Thank you for your mails. Keep them coming at email@example.com. And read Adonis Stevenson on that day in May 1989…
Was that a good season for Spurs at all?
I would like to challenge the idea that seems to be taken as fact, that Tottenham have had a great season and have been the only team to push Leicester City all the way.
Would this be the same Tottenham who lost in the third round (their first hurdle), at home, of the League Cup? The same Tottenham that lost, at home, in the fifth round of the FA Cup? The same that lost, home and away, in the last 32 of the Europa League? And now the team that has reached the mighty points total of 70, which is seven adrift of Leicester City, having never topped the table?
Arsenal are supposedly a shambles and are having fan protests but sit just three points behind Spurs and reached the last 16 of the Champions League, the quarters of the FA Cup and knocked Spurs out of the League Cup.
Man City are massive under-achievers in the process of changing their manager but they are in the semi-finals of the Champions League and won the League Cup.
Liverpool were so bad they sacked their manager but have reached the semi-finals of the Europa League (beating the team who beat Spurs) and lost the League Cup final on penalties.
Manchester United are ridiculed throughout the land but are in the FA Cup final, got to the last 16 of the Europa League and are 10 points behind Spurs in the league with a game in hand.
So Arsenal could still finish above Spurs, City have won the League Cup and could win the Champions League, Liverpool are in the hunt for the Europa League and Man Utd could win the FA Cup. But yeah, Spurs have had a great season as they won the…no they got to the final of the…no, the league, yeah the league, they are within seven points of Leicester City. Great season boys.
Who next for Everton?
Whilst Leicester fans are still on a high and City fans look to their Champions League semi-final, the football world is a bit distracted. Not Everton fans however, the majority of whom seem to be refreshing Twitter with various search combinations of ‘Martinez’ or ‘Martinez sacked’. I know I am.
Having had a lot of time to think about this (approximately every five minutes since the half time whistle went in the Derby), I’ve been thinking about who’d be ideal as the next manager and who could take the team forward.
Here then, is my one sentence (ish) assessment of the top ten candidates as listed by Oddschecker:
Martin O’Neill – No chance. Track record of being a good man manager and an abysmal recruiter.
Ronald Koeman – Would love this. If he could be tempted by the cash on offer, would be a very savvy appointment.
Manuel Pellegrini – Would be a good appointment but some concerns over what the football would be like and if he’d treat it as a long-term prospect.
David Moyes – One step forward and two steps back, nobody gets too far like that.
Eddie Howe – Dynamic young chap who’s impressed with an unfancied side. File under ‘Martinez, R’, and ‘Rodgers, B.’. Huge gamble.
Marcelo Bielsa – The person I wanted before Martinez. A terrible fit for many reasons, and won’t happen, but imagine how fired up he’d get them for a Derby. £20 on a Besic red card please.
Mark Hughes – Appointing Mark Hughes is basically admitting you’re happy with a mid-table finish, isn’t it?
Sean Dyche – 4-4-2 merchant who’s done great things with Burnley, but would represent a severe lack of ambition by the Board.
Joachim Low – Hahahahaha, it’s lovely to dream and I’ve made up about four songs about him already but this will NEVER happen.
Rafael Benitez – Worth it to see how many heads would fall off the other side of Stanley Park, but he wouldn’t come and I doubt he’d be very popular.
In summary, it’s either going to be an appointment soaked in mediocrity or something a bit left field. I can see maybe Pellegrini getting it which would be okay, but essentially Martinez being sacked (if it ever finally happens) could just be the beginning of our concerns, not the end.
Joe (didn’t Bielsa once threaten rival fans with a grenade? Can you even imagine?), EFC
Jesse Lingard – what does he do?
For over 10-12 weeks now, I have typed out drafts of mails on United only to discard – it is a pointless exercise to wish for sanity from a bunch of incompetent buffoons running the club. Further still to rant about it in a mailbox/support group.
