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...
You know what to do - mail us at email@example.com
To borrow a format from Viz's Top Tips: Liverpool fans, save time by not bothering to include 'LFC' in your mailbox signature. It's always blindingly obvious.
Hendo And Sturridge? No Thanks
Having just read the F365 article on Henderson, and numerous other articles on Henderson and Sturridge in particular, I'm beginning to wonder whether we approaching this WC with the same narrow-minded view of England as the centre of the world.
I've just read how Henderson's energy and sprinting capability is going to a valuable asset in the WC. Really? In the heart of the Amazon jungle against a team renowned for their technical ability? Henderson will be on his last legs by half-time. This is a WC that cries out for ball retention abilities - didn't we learn anything from Japorea, when the lack of ball retention abilities in sweltering heat cost us a QF against Brazil. Anyone who watched the Citeh game will have seen that for all his other abilities, ball control and retention is not one of them.
And regarding Sturridge, again I'm at a loss to see how the public image (dare I say 'myth') of Sturridge's abilities outstrips the record. Let's be candid, the Premier League this year had perhaps three high-quality teams - Citeh, Chelsea and Liverpool. Sturridge managed to avoid half the games against Citeh and Chelsea through injury, and was basically a passenger in the two games he did play. I personally have yet to see Sturridge perform in a big game.
And yet we read day in, day out, how we should consider not playing Rooney and Wilshere in their best positions to accommodate Henderson and Sturridge - I just don't get it.
Wilshere, My Arse
Jack Wilshere doesn't have an ounce of the discipline required to partner Gerrard against Italy. If we need someone to do Gerrard's running and disrupt the opponents' rhythm then Scholes may have a point in plumping for the guy who's done that excellently all season.
Then again, if for some reason we need someone to injure himself playing pointless one-twos before running into a blue shirt and falling over, at least we'll have 'lil Jack to come off the bench.
Dear Jonathan Jones...
Put those claws away my dear before you do someone or yourself some serious damage!!
Since when did having an opinion, which differs to yours, instantly become having an axe to grind??!
If there was someone who would probably be quite content with his lot I imagine it would be a guy who has got a trophy cabinet bigger than your mum's living room!
Anyway, you see your attack doesn't really make sense, it's got your panties in a twist that he's 'bottled' interviews for the last 20 years (most laughable point used to put someone down ever by the way!), but now he's given an interview it seems those panties have started cutting off actual blood supply!
If you took your Arsenal fan boy rose tinted spectacles off for a second, you'd see Wilshere has played approximately a pico-second of football in 2014, whereas Jordan Henderson had an instrumental part in almost (praise the lord) securing Liverpool the league title.
If there was evidence Wilshere had improved since 2010 then fair enough, but as his limbs seem to be made out of soggy balsa wood he's never on the pitch consistently enough to improve his game.
Plus, in those games where Jacky boy has held his own apparently against Brazil (in a friendly!) and Barcelona, I'm sorry but I don't remember him actually being any good.
I didn't realise you could bottle retirement though, so thanks to opening my eyes to that one!!
Phill Thomas - Yes I realise I've just ground an axe, if that's even a thing
...Does Jonathan Jones not see the irony in calling Scholes a bottler when he's an Arsenal fan?
I mean, Wilshere and co. bottled the title race (yet again) did their best to bottle the Cup Final and have been doing it for eight years. It's basically one of Wilshere's specialist subjects by now.
Jonny. MUFC. (not bottlers, just sh*t)
...I was going to reply to Jonathan Jones and suggest that 11 Premier League titles, five domestic cups, two Champions League titles and numerous late and important goals would demonstrate that Paul Scholes is not a bottler, but then with Jonathan being an Arsenal fan, that is an area he is an expert in, so what do I know?
We should probably start Jonjo Shelvey in the England team too since he also scored one of the goals of the season and that is so important.
To get to a decent stage in the World Cup, England will have to beat teams better than them, and that will likely involve a different strategy that beating Fulham, and it might be that different teams require different tactics and have different roles that different players need to fulfill.
