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Rooney at No. 10? No f***ing way
I read today that Ibrahimovic will lead the line and Rooney is expected to play behind him. This reminds me of the Rooney/Van Persie/Falcao dynamic where the Van Gaal had an aging high-profile attack that became stale and immobile. It will be a mistake to play Rooney behind Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic is not the quickest but he has plenty of other tricks up his sleeves to make up for it. I do think he needs a quicker player behind him. Rooney is slow, has a horrible first touch, is not the most creative. The only thing he has is his work rate. With Carrick or Schwinsteiger behind them, our middle will be extremely pedestrian that will not be able to keep pace with our wingers and will end up choking them.
Mata (not the quickest but very creative) or Mkhitaryan should start behind Ibrahimovic. We need to drop Rooney. Why do we keep persisting with Rooney when he is clearly past it is beyond me. And it’s multiple managers who have done that.
I think Herrera needs to be a regular starter in the center. How can you not play him regularly? He is the most dynamic of all our central midfielders and is seriously being wasted at United.
And as I said before, let’s move on from Pogba. He is expensive and not really interested in United. Have we no self-respect? I don’t think he has the same commercial pull as Bale, Neymar, Messi or Ronaldo may have. We can get a marginally inferior player (but still a top player) for less than half his price tag. And there are players available in the market.
Renato Sanchez would have been awesome, much like Thiago would have been a couple of seasons ago. The failure to secure these almost done deals is pathetic.
How to beat United/England
“Rooney is one of the players we are going to have to stop if we are going to stop England from playing and win the game. You only have to look at the amount of goals he has scored for England. He is the country’s record goal-scorer – he is an incredible player. And he has been fantastic for his country and for Manchester United over the years” – Gylfi Sigurdsson before England vs Iceland, June 2016
Well we all know how that turned out. What’s interesting is that whenever a foreign team is playing England or United, we always get sound-bites from the opposing manager/captain along the lines of ‘Rooney is the one we fear most’. Is it me, or is this just a ploy to ensure the plodding has-been definitely plays?
The really sad thing is that United/England usually seem to fall for it. Come on Jose – buck the trend!
The Big P, Vancouver
Farewell sweet prince
Goodbye Joe Allen, perhaps the least footballer of footballers in terms of extra-curricular activities – Christ he doesn’t even play golf! He had some good games for Liverpool but was frequently hampered by niggling injuries and perhaps suffered a bit from a lack of clarity of what exactly his role in the midfield was. Nevertheless, I think his role towards the back end of the season where we finished second is underrated and he will definitely be welcomed back when he returns to Anfield with Stoke. The beard and hair combo have helped cement his place as a semi-cult like figure among a portion of fans.
Credit to Mark Hughes for continuing to attempt to change Stoke into an attractive ball-playing team. Wee Joe is definitely an upgrade on Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam, indeed a midfield two of Imbula and Allen is quite a tasty prospect!
I can’t help but a feel a twinge of regret, however, that he didn’t take his neat passing game to foreign shores. Watching Allen starring in Sevilla’s midfield in the champions league while simultaneously providing free-range huevos to the Andalucian region would have warmed my heart no end.
Farewell, sweet prince!
Osric the Brave, (“Give me Hope, Joe Allen! Hope, Joe Allen!”) Cape Town
It’s not all about the sodding players
Have we just learned nothing?
Endless, endless speculation over team selection seems to be all anyone cares about in regards to the Big Sam appointment; who will come in out of the cold, what lumbering beasts will come in to replace those fancy, two-footed nonces. I just don’t get it. Over the last year or so (and actually the entire history of football for that matter) we’ve seen time and time again that MANAGEMENT and COACHING are actually a lot more important than selection. Look at the improvement in team and individual play at Liverpool under Klopp despite him coming in mid-season. Look at Conte’s Italy, Pochettino’s Spurs. Leicester. Portugal.
