Make sure you read the latest Mailbox guest column, explaining why South Asians are so obsessed with the Premier League. Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
‘The Leicester brand is now global’
Oh dear Nick Miller.
As the article rightly says, the football world has had at least five months for the rise of Leicester City sink in (actually more like 13 months; the last 44 games since March 2015) yet the lessons are still not being learned.
The current squad is rock solid. The squad, not just the 1st choice team, as evidenced against Swansea. The owners are very rich, they have just invested modestly to date. This will now change. Further, the club will receive in the region of an extra £200m+ next year as a result of this season. The Leicester ‘brand’ is now global.
Whether we finish 1st or 2nd everything has changed: the key however will be the very first few days after the season ends. New fat contracts should be immediately given to Mahrez and Kante (Vardy will stay). If they both stay then I predict the following:
* The current squad stays together
* 3 new signings of hot young prospects in the mould of Demari Gray and Daniel Amartey
* 1 new signing of a more established player
* IF we win the league, we will be top seeds in our champions league group. We will finish 2nd in the group. Last 16 minimum.
* In the race for top 4 in the premier league. Good chance of 4th place
* The mid-term is secure
Phil Bert (it is not done yet) Fox
…A bold opening line
Leicester have more chance of winning the Champions League next season than they did winning the Premier League this season. To use a phrase from Barney Stinson, maybe they will go beyond the possible and beyond impossible… the possimpible… O wouldn’t that be wonderful
Atletico vs Bayern conclusions
Thoroughly engaging game at the Vicente Calderon last night, here are a few thoughts:
– Pep’s team selection for this game was strange, to say the least. Benching Thomas Muller, bringing on Benatia as a late substitute, and opting not to make use of Mario Gotze’s considerable talents to unlock a tight defence was perplexing. Not the first semifinal first leg where his team selection may have let him down.
– Atletico clearly dominated the first half, despite superior Bayern possession and just 91 passes compared to the latter’s 278(!) Lewandowski and Costa nullified, Bayern looked toothless in attack.
– Atleti’s pressing game is on point. Initially appearing content to sit back, it is incredible to witness how fast their players are onto the opposition player whenever he receives the ball in the central area of the final third. Like a pack of wolves.
– Early Atletico pressure paid off as Saul Niguez scored a spectacular Messi-esque solo goal. That being said, the Bayern midfield didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory (Xabi Alonso in particular) while defending it.
– Speaking of Saul, Atletico really do have a great core of young players coming through. Jimenez, Oblak, Lucas Hernandez, Koke, Thomas Partey, Ferreira-Carrasco, Angel Correa. Retain this core, along with Cholo Simeone, and they could be on the verge of something special.
– Bayern fought back in the second half, and looked a greater threat with the introduction of Muller. Vidal and Alaba came close, but there was no breaching the wall that is the Atleti defence.
– With Godin injured, Man City “reject” Stefan Savic partnered Jose Gimenez at the heart of the Atletico Madrid defense for the first time in Europe, and barely put a foot wrong. This got me thinking: Atletico have, quite simply, the best defensive structure in European football at the moment. Changing the players in this structure doesn’t seem to be affecting their defensive record much. Filipe Luis looks like a world class left back again, and injuries suffered by Gimenez, and now Godin, has not had much of an impact on their fortunes.
– Looking forward to the second leg, Bayern are a different beast at the Allianz Arena.
If Donald Trump wins the US Presidential election, he should hire Diego Simeone and co. to build that wall for him…
Shaney Mac (Loving the Torres Renaissance), Galway and Galicia.
Diego Simeone is becoming a great
That was an extraordinary performance from Atleti once again. To my naked eye (ie: no stats), one of the most impressive parts was that Atleti constantly invited Bayern to attack down the wings and never once did either full back miss a tackle. Talk about playing to your strengths. There was space out wide but when Bayern went wide, they couldn’t get past the full-back. Magic stuff from Simeone.
It does now have to said that Simeone is at least on the same playing field as Guardiola. Bayern knew there were in trouble, see the way a near desperation caught into their game in the last 10 mins. They know Atleti will sit deep and invite them on again. Bayern need to vary their attack.
Royston (Top marks to Clattenburg too) Queen
Arsenal would be lucky to have Simeone
Year after year, Diego Simeone continues to overachieve. When he first joined Atletico in the 2011/12 season, he managed to finish fifth in La Liga (they finished 7th the season before) and won the Europa League. That alone was a brilliant achievement.
Since then he has won the UEFA Super Cup, the Copa Del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup, La Liga, made a Champions League final, and in the process turned a two-team league back into something genuinely unpredictable. Despite having to sell star players year after year (Falcao, Costa, Courtois, Turan, Luis) Atletico continue to compete at the very highest level. They are now a genuinely fearless team and boast one of the best (if not the best) defensive stats in Europe. Diego Simeone has turned Atletico Madrid into one of the strongest, most consistent teams in European football. He’s also managed to bring Torres back from the dead.
Recently Jamie Carragher stated that he doesn’t think Arsenal should look to Simeone to replace Wenger because he’s “too defensive.” I suppose 135 clean sheets in 256 games is a little too defensive. Don’t want none of that in the Premier League. Not exciting enough.
