There's some big talk in the morning mailbox, which claims that Man United were right to sign Marcos Rojo instead of Mats Hummels. Plus, one Gooner's happy Arteta's out...
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...
You know what to do - mail us at email@example.com
Tipping Man United For Fourth Already...
Well then - with the embers of the last Premier League season slowly fading away into ash, the new season surely starts now? Manchester United blinked first and dismissed David Moyes, who was shortly followed into the queue for Job Seekers by Tim Sherwood. Manuel Pellegrini will be hungry for more further success, José Mourinho will be quietly seething at going a second season trophyless, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to build on a successful campaign and cement Liverpool's place amongst the elite of the division and Arsene Wenger will look forward with the sounds of FA Cup glory ringing in his ears and the monkey retreating from off of his back. So - who will be finishing in the top four?
I think this really does have the potential to be interesting. Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal will not accept slipping up, yet the appointment of new managers at Manchester United and Tottenham signals strong intentions to break back into the top four, particularly in the case of Man United. But, six doesn't go into four, so who will fall short?
I fully expect Manchester City and Chelsea to be in there, of that I am certain. They have far too much quality to drop out of the Champions League places and their managers are too long in the tooth in this football lark to let their standards slip. And of course, both teams will seek to strengthen and ultimately, with the help of their financial clout, acquire the signings they seek to bolster their teams. Incidentally, Mourinho will win the title just to annoy everyone, purely out of spite, because that's how José rolls.
I am also going to go out on a limb here and suggest that, barring a spectacular meltdown, Liverpool will finish in the top four. Although a lot will be dependent on how they invest in the transfer market and how they cope with the added Champions League games in their fixture lists, Rodgers has proven his quality this season and will continue to challenge at the top I believe. And delight us all with more Brendanisms.
Now...that leaves Arsenal, Tottenham and Man United. Spurs will predictably adopt a new playing style, which may take time to embed and although I envisage a strong second half of the season for them, ultimately owing to what I believe will be a slow start, coupled with lack of quality in depth, will cost them. A non-mover in sixth, but prettier football. And here's an odd tip - Lennon will be better because of Pochettino. Really. He will. But not Townsend. I think he will just keep running and shanking the ball and running and shanking the ball until he falls off of the edge of a cliff. Or ends up on loan at West Brom.
Arsenal are almost guaranteed to finish fourth. It's just an Arsenal thing to do. Any other final position in the table is outside the realms of possibility in this universe. Arsene knows. Then Arsene doesn't know. Then Arsene knows again. Then half the team get injured and it becomes 'what if...' and finally 'meh' and a comfortable run to consolidate fourth. Except - I say 'almost' guaranteed. Because I believe 2014-15 will finally be the season that undoes them. Time and time again, we witness Wenger's reluctance to invest in the right areas of the team, invest in the right quality, his failure to prepare the team to play in any other way than the one default mode they already deploy and fail to address the injury problems. So why should we expect any different this season? What is there to suggest that he has learnt from mistakes past and will rectify these issues? This season will be their undoing, and a fifth-place finish will theirs.
My tip is that Man United will finish fourth. It won't be pretty, it won't seem nailed on and Rooney will have an almighty strop at some point, but Louis van Gaal will kick this team into shape, unleash a solid 4-3-3 and probably only get one additonal midfielder of any benefit. Yes, he doesn't know the league, but he has plenty of experience and know-how, is well travelled around the top European clubs and despite us being told Man United are an institution set apart from the mediocracy of modern life or whatever, they aren't really that disimilar to the majority of the bigger European teams and that will be familar to van Gaal. And that'll be just fine because they will be back on the gravy train and celebrate with a schmoke and a pancake.
Adam, Reading (Also tipping Leicester, Hull and Sunderland for relegation. QPR will stay up. Let's make our peace with that now and hope 'Arry wheeler dealers himself into a dark and padlocked room)
Lampard For Liverpool?
For most of last season we've heard that Gerrard will not be able to play in every match for Liverpool with the league campaign, 2 x domestic cups and now the Champions League next season so how about answering that with (drum roll) - Frank Lampard?
Now hold on, maybe it's not quite as crazy as it sounds. Everybody knows (Woy, take note) that they cannot play together in the same team so how about a job share? Frank seems to be an intelligent footballer so I'm sure it wouldn't take long for him to learn the role and it would give Gerrard the rest he needs at certain times of the season.