But Kev’s mail just ticked me off today. Jesse Lingard is the ultimate nothing player – runs here and there, makes a few passes, doesn’t do much wrong, doesn’t do much right either – he should be nowhere near a United first-team squad and is a questionable choice even as a back-up attacking midfielder. What use is a substitute if he is going to do nothing to help the team? It is a fallacy that his statistics don’t do justice to him – they are an exact reflection of the utter sh*te player he is. He is the simply latest model in the tier-two production line at Carrington – following in the footsteps of Tom Cleverley, Darron Gibson et all.
What does Jesse Lingard do? Yada yada yada.
David Moyes (Almost discarded this mail as well) MUFC
This season’s surprise XI
In response to Peter G, here’s my surprise XI:
Schmeichel; Simpson; Morgan; Huth; Fuchs; Albrighton; Drinkwater; Kante; Mahrez; Okazaki; Vardy
A Leicester season in e-mails
Just had a look through my mails this season, both those that made it and those that did not. Shows the emotional rollercoaster of our season!
July 2015 – Predicted we woulld push onto the next level (meaning mid-table)
August 2015 – Joke email about us fighting for the Champions League after our strong start
September 2015 – That Arsenal side are very good, they were by far the better team, iIthink they’ll win the league. We’ve picked up a lot of points though already, hopefully that will be enough to comfortably reach 40. That Sanchez is brilliant.
October 2015 – Still near the top, we’ve only played the ‘easy’ teams so far though.
November 2015 – Vardy has broken the scoring record, what a time to be alive!
December 2015 – We are top at Christmas, we’ve just beaten Chelsea, this is brilliant, it isn’t going to last though obviously.
January 2016 – Still top of the league, we’ve now played the ‘big’ teams as well.
February 2016 – We’ve just beaten Man City and Liverpool in consecutive games. Brilliant.
February 2016 – That Arsenal are a horrible team, we were by far the better team until the sending off. That Sanchez is a cheat.
March 2016 – Not sure my nerves can take much more of these 1-0s, this might actually happen…finally starting to believe
April 2016 – Even Jonathan Moss can’t stop us doing this, we are going to actually do it.
May 2016 – We’ve won the bloody league!
Toby (Joint 5th most successful club of the PL era) Mitchell
The Leicester party is over already…
Jamie Vardy, Mahrez, Kante and co. were probably still popping bottles of champagne at the Vardy party when the media launched its ‘Leicester City are screwed’ campaign.
At the centre of the campaign we have Sky Sports – eager to trample on this glorious achievement with speculation, bulls**** and pundits’ ridiculous predictions for the future.
The headline on the SS website reads: ‘Merse: Kante, Mahrez to leave’. Well that’s that then. Forget about Leicester lads, it’s over, all over. Scroll further down the page… ‘Leicester 10th next season’ – that’s the opinion of our four oh-so-knowledgeable pundits Merse, Le Tiss and co.
The media have been literally falling over themselves on Leicester’s players for months and months. Now its time to bring them down to Earth and say – actually they are not really anything special and the good ones will leave for sure.
1. It’s May 4th, they haven’t even lifted the trophy and people are talking about next season, the year after even.
2. What is the point speculating on where Leicester will finish, again, on May 4th, when the make up of the top teams’ squads and managers for next seasons is nowhere near decided?
3. Mahrez and Kante may leave, they may not. It takes nothing away from what Leicester have done this season. And it is no basis for saying Leciester will fall apart. Top players leave clubs. It’s football.
4. I was really really enjoying this amazing achievement. It’s barely been 48 hours and people are already looking at how to spin it negatively and ruin the fun.
Leicester were left with a clear path…
Many reason have been raised as to why clubs like Leicester, Spurs, West Ham, Bournemouth flourished in the league this season while the so called bigger clubs like Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle have been made to look like fools. You can say it was lucky or teams under performed but to me it just looks like the bigger club are just being grossly mismanaged from top to bottom and for some its been for a very long time:
Man Utd – Since Fergie left they’ve appointed a manger who was well out of his depth, one who is clearly past his sell-by date and terrible a bad fit for the club but still haven’t fired him. Spent 100s of millions on players none of which are world class (Martial will be, Schweinsteiger used to be). Failure to move on Rooney after his second attempt to hold the club to ransom even though he was notably in decline then. Owners more interested in revenue and global appeal than the actual football or fans. Injuries, injuries, injuries, gets to a point when it’s not bad luck but a problem with the training and staff at the club
Man City – Injuries (see Man Utd). Not selling Yaya after Birthday Cakegate. Keeping players at the club who are clearly more interested in their weekly wages than actually playing for them (Yaya again, Kolarov, Nasri). Telling a manager who’s done a decent job he’s getting fired half when only through the season but has to stay in charge for the remaining games, just very disrespectful really.
