...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sure, Van Gaal is experienced, but does he really have the track record to warrant all this excitement?
I mean, his primary glory as manager came in the 90s with Ajax and Barcelona. In the 14 years since then he's managed to win the Dutch league once with AZ and Bundesliga once with Bayern. Instead, his ability to be sacked early on in employments is more outstanding than his trophy cabinet.
More On LvG
Interesting article from Mr Storey, on the task before Louis van Gaal, I'd just like to make a couple of points:
1) Van Gaal was probably as long as 66/1 to replace Sir Alex for a couple of reasons; he wasn't one of Fergie's bezzie mates and, more importantly, he was on the cusp of a World Cup - I don't think many managers would turn that down, especially at his age.
2) In terms of recruitment, I actually think the job has been made a little bit easier for van Gaal, as the option to "play it safe" and rely on the old guard is being removed completely. It always seemed like Moyes trusted Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Giggs etc. because of their reputations, not because they were better than whatever else was out there. That 3 of those 4 are definitely not going to with us next season, with Evra's future still undecided, van Gaal's hand has been forced. Maybe if Moyes' had been, things might have been different. Probably not, mind.
3) I don't actually think we'll see quite so many players leaving this summer. Some of the peripheral figures (Nani, Valencia, Young etc.) probably will be retained until such a time as suitable replacements are brought in. I don't think either van Gaal or United would be so negligent as to sanction departures before securing arrivals first, particularly in a World Cup year.
4) I think too much is being made of the lack of Champions League, with respect to the potential effect on summer recruitment. It's not like we've been absent from the competition for a few years at this point - this is the first year in a long time that we've failed to qualify. Last season was a blip; one that will be attributed in the main to David Moyes' ineptitude. While some players might want a little more persuasion/reassurance, it would be pretty pessimistic to suggest our CL absence is going to be long term.
5) While van Gaal has come out all guns blazing, suggesting he can be successful immediately is a bit arrogant and may be misplaced confidence, but I would take that attitude every day of the week over Moyes'. Coming out before matches suggesting we are going to "make it as hard as possible" for teams like Newcastle just isn't acceptable.
Van Gaal does have a big job in front of him, made that bit more difficult because of the World Cup, but I feel much more confident about the upcoming season than I did this time last year.
Please could you all chip in and help the media update their perceptions of your team?
Reading pages of guff about the 'west ham way' is really quite embarrassing as the 'west ham way' hasn't been seen since the mid 60's.
Please help our delightful media, & stop them looking silly, by telling us how your club should be perceived and explaining what your club currently is all about...
Alex (Wishing for US billionaire to take over my club) Sheedy
If you supported a team, and every time you mentioned that you supported that team, someone helpfully informed you how long it was since you'd won a trophy, and used that fact to bash your team and your manager, then I suspect that you would say that you would rather have Arsenal's season than Liverpool's. It's a bit weird for everyone to define Arsenal by how long they've gone without a trophy, and then when they win one, to tell them that Liverpool's season was better, when Liverpool didn't win a trophy.
Maybe, like many things, it's about context. As David Byrne once pointed out, if you take a crap in a flower bed, it's fertilizer. But if you do it in your pants, that's just embarrassing...
What Do City Fans Think?
I wonder what City fans think of Yaya Toure right now? I see two potential interpretations for his actions:
1 - He really is upset at the lack of recognition of his birthday to the point he's considering leaving Man City. This would be unspeakably petty - a new low even for the profession of footballers
2 - He's trying to get an improved contract (far more likely). If so, why not just say "I've had a very good season, I think I deserve parity with the best earners in the Premier League, I'd like a pay rise please"? Does he really think he'll get more sympathy with the fans - or indeed with the City hierarchy - by inventing a ridiculous story about being offended about a perceived birthday snub?
Either way, it's an incident that paints him in a poor light. Short of sacking his agent and apologizing for the embarrassment his agent has caused him, I don't see how Yaya can come out of this with any credit.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London
Here's Your Answer
Seeing the news of Yaya Toure and/or his agent saying he wants to leave City because the owner didn't wish him happy birthday in person was one of those heart sinking moments where as a City fan you think, 'how has it come to this?'
When Tevez refused to play for us in 2011, it was relatively easy to forgive and forget. The guy obviously had personal issues, and we know Mancini wasn't exactly a great man-manager. Plus, we hadn't won the league for 42 years so we were desperate.
We can't let that happen again. It's embarrassing. A lot of City fans aren't comfortable seeing he club spending their way to success. But at least it means that for a few years until the owner gets bored, some of the best footballers in the world are running around a small patch of East Manchester for our entertainment, playing the best football we have ever seen (Benarbia included).
But how much enjoyment can you get out of it when one of our own players, who is one of the most highly paid in the world, treats us with such contempt? We should let Toure go. I know I'll never cheer him on with the same enthusiasm as before, assuming the club gives what he wants (a handshake, a pay rise, name a stand after him?). I'm sure PSG will take him.
This and the Financial Fair Play decision should be a wakeup call. Let's keep Milner as Toure's replacement. A player who actually wants to play for us. We probably won't win the league next year but we'll have a go, and if we don't so what? The rest of the country wanted Liverpool to win it this year, and if we keep Toure after this, you can understand why.
Rooney For Toure
Forget a hissy fit about a birthday - I'm more than happy to wish Yaya every day of the next three years if United can swap Rooney for Yaya.
I think the deal makes sense. Their wage structure is the same. City need someone to partner Aguero. An Englishman would be perfect given their sanctions and the fact that Milner wants to leave. For United, it's a perfect welcoming gift for Van Gaal. United need a beast in the centre and they'll get one.
I know it's not going to happen but if Yeovil Town and Colwyn Bay can throw their hats into the ring - so can United.
Budhaditya (Maybe I should stop sending emails after three beers in the morning)
I was reminded when reading your latest F365 Says piece ('End the season in form and the rest will be forgotten') of a cognitive phenomenon which behavioural economists call the Peak-End bias rule. This entails an individual's tendency to form his/her feelings towards an experience based principally on the most 'intense' parts of that experience (the peaks) in addition to the nature (positive or negative) of the very end of the experience.
If a team over the course of the season emphatically defeats it's derby rivals and enjoys a cracking final week of games, Peak-End bias would suggest that even if that team were to perform quite poorly in the remainder of its fixtures, the average fan might reflect highly favourably on said season.
Assuming the Peak-End bias rule to be valid, you might imagine that as an Arsenal fan, having watched my team get walloped/humiliated (definitely intense!) by Chelsea and Liverpool and later to win the Cup on the final day, I'm feeling pretty confused right now.
Calum Jones, London School of Economics, Gooner