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 email@example.com
Our Player Ratings: More Interesting Than England
Driving home from work last night I heard the team news over the radio and for a brief moment I thought Roy might have seen the light and play the diamond formation Liverpool used on Sunday to great effect. I then realised he would start with 442 with Sterling and the Ox wide.
Roy, Roy, Roy when will you learn. You started with your perceived strongest eleven (debatable) and subsequently toiled for seventy minutes in an archaic formation that is just not fit for purpose. Milner and Welbeck on and you finally switched to a diamond. Why not start with this Roy? The Ox can play centrally and drive forward and currently England's brightest light (Sterling obviously) playing in his best position.
I fully expect to be in the same place on Monday with the same team sheet being read out and realising that Roy has no real clue. Sod the people turning up for the game, If 20 seconds into the game Sterling is wide left and the Ox is wide right, I'm going to turn my TV off and look forward to your player rating section post match. (Takes a few mins to read and far more interesting than Roy's England for 90 mins).
Paul (Happy to buy Roy some slippers and a pack of Werthers if he retires now) LFC
No Technically Gifted Players
After watching last night's game I felt compelled to write in. I have always wondered why England have struggled so much in international games and the one thing that always seems evident is the poor technical ability of English players. Having been born in Scotland I have had to put up with some really crap football in my lifetime, particularly when I'm playing.
This brings me to the ability of the professional players. Last night John Stones had acres of space to run up the right wing, but when faced with a defender he usually turned back and passed to whoever was the deepest of the midfielders, usually Henderson. Now he's not a marauding right back in the mould of Dani Alves, but is it too much to ask that he take a man on and maybe whip in a cross? When Welbeck came on he received a pass and let the ball go under his foot and out for a throw- £16 million? Don't think so.
Germany won the World Cup this year because the players were technically better than most (and they also had a fair amount of good luck). Ozil for all the stick he gets is more proficient with the ball at his feet than Wayne Rooney. The only exemption from criticism is Raheem Sterling. When he receives the ball his first instinct is to push forward, whether it's with a driving run or a through ball to the strikers. He's the sort of player that makes fans stand up in anticipation. James Milner? Not so much. This is something which affects all the British teams, not just England. Is it the coaching, the attitudes or something else?
More 'Token Rubbish' From F365
As someone who has often slated F365 and their opinions, I have decided now to only read the mailbox and John Nicholson's column. Anything labelled "F365 says" , I feel, should always be treated with trepidation as their opinion is often absolute tosh, driven by market trends and corporate social responsibility so actually we don't get an honest opinion, we get what society allows us to read.
In light of this, I couldn't help but read the England player ratings (it didn't say F365 says so I accidentally read it) and of course I find myself disagreeing wholeheartedly with the opinion.
The phrase "With that in mind, it makes sense for Hodgson to build his side around Sterling, and that surely means him operating in a No. 10 role" really is the most parochial, uneducated and frankly stupid comment you could possibly come out with and is exaclty why England are stuck in the dark ages.
Why? A team is not a team if you build it round 1 man. Why the obsession to always build a "team" around 1 man? So we can build him up to knock him down again?
It is so pathetic that a supposedly well respected site (I use that term very loosely) would come out with such token rubbish that shows they have absolutely no understanding of football.
It is a team game so stop trying to find your new messiah to crucify when it all goes pear-shaped.
Fat Man Scouse, EFC
Get Huddlestone In
I thoroughly expect to be slated for this but considering the state of last night's performance - watching England is now akin to watching a football minnow with the odd talented forward; for England read Montengro, for Jovetic, Sterling - perhaps it is time we tried something different.
For decades we have been crowbarring the biggest names from the biggest clubs into a rigid English team with little or no results. Last night, there was no England player who could start attacks, stretch player from deep, control midfield and spread the play. Wilshere is good for short, fast passes but has no range; Henderson is too slow, taking too many touches and simply doesn't have the vision for a play-maker.
Instead, I believe we should play Tom Huddlestone. Watch him play for Hull or remember him at Spurs - superb technique, huge array of passing, able to sit and control the game and then launch direct long-range balls. He could play next to Henderson and replicate the Liverpool axis which is doing so well. Can you think of another English player available who can do that job?
