Mails: An elephant gestates quicker than Henderson thinks

Date published: Friday 6th October 2017 1:30

Keep those Mails coming to theeditor@football365.com…

Yay, we made it!
Congratulations on qualifying England. Thank you for one of the worst games i have had the pleasure of attending. On what should have been a day for celebrating success, paper planes being thrown onto the pitch proved more entertaining than the game itself.

In football, results and entertainment go hand in hand. We will get neither in Russia.
Iain

 

Thinking what odds I can get for England exiting in the group stages before the groups are even drawn. Would really like to recoup some of my electricity expenses for staying up and watching that absolute tosh !

Not one player stood out in that game, I got more enjoyment from the pitch invader as did the majority of the crowd.
Sarn

 

OK, we can’t pretend that these are positive mails anymore
Wow, super boring game. Really really frustrating performance but then Slovenia did do everything possible to slow England down, stifling every England attack by fouling or letting Henderson have the ball. Wouldn’t it be nice for England to one day have a midfield artist instead of a paint by numbers footballer like Jordan. He is a player who thinks creativity is hoofing a ball from one wing to another; if you gave him a challenge to invent an original meal he would come back with brown bread, cheese slices and salt and vinegar crisps. And he would be pleased with himself.

He is so slow, I have heard Elephants conceive, gestate and give birth quicker than he can make a decision with the ball. Scratch that, I mean make a decision to pass the ball forward. He so quickly offloads the ball backwards to Stones or Cahill you would think they were his Nan undergoing cardiac arrest and the ball was a defibrillator. Is he playing rugby where you can only pass the ball sideways or backwards? When he does venture to go forward I wonder if the Slovenia players have little targets on their shins for him to aim at, then I realise this can’t be the case as he’s actually hitting them.

It’s exasperating watching him play. Does he know running isn’t football? Football involves things like positioning, strategy and guile. When he plays chess, if he plays chess, he races the pawns to the opponents’ lines then stops and asks if he can turn them around and go back so he can race them forward again, as if it were simply a mini bleep test. He reminds me of the grand old duke of York, going up to the top of the hill then down again with absolutely no result, only he only manages to go between down and half way up. Up is far too adventurous. Up would require planning and foresight.

Shall we now analyse his control? Oh, he of concrete foot. Perhaps we should stop here after all I don’t mean to be mean. I am sure there are a great many things he would be good at, like foot golf, fetch, or being a Wimbledon ball boy.

Sadly he will never be good at being an international midfielder.
Joel, I guess it could have been Livermore, Nottingham

 

The real quiz
I thought you might like to know I had an enjoyable evening at Wembley watching the paper aeroplane throwing competition. At one point a football match broke out.
PhilT

 

Yes, you did hear this
Did i just hear Glenn Hoddle say about Harry Kane…”He didn’t have his shooting boots on, he had his toe boots on.”? I despair that he is somehow stealing a living as a co-commentator!
Andy West CTID

 

An investigation of the ‘other’ home nations
The tedium of the international break, and the over-saturation coverage of the English team, had me pondering an interesting question: which of the other four “home” nations are historically the most impressive? Painstaking trawling through various sites helped me compile some of the stats down below, and it’s quite interesting how they match up to each other historically.

Population:
Scotland: 5.3m
Republic of Ireland: 4.77m
Wales: 3.16m
Northern Ireland: 1.81m

Land Area:
ROI: 84,421 sq.km
Scotland: 80,077 sq.km
Wales: 20,761 sq.km
NI: 14,130 sq.km

Best finish at World Cup:
NI: QF (1958,82). Three tournaments.
Wales: QF (1958). Only tournament.
ROI: QF (1990). Three tournaments.
Scotland: 1R (last in 1998). Eight tournaments.

Best finish at Euros:
Wales: SF (2016). Only tournament.
ROI: Round of 16 (2016). Three tournaments.
NI: Round of 16 (2016). Only tournament.
Scotland: 1R (last in 1996). Two tournaments.