Chelsea – Keeping John Terry at the club even though he’s clearly a very disruptive influence when things go wrong. Buying up many of the best young players in the world for their sell-on value with no intention of ever playing them (been make to like a stupid plan by Lukaku and De Bruyne) Appointing Mourinho a second time even though it had car crash written all over it despite the guaranteed short lived success. Not disciplining players for downing tools earlier this season. Owner treating the club like he’s playing Football Manger.
Arsenal – Running the club like the world most reliable risk free hedge fund. Never patching up glaring holes in the squad season after season. Injuries (see Man Utd). Not moving Wenger upstairs after the stadium was paid off. Seemingly nobody at the club has ever heard of sports physiology. Stan Kroenke.
Liverpool – Mindset that they are still one of the world’s biggest clubs when they clearly aren’t. Sacking Rafa then appointing no manager anywhere near his talent until Klopp. The transfer committee and playing world class prices for non world-class players season after season (Suarez is the exception).
Newcastle – Don’t really have the time to list everything and you know it all anyway!
Where’s the ambition, Arsenal?
After watching Leicester win the League and with the possibility of Spurs finishing above us for as long as I can remember (this can still change), I’m left wondering about the ambition at Arsenal. We have had the usual excuses from Arsene about injuries and not wanting to waste money on players we don’t need etc…but what is the stance from above?
Have they bought into Arsene’s lack of ambition? Mr Usmanov used to question this very thing but now even he has thrown his weight behind Wenger. Has the club become so preoccupied with finishing in the top four that this is now the limit for where we should be aiming? Where are the voices saying this season just hasn’t been good enough and questioning the fight of some of the players? I have lost count of how many times this season we have seen our defenders turn their backs on the ball when a shot has come in (see Gabriel for Bolasie’s goal a few weeks ago). Surely they should be throwing everything in front of the ball to prevent it from reaching the goal not hoping it doesn’t hit them
Now I don’t want Wenger sacked as that would be a sad end to the greatest manager in our history, but he should have chosen his time to walk away with his head held high rather than skulking away in the face of intense criticism of his management. His biggest strength has now become his biggest weakness and that is the faith he has in his players when some just aren’t good enough and his failure to address this when everyone around can see the problems is a major frustration for everyone not just the fans.
Now we come to possible replacements. We have missed the boat on Jürgen and Pep was never a reality so who does that leave? Who could come in and pick the squad up and address said issues? Simeone? While he is proving what a great organiser he is and we need some of that would he not turn us into the next Mourinho Chelsea? If he’s your manager you love him but from the outside you are hated? Koeman? Now this is where I get interested, he can organise a defence but lets his attackers express themselves and would fit the structure we already have. Howe? This would be a major gamble but one we could take.
But I don’t see Wenger walking away as he is too stubborn and the club wont sack his as he keeps the money men happy.
Jason (See you in fourth and a second round Champions league exit next season)
Defending Pep (as if anybody should have to…)
In response to the ‘Pep is overrated’ naysayers from this morning’s mailbox, here are a few facts and figures for you about the only fawned over because he’s trendy Catalan (quite possibly the stupidest arguement I’ve ever heard by the way!)…
As a senior manager he averages 2.38 points per game in the league, averaging more than 94 points per season.
He has won 74% (SEVENTY FOUR!!) of those league games with a losing percentage of only 10%!
His win percentage drops to a crappy 72.8% when you take into consideration cup competitions as well. Unacceptable, Pep.