I’m not suggesting you can still beat the best with Frazier Campbell and Darren Bent up front, but people need to understand that the success of a team relies on the staff’s ability to A) coach individuals and the team to play cohesively and confidently within a clear structure; B) be able to adapt that structure to different opposition; and C) be able to similarly adapt that structure within a single game situation. Tactically education seems to have an incredibly low base level in English footballers, so understand, it’s quite a task. England didn’t lose to Iceland because Townsend wasn’t on, they lost because the players on the pitch had little idea of how to play (tactically speaking) once they went behind, next to no confidence that they could win, and they either received little direction from the bench, or were totally unable to apply it. Do you think Klopp wishes he had Marco Reus instead of Lallana? Yes. But I’d wager he feels he and his team will succeed anyway. The tabloids are an ugly mirror (no pun intended), but they must reflect to some extent the main concerns the public have, and that seems thoroughly focused on the wrong issues.
Johnny has a comrade
Just wanted to say how excellent I found Johnny Nic’s article on the obscene transfer fees and money in football at the moment.
It’s something I’ve pondered for a while, but what I find separates the ability between sports writers and us Joe Publics is exactly that: the writing.
I tend to have some excellent points but I don’t always get published because I struggle to articulate them on paper (unlike Ed Quoth).
I happen to have already made a change, I no longer buy club shirts, I don’t subscribe to Rogers Sportsnet or TSN (our Canadian Bt and skysports essentially) – in case anybody is curious, it’s $10 for the TSN1,2,3,4&5 and $10 for the sportsnet West, Pacific & Ontario channels as packages, then throw in a few games on the independent BeinN sports channel AND the Rogers sportsnet “WORLD” channel which is $20 a month for a single channel – it usually shows one of the games you really want to watch every weekend (that’s how they get you, see) and you’re basically spending a shite load on TV.
I moved to Canada in 2009 – the TV deals and exposure have gotten bigger ever year.
I have decided to vote with my choices (I’m against big corporations and all that jazz and more a democratic socialist more than a capitalist these days), football (and the world) has gone too far.
I now get more enjoyment reading this site everyday and using the ol’ interweb every week to watch games on Arsenal.com, sure they are played a few days later, but I have Match of the Day on YouTube, and it ensures these greedy b##%ards don’t get a penny of my money (whatever way it trickles through).
I once thought of using the social networking angle to create a group asking everybody (hoping it would go global) to boycott their August TV subscription and stadium attendance just for the opening league matches to slow this crazy inflation down, but honestly, I don’t think the world is ready to make a change yet – believe it or not – I think things need to get even more obscene for them to really see it.
Strevs, AFC, Canada
(I bottled out of creating the group – I’ll let some narcissistic activist do it one day instead)
John Nicholson, transfers and ‘real life’
I am a huge fan of John Nicholson but his latest column yesterday was utter nonsense. The two issues he conflates have nothing to do with each other.
Money in football is obscene, sure. But most of the money coming in to football is the result of television advertising and corporate sponsorship. The money has to ‘go somewhere’, and as football is a competition it is going to clubs trying to acquire better players than their rivals. Yes, they should invest in other long-term projects like youth academies and infrastructure, but this has always happened, whether the fee being paid is 100m in 2016 or 10m in 1996. As John says in his article, ‘two mill bus you a lot of labour’, so how are the points raised in his article any less applicable to the last ~25 years of modern football? Would Alan Shearer not have preferred to be transferred for free and have 16m spent on keeping children alive in 1996?
Transfer fees are spiraling out of control. But as someone pointed out, transfer fees as a percentage of total revenue is not out of line with what was happening 15 years ago – if there is ~10x more money in football now, transfer fees should be ~10x more expensive, in an estimated sense. The big failure of football seems to be that nobody has calculated a way to track the growth of money in football while factoring in exchange rates over time, to allow us to really genuinely compare transfer fees from one year to another. Clubs seem to be completely lost in their newfound wealth, which is why every ‘good’ player on the market seems to be moving for ~30m GBP.
