That's if reports that Calum Chambers cost Arsenal £16m are to be believed. The English premium shows no signs of disappearing. Plus, worrying about poor Southampton...
Some supporters sound oh so confident on Louis Van Gaal's excellence. Plus thoughts on shirt sales, best signings, football sevens and a good deal more besides...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suarez Amongst World's Best? Really?
As I sit in work reading previews, 'expert' predictions on who will win and which player will shine and who can lead their country to glory and who can 'own' this World Cup and have their name etched in legend for the rest of time, it struck me as surprising that one name is missing from almost all the lists...Luis Suarez.
Are we so insular in our views of football, or perhaps been brainwashed by Liverpool fans constantly telling us how great he is, that we have put Luis Suarez on a pedestal that he has no right to be on? Just yesterday two Liverpool fans in the mailbox came out with these statements - 'I'd rather keep Suarez over anyone in world football at the moment', Stan Millworth opined and Scott, LFC, Toronto is of the view 'I wouldn't take Ronaldo for Suarez, let alone Bale.' I. Wouldn't. Take. Ronaldo. For. Suarez. Just let that one sink in...
Let's put things into perspective, Suarez is 27 years old - older than Messi and two years younger than Ronaldo. Suarez was turning out for FC Gronigen when Messi was lifting his first Champions League trophy, Messi has been voted the best player in the world four times, Ronaldo twice - the award which Ronaldo lifted in January of this year the so-called 'third best player in the world' actually was voted as the 19th best player in the world, he gained a whole 0.39% of the votes, this was the only time that Suarez made it on to the 23-man shortlist. What has Suarez actually achieved to be so highly regarded? A League Cup in 2012? Or perhaps playing for the club with the most vociferous fans in England? If you shout something loud enough and long enough, eventually people will start to believe it.
He is of course a very good footballer, of that there is no doubt, but he's not in the same bracket as players who can and actually HAVE delivered in big matches on football's top stages like Lewandowski, Benzema or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is an insult to two players who will go down as two of the greatest to have ever played the game in Ronaldo and Messi to even try and put Suarez up there with them.
It's well documented how he consistently fails to perform against big teams, he is unproven in top European competition (at 27 years of age) yet somehow fans of a certain persuasion will tell us he is the best player in the world. Surely there is a reason why Real Madrid were happy to spend £80million on Bale instead of pursuing Suarez for less money? I hate to be the one to say it, but scoring hat-tricks against Norwich does not a great player make.
England v Costa Rica: Potentially Epic
The thoughts of Chris, ITFC on not wanting England's match against Costa Rica to be a dead rubber put a rather exciting thought in my head. It's fairly improbable, but due to my pre-WC levels of joie d'vivre my happy brain floated the idea without any pesky caveats attached.
If England nick a draw against Italy and Uruguay, and those two nations both beat Costa Rica and then play what appears to be heading for a draw in their last game, then as I understand (and I could be wrong here) England would be playing their final group game needing to beat one of the scorelines Italy and Uruguay registered against Paolo Wanchope and co (assuming Italy v Uruguay doesn't produce a winner). Imagine if Italy and Uruguay both won 3-0, and England are 2-0 up with 20 minutes left and therefore needed a couple more goals to be sure of progressing. I can't remember the last time I was genuinely excited by an England match, but it might just happen this time round!
Plus I'll be watching the game on the big screen on Brighton beach which is going to be awesome...unless the tide comes in.
And re Johnny Bowlingball's request for a drinking game: This is specific to Spain/Barcelona/Bayern under Pep matches. Line everyone up facing the screen, each with a pint. When Spain get the ball, the first person drinks until the Netherlands win it back/boot one of the Spanish players up in the air. Then the next person in the line starts drinking until possession is lost/someone gets fouled again. Simple and effective!
Dan (if England get through the group I'll be extremely pleased) Brighton
Why The Locals Have An Advantage
Just a quick response to the geography teacher. I think you are missing the point on why people say South American teams will have an advantage. Yes, there are heat differentials in varying regions in South America, however, many of the South American players have played in competitive Copa America, Copa Libertadores and World Cup qualifiers so have first-hand experience of the playing in all locations regularly (home and away games) and are likely to be experienced in playing in these heat conditions.
Also, many players have played in South America but outside of their country of origin, again, exposing them to playing in these varying temperatures. There are not too many Europeans playing in South America who will appear in the world cup, so these experiences are why it is seen as an advantage for SA players and why the European teams are moving to 'summer' camps to acclimatise to playing in these conditions.
Just thought I would help explain why football experts perceive the location to favour South American teams and why it would be wrong of them to stop making this observation - albeit it has been said enough, but correctly.
Michael (two days)
Pedantry Ahoy (Not The Only One)
Can someone please send Mr. Tucker, Geography teacher from Southampton a memo that states it's 'Colombia', not 'Columbia'. Columbia is a district in the United States, not a South American country. It is also a series of towns, villages and cities in the United States, a global music and entertainment company, a University Press, a fictional character in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the fictional setting for Bioshock: Infinite, the video game.
Colombia with an o is a country in South America that has given the world such beauties as Shakira, Sofia Vergara and Rademal Falcao's right foot.