His honours include 3 x La Liga (finishing second in his other season in Spain), 3 x Spanish Super Cups, 3 x Uefa Super Cups, 3 x Fifa Club World Cups, 2 x Champions League (reaching the semi final five more times), 2 x Bundesligas (soon to be 3), 2 x Spanish Cups (losing one other final), 1 x German Cup (with another final later this month).
His Barcelona side of 2009 won six trophies that year.
His Barcelona side of 2011 won five trophies that year.
…such a fraud.
Now for the opinion…if he ends up bringing only a fraction of that success to City I will be a very happy man. He seems humble, very likeable but at the same time no nonsense which is exactly what City need at the minute – both in dealing with some of the egos in the dressing room and the media. We’re about to see a big shift in how City are percieved in the media I think, there are going to be a lot of hacks doing a lot of arse kissing in the coming months because in contrast to holistic Manuel, Pep will not take any sh*t from any journalists.
I don’t swallow the ‘Pep has taken the easy job’ narrative either – have you seen City this season? He’s got a massive restructuring job on his hands and I believe we have truly got the best man for the job. The man who was highly coveted by every major club in Europe.
What excites me most is he is a thinker and so meticulous in his preparation, he’ll have a plan B which is something we are lacking at the moment. He elevates the average to be good, the good to be excellent and the excellent to be world class and I cannot wait to see what he does with some of the players at our club, especially some of the youth players we have coming through (crowned U18’s National Champions last night!). The future is bright and I cannot wait to have one of the best coaches in the world at ickle Citeh.
Mark (but he’s only managed Barca and Bayern blah blah), Manchester
What a City fan thinks of Pep…
I appreciate how for fans of other clubs Pep has to win the quadruple three years running or he’s overrated, but I thought I’d share the perspective of a City fan (apologies for poking my nose in).
For those on the outside looking in it’s all about his reputation, his legacy, his track record or whatever you want to call it. For us City fans though, it’s about what he can do for us. If like expected he gives us three years and then moves on, then how will he leave the club’s reputation?
Having watched most of our games this season, I would say that Pep has quite the challenge ahead of him. Our defence is a shambles, team motivation is shocking and many players are over the hill. There’s lots of work to be done.
Never mind the Champions League. With all the managerial talent and TV rights money flooding the Premier league next season, I don’t think any of the big teams will feel they can even be sure of a top four finish. Bookmakers may be backing us for the title, but they did last season too. They are as clueless as the rest of us. Winning trophies is great but there is no chance of him replicating Barca or even Bayern’s success in the PL.
What I will be expecting from Guardiola is improved tactics, better signings, integration of our youth into the first team, higher standards in training, and most importantly that his players turn up for every match. For all of Pellegrini’s class in many things, those aspects have been sorely lacking. If that leads to a good trophy haul along the way then wonderful.
Do other City fans have similar expectations of Guardiola?
Am I the pioneer?
I just don’t understand all the love for Simeone and Klopp (and Ranieri to a certain extent) and all the praise that they get for the high intensity, high pressure up the pitch game they play as if it’s a new fad.
I have been playing this way on FIFA and Pro Evo since at least 1997 very successfully and I wonder now if I am just ahead of my time and missed my calling as a top football manager.
Dave, Kilkenny, Ireland
What’s in the walk?
Has anyone noticed the ‘I’m the hardest in year 11’ walk that star players do?
I noticed Bale doing it at Spurs, then Hazard about a year ago. Willian and Costa do it now, as does Douglas Costa for Bayern. It’s this slow, postured walk with the shoulders up and the arms out. Obviously Ronaldo has done it for years.
It annoys me a lot and just comes across as pure arrogance.
Silvio (How much for Diego Godin?) Dante
Of course Blackburn bought the league…
Re David from Dublin’s letter about Blackburn’s title win not being down to Jack Walker’s money.
I’m a lifelong Rovers fan and I loved seeing them win the league, but even I’d have to admit Uncle Jack’s money was the only reason they were ever in that position.
