There are an awful lot of folk claiming to share their birthdays with Lionel Messi or Ronaldo, while we have an Arsenal fan who doesn't want to be liked and more...
We have a Newcastle fan having a pop at his manager, some mild reaction to last night at Bournemouth, a justication of that Falcao cost and why the Neviller rules...
You know what to do if you have anything to say - mail email@example.com
Seeing as how Chelsea somehow managed to squeeze 28m out of Everton (Everton!) after already getting shot of that springy haired oaf David Luiz for a frankly p*ss-taking 50 million, I have to ask:
Is Daniel Levy moonlighting at Stamford Bridge this summer?
Why Lukaku's A Good Signing
I really don't get people questioning Romelu Lukaku's £28million fee. It strikes me as a good deal for a number of reasons.
'Value'. This isn't 2013's Everton spending the best part of £30m. The season before last, the club's total revenue was only slightly more than the £82m they got from broadcasters in 2013/14. If I pretty arbitrarily apply a 33% reduction to the fee (last season's tv money was £51m, so 60% of this season's total) it comes out at around £19m in last's year's money, which I don't think many people would balk at.
Performances. Whether or not he's consistent, the fact is he's already one of the league's leading strikers. He tied 9th in the league goalscorers charts with 15 goals, scoring one every two games, which also happened to be his scoring rate at West Brom and Anderlecht. Play the man for 38 games and it looks like you've already got a 20-goal striker on your hands. Some youtube player.
Looking a little deeper, and heading over to the ludicrously awesome Stats Bomb, we see that Lukaku was also 9th in non-penalty goals and assists per 90 minutes last season. Basically it's a way of measuring offensive output without the potential skew that being a team's preferred penalty taker puts on things. Turns out that Romelu scores or sets up 0.75 goals for every 90 minutes he spends on the pitch. He's not at the elite level of Aguero and Suarez, but it reflects well on him that only one player in the top 15 (Suarez) played more minutes.
Potential. When you consider that he's 21, it seems safe to assume Lukaku will improve in the coming years. As experience grows, he should make better use of his power, position himself better and bring team mates into play more often. The prospect of a player who is already in the top-ten in offensive production making significant improvements should make Toffees giddy. The five-year contract means they should benefit from a significant chunk of that improvement, whether it's because he sees out half a decade at Goodison or because there will be two or more years on his contract by the time the rich teams turn their attention to him, leading to a very decent price tag.
Everton. Before his signing, Everton were facing a season without their top goalscorer and the dubious honour of a Europa League place. A season of regression beckoned. As Winty suggested, his addition alone will still probably fail to counter the effect of the Thursday-night games in Minsk, but it at least gives them a chance. And more importantly, his current and future performances should provide the foundations for Everton to routinely compete towards the top of the league and across numerous competitions.
...This morning's mailbox nicely covered the pros and cons of Everton's beautiful capture of Lukaku, but I felt the bigger picture has been missed by many, in a post-Andy Carroll world where price tag is king.
I have watched Everton attempt to break through the glass ceiling for over ten years now, always as something of a neutral to their top four quest. Throughout this time, they have had many fine players and always a strong spine; the one area they have always looked poor is up front. They have never broken the bank before, always signing maybe men: Andy Johnson, James Beattie, Yakubu, Vellios, Beckford, Jelavic. One after the other, they have shown potential before fading into a benchwarmer for Fellaini or Cahill. Unlike Arteta, Pienaar or Fellaini, not one striker was ever targeted by a "bigger" club.
So after a decade of failure in the transfer market, this becomes the only option that makes sense for the club. One Lukaku will cost them the same as two Yakubu's, a formula that has let them down time and time again. He may not be worth the £28 mil, in a sense that's not the point. When Roberto Martinez names his team sheets for the next 5 years, Everton fans need not worry about seeing a 29 year old still living off a player of the month award from 2009 on the team sheet and that IS worth £28 million.
Seeing all the money United have spent on midfielders yet remaining without a world class one for 5 or 6 years; or how weak Arsenal's defence was for so many years - this makes sense. Martinez has pulled off a major coup, solving a 10 year problem in the process.
Z Stack ,Ireland
But Mourinho Had A Point
There were a couple of mails on the Lukaku transfer yesterday questioning whether this makes sense to either of Everton (for spending so much money on one player) or to Chelsea (for releasing a more or less proven player while having a thin-ish strikeforce of Drogba, Torres and Costa).
Personally, I think Mourinho's words are key to understanding why this transfer was allowed to happen by Chelsea, with him questioning Lukaku's attitude and motivation to fight for his place in the team. It's fair to say that at Chelsea, Lukaku would have been second, if not third, choice, behind Costa and possibly Drogba. At Everton, he is the undisputed first choice (just as he was at West Brom the year before), and he seems to strive in being the main man. Except for one thing -- he hasn't exactly covered himself in glory in some of the big games, has he?
