There have been calls for a Mailbox free of #RodgersIn, #RodgersOut, #RodgersShakeItAllAbout and we have it here: Leicester, Villa, loyalty, weekend breaks…
We really do print what we receive. Want to see more of this stuff then mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Mailbox XI
Do you know what is actually boring to read in the mailbox? People writing in moaning about the lack of variety in the mailbox. If it annoys you so much, why don’t YOU send something in that you’d find interesting. For example, here’s my ‘Types of mails in the mailbox’ XI (4-4-2):
GK: Reasoned, sensible opinion
FB: Brendan’s a nob
CB: Wenger Out
CB: Wenger In
FB: Brendan’s still learning, stop bullying him
MF: Mail that starts, ‘I know you won’t publish this but…’
MF: Someone slating F365 for being part of Sky, even though they’re not anymore
MF: Mocking a mail in the previous mailbox
MF: I’ve had enough. I’m giving up on my team/F365/breathing
AT: Moaning about F365 bias
AT: Obligatory Ed Quoth the Raven mail
I’d be concerned about the defence’s ability to work together as a unit and I think the keeper would be AWOL more than Abou Diaby but I think Ed would be prolific enough to see us through.
Dan (Lewandowski. Wow), Medway
For Fox Sake…
There was a comment this morning about how great it must be right now to be a Fox. Well I’m a Fox. And it is seriously, seriously great.
So so great.
After 10 years of Championship/League One players. Gary Megson. Paulo Sousa. DJ Campbell. Barry Hayles. Paul Konchesky. After the false dawn of promotion to the Premiership followed by a long period rooted to the foot of the table. Since late March last year we’re pretty much the best team in Europe.
The last six months have been a pure joy, like nothing I can remember. I defy anyone to dispute that we are currently the best team to watch in the country. We can’t defend particularly well so we just don’t attempt to, we attack through a blend of sublime skill (Mahrez) and pure industry (Vardy, Schlupp, Okazaki, Ulloa, Kante). We have a 80-cap Switzerland captain playing centre midfield for us – An established Champions League level player…in a Leicester shirt! Seeing Cambiasso pull on the Royal Blue last year gave me many a hot flush but this year really has been something else. Our second string dominated a near full-strength West Ham side. We’ve got four top-quality striker options, strength in depth all over the park. On current form we have the best left-back in the league, the best right midfielder in the league and one of the best strikers in the League. I heard about Claudio geeing up the crowd in extra time last night and got goosebumps. I was reading it on Twitter for Christ sake.
I’m off to the Walkers for the first time this season on Saturday. Normally I’d be sh*tting myself playing Arsenal. Not this time, we’re so up for it, we’re flying. I literally cannot wait.
Dan, Greenwich (cue a 5-0 beatdown).
On Tactics Tim
The unmitigated gall of the man.
For Tim Sherwood to come out and say that he purposely set up Aston Villa to play worse than Championship level football is an insult to all Villa supporters everywhere. ‘I don’t care who the opposition is and what you want from my multi-million pound playing squad, but I *will* use your half-time boos to galvanise my team into performing better after the break’. Does this sound like the cultured, rational thought of a high-level manager? He is a joke, a stain on a once-proud football club and a man so bereft of ideas he cannot bring himself to properly motivate his team for back-to-back local derbies. Now, to most Villa supporters I get that in direct comparison to both Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert, Sherwood looks like Pep Guardiola in both man-management and playing style. But I refused to believe that they are happy with the money spent and the resulting output so far, coupled with a man that with each passing day looks further and further out of his depth and is starting to provide F365 writers with equally as bizarre soundbites as those uttered by a certain Liverpool manager.
