With Diego Costa struggling for fitness, one Chelsea fan pipes up in the mailbox to remind us that the Blues also need a striker. Plus, thoughts on Rooney as captain...
One United fan doesn't understand all the fuss over Danny Welbeck, while we also have mails on Arsenal being Arsenal, curious transfers and how to pronounce 'Gaal'...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Muller: The New Milner
Was reading your article on Thomas Muller and his potential to beat the World Cup scoring record. Whilst I think its an unbelievable feat, its true that I don't quite know why he's good, I just know he is good. It got me thinking, he is just a better James Milner?
Stefan (managed to persuade the Mrs to come to the pub tonight) Daniels
On the commentators subject, for everyone appalled at the performance of such visionary commentators like the entire ITV crew and the rest, have a heart for the poor residents of much smaller countries where the commentator for the World Cup thought it would be a good idea make a point of counting exactly how many trees each venue had in its car park - "40,000 trees in this car park, if you believe it".
Or when the same commentator, during the France vs Denmark group game in 1998 when the cameras panned to a well-known France politician, announced, "..and here is French president Francois Mitterrand". Messier Mitterrand had been dead for more than two years at the time.
Cue parodies of the commentator in question seeing Elvis Presley in the stands holding hands with Marilyn Monroe. Sad thing is, almost 20 years later, this same commentator is still in the same job, commentating yet another World Cup this year.
Moral of the story: no matter how bad English commentators are - rejoice! It could be much, much worse.
Expat in London
Danny's Done It All
I'm all for an ex-player giving insight based on their own experience, but Danny Murphy seems to be one of those nobheads who's done everything and been everywhere you have.
... Danny Murphy: Is he being paid by the word?
Carl The Duck
On the subject of England players that have had decent World Cups recently, I have a few names.
Firstly, nobody from 2010. There were a couple of contenders from 2006. Beckham had a hand in the majority of England's goals, but didn't seem to get much credit for this. The shout for Hargreaves is also fair. However, for two solid World Cups, look no further than Rio Ferdinand.
The man hardly put a foot wrong in 2006, but it was 2002 where he really shone. Cruelly overlooked in favour of former Villain Alpay for FIFA's team of the tournament, Ferdinand was immense. Displaying a reading of the game not seen in an English defender since, Rio turned in a series of performances so good that even the Italians, no stranger to fine defenders, were in awe. Plus he did that dance after scoring against Denmark!
If you add to that the fact that he's actually - and surprisingly - been auntie's second best pundit this summer, you could argue he's had three great World Cups.
Ben (not sure how well he warmed the bench in '98 though) Waterhouse
Great shout by Mike in Edinburgh (they've got trams now - welcome to the 19th Century) regarding Owen Hargreaves. I think he played at right back, but yeah, I certainly remember that he won over skeptical fans and media alike. But does anyone, anywhere seriously think of him as English? Jack Wilshere certainly wouldn't, and to be me he'll always be "that Canadian guy who played for England", and I say that as a Tony O'Cascarino loving Irishman.
As an aside, quite unbelievably, he has 42 England caps! Only three of which were gained as a Manchester United player. Astonishing.
Thank You, Spain
Regardless of England's result against Uruguay, at least we can't be considered the biggest failure at this year's World Cup for once.
It's all coming up Millhouse for England. Cheers Spain.
James CFC London
Told You So
I remember - because I'm bitter and hold ridiculous grudges - writing in with a few others after Barca were done about 10-0 on aggregate by Bayern a year ago, to call it the end of an era; and seeing us then ridiculed by the mailbox for our contemptible knee-jerkery.
It turns out we didn't go far enough. Seeing tiki-taka not just effectively contained, but humiliated, wasn't just the beginning of the end in Catalonia, it was the beginning of the end for the Spanish national side too. Chile performed a masterclass in how to do it last night; get a lead, and then force the Spaniards to speed up - something they are increasingly incapable of doing. At la Furia Roja's peak, the very idea of somehow wresting the tempo of a game away from them was tantamount to heresy. Now, thanks to Bayern, it's just what you do to beat them. So yeah, this is a pathetic, and extremely smug mail about a year later to say: told you we were right. Sort of.
FFP in the long run won't work, there are too many ways for club owners to subvert sponsorship deals. Be it through suspect companies owned by family members or the even more dubious purchasing of foreign clubs who then pay an astronomical fee back to the parent club. It appears as though every season will begin with a court battle between expensive lawyers and penalties being postponed to suit the club being punished (looking at you Barca).
I think a much fairer way of running things is to do away with FFP all together, let clubs spend what they want but impose strict caps on the number of players a club can have on their books, and at the same time limit the contracts of certain aged players. Rather than allowing big clubs to hoover up and hold as much talent as they like, they will be forced to be selective of who they are offering contracts to. For instance, each club is allowed 22 players at the following levels: U-14, U-18, first team.
This means clubs cannot have any more than 66 players on its books at one time. They would be allowed to loan players to whoever they want but the loaned player would still counted in the group of 22, i.e. a club can't buy 44 players and loan 22 of them out, they have their nominated 22 players and if they decide to loan 2 out, their squad is now down to 20. Once players reach the age of 18 they are either released or take a place in the first team squad. This would mean clubs are forced to be extremely selective of who they are offering places to in the first team and would prevent them from holding on to promising young players just for the sake of it (Chabaloah/McEchran, etc). This in turn would mean that clubs are channelling its funds into what it sees as the best of the best in their youth system and would allow other clubs, possibly lower in the league or a division below, to pick up the discarded players. The return on this would be that promising young players would be given game time at clubs rather than sitting on the bench or playing reserve football.