Come on Frank, you're not quite ready for QPR just yet.
Jimmy (Maybe Jose could job share with Roman?) Spain
Already Getting Impatient For Moves...
Is it just me, or are there any other Liverpool fans starting to feel like this summer may end up like last summer? Granted, we're in the market for Can (by all accounts) who I, personally think looks a tidy player, but that'll mean the end of Mr Leiva unfortunately - whom I'll be sad to see go. I also think Lucas will be perfect for those tricky away European ties, but I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens.
This Lallana saga seems to be dragging and £25mil is a lot of money to spend on a midfielder with one good season in the bag. It stinks of the old 'English is best'/'pay over the odds for Roy's boys'.
I know it's only May, but I'd like to see Rodgers make a move quickly, hopefully tie up a deal for Greizmann/Konoplyanka then start the much-needed defensive recruitment and possibly invest in a striker that can knock in a few goals without playing well. I know Sturridge fills that void, but I think there's a lot more to his game than just putting the ball away - I'm of the opinion we need someone in the ilk of Dzeko/Inzaghi (a passenger until the ball arrives at his feet in the box.)
With regards to the defence, I'm totally unsure about who to invest in, do we go for experience or maybe plump for youth, maybe Martinez(sp) from Sociedad? I presume youth as it will fit in with Rodgers' philosophy and look what signing an experienced CB did for us last season - KOLO!
Who knows, but I would love for a few bits of business to be tied up before the WC. I'm praying our marquee signing isn't a nerve-wrecking CB again, that clearly cannot complete a forward pass without looking frighteningly awkward!! Maybe I'm being really ambitious as no other teams have made a move yet either, but Liverpool are notoriously late with transfer dealings and I for one would like to see it change this summer...
Wob - N.Wales (literally dripping like an egg butty in anticipation of the World Cup)
Stepping Up Is All About Philosophy
Given the debate about managers and how they would perform at bigger clubs, brought on by the signing of Pochettino, I thought I would put forth a theory.
Basically in my opinion, when selecting a manager for one of the top teams, the most important thing is to consider what kind of football he plays. Does he play a passing/pressing football, quick counter-attacking football or is he more adept at making his team hard to beat and winning from socing a scrappy goals?
In my opinion, a coach who plays passing football scales well when given the job at a top club. Better players and players are more comfortable playing passing football and are happy to play in a system that emphasises passing.
Problems normally occur when you give a coach like Moyes or Hodgson the job. They made their reputations being the plucky underdog, defending with numbers and snatching a goal. Suddenly when they are the favorites in games and supposed to attack the opponent and score goals, they are like fish out of water. Can't play their usual systems as neither the players, nor the fans are happy with dull defensive football.
When Moyes was hired during discussions with fellow United fans, I told them I'd rather United have hired Martinez and everyone thought I was crazy, given he got Wigan relegated. My arguement was his playing style would scale well when given better players while Moyes's wouldn't.
I actually think Pochettino is a fantastic coaching hire for Spurs. He plays fantastic football. And while I have no idea how well his team will perform, Spurs will play attacking football, press and be fun to watch while players improve by leaps and bounds. I would have actually been quite pleased if United had hired Pochettino but thrilled with Van Gaal who brings a lot of the same (though with a lot more experience).
Never Loved Him Anyway...
I didn't even like the moon-faced, no Plan B, cup-hating, Guly-loving piece of Owen-fouling Argie scum anyway.
Martin 'Fooling absof**kinglutely everyone' Ansell
A brief summary of the manager merry-go-round this silly season:
Tottenham have installed a manager who has never come close to the Champions League. Manchester United have appointed a manager with the kind of disruptive personality that allegedly scuppered Jose Mourinho's hopes, with a CV that is inferior. Southampton are being linked to David Moyes and Tim Sherwood (my heart goes out to Saints fans, really).
Across the channel, Barcelona have brought in old friend Luis Enrique who failed miserably at Roma. Not a surprising move given Barca's policy of inbreeding. AC Milan have traded one former great (not legend) for another former great (not legend) who will presumably spend all his time arguing with linesman about giving offsides.
And meanwhile Unai Emery is twiddling his thumbs in cash-strapped Sevilla. A manager whose only real blemish is a short failed stint in Russia, has actually won things, qualified for European competitions and has generally over-achieved with little resources in every team he's led.
I'm open to being corrected by regular Sevilla and Valencia viewers but is this guy on some sort of blacklist? He should be a shoo-in for half those jobs.