Regarding last night’s game, even after hearing Sherwood’s crazed response, I still felt that Birmingham gave as good an account of themselves as their limited squad could give; solid at the back, tenacious and willing in midfield with adequate hold-up play, but limited finishing ability in the final third. Whether this was a consequence of Sherwood’s ‘tactics’ is debatable but for anyone that has not seen Birmingham lately, it’s fair to say that has been par for the course this season. Plus, last night Birmingham were in a win/win; win and the pressure would mount on Sherwood for losing not just a cup tie but a game to their nearest (by location) rivals. If Villa win, there would be little joy expressed as they should be beating teams at a lower level than them.
What did occur though was a situation that could only be conjured by Sherwood, one where even though victory was secured, they still come off looking a damn sight worse than Birmingham. Evidenced during the game, Gary Rowett has his team playing good, functional football again, something which has been missing since Chris Hughton’s one season in charge. As a fan myself, I find that the feel-good factor instilled by Rowett is tempered slightly by the tragicomic nature of our ownership saga. Why Birmingham aren’t and never have been courted by the business world’s finest (or otherwise), is a strange one.
Anyway, Tim Sherwood, not very bright, is he?
James F, BCFC KRO
…After reading the quotes from Tactics Tim regarding the Midlands derby, and Winty’s article on said quotes, I realised I’d seen this before. As a lawyer I’m contractually obliged to sit through endless talks and presentations on fairly dry subjects, and when doing so you very quickly learn to spot a particular genus of the family: the bullsh*t artist.
Tim is the guy who turns up to give the presentation and just reads out exactly what’s on the slides, and when questions are raised at the end, he invites a discussion from the audience, nodding and agreeing with responses and pretending that’s the view that he holds as well. If Tim worked in software he’d be the guy saying ‘it’s not a bug, it’s a feature’.
If anyone reading this has any residual sympathy for Tim then remember this: Icon Magazine, Redders Jnr’s glossy pamphlet for footballers (big on pictures, not on words) was co-founded by Tim.
Fraser (considering a sleeveless shirt for future presentations), Edinburgh
Some Notes On Villa
Wrote in yesterday with my worries ahead of Villa-Blues; obviously this wasn’t an ‘interesting’ enough non-Rodgers/Arsenal/Chelsea-based mail for you to publish so I’ll try again with some notes from the other side:
– Firstly, this nonsense about Tim having us play long balls on purpose: I’m furious. Not even do I have to put with watching that rubbish, I then have this idiot insulting my intelligence by suggesting that I didn’t understand this was all part of the plan.
Seriously, even Rodgers or Pardew would be too embarrassed to try that out. Just say, firsthalf tactics didn’t work, I changed them, second-half tactics did work. If the clowns could shoot we’d have been 2-0 down after half an hour, was that part of the plan?
– Clark in midfield? Are you joking?
– As much as the Clark experiment failed pretty solidly, at least it was an experiment. Do Bacuna and Westwood have dodgy photos of Sherwood they’re waving around? Did Gil run his dog over or something? Ever-presents and a never-present, I can’t get my head around this.
– Agbonlahor is starting to look very frayed around the edges; his time ain’t long unfortunately.
– The upsides: Grealish = Fabulous. Obviously any good play from a Villa player now comes tinged with concern that he’ll soon be living in Manchester, but for now I’m going to bask in this. The sight of Socks Down Jack absolutely rinsing Small Heath’s useless cloggers for 45 minutes was pure art.
– Nice to see Veretout and Ayew turning up as well. Chances are that it’s more their level that’s been found, rather than a proper system/tactic that lets them play, but more of this will be welcome.
– For all I’d heard about Rowett’s clowns being bang in form and his chat about them playing ‘excellently’, I thought they were awful. Given how bad we’ve been recently – Notts County put three past us, remember – to get two shots on target and two corners in 90 minutes is rubbish.
– Ooh, you got a tip-off about the starting XI did you Rowett? Well check you out Mr Bond. Worked a treat too didn’t it?
– As for all these bluenoses getting sniffy (pun intended, obviously) about us winning ‘our cup final’; when you consider how things have gone for Villa since our actual cup final, you’d be pretty pleased about beating a ropey team at home 1-0 as well.
