Congratulations for an excellent Mailbox week. Pat yourselves on the back and mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, we are now all out of Mailbox Guest pieces so if you fancy a pop, then do e-mail us with a short paragraph about your chosen subject. If you spell things badly, don’t punctuate, don’t capitalise or suggest something we would write ourselves, you will likely be ignored. Send us a mail with ‘Mailbox guest’ in the subject field if you think you have something to offer…
Leave Studge alone
Anthony, Kilburn; congratulations on knowing Daniel Sturridge so well that you know his every thought and motivation.
Firstly, he obviously didn’t know he was offside, he was very close to being onside from the Sevilla defender out wide. The keeper would have saved it if Sturridge hadn’t touched it, watch it and you’ll see the ball is going very slowly and the keeper has it covered. So Sturridge didn’t cost us a goal, he scored a goal, but it was correctly ruled out as it was from an offside position.
Sturridge is a striker, he likes to score goals, as that’s literally his job. However, when he played with Suarez he often set him up with memorable assists like backheels and dummies, surprised you don’t remember that from knowing him so well. While he’s playing alone upfront, or with less good players, obviously there is less opportunity to set up teammates. Actually, once the other two strikers came on especially, the commentators were actually criticising Sturridge for too often being the one dropping deep to link play and set up the other two, you must have missed this due to your surprising rage about a footballer.
How on earth do you think ‘he probably thought the other night as a success because HE scored. The fact they lost was irrelevant.’ If you saw him at the final whistle, or his interview post game, thanking the fans and apologising that they lost, or even had any sense not to think you know his mindset better than he does, then you wouldn’t come out with this nonsense.
Personally I’ve always thought Sturridge seems a relatively nice person, although I don’t know him, again congratulations on knowing him so well. His work with Sainsburys Active Kids and his work where he goes into Primary Schools of his own volition, not the club’s, had suggested this to me, but perhaps you know better.
This is a response to Anthony (Kilburn) regarding his Sturridge email this morning…
1) A striker’s job in the box is to get on the end of the ball and try to put it in. It is instinctive for Sturridge to try to turn that ball in. Regardless of whether the ball is already heading (no pun intended) goal wards. Do you not remember his great header vs Utd in Sept 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1b8DSktb08)?
2) If Sturridge did not get a touch or interfere with the play the GK may well have kept out the effort anyway rendering this whole scenario pointless.
3) We see it time and time again with Sturridge because he wants to score! Selfish? Yes, very. But ultimately he is in the team to score goals. Just like every slightly greedier than usual striker I’ve seen, like Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Defoe etc.
“He probably saw the other night as a success because HE scored. The fact they lost was irrelevant.”
I’m guessing you didn’t see him speaking to the media after the game when he apologised to the fans and thanked them for travelling.
“He epitomises all that is wrong with English football”
Really? REALLY? Because when I think of things wrong with English football I think hooliganism, racism and sexism. And I don’t see how he epitomises any of that…
There seems to be this negative stigma around Sturridge that I just can’t get my head around.
· We’re told he’s arrogant for celebrating goals with his dance, but other players do not get criticised for elaborate/ pre planned celebrations.
· We’re told he has an attitude problem because at Chelsea he wanted to play up front and not on the wing. Yet when players like Rooney demands to Sir Alex that he’s played up front no one has an issue.
· We’re continually told he’s disruptive and yet we’ve heard zero from any of his current manager or previous managers about this. On the contrary we’ve heard from numerous young players, Sterling and Ibe in particular, he’s a great guy around the club who looks after the younger players.
· We’re told he lacks heart for refusing to play through injury, conveniently forgetting the times he has indeed played through injury for both Liverpool and England (remember Hodgson saying he purposely played him while injured to “test his resolve”?) and rushed back from injuries. And why is it no one questions the heart or professionalism of Phil Jones who is injured just as often??
· We’re told he lacks heart or doesn’t care when he’s injured, and then we’re told he has an attitude problem when he’s annoyed about getting subbed off.
· We’re told he puts personal glory above Liverpool and doesn’t care about the club, yet when he cried after we lost to Arsenal in FA Cup in Feb 2014 or City in League Cup final this year people say he’s weak/ soft/ needs to man up.
· We’re told he’s lazy yet James Milner himself has come out and said he works harder in training than Sergio Aguero.
It’s crazy the amount of abuse this guy gets for someone who keeps himself out of trouble, hasn’t been pictured smoking/ drinking/ fighting in clubs, runs football camps in England and Jamaica, visit schools etc. There are Liverpool fans who still pine for Suarez, a guy who racially abused a player and twice bit another player, while on our books. And yet Sturridge doesn’t even have a song with his name sung at Anfield.
I know you’re probably still hurting about the result on Thursday, I am too, but Sturridge is not too blame kid.
What a ridiculously naïve and idiotic post about Daniel Sturridge. To recap, Anthony says Sturridge “epitomises all that is wrong with English football” and on the Europa league final that “He probably saw the other night as a success because HE scored”. Mind-numbing idiocy.
What does Anthony know? Did he see the footage after the game of Sturridge? He look gutted, of course he did! And I would guess that almost any instinctive striker would have tried to make contact with Lovren’s header. I think Michael Owen said as much at half-time.
So to quickly answer your demands for “putting being a better person ahead of being a better player”, let’s ignore the fact Sturridge’s education values have seen him set up The Sturridge Academy in Westfield. Let’s ignore the fact he has his own charity foundation. Let’s ignore that (from a quick look at his website) he appears to be a real family man (he raves about his mum’s cooking).
The last words on Michael Carrick
Grr…I was feeling all good about myself with my 4 (four!) published mails in the last month with my last one yesterday defending Carrick and here I am today feeling so much anger at the mailboxes reaction around the enigma Michael Carrick.
I originally planned to whambast you all with facts and figures but quite frankly I spend too much time out of my working day around F365 so I’ll simplify matters.
Yes he isn’t sexy like Xaviesta or Pirlo but he had a purpose and his purpose was to calm the fcuking game down – stay with me just now – Fergie’s greatest ever side was between 2007-2010 where Carrick played a key role. His job wasn’t to smash into the box with a thunderfcuk shot or ping Hollywood passes but rather get the ball, slow the game down… breathe… restore order….then boom he’s done it again – he’s took control of the game and released it to the main boys, the headline grabbers, the sexy players, your Scholes, your Tevez, your Rooney, your Ronaldo, your Giggs etc etc. Just imagine a rubber band getting pulled back slowly and gaining momentum before getting released to cause some carnage.
He was valued by Fergie because he brought a beautiful balance to the squad, an air of excellence, like a football ballet player. he created a level of harmony in that squad. No wonder we were so successful – he picked up the pieces in midfield and handed the ball to the flair players as if whispering ‘go on my child, do what you do and score’.
Once the above mentioned players disappeared/declined, then his abilities and delicate nature around the pitch got exploited. United couldn’t release and play the free flowing football because they simply didn’t have the players so there he was standing there passing sideways and jogging along carefree and that’s when his play became unnecessary.
All I am trying to say is – in his pomp he glided around restoring beautiful balance to Fergie’s squad supplying the ammo to the big guns but once the firearms moved on there was no need for his style – nothing to do with his ability. His bullets just didn’t fit the gun. The gun being a slow, depressing United circa 2013-present.
I stand by comments yesterday, England won’t have another player like him soon.
AA MUFC GLA
Ok so this probably won’t get published because I am beating the dead dog with a stick and years after this dog was first beaten.
But Carrick has been an integral part of the United glory days (hopefully not past tense glory days for much longer). Carrick pros (which some people are saying are cons) are his positioning, tempo control, vision and passing. In teams with constant attack minded players such as Giggs, Berbertov, Rooney, Tevez, Scholes etc there has to be this one player who is dedicated to all of duties above, allowing these creative players around him to play with pace, attack and the flair they want (JESUS CRIST I MISSED RONALDO IN MY LIST ABOVE).
A good example of this is in a 5 aside match I played recently. We played a team who I assume are 11 a side players not 5 aside players, they struggled with playing on a small pitch and shooting but they all had perfect positioning making it very hard to counter attack and could all play brilliant passes through the middle. Although their shooting was off that day they should have utterly destroyed us as these features made their team a much better…..lucky we had a last minute shot which slipped through the keepers fingers putting us ahead by 1 YAY!
Another example of why this was so important in the Fergie days was because the big man SAF said himself Carrick is always the first name on the team sheet. Carrick playing his position so well for so long might be why we didn’t see enough of some other great players – Progba, Park, Kagawa
In the modern LVG days of United where the whole play and build up is on 11 players positioning and passing, it does make Carrick redundant. So Although I will be very sad and grateful for all the work he has done, I don’t think he will be missed in this United 11.
