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
Joe, AFC, East Sussex, there's no agenda against Özil. It's just that, until last night, he's been pretty much pants at this World Cup, really. Particularly in the second round match, which might as well have been billed Germany vs. Algeriaandözil. Ironically, he scored the winner in that game, late in extra time, but otherwise he lost possession so frequently, he might as well have not been there. So, that's why he's come in for some stick, here in Germany. But, he played an integral part in Germany's landmark victory against Brazil - apart from the miss at the end, which would have put them 0-8 up, of course - which means the Daily Mail are running somewhat behind this story, in the desperate quest for a click-frenzy.
And, it's got nothing to do with Arsenal. Or their fans. If some, yourself included, may have expected more from him in an Arsenal shirt, that would be a different agenda entirely.
Regarding Ozil, I've also noticed he gets a bit more venom than he deserves, and I'm neutral to Arsenal on the whole. I think it's largely in reaction to his large transfer fee - once a player goes to a club for a large amount of money, he will be judged far more harshly in certain quarters, no matter who he's playing for, purely for having the temerity to have been attached to such an obscene amount of money. The judgement of the player and the transfer get mixed together. Ozil also doesn't run around and stick his head in much, which would appease the Mail crowd, or have the cool or swagger of the likes of Berbatov that masks poor performances. He does seem a nice guy, which makes him easier to criticize by the not-very-nice. Not to say he doesn't deserve any stick of course, but it is often overblown.
Mark, DCFC (never thought Brazil would remind me of Derby circa 07/08 but...ouch)
Are Players Just Big Kids?
Steve Mahoney, Coventry asks whether results like last night will become more common. In top level sport, they already have. We see it in rugby quite a lot, where once a team gets on top of another, the losing team only need to lose their shape for holes to appear, and matches - even those involving two top level teams can become huge mismatches.
We've seen it in cricket, in just the last three years with India, Australia, and currently England having successful sides that suddenly have the wheels come off in spectacular fashion. On a smaller level, we see it in batting collapses, where England obviously collapsed time and again to Mitchell Johnson, and Dale Steyn routed Pakistan and New Zealand for 46 and 49 respectively. Once things started to go wrong, and deviate from The Plan, the players had no idea how to turn it around.
In football, in the last five (and a bit) years we've seen Liverpool win 4-0 at Old Trafford, City win 6-1 there, Arsenal concede 8 at Old Trafford, and then 6 to City and Chelsea and 5 to Liverpool last season alone. We've had Barca 5-0 Real. Then we've also seen Bayern and Dortmund thrash Barca and Real in the Champs league. In this World Cup, Spain collapsed against Netherlands. In the last World Cup, Germany put four past England and Argentina. We talked about it after Italy constantly attacked down England's left, and none of the players knew how to stop it.
Why does it happen? Tim Vickery talked about this on 5Live earlier this month, and Alex Ferguson mentioned it as well, there appears to be an infantilising of professional sportsmen, as they're brought into a system that's devised and ruled by a coach. All they have to do is slot into it, and the coach defines their role for them. Chelsea mentioned this after the PSG game, where they praised Mourinho for drilling them on what to do in a range of different match situations, as if they had no concept themselves of how to defend (although with Luiz in the squad, they might have a point...).
Scolari has been praised for acting as the Brazilian team's father figure, fixing problems for them, taking pressure off them... and last night was the result.
Germany were really good last night, but apart from Schurrle's second, every goal was comedy.
Luke (Thiago Silva for golden ball!).
This seems to have passed under the radar what with the World Cup distracting everyone but after watching his horror show last night, can I just say what an absolutely amazing bit of business Chelsea have done selling playstation Dave for £50m. Almost double what they paid for a player who is a total liability at least once a game. Almost makes up for spending on Torres. Ok, that might be pushing it but still, top work.
Liverpool To Struggle
As the World Cup comes to an end and we don't have game after game on TV I can't help thinking about what next season has in store for my beloved Liverpool. Last season was incredible and unpredictable, but is it possible to 'kick on' to use football manager speak.
If I'm honest I think we will finish 5th at a push. Why you ask will we drop from 2nd to 5th? Firstly the teams around us. Chelsea and Man City will fly and I think one of these two will win the title. Arsenal have got the monkey of not winning something off their back and have keep their best players and added Alexis Sanchez (maybe). For that's reason I say they will cling onto the coat tails of the top two but eventually fall away probably due to injuries. Man Utd have changed manager after having the polar opposite of a season that Liverpool had. However this time they have got someone who has the balls to fill the hole left by Fergie (I now notice that this sentence is somewhat rude!). For this reason I think they will improve they still have the skelton of the team that won the Premier League two years ago so I think 3rd or 4th is likely especially with the lack of European football.
