There's not a lot to choose between the misery of West Brom fans and the misery of Newcastle fans. We have mails on them, 'only QPR' and lots on Man United...
A varied morning mailbox, with thoughts on Ronaldo, Daley Blind = Michael Carrick, Ed Woodward redemption, stick with Pardew, QPR's name change and marbles...
Send mails to firstname.lastname@example.org - you know you want to...
Rooney Playing Like A Fat Uncle
If it looks like a mid-table club and its players play like they're from a mid-table club and they finish mid-table then guess what? They're a mid-table club.
So can someone why the hell Man Utd players seem to be afforded special treatment when England squads are drawn up? I'm sorry but Rooney was rubbish yesterday. He may have scored but it was the sort of goal your fat uncle scores at your fifth birthday party and the celebration was also the sort of celebration your fat uncle makes.
The fact is Rooney's ego is so big he thinks he doesn't have to listen to the manager. If Roy says you're on the left, you play on the left, you don't drift in because you're bored.
Rooney looked as though he was desperate to score because he's terrified of the talent threatening to displace him. In previous years when he's been rubbish up front he's thought he can drift into midfield but quite frankly when you have the likes of Chambo and Barkley (both brilliant by the way) bombing forward you don't want a fat has-been ballsing it all up.
As for Jones and Smalling - are these two really the best we can do? Jones looks as though he's continually competing in a lowest limbo competition as he attempts the lowest header in history while Smalling's positioning is so p*ss-poor he should be nowhere near the squad.
As a Gooner it pains me to say this but if you're going to pick players from mid-table clubs would Shawcross really be such a bad choice? He's a club captain and can do the basics pretty effectively.
As it is I'm hoping Cahill and Jagielka are wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the Italy game and Roy's sees sense and benches the fat "striker".
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Someone slap me! All the way through qualifying I've written off our chances of performing well at this World Cup, after the draw was made getting out of the group seemed an impossibility let alone going on to do something memorable. But after the last 2 performances, where we've actually looked like a team who want to play for each other I'm daring to dream! Not that we can go out there and win the thing that would be stupid, but just to go out there and put our mark on the tournament... Go out there and find a way of playing for the next.. however long. The way we've played with the new formation is like a breath of fresh air compared to the Hollywood long ball days of the Golden Generation. I now feel like this could be the best World Cup for England since Italia'90!
(Admittedly I have felt like this in the final days before every World Cup since Mexico'86 but lets not let that blind us for now!)
I know it was only Ecuador and I know we didn't win but we gave Milner 90mins and most of them at right back ffs! Which has got to be his worst position and will never work in a competitive game. Lampard should be kept on the bench until the 120th min in a game going to penalties and I now see why everyone is questioning Rooney's input but they both might have just had off days... I'm trying to be positive! It was a second string lineup and after the changes it was the third. The only doubt I have is how the players will hold up in the heat and humidity with only 3 subs. Even the Ecuadorians were blowing out of their arses at the end so that shows how hard its going to be, and yesterday wasn't in Manaus where its hotter and even more humid.
Seeing the younger players get the ball on the floor and play like we know they can was so refreshing. I'm hoping that the Ox hasn't crocked himself but he is an Arsenal player after all so is that him out for 17 months? He was awesome tho, Barkley was impressive and Jones was a rock at the back, would Hart have saved any of their goals?
With Sturridge, Baines, Cahill, Hart, Stevie G etc. back in the team and with the legs and trickery of Barkley, The Ox, Henderson and Raheem could we actually start the World Cup with a win over the Azzuri!?
Steve (Bring it on!) Coatsworth
What's Up With Italy?
Italy's last seven results: 2-2 draw against Denmark, 2-2 draw against Armenia (!), 1-1 draw against Germany, 2-2 draw against Nigeria, 1-0 loss against Spain, 0-0 draw against Ireland and a 1-1 draw against LUXEMBOURG tonight, with a near full strength team.
Of course, they will probably become world beaters in a weeks' time and we'll end up collectively clutching our knees close to our chest in the showers afterwards, rocking gently, asking The Lord why the dirt won't wash off. Still, I don't think we're as doomed in this group as some are predicting.
Costa Rica have lost to Japan, Australia and Korea in recent months, and Uruguay haven't exactly covered themselves in glory this year with a 1-1 draw against Austria and a narrow 1-0 win against Norn Ireland.
Suddenly a draw against the team that ranked higher in South American qualification than Uruguay (with a largely reserve side) looks pretty good, huh? Let's cling to the positivity raft for dear life and be as cautiously optimistic as we can... We may end up being the "least bad" out of an out of form bunch. And then we'll get obliterated in the last 16.
Oh and Jim, Essex from the other day. Yeah, I'm well aware the Spanish Anthem has no lyrics, and that they are also significantly better at playing football than us. Though I had better clear that up.
Jae, Tunbridge Wells
Bring Back Roy
I tolerate ITV's Football coverage. The FA Cup has gone down in my estimation, not because of weakened teams or PL clubs preferring to aim for safety and/or the Champions League - it is the appalling early rounds coverage by ITV.
