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
Tottenham Could Be This Year's Surprise
As a lifelong Spurs fan, I have approached each new season with eternal optimism only for it to end in ultimate disappointment except for a few well-documented seasons like 2009/10.
This summer, I have been quietly smiling at the hole Brendan Rodgers is digging for himself at Liverpool. Sells his best player (like Spurs'did last year), buys everything in sight (as Spurs did last year) but then claims 'its not the same as Spurs'. Has he got a crystal ball? It takes months for players to adapt to the rigours of the Premiership and I feel sorry for Rodgers when he realises that Liverpool this year will have to endure exacty the same inconsistencies that Spurs endured last year. Liverpool fans are on heat at the moment, they expect the title. Dream On.
As for Spurs, our summer signings of last year have been widely ridiculed on F365, Eriksen excepted. They have a lot to prove and already this close season we have seen just how good Erik Lamela really is. I fully expect him together with Soldado to terrorise defences this season and the quiet way that Poch is turning Spurs into a high tempo, pressing side, with extraordinary fitness levels will not surprise anyone who watched Southampton last season.
Liverpool were last years surprise team. Spurs have every chance of being this terms.
Philip Brady, Navan
Comparing The Top Sides
Looking the at the Liverpool vs. Man Utd tallest dwarf contest in the mailbox, I thought it would be worth comparing the top six sides for next season on a position-by-position basis. My admittedly partisan take:
Goalkeeper: Chelsea (Cech/ Coutois) > Spurs (Lloris) > Man Utd (De Gea) > Arsenal (Szczezny) > City (Hart) > Mignolet.
Defence: Chelsea (Luis, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic plus good reserves) = Man City (Kolarov, Kompany, Mangala, Zabaleta plus good reserves) >> Arsenal (Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Chambers) >> Tottenham (Walker, Kaboul, Dawson, Davies?) = Liverpool (Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Flanagan?) > Utd (Shaw, Evans, Jones, Smalling, Rafael - downgraded because of the high chance that LVG plays all five and because there are no reserves).
Non-attacking Midfield: Chelsea (Matic, Fabregras, Ramires) = Man City (Toure, Fernandinho, Fernando) > Arsenal (Arteta, Ramsey, Flamini) > Spurs (Dembele, Paulinho, Capoue) > Liverpool (Gerrard, Henderson, Lucas) > Man Utd (Carrick, Herrera, Fletcher).
Attacking midfield: Chelsea (Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, Willian) > Arsenal (Walcott, Cazorla, Wilshere, Sanchez) > Man City (Silva, Navas, Nasri) > Liverpool (Coutinho, Lallana, Markovic, Sterling) > Man Utd (Mata, Januzaj, er... Young?) > Spurs (Lamela, Lennon, Eriksen, Chadli)
Strikers: Man City (Aguero, Dzeko, Negredo, Jovetic) = Man Utd (Van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez, Wellbeck) > Chelsea (Costa, Torres, Drogba) = Liverpool (Sturridge, Lambert) > Arsenal (Giroud, Podolski) > Spurs (Soldado, Kane)
Conclusions from this:
- The league should be between Chelsea and Man City. I fancy Chelsea to win it on balance of players, and through having a better manager.
- Arsenal should finish at least third. Fourth would be a failure, as they're well ahead of the other three.
- Spurs have been written off unfairly - in squad terms they're virtually the equal of the Man Utd and Liverpool. All three should by rights be fighting for one Champions League place.
- It's surprising that for four of the six teams the biggest area of weakness is up front.
- Arsenal are two players short of winning the league (a top-class centre-forward and defensive midfielder).
- I have inevitably missed out a few first teamers from multiple teams and will be lambasted in the mailbox.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London
'Top' Players At Liverpool? Nah.
Craig Saphier, I think you are the person getting confused with the meaning of the term 'top player' - a top player is someone who has proven their ability to perform at the 'top' level. As you say, it is your 'opinion' that Manquillo will be Spain's next right back, I'm sure Dani Caravajal will have something to say about that. You laud Emre Can for his 'experience in Champs League and the league the world wants to emulate', this would be the same Emre Can who has made 31 starts in his entire career - five of those in the Champions League. As for saying Markovic looks 'very skilled and talented on the ball' - lets hope he doesn't have the same person as Iago Aspas compiling his highlights on youtube. These three players are unproven at the 'top' level, and therefore cannot be classed as "top" signings.
Paying a combined total of over £30million for Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, who were both playing in League One a couple of years ago doesn't exactly scream 'top'.
