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...
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We Want Wads For Suarez
Large amounts of the time I don't write into this website because I think I am going to get published. I write things in just to get things off my chest. This is obviously why the mailbox exists, it's cheap therapy.
Anyway, I can't get my head around the fact that Luis is on his way. I'm sure it has been said before, it's a win-win for Liverpool. We cant begrudge him - again - to go play sp*nk-ball in Spain, that's fair enough, as long as we get our pound of flesh.
And that pound of flesh could be Sanchez, Pedro and change. This would be a killer deal wouldn't it? Don't spend 30m on Lallana (although I appreciate they are slightly different types of players), sod it, on second thoughts get the lot.
All in a day's work.
Barry, Cape Town
One Good Season!
I read the rumour on Suarez and Sanchez.
I also read the comments.
I fully expect an entry on how a Liverpool fan wouldn't have even Messi or Ronaldo or both for Suarez and/or anything involving Sanchez, a golden bust of Brendan Rodgers and the Camp Nou would amount to a 'derisory' offer.
It's one good season...sheesh!
Girish (He's good, but not worth more than 70mil), AFC, Chennai
Knowing Nothing Is Wonderful
Can I just ask, has this World Cup proved that football pundits, experts, fans etc, don't really know that much? We have an idea, but at the end of the day, the beautiful chaos of football is why we love it so much.
John Matrix, AFC
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Some people just refuse to learn, don't they? Look around, and you will hear people telling anyone who will listen that France, the Netherlands, Colombia or Chile are going to coast this World Cup. It's almost as if the preceding 19 World Cups never happened. The team that starts quickly almost never wins it.
Look at 2010. Eventual champions Spain lost their first game, then proceeded to make 1-0 something of a trademark. Meanwhile, a Diego Maradona-led Argentina side received huge praise early on in the tournament for gliding through what was a relatively easy group, before begin unceremoniously dumped out by the first decent team they played.
In 2006, neither Italy nor France were convincing early on. France scraped out of a group containing South Korea and Togo, whilst Italy very nearly suffered an exit at the hands of Australia. Meanwhile, Spain, Argentina and Germany were tearing things up in the group stage, yet suffered early exits.
2002 was the exception to the rule in that Brazil dominated the entire thing, but in 1998 France only just scraped past Paraguay, Italy and Croatia en route to the final and in 1994 Italy were shocking in the group stages and needed Baggio to pull them through on several occasions.
The lesson here is that it is very hard to keep up the sort of level the Netherlands, Colombia and France have started at over the course of a month. They can only really get worse from here on in. Ominously, the likes of Germany, Italy, Brazil and Argentina have lots of room for improvement, and that is where people should look to for the eventual winners of this tournament.
If Only It Was The World League...
So England have had a nightmare tournament and have been sent home after two games. The general consensus is this is a dreadful humiliation and we should all panic, but is this actually true?
I happen to think that England have a very good side and may marginally have had the best overall squad/team in their group. Yet they still lost. This duel issue is why cup tournaments are both so exhilarating and frustrating, in that the better teams are never far away from slipping up.
For example, rarely does the team that wins their domestic league go on to win their domestic cup. From Wikipedia 15 times Spanish teams have managed it, 11 times in England and seven times Italian.
In league formats (and I suppose cups over decades of competitions) the best teams will rise to the top. It;s often said that it's a marathon and not a sprint with the team who can consistently perform and not necessary the team who show the greatest flashes of brilliance ultimately winning. Argentina's lacklustre performances but getting six points against Australia's spirited two and getting 0 as a case in point.
The point I'm making is that if England were to play 10 games each against group B opposition, I would be almost 100% sure they would come out in the top two and possibly even on top. Instead, in one-off games, Italy narrowly scraped a win and Suarez pounced on a late Gerrard mistake after the game was largely dominated and we were chasing the win. A positive attitude rather than just taking the draw. It happens, it's football and it's why sports are such amazing, if heartbreaking, entertainment.