No. of European Cup/Champions League winners’ medals:
Scotland: 40
ROI: 11
Wales: 8
NI: 3

Multiple EC/CL winners:
Scotland 7 (Dalglish, Hansen, Souness (all Liverpool) x 3; Burns, McGovern, Robertson, O’Hare (all Forest) x 2)
Wales 3 (Bale (R.Madrid) x 3, Giggs (Man U), Jones (Liverpool) x 2)
NI: 1 (O’Neill (Forest) x 2)
RO1: 1 (Heighway (Liverpool x 2)

Century caps:
ROI: 6
NI: 2
Scotland: 1
Wales: 0 (Southall won 92)

Top scorer:
ROI: Robbie Keane (68)
NI: David Healy (36)
Scotland: Dalglish, Law (30)
Wales: Ian Rush (28). Bale two goals behind.

Indisputable iconic players:
Scotland: Dalglish, Law, Souness, Bremner, Jinky Johnstone
Wales: Charles, Bale, Giggs, Rush, Hughes, Saunders, Southall
NI: Best, Blanchflower, Jennings, Whiteside, Armstrong
ROI: 2 x Keane, McGrath, Giles, Brady, Irwin.

A couple of interesting findings, particularly the number of European Cup medals won. Obviously the Lisbon Lions skewer the Scottish figure slightly, but then again Dalglish, Souness and Hansen were integral members of the great Liverpool era (even if Hansen wasn’t necessarily as key a component for his country).

Scotland’s record at the two biggest international tournaments is rather abject compared to the other three though. In fact, no country has qualified for as many World Cups without progressing beyond the first round. And since their last appearance in a major tournament (France ’98), Wales and Northern Ireland broke new ground in qualify for their first ever Euros last year, while the Republic have featured in two Euros and one WC. While Northern Ireland have arguably the most impressive return in terms of population, Wales have the best hit-rate, with an exit at the quarter-final stage their worst performance from two attempts.

The individual records for each country are interesting too: Scotland’s top scorer seems a bit “historic” compared to the other three (Bale will surpass Rush’s record shortly). Keane’s 68 international goals is the stand-out stat in this regard, while it’s interesting that they have had twice as many centurions then the other three combined (crazy that Wales have had none).

One facet that Scotland are unquestionably the leaders are in iconic managers. Take your pick between Fergie, Shankly, Stein and Busby.

Hypothetically speaking a combined-XI looks amazing:

Jennings

Irwin
Charles
McGrath
Staunton

Souness
Keane
Giggs

Best
Dalglish
Bale

Subs:
Southall
Blanchflower
Johnstone
Bremner
Rush

So, what’s the verdict? Which of England’s poorer four neighbours are the bestest football nation? Scotland for it’s multiple individual honours at the highest level of European club football? Northern Ireland for punching above it’s weight? Wales for it’s hit-rate at major tournaments? ROI for having players on three iconic teams (United 1960’s and 90’s, Liverpool 80s?) . It’s basically like a localised version of the South American-European football debate.
Brian (my brain has literally melted compiling this), Wexford

 

It’s not about the football, but the coaching
Interesting mail from an England fan suggesting we go for the Pullis/Big Sam PFM roadmap to make England competitive.

Number of players in the current England squad used to playing PFM football: 4 (Keane – ex. Burnley, Maguire – Leicester, Livermore – Leicester, Defoe). Number of players in the current squad used to playing “fancy dan” foreign style football, playing it out from the back, etc: 21 (almost all of them).

In fact it gets worse. Most of these players graduated from academies where hoofing the ball anywhere would get you dropped. PFM style play has literally been drummed out of these players.

Do these England players lack technique – no. They all have basic skills far in advance of the players of yesteryear. Are these players “not very good” – no. Almost all are playing for a top 6 team in one of the top three leagues in the world.

So where’s the problem? I’d suggest we look at the coaches. The basic quality of the team will get them past 80% of the teams they play. The other 20% need thought and tactics, or what could be termed decent coaching.

We know that decent coaching is important, with very different results with the same team and good/bad managers (Sir Alex/Moyes, etc). As an example, Conte is a decent coach. He won trophies in Italy and England before and after a good spell with a below average Italian team. How do the English coaches fare?

