There is some more considered reaction to Arsenal and Liverpool's results, plus a big get well soon message for Jonas Gutierrez. And an apology to Merse...
Arsenal supporters given their understandable reaction to the debacle in Dortmund, whilst Liverpool fans weren't too impressed either. Still, at least they won...
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Setting United Up Like The Dutch
Manchester United fans expecting plenty more signings to come may be in for a surprise. If Louis Van Gaal uses the same template from his Dutch squad, then not much work is left to be done. In a 3-5-2, the squad should read something like this:
GK: De Gea (Cillessen)
DEF: Smalling (De Vrij), Evans (Vlaar) and Shaw (Martins Indi)
DM: xxx (De Jong) and Jones (Blind)
AM: Mata (Sneijder), Herrera (Wijnaldum) and Welbeck (Kuyt)
FW: Rooney (Robben) and van Persie (himself)
Subs: Rafael (Janmaat), Carrick (Clasie), Januzaj (Depay), Hernandez (Huntelaar)
All they're lacking is a defensive midfielder in the mold of a Nigel De Jong and they're set, although a case could be made for a defender or two to replace Smalling and provide some cover.
I fully expect to see De Vrij and Vermaelen at Old Trafford before the transfer window shuts, while Strootman will probably arrive in January once he's recovered from injury.
Unless of course LVG can't wait and opts for the real thing, in which case the next Manchester derby could be pretty spicy.
Sanjit (Hummels, Varane and Vidal would be nice too) Randhawa, Kuala Lumpur.
Lahm = Selfish
I am struggling to understand the argument that Lahm has retired at a young age makes him non-selfish and those players that play on are selfish. Many players seem to retire early from international football and my first thought is never, well done, you are still a World class football, but best you get out of the way. The man was 30! To retire after you have won the World Cup screams selfishness to me. He has achieved the top prize in international football, so even though he can add to the team and help with the youngsters, he is gone. I remember thinking the same with Scholes retiring at 29. He was perhaps never the best player in the England set-up and personally I never felt he repeated his club form but he had a lot of offer.
I have huge amounts of respect for David James and David Beckham. Neither player came out and declared their retirement. Both players said that they would never retire and would be available whenever they are needed. Beckham was even captain at the time and said he would pass on the captaincy but be ready and willing if the manager needed him. It is the manager's choice who he picks for squads and who makes it out onto the field. If he decides a player is too old and cannot contribute any more, then fair enough, they are out. England players will soon be off on away trips to the likes of San Marino and Estonia away from their family and friends. On top of that they will probably have the media and fans on their back the whole way as well.
Would Lahm have retired had Germany lost the final? We will never know for sure, I suspect not though. The reason is that Germany may well go and win the next Euros, World Cup or both. Lahm would have gone hunting an international medal for his collection. If this is true (and I know I am speculating) then he would be doing so for personal triumph and not thinking about the "greater good of the team". So to retire only once you have got a meal is very selfish.
A One-Eyed View On Zaha
The recent rumors regarding Wilfried Zaha to West Ham is exactly what is wrong with English football. Another supreme talent thrown to the curb in a never ending cycle that has found us as a nation entrenched in a rut that is going to be mighty hard to climb out of. Less than 24 months ago, Zaha was being hailed as the next big thing and in my eyes well on his way to superstardom. A lad who came through the youth ranks at Palace and led them to the promise land with an array of spectacular performances over the course of a few years (140 games over three seasons).
Watching the Championship Playoffs was an absolute pleasure due to Zaha who glided around the pitch, picked his moments, and looked genuinely terrifying with the ball at his feet. A two goal performance in the semi-final second leg and a man of the match performance in the final only heightened my excitement about the lad, who plain and simple was the reason Palace got promoted (Jedinak and Glenn Murray's 30 burger didn't hurt).
His performances in the Championship forced him into the England squad and he looked ready to fill a void that has been present in the national side for years: a pacy, well-built winger with a bag of tricks and the ability to turn the game in an instant. However, his treatment since signing for United has been nothing short of horrific. Granted it was Ferguson who signed him and I am sure he would have been handled and treated differently had Ferguson stayed on. But obviously this is not the case and instead what we got was a perfect example of how to mismanage and mentally destroy a young prodigy.
Zaha arrived at United needing to be nurtured, taught, and encouraged to play the beautiful and crafty style that earned him all the plaudits in the first place. Instead he was told he needed to learn how to defend! Zaha is not a player who should be defending, he is a true game-changer, a genius with the ball at his feet, a dying breed in the English game. On top of that he was playing for a team that was crying out for everything that Zaha possesses. There was a glaring need for pace and creativity on the wings and game after game after game we failed to see him even on the bench (A squad that's options on the wings consisted of Ashley Young, Nani, Valencia, etc).
To add injury to insult Moyes then banished Zaha to Cardiff in January, a club in turmoil and in the midst of a relegation battle, the worst place a young winger with knackered confidence could possibly end up. England's biggest and most storied club should be a conveyor belt of English talent and firmly rooted in developing and nurturing English talent, similar to the ways of Barcelona and Munich. Instead we have seen yet another case of youth mismanagement by a massive English club and it shows no real signs of improving.
The wave of Shaw, Barkley, Ox, Stones, and Sterling gives a glimmer of hope but it seems like yesterday we were saying the same about Wilshire, Rodwell, Richards, and Johnson. Zaha was given all of 167 minutes in a Man United shirt before being written off and discarded. Absolutely and utterly pathetic.
I really hope the lad can find some form and get his confidence back because he truly is special but for now he stands a better chance of being a poster child for what's wrong with English football, especially if he ends up playing for Allardyce...