This then leaves Liverpool. Some fans will go mad that I say that Man Utd will finish above us but I'm just saying. The reason for such a drop is firstly Luis Suarez. Once he goes to Barca after they have haggled us down from £80m to three buttons and a box set of' Come Dine with Me', we are left without our superstar. He scored 31 goals and was voted player of the season, I'm not convinced Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can or Lazor Markovic can replace him. Then again who can Shaqiri, Sanchez, Yaya Toure? Firstly I have no hope or either of those three signing for us but if they did would it help replace his influence, I'm not convince.
Add on top of losing a player we can't replace, is our defence and the current lack of defensive signing. The rumours have us trying to sign Lovern who I think good and would improve our defense but we still need a good left back and right back as Jose Enquire and Glenn Johnson are both injury prone and when they do play they are inconsistent. The rumour mill seems to say the Moreno deal is dead and we have moved on to Ryan Bertrand. Buying Chelsea cast off seems to have work well so far so I'm ok with this.
However none of these signing seem to be close yet and based on past Liverpool transfer history they will all be Tottenham player this time next week (Sorry spurs fans I couldn't help it).
Now I mention Spurs I should say I think they will push us hard for 5th and could pip us depends how quick Pocchettino settles us there are some quality players at the club.
In summary though I see a difficult season. I still believe in Rodgers and FSG and think selling Suarez on the whole is correct but realistically I see the same thing that happen to Spurs last year after Bale left. On the whole this has left me depressed and not looking forward to next season but then again I though we finish 5th last season so maybe I'm just a miserable git!
Joe LFC (I think I hate Barca more than Man Utd now), Bedford
Not Sure If Serious
After reading the Mailbox for the past few days, I agree that Liverpool's transfer activity has been disastrous so far. I am a Liverpool fan and I don't even feel inspired with our signings (and the linked players).
Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, and Lazar Markovic are hardly world-beaters. Lallana is probably the most over-priced English player after Andy Carroll (who was bought by Liverpool as well). Those players are probably not good enough for Liverpool. Plus, Luis Suarez is leaving to Barcelona.
Let's compare our transfer activities with other teams. Manchester City are already strong team and doing better to cover their squad. Chelsea made fantastic steals for Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas (both cost less than 60 million!). Arsenal are getting closer for top talent Alexis Sanchez.
Rodgers has done a great job for bringing us back to Champions League after so many years. However, his signings are not showing any ambition. Next season Liverpool will have more games, with mediocre squad. We are probably not going to finish Top 4 and getting knocked out in group stage of Champions League.
So, Rodgers. Please! Show some ambitions on your signing. Stop buying mediocre players. Buy world-class players to help Liverpool achieve better things. We failed last year so we cannot fail again next season. Stop buying overpriced unproven players!
If not, he should go out. In fact, he probably needs to exit Liverpool.
Jati, LFC, Newcastle
As an impressionable young man, I used to nod along while reading Johnny Nic's latest article, his opinions eloquently backed up with tales of Middlesbrough and rock music. As the years have passed (well, three years anyway), I have begun to question some of his musings, and I have to disagree with his thoughts on passion in international football.
I am not one of those beer bellied, loud mouthed pint swiggers who still sing about the War and paint their spit flecked faces with the flag. I do though, see the difference in energy, enthusiasm and yes, pride, between the English team and say, the Iranian side.
Which of those had a better campaign (based on expectations)? I know most Australians and Americans are happy with their teams performance, both of which had more fire and energy in their third choice keepers than the whole England squad. The Italians are another case in point, plenty of talent and skill there, but they were disinterested and suffered because of it.
Yes, maybe passion alone can only get you so far (I would venture to say that it was the much maligned quality that got Brazil past impressive Chile and Colombia teams), but it HAS to be there as part of the winning formula. All the best international teams played with a sense of pride in nation and philosophy. The Dutch total footballers, the ruthless winning German teams, the Selecao, and the recent Spain outfit. All of these had marvellous players, but the final ingredient was a will to win for country, manager and each other. They were all defined by by their way of playing and winning.
The England team, for as long as I have known it, has always looked without purpose, without identity, without passion. It is not the ONLY reason for our relative failure, but it's hard to argue that it's not a large contributing factor.
Anyone else thing Tiago Sliva looked silly in that baseball cap?
Come To Think Of It, We Hadn't
Was wondering if anyone else noticed that all of Brazil's back 5 versus Germany have won the champions league. And all within the last 4 years.
Like a hungry fish who can't resist the wriggling juicy worm, I have to take Daniel Lee's bait.
Talk about condescending crap.
Of course Liverpool are now in a position to sign a better quality player. We've just qualified for the Champions League after a five year absence; those players who aspire to play in the Champions League (or are already playing there every season) will naturally be more inclined to sign for Liverpool (than they were, say 12 months ago). You'd only need to read yesterday's mailbox to see that there was no smugness or sense of entitlement; quite a few mails yesterday pointed out that Spurs hadn't fared as badly without Bale and that they'd be happy to see us drop a position sans Suarez.
