Liverpool fans are seemingly resigned to slipping back into mediocrity, which in September isn't exactly ideal. Plus better Arsenal, Allardyce praise and an excited Saint...
That's the message from a Man United fan in the mailbox. Plus, thoughts on Paul Lambert's new contract, the Alan Pardew dilemma at Newcastle and lots more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a Man City fan and Sunday will be the best day of my life so far. That might sound staggeringly overconfident but it's not; you see whether we win or not, it won't ruin my day.
You see on Sunday I'm getting married. A real life actual beautiful woman with everything in the right place and the heart of a saint is letting me spend the rest of my life with her. We didn't know the date would conflict with the end of a massive season but it turns out that to us on that day, some things will be more important than the football.
Have a smashing weekend one and all and if Liverpool should manage to win it on the last day, there will still be one City fan smiling from ear to ear.
Steve Bradley (of course I'd very much prefer it if we could win the title too....don't mean to be greedy but it'd be a corking pressie)
Let's Go Back To The 70s
This season has been the first season the shadow of Financial Fair Play has loomed in into view.
It's been a season in which Liverpool have taken their title challenge to the last day, Atletico have upset the apple cart in Spain and Arsenal may well end their trophy drought.
Also we have seen Ashley Cole and John Terry cry as their season has ended trophyless, while I'm sure Maureen is crying inside.
The cherry on top of the cake would be throwing oil-rich City out of the Champions League rendering their expected title win meaningless.
And it's not Arsenal who would benefit, it would be Everton and after the season they've had - who wouldn't want to see them in Europe's premier competition?
If this is Financial Fair Play, I'm all for it but it needs to have teeth. We need different teams challenging for the top four and silverware - otherwise football becomes a boring cake-walk and who wants to see that? Give me the old mix of provincial Midlands clubs like Forest in Europe, the odd title win from my beloved Arsenal and cup wins from the likes of Coventry, Everton, Oxford and Luton (but not Hull, at least not yet) any day.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
More Fanmail For Dyke
I work in a big organisation. So I know the frustration of trying to move a massive project forwards while keeping lots of people happy and putting up with the antics of lazy bystanders who do nothing themselves but like to tut and shake their heads and generally denigrate the efforts of others...however, Greg Dyke is a moron.
Let's just go through the main points one more time, shall we?
1. Countries like Switzerland or Belgium or Sweden or Scotland - where domestic players make up the vast majority of top-level football squads - have no record of winning anything at international level.
2. I grew up during the 70s and 80s when almost every player in the old First Division was English. My idea of exotic was Avi Cohen. The England team in those days? Mick Channon, Alvin Martin, Mick Mills, Paul Mariner, Terry McDermott...shall I go on?
3. The greatest England team in recent memory (albeit mismanaged by a fool from Sweden) was the vintage of Owen, Beckham, Scholes, Ashley Cole, young Stevie G. etc. Even Robbie Fowler couldn't get into that team. And when did this team emerge? At precisely the time that the Premiership was being deluged by world-class foreign imports such as Bergkamp, Zola, Cantona, Ginola, Henry etc.
The most damning statement by the hapless Dyke was when he talked about winning the World Cup in 2022 "when I'll be long gone". Why will he be long gone? That's only eight years away. One might almost imagine he is looking for quick, headline-grabbing solutions to a problem he has no real interest in properly understanding. My own view is that international football is cyclical. You've either got a good generation coming through or you haven't. You think France winning the 1998 World Cup was something to do with Clairefontaine? Well, Clairefontaine is still going but I haven't noticed the French football team winning anything for the last decade and a half. We had our golden generation a few years ago (without the help of St George's Park or B leagues or any other silliness).
Unfortunately, we blew it. Just have to wait another forty years, I'm afraid...
...I have gone off F365 in recent weeks as all you do is find fault with everything you don't agree with. Disappointing.
Faith restored however with your analysis of the excellent Mark Chapman (how does Savage keep a job on radio?) and upon reading the mailbox tonight where your highly aware and educated readers point out that Mr Dyke is reminiscent of that other meddler over in Switzerland.