Equally if all 32 World Cup teams were put into a league, first it would be amazing and second I reckon England would definitely be in the top 16 and I'd like to think well into top 10 as their quality would tell over time and multiple games.
Ultimately England have had a poor tournament and this has to partly rest on Hodgson, but two very close very close games do not suddenly make England bad. In the same way that Wigan can win an FA Cup and get relegated in the same season would categorically show they're not the best team in the Football League!!
If the FA and Hodgson keep approaching tournaments in the right way, with strong youth development and exciting football, it will all come together and we'll rise upwards. It narrowly went wrong this time but let's not let 180 minutes of football derail the long-term work being done now. We're on the right track, the attitude and style of play was significently better and I strongly believe that within the next three or four tournaments we'll see England seriously challenging.
Tom Saints (What a wonderful tournament's it's been!)
...All the doom and gloom merchants should remember this. Our performance against Italy was good and at 1-1 vs Uruguay we looked the most likely winners (not to mention they should have had a man sent off).
We could easily have reached the end of those matches with 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 points on the board and it wouldn't have been unrealistic.
There are issues to resolve but let's see the bigger picture.
Colin (let's keep some perspective)
...The margins between winning and losing are very slim. One individual error, or one moment of brilliance is all it takes.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is, have England really played that much worse than, say, Belgium? Remember, this is the Belgium who, at the start, were many people's dark horses to win the whole thing. They may have six points, but have looked average at best. And they have, arguably, played weaker teams than England.
How about Russia? Still in with a half-chance of qualifying and, from memory, may have passed the halfway line as many as three times this tournament! Dull, boring and tedious. In that order.
Individual errors, especially defectively, have cost us at this WC. Sometimes you get away with them, other times you get punished. We have, to an extent, been unlucky that three errors have given opportunities to in-form, clinical strikers. On another day we may have got away with it. That's the way it goes. I can't recall that many last-ditch clearances or backs-to-the-wall periods in either game. This isn't to say we were amazing - patently we weren't. But maybe the results weren't totally reflective of our overall play. Two draws wouldn't have been unreasonable, but hey-ho.
Yes, there's work to be done - we need to be tighter at the back and more clinical up front (sounds easy if you say it quick enough), but this is the first time for several tournaments I've watched England lose and thought that at least we have something to build from, rather than the inevitability that the same old faces will churn out the same old performances next time round.
The article on the captaincy and Gerrard whilst foaming at the mouth does hit on a key issue for England over the next years; the leadership void.
So what to do? Well after debate with friends we eventually came up with the most surprising answer - Henderson. Of the probable 'regulars', Hart and Rooney have not shown the ability to lead and they are already targets for too much distracting vitriol. Cahill may in later years but frankly his and Jagielka's (and that's not to excuse Baines, Johnson and Hart) current appalling lack of organisation is why we are going home early. Wilshere is injured too often and petulant even more. Sturridge? Watching the England captain dance like an electrocuted meerkat would be a low even for us.
Henderson appears to rise to challenges e.g. underwhelming start at Liverpool, he gives his all on the pitch in order to rise above his limited ability as a player, he is in the ideal playing position, shouts a lot (yeah it's important) and he probably has the DM position as his to lose for a while. Before anyone picks up on the technique issue, teams need a 'domestique' (or water carrier as Cantona was quoted); if you're blessed you discover a Deschamps or De Rossi but Germany select Khedira as first choice despite the same limitations.
Whilst this will all but guarantee the supply of ex-Liverpool players as TV pundits for another generation, I'm struggling for a better option and he might be the best anyway.
An England Squad For 2016
If England are to move on from the World Cup disappointment then surely they should use the rather kind qualifying group to unify a group of players for Euro 2016 onwards.