Stoky Boy – Carrick and Schweinsteiger to stay and teach Schneiderlin?
The Cup final
Good mail this morning from James T, our Japanese correspondent. He’s right that teams with something bigger to play for tend not to be bothered about the FA Cup, but then, that’s part of the fun for the rest of us.
The FA Cup is supposed to be about moments of glory, which are all of a sudden available for teams that don’t often have them, as well as teams that regularly do. That isn’t to say it’s meaningless when a “big” club wins it – Manchester United’s win in 1993-94, for example, sealed a double and confirmed the total dominance of English football. They even topped the charts with a song by Status Quo – appropriately enough, a band with no connections to Manchester (a song about LS Lowry). I would love our team to be in a position to be so blasé about the FA Cup, because we’re regularly in the mix for league titles and European trophies, but I’m glad we’re not having to be blasé about it because it will detract from our league campaign, like we used to under Neil Warnock. Coincidentally, the last time we had a decent cup run, in the League Cup, we beat Manchester United.
The main difference between the two sides on the pitch is that Manchester United have better players; but off the pitch, as has been pointed out in a lot of places, the difference in mentality is bigger than the Grand Canyon. Manchester United are a global brand, the same way General Motors or Coca-Cola are; Crystal Palace still have roots in the community they have always been a part of. Few people who support the Eagles will have no connection whatsoever to the club’s catchment area, as it were. Lots of the features in various newspapers on Crystal Palace have pointed out how many ex-players can be spotted in the crowd.
Do either of those statements apply to Manchester United (answer: I don’t know)? Do they even matter (answer: probably not)? They do however serve a purpose of highlighting that the current form of Crystal Palace FC is a throwback to what football clubs always used to be – rooted in their local community, with kids who supported the club growing up through the academy to play for the club they love. I would love to be proved wrong, and discover that Manchester United employ legions of former great players, and not just manager in waiting Ryan “Give It” Giggs.
Yes I know we’re going to lose. 1-0 to a Rooney penalty. Yes I did think Fellaini committed a foul in the build-up. Yes I did think Martial was offside. Yes I did think the contact was minimal. It’s not the rejection that kills you, it’s the hope.
As battle cries go, this is probably a bit of a rubbish, but then, if you support a cr@p team, as we do, then you have to take what you can get, and dream of tasting victory, overlooking the grim reality that you’ll spend most of the game sighing and muttering “f##k’s sake” under your breath.
Let’s just hope it’s a good game and the right team wins.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not a character, just a sequence of phonetic sounds that looks good on a t-shirt)
No more fourth-place trophy
Man City have managed to finish 4th this season – but you’d have to question whether they even are the 4th best team in England. Their record against the rest of the top 8 is 1 win – 4 draws – 8 losses (7 out of 42 possible points). Should the ability to hockey teams in the bottom half of the table really count for so much in the battle to get into Europe’s top competition?
I’d like to propose that the final CL spot would go to the winner of playoffs held between the teams that finish 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.
– In a normal season run-in, this would give everyone from 4th down to 9th the chance to finish in one of the playoff spots
– The final CL spot would always come down to 1 high stakes game
– Potential for high profile casualties, which is always entertaining
– Chance to secure CL by winning a match at Wembley is a lot more fitting than getting it because the team in 5th bottled their chance to go ahead
Happy to hear counter-arguments to this but please note that saying “But its always been done this way” isn’t in any way convincing.
Richard Herlihy, Dublin
Hungarian memories of 1990
The first FA cup final between Man United and Crystal Palace in 1990 holds special memories for me – I was away on an exchange trip in Hungary for a month. I was staying in a communist tower block outside of Budapest with a non English speaking Hungarian family, first day in, feeling quite homesick.
I explained that it was FA cup day – the most important day in the English football calendar and the father confirmed that Hungarian TV was showing the FA cup final at 11pm that evening and that I could watch it. I was delighted and settled down to watch. Luckily it was not just highlights but a rerun of the entire game including extra time. No-one knew what the score was as this was pre internet days in Eastern Europe. Information was scarce and it was like watching the game live minus friends and beer.
As a gesture of solidarity to their new English house guest the whole family strangely stayed up to watch the game with me. During extra time I could see they were all flagging (especially the mother and daughter ) but I was mightily impressed with their efforts to appreciate the tradition and atmosphere of the FA cup final.
