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
Given Up On Vidal
There is no cause for gloom in failing to land Vidal. A player's career is short, and unless they are already part of the club, or looking for a great opportunity, top players don't generally go to a club out of Europe if they are already at one in Europe.
It was always going to be this way. Hence no Cavani, no Vidal, no Di Maria, maybe no Hummels.
It's pretty likely that we'll be back in Europe next year and getting those or similar players won't be a problem, if we still want them then. But there are other players around who can fill those gaps more than ably. It's a year of rebuilding, and probably laughing at Liverpool again.
I know we all got very moist at the idea of Vidal but in many ways it's good to see he's not the kind of player to just go for money, so we'll be in for him next year I'm sure.
In the meantime, let's not get upset. We already have at least the 3rd best squad in the league with the best manager, and we're still building on it. Wouldn't mind seeing some bids for Rodwell, Barkley, Shawcross, Stones and Doria though.
Guy S (still gutted)
Protecting Marin Wildlife?
Quick word on Marko Marin who was (along with Januzaj) the star of the show when I went up to Manchester for Rio's Testy (yup) last year. He was the best of a Sevilla team that absolutely battered United and was top class.
How many more talents like him will get ruined by Chelsea?
Silvio (Felt aggrieved at the stick he was getting on the blog) Dante
A Long One On Supporting Spurs
As a Spurs fan, until a week or so ago, I was happily writing off the season ahead. Fourth place? No, just not going to happen with Man City and Chelsea so far ahead, Arsenal worryingly strong and Man Utd with a proper manager at last. Relax.
The "This will be our season" excitement has ratcheted up in recent years, particularly since the last Champions League campaign. After that, the expectation has been almost deafening through the off-season, flames fanned by Daniel Levy with moves like swapping 'Arry for AVB. Last summer was absolute fever pitch -- 100 million pounds spent, seven international players joining. Hell, Spurs weren't just going to qualify for Champions League -- we were going to win it all!
What followed was one of the most disappointing, but above all weirdest, seasons any Spurs fan can remember. Spurs went from dreary to dreadful under AVB, and then became a joke under "Tactics" Tim Sherwood. And yet, somehow, Spurs almost reached a record points tally and weren't all that far off fourth spot in the end.
The real takeaway from the season, though, was just how shite Spurs were in some games. The matches against West Ham summed it up -- losing 3-0 at home felt like an outlier at the time, but then the return fixture at Upton Park was one of the most shambolic and piss-poor performances I've ever witnessed. If it wasn't for Hugo Lloris and his magnificent hair, West Ham would have scored six. This is a Big Sam team that only scored six goals all season! Spurs managed to make Andy Carroll look - I'm embarrassed just writing this - ... decent.
But, perhaps, I thought once the dust had settled, the West Ham game was so bad, that maybe it was good. It's darkest before dawn and all that. Instead of going into the off-season thinking "Next season will be our season", I felt a deep sense of realism and perspective. Next season? Yeah, it's going to be crap.
Because it turns out, you can't get better by selling your best players. And if you don't replace them -- since selling Modric and Bale, the only things Spurs haven't bought are a central midfield creator and a left-winger -- you get worse. You can't claim to be a top four club with a defence that includes Michael Dawson and Danny Rose. You can't rely on Emmanuel Adebayor. But above all, if you have the sixth highest payroll in the league, maybe you should expect to finish sixth. It seems, you know, logical.
And so this summer has meandered by. Pochettino? I liked the appointment -- but to be honest, they could have appointed Chris Kamara and it would have been an improvement on Tactics Tim. No players coming in while rivals strengthen? It was a weirdly relaxing. Arsenal with Ozil AND Sanchez? That's just better than Eriksen and Andros Townsend. Why even begin to believe we may be better? And no painful transfer sagas -- Lloris is our only world class player, but the market for goalies is funny.
But then, in the past week or two, disaster has struck. Maybe I've just started to pay attention to the Premier League after the World Cup, but I've begun to have this horrid, creeping feeling... of hope.
It started with a series of non-flashy but sensible moves, so quite a change from the usual Spurs nonsense. New contract for Lloris. And getting a decent back up in Vorm, as Brad, bless, is now 67 years old. Actually signing a left-back for the first time in five years, and a decent one two in Ben Davies. Not panicking and keeping Lamela, who may actually be decent if fit and given a few games to adapt. Getting rid of Sigurdsson, who epitomized Spurs penchant for buying lots of good-but-not-very-good players.
It's ticked up through the US tour. It's looked like tremendous fun -- really positive tweets and comments from players, great crowds and atmosphere, and then Lamela even banging in a couple on Wednesday night. And even better, Dawson has been crap in both games, adding urgency to the need for a new centre back.
Then, with me rapidly losing my new-found perspective, the hammer blow struck -- the Griezmann rumor. It's just too perfect.
Tottenham need a third amigo alongside what is shaping up to be Eriksen, Lamela and one other off Soldado. (Hope rises) At 28 million euros release clause, smallish club and just two years on contract, Griezmann is pure Levy bait. (Hope rising fast now). He's pals in the French squad with Lloris. (Hope rising really fast now) And Monaco aside, it's not quite clear that there's a market for him at a Big Club, unless Chelsea want to pull a Willian-style wrecking move. (Oh my god, Champions League here we come! We're going to win the effin' league! Stick that up your Totteringham day, Gooners...And so forth)
If the only thing to fear is fear itself, then by corollary, the only thing to hope for is hope. But what is this hope going to get me as a Spurs fan? If Spurs buy Griezmann, suddenly there'll be expectation to finish in the top four, the inevitable disappointment, and then the crowing of the Arsenal fans. And it'll only get worse if we sign a decent centre back, a challenger for Kyle Walker at right back, and Romelu Lukaku to replace Adebayor.