None of these players have made the difference for a side challenging at the upper echelons of a league as competitive as the Premiership, and none are proven Champions League quality. Compare that with some of the signings their competitors have made - Fabregas, Alexis, Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Lukaku, Mangala, Herrerra - all top signings.
Apart from Lovren (at a stretch), would any of Liverpool's signings from this summer start for any of the other teams who finished in the top four last season? Maybe judge how 'top' the signings are from your answer to that question.
...Listen Liverpool fans, you need to take caution in saying your happy with your transfers. Because from the outside looking in, it would appear to be an exact copy of what Spurs did the year before.
Ask a Liverpool fan who they would like to have signed a year ago and not one of their summer signings would have been mentioned. But now they are seen as 'top, top' players because they agreed to let Liverpool pay them millions. I bet most of the fans never even heard of Emre Can, Origi, whoever this Stewart bloke is, a tearful left-back and Manquillo who is now Spain's next right back don't you know...Christ!
In a market where Diego Costa, Sanchez, Fabregas, Luis Filipe, Lukaku, Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann, Toni Kroos, Robert Lewandowski, Diego Lopez, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and David Luiz have all been available and moved it simply is not comparable to 'buying for the future' or turning footballers into gold or whatever Henry and Brenda is doing this month.
I appreciate Liverpool would have had a tough job getting anyone from the above, but those players are proven top-quality players that WOULD have improved Liverpool instantly. Imagine Mandzukic coming in to replace Suarez?
The point I'm making is that for the money Liverpool have spent I wonder if they could have been more ambitious, signed a few less players but get in more quality.
Liverpool Could Finish First Or Sixth
This isn't intended to be balls out or anything, but Liverpool had Suarez and finished seventh two seasons ago, surely he can't be the sole reason we then finished second? Must have something to do with the chaps around him no? I find it weird that people keep saying we only finished second thanks to him. He scored loads of goals but he didn't create and finish every chance by himself I don't think.
Liverpool's record without Suarez in the team last year was actually better than when he was in it, although the sample size is very small.
I think Liverpool are a big question mark and think it is equally likely we finish 1st/2nd or sixth. Wouldn't rule out anything at this point. I just find the intense tribalism in the mailbox a bit weird it used to be a place for balanced arguments, good tactical awareness, witty comments and Stewie Griffin. This summer it's a bit like looking at Twitter.
Put your c**ks away boys - all your arguments will be settled soon!
Stats: Can Be Misleading
Nick P. Burnley FC,
Your argument against Herrera not being good a quality player began with, 'His stats on whoscored.com suggest he's an OK player...'
THIS type of comment is exactly what is wrong with football these days...are you seriously going to berate someone for talking up Herrera (under the 'assumption' said individual has not seen the kid play 50 games in La Liga) and then cite a fckin statistics website to suggest he's an OK player.
He's a central midfielder...a player who dictates the game. His contribution to a team's success cannot be summed up by statistics taken from a website.
It's obvious you have a very elementary knowledge of the game.
John MUFC, NYC
In Defence Of Mertescielny
Smuggler McSmugglerson in true pundit fashion decides Mertescielny couldn't be the best partnership because of three games. Never mind that these three games represent 43% of the goals conceded and that half the partnership missed half of them. 23 goals conceded in 35 games without those three.
Koscielny missed half the City and Chelsea games, missing six of the goals.
The problem for Arsenal in those games was not the centre-back pairing. It was the absence of midfield cover when our full-backs went up. Seriously, half the goals vs Liverpool and Chelsea especially were when they faced a 3 v 2 situation.
Firstly the City game was the only one of the game that was actually a freak game. City scored six goals from seven shots on target. One was a penalty that was also a dive. Koscielny missed four of the goals after going off at half-time.
Liverpool scored the first two goals from set-pieces, the first one was probably offside and in the second one Toure fouled Sagna who was in a position to head it away. We were excellent at defending set pieces over the season as well. The third goal came after Özil lost the ball and Mertescielny were left alone with Arteta to deal with four players. Not their fault. The fourth was another counter followed by a simply wonderful through ball that they couldn't defend against. The fifth you could debate they should've done better with.
The Chelsea game was pretty bad but again Koscielny got injured and went off after 45 minutes. The first two goals were excellent finishes where I don't blame them. The penalty and Gibbs red card came after they were forced into a 3 vs 2 situation. They could maybe have done better on the fourth one but I can't see it from the video I'm using at the moment. Neither of the fifth or sixth had much to do with Mertesacker and Koscielny was off the field.