The ‘real world’, as John Nicholson puts it, is full of absolute horrors of people getting rich by creating no value. The ‘real world’ saw Donald Trump accept a major party’s nomination for President of the United States last week, on the back of a string of failed business ventures and bankruptcies, by pretending he’s been successful. The ‘real world’ has Hedge Fund managers pulling in billions of dollars a year. Not to mention the world of High-Frequency Trading recently discussed in Michael Lewis’ ‘Flash Boys’, etc.
I’m not disgusted by transfer fees in football, so long as they are driven by similar increases in overall revenue. I am, however, frustrated by overly-simplistic moralistic outrage and handwringing.
Oliver (‘Why are terraced houses in Teesside 100k and not 50k John? Is a cottage in Northumberland cheap at 500k, or is it over-priced by 100k, 200k or 300k?’) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Calling Johnny a hypcrite
You’re disgusted at the cost of Premier League footballers and their transfer fees. You’re saddened, distraught at the cost of human life in the world, that children die for nothing more the price of a packet of chips but footballers earn multi-million pound wages and we all support this madness. Well spotted, you are of course correct. No one with a shred of humanity, intelligence or ordinary decency could argue with a word you said.
Except, I will.
You sir are a giant, groaning hypocrite, which we all are in some way, but you sir are the worst kind.
We all enjoy football, it’s entertainment, passion, excitement, intrigue, a sense of belonging in what is often a meaningless struggle of existence. Billions of people like football for these reasons, billions of people pay money in one way or another to enjoy these feelings. Football and those involved are paid insane amounts of money as a result. This is immoral and wrong. And it was ever thus. Film stars are paid multi million pound contract for a few months work. In Ancient Rome the games were funded while people starved on the street, I could go on and on. But I won’t.
Because in the midst of all this madness is you, and those like you. Commentators. Someone who actually makes money from this multibillion pound, rotten industry by writing about it. You don’t even play football, you leech off it (and write quite amusing articles at times I’ll give) which is all well and good. But to then turn around and write the article you did atop your moral high horse, without a smidgen of insight into where you stand on all of this, sickens me even more than a two million pound transfer fee.
If you had a shred of dignity or honour you’d apologise for every penny you earn from this vile system, if you had two shreds you’d retire in the morning and go and help those your heart supposedly bleeds for.
I suspect you will do neither.
Dave (hypocrite but at least I know it) LFC
Love for the mailbox
Excellent mailbox yesterday. Well done all involved.
Also a really good article by John Nicolson about money in football. A few interesting ideas put forth in the mailbox yesterday. For my part I think an obvious place to start would be tackling some of the pay inequality that exists within clubs. The fact that almost half of premier league clubs are supposedly not even paying some of their staff the living wage really is disgusting when you look at the amount of money being thrown around in transfer fees etc.
Is it wrong that I feel very little?
Good couple of mailboxes these last two days, lots of thought provoking stuff on money and racism….is what I’d say if I didn’t in all honesty feel mostly ambivalent about all of it.
Yes, the millions sloshing about are eye-watering. But that the kind of money the football industry generates and if clubs want to pay those amounts then that’s their business, literally. It’s not football’s responsibility to feed and clothe the world’s poor. Nor is it football’s responsibility to iron-out every little phrase or intonation that could be construed as racist (possibly, maybe, from a certain viewpoint).
I read all of that yesterday and can you guess the thing that made me ‘feel’ the most? The idea that Theo Walcott does have a football brain, which is total nonsense as he quite clearly does not. I even found myself saying to myself ‘he’s just an athlete’, which possibly adds fuel to yesterday’s outraged fire. And you know what? I’m not sure I care. I don’t mean that in a vindictive way, just that I sort of feel nothing for all the arguments.
I just want the season to start.
You don’t know what Daniel Sturridge is like…
The idea that Daniel Sturridge’s goal celebration is a reflection of his personality is deeply illogical. I don’t much care for his celebration personally, but he does it all the time so the fact that he does it against lower league opponents is neither here nor there. More to the point, it says absolutely zero about him as a person. I really cannot stress this enough but we don’t know what Daniel Sturridge is really like.