For Chelsea, I think they've got as much money as they could for a 21-year old who has not convinced Mourinho that he has potential to be a world-class striker. As for Everton, I think they may have paid more than they should have for a striker, but Lukaku has proven to work in Martinez's system, and this deal will represent good value to them if he helps Everton break into the top 4 in the next few seasons. As for the player himself, this is his big chance. He's playing for an intelligent manager, at a club that is the "best of the rest" (outside the Big 5), and he gets the chance to showcase his skill and develop his talent as the first-choice forward.
PhX (Obligatory mention of Man Utd supporter's wish for Vidal to United)
Nice Pay-Off Line
So the disappearing spray which debuted at the World Cup will be appearing the Prem next season much to the delight of any manager Sky Sports News can get to give a sound-bite along the usual line of "it's a no brainer." It seems no one has any issue with its introduction, but is this not just taking fluidity away from the game and allowing referees to orchestrate 'exciting' situations for the fans? Does this mean that a player cannot take a quick free kick anywhere near the goal? And so gone are the days of a bit imaginative play like Porto's quick free kick vs Arsenal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-sFbjBGwmk
If similar happens next season will the ref get the spray out first or bring the game back, and to this point if you are defending and commit a foul why should you be given the chance to spend 30 seconds if not longer setting your defence. If a quick free kick is taken in the middle of the field and team breaks and scores this is generally deemed good play, I'm going to assume the spray won't be brought out in that situation but players could be within 10 yards of the ball.
As the magic spray disappears after each incident are we seeing some football magic disappear with it?
Would He Have Left After A Year?
Saying that Luis Suárez is too good for Arsenal is missing the point. One year ago the choice wasn't Barcelona or Arsenal, the choice was Liverpool or Arsenal. When Liverpool drew with Crystal Palace after being 3-0 up after 78 minutes Suárez was crying and inconsolable, and pulled his shirt over his head to hide his face as he left the field. He was obviously devastated with what he probably knew would be his last chance at winning the Premier League. Had he joined Arsenal one year ago he would most likely be sat in Barcelona now with a Premier League medal. So going to Arsenal would have been the right move, regardless of whether or not he was too good for them.
A few transfers may change this but...
1.Chelsea (Fabbers is a good signing, however Diego Costa does need to come good and, on the evidence of the World Cup, he may not)
2.Man Citeh (they are good, but Yaya has gone all mardy because he wanted more cake and they are very reliant on Aguero up front)
3.Arsenal (assuming they sign a good def mid e.g. Khedira. If they do not, 4th again)
4.Man Utd (just. They still need to do a hell of a lot in the transfer market. Look at their centre backs!!! Embarrassing. Van Gaal is good though)
5.Liverpool (impossible to replace Suarez and signing a bunch of Southampton players certainly won't be adequate)
6.Tottenham (solid, not very exciting)
7.Everton (not quite as good due to European commitments)
8.Newcastle (good signings, something stupid might happen at some point)
9.Southampton (showing signs of spending their massive transfer proceeds quite well)
10.Stoke (Hughes is doing well, annoyingly)
11.West Ham (ugly but effective, signed some alright players)
12.Hull City Tigers (quite nice signings, finished off OK last year - Bruce is competent)
13.Crystal Pulis (Pulis)
14.QPR (though think that signing Rio proves that they learned NOTHING from the last time they were in the Prem)
15.Sunderland (Poyet is OK I suppose but they have done naff all in the transfer market to convince me)
16.Leicester (haven't actually signed anyone any good but might survive I suppose)
17.Swansea (good strikers in Bony and Gomis (sort of rhymes) but generally very underwhelmed by their manager and squad)
18.Aston Villa (it's time. And signing players like Joe Cole will not help)
19.West Brom (little known fact: Alan Irvine is their manager)
In conclusion, think it's all quite up for grabs - the title could go to any one of four teams (really can't see Liverpool sans Suarez being the same threat) and I could see any team from my bottom half going down.
Pete Bacon, Beckenham
This is all getting pretty tedious, to be honest. Spurs being terrible last year had nothing to do with the players we bought, who were all internationals coming off the back of excellent domestic seasons. In fact, the majority of them didn't really play a lot under AVB. Spurs being terrible was down to a head coach who (although a lovely chap) couldn't implement his ideas properly, and caused us to be one of the most pedestrian teams I've seen in a long while. You don't have to look far to find things for which to ridicule my beloved club, but the purchase of a raft of high quality (arguably of higher quality than Liverpool's signings) international players is certainly not one of them. There's no need for such lazy analogies.
Alex G, THFC