I can remember back as far as Ron Greenwood. Including Ron, there have only been two England Managers who have had any form of successful career after managing England – Bobby Robson and Terry Venables (co-incidentally England’s two most successful coaches over the past 30 years). We’ve had some foreign has-beens (Capello and Ericssen did nothing afterwards), and an array of PFM specials or safe choices, none of whom had any real success before or after taking on England.

So basically, England have had rubbish managers for most of the past 30 years, and have failed dismally over the same period. Their only periods of comparative success came with Robson and Venables (semi final appearances), with coaches who could actually coach.

Nothing to see here.
Matthew (ITFC)

 

A World Cup round-up
Oceania
New zealand just sitting back and watching what is a dramatic conclusion in…

Conmebol
Okay, this has probably been the greatest world cup qualifying race of all time. Colombia and argentina should have wrapped things up this morning against unheralded Paraguay and Peru but proceeded to lose and chile who were in sixth won to jump to third so the final round is going to be madcap.

Chile ‎will probably need to beat Brazil to be sure of qualifying. Peru and colombia, who are currently in the 4th and 5th, have to face each other. A‎rgentina, with messi aguero et al, will definitely need to win away in Ecuador and Paraguay ould sneak in by beating bottom team Venezuela. Uruguay should probably finish second as they are two points ahead of 3rd and 4th and at home to bolivia.

Asia
It’s advantage the Aussies as they’ve drawn the away game and scored. ‎Now isn’t the time yet to worry about…

‎Concacaf
Looks like it boils down to USA vs Panama. ‎Panama can outright qualify with an away win and the US know a win improves their chances as their last game is against T&T.

Africa
Nigeria and Zambia are going to play this weekend and could decide their group. Tunisia ‎will all but qualify if they win away against guinea. Egypt are in the driving seat in their group and their main rivals face each other. Cote D’Ivoire’s group is still too close to call and the group with South Africa and Senegal probably deserves it’s own mail

Europe
Well done to England and Germany. Elsewhere, I expect Spain and Poland to wrap up their groups Italy and Denmark to finish in play off spots. The Portugal vs Switzerland match on the final day will be the decider of that group, and any combination of Croatia, Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine could be in Russia. Sweden and the Dutch will have a straight fight for at least a playoff spot.
Timi, World cup enthusiast

 

Non-league day, in the Czech Republic
Seeing as how tomorrow is non-league day in the UK, we (my mate Sam and I, long-suffering Zbrojovka Brno fans) are going to do get involved as well. Seeing as Zbrojovka aren’t playing – aside from Tadas Kijanskas, Lithuania’s falling-over-at-key-defensive-moments champion, who’ll be doing that for his country – we’ve decided that only the very grungiest hoofery will do.

Saturday afternoon presents us with the sight of seven angry old men yelling at Tatran Bohunice as they take on the might of Mutěnice (just found it on the map; it’s a village near the Slovak border), then on Sunday we’ll jump on the tram going up to the lake and hop off just before we get there, to witness the battle for local pride between Dosta Brno and Sparta Brno.

Really looking forward to the whole thing. Around 20kč to get in (that’s about 60p I guess), with the promise of 80p beers and the traditional huge sausages dipped in mustard. Mix that with what looks like a sunny weekend and some clogtastic footy, and it should be a cracking couple of days.

Anyone else got any plans to do similar?
David (grungy hoofer) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep

 

Well aren’t you lovely
Thoroughly enjoyed the piece on the rise of headed goals in the PL this season. Some delightful little statistical quirks in there, which are always fun to read. More of the same please!
DB

 

Go on Big Nev
I love Neville Southall. Club legend, dry wit (“Well done. He’s 13), and all round renaissance PFM, Big Nev is a rare creature and a personal hero.

All of which is to say that his skeleton tweets, and your article on them, left me giggling in public like a loon and generally filled me with the sense that the world is, on balance, a wonderful place after all.

Thanks F365. And thank you, Neville bloody Southall.
Tom, EFC

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