The mail yesterday about the potential for terrible, punning headlines if Liverpool signed Emre Can was all wrong. I'm already looking forward to seeing which new players the tabloids have fun with. If I was a headline writer there is one player I would be praying moves to the PL: Koke from Atletico Madrid.
There are so many possibilities.
OK Koke: When he agrees to sign for a club.
Chokey Koke: Misses the decisive spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out.
Blokey Koke: Caught in a compromising situation in a night club with a woman who turns out to actually be a man!
And then when you run out of Hokey-Kokey themed puns, you can just do what all tabloid headline writers do and just ignore the rules of pronunciation, and just use it how it's written.
Diet Koke: Ordered to lay off the pies after gaining weight during an spell out injured.
XXX has a Koke problem: Can be used any time a manager, teammate, opponent etc. has an argument with him.
Koke Canned: Sent to play with the reserves after falling out with the manager.
So which other potential PL imports have the same potential?
Sorry, But Some Names Have Been Asterisked; We Don't Like Being Sued.
My flat mate used to be friends and play football with Liam Trotter whilst growing up in Ipswich. In response to the mailboxers' question he has apparently stayed very down to earth and level-headed. This has led to me hearing some hilarious/disturbing stories about various pros, the pick of the bunch being about ***********. When he arrived at Ipswich it wasn't long before he declared he "would do anything for banter". This included being goaded into putting ********'s c*ck in his mouth in the ***** dressing room "for a laugh!"
All aboard the banter bus!
Will (cutting holes in a suit near you) CFC
...A few years ago I moved into a swanky block of flats in the centre of manchester that seemingly was inhabited by nothing but footballers - and an eclectic bunch at that - Giggs, The Nevler, Djorkaeff and Clyde Wijnhard amongst others. I became pretty good friends with Kiki Musampa, who in typical footballer fashion spent the majority of his many, many hours of free time trying to impregnate the local dolly-bird population. However, he hated any one knowing that he was a footballer, preferring to tell people that we worked at M&S. Should he get recognised in a bar or at a party, that would be our cue to leave. He explained that he found it embarrassing being the centre of attention or being given preferential treatment just because of his job.
On the other extreme of the w**ker scale, I once encountered ******** (and his entourage) in a Camden bar where upon having his 'do you know who i am?' chat-up line rebuffed by my girlfriend, got his mates to block my route back to the table as he piled on the charm by offering her a wad of cash to 'spend a night with an In-gur-land player'. He took umbrage to being rebuffed, started ranting and raving at anyone in the vicinity, threatening that his mates (but not him) would 'do me', before being asked to leave by the bouncer. For a brief moment, I felt a kinship with Premier League referees.
Fat Bob, Manchester
PS. I'm glad that The Neviller has found something to occupy him in his retirement. If he hadn't joined the punditsphere, he'd just spend more time patrolling the car park looking for unfamiliar cars to clamp.
Some Are Good Eggs
I wasn't going to write in regarding knowing professional footballers and how they have changed until I read the two entries in the afternoon mailbox. For the sake of humanity this email is being written!
I used to watch a professional footballer (currently plying his trade in the Prem) playing for my cousin's team from the age of seven. Well, I say he used to play for them, his dad/manager of the team brought him on for the last 10 mins if they needed three goals and not once did he disappoint! One particular highlight was against a team with parents who wouldn't be out of place on Jeremy Kyle and watching the going from 'Go on son, this lot are sh*t' to silence was humorous to say the least!
Anyway, he's now 22 and has been a professional since the age of 16, turning out for the England U-16 through to U-21s.
He was always a quiet lad who let his football do the talking, very committed to football, never had a bad word to say about anyone and always assisted his team-mates/friends to help them with their technique.
Now he's made the big time all of his family are driving better cars and living in nicer homes and he still comes back to watch the team he used to play for when ever he has a weekend off.
Basically. Not all professional footballers a knobs.
Steve (I just wish West Ham could sign him) Coatsworth
An Old Favourite...
If there is any evidence required of 'footballer douchebaggery' (trademark that PG, Liverpool). This video of Michael Owen vs a kid in a coaching video sums it up, Twunt.
On another note I used to know a few folk in Aberdeen who went through the youth system and when they started thinking they could make it they all started wearing alice bands...they now play for Formatine Utd...yes, Google them.
Al 'Strachan's TV interview last night was 'better than good' Reid