Better, much better. It’s international week, so we have to stick together. Keep your views coming to email@example.com.
What’s the surefire way NOT to endear yourself to your estranged manager? Speak out against him to the press.
What was Benteke thinking? Then again, if he really can’t see why he’s not getting more starts for Klopp’s Liverpool then thinking probably isn’t his strong-suit.
Either that or he just wants to get fired.
“Hi Hammers! Fancy a straight swap: Benteke for Payet? Hello? They hung up…”
Kieran Gibbs: A nothingy player
Back when I was younger I was watching Charlton play someone when they were in the Prem and I remember saying to my dad “Why does John Robinson get a game for Charlton he is rubbish?”.
My dad then instructed me that he ran a lot. I then watched him in my own personal player cam mode and noticed that he did indeed seem to run around a lot. Back then Charlton were punching above their weight so I figured despite me thinking he was pish there must be something in my dad’s comment.
Over the years I then noticed that before I made judgements about players, Lassana Diarra was another, I would think maybe they do one thing really good that is essential to the fabric of the team. According to a Mourinho book I read he loved that Diarra would stay in position which was obviously of paramount importance and because Mou won boatloads of titles I figured he knew what he was one about.
Enter Keiran Gibbs seemingly on his way out of Arsenal and a kind of fog of vanilla came over my brain.
I literally can’t think of a more nothingy player that I have watched. I mean he doesn’t get absolutely ripped apart by wingers every time he plays so he can’t be particularly bad but what does he do exactly? He has played over 200 games for Arsenal and I can’t remember off the top of my head if he has done anything in any of those games that was noteworthy. Was he the guy that got mixed up with Ox and got red carded? I mean that is it, I can’t remember anything else. Did he score recently coming off the bench or something? Two hundred games and two memories.
Is there a more underwhelming player than Gibbs? I’m not talking bad as there are plenty of them (Bebe etc) but is Gibbs the most nothingy Prem player ever. He literally couldn’t have existed and it wouldn’t have made a single difference.
Enablers and burdens
Interesting piece by Andrew Rawcliffe, what came to my mind whilst reading it (despite/because of the impulse to make an enablers XI and a burdens XI) was that players can be both depending on circumstance (of either the individual or team). For instance simultaneously both; I’d say Beckham was a burden and an enabler during his whole career.
Rooney from 2004-2009 was more enabler than burden. First he was part of the team built around peak Van Nistelrooy (burden) and waning Keane (low risk burden, high value enabler), then gradually outshone and surpassed by C Ronaldo. From 2009-present he’s been a burden, becoming more apparent due to poorer performances and reduction in the quality of teammates.
A burden at their peak is worth having for their end product (the example in the article being C Ronaldo), a burden past their peak is worth having for their experience, organisational or leadership qualities (Keane, Terry) or exceptional playmaking abilities (Riquelme – where’s the profile of an icon piece for this guy?, Pirlo, Scholes) making them an enabler. As a burden ages the manager (and club) has to make a cost-benefit analysis of whether their enabling qualities balance out against their declining abilities – Ibrahimovic and Giggs would be good examples of players who have successfully adapted from burdens to enablers.
Are Leicester a perfect storm of enabling burdens? Are Everton a lopsided bundle of burdens and not enough enablers? Is/Was Adel Taarabt the biggest ever burden?
In summary – Some are born enabled, some become enabled and some have enableness thrust upon them.
Enabler Eddie, ‘End Note’ MUFC
Bring back the European Cup
You want to make the Champions League more exciting?
Get rid of the stupid name and revert back to the European Cup and then learn from the greatest cup competition of them all – the FA cup.
Make the competition knock out and only have one leg – meaning you could be drawn home or away. That way – one shock defeat and you’re out. It would also reduce the number of matches teams have to play but would also rid us of those boring group stages Arsenal are so fond of.
A knock out competition would mean no dead rubbers, fewer matches for clubs but potentially opens the door for all of Europe’s champions to be included in the competition, as well as your second, third and fourth placed teams from the elite leagues. You could potentially have Barca drawn away to some Russian team in the middle of winter and be knocked out.
It would also prevent clubs like Arsenal from using the competition as a cash cow and actually take it seriously but offers the prospect of some exotic teams the chance of actually winning.
The reason people don’t watch the champions league is a) it’s on BT and b) who wants to watch a Barca/Real cake walk? I would tune in to see one of these teams get a horrible away draw meaning they could go out, however.
Put the magic of the FA cup into the European Cup – you know it makes sense.
Happy Easter everyone.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
In response to ‘Max, CPFC’; Pardew may have been manager when those signings occurred, but I’m almost certain he had nothing to do with them. Just like he had no say in Cabaye leaving. This is Ashley’s Newcastle we’re talking about here, which is also why I’m flabbergasted we landed Rafa; the first manager hired in Ashley’s tenure that wont have signings forced upon him.
Yes we finished 5th, but once the bubble burst we were in free fall and have yet to recover. It seems the same thing is happening at Palace as we speak.
In my opinion the only reason he wasn’t sacked is due to Ashley’s uncanny ability to pinch a pound. Sacking him would have cost money. He kept him on until a frankly insane offer came in from a club, starry eyed with nostalgia.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’ll turn it around at Palace and regain some of the respect he is so rapidly p*ssing up the wall, but I fear the worst for you. My memories of his time at Newcastle are not ones of 5th placed triumph; they are one long stripe of grey, with the occasional speck of beige that came from the odd unconvincing victory.
West Ham fans: No place like home
With regard to Barnet Steve’s contribution concerning his heartening at West Ham’s post Allardyce sunny days – I can’t help but think he’s missed the primary reason I would personally look upon the future at the Boleyn Ground with some due dread- there soon will be no Boleyn Ground.
Taking into account the very long list of horrors and endurance Hammers fans have lived through, I would say that the the current set up and stock of players, married to the dangerous yet organised style of play should lead to little other than bright horizons – but let me elaborate.
I have been lucky enough over the last couple of seasons to take in West Ham, as it were, home and away, only a few times but nonetheless, I tend to grab PL footie when I can – but while they saved their very best for the away games I saw, it was the sheer Old School reverberating noise/joy intensity of the atmosphere at their home patch that so impressed me as a visiting fan. Players and fans and the game on the park all seemed to have that togetherness that, yes, speaks of nostalgia, but also of a hopeful future.
In many ways, it felt like one of those feel-good, rowdy but genuine pubs or venues when the band is about to come on or the England WC game on TV and you got caught up, a smile spread across your face and at no point did you think a uniformed bouncer was going to throw you out onto the street.
West Ham are going lose all of this, like happy tears in East London rain, because however grand or bold the scheme, the former Olympic Stadium move will swallow it all into echoes of the past. Ask Gunners fans about Highbury. I understand the economics and even laud the ambition, but herein is where Barnet Steve will be proven right as regards his cautious optimism.
Jay – Wallingford
A mail on Kenyan football
I understand that F365 is dedicated to British football in general and English football in particular. However, today I would like to talk about something that is rarely mentioned here or on many other sites. I would like to talk about the circus that is Kenyan football.
On Wednesday evening, Kenya played against (fellow) minnows Guinea Bissau away from home in a qualifier for the Africa Cup of Nations. Our captain Wanyama arrived there about seven hours to kickoff and was given a starting berth anyway. But this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding football in Kenya this year.
1. The national team coach decided to leave the best playmaker in Kenya back home, instead picking a player from the second division (more on this later). Any East African reader on this site is likely to know the name Kahata as he is one of the most talented footballers this country has ever seen. For a must-win game, the national team coach in all his wisdom decided not to take our best player, and btw it’s not Wanyama as most people assume.
2. There were 39 allocated slots for the travelling party consisting of players and officials. So which ratio does the federation decide to use? 20 players and 19 officials. An extra media slot was given to a guy who has never worked with the national team while there were also slots for people who were apparently there for “logistics”.
