It's something of a return to form for the mailbox with mails on Southampton (Liverpool fans are cynical), the gorgeous Graziano Pelle, Arsenal, Spurs and more...
It's a reactive Monday morning Mailbox. Liverpool fans are getting pretty sodding worried, whilst we have the latest on the Southampton CRISIS. Plus, well done Michael Oliver...
Anything to say on any subject? Mail us at email@example.com
Barcelona Signed The Wrong Liverpool Striker
Someone may already have written in about this topic and I just missed it, however I believe that time will show that Barcelona have nabbed the wrong Liverpool striker. While there is no doubt that Suarez is a better player than Sturridge. I think that Danny S would fit seamlessly into an attacking trio with Neymar and Messi behind him.
The big problem that Barca had last year, apart from having w*nk central defenders, was that they had no out-and-out striker hanging off the last man. As such, opposition defenders never had to worry about balls being dropped in over their heads. They always knew that the goal threat was coming straight at them. In my opinion, Barcelona have not appeared balanced for a long time. While Messi is a far greater player than Ronaldinho could ever have dreamed of being, the partnership him and Eto'o develop was so dangerous because they offered so many different avenues of attack.
When May 2015 rolls around I might have a very eggy face, however I think La Liga will remain squarely in the Spanish capital at the end of the season.
Deano, Chicago, Liverpool FC
Let's See Who Is Top At The End
Quite a few other Man Utd fans seem very confident that LvG is the man to take them back to the top of the world and beyond and in truth I am a little bit confused.
He's quite right that Man Utd might be top after 6 games, but that's broadly irrelevant - Liverpool were top at Christmas (I think there is some crazy stat about being top at Christmas and then winning the league) but fourth by January 2nd. Liverpool happened to go on a 10+ game winning streak which launched them back into the title race but 10 game winning streaks are pretty rare in the Premier League (so much so that every team to ever have one, bar Liverpool, has gone on to the win the league!). Perhaps 6 wins on the spin will build up momentum but a loss to any one of those teams, particularly early on, could also bring up lots of self-doubt and loathing from last season. LvG has also said that he tends to start slowly and Man Utd once upon time were "famous" for starting slowly so what does this all mean?
I think it's obvious that LvG is an exceptional manager - his CV certainly suggests so, and I think he is probably a good manager to potentially steady the ship and help bring back success to Man Utd - but is he the manager they necessarily want? I base this on a tiny recent samples of games, namely the World Cup Quarter and Semi finals. In the Costa Rica game they were held to a goalless draw but threw the kitchen sink at Costa Rica (probably what Fergie would have done).
But the crucial point here was that LvG didn't seem to do much in terms of adjusting the team's shape to try and win the game. He left players like De Guzman and Fer (not incredible admittedly, but alternatives to what was on the pitch) on the bench and made only one change in the 75th minute of normal time. I know someone is thinking about the Krul substitution but that was a psyche out - subbing off your keeper in the 90th minute against Stoke at 0-0 won't scare anyone. Against Argentina my memory of it was them struggling to create decent chances against a good but not spectacular Argentinian defence, again this is possibly sub-optimal as there are lots of well organised defences in the premier league - even Arsenal's looks ok!
I think it's going to be an incredibly interesting season. Arsenal were 7 points behind Man City last season and you could argue that both have improved equally so I suspect the gap this year might be similar but it's harder to say what might happen with Chelsea (probably better but by how much?) and Liverpool (no Suarez but some defenders who seem like they don't mind defending this season). I think the battle at the top is going to be one of the best in years and I can't wait. I wouldn't rule out any of the 5 teams mentioned in this email at this stage.
The Non-League View
Seeing all the varied and occasionally blinkered views aired here on the mailbox I wanted to put across my completely neutral viewpoint on the business end of the Premiership this season. As a Forest Green Rovers fan in a group of mates who support both the Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Sunderland (poor bugger) I'm quite often turned to as the neutral viewpoint, usually starting an argument. So here are my completely neutral opinions of the top sides in order of my predicted finish.