They were both excellent all season despite not always having the midfield cover they needed. Koscielny for example got carded in two games - the opening game vs Villa and then vs Newcastle. For a goal celebration.
A lot of people will disagree with some of those points but I think this is still a better argument than the one I am replying to. Most Chelsea fans will take Cahill/Terry over them and there's an argument for it and they're free to make it.
Anonymous (As a disclaimer, I do defend Arsenal quite a bit but we really did deserve to lose those games.)
Blame The Homegrown Players...
With the debate about homegrown players moving to big clubs descending into a lot of finger-pointing at the big clubs, I thought of asking a different question - if these players are brought to fulfil the homegrown quotas, there must be something there just in case they absolutely have to play (injury, suspension etc.) so my query is why do so many fail?
We are told that moving to a big team is a poisoned chalice, that despite the riches on offer your game will stagnate because you simply won't play. So let me get this straight - you have everything you need to be successful - no more financial worries, no more sub-standard facilities, access to some of the best coaches in the game and the opportunity to learn from genuine world-class players (what is Jack Rodwell going to learn from Seb Larsson that he couldn't from Yaya Toure, for example) yet still fail to make the grade. To me, this makes no sense.
In my opinion it's nothing to do with managers not trusting them, it's down to the players themselves. Either they don't back their own ability so when they do get a chance they freeze, unwilling to take a risk and therefore contributing nothing in the games they do play. Or (and I think this is the case) they think they have made it and stop pushing themselves to improve. They get their big move and fail to push on. How is that the fault of anyone but these English players? Look at James Milner - not the greatest footballer in the world but has pushed himself and kept himself relevant at City, and now has a couple of PL winners' medals to his name. If he gets sold, I doubt he goes to a team that just escaped relegation.
Now, I ask again, whose fault is it that homegrown players don't seem to succeed at big clubs?
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
Eredivisie > The Championship
I'm not having this give the Championship more respect lark, especially when based on the flawed FACT that it 'has the fourth highest total attendance of any football league in the world'. Not average attendance, but total attendance...for a league containing 24 teams, in which 552 games are played each season. Compare that to say the Eredivisie, Sky's new shiny and much more superior offering, where only 306 games are played in an 18 team league, and you can agree that David P, Manchester's argument is not based on sound mathematical reasoning.
Even take the televised games on offer this weekend from both leagues. The Championship offer us Leeds vs Boro for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, while the early Eredivisie game on Sunday is AZ Alkmaar vs Ajax. If I was in Alkmaar, I would most definitely try to attend that game, whereas if I was in Leeds, I would hope the train would get me to Manchester in time for kick off!
Schky Schports 5 - itsch the future!!
LeftyDan (2+2=5), Belfast
Thanks Tony, But No Tears Shed...
I'd like to open in the current popular style of sneeringly dismissing a story/discussion involving one of the top seven teams before begging for more attention for my team.
Like a lot of Crystal Palace fans, my sentiments towards Tony Pulis are complicated. When Ian Holloway was mutually consented, the options for his replacement were presented as either: a) bring in someone who will get us playing pretty football and build for the future in the Championship; or b) bring in a manager to keep us up playing safety first, pragmatic football. As everyone knows, Pulis turned out to be neither of those things, which brought him a lot of goodwill throughout English football. However, there was a feeling at Palace that while he and his methods would be tolerated in the short term, the sort of stagnation that happened at Stoke would not be welcome.
One of the main concerns when he was appointed was his supposed track record of sidelining prospects, particularly young creative players, in favour of limited but more experienced players who were battle-hardened to his robust style. Given Palace's history of producing young, talented forwards and incorporating them into the first team (before selling them on for big money) - it's easy to be dismissive now but Wilfried Zaha and Victor Moses are two recent and very good examples - there was an uncomfortable feeling about the club's longer-term future.
This all leads on to why these showdown talks are taking place. The problem appears to be twofold - academy players and transfers. According to various sources, Steve Parish is unwilling to break the bank for transfer targets because he wants to see more academy players used in the first-team setup - they aren't getting much of a look-in because Pulis doesn't seem to rate them (and I'm not questioning his judgement), and he's got a list of transfer targets. Pulis, on the other hand, is unhappy with Parish because he won't break the bank to sign players. Given that we've missed out on Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson, and that the current dispute seems to centre on bids for Steven N'Zonzi and Connor Wickham, it's probably for the best that Parish has stood firm. All of them would have been good additions but none are worth breaking transfer/wage policies for. An extra facet on this is that Parish has indicated he would be willing to ignore his policy to sign Zaha back, knowing how much his signing would improve the team and increase his standing with fans.