Hart (vc); Flanagan/Clyne, Jones/Stones, Cahill, Gibbs/Shaw; Chalobah, Wilshere/Ward-Prowse, Barkley/Henderson; Sterling/Lallana, Sturridge/Walcott, Rooney (c)
Now two years is enough time for these players to gel and get even more experience for their first teams. Chalobah (also partly for lack of no other DM coming through) is a talent and it will be interesting to see of Jose uses him at all or if he will be back out on loan this season. Sturridge seemed to cope pretty well in a fluid front three at Liverpool. With Rooney/Sterling able to drop into the hole if needed.
There is of course a range of different formations and personnel to choose from and club form will obviously dictate players international futures but I really do believe there is no better time to give full trust to the younger players in the squad. Of course keep some of the older players around (just please no Glen Johnson) but with two years international and club experience under their belt we have a crop of emerging talent that really should play. Because you can't blame foreign players for blocking the way to the England team too..
Over to you Roy.
Give It To Harry
I have finally joined the Give It To Harry brigade.
Not that I think he can do the job mind, just to see what excuses he and the tabloids come up with when England gets eliminated in the second round in 2016.
Anyone else think it would be worth sacrificing a tournament, just to finally be able to say 'See, that's what we told you all along'.
Motivating The England Players A Sisyphean Task
And so the deconstruction begins. I was listening to Sportsweek on Sunday, enjoying a brew as you do, when Redknapp came on the radio and said what he said. Taking aside the fact that there is enough there to draw up a reasonably considered shortlist of the players who he is referring to, my immediate thought was this is where we start the retribution and recrimination that we all know and have come to expect these days (quite possibly adding validation to the requests being made by the players in question). The blame game.
What Redknapp was expecting to achieve with these comments I don't know. I have no doubt that players have made these requests, but why this was brought up whilst we were still out in Brazil (albeit out of the competition). The chances are the players that take the field on Tuesday will consist of a healthy dose of the future of the team, and this will filter through to them which will be sure to plant the seeds of a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. There is also a massive whiff of sour about it. If Redkanpp knew we would falter at the World Cup surely he would have put this in his biography, it's a big, big claim. Suspicious. Messy. Unsavoury really, yet so unsurprising.
Long story short you have massively well-paid players being expected to put in stints for their country, and to expect intense scrutiny for underperforming in a team that, as a rule, isn't as good as the one who pays them. Continually motivating these players that England matters is a Sisyphean task for which there is little or no reward, and personally I believe that they don't have as much respect for the England side because they are so far removed from society that it just isn't worth it. More to the point, and here's the kicker, They're Not That Sharp. They Don't Understand. They Don't Care. But then, why should they?
Anyway, I try not to get too caught up in it all. After Sportsweek had finished and I had finished my tea, all I did was go out and buy myself a brand new pitchfork. Harrumph.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Milner Shows Why Turning Up Gets You Nowhere
Just wanted to say that was a brilliant article from Nick Miller regarding not playing for England. I'd just like to add weight to Nick's article too by saying that what benefits are there for always turning up for England duty?
Let's say there is a player that depsite the fact he has limited football ability he always works bloody hard, always turns up for England duty even if it's a November friendly in Oslo and always sits on the bench knowing he probably won't play. He loves playing for England that much. Surely then this guy would be admired the nation over for his bulldog spirit and his England first attitude.
The truth is he isn't. Whatever media outlet you look at everyone hates James Milner. That is why it's more than okay to not be too fussed about playing for England.
Eriksson = Clinton
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I'm sure the football world can now agree that Sven was one of the best England managers over the last 50 years.
He is of course correct when he says if Hodgson was a foreigner then he would be fired. The media drove Sven out but two very respectable quarter-final defeats in two World Cups and another strong showing in Euro 2004 - where he also got the best out of Wayne Rooney - speaks volumes of his greatness.
Add to that the fact that he was a bit of a devil when it came to the ladies then he exudes the same sort of coolness (if not quite charisma) as Bill Clinton.