Unless Scholes ran over your mum/slept with your cat, perhaps you should stop being so sensitive to pundits who actually have opinions.
...In response to Jonathan Jones, I wonder if he is an Arsenal fan. I can't help but think that the only purpose of his mail was to be able to describe Wilshere as someone who has 'played in a trophy winning team'. How long has he been holding out to be able to say that?
John Whelan (Happy Weekend), Dublin
Defending Liverpool's Likely Business
I hate to take my fellow Liverpool fans to task, but the widespread sneering at a potential Lallana transfer is really annoying. It's fair if you just think he's not good enough, but some really ridiculous ideas are being put forward to justify their position.
For example, I've been seeing a lot of talk recently - including the mailbox - that he's had only one good season in the Premiership (the just concluded season). This is nonsense. Lallana was outstanding the season before as well. Indeed, the only big leap he's made in his game since then is developing a keen eye for goal. I'm sure Southampton fans can back me up on this, but it's incorrect to say he's been a one-season wonder so far.
And then we had a clueless Liverpool fan in the last mailbox saying Lallana was in League one recently (I'm being generous with his phrasing - he said Lallana was in League One 'a minute ago'). The question is - who gives a crap? So he played in League One some years ago - does that disqualify his current form? Are people really writing such idiotic things with a straight face?
So in summary- whether Lallana is a valid option for Liverpool is a debate worth having. Making up really stupid reasons not to go for him, however, doesn't do Liverpool fans any favours.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda
...LFC signing Lambert makes sense at the reported £4m base fee. The last thing young players like Yesil need is to see the club signing another young player who will block their route to the first team and all LFC need is a good player to add depth up front not a star who will expect to play every match (because they won't with Sturridge and Suarez around).
Colin (save the dosh for the defence!), LFC
...It hasn't taken long for folk to start jeering about the Lambert transfer to Liverpool so I thought it would be nice to put things into perspective with a nice little table of strikers' performances last season:
Fernando Torres - 5 goals; 5 assists
Sergio Aguero - 17 goals, 6 assists
Wayne Rooney - 17 goals; 10 assists
Olivier Giroud - 16 goals; 8 assists
Rickie Lambert - 13 goals; 12 assists
So only outperformed by Rooney who's probably valued around the £40-50m mark. For £4m, it's not too shabby, is it?
Dazza LFC, Dublin
Ass, Plugs And General Thoughts
I would like to start this mail with a big shout to Jon Gibson LFC for the rare Mailbox double this morning...get in son!
Next I would like to address Jonathan Jones, whereas I agree that Scholes is an ass, it is not inconceivable that England's midfield has the capability to house both Wilshere and Henderson. They can both play, especially if we play in a diamond. The only thing a top international side is going to 'find out' about Henderson is that he is a great player who never stops.
Next I would like to plug Matthew Stanger's betfair article. Welbeck is a great shout at 10/1. Tonight's game will give us a peak at the Rooney and Sturridge partnership. If they don't click then Welbeck could get some serious minutes. If you can find it, take Sterling to win Young player of the Tournament.
Lastly I would like to comment on the Rickie Lambert deal. What a fantastic deal. For everyone who was commenting on Liverpool's lack of a plan B well, there you go. Four million pounds is a snip and if you don't think this transfer was a good idea go check out the clip of THAT Aspas corner verse Chelsea. Who would you rather have?
Brian (Eeengerland, Eeeengerland!) LFC
Technical Managers Make Technical Players
Interesting point raised about Daniel Levy finally having a plan, and one that I feel applies to football in general nowadays. Gordon Strachan, before the Scotland-Nigeria game, was one of the latest in a line of archaic football managers to peddle the line that "football is a simple game", and turning his nose up at the modern day technical, analytic manager. We are fortunate in this country that, whilst this attitude still exists (how else does Tim Sherwood think he is a coach?), it is minimising by the season. Young, forward-thinking managers; students of the game such as Rodgers, Martinez, Pochettino and (theoretically, if not in practice) AVB are making a real difference.
