We have some great responses to young Jack's question about how readers first got into football. Plus, finally some intelligent thoughts on Dave Whelan's outburst...
That's the message to any Arsenal fans who don't appreciate the midfielder. Plus, plenty on everyone's current favourite football club chairman and a wee question about fandom...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting In Liverpool's First XI
I think your choice of Utd players who'd walk into Liverpool's first XI was interesting.
David De Gea - I would have him, definitely. Very good keeper. Shot-stopping is tremendous, has been working on command of his box. Definitely above the Shay Given Gradient.
Van Persie - I would have him but he's not walking into our XI by any means. Has to get past the third best player in the world and the best English striker to get into the XI. If he wants to come and try, then fair f***s to him.
Phil Jones - Noooope. No matter how leaky our defence was, adding a man who can barely count to potato does not improve us.
You also name check a lot of players from Everton and Arsenal who are better than anything we have. The players you have mentioned are all good players but "better than anything Liverpool have got"... Okay. Fair play. You hate the fact that Liverpool fans are so blinkered but counter this with a statement more blinkered than anything anyone else has said.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
...Dan, I almost stopped reading your letter when you said RVP would be an automatic starter for Liverpool; I naturally assumed it was sent in 2011-2012 and that it just took some time to be published, however I decided to read on and I wasn't disappointed.
In this amazing email you claim Wilshere and Walcott are easily as good as what we have, which begs the question, do you actually watch Arsenal? Wilshere is barely fit and the only time I can remember consistent form from Walcott is when he was angling for a new contract, if both these players signed tomorrow Coutinho, Sterling and Henderson would still be starters. There's simply no two ways about it. Arsenal have some great players I should stress, these two however are not among them.
You did make some solid calls on the defensive side, Howard is a better keeper but he's also a lot older and Baines is better than most left-backs in the league so the e-ail wasn't a total waste of time.
...Dan, Ireland reckons it's a 'blinkered mindset' that causes Liverpool fans to not want rival players. I say it's he who has a blinkered mindset.
He reckons RvP would be a definite starter for Liverpool. Err, ever heard of the SAS, I certainly don't want to hear about the SARs partnership. Suarez is the main striker, and if RvP complains about Rooney getting in his space, he'd complain about Suarez, and frankly, I (and most objective people) would take the younger, fitter and better Suarez every day. I'd prefer Sturridge too - he's already built a formidable partnership with Suarez, is younger and likely to improve, quicker, and had a better GPG record than RvP last year anyway, despite being second fiddle to Suarez for most of the campaign.
Jagielka and Stones better than Sakho, Agger and Skrtel? Absolutely not. Skrtel was fairly immense in many games last season, Sakho is the vice-captain and first-choice CB for France (ahead of Varane), Stones isn't even ahead of Smalling in the England pecking order. I'd prefer Agger to Jags too (again, as would most).
Ramsey better than any Liverpool midfielder? Well, this is simply not true. Gerrard has been the best Premier League midfielder for a decade, has been consistently exemplary for club and country for years, and got named in the PFA team of the year with 13 goals and 13 assists (the most in the league). Ramsey had half a decent season (his first good season yet) and while he looks a prospect, wouldn't get in the side ahead of Gerrard. Wilshere easily as good as what Liverpool have? Well then why isn't he starting instead of Henderson for England? (clue: the answer has something to do with who has been the better player for the past two seasons).
He also has to keep in mind that when fans claim they wouldn't take players from another club, they mean they wouldn't sign them - they aren't making a combined XI. Aside from the obvious difficulties in signing an Everton player, can you see Liverpool going out and splurging 20m on Coleman for a very small increase on Johnson? Same goes for Howard (who probably isn't better than Mignolet anyway, Mignolet's supreme shot-stopping ability gets him the nod as his shakiness in the air is cancelled out by Howard's propensity to drop a clanger), Baines etc.
Alex (anyway, enough of the club stuff, back to the WC), LFC
In Defence Of Wilshere
As a left-handed Arsenal fan, I took objection to Robin Down's rather unnecessary dismissal of the many talents of Jack Wilshere, who is rightly lauded by many as potentially becoming one of the finest English midfielders of his generation. This has nothing to do with his leftyness, but all to do with his very un-English touch, technique and vision combined with a very English love for a tackle and a bit of argy-bargy. His recent tendency to hold on to the ball for too long and to go down following the slightest contact is surely the result of the psychological impact of a number of injuries in his fairly short career to date and a lack of confidence in his own form and fitness. It was not too long ago that many clever people were bemoaning Aaron Ramsey's performances in an Arsenal shirt and we all know what happened there.