Yours in pedantry,
How The Odds Work
Just read Dave, Dublin's mail on Belgium being dark horses and fifth favorites at the World Cup and wanted to quickly point out that there is a good reason for this: they have been given a ridiculously easy group to qualify from. This is why the likes of England, Italy, Portugal, Holland and France are behind them. If all of the abovementioned teams qualify for the Round of 16, I doubt that Belgium would still have better odds than the rest, as their advantage would be finished by then.
Beyond that, Belgium certainly won't win the World Cup - but wouldn't it be great if they did?
This mail probably isn't worth writing but people misunderstanding the way odds work is a pet peeve of mine (along with how transfer fees work, not to get started on that again...)
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva, Switzerland
Not A Hipster But Backing Chile...
Reading the mailbox this week there's a lot of chatter about football hipsters and dark horses. I'm a man who has backed (from September) with my cold hard cash, Dortmund and then Atleti to win the Champions League. I cashed out before the final/at half time.
I am not a hipster, I simply look at football in a forward-looking manner, not this dinosaur Mark Lawrenson view.
My money is on Chile and Colombia this time round. Again, not because I'm a football hipster but because one team dominated England and Germany on their own soil and one finished second in South American qualifying with a mean defence and a great attack. They're available at 45/1 and 55/1 on some betting sites, which I'd much rather have than 3/1 on Brazil.
That's not being a hipster, it's sensible.
James (not a hipster), London
The New Villa
A quite incredible U turn from Lambert and Villa, now no longer buying unexperienced, pacey, youthful players - we've moved on to past it, slow and unfit!
And there was us fans thinking we had no plan at the club...
Alex (we're been linked with Bendtner now) Sheedy
Newcastle United have had a rocky road over the last few years, but I thought they were starting to move in the right direction, albeit slowly. But the signing of Colback has shown how far away they are from anything honest, decent, and long-term. It matters not that he has played for the U-21s. It matters not that he has 100 Prem appearances. It matters not that he is a freebie. It has been a very long time, and in my supporting life since 1989 it has not happened often, but, yet again, Newcastle United have signed a ginger.
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne
Liverpool's Defenders Just Need Work
Wanted to chime in and voice my strong agreement with what Martin wrote in the first mail from this morning's mailbox - Liverpool's defenders are not the reason Liverpool conceded 50+ goals last season, and suggestions that Liverpool needs to sign more defenders to concede less goals are naïve and simplistic.
Liverpool's defending from open play was OK overall last season. The majority of the poor goals conceded were from three causes:
(2) individual mistakes, like Touré's
(3) lack of bodies/committing too many men forward
The solution to Liverpool's problem is in coaching and tactics, not signings. Skrtel's improvement last season from the one before is proof that its a matter of adapting to the system, or slightly adapting the system to the players. We need to bring in a left-back, and we need to sign replacements if any of Agger/Touré/Johnson leave, but the issue is not a lack of defensive quality in Liverpool's squad.
Oliver (Uruguay to win it all, just like 1950) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
They Don't Need Protection
Martin (love a long pointless rant on a Tuesday, first WC was Italia 90, finished the whole sticker album), sorry to burst your bubble but in 2008/2009 Man United conceded 24 goals with Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes in midfield. Neither of whom are/were rated particularly highly at protecting the back four. However United did have a great goalkeeper, two excellent full-backs and the best central defensive partnership the premiership has seen for a number of years.
I would therefore say it is possible to concede very few goals without adequate protection from midfield. The main requirement is that you have good players in defence, which Liverpool do not.
Have a nice day.
World Cup Memories: The Choice
These World Cup memories are superb.
My own one is from Italia 90 and Ireland v England. Having been born in England to an English mom and an Irish dad who had lived in Birmingham since he was 11 I guess I should have been an England fan, but that game in Italy changed my thoughts.
I was seven when that World Cup took place and a few years earlier I had started going to watch the Wolves with my dad and was football obsessed - the fact Steve Bull had made the England squad was again another reason my allegiance should have been England.
I had been bought an England shirt and and Ireland shirt before the World Cup and was never forced to support either side but on the day of the match I opted for the England one - purely because of Bully (how bad was he on Pointless celebrities by the way!?).
England took an early lead through the crisp muncher and I didn't naturally celebrate it and I didn't feel the joy I did when I'd see the Wolves score - plus my dad looked really upset and I didn't like that.
Then came the moment which cemented my allegiance for life - something that I still get stick about for being a plastic paddy etc etc. - Kevin Sheedy scored an equaliser and my gut reaction was to celebrate, I felt joy and my dad was running round the living room like a lunatic - this felt right and at the moment I realised, in purely football terms, I was a Paddy.
I now regularly travel to Dublin for internationals and, whilst I don't mind England doing well for my mates, I'm not what you'd call an England fan. I know your allegiance to your country should be from birth but I was just wondering if any other readers have consciously or unconsciously chosen which country to support.
For Ray Houghton's goal in 94, Jason McAteer scoring the winner against the Dutch and even Thierry's hand ball - I wouldn't change a thing.
Andy O'Connor (it's a proper Irish last name!)
As If We Would Let You Down...
I have only read two/three words on your website this morning but I had to write in. The genius who came up with 'De Jong Ones' needs a flipping medal. I wasn't expecting a subtle tribute to Rik Mayall when I clicked on the Gossip today, but in hindsight I should have given you fine people the credit you deserve.
Will (Vyvyan, where did you get that howitzer?!) O'Doherty