It has shown in the fact that almost all of our England World Cup squad have been coached in this way. Our young players are more technical, more tactically aware and, well, a lot better than before. Henderson and Lallana spring to mind as the most obvious beneficiaries, and it has been a real breath of fresh air after the years of kick and rush toss we've been used to. Actually feeling very positive about the World Cup, provided that Hodgson makes the brave calls.
Football is a simple game but can also be made to be incredibly complex, and to write that off as needless over-complication is just bizarre to say the least. The sooner the English coaches and managers get on board with this, the sooner we can finally turn the corner completely and not have to look enviously at Germany and Spain. But at least we appear to be learning. After all, there's a reason Gordon Strachan is only managing Scotland.
Alex G, THFC
Chuffed Arsene Is Staying
There is nothing surprising about the news that Arsene Wenger has signed a new contract. But I want to take this opportunity to say how delighted I am, and here are the reasons why:
1. No matter how much anyone dislikes him, you have to admit that 2013-14 was the first real time that Wenger had money to spend at least at a comparable level to Man United, City and Chelsea, and he immediately delivered a trophy.
(By comparable level I mean he was at least not made to operate at a profit or at a level less than 10% of those clubs' transfer spending. He still spent less than half of those teams)
Till last year, you could have questioned whether the lack of trophies had anything to do with lack of money, but you cannot now.
2. Last year was also the first real time in five years that the team was not losing key players. The team was more or less the same with the exception of a few fringe players leaving. When that happens, there is always progress under Wenger. If Sagna is adequately replaced, we can look forward to another year that this team will have been together, and there will surely be further progress.
3. He has delivered absolutely fantastic players to the league, in a way unsurpassed by any other manager I can think of. Right from Henry, Pires and Vieira in Arsenal's prime, to Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri and Ramsey even in barren years. I'm looking forward to what's to come in the next three years as well.
4. He has brought a breathtaking style to the Premier League and for years stood as its only exponent. It is just now that some teams, most notably Liverpool and City, who have started to play that way. With Wenger at the helm, I know that Arsenal will not only have attacking football, but truly classy football as well.
At this moment I want to take the time to thank this genius of a manager. While the last few years have been tough, I would not take any other manager in the world in Arsene Wenger's place.
There are of course some hopes I have - hopes of him operating in a different manner now that we have the money. But that discussion is for another time.
Sakho Can't Pass More Than Five Yards
Stats, Stats and more stats....
So based on Sakho's 92.5% pass accuracy, oh and WhoScored.com listing passing as a very strong attribute of Sakho's - the benchmark for most players, Ben thinks Sakho is a very good passer of the ball. You know what I say to that...bollocks.
I'm not one for stats, but the fact Sakho is Liverpools best passer (Ibe aside) only strengthens the argument that stats mean very little without some context. Even the most simple of football fans would acknowledge Liverpool have several players who are quite a bit better at passing then Sakho...their midfielders for example. However good Sakho may be at passing I doubt he is ready to displace the likes of Gerrard, Lucas, Joe Allen, Henderson in central midfield any time soon. What the 92.5% pass completion doesn't acknowledge is that most of Sakho's passes were probably five yards and sideways to his fellow defenders, which explains why Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger also make the top five 'passers' at Liverpool.
For the record, Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard, one of the best CMs in Premiership history is only the 10th best 'passer' at Liverpool, sandwiched in between Kolo Toure in 9th and Luis Alberto in 11th...
I Met Paul McGrath Too!
Rob, (Paul McGrath for those too young to know better) Sweden made me think of the time I met the great man. Just after college myself and a bunch of friends were invited by another friend to her house on the Kilkenny/Wexford border in south-east Ireland for a p*ss up. Paul lives down that way but of course it never entered my head I might see him. It was a rural spot and after we got suitably trollied in my friend's house we headed to the nearest town for more booze. The town itself is completely unremarkable, like many, many others in Ireland. But the first pub we walked into was holding a fund-raiser for a cancer charity and as I walked in the door I heard over the PA 'we'd like to thank Paul McGrath for coming out and giving us his support'.
