One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...
The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perspective On Woodward
All this stuff about Ed Woodward is getting a little silly - look this way for a spot of perspective.
I'll admit that as a United supporter I found it much easier to blame last summer's fiasco in the transfer market on Woodward than on Moyes, and also that in the light of Moyes' known indecisiveness it is now much more comfortable to blame the man that got fired. Certainly what didn't help was losing both Gill and SAF at the same time. I'm sure that Woodward made his share of mistakes last summer, and that he is learning on the job, and will continue to improve.
His biggest mistake last year was that he looked like a bit of a Rupert, and a virgin Rupert to boot. So he trained and trained and trained all year long and came back with a jowl-emphasising undergrowth that, while it may give him a permanent scowl, and can hardly be described as dashing, at least gives one the impression that he has had carnal knowledge. Of something. So when you publish those clean cut pictures of yesteryear I know exactly what you're doing and it's really really mean.
Seriously though, there is no one even remotely connected with football that hasn't heard that Adidas are tipping some £750m in loose change into the United coffers, and that those nice folk over at Chevrolet have also been exceedingly supportive. Certainly the news has already trickled through to those suave Latin businessmen from whom Rough 'n Ready Eddie is trying to negotiate the purchase of some of their best players so no, mentioning that United are in the funds is not going to add £10m to the price. Woodward may still be learning how to be a football executive but he is already a successful businessman and knows how to negotiate a contract.
Last summer Moyes and Woodward went about their business with a timid message of "We don't know what we're doing but we're gonna do the best we can". They took that message to negotiations with a club that didn't want to sell their player, along with an offer several million short of that player's release clause, and we all know how happily that ended. This year the message is one of confidence. It's primarily aimed as a recruiting pitch to players to let them know that this is a serious squad rebuilding process under a world class manager. I'm very happy with our 2 acquisitions to date and confidently expect more arrivals of the level of Hummels, Di Maria and Vidal.
So you don't have to like the bloke - just judge his summer on September 1st.
Martin Levi, Tel Aviv
Well Done Vieira
I would just like to applaud the move by Patrick Vieira to withdraw his young City charges from the field of play following an alleged incident of racism on one of his players.
Vieira himself suffered this sort of abuse from Mihajlović when he was playing for Arsenal.
I would really like to see more coaches take this sort of action. Whether it comes from the stands or from players it's important to send a message out - that it will not be tolerated. Fans lose the chance to see their heroes play and players lose their very raison d'etre.
In years gone by black players were told they just had to suck it up and get over it or had FIFA make a mockery of the whole thing by imposing meaningless fines.
These animals aren't going to change their attitudes unless they are hit where it matters - in their pockets by not being able to play if they're players or having to shell out money to watch a game that's declared null and void if they're "fans".
Paddy was always a hero of mine but he's just gone right up in my estimation.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
A Captain Lottery
I've been thinking about this England captaincy business. Really it shouldn't make a huge difference who gets it. The real leaders always emerge whether they have the armband or not. Liverpool - Carragher was the real leader of that team for years - yes Gerrard has good leadership qualities but Carragher barked out the orders and was the manager on the pitch. Lahm captained Germany and again is a fine player and role model but Schweinsteiger was the true captain. I'm sure readers can come up with better examples than me from many teams down the years.
So for England, I think just do a lottery for each game - just before kick-off. Roy is there with the drum in the dressing room and pulls out a name - fills in some gaps when he has no more team talk to give - double bonus. Nobody can complain as it's a random pot luck situation and the player that wins is absolutely buzzing and gives that extra 10% or whatever. Meanwhile the real leaders on the pitch (if any) get on with leading the team.
Regarding Minty LFC's comment: "Ibe played a big part in keeping Birmingham up in the championship on the last day of the season". Is that the same Jordan Ibe who was an unused substitute in that game?
Also, I've watched Ibe a couple of times while he was at Blues and he didn't actually do anything. Seems like another young Premier League kid with more money and hype than actual talent.
Cruyff Does Talk A Lot
Interesting to see one of the true legends of the game, and Barca, say the following about his former club:
'I don't know how they plan to play free-flowing attacking football with Messi, Neymar and Suarez in one team. They are all players who rely on their individual actions.'
Cruyff also compliments Germany on the World Cup win and the style of football they play, and Guardiola has criticised how Barcelona have comported themselves since his departure - with fan-placating high profile deals like Neymar and Suarez rather than home-grown talent coming through into a strong team ethos.
It seems the team is king again, and I'm all for it - Brendan and Liverpool sent Suarez on his way with his ears ringing with thanks and praise for what he had done for them, in a team built around him, but playing for each other. Now his standing will be third at best in a forward line where everybody plays for themselves, and he won't have a competitive match for ages so integration will be that much harder.
I worry that Suarez might have bitten off more than he can chew.
Morgan (do we have first buy-back option?) Goford
Make Henderson Captain
Easy, it should be Jordan Henderson.
He was captain of the England under 21s and he plays beside the ex-captain in Gerrard!
PFA Team Of The Year Geekery
A slow day at work so I decided to compile all the PFA Team of the Year data back to 1973. Just to see what happens. First things first, based on this data (ie, the players with the most appearances), the team of 'best players in England since 1973' looks something like this.
Shilton, G Neville, Hansen, Ferdinand, Sansom, Robson, Gerrard, Vieira, Giggs, Shearer, Henry
Not bad at all, I think you'll agree. I made another team of players that narrowly missed on the 'first team'.
Southall, Lawrenson, Pallister, (Des) Walker, Pearce, Ronaldo, Hoddle, Keane, Beckham, Rush, Dalglish
Not bad either! And just for good measure, here's a team of players who have only managed to make it in the team of the year on one occasion. I've picked players who were around for a few seasons, generally speaking.
Schmeichel, Nicol, Carragher, (Norman) Hunter, Harte, McManaman, Le Tissier, Petit, Robben, Owen, Bergkamp
Here's a few other facts that people might not be aware of.
1. Despite being international football's two most successful teams, Brazil and Germany have only ever had one player each in the PFA team of the year. Those players? Sylvinho and Klinsmann.
2. Of the 'home' nations, Ireland have 37 entries, Scotland 34, Wales 26 and Northern Ireland just two.
3. The best of the rest is France with 32 entries, followed by the Netherlands on 14 and Spain on seven.
4. Peter Shilton was voted the best goalkeeper in the country nine times in a row from 1977/78 to 1985/86.
5. There have been 13 Davids in the team of the year, the most popular name.
6. Paul Scholes only made the team on two occasions, in 2002/03 and 2006/07.
7. Manchester United have the most entries in the team with 94. This is followed by Liverpool (65), Arsenal (63), Chelsea (26) and Leeds (24).
8. Only nine midfielders have more appearances in the team than Andy Townsend, who has three.
9. A bit subjective this one, but Sheffield Wednesday are (probably) the most notable team never to have a player in the team of the year.
10. There are 14 French players who have appeared in the team. Only two of them (Barthez and Cantona) have not played for Arsenal or Tottenham.
Andy (Townsend > Scholes), London