Champions League and England games are saved, for me, by waiting to witness Roy Keane's bitterness, insight, intimidation of Lee Dixon or intolerance of everyone else. Last night, I missed him. Antonio Valencia is about to captain his team in the World Cup Finals. Minutes from the end of a friendly - yes, a meaningless friendly - he is taken out, over the ball, on the touchline by a ridiculous tackle.
Adrian Chiles, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright blame Valencia for his reaction. Glenn Hoddle as least tried to add balance. Roy would have called it. "The boy Sterling's an idiot, could have ended his World Cup before it started. Antonio should have landed one on him. He's a disgrace. A pr**k."
Come back Roy.
Ray (Five foot St George's Cross in at my World Cup BBQ in Scotland)
...Well the one thing that was highlighted for me watching England tonight is that I won't be watching the World Cup in itv!
While watching the England v Ecuador match on the sofa, I thought of a question that even a quick Google (other search engines are available) couldn't answer...
As big Frank Lampard played last night and has now left Chelsea, has there ever been another England player to get capped while not having a club? If so, who and when?
The Answer Is 'Yes'
In response to this segment from your excellent Ratings365 article:
JOHN STONES (on for Shaw, 74): A couple of impressive moments clearing up danger. Is he already better than Smalling?
Yes. Yes he is.
Adam, Reading. (Wondering if The Sun will succumb and produce prayer mats for The Ox)
Jay MUFC, I agree, the names Taeguk Warriors is an awesome name.
Just a little rebuttal on Europeans having boring names (France's is definitely boring) Portugal's nickname is awesome. We are known as "Selecção das Quinas"
"Quinas" are the five blue shields on Portugal's official flag.
The blue shields represent the 5 Moorish armies defeated by the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques in 1139 in the battle of Ourique, that marked the birth of Portugal as a nation.
And the five silver circles in each of the five blue shields represent the five wounds of Christ, that supposedly appeared to the Portuguese King on the night before the battle predicting the victory and the future role of Portugal in the world a as prime defender of Christianity.
Quinas is also a brand of matches in Portugal, so we could be named after those... but that wouldn't be as interesting.
Benji (Actually Portuguese, despite my name), Benfica
World Cup Memories
Lewis, Busby Way, you have just done a fantastic deed for your 6 yo nephew. Your email took me back to 1982, which was my first World Cup. Just like your nephew, I had no frame of reference then, it was my first world cup and me and my friends were slightly bemused and confused as to what it involved. My dad bought me the full programme, some flags, stickers, a magazine with all the countries' background, player info. I didn't see all the games, but the ones I saw, I still remember them.
Being from a certain european country of gallic persuasion, the nation at large didn't have much in the way of expectations, but there was a certain fever nonetheless and as a kid, it was exhilarating. And I remember all the games I watched, the opener against England (which probably was England's best game, right?), the mad match against the UAE, the wonderful 2nd round win over Northern Ireland, and that fateful semi against Germany which I think I'll remember till my dying days.
After the tournament, a national paper produced a full tournament summary, 16 or so pages, with articles on every team, articles about the atmosphere, the highlights. I still have it and it has some sort of magic for me.
Also I think when you're a kid, stereotypes come naturally to you, and with no shame, which I think is the best way to enjoy an international tournament: so the Spanish were cunning, the Brazilians were carefree and wonderful, the Argies were tortured cheats, the English were loud, proud and powerful, the Peruvians exotic, the Italians were tricky, the Germans were efficient, confident, arrogant and in-yer-face, the Scots were brave, the Africans were naive, the Russians seem out of place, the Dutch were cool etc. It's harmless and fun.
I now have an 8 year old son, this is his first real World Cup (SA 2010 passed him by), and I am going to recreate that magic for him.
Marc (Love your idea of a World Cup Fairy!), CFC
Why don't England train a specialist penalty saving goal keeper ? This might sound a little stupid, but hear me out.
According to FIFA, we are allowed 7 substitutes at all world cup games. One of these spaces should be given to such a player. We could sub him on in the final minutes of a dying game.
He would not be trained in the ability to kick, catch, gather crosses, marshall defences or anything like it. Purely the ability to save a penalty.
He would need, and be extensively trained in the following:
1. Cat like reflexes. This could be trained into him by our best sprint coaches, who would help him build the necessary fast twitch muscles - particularly in his thighs. He'd need to be able to cover the top corner from a single leap.
2. He'd specialise in penalty run ups, body language, and the shape / form of the striking leg.
3. He would join the England squad for every game over the season - as a coach. The rest of the squad would have to beat him (good practice for all). Furthermore he'd train our keepers on how best to save penalties in normal time.
4. He would have studied videos of the penalties of all possible penalty takers in each game. He'd know that, for instance, Muller puts 60% of his penalties in the bottom left corner, and he'd know from the run up if Muller was planning something different.
Finally he'd probably be tall, for obvious reasons. Ideally he'd be an intimidating presence, with good psych out tactics from the Grobbelaar, Dudek handbook.
As a nation, we've had enough of losing on penalties. Seemingly we can't train our players to score more, so why not ensure the opposition score a few less ?
Tom, London (90,96,98, 2004, 2006, 2012....had enough yet ?)