– Tim – by all means drop Dwight down a peg or too during the awkward from-the-studio interview, but don’t do it by bigging up Alex bloody McLeish in the same breath.
– Onwards and, hopefully, upwards. There is some truth that two from the Leicester and Albion games would have been a more deserving reward than 0, but equally we weren’t robbed in either. Looking forward to a Kasparov-Fischer style battle between Tim and Outstanding Brendan Rodgers at the weekend.
Up The Dons
The mailbox seems to be crying out for topics other than Chelsea/Arsenal/United so I thought I would chip in with a subject I certainly haven’t seen mentioned: Aberdeen.
I’ve always signed off my mails here as an LFC fan but they’re really just the team I follow in England. Aberdeen have always been my true love.
For those that haven’t seen, Aberdeen have played 8, won 8 (including beating Celtic). They’re five points clear at the top of the league. They’re playing attacking exciting football and are genuinely entertaining to watch.
Now what are the chances Aberdeen will win the league? Not great. But it’s a nice thought. And to see any kind of title challenge in Scotland would be exciting.
What’s really heartwarming though is that this hasn’t been done with heavy investment. We’ve made no big money signings and aren’t slashing big wages on players. In fact the club has actually been clearing its debts over the last few years and is now officially debt free.
I’ve been following the Aberdeen for 20 years and this is the best they have ever been. If Derek McInnes doesn’t get offered a decent job in England I would be very surprised.
Mike, AFC, Dubai
This Is What Is Happening In Hull…
I feel obliged to write in, as a fan of a not big club, merely to comfort BlueLuke. I support Hull. I don’t really have much to say. Erm. I guess it was great to see Livermore back last night, he’s had a pretty s**tty time of it recently, so it must have been good to be back on the pitch playing football. Also nice to beat a Premier League team. Shame we couldn’t have done that more often last season. There you go Luke, a none big club email. Enjoy!
Since there was a request for some lower-league content, and I last wrote in after our final day miracle escape, here’s a Colchester United update.
We’re still s**t.
We are at least interesting this season though.
After eight games we have scored 13 and conceded 16 in the league, despite a nil nil with Oldham (missed that one, I assume it’s Oldham’s fault). We won our last 2 games despite conceding three penalties and have signed a striker I had actually heard of (Sordell) to supplement our current attack of a human infant and a cardboard cut out of someone who looks a bit like a footballer.
It’ll be another relegation scrap, no doubt, but at least this one looks like being more fun.
Given all the requests for some mails on some different topics, I thought I’d write in about something completely different to the recent discussions, to do with my own team, Leeds.
Having been through the past 20 years with Leeds, I have seen the highs and the lows, and over the past few seasons it has been mostly lows. However, this season I am actually feeling some cautious optimism, mostly to do with our youth set-up.
This season as an example, our regular starting line-up features Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook, Sam Byram, with Kalvin Phillips getting game time as well. All young, English prospects who have come through our academy into the first team. Apart from Southampton, I struggle to think of another team with such a well-run academy and it’s great to have such a young team which, if we can keep together, will go from strength to strength in the next few years.
Add to this the fact that Leeds have actually spent some money this season and strengthened the squad (Chris Wood, excellent signing in my opinion), and I’m cautiously optimistic about Leeds making the playoffs – although I think that Middlesborough and eventually Burnley will be the two teams to stop this year.
Any other Leeds fans feeling good about this season or any other views on the Championship out there for a change?
Niall (how long before Norwich come signing all the players mentioned above?), London
I loved the message from BlueLuke in this morning’s Mailbox asking for mails from other teams than the Sky Four. Influenced by this, I have decided to write about my beloved Wolves.
If you were someone who was looking at us from the outside, you may have seen us back in the Championship last season, and looking to build on a strong return, with plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
But as many of you who follow the Champ will have seen we’ve started the season very poorly, and wondered what’s gone on. Unfortunately, the fans are the same.