I accosted a passing elderly lady to demand was it the Paul McGrath and she assured me that indeed it was. I barged through the crowd, literally shaking with excitement and there was the great man. Stone-cold sober, dressed all in black and cool as f*ck. I asked him for a picture which took ages to take because I was well oiled at this point, but he just smiled and told me I was a 'top man'.
Best night out ever.
And Then There's Keano...
A bit different from having grown up with a mate who went on to be a professional, but I have been fortunate/unfortunate enough to 'meet my heroes'. Growing up I was a huge Manchester United fan and used to worship the ground Roy Keane walked on, his fight and passion making him a god at Old Trafford (I remember well the D'Urso incident and that header in Turin - summed him up).
Fast-forward past Roy's retirement and his daughter ends up at the school I had left the year earlier. As a charity fundraiser, the then-first XI decided to host a lads v dads game, and invite Roy to play. Having being on the first XI a year earlier and there been not a lot of 'dad' takers, I was asked to play alongside Roy - a dream come true...or so I thought.
Despite it being unbelievable to watch him play (he made two of the best passes for assists I have ever seen), Roy turned out to be a bit of an arse. After ten minutes he turned and screamed at me as it was the third time I had given the ball away and in the second half told me that if I wasn't going to sprint back I should sub myself off for someone who would (my fitness wasn't what it was). He also didn't smile once or really get the spirit of the fixture. At the end of the game there was a presentation in the centre circle to award a man-of-the-match, during which the referee announced he thought football had been the winner after a thrilling 3-3 game. Roy thought that was a ridiculous statement and subsequently walked off, refusing photos. Cheers Roy.
I'm a Man City fan. Whilst working at WHSmith around 1998, I went all weak-kneed when I saw the man approaching my till was none other than David 'he's f***ing fast' White, one of my all-time heroes.
What was he buying? Alex Ferguson's autobiography. I like to think he was buying it to burn, but I suspect that probably wasn't the case.
Love and kisses,
Guy 'off to buy Yaya a belated birthday cake' Thompson, Manchester
Whilst I fully support Mediawatch's campaign against the use of exclusive, I fear that attacking it in a literal sense is doomed to fail. The word itself means 'restricted to the person, group or area concerned'. Whilst the 'exclusives' frequently offered by the tabloids rarely offer any exclusive information, could it not be argued that they offer an 'exclusive' opinion, no matter how ignorant and frustrating that opinion might be. Offering an excuse for its use that's annoyingly sufficient but hardly seems adequate. It's like arguing with a toddler who's just getting to grips with an idiom, "yes I've not literally lost my head but your missing the point". Basically: yes it's an exclusive...but do f*ck off.
Charlie, London (Pedant calling the pedant pedantic)
It's Definitely Friday
It's the time of year when rumours abound, and one currently associated with Liverpool is Michel Vorm coming in as number 2 to Mignolet. My friends and I were chatting about this and all agree that a number 2 keeper seems unnecessary. Keepers are rarely rotated so number 2 keepers are generally there as cover for injury and maybe a cup run whereas outfield players can be impact subs/tactical changes etc.
Therefore I propose this:
Teams should only be allowed one keeper in their squad. Then there should be a bank of substitute goalies that all live together and are allocated games through a lottery system. They are paid a set minimum wage but if they get on they get bonuses that are decided by a panel made up of David Seaman/Dave Beasant/David James or 'The Savey Daveys'.
Their antics are filmed and made into a reality show to help generate the bonuses. And the name of the show would be 'Keeping It Together' (I was going to suggest 'Keeping Up Appearances' but that is already taken.)
I'm bored. Can you tell?
Pete (Lambert can't be old as he's the same age as me) LFC
...Does any other business have sell-on clauses? I'm about to sell my car and am now thinking of asking for 25% of any future sales.