If we take the logic that a goal celebration reflects one’s personality, can we get a breakdown of which footballers are nice people based on how they celebrate their goals? Using this priceless information, I’m sure we can calculate things like generosity, kindness, modesty, ethical values etc.
…I think the discussions in the mailbox about racism and fan opinions have largely been very constructive and well heeled, so kudos to the contributors and the editor for what is a really difficult topic!
It reminds me of a point that was made to me that I’d like to pass on, because I think it’s relevant to the discussion: think of any footballer about whom you have a strong opinion about their character or personality. How much do you know about them that is based on first-hand information (ie something you witnessed personally).
Unless you’re mates with Harry Kane, the answer is probably somewhere in the range of ‘almost nothing’. There are some of them who I’ve seen play games in person, but that’s about it. Everything else I know is filtered through media. Their quotes are picked out by journalists, their motivations are indicated by editors, even watching them play a game is dictated by which actions and facial expressions get broadcast and which don’t.
Something to keep in mind when you say that your opinion of a player is simply based on ‘who he is’.
…A lot of mails about Sturridge seem to focus on his celebratory dance routine. Are people so devoid of joy that they can hate a player because of a dance? Are people actually calling him a d*ck because of a dance? He does a celebratory dance when he scores a goal, not in your cr*ppy Sunday League game, but in actual professional football. It doesn’t matter if it is against a club from the lower leagues or in a European final. Why should it? Somehow, in the UK, it’s considered a crime to celebrate anything without saying sorry a thousand times. If a dance, cheeky or not, annoying or not, is how he chooses to express the joy of scoring that is incomprehensible to fans who are more used to knocking around a ball with their overweight mates rather than actually playing professionally in front of thousands of spectators, then so what? Yes, it can be annoying. But if you are ready to call him a d*ck and hate him for that, then you have serious issues.
Monty (There’s a reason The Sun and Daily Mail sell loads of papers. Fans actually like those papers.), MUFC
When are racist tweets racist?
Michael (MUFC) claims black Premiership footballers were subjected to 130,000 racist tweets last year. That sounds like a lot, but I kind of want to know how many of those are actually racist, and how many are your standard angry d*cks using inappropriate language?
Someone could call Rooney a “bald tw*t”, De Bruyne a “ginger tw*t”, Wenger a “french tw*t”, and Sterling a “black tw*t”. My guess would be that this mythical tweeter isn’t going to be written off as anti-bald, anti-ginger, or anti-French, but might be considered a racist, despite having the exact same sentiment behind each insult. I don’t want to excuse that behaviour, but at the same time, I don’t think that referencing someone’s characteristics alongside an insult necessarily indicates a prejudice against that characteristic, even if it is their skin colour. Now obviously, using full on racially charged language like the N-word is absolutely crossing the line – those words get used with calculation, and are absolutely indicative of bigotry.
Which is all to say, if we want a true picture of the extent of racism, we need to be able to draw (or at least approximate) a line between the general abuse that people of all creeds and colours get, and the genuinely nasty stuff that goes beyond that. Does that count of 130,000 do that?
Mathew (white, so this probably all counts for naught), Arsenal FC
Why we all owe Mrs Glass a drink…
Jimmy Glass deserves to be #1 in the top ten single-moment footballers, even though his impact on football was more greatly felt from an off-field moment.
After all, five years ago, it was Jimmy’s wife who was the subject of the “did you smash it” prehistoric b#nter from Richard Keys, aimed at a clearly repulsed Jamie Redknapp (who she had previously dated). It was the complaints from Mr and Mrs Glass that forced Sky Sports’ hand into putting pressure on Keys, leading to what he called a “carve up”, but what others saw as the removal from screens of person caught expressing deeply offensive thoughts.
I’m not trying to make light of the incident, it must have been incredibly unpleasant for Louise Glass. However, without her – and Jimmy’s – complaints, Keys would still be a Sky Sports presenter. So for that alone, we owe both Mr and Mrs Glass a lot of thanks.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven