Daniel Storey probably wants to avoid doing a Mailbox on Sunday as he has committed to 32 Conclusions. Send in enough mails to make his decision difficult to firstname.lastname@example.org
Spurs are the biggest bottlers
Quackeththeduck made the statement that ‘Spurs will probably never have a better chance to win the league’ and one of the reasons being that ‘Arsenal have shown time and time again that they can’t bottle it.’ (I’m going to presume ‘they can’t bottle it’ is some sort of typo as it makes no sense and they have done too many times to mention.)
Whilst I agree that this is Spurs best chance in about a million years, the bottling it accusation can be applied to Spurs just as easily. There are a lot of examples that can be pulled up most obviously the number of failures to grasp the 4th place trophy. Remember 2012? Harry was there, about this time of year Spurs in third place sitting 12 points ahead of Arsenal and Arsenal in fourth place. How did that one work out again?
You went 2-0 up and then ended up letting in five.
Arsenal went on to finish the season 3rd and Spurs 4th.
What you forget is Arsenal normally have their injury crisis about now, but still manage to do an impressive run of games that takes them to 3rd or 4th. When the presure to get in the Champions league is on they have invariably come up with the goods under pretty substantial pressure. This year they are not 12 points behind the leaders for a change and have had their injury crisis early.
If I had to bet on someone bottling it I’d rank them in order most likely Spurs, Arsenal and then Leicester. Leicester have nothing to lose, Arsenal for the reason above, Spurs because they’re Spurs.
Manchester United managerial thoughts
I would like to address a couple of points which came out of this morning’s mailbox, if I may.
Firstly, don’t cry for us Joe, AFC, Manchester, the truth is we had it good for too long and we don’t really deserve much sympathy.
Secondly, the managerial situation. I have a few points, so I’ll try and be brief:
1. I honestly don’t know if I’d be happy with Mourinho. His trophy haul is impressive but his style often overly pragmatic (negative) and is rarely sustainable. His off-the-pitch antics grate and I wouldn’t want to have to defend him every week. He struggled with a Chelsea squad certainly no weaker than ours this season, so could he really turn it around? It seems like the main reason most want to appoint Mourinho is because City appointed Guardiola; if that’s the case then we definitely shouldn’t do it.
2. Guy S says that there are no other logical choices to Giggs and that maybe it’s not such a risk to appoint him in light of this. I entirely disagree. The best way to just a manager is on his track record; Giggs’ is four matches. That’s all you have on which to even estimate his potential performance – no matter how you look at it, that is a gigantic risk. Yes, he knows the club and was a truly great player but no matter how you look at it he doesn’t have the CV a United manager should have. Think of it this way: would any other recently retired player with no management and only two years’ coaching experience be a viable candidate? Almost certainly not.
3. Guy also argues that there aren’t many ‘brilliant top level managers available’. Firstly, how do you define ‘top level’? Only one manager from each country can be a league winner and only two can win continental competitions, so that significantly shrinks your pool anyway. I wouldn’t even think about national team managers in that bracket because international football is an entirely different beast, as van Gaal is proving.
There are plenty of managers, in our league alone, who are ‘worthy’ of consideration (in a non-condescending way). Pochettino has widely been touted, but you could also include Sanchez Flores, Ranieri, Pellegrini, Bilic, Koeman or Hughes, considering how their teams are performing this year. Okay, maybe none of them are ‘top level’ but the talent is obviously there, which surely matters more.
4. While it would be great if we could regularly produce domestic players and managers who were considered close to or among the world’s elite, the sad truth is that we’re not there yet. The days of clubs mainly using players who grew up within spitting distance of the ground are long gone, so you have to adapt and work with what you can get. Yes, I love seeing academy graduates given a chance (I’ve been a fan of Lingard’s for a few years) but only if they’re up to it.
It’s bad practice to appoint someone home-grown purely based on that; being British is not qualification enough. Why ignore or fail to even search for a genuinely better candidate in favour of a lesser qualified domestic alternative? Personally, I couldn’t care less where the next successful manager/player comes from, as long as they are committed, qualified and talented.
5. Finally, on manager tenure; we should all stop thinking about long-term appointments. Once Wenger retires, the last of the long-termers will be gone, and quite rightly. The game changes so much now that it’s near to impossible that we’ll ever see another Ferguson or Wenger, so we should stop acting like we’re going to find one. Even the great Guardiola has yet to stay at a club for longer than four years, so why not just admit that the plans we make are going to be relatively short-term?
This bloke knows he wants Jose…
To answer Joe, AFC’s question, I would say, Yes we want Jose.