An additional caveat could be that all players under the age of 21 can only sign two-year-contracts. This would mean if an 18-year-old is progressed from the U-18s to the first team squad and find their opportunity for game time limited in the three years until their 21st they can leave at 22 to pursue first team football elsewhere and don't become another Rodwell/Richards. It's a really shame when you look at players such as these barely kicking a ball for years, especially at WC time when they play in two positions England are crying out for.
There could be additional caps imposed on home grown quotas, etc as well but this email would turn into an essay if we started looking at additional clauses, and I'm already concerned I may not have explained myself clearly above. Thoughts on whether you think this could work or improvements?
Olly, THFC (Not enjoying the 4/6am alarm to watch the WC in Perth, WA)
If Spain had put a team out on form instead of reputation De Gea would have started and they would still be in the tournament.
Mac Ruairi, Roscommon (Get to the f***ing point)
Change Is Good
Hats off to Mike B, Geneva for putting together quite the proposal for a new set of rules. Lots of pros and not too many cons, providing your video replay thing gets approved. However, I'm not too sure about awarding a goal if someone gets fouled when faced with an open goal - we've seen many examples over the years of top strikers putting efforts wide from two yards out. I say just give a penalty and make the guy stick it in the back of the net anyway.
But I do like the idea of awarding a goal for handball on the line - that's similar to the concept of goaltending in the NBA. Another idea from the world of basketball I would like to see implemented - tracking the number of fouls for each player. It irks me when players commit niggly foul after niggly foul - each one not quite serious enough to warrant a booking. Some of the better refs do give bookings for persistent fouling but why not make it official? Five fouls (of any kind) and it's off to the sin bin for you.
Aaron, Singaporean Gooner
After that glorious goal from Charles Aranguiz and Oscar's in the opening match, can anyone come up with a top 10 list of toebang goals?
Terry Hall, Switzerland
Lots of questions on whether Rooney will start tonight, and whether he will score. I am going to go nuts out and say yes to both. The thing that intrigues me is his reaction afterwards should this happen because I reckon he has the potential to go from hero to zero in the space of a few seconds, because despite the potential he has a footballer, he's as daft as a bottle of crisps.
Here's what I see happening. Scores are level, a result that does neither team any good. England fans anticipating an early exit see Rooney pick up the ball and ghost into the box. 'Go on Rooney, give us something to believe in' we collectively think as Rooney fires it past the keepers outstretched arm. Pubs rise in unison in celebration as our talisman finally comes good, and Rooney runs towards the nearest camera to spit 'F****** good enough for ya you bunch of w******, call yourself England fans, you're nothing but s***, bunch of t******'.
Quite frankly as long as he scores I don't think anyone will care, but now you have read my premonition be prepared for its fruition.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Last night's game made me ponder this: When a manager builds a team and playing style from the ground up, do they then find it more difficult to change things when the chips are down?
Spain's elimination last night demonstrated how a team and their manager can become so attached a single mode of playing that they actually become unable to change tactically and mentally when required. We can all wax lyrical about how the likes of Del Bosque, Guardiola, Wenger and even Ferguson establish a "philosophy" and imbue an identity on a team in a particular moment in time, but it seems to me that with this sort of managerial auteurism can only be successful for limited time.
To use an annoying cliche: You need a plan B. And no, that doesn't just mean long ball. It means having personnel that can think differently and have that freshness permeate the whole team. It means being able to change the team's mentality at half time. To get the team to actually f***ing close people down. And all of that comes from the manager actually managing. There's a romance connected to managers who create a style of play: A sense that they doing things the "right way" that draws a certain type of fan into a state of semi-religious worship of the manager. But that fawning surely has to stop when the manager isn't able to change a situation or even appear like they can.
Not preparing for the likely formation and playing style of your opponent is not managing. Sending your team out after half time when you've been badly outplayed by a side simply more "up for it" than you and having them just play more of the same is not managing. A like-for-like change at 80mins when you're 2-0 down is not managing. Not learning from mistakes is not managing.
Bayern Munich's demolition of Barcelona and the Nou Camp; Athlectic Bilbao's rampant destruction of Manchester United in the second leg of their Europa league tie; Arsenal's embarrassing 15mins after half-time away at Everton this season where they didn't have the ball or even bother getting it; Ancelotti subbing on Kalou at the end of the Chelsea's Champions League exit to Manchester United at Old Trafford; And, only last week, Del Bosque bringing on Fabregas for Iniesta at about 70-80mins whilst currently 4-1 down. All examples of managers completely unable to change games or even look like they knew how.
We can all respect the achievements of managers who have 'changed the game'. But when their tactical stubbornness begets performances that verge on the impotent the platitudes must stop. You can't continue in the role of "manager" if you are no longer managing...that's just stealing a living.
After noticing that Ron-Robert Zieler was in Germany's World Cup squad, it got me thinking about how many of Man United's ex youth players are doing well for themselves after being largely ignored at Old Trafford. I've picked a team based on the following stipulations: they must have come through the youth team, played less than 25 games for the first team and must be current players who have left the club. I've come up with the following team which I think would be challenging for at least mid-table in the Premier League. Between them, only 80 first team appearances for the first team. Majority of them as a substitute. Can any other teams match this one?
Ron-Robert Zieler, Danny Simpson, Gerard Pique, Ryan Shawcross, Phil Bardsley, Ravel Morrison, Danny Drinkwater, Paul Pogba, Robbie Brady, Guiseppe Rossi, Fraizer Campbell.
Clinton Day, York
The New Kleberson
Paulinho is just a slightly less crap Kleberson. Brazil always have a random centre-midfielder who is a passenger when they win the World Cup; see Mazinho for USA 94.
Richard THFC Hull (Exiled from Eire)