It’s Ozil that’s the problem, not Giroud

Date published: Wednesday 13th July 2016 9:57

Mesut Ozil Olivier Giroud

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Allardyce? Well, Russian World Cup not bad one to miss…
If the FA are going to give the England job to one of Fat Sam or Steve Bruce, then let them just do it. I reckon it would be an absolute disaster, but it would be hard for many of the prominent pundits and journalists to criticise (although they still will), because it is what they are touting.

The WC in Russia might not be a bad one to miss, for clear political and social reasons, so let#s give Allerdyce the chance to truely, royally, mess up qualification.

I remember a few years back F365 had a quite funny feature during a WC or EC of an Englang c***s XI being managed by Fat Sam. I genuinely think the reality wouldn’t be so different. I imagine the whole team will be picked pretty much based on being famous names, rather than a suitable system with the best players or any other such sensible approach.

‘Wazza’ (because you know that is what the manager will call him) will be captain because he is famous and Sam will no doubt regularly refer to him as “world-class”. Rooney will pretty much get to play wherever he wants, regardless of the impact on the team. In fact, the whole thing will likely be a car crash, making the performance against Iceland look like the 1970 Brazil side in comparison. At least it will be fun to watch.
Michael, Basel

 

It’s Ozil who is Arsenal’s problem
This Euros has given extra weight to the common understanding that there just aren’t that many out-and-out, give him half a chance and you expect him to score, top-class strikers out there. Even less that are realistically available, if any.

So love him or lump him this means Arsenal are almost certain to start another season with Giroud up top. But the thing is he’s quite noticeably had a pretty good tournament, and a lot of Arsenal fans will be lamenting this as proof for Arsene to keep him on as a good enough striker to mount a title challenge, further compounding the ever present Arsenal transfer policy frustation.

So how to solve this? I may be the only one looking at it this way but I dont think Giroud is the problem, I think Ozil is. Stay with me…

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ozil. I think he’s a magician. But I just don’t think he’s playing in the right position. The reason Giroud’s had such a good tournament is because he’s had Griezmann playing just off him, the perfect partner for him to do what he does best: hold up the ball, bring others into play and lay people through to score – generally being one of the least selfish strikers going, not the main focal point for scoring goals. Arsenal’s problem is that Ozil doesn’t compliment that, he can pick a pass like no other, but doesn’t look to drive forward and score goals, sometimes even annoyingly so when he seems to look to set up a teammate even when perfectly placed to shoot. This for me is a big part of why sometimes we just can’t break teams down.

So to get the most from Giroud we need a player more akin to Griezmann to play that role just off him, within the squad I’d say the most suited players would be Sanchez and Ramsey, who could really bring out the best in him, although the former seems to much prefer playing out wide and cutting in and the latter if he can carry his international form into the new season. Past that I’m sure there are plenty of names you could pull out of the transfer gossip lucky dip but while the list of those that are actually realistic is probabably quite short, it’s pretty clear that there are more viable attacking mids out there than there are strikers.

Now where does this leave Ozil? He obviously has to play. You could shunt him out wide, but could he be perfect in the role Santi played before his highly unfortunate injury? I’m sure many people will scoff at this but he’s got the perfect range of passing for the position, there’s been concrete stats showing him consitantly covering more distance than any other Arsenal player so we can put that lazy myth to bed and hell, I’ve even seen him get stuck in sometimes – not that tackling was ever a strong part of Santi’s game.

In my humble opinion I really think this would work well for Arsenal, have him deeper spraying passes about and let someone more suited to working alongside Giroud do his thing in the centre, if perhaps only when not playing against the teams where we’d really need a more robust Xhaka/Coquelin/Elneny holding pair.

In an ideal world for this to work (for the love of God please) we’d actually just buy Griezmann, but that’s probably wishful thinking…
Joe, AFC, Manchester (Sissoko’s pre-final notes: 1. find shop window 2. place self in said window)

 

Pogba? We will take Matuidi, thanks
From what I have seen in the Euros and glimpses of PSG and Juventus playing Ligue 1 and Serie A respectively, I must be one of the few United fans that thinks Matuidi is someone way better fitted at the club than Pogba at this current moment.

First of all, Pogba is an amazing player and deserves the credit he gets, the guy has won four league titles in a row at Juve and been a huge part of it with a vast number of goals and assists. But let’s not forget that he played along players like Pirlo, Buffon, Chellini, Bonucci, Marchiso, Vidal and GUARANTEE you, the guy probably wouldn’t of as good a player as he is today if he hadn’t played with such experienced players like these. Yes it’s debatable how competitive Serie A has become, especially with both the Milan clubs who have been a shadow of their former selves for quite a while now due to dodgy owner problems.