He may not go on to fulfil his potential, but I think, for the good of England's prospects in this and future World Cups, he should be afforded the time and space to develop without needless criticism. The same could be said for a number of the talented youngsters in and around the England squad at present (Barkley, the Ox, Shaw). I hope we continue to allow these players to develop at their own pace without the unnecessary hype and clamour to rate or slate them.
Dipesh (don't believe the hype) Shah
It's Not About Geography, You Know
Is anyone else sick of people basing their World Cup predictions on geography?
As a man who designates at least six hours of my working day to reading up on the footballing world, I find it all quite insulting.
I was in my local corner shop yesterday and overheard a typical World Cup season conversation between the store attendant and a customer. Among other ludicrous predictions, the attendant stated with unbelievable assurance that Ecuador would make the semis and had a sneaky chance of winning outright,
I have heard more people predict Chile than Spain. I have heard Ecuador get more mentions than Croatia, France, England, Mexico (beat the majority of the Brazil team to Olympic gold in 2012), Ivory coast and other genuine potential dark horses with substance.
I doubt these people have stayed up to the wee small hours watching the Copa Libertordes over the past four years. They more than likely, like me, reacted with great surprise when they realised Antonio Valencia's brother also played for Ecuador. If Chile or Ecuador were real contenders we would know all their players from Tuesday and Wednesday nights. This isn't the Confederations Cup, this is the World Cup for which all teams will be acclimatised and motivated.
I for one am looking forward to Robben and co destroy Colo Colo's finest to reveal the true dark horses of this tournament.
Have The Hipsters Chosen Chile?
With the World Cup fast approaching, we have all done our office sweeps, met our bookies, picked our own favourite teams and predicted who will win.
But, there is one cohort of people who have a huge decision to make. Now that Belgium are far too mainstream, who on earth are the hipsters going to support?
People are suggesting Columbia, but with people suggesting it already, are they too mainstream also?
I reckon it's Chile. Good (very) outside chance, and their name is Cooool. Geddit!
Obviously they will not support Chile by watching the games, but by reading reports in the following day's paper.
Dave (Come on Argentina), Dublin
One Reason To Support Chile
Thanks to Adam Bate's article on group games not to miss out on, I'm now aware that the coach of Chile is called Jose Pekerman.
Brought a smirk to my face and my outsider team is now picked. Superb.
Hair And Left-Footed Nonsense Ahoy
I am known among my mates as 'the one who knows alot about football', and I extol several whimsicals as I have seen fit. A personal favourite of mine has been how the difference in a football player reaching a new height of excellence solely is down to the hairstyle or 'image' that they undertake. Recently(ish), Adebayor was having a wonderful season for Arsenal and scored goals galore even up until the previous weekend, we were watching a match and as soon as I see him, now dreadlockless, I say to my friend "he is going to be really bad from now on" and explained my theory. Needless to say, Adebayor only scored one more in about 10 games as opposed to the 20 in about 20 games he had already gotten to.
This is the reason Florent Malouda was so inconsistent at Chelsea, he changed his haircut every week, and I think everyone spotted this one, as soon as Edgar Davids started wearing those cool as hell glaucoma specs at Juventus, as he was the coolest looking player on planet Earth, he became arguably the best midfielder on the planet. It's all down to how cool they can potentially look. Adebayor could have gotten more mileage out of his dreadlocks and maybe Arsenal may have actually scored the goals to grab the title the year that was? Questions that we will never know the answer to.
Anyway, I'm pretty proud of this weird attention to putting stocks in players' hairstyles I have, and that email about left footers, has got me thinking. Another whimsical I extol (everyone loves whimsical things), is that of the left-footed player, simply being better. The best players that have ever existed, it is more likely that they are left footed than right. A belief I have held since I was a child. Robin Down's email has got me thinking. Am I wrong about this? I tell people this as if it is a total fact. Are left-footed players just more talented, or when I see them/read about them do I just think "wow, look at the talented left footed freak", and just the idea that they are left footed makes them into a mysterious entity I, and many others, just cannot understand. Is Lionel Messi even that good? If he was right-footed, would most defenders go "yoink" and intercept him handily?
And what about my hair theory? Surely I'm not the only one? Is my hair theory simply down to "he looks cool now/he doesn't look cool anymore" and I imagine a change in performance? Did Adebayor actually score those 10 goals post dreadlocks and did Arsenal win the league, and have I been living in a make believe planet where Man City are the best team in England. This left-foot theory throws up a serious discussion about reality, which I think we should all give our best attention to.
