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The answer to England’s midfield problems is…
As an Arsenal fan I would love to say the answer to England’s lack of dynamism from midfield (the reason the ball moves is such an ungainly fashion from defence to attack) is Jack Wilshere, however with his injury record it’d be a miracle if he made it to Russia.
No the answer is Dele Alli. Some may argue he is a better No.10 than No.8, I’m not sure I agree. I definitely don’t in the context of England. He is exactly the midfielder the current team is lacking. He has the bite and athleticism required for the positions and the arrogance and calmness in possession to launch attacks from midfield.
It seems strange to me that everyone seems to have forgotten he played in midfield while at MK Dons and in his first season with the Spuds. Managing 10 goals and 9 assists while playing box to box and certainly not shirking his defensive duties.
I certainly understand the argument for playing Dele as close to Kane as possible, but my counter argument is so far up the pitch, the England team is not getting him on the ball often enough or in good enough positions.
My final argument refers to the arrogance I mentioned earlier – in this oh so jittery England team it would do them (and the fans) good to see someone on the ball, frequently, who plays as though he believes he is better than the opposition.
Sheriff Showobi, London. Gooner
Dull dull dull
Is Gareth Southgate the managerial equivalent of James Milner?
Doesn’t say or do anything spectacular, no stings from The Sun/Mirror, can’t/won’t make a decision on the captaincy for fear of making a rash choice, steady win rate, dull.
Useful, like a pizza cutter.
Andy from ‘ull
How to play dead rubbers
You’re away from home, in a dead rubber match, with qualification already guaranteed. Not only is the game a dead rubber, but it is against a side who have lost six and drawn one (against Malta) of their last seven.
(a) select, and set out, a vibrant, attacking side, with the aim of trialling a varied style. Inject some attacking vigour and reward the fans who will be traveling a thousand miles to support you in the freezing rain on the Baltic coast; or,
(b) select five defenders and two defensive midfielders, giving your team specific instructions not to counter at pace.
If you answered (a), congratulations, you’re the England manager, and can enjoy your multi-million pound annual contract. If you answered (b), commiserations, you are literally everyone else. If you made it through that sh**fest without having to staple your eyelids to your forehead I applaud you.
The most England can hope for…
With Ireland not on until Monday night and the fact that I’m missing league football something serious I stuck on the England game while I was making the dinner and although you didn’t set the match alight you did get the job done.
Three points, top of the group and some more international experience for the squad players..lovely work, except it’s not, the performance of every player will be under the microscope now for the next couple of weeks and the pressure on the England team has always seemed a bit strange to me.
I just don’t know where its coming from! Aside from 1966 (1st) 1990 (4th) 1996 (3rd) England haven’t been great in international tournaments, even when you get out of a group stage in a tournament you usually falter at the first quality team.
So why all this pressure on an England manager and his squad? Yes you should top the qualifying group given the quality of players at your disposal but do you really think Argentina Brazil Germany Spain France or Italy look at England in a tournament and tremble with fear? I don’t think that they believe they will be beaten by an England team due to the enormous pressure on the manager and squad.
Maybe the mindset of “Well we topped the group so we must be half decent” is applicable here however other teams set to top the qualifying groups are Switzerland, Serbia, Poland and Iceland, do you think they are under pressure to go and win it next year in Russia? I don’t, I think they are going out to give it a good go, get out of the group, maybe put it up to one of the big boys and hopefully the stars will align and they can pull off a Greece 2004 or Portugal 2016.
Which to be perfectly honest is what England should hope for.
Robbie DFC Eire *massively preparing for backlash
Oh dour of Scotland…
Ah, Scotland. So near, and yet again, so far.
It’s hard being a Scotland fan. It’s hard seeing everyone else qualify for major tournaments while we’re left with distant memories of France ’98.
It’s hard knowing that if you took out injury-time goals we would have at least made the play-offs for the last two tournaments. That’s not saying we deserved any more than we got, but it’s hard to watch.