Sure, there were cheap-ish cast-offs like Le Saux and Sherwood, but even those were far beyond the club’s pre-Walker means, and this was an era when £2m was still a relatively huge amount for an English club to spend. Rovers had Britain’s most expensive player up front, and the last-but-one holder of the transfer record and highest-paid player in the league alongside him. They also had most expensive goalkeeper in the country, and when £2.75m midfielder David Batty got injured, Kenny Dalglish could afford to throw another £2.75m at Paul Warhurst, seemingly on a whim.
In getting promoted three years earlier, Rovers made Mike Newell the first million-pound player outside the top flight. And then, when the wheels started to come off the promotion bid, in March of that year they spent £800k on Duncan Shearer, primarily to destabilise surging rivals Swindon for whom he was top scorer. He barely played and was immediately shipped out to make room for the real Shearer.
Prior to that, second division Rovers put in high-profile bids for Gary Lineker (rejected) and Teddy Sheringham (which had the effect of massively inflating the price top-flight Nottingham Forest had to pay for him, much to Brian Clough’s annoyance).
So, when people still talk about moneybags Blackburn, this is why. Happy days!
…While David (You could buy three Blackburn winning sides for the same amount as Christian benteke) Dublin makes a very reasonable assessment of Blackburn’s building of a PL-winning team in this morning’s mailbox I do think he’s either looking through blue-and-white-tinted glasses or simply wasn’t around at the time and has looked on Wikipedia for his stats – ‘that £3.6m for Alan Shearer really was some sort of bargain find’.
When promoted to the newly formed PL (their first time in top division since 1964) Blackburn promptly went out and spent a British record on Alan Shearer, outbidding several clubs including Manchester United. That’s the equivalent of Bournemouth spunking £60m on Harry Kane at the start of this season. Would that feel like throwing a rag tag team together? No, it wouldn’t. It would feel exactly what it was – a club investing outside money for a place at the top table.
Don’t get me wrong, Blackburn had every right to spend their owner’s money (before PL riches were flowing through too) and certainly Chelsea and then City have taken spending new money to a whole new level but let’s not pretend that Blackburn weren’t competing with the big boys on transfers (and wages) during the early PL years as they played a significant part in driving the spending levels of the established clubs up. This really isn’t anything like Leicester this season. Unless they secretly paid £85m for Danny Simpson, in which case they bought the league…
Going back to May 26, 1989
Nice article, Adonis Stevenson. I have taken this straight from Wikipedia but I think it nicely sums up the task Arsenal had ahead of them in 1989…
‘A victory for Arsenal would have brought the two teams level on points. An Arsenal victory by two clear goals would have given them the title on goals scored, as the two teams would have been tied on goal difference at +37. A three-goal deficit or more would have won Arsenal the title on goal difference. Any other result (i.e. a Liverpool victory, a draw, or an Arsenal win by one goal) would have given the title to Liverpool. Liverpool had not lost by two or more goals at Anfield in three years, and Arsenal had not won there in fifteen. Furthermore, Liverpool had never previously been defeated when playing forwards John Aldridge and Ian Rush together. Liverpool were therefore the overwhelming favourites to win the title – the Daily Mirror’s sports sections led with the headline “You Haven’t Got A Prayer, Arsenal”.’
I was only one at the time but I have watched that game so many times in my life.
God I love you Arsenal. God I love you football.
Celebrating the genius of Le Tiss
I’ve loved the Portrait of an Icon series and the latest installment on the career of Le God, Matt Le Tissier, is among the best.
As a Newcastle fan I should grumble about the fact that he seemed to save himself for matches against us — the Youtube video embedded in the piece showcasing his ten best goals has three against the Toon, two from the same game, the cheeky sod. Instead I love him for it. He’s the King of the Wondergoal.
I became interested in football because of Euro 96 and the exploits of Alan Shearer (hence my Newcastle allegiance) but it’s players like Le Tissier who made me fall irretrievably in love with the game. To the untrained eye he lolloped around the pitch before getting a chance to smash it towards the goal from outside the box. To those who truly understood his brilliance, he merely played the game at his own pace, in his own style. The fact he could play with such nonchalance and a lack of pace, yet still be one of the most gifted players ever seen in the Premier League era is testament to his brilliance.