Know hope? I prefer no hope. Thank god for Nacer Chadli.
CG in Hong Kong
Friendlies v Marketing
Can we just be clear on a pre-season friendly, as far as my understanding allows. These are games that are designed to get the team to familiarise themselves with one another, usually at low tempo rate. Nearing the approach of the season formations are worked on and the quality of the opposition increase, but the emphasis is still on the collective of the team. The results are meaningless in the greater scheme of things, the whole idea is the honing of the team ethic knowing a rogue result doesn't matter.
Now, hoiking the team off to America and then making them travel thousands of miles for a half of football, as Louis van Gaal has pointed out, is less so a friendly, its 'Marketing'. Its about selling duvets and wallpaper to die hard fans who don't yet know they are die hard fans and forming lasting business relationships with companies who want to use you to sell 'twinkies' or 'potato chips'. You're perfectly allowed to enjoy the results, it's always good to win, but make no mistakes, a team like Man U would gain surely much more as a squad from regular training at Carrington and decent 'proper' friendly against your Coventrys or Ipswichs or FC Uniteds, nearer their own homes and facilities.
Since he criticised the 3rd 4th place playoff I have found myself agreeing with a lot of what Van Gaal has said, we share a similar ethic, and he is bang once again with his criticism of Man Us pre season, and that applies to all the top teams by the way. Sure it brings in the pennies but to what cost to the team? Playing the other side of the world on some kind of 5 date tour cannot be the optimised preparation for a season as important as Man Us? Their boss sure as hell knows it, you probably do as well if you're honest. I'm sure there will be some who disagree, if so please feel free to write in and criticise me, firstly I do enjoy the craic, and secondly it appears to make the kids happy.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Beauty v Winning
There is much wrong with the world, but I can now say I am finally at peace. For years, I have been a dedicated soldier in the never ending battle between the beauty of football and those who proclaim that it is only about winning. For me, this is as big as anything served up by Heaven vs Hell, Good vs Evil, or Daniel vs the Cobra Kai.
As a young kid, football was simply a sport I enjoyed watching but loved playing. It was during USA 94 and watching Colombia & Valderrama that I realised football could be so much more. Columbia duly finished bottom of their group, but at times their football was breath taking, only to be undone too easily on the counter attack.
I became obsessed with the tactics and philosophies of different clubs and nations throughout history. I loved reading about Total Football, and the great Brazilian teams. Watching Marco Biesla, and the Spanish approach. I fell in love with Crewe Alexandra.
But for every Dario Gradi, there is a Sam Allardyce. For every Pep, a Jose. Nothing matters more than the result for these guys, and no apologies for how they win. Cowards. Winning football matches is difficult, but winning with flair and attacking football is harder again.
But I have close friends who disagree! People I grew up with, watch football with, have the craic with - who fight for the other side. Who are just as passionate as me, but want to win at all costs! What is wrong with them?
But now it has all finally clicked. Why fight. Simply embrace. You can't have one without the other. What is day without night, sun without rain, Baby Spice without Scary Spice.
For this upcoming season I will no longer shout expletives at the TV when one team decides to sit on their own 18 yard line for the entirety of a game, or if another decides to knock one into the mixer over and over. Instead, I will sit back, watch the battle recommence, and enjoy.
In response to Robbie DFC/LFC 's letter regarding travelling to games as a fan, for years I lived in Norseman, a small town in Western Australia and could only get to every second home game to watch my local club Perth Glory FC. I had to take four days off in a row each month and drove the 1500km return trip each time which certainly racked up the km's on my car!
These days I just can't get to a game as often as it's a 3200km return flight for a home game. Western Australia is big dammit!
Also I'm a silver member of Arsenal FC even though I live overseas which I guess is an increasing thing these days for Premier League clubs. I try to get to a few Arsenal games every second year depending on finances and in between pesky things like marriage and first baby etc.
But it is a hell of a trip every time (especially the M25) just to watch about 4-5 games but is worth it to meet, I mean, see from afar the players. (I may also catch up with family in the UK which gets in the way of watching my beloved AFC.)
Darth_Harro (West Aus. Gooner)
A New Craze
Anyone else fascinated with the recent trend in buying two first-choice goalkeepers?
Normally you'd have a starter and then either a young goalkeeper looking to impress, or an experienced old keeper who could come in when needed.
Last season though, Real Madrid had Diego Lopez and Casillas, and this season we have: Chelsea w/ Courtois and Cech, Arsenal w/ Szczesny and Ospina (maybe), Spurs with Lloris and Vorm, Barca with Bravo and ter Stegen...
More and more teams are signing a second-choice keeper who is as good or very nearly so as the first one, and who you wouldn't think would be content as a sub. I think it's really interesting, and I wonder why it's changed so much. Any ideas?
Spray, What's Wrong With You?
I see that La Liga and Serie A will introducing the world cup spray this season but the Premier League will not be introducing it this season stating it plans to monitor the spray's suitability.
Why in the name of christ would it not be suitable. It's a spray that stops walls encroaching.
Silly silly stuff
Simon P, Dublin