POTY is not many other things it is for the best player of the year as subjectively chosen - an opinion of who is best.
I haven't watched enough of either Suarez or Toure to personally choose but can totally understand Suarez winning it for quite frankly ripping apart the league singlehandly for a couple of months and winning the golden boot by a mile despite coming to the party late (due to many things that also aren't relevant to POTY).
However, then you become the best example in ages of the worrying trend of explaining (or more importantly not explaining) football by statistics. I want to be the first to admit I don't get it.
Let's start a revolution based on new clothes for monarchs here. Everyone seems very comfortable with this new world of WhoScored (Opta plus I'm guessing) but I just don't get it - which bit are we supposed to be looking at and when?
After all Toure scored 20 goals from a ridiculous 1.8 shots per game as opposed to wasteful Luis taking 5.6 shots per game to get only 31 - so Toure is the better striker, we must all agree on that? He certainly, according to your stats, seems to know how to pass a ball and in an aerial duel he's your man (if only one player jumps is that still a duel won even if the other one decides to back out last minute, wait and pick up the ball from the 1 in 10 that go wrong?).
So maybe it's number of goals and assists that decide it (oh no as mentioned it isn't the Golden Boot) and maybe Yaya was a bit busy doing the rest of his role to concentrate purely on scoring goals - In fact based on your argument I now know that a defensive player can't win Poty which (god forgive me for saying this) makes John Terry in 2005 a truly amazing player. What's left is man of the matches - I don't how its done now but used to be a random choice of whoever had shown 'heart' whilst it is no doubt a lot stronger now (and probably based on some other bonkers statistic) it still must surely a subjective choice as there is no definitive proof of the man of the match.
I personally have no problem with Suarez winning it and it often happens that after voting has closed other players start to seem a good choice but unfortunately PoTY is actually more like PoT3/4Y due to the voting timetables. Basically the reason for this rant is I got annoyed with being called a numpty for liking to make judgements on football based on watching it (or not) rather than what I imagine to be a large spreadsheet - a no doubt good looking spreadsheet but a spreadsheet none the less. Something that if is not stamped out will only grow.
About a year back, when Ozil signed for Arsenal, I read an article where the writer was asked by someone if Ozil was Germany's best player. He then proceeded to explain how Ozil was very close to being the best of all-time for Germany, but their best player was Lahm.
His argument was that while Ozil was incredible at everything, Lahm redefined the notion of a complete footballer. He had all the attributes to play anywhere on the pitch(vindicated by Guardiola this season). LB, RB, CM and at a push, one of the forward positions(also Ramos, to a lesser extent). Moreover, one could scour hours of match footage and fail to find a single mistake; Not a single mistake, over an entire career(sort of irrelevant now as he was overrun in midfield against Madrid in the first leg).
People overlook him quite simply because he plays in a less glamorous position. The same could be said for pretty much every great defender/keeper bar Yashin, Kahn and Cannavaro.
Suarez scored a lot of goals and is exceptionally good. But did he deserve the awards over everybody else? Let's forget the part about character here and look at the football.
Assuming the criteria to be contribution to the team, has he truly been more important to Liverpool than, say Speroni/Marshall/Mannone to Palace/Cardiff/Sunderland?
Or if it's sheer quality, has he really been as excellently, consitently awesome (note the mild drop off in bigger games) as Zabaletta/Ivanovic?
Suarez would have been competing with all these players along with the other attacking talents in the shortlists, had it not been for the prevalent bias towards goal-scorers.
IMO, it should be a player with an all-round contribution(when possible) and should have continually excelled beyond expectations in his position while also maximizing his team's chances, who wins PotY.
Considering both, I'd give it to Ivanovic (the only Chelsea player I'd want in Arsenal-not even Hazard tops him). Considering that he has excelled as a RB and CB and not been caught out ever and seems decent while maintaining the nous for the cynical, he has been better than everybody else.
Who Really Threw Away The Title
With a lot of chatter this week about Liverpool giving Man City the title, shouldn't it be Chelsea feeling the wrath? One goal scored and one point from two home games against two teams in the relegation zone at the time?
Those extra five points would have Chelsea 1 point clear and requiring a simple win at Cardiff for a league title.
Now that really is a masterclass from the new specialist in failure.
Good PR For St Johns
Faking injuries, a blight on the beautiful game - surely no football fan can admire this and with the World Cup getting closer it's only going to get worse.
So here it is, Blatter, Platini, Scudamore - I know you're reading so listen up:
Ban club doctors from entering the field and only let the St John's Ambulance team on to remove a player from the pitch as safely and quickly as possible.
Think about it:
- A genuinely injured player gets immediate assistance from a paramedic
- Non-injured players will start to feel such shame at having to pretend to a stranger who is not 'playing the game as part of their team' that they will stop faking it
- The St John's Ambulance (and no doubt others around the world) will get increased recognition for the great work they do
Laurence Garrod, AFC
They're Not Aspirin You Know
I have written to you in the past about my football dreams but I had a really weird one last night and maybe some of the readers in the psychiatric fields can explain this one. Here goes...
Its Chelsea vs Man City and all of the Chelsea players are sporting Rudd Gullit 1988 haircuts (or wigs I suppose) but one player, a certain Ashley Cole has a multi-coloured Jonathan King-esque afro that lights up and blinds the city defence everytime Chelsea attack causing panic in the back 4 and certain goals for the blues.
This happens again and again until I wake up in a cold sweat. Creepy!
Ashton Yarlett - CFC