Mr Dyke - it's the fact we have so few decent coaches as to why we are so far behind. Fewer players are making to through the ranks because so few of the really promising kids get exposed to coaches who have the ability to open their minds and develop them the way they do in continental Europe. We were awful in the 70s and our leagues were predominantly English players.
I listened to a radio phone in a few weeks back when GD was taking calls on ways to reignite the magic of the FA Cup. This man who is in charge of our game at the highest level is completely out of touch with what we love about the game and is on the Premier League drug which is slowly killing the true essence of our game. My team however have successfully been weaned off that drug and will slowly drop into the coma of the Championship.
James, NCFC, Sydney
...Now, admittedly, my offerings are usually angry and/or sweary and almost exclusively irrelevant to the majority of the global football consumers. With this in mind, I can appreciate why so few get published. Greg Dyke's 'Staggeringly and quite obviously Stupid Idea' made me very angry and sweary so I concentrated really hard until Liam from Shrewbury wrote a much better and/or less sweary version of my thoughts on the matter.
If he could just make reference to the number of actual real clubs, that people love and work very hard to keep going, that would end up turfed out of the Conference and/or existence and resubmit we could probably pin this to the mailbox so that a few times a day we're reminded just how cretinous this whole thing is. Then by the time we've limped out of the World Cup to a country who actually bothers to coach its kids and Dyke's hype machine would be getting into its stride we can calmly refer back to it and point out what a crock it is and no, just no Greg.
Alternatively, could someone come up with just one aspect of it that, when thought more than halfway through still, seems like a good idea? I see no real benefit at all for anyone. Perhaps I'm one of those flat-earth types that Greg will soon be telling us doesn't have the vision to come up with something so half-cocked.
Cheers, Jim (or, you know, we could train coaches and have them coach kids like they ALSO do in all of the countries with B Team systems in place), Essex
...A little late to this FA paper debate, but as a coach going through my badges, I really wanted to stick in my two pennies' worth.
It ALL needs to be about developing skills at an early age through more and better coaching and facilities. Produce players who are better than their foreign counterparts, they'll get in teams ahead of them - simple. No restructuring required.
Yet the FA have got hot and heavy on the 'B' league and transfer system, giving us full proposals, but on the really crucial stuff around grassroots facilities and coaching have fudged things with a 'we'll get back to you'.
So scrap the player quota/B team rubbish and do the following:
* Put on more courses to develop coaches. As an example, as a Level Two coach, would you like to take the next step and enroll on a UEFA B course? In most regions you'll be waiting until next year at best.
* Stop vetting entry to higher-end coaching qualifications depending on the ability of the players coaches currently work with. The only requirement to getting accepted on a coaching course should be whether you passed the previous one - not whether you work with 'elite' players. We're trying to make them into elite players you buffoons! It's like telling a successful A level student they can't take a medical degree because they aren't yet working as a brain surgeon!
* Scrap the FA Level One qualification - a chimp with a pencil in its teeth could pass it - and bring in a new 'first' qualification for grassroots coaches that has some value for the players in their care.
* Make coaching a viable career path. If you want the best coaches working with our youth at professional clubs, pay them accordingly. Or reduce the cost of the qualifications at grassroots. Make it attractive, basically!
* Make learning for coaches flexible. Night classes/regular sessions spread over a year/intensive fast-track options...whatever works. At the moment coaching qualifications don't fit the modern lifestyle. If you want one, you'll often have to block book weeks off work - many grassroots coaches with full-time jobs, mortgages and families can't do that.
* Make funding available for teachers to train towards specialist football qualifications. It's the most common sport in our schools, yet many teachers have no specialist skills or knowledge in football but are volunteer 'jacks of all trades' (with all due respect to them, they do the best with what they've got).
I could go on. Fix the coaching, build more 3G pitches. Everything else will follow. Promise.
Actually, Not Lambert Out
Hello Mr Angry of Manchester. Please don't be so angry of Manchester. It's all gonna work out. At no point in my previous mail did I, Talos AVFC, say sack Paul Lambert. The 'Lambert Out' headline/subject matter was not of my choosing (thank you F365 for not only annoying one of your readers of Manchester but also for getting me in trouble - he/she has real life hatred for me).