Second of all, HOW CAN YOU SIGN A CENTRAL MIDFIELDER FOR £100 MILLION WHO YOU LET GO FOR FREE! WAKE UP UNITED! Sure, United have the money in the end of the day and will probably make all that money back in no time through merchandising and shirt sales etc, but surely it’s a loss of sense from the club though, the reason Neymar, Suarez, Bale and Ronaldo were signed for similar amounts is because they can both score 30 goals a season no problem (Bale would probably score more if he weren’t playing with Ronaldo to be fair).

Third of all, Matuidi is a shield of a midfielder and a workhorse, and the tears he showed when he got that agonizing second place medal the other day was something I really sympathized with, the guy always tries his best. Has has proved his quality by staying in the first team at PSG despite the amount of purchases the club has made within the last five years. In a matter of fact, hes probably been the most valuable purchase and consistent player (apart from Zlatan) they have made since he arrived in 2011. Okay the guy is 29 compared to Pogba who is 23, but the guy could easily play in the Premier League for another 3-4 years, have you seen how much the guy runs, he’s basically a technically better Makelele, and I for one think United’s team need someone like this sitting in front that defence.

The club don’t need goalscoring skillful midfielder, they need a physical and complete midfielder which the club have lacked for a while, and with Carrick and Schweinsteiger almost ancient and too slow to play in the Premier League (in my opinion anyways), signing Matuidi for probably around £25-30 million seems like the logical option.

And finally, am I the only one who has forgotten about Ander Herrera? I know Jose has fallen out with his best buddy Mata before, but he is actually a midfielder the club already have who can run and score goals and he loves United! Jose should give the guy a chance, it’s the least he can do.
Rami, Manchester

 

Transfer fees not mental at all
The mailbox (and the rest of the football-watching internet) seems to have gone a bit mental recently over some of the transfer fees being suggested in the press, but are they actually that bad when you put things into context? We have apparently realised that the so-called ‘English Tax’ is a straight-forward result of every Premier League club being loaded, but the sums being touted for leading overseas players are still winding everybody up. Why?

Let’s take your most ridiculous transfer valuations article, the most liked comment on which favourably compared the turn of the century, when thirty-odd million would get you a world-class player, to now, where it gets you an Aston Villa player. I am going off Wikipedia figures here, but when Real Madrid signed Luis Figo for €62 million their annual revenue was €138 million. That one signing alone chewed up some 45% of their annual revenue. It was a similar story elsewhere whenever a big-name player moved clubs. Gianluigi Buffon cost Juventus 30% of their annual revenue; Zinedine Zidane a full half of what Madrid were making; Milan laid out a third of their revenues to bring Rui Costa in; Hernan Crespo to Lazio was equivalent to 45% of their revenues… Try it with all of those players, and don’t forget how many mediocre players were moving around Italy at the time for daft money that the clubs (clubs like Lazio) soon realised that they could not afford.

Relative to what they currently make over the course of a year, Madrid sign their annual statement players for peanuts. Last year they raked in €577 million. If they bought somebody this summer for a quarter of a billion it would effectively cost them as much as Figo and Zidane did when football had far less money sloshing around. So even if Manchester United sign Paul Pogba this summer for a new world record fee, that fee will be equivalent to about a fifth of their revenues for the coming year, which is not much more than they spent on Juan Sebastian Veron or Rio Ferdinand. If you think about it like this, supposedly ridiculous transfer valuations seem a bit more reasonable, especially when these massive revenues are increasingly driven by the sort of commercial activities that can only be enhanced by having players like Pogba.

P.S. Christian Benteke cost Liverpool some 12% of their revenue, which would have been like them paying £16 million for somebody in 2001. That would have still been an expensive signing, but hey spent £10 million a piece on Emile Heskey and El Hadji Diouf either side of that particular year, so just put it down as another mediocre signing.
Lewis. Hi TTH

 

The new ‘futures’ way of doing transfers
If reports are to be true, I think we’re about to see another watershed moment in football with the alleged sale of Real Sociedad keeper Gerónimo Rulli to Man City for £7.5m.

What’s interesting about this deal is that he is being immediately being sold back to Real Sociedad for £5.8m. A deal which includes a buy back clause of £13.3m. It is my opinion that this is the point where we’ll see another shift of football towards the world of finance as this is essentially like the futures market. In a nutshell, Man City are confident enough that at a pre-determined date in the future Rulli will be worth more than £13.3m. So confident in fact, that they are willing to bet £1.7m on it. (I guess he’ll need to be worth more than £15m then).