While losing arguably our best player in the summer in Sako, we’ve spent on players who have been performing well in lower leagues like Jed Wallace and Nathan Byrne, but when you look at teams like Boro, it does feel like we’ve done it on the cheap this year, a criticism aimed at our club owner and CEO quite often the last few years.
A very out in the open contract dispute with a key player in Kevin McDonald didn’t help matters this preseason either. Dispute over wages maybe.
Kenny Jackett deserves a lot of credit for the change in spirit and atmosphere at the club, but even he is making some baffling decisions this season, with a change in formation that obviously doesn’t work, and dropping consistent performers like the popular Dom Iorfa and Jack Price, to selling our POTS last year Richard Stearman for ‘footballing reasons’ when we currently have two youngsters in central defence, and captain Danny Batth out injured made no sense at all.
We hope our season turns around, and the Champ is a crazy league to be in, but with the sense of discontent growing, and performances getting worse, January could see us losing some of our best players like Benik Afobe etc.
Other smaller teams, give us an update on your start to the season, all non Top Four fans want to read it.
Jon Quinton, Wolverhampton
Seems the recent calls for emails regarding the not so big teams I thought I’d mail in about my second team in Brighton and Hove. First fell for them back in 2003 playing FIFA and have followed ever since. Plenty of ups and downs though that time and have felt that they have been close but not quite good enough for the last few years, this year I think is our year (I just cursed them now haven’t I?).
This is mainly down to our quite decent youth set up for a championship team with a good number of home grown young players starting to mature and our new manager this year Chris Hughton. I was so happy when I heard we signed him up as I feel he is very underrated. Sacked harshly in his first major gig by Newcastle, fourth in the Championship with Birmingham, 11th in the Premier league with Norwich first season and then sacked with them five points clear of relegation the season after. One bad season out of four is pretty good going these days and looking to chalk up another successful season with Brighton.
He has picked up a few nice signings like CB Uwe Hunemeier & ST Tomer Hemed and we are sitting pretty unbeaten with 20 points from eight games. Obviously this is the championship and anything can happen and many a teams before us have collapsed after starts like this but I’m remaining optimistic.
Just hope that if we do manage to get to the Premier League he is given a fair go and no knee jerky decisions cost him his job, had a bit of a d1ck as a manager previously in Poyet (we actually had Vicente from Valencia playing for us and he forced him out of the club in a d1ck move!) and his caretaker replacement didn’t even really want the job so it’s nice to have a manager you can genuinely like and by all accounts has the respect of all of his former players.
Alex MUFC, Australia
Loyalty? I’ll Give You Loyalty…
I’ll give Nick Hughes an example of loyalty. I cheered our League Cup draw away to Man U despite still being haunted by the 9-0 wraparound and roughhouse fertle they gave us 10 years ago. We were unprepared that day, but having firmly established ourselves as regulars in the top half of the Championship after years of bottom-half residence I feel we are on the up again. Not sure if Man U have spent any money recently, but we splurged £100,000 last year on Freddie Sears who is doing fine thank you, and we have a manager who has achieved promotion to the Premier League. Twice. Covet that Man U fans. Covet your arses off.
Loyalty is getting up and believing when you’ve been knocked down so many before, but with cautious optimism I fancy it may be Ipswich who gets to fertle Man U tonight, and about time too.
Loyalty can also be confused with Stupidity as well Nick, but we’ll leave that for another mailbox.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
Fifteen Minutes Later
F*cking hell, that was 20 years ago! and I’m still supporting them. There you go, loyalty and stupidity, bookending football for 20 years.
As the fella once said…
A Meandering Missive On Loyalty
Interesting mail from Nick Hughes on loyalty this morning – something I’ve recently been pondered myself from a slightly different angle. Having managed to cultivate a mild gambling habit over the last couple of years, I am struck by how much the adage ‘it matters more when there’s money on it’ always seems to ring true. Even when the stakes are low and the rewards meagre, simply having £1 on a game you would otherwise have no emotional investment in alters your viewing experience, often evoking similar feelings of tension, elation, anger (etc.) as watching your own team.
Essentially all I’m doing is replacing the emotional investment I would have in my football team with a financial one but it got me thinking about loyalty and emotional investment in general and my tentative conclusion is that loyalty to a single team adds an emotional value to our investment in that team we otherwise can’t get. Take lucky numbers as an example – objectively they mean nothing and are wholly arbitrary and they only have meaning because we gave it to them, at some point, for some reason. Every time we pick that lucky number we’re reinforcing its significance (which, in reality, is none) and we develop our own personal folklore behind it.
Turning to football, why do we support the teams we do? ‘My dad did’, ‘I grew up nearby’, ‘First game I went to’ – we’ve all heard these and many more cited as reasons for supporting a particular team and I’m sure people will be arguing the weights and merits of each for generations to come. The point is these are still arbitrary reasons to back any one team, even if it doesn’t feel like it to us. The explanation ‘because my dad did’ makes all the sense in the world in a footballing culture – less so when it comes to explaining things like fashion or political views. Once you take away the ‘reasons’ for supporting a team, all you are left with is the investment (time/emotion/money) you have put into it and I think this is what ultimately rewards loyalty.
So my grand conclusion is thus: loyalty to your team allows for a level emotional investment sufficient enough to counteract the total irrationality of supporting any one football team in the first place. It only means what meaning you give it and the more you give it the more it has meaning.
This coffee is pretty strong.
Second Season Syndrome? Why?
Loved the fine margins piece this morning, but the line about Sanchez (31 shots and failed to score) made me remember I’ve never really been able to understand a well-accepted football principle – ‘second season syndrome’.
Seriously, what makes a player (like Sanchez, or Kane), who pretty much a month before was scoring for fun suddenly after a holiday need finishing tips from Sandra Redknapp? Everyone knows Chelsea’s malaise is just them still being bobbins from the end of last season, and we’ve all seen teams turn it around in the second half after a swift boot from ‘the gaffer’, but suddenly not being the business because someone reset the points on the board? It’s just weird.
Similarly, the phrase ‘teams will have figured [insert team/player] out next season’. Okay, I get that being new has an element of surprise, but you’re telling me that, over the course of the season, with mountains of live coverage at your disposal and training every day, it’s not until that July weekend in Kos when you realise, “he’s not the Messi-ah, he’s Kyle sodding Naughton”?
The other I have is everyone saying that English teams need to adapt their styles when they play against slower-possession-based-football teams in Europe. I’m sorry, but if that’s paper to the hell-for-leather-Premier League rock, why doesn’t an English team just play that way every week and walk the league (other than being responsible for fans gouging their eyes out)? Rodgers tried it and had to bin it, Arsene’s done it since he decided he didn’t want to win the league anymore…why is it so effective just because it’s played on a Wednesday/Thursday?
Oh and I’m still trying to figure out F365 whether the ‘oo’ in your new logo is a pair of footballing binoculars or an infinity sign that you’ll be around for ever. It’ll be you and Jim White’s tie.
David P, Manchester
Thank You For Your Insight, Fergie
I’ve been an avid reader of F365 for a number of years and have a lot of respect for all of your writers (except maybe John Nicholson). However, I felt compelled to write in today because I strongly disagreed with Daniel Storey’s piece on Sir Alex and his ever-expanding bibliography. Storey writes in saying how it’s sad that the greatest football manager in the history of this country feels compelled to share his experiences and let us mere mortals get a peek behind the curtains at Old Trafford. I’m sorry but I find this utter hogwash (I said I was sorry!).
Storey somehow discounts the potential of these books to inspire younger generations to take up management as a viable career and indeed if some of Fergie’s techniques can help the business world then does it not help us all in some form or the other? After all, Fergie spent a good chunk of his life making winners out of people and if he feels the need to divulge his secrets then why complain? Sure the ‘enigma and the mystery that surrounds his achievements’ might entertain us for a while but his secrets could go a long way in just making us better and more productive individuals. I’ll take that over mystery any day.
We should count ourselves lucky that we have one of the greatest managers in the footballing world among us willing to show us some of his tricks rather than complain about how he’s telling us too much.
…Quick question; is Daniel Storey seriously saying that Ferguson lecturing at Harvard is a bad thing?
Onto the rest of his article – whilst I understand that Fergie may be slightly undermining the mystery of his career, I’m pretty sure that gaining such extensive insight from a live genius such as him can only be a good thing. Going back through the ages, there are surely prominent figures and other freaks of nature so successful that we would all love to have heard more from, but didn’t while they were alive.
Surely it’s our own prerogative to read/not read his articles or books, and then ingest whatever knowledge you want from him. He puts it out there, it’s up to you whether you take notice.
No, Fergie IS Embarrassing Himself
I actually rather enjoyed the Daniel Storey’s piece on the post management soundbites of Ferguson, although I can’t help but feel that he’s only begun to scratch the surface.
In my view, these ‘controversial’ statements are only partly down to financial motivation. As Daniel points out, he’s not exactly short on cash. I feel it’s done with more of actually self-serving motive in mind.
The ‘four world-class players’ statement is classic Ferguson. In my eyes, it’s just yet another sly dig by exclusion in the direction of Roy Keane, and perhaps even Wayne Rooney.
I also see he stated the suggestion of him leaving a poor team for Moyes as ‘hilarious’. You’re right there Alex, is was hilarious. An aging defence, consistently playing Smalling and Jones out of position, average wingers and a neglect of central midfield in the transfer market since 2007 was pretty hilarious after all.
I also think he completely lost it after in 2009 after Ronaldo and Tevez left. Replacing them with Owen, Valencia and Obertan should have had alarm bells ringing. I know that two league titles were won in that period but let’s face it, competition was poor. Aside from beating a vulnerable Chelsea team and a weak Schalke team to get to a final in 2011 the post-Ronaldo European record was abysmal.
This is why I still feel no other emotion for Moyes other than pity, he didn’t have the ability of his predecessor to drag a limited squad over the line in the league. It’s also why I laugh at my fellow United fans for harping on about losing “soul” and “identidy” under van Gaal. That squad needed a serious overhaul. Speaking of sh*t chants in recent mailboxes, wasn’t greater investment one of the major things we wanted when we sang “Love United, Hate Glazers” and “We want Glazers out?”
Coming back to the soundbites, he tells us only what suits him and no more. Personally, I’d like to know more about why he couldn’t spend more under the Glazers, where the Ronaldo money really went, the Rock of Gibraltar saga, why admitting his disciplinarian approach is seemingly okay even when it cost the team titles (it’s football, not the army), why he wouldn’t sign a midfielder and simultaneously actually conceding admitting letting Pogba go was his fault. He won’t though, because of his pride and his belief in his own legend.
This has turned into a hell of a rant but I’ve been sitting on it for a while and the recent extracts from the book, coupled with the constant ‘Van Gaal’s team is boring’ criticism, as if Ferguson’s team were playing glorious, swashbuckling football before his retirement (they weren’t) make it as good a time as any to mail. Ultimately, I’ll always be grateful for what he did for the club but the constant defamation of club legends, how we’re told nothing was ever his fault and how great the Glazers were just leaves a bitter taste.
Sticking Up For Storey
I’m finding the Storey-bashing in the mailbox of late pretty bemusing. I personally appreciate the misty-eyed, wistful way he decries the death of football’s traditions as and when further evidence of same arises (which it does with alarming regularity nowadays).
I obviously can’t speak of any other football fan’s personal experiences, but the game I grew up watching was clearly a vastly different beast to the “product” (FFS) I now get served up. Player functionality is sadly homogenising as teams are increasingly viewed as machines to be tweaked to produce maximum output. Social media has confirmed the long-held speculations that players are braindead in the majority of instances. The transfer windows have become Twitter-fuelled, self-sustaining carousels of lies. The amount of footy on TV has long since reached saturation point.
All of the above have served to shrink the footballing world and rob it of some of its former charm. That understandably removes a chunk of the mystique which made the game so compelling for fans of a certain vintage when they were growing up. Granted, Fergie’s literary canon and the (unnecessary) insight into his thoughts and methods is only a small indicator of this continuing trend, but it’s an indicator nonetheless. Would you want to see a magic show if the magician had previously laid bare the secrets of his tricks? Or watch a sci-fi epic with the special effects deconstructed as you watched?
There’s a certain amount of escapism that goes into being a football fan – immersing ourselves in another world 90 minutes at a time to temporarily shatter the humdrum of daily life. It’s hard to suspend disbelief when everything you see before you has been rationalised and stripped of fantasy before you set foot in the stadium. Thank Christ some people like Storey view that as a bad thing rather than accepting “progress” and mindlessly liking the 4 millionth Vine they’ve seen this month before discussing how sick Nathaniel Clyne’s FIFA skills are.
Keith Reilly, MUFC, Dublin
Football Break Suggestions
I’ve just got back from Bruges – where we saw FC Brugge win 5-1 against Waasland-Beveren. Great game in a fantastic atmosphere, and a wonderful pre-Christmass jaunt to a beautiful city. Plus, take the Eurostar instead of the plane and fill your suitcase with beer on the way home.
Aidan, EFC, Redditch (mind out for the Trappist beer!)
…RE Rustin Cohle’s e-mail about trips away, I went to watch Dortmund a couple of years ago and it was fantastic. Flew out to Köln on the Friday night (cheap from Gatwick) and got the train to Dortmund on the Saturday afternoon for the evening kick-off.
You can get tickets from the club, but not many (we went as a group of five). Got tickets from Viagogo instead, which were quite pricey (about £70) but we did all get to stand on the Yellow Wall and watch one of the best teams in the world at that stage swat away Greuther Furth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ronIPDoGRWs). The atmosphere there is unbeatable, especially pre-game – plus they let you drink while you watch the match.
Stayed in a really bad hostel in Köln, but it was very cheap and right by the main train station. One thing I would recommend not doing – throwing up in a taxi. Cost my mate £110. Apart from that, a great trip.
…In response to Rustin Cohle’s request for decent football weekends away, myself and a couple of friends are headed to Milan for four days in mid-October for the Derby D’Italia (Inter – Juventus) at the San Siro which has come to a very reasonable £300 all in – flights, transfers, match tickets and a 4-star city outskirts hotel about a mile from the ground. Milan is quite expensive for eating, drinking, shopping etc as you’d expect, but the trip has cost us less than ’15-‘16 season tickets for Newcastle, so already seems a sound decision. A weekend away in a beautiful city, to see two global footballing giants play in a traditionally hotly-contested matchup, rather than nineteen weekends of clawing our eyes out at some of the worst football known to man? Yes please…Juventus need no introduction and Inter are looking to be back to their best having won their opening five games so we’re expecting a cracking game and atmosphere.
Tickets for Serie A games are usually quite easy to come by, they rarely completely sell out, particularly when televised, and can be purchased from the banks in the host city. There’s a lot of confusion around the Tessera del Tifosi (Italian Supporters ID card which ALL away fans must carry when attending matches), however it’s only applicable to residents of the region in which the away team are based, so foreigners are exempt (but must still show photo ID – passport or driving license).
Tickets go on general sale for the game tomorrow and are available already on Viagogo, so should still be available if this appeals to Rustin.
…A tip for Ruthin on where to go on a European football trip. I would suggest going to Germany but ignoring Munich and Dortmund unless you are willing to pay three or four times face value price on a ticket exchange website and having your mates rightly accuse you of being a football hipster.