Other kids in the playground never understood my love for Le God. I’m glad to see that I was right all along.
Tom, Devon, NUFC
…Take a bow, Daniel Storey.
What a great piece on a true Icon of the game.
I can remember being knee high and watching football on our supersport channel, and certainly Le Tiss was an incredible highlight.
What a gifted player, but perhaps even more of a legend for his attitude towards life, and his love and respect for the community around him.
This man is a true legend of the sport to me.
I too will never entertain a debate on whether he was any good actually because he avoided a big club.
I personally feel that it’s this reasoning that leads us increasingly to a depressingly predictable game, this thinking that seems to demand that everything is approached as if it were an excel spreadsheet or powerpoint presentation for work, with sod all emotion or joy or unpredictability allowed, lest we get surprised by anything!
In short, I wish that more of the best players were actually scattered about the clubs of the various lands…where more clubs could have their Icon players carrying them and their clubs through their various adventures.
Manc in SA (After waiting so long for a Le Tiss piece, I barely got the mail out that I wanted to…)
Well done…but more Newcastle players please
Just been reading Daniel Storey’s ‘Portrait of an Icon’ article on Matt Le Tissier and I have a few points to make:
Firstly, I love this series of articles. It’s great to read about some of the greatest players of the generation I grew up with. I feel there are so many players that could be included in the future, the articles will run and run.
Secondly, I would have to question a ‘Top 5’ English players list that doesn’t include Peter Beardsley. Whilst the likes of Waddle and Barnes were great players, I’m not sure they could do what Beardsley could do. Whilst I am an NUFC fan, this isn’t home club bias – Just ask Gary Lineker/Andy Cole/others who played alongside him how good Peter Beardsley was.
Finally, it would be great to see a Portrait of an Icon of Alan Shearer as I feel some of the younger fans today won’t appreciate just how good he was and how phenomenal his records were.
Whilst Aguero is (rightfully) called ‘World Class’, Shearer scored 100 PL goals in 23 games less than Aguero. Some would argue he wasn’t playing in as good a side who created as many chances as Aguero too.
When he was at Blackburn, I’m not sure there was a better striker in world football. He scored headers, scored with both feet, ran the channels, held the ball up and generally made defenders lives a misery for 90 minutes. He truly was exceptional and could do everything. Even after his injuries, he still found a way to change his game and make the most of his current skillset to continue to score goals.
Jonny (NUFC Fan), Newcastle
Le Tiss: Le scuffed goal
‘I don’t think I have ever seen a Le Tissier scuffer, tap in or bobbled shot, every goal the man scored smacked of perfection.’
I have. Old Trafford. 99/00 season. Why Massimo Taibi did not become Schmeical’s long-term successor.
Simon Fitzwilliams, Cambridge
Clutching at straws in spectacular fashion
In 1977-78, Nottingham Forest won the first (and as yet, only) league title in their history. The same season, Ipswich Town won the FA Cup for the first (and as yet, only) time in their history. Town finished two places above the relegation zone, and defeated The Arsenal, who had finished fifth.
Fast forward to 2015-16. Leicester City have just won the first league title in their history. The FA Cup final will be contested by Manchester United, who are likely to finish fifth, and Crystal Palace, who are likely to finish two places above the relegation zone. Crystal Palace have never won the FA Cup.
Yes I know I’m clutching at straws, but don’t blame me, blame Leicester City. They’ve made it acceptable to take something that’s massively unlikely and dream it into reality through the power of positive thinking and playing good football. They’ve made it acceptable to sit outside the elite and think ‘why can’t we do it?’ (it’s the good football bit where Palace fall down, isn’t it). It’s not the rejection that kills you, it’s the hope.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Thank you Mediawatch
Clearly on the Daily Mail website, Gooner next to me says smugly, “so Eriksen has admitted that Spurs dropping points against Arsenal cost you boys the title”. Thankfully, this was just a few moments after I had read today’s Mediawatch. “Are Arsenal even mentioned in his quote mate?” I retort. The silence was golden! Thank you F365.
Manners (£12 down after backing Leicester to get relegated at the start of the season)