When the game eventually finished in a 3-3 draw I headed off to bed, only to watch the parents and daughter pull out sofa beds to sleep on. I only then realised they had a one bedroom flat and had sacrificed their own bedroom for me to sit up until 2am watching a sport they didn’t really care too much for. Unfortunately both mother and daughter worked for the Hungarian railway and had to be up at 5.30am the next morning. They went to work very tired but dreaming of the Wembley Twin Towers, Ian Wrights brace and a bloody annoying 17 year old English exchange student sleeping happily in their bed.
Chris Nixon (MTK Budapest are my adopted team) Surrey
The winners and losers table
I really enjoyed Richard’s entry this morning on the Winners and Losers league table – I have often wondered how that would look.
The fact that saints (my team) finished in their correct spot at 6th reminded me that earlier in the season I had been closely monitoring the Big Weekend articles as after what felt like a very long way into the season, I still had not noticed Southampton appear once. (may have missed a couple earlier ones I am not sure)
This then got me thinking that I actually agreed with this – none of our games seemed to be THAT important. We were always safe, but never doing too well, and Koeman was never under any great pressure etc. So I was intrigued to see if we could make it through an entire season without appearing once in Big Weekend.
Turned out that around new years we had our slump and suddenly things got a bit more interesting, and we followed that up with our well documented strong finish….
But have there been seasons before where a team has coasted the whole way through? Being consistently average at their expected level. Food for thought.
I really enjoyed reading the analysis on Winners & Losers. One glaring conclusion that I want to point out. Chelsea is 13th?! Arguably they had the worst season after Villa and maybe Newcastle.
So Arsenal (who ended up 2nd) and Man United are bigger losers than Chelsea. Shows how they went under the radar ever since Hiddink took over. It also shows how anything Arsenal and Man United do wrong is blown way out of proportion and given too much attention.
Sasank (If only there were an organized mailbox dataset that could be analyzed…) MUFC
Love for Johnny Nic
Cracking article by John Nicholson. Completely agree about Lawro. Predicting results is clearly not a strong point but on the radio he is excellent to listen to. Oddly I can’t stand him on the TV because he always seems to be so unhappy to be there. Maybe it’s the shirts.
Chris Waddle is also a favourite. His commentary when England are being knocked out by someone more sophisticated is the highlight of every other summer. It could be a narrow 2-1 defeat to the hosts next month but he’ll say it epitomises everything that’s wrong with football in this country and the country in general.
I was glad to see Wor Al take some praise in the F(ar)OTV awards and it is something I wanted to write in about earlier. I don’t know whether it is an increased confidence in expressing his opinion after his rants on Newcastle over the past few seasons but I’ve actually found myself interested in what he has to say this year.
I don’t always agree with what he says of course but it feels like he has worked hard on justifying his opinions in the face of criticism. Likewise, his match analysis has improved vastly and he works well with Danny Murphy in particular. There was a particular moment in the build up to the Everton FA Cup Semi-Final against United where he was the only one in the studio pre-game to take issue with Stones as a defender and not letting him get away with being good on the ball. I’m not sure the Shearer of 3 years ago would have done that.
It’s especially gratifying as I often feel like his playing legend was diminished by his boring and unimaginative punditry. He was an absolutely phenomenal player, deserving of his own Portrait of an Icon for what he achieved and how he adapted after coming back from serious injury.
An international tournament is a huge potential pundit trap so I’ll be hoping that he can keep it up and not revert to type when England are involved. As it is I’m looking forward to watching him next season.
Hats off to Johnnie Nicholson for the end of season Journo awards, always a pleasure to read his pieces – whether I agree with what he is saying or not, the man has a love for language and a great sense of humour that I am sure is appreciated by many.
Further, to all of you at 365, thank you for giving me something interesting to do at work over this last season, keep it up.
In the whirling pool of sh*te that is football journalism, you certainly are the shiniest of turds.
Cheyne (There’s always next year) Gooner, Cape Town
The mighty Bulls
Any chance of a mention to the 19,000 Hereford fans heading to Wembley on Sunday for the FA Vase final?
The mighty Bulls were down and out in 2014 due to poor management and less than transparent owners. After bankruptcy led us to level 9 of the Football league, we have bounced back in style.
The sheer number of fans (me included) who have flocked back is incredible. Reason – the club is “ours” with supporters having a say on how it is run. The phoenix has started to rise 🙂