All the things you mentioned are accurate. He doesn’t play attacking football, he burns his bridges with players, brings a lot of negative press to the club and ultimately leaves within three years. However he does do two things well. He is fantastic at identifying what the team needs and identifying which player would suit the requirement. And most importantly he wins titles.
Right now United are in a pickle, Moyes made us a laughing stock and Van Gaal’s football is of a different era and doesn’t work. Hiring Jose would guarantee that the transfer money spent would go towards good players and in the short term we would win things (Think off all the transfers under his management).
Handing over the keys to Giggs would be a huge risk and getting Pochettino a bit of a pipe dream. Jose would provide stability success and if the back office actually plans this time they can have a top-quality young manager (maybe Giggs) to take over the dynamic team Jose leaves behind.
The only real danger with Jose is that the youth players won’t get a look in and as a United fan, that will be disappointing.
JB, MUFC (When Wenger retires, Arsenal will have to deal with such predicaments).
Premier League: Twenty best teams please
Lots of interesting emails this morning, and I enjoyed reading the thoughts of Paul, (originally of Loughborough) London. However, I have to disagree with his assertion that ‘a Premiership complete with Derby, Forest, Leicester and the likes of Sheff Wednesday would be a better place’.
This isn’t a specific dig at those teams, indeed you could easily add Leeds and a few others to that list, but I don’t agree with the attitude that we want all the traditionally ‘big’ clubs (or perhaps more accurately, teams that have been successful or worthy of focus at some point in the past 40 years) in the Premier League. I don’t understand this view.
I want the Premier League to be made up of the best 20 teams available to it; in recent years, Swansea have been great to watch (and they gave us B-Rod), Blackpool had their moments (although to counter this they gave us Holloway), while Bournemouth this year have been a good story. There are plenty of other examples, but my point is these teams haven’t diluted my enjoyment of the league, quite the opposite in fact. It’s always funny seeing them beat a much bigger team, the fans generally seem to enjoy the ride, and they often bring a few players up who prove capable of making the step up.
Also, how many people have thought ‘I want Villa to go down’ or ‘Newcastle deserve to get relegated’ because of their dire performances for the past few years. Derby were so poor recently that they managed about -4 points in the whole season (I forget the exact figure) and they haven’t done anything since to make me think that they deserve to be back in the big time. It’s the same with teams qualifying for the Champions League; I’m a United fan but even I can’t argue we deserve to be in the latter stages of the Champions League, or that, on current form, we’d be entertaining if we were in next year’s competition (although lots of people like watching us lose, so maybe they would enjoy that).
Anyway, if the traditional top division sides who aren’t currently in it keep being crap, then I’m all for smaller, less fancied teams coming up. If nothing else it makes for a new ground to visit.
Jack (Brighton away is meant to be good craic) Manchester
Leicester > England
Leicester City’s recent success highlights a lesson that the England national team managers seem to be continuously overlooking.
The lesson that Leicester City teach us is that with a decent, balanced team you can be much more than the sum of your parts. Refer also to Greece 2004, the current Northern Ireland team, Denmark team of 1992 to name some of the more memorable comparisons. I realise this isn’t groundbreaking, but I’m pretty sure that it is not receiving the consideration it should by the powers-that-be.
The obsession with the England team is to try and accommodate all of our best players in a second-rate, Real Madrid type fashion and that just isn’t the right recipe for creating the best team ethic. I’m convinced that a manager with the balls to drop some of the stars in favour of a more balanced team would be far more successful, albeit initially bullied to death by the press.
I think I would go even further as to say, that you could apply this principal to say an England ‘B’ team. Perhaps a team consisting of largely solid, hardworking players (possibly even some from the Championship) with maybe the odd luxury, but still hardworking player carefully selected and thrown in to the mix. That team would beat the first team nine times out of ten and be much more successful consistently.
So Mr Hodgson, take note. You’re going to be encountering such a team in the summer in the shape of Wales. They will beat us with the current formula, so take heed of the lesson that this Premier League season is thrusting right in your stupid face.
All the best,
Chris B (Spurs are going to win the league btw)
Football needs an occasional Leicester…
The more the technocrats program it down to the smallest detail,the more the powerful manipulate it,soccer continues to be the art of unforseeable. When you least expect it,the impossible occurs,the dwarf teaches the giant a lesson.’