You can talk about win percentages in comparison to McLeish, and finishing 15th as opposed to 16th all you like but the football being served up under Lambert is close to bloody woeful. At no point have I seen any real progression under what I assumed was a young, progressive manager who may try and play some actual football. Our possession stats week in week out are poor (have we had more possession than anyone else this season?), we lump more long balls forward than any other team, and we play without a whole heap of confidence. It gets a bit much after a while.
I'm just asking that we play with a more positive attitude, and not just with survival and damage limitation in mind. Unfortunately the Premier League has become such a huge cash cow that teams do seem to start the season with 'survival' in their minds so straight away the football will be restrictive/defensive and somewhat lifeless. Good coaching is what's required as the players at Villa, and all of the lower half of the league, are decent footballers.
Anyway, please don't hate too much, as I'm sure we all want the same thing.
Happy Friday, all.
Madness To Sack Fat Sam
With all of the mentalist club owners around, I've been pretty happy with the two Daves at West Ham. They saved us from administration, reduced the debt, got us promoted at the first attempt after relegation, managed a tenth place finish in our first year back and secured the olympic stadium. They are clearly sound businessmen, with the added bonus of being genuine West Ham fans.
But if the rumours are true and they are about to fire Fat Sam because the football is ugly then I really do despair. I can't remember us playing pretty football single Harry finished 5th with Di Canio, Joe Cole and Berkovic in the team. Do the fans really not remember the dross under Roeder? Or that we got relegated after Curbishley left because 10th wasn't good enough, or that actually Zola played long ball bobbins as well? Personally, I think a well-organised West Ham defence is a rare thing of beauty, especially in the Premier League, and I'll take that over yet another relegation any day.
West Ham fans, just ask yourself how quickly Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle got relegated after he left. Why do owners never learn? But so be it, we'll fire him in search of the West Ham way, realise it doesn't exists and we don't have the players for it, and end up getting relegated, again. I'm used to it.
How To Shut Up MegaBantz Man
Being a Liverpool fan I have had to endure my fair share of 'MegaBantz' recently which is all part and parcel of the football supporting package.
But one thing I do take umbrage to is the argument that this is Liverpool's only chance to win the league title, the argument usually goes something like this.
MegaBantz Man: Haha This was Liverpool's only chance to win the league, this won't come around again for quite some time.
Me: Ok, why do you think that?
MegaBantz Man: Well because City will improve, Chelsea will buy 2twostrikers, Man Utd won't stay down there for long and Spurs will spend money.
Me: Oh right so Liverpool have a transfer embargo and will not be allowed to sign players and improve what is already a decent squad?
MegaBantz: Er...well...they might sign one or two but then Suarez is off to Madrid, everyone knows that. ROFL!! Hashtag he's off.
Me: For about £100m?
MegaBantz Man: Yeah, probably.
Me: So are we allowed to spend that £100m and maybe add it to the £40m we already have in the kitty? Or suarez stays and we one of the best players in the world. Not looking too shabby is it?
MegaBantz Man: Yeah but Gerrard will be a year older and he won't be able to play two games a week, plus you'll have Champions League games to deal with.
Me: Yes and Sterling will be 12 months older and a better player, Coutinho likewise and if Suarez leaves Sturridge will be the main man which I believe he would prosper in that role, plus we have a lot of good young players out on loan that are to come back.
MegaBantz Man: Yeah whatever, I'm getting a pint.
Jimmy (Watch out for Suso next season) Spain
The Silly Use Of Statistics
Before I start this rant, I would just like to say I am a big fan of the whoscored.com website and the use of stats in football and find a lot of their articles really interesting.
That proviso over with, I found their article on who should be in the England squad a bit silly. For example the strikers included. Danny Welbeck has a lower average rating, simply because he comes on as a sub a lot. Their rating appears to give you the same score if you are used as a tactical sub in the 89th minute and make one pass, as if you are on for the full 90 minutes and only make one pass.
According to their own website, if you only include games where Welbeck starts as a centre forward, he has an average of 7.44, which makes him one of our best players. Why don't whoscored.com use this rating to make it a fair comparison, rather than lumping in all the sub appearances?