On the face of it, some people may see this as a better alternative to the usual immediate loan-back process we often see. If Rulli turns out to be great, City get a good price and Sociedad get a cool £15m. If he turns out to be crap, Sociedad effectively get £1.7m for doing nothing. On City’s side, they’re not stuck with a dud, and lose what is effectively pocket change to them. And on the face of it, it does seem like a nice amicable arrangement.

However, what will this mean for the future? Will we see more and more clubs take this approach with young and younger kids? Will smaller academies have all their eight-year-olds earmarked for moves to a handful of big clubs? Will clubs outside the very top bracket be able to take £1.7m gambles? Will smaller clubs be bullied into these deals? Will the potential value of players v’s the option price be allowed on the balance sheet, and affect Financial Fair Play?

What does the mailbox think? Because it’s too early for me to consider all the permutations as I anciently drank a bottle of wine last night.

One thing is for sure however; this seems like a good move for the big-money club, so we’re certainly going to see it a lot more.
Big D, (following the lead of the finance industry, what could possibly go wrong?), Luxembourg

 

Neither the Euros nor Portugal were sh*t
I have read a few articles making some, in my view, misconceived points about this summers football, two of which seem reasonably common. These are:

1) This Euros was pants (paraphrased). This Euros was not pants. Having a group stage in which only eight teams got knocked out was perhaps a bit daft, okay. That led to a slightly defensive/cynical style of play from some teams. We could’ve gone for 20 teams with groups of 5 and two through, or 24 teams with groups of six or something. Might have been a bit more exciting, however, I’m not sure it would’ve made a huge difference. Even keeping the 16-team format may not have loosend things up. It wasn’t just the matches involving the ‘minnows’ that were draws or were settled by the odd goal, generally; nor was it always the ‘aggressor’ that scored more. Defending is also football…

If the teams playing defensively were waste of space minnows, it wouldn’t have mattered how they played either. In the modern age, there is a high level of professionalism, fitness and tactical ability across the board. Celtic lost in Gibraltar last night (despite an OUTSTANDING performance, eh Brendan? How many envelopes have you got up your sleeve/arse this year??) The quality of football at this tournament was in my view quite high for international football, and the matches were all competitive. It took moments of true skill or quick thinking to score. Teams were too good to be steamrolled, as technically the level was high, and there were a lot of interesting tactical battles.

Iceland, Hungary and Wales were in the top five for goals per game, and top seven for goals scored.

2) Portugal didn’t deserve to win it, were boring like Greece etc. etc. Well, they did win it…Only France and Wales scored more goals than Portugal. Take away the one in the final and you could add Belgium to that list. Ronaldo was directly involved in six goals. Only Griezmann, eight, was involved in more.

Of the ‘big’ teams (sorry Wales), only France and Belgium scored more goals per game than Portugal. Nobody kept more clean sheets.

In each of those draws, there was another team involved too. Another team who were playing with a need to defend against a certain player. Might this have contributed to Portugal being able to contain what may have been less than full bodied attacking displays? Seemed to me that when the other teams ‘went for it’, Portugal did too, and punished them accordingly.

Portugal gave as good as they got against Hungary, France and Wales, the only sides that threw any caution to the wind against them, and beat them fair and square. Okay not Hungary, but the point stands.

So, while the Portuguese didn’t win many matches in normal time, comparing them to Greece is unfair.

How many players in the Portuguese first XI would move for less than £30 million? Two or three?

Love,
Ben (yes, I’ve had a couple of beers), MCFC, Manchester

 

Welcome back Brendan
I’m delighted to find that Brendan did not lose the capacity to entertain during his enforced hiatus from football. It’s also fantastic he didn’t waste much time getting right back on that horse of denial after Celtic’s defeat to the mighty Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar.

“They were never in command”. “We were the team with dominance”. “There are no red faces here”. “What we lacked was the final touch, the final ball”.

It also appears that Celtic lacked something else – the ability to stop the part-timers scoring.

Sometimes, you’ve got to take it on the chin and admit your side wasn’t good enough.

Good to see him back though. Press conferences haven’t been the same without the hyperbole.
Steve (the Imps lost to FC Midtylland in the 2015 competition, putting them on a par with Man United, so maybe this result was expected), Los Angeles

 

…Lincoln Red Imps 1 – 0 Celtic

“I think the players gave everything they had.”

“There is no embarrassment.”

Good to see Brendan is already working his magic.
Stu AFC Wrexham

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