-Eduardo Galeano (Soccer in sun and Shadow)
After witnessing Leicester’s performance in the EPL, everything he said started making sense. What makes soccer so exciting? It surely is not the money involved in the game or statistics associated with it. What makes soccer exciting is the amount of unpredictability surrounding it and the moments of sheer brilliance. But, that fact has to be justified from time to time. Once in a while, there should be a Leicester, to show the world that football isn’t just about money. Once in a while there should be a Vardy, Mahrez and Kante, just to prove that you can be a star irrespective of the club you play for. Once in a while, there should be a Ranieri, once mocked and blamed, once bruised and beaten, who, in spite of all the odds, can perform something of a miracle. That is why I want Leicester to defy 5000-1 odds and win the title.
Nik (To those who think I have switched sides, I am still an Arsenal fan. But I wouldn’t mind Leicester winning the title this time.)
I could never, ever cheer on rivals
I’ve read a couple of mails from Forest fans recently saying they hope Leicester win the league, either with sincerity or not. Using reasoning such as a fairy tale ending, it would be good for the area etc. As a football fan, rivalry is in the blood, it is in essence a tribal culture and you want to win by beating everyone else, especially those you have a close rivalry with. That rivalry can be based on various things, but location is certainly one of those. I would never wish a team ‘good luck’ that I considered a rival, I wouldn’t necessarily take joy in them being beaten, although I understand that some people do, but I would most certainly never feel joy from them winning a match never mind a trophy! It’s just not football.
Unfortunately I am a Newcastle fan, so we don’t really get to have a rivalry with anyone but Sunderland now due to us being terrible at the whole football thing for the majority of my life (31 years old). But I can guarantee that I would be willing on every other club with a chance of winning the Premier League if Sunderland were in Leicester’s position. Not one part of me would want them to win the league. Ever. Or anything for that matter. I just can’t imagine it…thankfully Sunderland are as bad as Newcastle so I won’t have to worry about that for a while.
However we do have another derby match coming up, the rivalry will intensify, the feelings of dread and anticipation will heighten…and we’ll mess it up again and let Sunderland win. And they will stay up by a point or two again. And we will have given them six points again…oh the joys of football.
Aidan (think I’ll just go watch the cricket this year) Keith
Why all this Leicester goodwill?
I know people want Leicester to win the League but this line takes the p*ss from Paul, (originally of Loughborough) London ‘I felt sick last year when a horrible club, with horrible players, a horrible manager and horrible fans cantered to the title. I suspect many others felt similar. It could be polar opposites come end of the season this year’.
This must be the most melodramatic statement I have ever read in the mailbox.
Terry & Costa aside, what horrible players do Chelsea have? If you take them out then the rest of the squad is fairly controversy free. And they have some lovely footballers like Fabregas, Matic, Willian, Oscar, Hazard and Azpilicueta.
Mourinho is a bit of a d*ck. The doctor incident was deplorable, no argument there, but the level of outrage he provokes in people amuses me. He’s not really guilty of much else apart from winding people up and being fairly arrogant. People take every opportunity to describe him as ‘odious’ which is a ridiculously strong word for a man who has never even committed a crime that we know of.
Compare him to all-conquering hero Jamie Vardy. A man who has an assault conviction to his name and was recently videoed racially abusing a man. Yet this doesn’t seem to get thrown up at every opportunity.
Or Danny Simpson, a man who got community service for attacking his ex-girlfriend. Police arrived to the house to find him sitting on top of her with his hands round her neck. This seems to go largely unmentioned.
Can people please ease off the Mourinho bashing, there are plenty of people as bad or worse that seem to be given a free ride. He’s no angel but I don’t understand why he gets such harsh treatment when people like Vardy and Simpson who committed atrocious acts barely warrant a mention.
Dan, Ireland MUFC
Would any United fan want Terry?
‘Wilkins believes Terry could move to Man United’
Now I can see that a couple of years without success (oh the hardship) might mean that some Man Utd fans would want Mourinho and his guaranteed couple of years of success to take over as their manager.
But are there any Man Utd fans out there at all that would welcome John Terry?
I’m just interested to know.
Adonis (Yeah, I began a sentence with a conjunction. Deal with it) Stevenson, AFC
Big ups to Steady and his Big Weekend
‘Powered by the goals of £1million striker Jamie Vardy and £450,000 magician Riyad Mahrez, the Foxes are indeed a remedy to the modern-day domination of an elite which can afford to spend £32million on Nicolas Otamendi. But for Wenger to present them as the template to his ideal method of success borders on insulting to Arsenal fans. The Gunners are five points behind a club who were promoted two seasons ago, who this time last year were bottom of the Premier League and consigned to relegation. To use them as evidence that expenditure is unnecessary merely contextualises how massive a failure it would be for Arsenal not to win the league themselves.’
Fantastic writing, really really enjoyed it.