It’s hard seeing us constantly perform against the big teams and throw it away against the teams we should beat. The evidence…
Draw with England
Draw at home to Lithuania
Beat & Draw with Ireland
Draw with Poland twice
Lose to Georgia
Beat Croatia home and away
Lose to Wales twice (when they finished 5th in the group)
Draw with Macedonia at home
2010 & 2012
We were rubbish here
The Holy Grail of ‘How did we not qualify?’
Beat France home and away
Lose to Georgia
Finish with 24 points
Beat Norway away
Draw with Italy at home
Lose to Belarus at home
And so it goes. It’s hard but but nothing will change. On to qualifiers for Euro 2020 where no doubt we will beat Germany home and away but lose to Gibraltar. Never change Scotland.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
Twenty-eight years of hurt ended by Mo Salah…
I’ve always been baffled that Egypt couldn’t qualify to the WC, despite winning three AFCONs in a row. But the new guard look good and it tells. Four players in the Premier League (Salah, Sobhi, Neny, and Pulisball Hegazi). I normally don’t watch my country’s matches because the quality is usually balls, but I tuned in today because, well, it had the potential to be historic. And they did not disappoint, only just tho. The football was decent, but it was high-octane excitement. Having taken the lead around the 65th minute, we duly conceded with five to go. Then the footballing gods smiled at us and we had five minutes of added time, with a 93rd-minute penalty to send us to the World Cup. I don’t want to imagine the pressure Salah was under.
Anyway, this was the first time in nearly a decade that the whole country was united, and straight after the penalty was scored, absolute scenes unfolded. Everyone went down to the streets and started honking (we have a thing with honking) and screaming and chanting. I wanted to ask the mailbox, if they would like to switch places with the lesser fortunate countries, and qualify on the odd year but ecstasy ensues when you do, or the apparent tedium of sh*t that you English have had for the time I’ve been aware of football (earliest memory is Ronaldo at 2002 WC)
Dear Stan Kroenke…
Fenway Group want £1bn for Liverpool. Usmanov has offered you £2bn for Arsenal. Sell your Arsenal shares to Alisher and you’ve got £1bn to spend – plus Liverpool are the second most successful English football club of all time.
Go on Stan – you know it makes sense.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Easiest run of fixtures? Not really
Your analysis is fundamentally floored here.
Everton, Stoke and Palace hold the top three spots there with Manchester clubs at the bottom. Their respective positions are not independent of each other and so this analysis is completely flawed. The clubs at the top of the table are there in part because they have had to play 2 out of 3 of City, Utd and Chelsea and because they didn’t get many points against them it puts them higher up this table and the Manc teams lower. This is the premise behind why you can’t get accumulators on results that are not mutually exclusive like betting a double on Everton to win and Crystal palace to lose when the two play each other.
A more statistically sound comparison would to be use last year’s league standings to calculate average difficulty per team which would almost certainly change things drastically as some of your supposed weak teams of Everton and Stoke are clearly not the worst teams over a longer period.
While I suspect a team like Man Utd would still be found to have a pretty easy run compared to most and Everton a tough one, the difference between all clubs will undoubtedly be much closer.
Jon, Joburg (most footy analysis is fundamentally floored)
Laughing at Moyes
“Nobody would have been better at Manchester United than me.”
I agree. Having nobody would have been.
An important mail about the FLA
This a long post, and I appreciate it might be too political or too divisive to discuss in the Mailbox forum, but hopefully this will be published.
This is a topic that many seem to be shying away from, whether it be the wider football community, the media or members of the group themselves, but it’s time to talk about the Football Lads Alliance and what it’s all about
Now, before anyone gets irate, I’m simply making some points and asking some pretty asinine questions. I know people who have attended and I appreciate that you can attend a march for many reasons. You don’t necessarily need to agree with everyone there. This isn’t an attack per se, although one of my reasons for writing in is because nobody feels they can talk about it in any form without adding this caveat.