You Can't WIN The Window
I understand that during the barren period between the end of the World Cup, and the beginning of the season, we all go a little crazy with the withdrawal symptoms. However, after spending the last few days trawling through sites like F365, newspaper gossip columns and forums, the hysteria over the transfer market is getting a little crazy.
Please bear this in mind.....you can't WIN the transfer window.
The mailbox and comments section seem to be full of people defending their teams transfer, while criticizing others, which is of course expected. But it has seemed to reach the point of bragging and endless competing. May I remind everyone that is doesn't matter who you sign. What matters is what happens on the pitch. Of course new signings have an impact on this, but let's wait and see how the teams perform before we start celebrating victories and mocking other.
Some examples of what I'm talking about from just last season:
- Liverpool signed Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Kolo Toure last season. None of them lit up at all (apart form Kolo for a bit at the start....then went badly wrong), but we played some of the best football I've ever seen us play and finished 2nd.
- Manchester United paid £27million for Fellaini. We all think it's funny now, but for a number of years at Everton he was praised and often touted for the move.
- Arsenal paid £42million for Ozil and celebrated like crazy. Lots or arguing about whether he is incredible or not, but he's certainly a very good player. They still finished 4th as usual.
- Tottenham went out and bought everybody. Were tipped by some fools to do incredible things and finish very high up the table. All know how that turned out.
There are obviously countless stories about transfer successes and failures. But what I'm trying to say is that the transfer window is an "interesting" time of the year, that's it. It's not the be all and end all. It's nothing to celebrate or commiserate and can we all stop competing until a ball is actually kicked.
Now back to the hysteria....
Michael D'Arcy LFC
Is anyone else getting excited for next season? I can't wait!
At the top end of the table, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have really impressed me with their signings so far while Man Utd are certain to improve before August. Man City might struggle without any new real signings (insert link to Storey article...). Stoke, Crystal Palace and Hull are all looking better with their signings too and with their managers I expect top half finishes there. Newcastle, Tottenham and Everton need to get some signing done though. I think Newcastle will drop out of the top half next season 'cos Cabaye and Remy need replacing and that's a tough job. Everton might find life more difficult without Lukaku and Delofeu. Tottenham - where to begin?! I reckon there's an overhaul required despite their high finish - I just think a lot of their team is pretty crap.
Down at the bottom end there's obviously the 3 promoted teams will be seen as the weakest, but looking at Hull and Crystal Palace it shows that there's hope for kicking on and establishing yourself. Over at Sunderland I reckon Poyet will have a much better season this time around. Southampton might struggle (sorry Mort Snort) 'cos there's a big chunk of creativity gone on top of a managerial change. West Brom are gonna get relegated I reckon. West Ham have splashed the cash but will it be good enough to get some mid-table respectability? Big Sam usually sorts it out doesn't he? I reckon Swansea are gonna struggle too - not sure if Monk is up for the challenge and they might miss Michu and Bony if he leaves too - I reckon a strong January transfer window will save them. Villa will probably struggle too - Joe Cole is NOT the answer...
Down at the bottom - take your pick from WBA, QPR, Villa, Leicester, Burnley, Swansea (depending on how long Monk lasts and if they sell Bony).
I'm just hoping that there's 3 worse teams than us and we can get some more cash and achieve mid-table mediocrity.
Nick. P. Burnley FC - we need a CM and a CB but we've no money.
Worried About Chelsea
After hearing that Jose Mourinho has called a close to our transfer window I'm left bemused and saddened that we haven't learned anything from our previous seasons.
Ever since Drogba left (and arguably a bit before) we have not had a proper centre forward. Not one, nil, nada. Every season i believed that's what we needed more than anything and a lot of Chelsea fans agreed with with me.
Sadly for us apparently none of the Chelsea hierarchy saw it that way. As expected in all those seasons the lack of goals came back to bite us in the a*se.
This season we have finally realised this is where we needed to strengthen which we have done with the purchase of Diego Costa.
Answer me this though Jose, What the shuddering f**K do we do if he gets injured? Lukaku is clearly going somewhere else, Jose doesn't like him and i happen to think he is overrated anyway. This leaves Torres. Dear Jesus i don't pray much but please dont leave us with Torres. I'd rather have no strikers than Torres. It's embarrassing.
I'm not asking for much just some talented back up. One more striker will do. Bony for example. Just something, anything other than Torres. Please.
Conor(Very close to the edge), Dublin
I know this is more of a Friday mailbox task, but I'm only in work for the next two days so it's basically the weekend for me.
With Arsenal announcing the signing of Mathieu Debuchy last week being accompanied by the news that he will wear the number 2 shirt, and images of Kieran Gibbs training with number 3 on his shorts, it means that our fullbacks now have the traditional numbers for their positions for the first time since Jack Wilshere had to ask adult strangers to buy him cigarettes. This got me thinking on what the Arsenal team would be if we played numbers 1-11.
GK - Sir Chesney (1)
RWB - Debuchy (2)
CB - Mertesacker (4)
CB - Vermaelen (5)
CB - Koscielny (6)
LWB - Gibbs (3)
CM - Arteta (8)
CM - Wilshere (10)
CM - Rosicky (7)
CAM - Ozil (11)
ST - Podolski (9)
I think we'd have to play wing backs owing to a surplus of central defenders, but other than that it's a pretty balanced team. Which disappointed me as I was hoping to have some comedy choices, but I reckon it's a good lineup. Can anyone else do better/funnier with their club's 1-11?
Dan, Gooner in Guernsey
Youth referee update
I was assaulted by a manager at half time during the last game of the season.
Sad thing is, his ban runs from the date of the offence...so basically most of the Summer.
He'll be back by October, ruining kids football and we wonder why other countries have better youth development programmes than us.