Instead stay for a long weekend in Dusseldorf a great city with plenty of traditional beer halls in the old town. It has a large airport with cheap flights to most UK airports. You are then within 45 minutes train ride of Leverkusen, Monchengladbach, Dortmund (contradicting myself by now including them but it is a great stadium and worth a trip once), Schalke, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Bochum. You should be able to buy tickets for all but Dortmund through the club’s websites (assuming they aren’t playing a local rival or Bayern) for around 15-25 pounds. Travel to and from all games will be included in the match ticket. If you pick the right weekend you should easily get to a Saturday and Sunday game and possibly even one on Friday night.
(If you do go I recommend Hausbrauerei Zum Schlussel in Dusseldorf’s old town a great beer hall with traditional German food.)
…In reply to Rustin Cohle (Greizmann will win the Ballon D’Or in 2017) I was also at that game in the Calderon in Feb with a group of lads catching a European game. Myself and some friends try to pick up at least one European trip per year to include the best fan atmosphere and grounds on offer, along with what the city has to offer up. We are also currently trying to squeeze something in pre-crimbo and have been trying to think of what would be best. We usually head around February, and intend to still head off then too. We have a few options picked out.
A) Hamburg/St Pauli – Germany is always a good shout, Hamburg is debauchery central, cheap pints & cheap flights from Ireland, too.
B) Lisbon derby – Not sure about Lisbon as a city, as we would be wanting somewhere with a ‘drink-like-a-fish’ attitude along with the football. Always nice to catch a derby though.
C) Feyenoord – Rotterdam is a pretty cool spot, Feyenoord are not as mainstream as Ajax (we’re massive hipsters), and it’s way cheaper too. It has all the Amsterdamy goodness you get from Amsterdam too.
D) Dortmund – We’ve already been, so we are sort of breaking rule #1, but the atmosphere at the Westfalenstadion is insane. We caught a 1-0 loss to Leverkusen and the fans chanted like they won the league. We made a slight in error by staying in Cologne (gay capital of Europe) for the weekend, but that’s a whole other story. The current form of BVB also makes it an exciting prospect.
Can anyone else recommend a good trip?
Ryan, Dundalk FC
…Rustin Cohle, if I can recommend only one thing to one person, it’s this.
Friday 20th November 2015.
Have an Astra on me, mate. Probably best to bring a coat though. Hamburg gets chilly in the winter (-17c on my last visit, around January a couple years ago)
TheOneTrueGaz (If it’s good enough for The Beatles, it’ll do).
…In response to Rustin Cohle’s missive – try Wolfsburg. You can fly to Hannover (pretty economical); the ground is modern, great views all round; tickets are much cheaper than the UK and the city is nice.
It’s where VW is based (although after the recent debacle the £6.5 billion they’ve put aside for contingency payments may make a dent in the local infrastructure!) – and the football ground is in the environs of the ‘Autostadt’ – a car museum, restaurant, science museum, recreation area all rolled into one.
Brian (enjoy the contents of these brackets) Runciman
It seems that F365 has been getting a bit of kicking lately, but look on the bright side, if you google ‘scrotum’ then the F365 Mailbox is the third thing to come up under the news tab, so you know it’s not all bad.
Matt (I still love you), Manchester
It’s a month on now (or at least it feels like a month) since the launch of your new website, which is all very pretty and mobile friendly and that. But I just wanted to say something.
I miss the old characters on the comments sections…hump3, petergriffin, synergy and all the rest of the Arsenal, United, City and Chelsea regulars there. Even underscore added something pungent to the mix that wasn’t all bad. All now lost to the ether, gone as the great digital curtain of anonymity was ripped away and replaced with Facebook! It’s a shame, that was one of the best bit of the site…!
Please bring it back. Think of the work these guys are having to do now they (we) don’t have the comments section to occupy our workdays…it’s just plain mean.
(Sorry Guy – I know it was fun for a select few but it really was only a select few. And it was a massive pain in the arse for us – The Editor)