Similarly he has scored at about one goal every two games and has an excellent 20% scoring rate of shots taken and has close to a 90% pass accuracy compared to Andy Carroll who has only two goals in 11, a woeful 4% scoring rate and only just above 50% pass completion (do we really want to take a forward who doesn't score and will give the ball away one in two times he gets it?). He is in the whoscored squad essentially because he is really big and big Sam's only tactic is to hit long balls at his head, so unsurprisingly he wins a ridiculous number of headers. Given we will probably at least try to play the ball along the ball a bit in Brazil, personally I think Carroll is a ludicrous choice on current form.
Similarly in defence, Curtis Davies appears to have a high score partly because he hoofs the ball a lot. Is making that many clearances a game a good thing or do we not want someone who will actually pass it to someone when he gets possession. He plays a lot of long balls and is accurate with only 50% (so is pretty agricultural). Meanwhile Ashley Cole who hasn't conceded a goal in any of his last nine games against PL opposition and has a very good passing rate doesn't make it.
I feel like with most things, statistics can be really useful, but only if they have a good basis on which to start and whoscored.com's overall rating is clearly not up to scratch.
Mike B, Geneva (appreciate this mail might be too damn boring for the mailbox, but can you at least pass on to whoscored.com)
The Usual 'Pick the Kids' E-Mail
I can't contain my excitement for the forthcoming World Cup, and in particular England's involvement in it. It's within touching distance now.
I am particularly interested in the squad selection on Monday. I really hope Roy goes with the young, exciting talent that we have seen burst on to the scene this year. I think we can all agree that our chances are slim (but whilst teams like Greece can win major tournaments, I will always believe we have a chance), so this World Cup absolutely has to be about giving the young players who will make up the bulk of the team in coming years some exposure and experience in tournament situations.
This means that all of Shaw, Barkley, Flanagan, Sterling, Stones, Henderson and The Ox have to be involved. Admittedly there is not much experience among them, but that is exactly the point of the exercise. These players play week in, week out in the most competitive league in the world, against some of the best players about. They don't just hold their own, they excel, they stand out. If they can do it there, they can certainly do it at the World Cup. The difference in standard is not this huge gulf that people seem to suggest it is.
And if some of these players get limited minutes on the pitch, so what? As we've seen before, out of a squad of 23 players, six or seven are unlikely ever to play, so why take the likes of Carrick, Walker, Smalling or Cleverley, who have had dreadful seasons have never been and are never going to be top international players, just because they have more experience?
I can't help but get excited about the future for the England national team. The young blood above, along with established players like Rooney (who admittedly owes us a huge effort this summer), Walcott, Hart, Cahill, Sturridge, etc. who themselves are in or nearing their prime, is a great and exciting mix.
I really don't see why we are so down on ourselves? I'm not suggesting we'll win the thing, but let's go out there and have a go, and if nothing else we'll have gained some advantages for the next tournament.
Bring it on.
Russell (on the plane), Aldershot Town, Guildford
Now I love Mediawatch, surely everyone loves Mediawatch expecially when highlighting Savage's idiotic waffle.
But it seems a little harsh on Steven Caulker who at 21 has captain a Premiership side in a very trying season, to say he can't even oust a English Manchester United player from the England squad. Surely the English players who are in the big clubs' large squads who rarely play and get picked for England is an English issue rather than Caulker's, who constantly has wanted to play football and progress rather than sitting on benches at bigger clubs.
If more players were like Caulker there wouldn be a need for a B league.
Mike Oldfield's World Cup Ladder
For the last few days I've been singing '...like a World Cup Ladder' in tune to 'Moonlight Shadow' every time I click on your site and see the link.
See, I could be your jingle guy.
Summer Fridays Just Ain't The Same...
Just wanted to say thanks to you all for keeping us entertained throughout the Premier League season, now that it's almost over. Fridays just aren't the same during the summer months, with no Big Weekend and Cheeky Punt to distract most of us from work (not to mention the Mailbox, Mediawatch and Friday Quiz...my personal preference is to wait and read them all one after the other, I'm sure I'm not the only one...)
Dave Horgan, AVFC