Chelsea - A very very talented squad with excellent additions in the right areas. However, still concerns about Diego Costa as without him they look very vulnerable to losing games against teams which park the bus like they did last year. Drogba will plug the hole to a certain extent, but can you really see him playing regularly? Fabregas is excellent and Cortois and Felipe Luis coming in won't harm them at all
One long term injury to Costa and they're out of it,. If he stays fit, I see them edging it.
Man City - The Community Shield told us nothing about Man City except that if 3 of their centre backs get injured they should worry, which isn't exactly news. Still a very good side from last year with the additions of Mangala in the problem position of centre back and Fernando to cover Fernandinho. I expect them to be very close to the title.
Arsenal - The game against City showed us far more about the state of Arsenal than City. A world-class player in Sanchez and a bright young talent in Chambers have arrived and the team looks stronger than last year. Questions still remain though. Is Giroud good enough? Will Wilshere and Ramsey stay fit? Who will shore up that midfield? If fitness goes their way I can see them challenging for the title. It hasn't gone their way for a while mind...
Man Utd - Great manager. Good players. Bad defence. If Van Gaal makes 3 at the back work with Smalling, Jones and Evans then he is a miracle worker. I think he will change tack at some point, given his lack of success in the market so far. (Shaw and Herrara are good signings, made before he came in) Champions League? Every chance. Champions? Don't think so.
Liverpool - Strengthened defensively (Apart from right back. Seriously, why don't they replace Johnson?) but haven't come close to replacing the goals of Suarez. The lack of a top-quality strike partner will surely decrease Sturridge's effectiveness, although the quality of the attacking midfielders behind him will help. Don't think they have the squad depth to fight on so many fronts, although I can see them getting into the Europa League from the CL Group stage and winning it to qualify for next season.
Everton - They're good, but no better than last year
Tottenham - Should be better than last year in terms of how they play. Can't see them improving too much in terms of points.
Alex FGR (Feeling sorry for Leeds fans, I had to put up with Hockaday for 4 years at Forest Green)
A Few Thoughts On Arsenal
As much as I am happy beating a Man City team that did feature Yaya, Silva, Jovetic, Navas, Nasri, all quality players, and beating them efficiently and effectively that we did, I know winning the Community Shield/Cup/Plate/Trophy/Spoon/Fork means f* all if at the sticky end of the season the team goes and hits the big red panic button, crash out of four cups in a week, end up in fourth (the usual).
The prospect of a front four of Sanchez up top, with Santi on the left, Walcott on the right, Ozil pulling the strings in the middle, with Rambo, playing that irresistibly beautiful Arsenla is renowned for, that remind of you of the joy of being on a pitch/beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon/morning playing the game. It's quite a tantalizing prospect - I'm getting tingly just thinking about it.
The outlook is generally better and better for our squad. The trophy duck has been dealt with, we've got three World Cup winners, and a hungry squad. We've been on an upward trend the past few seasons, slowly closing the gap to third and eventually first. Slow and steady wins the race. Besides, I'll take anything above fourth as a good finish to the season.
Though there's always the cloud of the usual crumbling of the season, the chance, the thought, the possibility that Arsenal usually gives me, the roller coaster ride of emotion, the ultimate entertainment that they fill my life with is what keeps me going. Keep the faith. If a man jumped from practically space and landed, Arsenal can win the league season and just might pull it off.
I'm really hoping Wenger is toying with us, the sly old geezer that he is, and pulls off the biggest shock of this year's transfer window, buying a defensive midfielder and one more defender.
Bring on the season.
Abdallah (rather hoping to see one of Carvalho or Khedira pulled out of the box), Nairobi
Gather Round, Children
Sigh. Not happy with the home page content?, come, gather round.
Years ago, around 2011, I got frustrated with the paucity of Ipswich stories there were on the home page as opposed to the murmurings of the usual big 2, much like some contributors keep suggesting in the mailbox and comments section. My resolve to this frustration was to wait patiently until a story came along which referenced us and raise my concern, I think it was the first leg of our League Cup tie with Arsenal which we won 1-0 (we were criticised for playing rugby, not football). I clicked the link to the story and diligently and eruditely spelt out my fears in the comments section that F365 focussed too much on the big teams and not the others, little knowing the storm to my reality that was to follow.