Football365 is home to many an intelligent contributor and I’m hoping that someone who attended the march can respond with some clarity as to what it’s about because the website/Facebook page isn’t clear, and various conversations I’ve had on other platforms have borne absolutely no fruit.
The premise, as far as I understand, is to show solidarity against all forms of extremism and to pay respects to those who have lost their lives to terrorism. Sounds fair enough to me on the face of it. But after this, it gets a bit vague.
Now, firstly, its almost always positive when people feel strongly enough to march, in a bid to force change. It’s empowering. But whilst I think it’s fair enough to pay respects to the dead and to oppose extremism, as I expect most decent people would, I don’t understand what change is being sought here. What’s more; many people marching don’t seem to know if it’s a march against extremism or a march against Islam. I suppose when you invite Toni Bugle, Mohan Singh and Marie Ann Waters to speak, and welcome Tommy Robinson, all strong anti-Islam advocates, it becomes confusing.
Secondly, too much is being made of how fans of different clubs are coming together for a common cause as if this is evidence of thousands of men putting tribalism to one side for the greater good. From the outside, it doesn’t look like this at all, firstly because most people are able to talk to, mix with and whisper it, be friends with, people who support other football clubs, but mainly, because this is the ultimate form of tribalism – these people have simply found another ‘tribe’ or ‘group’ they hate more than each other. Again, the caveat here is that I don’t believe everyone on this march thinks this way, but many senior figures, including John Meighan, are convicted football hooligans with banning orders, who think they deserve a pat on the back for being able to go out on a Saturday afternoon without kicking people’s heads in.
The movement may well be in good faith, but they need some serious public relations advice. In my opinion, they need to do the following:
1) if they want to invite speakers against extremism, they need to widen their net and appeal outside the echo chamber. To reach out rather than be introspective. If they’re insisting on using the likes of Marie Ann Waters, they are going to appeal to far right types more often than not. They could do worse than approach someone like Maajid Nawaz or other Quilliam members who can give a Muslim view on extremism in their own religion. Too often I hear the throwaway line ‘Muslims don’t do enough to question extremism in their own religion’. Quilliam do. If the thousands of men attending are truly terrified of extremism, it would do them good to know moderate Muslims are also terrified and concerned. Plus it would do the football community a lot of good to be less introspective and help fight ignorant opinions in our sport.
2) Knock the precious attitude on the head. If someone asks what the point of the march is, engage with them. Don’t sit there with your arms folded, scoffing about ‘intolerant lefties’. Not only do you lose the moral high ground by being dismissive, it’s just painfully Farage-esque. Loud and brash with ‘strong opinions’ is all well and good, but when those opinions are fairly challenged, the mask slips and false victimhood seeps in out. It’s unbecoming. Along with this, accept that although you might have honest reasons for marching, that racists/bigots will obviously see this as a validation platform for their hate. I am a traditional voter of the Labour Party, I believe in their overall message, but I also understand that there are anti Semitic elements in their support. The minute you start trying to silence opposition to this sort of thing is the day you start advocating it.
3) Tighten up the narrative. Mainstream media will not pay attention to anything vague like this, especially if it has the faint whiff of racism in the background. Do more to address all forms of extremism. Distance yourselves from bigots and racists rather than inviting them to speak. Again, I know everyone who attended isn’t a racist, but I have typed ‘Islam FLA’ into the Twitter search bar and nastiness is right there under the surface. If I’ve done it, you can rest assured a journalist who’s reputation rests on their output has done the same. It’s no good having this ‘no-one likes us, we don’t care’ attitude like Millwall, because you clearly do care, and your movement needs support to carry on growing. Millwall don’t give a shit, so it works for them. It won’t work for you if you hope to gain support and coverage.
Now, as a true Liberal, I am more than happy to be told otherwise and welcome some constructive criticism. Let’s have some stories from people who attended and hear what it means to you. Let’s try and tighten up the narrative and hear some self criticism. And let’s keep it civil.
Ross H, THFC fan