Forget Individual Records
The decline of the England national team is, perhaps, best illustrated by our increasing focus on players' individual goals. When will Rooney get his World Cup goal? Will he become England's top scorer of all time? Will Gerrard stay on and become the most-capped player?
Football is a team game not an individual one; individual stats should be a side-show not the main event. We've become fixated by these small, relatively insignificant achievements because the team gives us nothing to cheer. How depressing.
Ronaldo: Given Up
Firstly, what a great set of games over the weekend. This World Cup really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Onto my point though, which is this whole ;that's why Ronaldo is world class, he keeps going right up to the final whistle' that has been doing the rounds after Portugal's dramatic late equaliser.
Bollocks, he had given up, that's why he crossed it. A fired-up Ronaldo chasing a game and presented with a one-on-one with a full-back will look to beat him with numerous step overs before shooting from a near impossible angle. The fact he made the right decision and crossed it makes me believe that he wasn't in his usual mindset, he'd thrown the towel in.
Also, can anyone name the last time Portugal had a proper striker who was any good (not him, he's an attacking midfielder. So is he. And him)? I swear they should have replaced Pauleta by now.
Mike, (AVFC) London
Why You Shouldn't Punch Shots
As a goalkeeper trained in the Seventies, I'd like to take issue with some of the points raised by PG (Liverpool). There is a world of difference between punching a cross and attempting to punch a free-kick or a shot. We were taught to catch the ball if at all possible; with opponents challenging at corners and crosses it isn't that easy, so punching was permissible. However, attempting to punch a shot was verboten for the simple reason that you had no idea where the ball would land up. If you weren't confident of catching a shot then the next best thing would be to parry it for your own collection or to push it behind for a corner. Safety first is the goalkeeper's creed, which is why Casillas' mistake for the Chilean second goal was literally a schoolboy error.
North Bank Ian
Foul Stench Of Foul Throws
Is it just me or have professional footballers completely forgotten how to take a throw-in at this World Cup? AND referees are just ignoring it?
Every Sunday morning there's foul throws given in my local league which usually results in someone being roundly abused by players and management alike. However this doesn't seem to happen at the highest level.
I know it's nit-picking but it's the only flaw in an otherwise brilliant World Cup.
Andy (Can't wait for the magic spray on a Sunday morning) Ireland
Hating Timewasting Too
Aside from England's embarrassing performances, one thing in particular has frustrated me during this World Cup - timewasting.
As football fans and viewers, we are used to the playacting and diving to close games out. One thing struck me about feigning injury after watching recent games - just how successful it is as a tactic. Players faking injuries or cramp and requiring medical attention in a game culminates in numerous minutes being wasted. These minutes are rarely, if ever, accounted for when injury time is announced. This acts as a huge disadvantage to the team chasing the game, as they not only have less time to change the course of the game, but they are less able to exert physical pressure on the opposing team, in fear of the opposing players feigning further injuries.
Timewasting also ruins the spectacle for the spectator, as the ball is in play for a limited amount of time. Opta figures reveal that for some Premier League games there are as little as 50 minutes actual game play and rarely more than 75 minutes when the ball is active. That means a supporter could find themselves seeing, in real terms, only half a game. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a sport in which the rules are bent to such an extent to not only ruin the spectacle of the game, but to gain such a clear advantage over the opposing team.
Football's rules and regulations are archaic and unlikely to be amended. However, there are a few ideas that could help combat the problem of timewasting in the game. For example, time should stop after a goal is scored - as the ball is not in play and it can often take around two minutes until play resumes. In addition, correct injury time could be used to account for the timewasting, goals scored and substitutions. Alternatively, an independent timekeeper (the fourth official) could be used to control this aspect of the game with time stoppages during the game when appropriate.
Clearly there is no obvious solution to this problem, but until something is done to combat this, enjoy the fake cramp and injuries in the rest of the games!
Latest From Elevenerife
During the Germany-Ghana game, Danny finally had to admit something even he hadn't done - he's never played against his brother in a World Cup game. Unbelievable.