Parish will probably get slaughtered by the media now for standing his ground, but it's more complicated than that. This isn't simply a case of an obsessive or tight-fisted chairman hamstringing a manager, nor is it simply a case of a manager not getting the autocracy he wants. The chairman has a responsibility to ensure the club is financially viable in all possibilities, and that includes everything going pear-shaped and getting relegated. Getting into a bidding war with QPR and paying over the odds for N'Zonzi was not going to help on that front.
For what it's worth, Pulis will always be remembered fondly for his half-season at Selhurst Park, and many of us thought he was in an ideal position to build on what was a massive overachievement last season. In the few bits of business he did get done, there was plenty to like. Fraizer Campbell and Brede Hangeland are upgrades on Cameron Jerome and Danny Gabbidon, and Martin Kelly should oust Adrian Mariappa.
It's a real shame how it has ended, but we are in a much better position to start a season than we have been in a very long time. Fingers crossed whoever we get in next (and the first name I saw linked was *gulp* Glenn Hoddle) can make a happy marriage of the 'Pulis plus' playing style and the club's develop from within ethos.
It's hard to see what Pulis gets from this, in terms of his next job and improving his standing. It's fair to see the top seven as out of his reach, but the clubs just above Palace last season don't look too promising: Southampton have just appointed a new manager, Stoke probably prefer Mark Hughes now, and Newcastle are resigned to be stuck with Alan Pardew. It's more likely he'll end up at either Aston Villa, West Brom or West Ham and be required to do for them what he did with Palace last year, which would be good employment I'm sure, but not exactly going up a level.
Whoever does come next, I just want to say, good luck, and we're all counting on you. Unless you're foreign, in which case, the fans are behind you, but most of the media will hate you.
Ed Quoth the Raven, (started writing before he was mutually consented, didn't feel like editing it), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
...Judging by reactions last night to the Tony Pulis mood it seems the general consensus is that Palace are mad to let him leave and that Steve Parish is to blame. I think a certain Mr Storey even called it scandalous, while Jamie Carragher opined that he should have been given whatever he wanted to make him stay.
Well, I for one am glad that we didn't. Pulis did a fantastic job and I have a lot of respect and admiration for the way he turned us around. But we won't be held to ransom by one man who wants to spend more money then our management deem we can afford. I have full trust in our board, they are the guys that were there in 2010 at Barclays pulling us out of the brink of extinction and they have run the club in a way that I, as a Palace supporter, can be proud. Steve Parish and Steve Browett are often very visible and open with fans, often appearing first on our fans radio, message boards before going to Sky Sports or whoever. If Tony Pulis is trying to pressure them in to spending more money that we don't think we can afford then a parting of ways was for the best. It is disappointing of course it is, but if we begin down that route again then we are walking a tight rope that is gambling on our Premier League survival. While Pulis does increase our chances, things can go wrong and as a club that have been through two administrations we all know what that feels like and are wary of it.
It is disappointing that Pulis has decided that without the money he wants he can't do the job, I'm sure he would have known the circumstances when he took the job. My feeling has always been that he was not necessarily happy at Palace and never seemed completely at home here. I'll wish him well and thank him for the job he did but it seems he had previous for these kind of tactics at Stoke and I'm glad we didn't bow to the pressure.
Every season preview has Pulis as our main man and barely mentions any of our actual playing staff, I think that was accurate as it was all about him last season but this is Crystal Palace not Crystal Pulis as Parish allegedly shouted at him last night and I'm looking forward to seeing how our players respond now. It is never boring at Palace and in a way I wouldn't have it any other way.
Pressure Now On Strugglers
I quite enjoyed watching Palace under Pulis last year, they broke quickly with pace and played football, which is remarkable considering the state they were in.
I never really liked him, what with being an Arsenal fan, watching his Stoke teams kick Arsenal players even after the ball was out of play (Adeybayor you tube)...
It's fair to say, I developed a new respect last year.
Now the Premier League just got a whole lot more interesting for the managers in the bottom half, any of Villa, Leicester, Hull (poor since Christmas) West Ham and the rest are under pressure if they get off to a bad start. Chairman would have looked at his magic last year and know what Pulis is capable of. I for one expect him to have a nice new job by November.
Strevs, AFC, Canada
Tony Pulis must REALLY hate Martin Kelly.
Kris, LFC, Manchester