To my surprise an Editor response appeared soon after. It was curt and in a way somewhat narky, like an espresso drinker who has gone the day drinking decaf , but it was to the point. It said something like 'You're actually IN the Ipswich Town section stupid. Hugs xx'. I was perplexed, disorientated and confused, but I tried to take on board the magnitude of what the person who was obviously working the computer behind the big interweb curtain was trying to tell me. I had a look around and was amazed. 'I don't think we're on the home page anymore Keano' I said to my pet schnauzer.
I discovered that the story itself not only appeared on the front page, but ALSO in a special Ipswich Town section hidden in a magical place behind the home page where stories of every team in different leagues could be found, you just had to follow a simple road to them. All I had to do was click Teams+, click Ipswich, and close my eyes and within 3 seconds I was taken to my own teams page where everything they did that was of notice was written about. No guff like 'Manager changes dinner time and seating' or 'Manager says captain important to team' but REAL football stuff, and almost always directly relatable to my team. 'OH...!' I yelled as a dawning realisation swept over me that this information really existed, and then I read until I could read no more. I still do.
Since that day things have looked up for me. I no longer use Velcro, am comfortable with regular spaghetti as opposed to alphabetti-spaghetti, and never lose sight that apart from teams and results F365 is pretty much opinion based. But, whenever I do want to be reminded of all that colourful news about MY team I click Teams+, click Ipswich and close my eyes and within 3 seconds I am there amongst the colour and magic of the Ipswich Town page. Just because you can't see it initially, doesn't mean it's not there. At the end of the day there's no place like home page, but it's is a bit black and white if there's not much going on. The moral chaps?, If you want news on your team you should just follow the Yell 'OH' click road. It's wizard.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Use Your Eyes
Jim NUFC, you do realise if you come to popular, non single team affiliated, football website you are going to see news stories about the biggest supported clubs because thats how these guys get to feed their families right?
If you're not interested in the Man U parts then might I suggest not clicking on the bits that mention Man U. This is easily done by looking at the screen and using a combination of eyes and thinking to work out which ones do not have the words "Man U" in them. Then by using this technique some more (admittedly after some practise as not everyone gets "reading" right away) you can actually pre learn words you are looking for such as "Newcastle" "Terrified" and "Horses" to find the actual things you are interested in.
To be honest, and all p**s-taking aside, Man U are probably the biggest club in world football to be going through such a transitional couple of seasons is massive news. If you cant handle that mate I suggest you invent a time machine and go back to 1996 when you couldnt pick up a paper without having to see Keegan dribbling down his own tracksuit.
I know my tongue is firmly up these guys asses but you tell me another website that actively promote negative criticism of them as a rule? The Mail? The Sun? Do me a favour.
As you were.
Martin "been with these mans since dial up you get me star" Ansell
On The Magic Spray
They wipe the spray off because its water based and therefore getting rid of excess moisture on your boot before trying to hit the ball is probably a good idea.
It's kind of like a perfect example of why they are professional footballers (and are able to afford baby bentleys) and we are not.
...Dear Dom, London. If you go to Wikipedia and type Vanishing Spray, you will get this for technical details:
The can contains water (~80%), butane gas (~17%), surfactant (~1%), and other ingredients including vegetable oil (~2%)
Now here is the important part:
"The bubbles eventually collapse and the foam disappears, leaving only water and surfactant residue on the ground."
Now I don't know about you, but I would be worried about anything being left on my boots during the game (I am sure oil also remains). You know, on the part of the boot that we use for kicking the round thing.
Even if it doesn't actually do anything (bad), you can see why players might be worried. As we know all players know about Surfactants.
Julian (back from vacation, back to reading your website at work) Gdansk
...In response to DOM, LONDON, I think you're being a tad harsh. The poor guys are just worried that their feet will disappear.