Anyways, Diego Simeone is the best manager in the world. Arsenal fans who would keep Wenger over going for Simeone (not that he would go) are delusional and convinced they play the same type of football as Barcelona.
Gaaavie (Come to United, we’ll love you forever), Cape Town
Praise for referees!
Absolute quality refereeing from both Cüneyt Çakir and Mark Clattenburg over the past two evenings. Big pressure games well managed with consistent, quality decision making. Exactly what all football fans want to see.
It’s also very clear that when a referee shows early in a game that player theatrics won’t be accepted, players actually do cut down on “play-acting”. Good job, lads!
Thank you to the Hillsborough families
Growing up in the 80’s was a strange one for football, I was too young to remember the early Liverpool dominance and was in hindsight, both unlucky and lucky that the first “glamour” game I went to was at Old Trafford to watch Rotherham play United, we lost 5-0, I’d only ever seen my team play in red, I cheered and was heckled after the first one went in.
So since the age of 8 United were my second team, which one is blurred but the fact was, I was somehow confusingly brainwashed into hating Liverpool FC and scousers in general. Now the Hillsborough semi-final I remember watching and not really understanding what I saw, later in life being really grateful for that.
What happened that day I can never understand the impact it had on the families involved or the pure drive needed to get the justice that was rightfully deserved. But what I do know is that 27 years on, that fact that my children can go to a game with unparalleled safety is majorly down to the tiresome effort that was put in by the said families. For that, words can’t explain how much I want to say that word “thank you”
I also have to now say that I live in Liverpool and even though I still go to the local and cheer every time we beat them, I also appreciate the full humour and humbleness of those scousers who I’d never met. What the families did is just a reflection on the city as a whole. Football for me is something to enjoy, which even though it’s not always the case with my relevant first and second choice team. This city has seen the unbelievable best and catastrophic worse.
Doesn’t make it any easier for my six year old to demand the Liverpool away kit but for both her and Liverpool, I’ve allowed it.
Oh wow, a Shakespeare quote for every Premier League team
I only spend 99% of my time following football. In the other 1%, I teach English literature for a living. So for Shakespeare 400, here’s a quote for each of the Premier League teams (I admit I had to use a concordance for about half of them):
Arsenal: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” (Macbeth)
Aston Villa: “And every drop cries vengeance” (Henry VI, Part 3)
Bournemouth: “The style shall give us cause to climb in the merriness” (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
Chelsea: “Down, down I come, like glistering Phaethon” (Richard II)
Crystal Palace: “Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I’ll ha’t” (Hamlet)
Everton: “Such welcome and unwelcome things at once ‘tis hard to reconcile” (Macbeth)
Leicester City: “Come the three corners of the world in arms, and we shall shock them” (King John)
Liverpool: “Thou wast a bull for thy Europa” (Merry Wives of Windsor)
Manchester City: “Thus misery doth part the flux of company” (As You Like It)
Manchester United: “A twice-told tale, vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man” (King John)
Newcastle: “Thy kinsmen hang their heads at this disdain” (The Rape of Lucrece)
Norwich City: “A green and yellow melancholy” (Twelfth Night)
Southampton: “Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him” (Coriolanus)
Stoke City: “I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me” (Richard III)
Sunderland: “You must take some pains to work her to your manage” (Pericles)
Swansea City: “A post from Wales loaden with heavy news” (Henry IV, Part 1)
Tottenham: “A little touch of Harry in the night” (Henry V)
West Ham: “I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er” (The Merchant of Venice)
Watford: “They saw we had a purpose of defence” (King John)
West Bromwich Albion: “Love me or love me not, I like the cap” (Taming of the Shrew)
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
A lovely mail about Romario’s son and Japanese football
I really enjoyed the latest Portrait of an Icon article about Romario. USA ’94 was the first World Cup I was old enough to watch properly and I remember taking a shine to the Brazilian strikers in particular.
Romario’s son, Romarinho, is currently out in Japan playing – or not, as it happens; he’s only featured once this season – for Zweigen Kanazawa, who are rooted to the bottom of J2 League with two points from eight games. I went to their game against mid-table FC Gifu and Romarinho wasn’t in the matchday squad, but there was another Brazilian in the Zweigen team and a couple up front for Gifu.
It was an interesting experience: just over 3000 people there to see Gifu win a decent match 2-1. In the opening 10 minutes Zweigen’s defence showed why they’re bottom of the league by shepherding the Gifu strikers through for the opening goal and several other good chances.
What particularly stood out for me after recent mails on abuse of referees was the almost complete lack of dissent in the match: once when Gifu thought a Zweigen corner should have been their goal kick, and later their belief that Zweigen’s goal was offside. Both times it was just the left-back and both times the linesman told him firmly “no” and they got on with the game. I don’t know the reasons or if it’s similar in J1 but having spent my life watching English and European football it was refreshing to see respect for the officials.
James T, Kanazawa, Japan
Belated #respect for Degsy
Thought Degsy would get a bit of credit for last weekend’s results. A tenner on each one would’ve netted a profit of 66 quid, and he was close on the Sunderland one, too.
F365 doesn’t like me anymore, trust me, I write good sh*t. But it’s okay, the bbc put me on last night after Saul’s wonder goal and I also got a comment in after WC semifinal Kohli vs Aus so there.