You will always get fans from every club who get a little overzealous once they've tasted a little success, but to just perpetuate the belief that Liverpool fans are full of entitlement is just bollocks. Now that United have fallen off their perch after years of underinvestment, many of their fans are lashing out in any way they can, and frankly it's just downright tedious. One of my friends on Facebook was recently aiming the 'Liverpool fans always mention the 5 times' jibe after the end of the season, but only a few days later without any hint of irony spouting the '20 times' thing; hypocritical, dumb and childish.
Yes Liverpool and United fans share a rivalry that extends beyond football dating back to the industrial revolution - they're both big clubs and Liverpool haven't enjoyed the level of success that they grew accustomed to back in the 70s-90s and it's something that's been tough to swallow, given United's undisputed dominance. Just remember mate that football is cyclical and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see United suffer for the next few years given the Glazers'/Ferguson's recent transfer negligence. We are (currently) on the up, with an up and coming manager, lots of good young players bedding into the squad with a style and level of play which is as exciting to watch as any Liverpool team over the last 20 years.
We'll never win over neutrals and supporters of other clubs, but to perpetuate the view that Liverpool fans are arrogant and see as a no-brainer that all players want to join our team is actually the fantasy that you point out in the your missive. It's quite clear that Liverpool's model is one where we wouldn't ever splash massive amounts on world stars, but rather invest on young players that we can develop - doesn't always work out admittedly (ala Carroll, Adam as is well documented). To try and go toe-to-toe with the likes of Chelsea or City just isn't going to happen so we have adopted a more pragmatic approach that suits the financial resources available to the club.
So in conclusion, worry about your own club.
*I am inclined to agree with Hansen over Shearer. This result, arguably the most momentous in the history of football, was achieved through a combination of German brilliance and Brazilian incompetence and, indisputably brilliant though Germany were, I think the latter was the bigger contributor. I genuinely can't think of a worse team performance in any competition ever; their defending in particular would have shamed a non league team.
*It's been said that Luiz and Dante looked like they had never played together but it must take practice to achieve that level of perfect mutual disharmony. It seems that Scolari never once even planned for the eventuality of being without Silva, even after he was ruled out of this game.
*Scolari has to take the blame for failing to reorganise the back four but wasn't helped by each of them putting in career-worst individual performances. This was in part due to the Germans' intelligent pressing and flawless use of the ball but there's no excuse for the likes of David Luiz, Marcelo and even Fernandinho absconding their posts in true kamikaze fashion.
*Speaking of Luiz, if ever an armband weighed a tonne. Between wanting to be involved in everything going forward, thinking himself above contributing towards any actual defending, the complete failure to organise and motivate and everything he tried failing miserably to come off, whoever was operating his controller this time around must have been German. Lest we forget this is the world's most expensive defender - PSG have been sold an absolute pup.
*In stark contrast the German XI could easily name ten captains. Neuer, Lahm, Mertesacker, Hummels, Howedes, Schweini, Khedira, Muller, Kroos and Klose all have been, are or will be captains of top level clubs and all would have a shout at captaining any other national side. Yet the analogy of chiefs and Indians does not apply here; they are collectively a world away from the misplaced arrogance of Luiz.
*A further word on Neuer - there can be no debate over his status as the world's best goalkeeper. He is genuinely flawless.
*Finally a word for Fred. It seems the Brazilians love a scapegoat as much as we do and he's lined up for the brunt of this one for the heinous crime of not being very good at football (which, although not really ideal for someone in his situation, is hardly his fault). There are plenty more deserving of the fans' ire and putting him in the big screen stocks after his substitution was spiteful. Shades of Heskey's tears of frustration in 2010.
*Moving on to the club world, it does seem that Liverpool are still viewed as CL interlopers rather than perennial challengers. Much as I like what Brendan is doing with the squad, losing Suarez means we need a proper marquee signing that will significantly boost the first XI; Lallana and Markovic are unlikely to do so and anyone that could will probably be put off by the thought of being Suarez' replacement rather than teammate (not least because he is yet to bite a teammate). There is a long way to go before we kick off but at this stage I fear an underwhelming season.
*This is what makes it so disappointing to miss out on Sanchez as he would have fit the bill perfectly. Still, after eschewing 2nd in favour of 4th and a reported double-your-money payrise, at least we can look forward to sanctimonious Arsenal fans decrying '$anchez' and the toxic mercenary culture that is destroying football - assuming they aren't just massive hypocrites of course.
*Finally on Ozil, the negative coverage is a response to the over the top reaction to his signing ("Mesut Ozil. Mesut f**king Ozil") combined with his complete collapse in form post Christmas. It's not that "he doesn't score two and set up three" every game, it's that he rarely scores or sets up even one and routinely messes up even basic tasks. He contributes nothing and doesn't even have the grace to look anything other than bored and fed up while doing it. He's is to football what Lawro is to commentary. Plus he looks weird.
Jon Gibson LFC