3. Having got there, the coach still has a good enough squad to beat a side lying about 40 places below Kenya. So in all his infinite wisdom, he decides to play all three travelling CBs in the same game, play the designated RB at LB and leaves the two natural and left-footed LBs on the bench altogether. Basically we played in a Pulis-like defense of 4 CBs since the RB who played at LB actually plays as a CB for his club.
4. The federation that runs Kenyan football held its elections last month and the current president is a 30-something guy with all these radical ideas for change. He has been chairman of a team called Sharks from which two debutantes were surprisingly called up, with one replacing the fan favorite. Oh, and the challenger to the current president during the elections (Ambrose Rachier) is the chairman of the team which Kahata plays for.
5. Did I also mention that the new president and the current national team coach are buddies off the field and even come from the same estate? Yeah, it’s like they just met for lunch at home and decided to mess with Rachier’s team. Btw the team chaired by Rachier are the reigning champions of the Kenyan Premier League having won the title UNBEATEN last season. Yet three of their players, including Kahata were axed in favor of two guys plucked from the second division playing for Sharks (the president’s team).
6. SportPesa is a sports betting company that started about two years ago. They have started this season as sponsors of the Premier League, sponsors of the two biggest club teams in the country and are in the process of striking a deal which will make them sponsors of the national team across all age groups. This sounds good but it is worrying that all this money may discourage other companies from investing in local football since they have to meet the high financial standards set by this new entrant. SportPesa have achieved all this in TWO years and have also been selected as one of Arsenal’s betting partners. Yes, that Arsenal.
This is why Kenyans are so obsessed with English football. Local football is too deeply influenced by nepotism and cronyism. The new Federation president claims to focus on building youth systems which will help Kenyan football over the next few decades but I worry that he is heading down the path AVB took when he went to Chelsea. Planning too far ahead without considering the effect of these plans in the short-term and completely ignoring the fact that stable change is required to achieve long-term success.
Greg Tric, Nairobi
Weah: An African trailblazer
Having read the excellent piece on the awe-inspiring Weah. There’s something about such players having the ability to influence people to want to be better. Not only that but make you love the sport in itself. Personally, I hated football while growing up. The 90’s were marred with hooliganism and massive cases of racism in the game and so I preferred watching other sports. Until I watched Ronaldinho play…that changed everything. He inspired me to watch football, the grace, technique and sheepish smile after having destroyed a team single-handedly. Intrigued by the sport I did something fairly unorthodox, I started watching the games going back every year. Luckily at the time ESPN classic would show classic games and you would get to see the best players at their peak of the powers.
In an age where everything is structured to help strikers score more goals, ball dynamics and less rash tackles. Old strikers like Weah scoring headers from outside the box are things of pure beauty. Weah, Roger Milla and Abedi Pele are the main reasons we have strikers like Drogba and Eto’o and were graced with the talent of Jay Jay Okocha. They had the ability to rise to the top and how they interacted with the fans and the club, had an impact in the future. Clubs could take risks on African players. The stigma may have dissipated a bit over the years, but Weah’s professionalism might be his best feature.
For the Premiership players, Drogba, Lampard, Stevie G, Suarez and Modric. But (and this should come about soon) Pirlo should be the top of the list.
Eric Breitman, NYC, Spurs
(MC – Modric and Suarez will be waiting a while)
…In answer to Max CPFC regarding future Icons, I’d say Petr Cech would have to be a nom.
What a fantastic career, and arguably top three keeper in the world consistently for more than a decade. The condom helmet instantly grants ‘Icon’ status on it’s own let alone some of his freak saves.
Quick nod to the Icons in Arsenal medical team also seeing as Cech is out injured in his first season. Classic.
Darth Harro – West Aust Gooner
…We’re happy if you’re happy
Yeah you definitely need to keep these guest pieces going. Cracking stuff so far, keep it up.