Yes, he does not play for a London club, but last season he was Hull's best player and they finished mid-table and got to the FA Cup final (his goal in the semi-final is an utter peach, too). Simply, with him in the side, the team would function with more fluidity and threat - just imagine him spraying those balls to Sterling's feet. And, realistically, if we did try him, would it be any worse than the previous, say, six England games?
Why Do People Care About Red Cards?
Ian M's mail to this morning's mailbox seemed to fixate on the fact that Wayne Rooney had been sent off twice while playing for England. Presumably this is a sentiment people have been harbouring since Alan Mullery's playing days (Mullery is to England red cards what Ronnie Radford is to FA Cup upsets, he simply plays the waiting game, or Hungry Hungry Hippos), but what is it about being sent off for England that makes people get such a bee in their bonnet?
We see these players week in and week out in the Premier League, we know who is and isn't susceptible to red mist, rash challenges or petulance, but stick them in the England shirt and some people expect saintly behaviour. It's like teachers who put up with a bit of horseplay or swearing, but as soon as a semi-important visitor is coming to the school, they turn really serious and remind you that you're representing the school so they expect best behaviour.
Do any other countries have this sort of double standard? Is Miroslav Klose's World Cup scoring record tarnished in any way because he was sent off (albeit harshly) in a group game in 2010? Is Zinedine Zidane's standing as one of the greatest players of his time diminished by his red cards? Or did German and French fans just accept that this is either part of the player or the game, and get on with their lives?
I never thought I'd be the one defending Wayne Rooney, or David Beckham, but as frustrating as their red cards were, it doesn't seem right to use them as a stick with which to repeatedly beat them, or to suggest that they are not suited to the role of England captain.
Ed Quoth the Raven, CPFC the Glaziers, Notts
England Need A Part-Time Manager
Totally agree with Simon CFC on Hodgson being a lovely and much needed transition from the 'arry style boys club, but not someone who can now make us train on. He mentions Brendan Rodgers as an ideal, which seems an obvious choice given Liverpool's play and their players making up half our front six. He's contracted, but why can't he (or anyone) do both?
It's not like being a manager of a Premier League team means you're less aware of English players in other teams. And working on a daily basis with some players in your squad can only help, surely? Besides, what do club managers do in the international break anyway? Half their squad buggers off, they're left with the fringe, and I imagine it's just light training. Can't you just leave the coaches to do that? Similarly, what do the FA need with an England manager outside the international breaks? And surely you can appoint an England staff to do the manager's bidding scout-wise etc?
Mourinho said he considered managing England, but couldn't do without the day-to-day contact of club football. Keane (not suggesting him...) is doing a job at Villa whilst also in Ireland. Sir Alex picked up the reins for Scotland (albeit under tragic circumstances) for a summer tournament. Hell, the players do it - play for a club side, temporarily bugger off for international duty - why not the manager?
David P, Manchester
When Will We Turn On Sterling?
I'm sitting here, counting down the days until the English turn on Sterling.
It's inevitable. Exciting young talent, bright spark on an otherwise dim night, the saviour on whom's shoulders the Three Lions will gloriously ride the wings of change and, before too long, ultimate, sweet and magnificently satisfying glory.
The sort of glory Shearer was going to bring. The sort of glory Owen was going to bring. The sort of glory Lampard and Gerrard were going to bring. The sort of glory Rooney was going to bring.
Just deal with it, England fans: success hinges on more than one man being in or out of the team.
Don't try to prematurely retire Rooney. Don't try to prematurely champion Sterling. Drop the messiah complex.
Accept that at the moment you're without the cattle necessary to challenge the best nations in the world. It's a generational thing. Maybe in the near future a crop of skilled and driven kids will arrive on the scene at the same time and compliment each other. There needs to be more than just the one man.
Arsenal Hindsight XI
GK: Woj/ Valdes
CB: Per / Sagna
CB: Koscielny/ Chambers
MC: De Jong/Arteta /Flamini/Chambers
LW: Griezmann / Sanchez/Campbell
RW: Sanchez / Walcott/Chambo
AMC: Ozil/ Carzola/ Mozart(Roza)
A return to 4-2-3-1, Selling/ loaning out Podolski. Massive competition on the wings and CM for a grand total of an extra £20m(after removing Ospina And Debuchy) + The costs of extending Sagna's Contract and Signing Valdes and Minus Podolski's transfer/loan cost. Any gunners agree??
(Still don't get why Arsenal didn't go for De Jong tho.)