So mailbox? Have you got any of your hair-related form stories? Or thoughts on the left foot reality bender? I think we can Einstein (in a football way) this kind of stuff.
Dave (What the f**k am I talking about lol), Dublin
Why They Don't Care About Spain In Barcelona...
I'm not sure if John the Evertonian is or isn't aware of the history behind the Catalan and Basque regions and the reason for their antipathy with Spain.
The Basques and Catalans have always had a very strong sense of regional identity (the Basque country is especially beautiful), even going as far as having paramilitary and nationalist organisations fighting for their independence (see ETA). The feeling of not caring for Spain is possibly rooted in the fact that Spain's civil war is less than 100 years old, Franco's death is not even 50 years since, and that the Catalans and Basques has their identities, language and opposition to Franco suppressed. There are still people alive who lived through his crimes and totalitarian rule.
That's in a nutshell why the Catalans probably don't care how Spain fare, and given that King Carlos was installed by Franco as the monarch of Spain; it is seen as a continuation of his rule.
Mailboxers; correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm not overly fussed if England win the World Cup, I'd like them to do well because of the effects it has on the economy, community and national conscious. But first and foremost I'm a Leeds fan, then a football fan and then England fan.
Succinct Germany Mails
I get Germany in the work sweepstake. Hours later, Marco Reus is ruled out of the tournament with injury.
Buggery. Bet they'll lose on penalties.
...Germany only has two strikers in its squad - one of whom is 36 today.
Make of that what you will.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Is It Really About Fans?
Surely John Nicholson's article is really about English journalists, they all seem to be covered by his 25 points...
Carl (Watching World Cups since Argentina '78) Oldfield, England FC, Southport
All We Are Saying...Is Give Chicks A Chance
Great piece this week for Eye on the Experts...but that is nothing new. John Nic and Alan Tylers again hit various nails on the head.
An interesting point was (well, is) the absence of female input. Is this the same as the black coaches argument then?
You know, the answer that there is NO problem you silly fool, they just 'aren't good enough' to join the ranks? It's beyond a little ridiculous in both cases...so throw three or four new people in, tell us that we can even laugh if they suck, and surely then there is no excuse for not trying new faces/races/genders?
Imagine guys, the slightly different perspectives and unique passions and prides of other races and genders, being heard over the telly, and seen pitch side.
For the record F365 and many others of similar opinions did NOT in any way say that Chris should have kept his Norwich job because of his race, but that he is now the last black manager in the leagues, and on his way out, which is frankly impossible in a totally fair environment...there would be black up-and-coming managers who suck, but who still get the chance here and there, like White managers seem to do.
The same applies to the issue of female commentators...if us males can comment all day long on anything and everything ever known to humankind...surely we can't be this far up our own arses in this day and age?
What the hell would you want less woman around you for anyway - banter and your boys (should) only keep you so warm fellas...
Manc In SA (unless chicks aren't your thing, which is no worry mate, because half of my point still stands then!)
More World Cup Memories
There is nothing I love more than to read about World Cup memories.
US 94 are my first conscious memories of a World Cup. As an American growing up 25 minutes away from Giants Stadium I remember New Jersey turning into the world's largest zoo.
Although there were some highlights that year, USA (the plucky underdogs with those truly fantastic star kits) THAT Baggio penalty-kick, Escobar's own goal. But the one memory that stands out for me was getting to see my idol glide around with that glorious golden fro. Yes Carlos Valderrama. Although Colombia got knocked out early it was still amazing to see his quality.
Man, do I pine for natural showmanship like his to return to the game.
Brian (reading people fight about club teams three days before the World Cup is like your parent fighting on your birthday) LFC
Holland v Spain Drinking Games Please
I'm hoping that some readers out there can help me. I'm best man for a stag taking place this Friday and after a day of activities and drinking there is also the small matter of Netherlands -v- Spain at 20.00.
I'm hoping the good readers of F365 can advise on some excellent drinking games for the match or I suppose non-drinking games work too!
We've all played various drinking games during matches but hoping someone might come up with something a little different??
Johnny Bowlingball - Ireland (Still hoping to be the 33rd team)
Given your persistent (and understandable) disdain for players who take the attitude that if you haven't played the game you can't comment on it, I was a little surprised to see you dismiss Andros Townsend's comments about styles of play in the World Cup on the basis that he hasn't played in a World Cup. Maybe he's...watched it? Or are you all going to hand in your notice and shut football365 down, admitting once and for all that you have nothing to contribute to a game you haven't played.
Shaun (although you should probably ignore my comments, after all I've never written a mediocre and hypocritical daily page poking fun at the media so can't know what it's like) Livingston