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Bollox to Vardy…
Now, first off, I need to state that I am an Arsenal fan of c.40 years (I’m4 3). We certainly need a striker and Vardy is better than anyone we currently have so would have been an improvement to the team. But, if it takes even this long to decide, then sod him. Deal’s off.
You either want to play for Arsenal or you don’t.
The money is much the same (based on reports of Leicester’s improved offer). It’s the history that would make the difference. Yes, Arsenal came second but in reality, who will likely finish higher next season? And the next one? It’ll be Arsenal and if they don’t then please feel free to call me out on it….
I only want players at Arsenal who want to play for them. Not because of the money, but because it’s Arsenal.
Sorry Jamie, if I were in charge of the issue then you’d have missed the boat.
Stu in France (Vardy’s just a crap Perry Groves…Perry, Perry, Perry…).
Things to watch at the Euros…
Can’t believe there’s only two days!! All I want to do at the minute is talk about the Euro’s/read about/watch highlights of old classic games on YouTube, such is the level of excitement I am at right now. So, here’s some things I (and maybe you) am looking forward to seeing.
1. Croatia’s midfield.
It doesn’t really need any explaining. You just look at the names on paper and smile. Modric. Rakitic. (Slightly underrated) Perisic. Kovacic. Brozovic. Hehehe.
2. Lewandowski and Milik.
We all know how bloody good Lewi is, the best striker in Europe. Milik is the interesting one, haven’t only seen clips of him, and reading good things about him, I’m very excited to be watching him live in an exciting Poland team. Like most left-footers, he can really tw*t the ball, which is always nice to see, his record is impressive both for country and club, now his first major international tournament in the team I consider dark horses. I expect goals from these two.
Again, I’ve seen little of him other than a few clips and I’ve heard all the hype. He looks very raw and direct, seems to play from the right for his club, probably up front for The Swiss. It’s always exciting to see a young direct prospect at an international tournament, he could emerge as a real talent and start a summer bidding frenzy.
4. Gareth Bale
As a Spurs fan, I’m delighted to see him play at a major international tournament. He and Wales deserve it. The passion he shows for Wales is something to admire and there’s gonna be nothing scarier than Gareth Bale doing everything he can to take Wales as far as they can go. Expect some ridiculously good goals.
5. Group D
I saw a Czech fan write in yesterday saying they will be tight and hard to break down, but I’m sure they only kept one clean sheet in qualifying and in the three preparation friendlies, they’ve conceded in every game. I’m expecting this group to have a lot of goals. Spain, Croatia, Turkey & Czech Republic. The last game is Turkey v Czech, which could be like a knockout game with both teams knowing just a win will see them through. They might already be through by then, which would mean a winner takes all in the other last game Spain V Croatia. There’s a lot of sexy midfielders in that group.
To tell you the truth I’m excited about everything. I can not wait. For a month I will be treated to some of Europe’s finest players trying to win a competition for their country. If England play Harry Kane and Dele Alli in their actual positions than England have a real good chance of going far and at least being exciting! So, here’s to a great next few weeks.
Getting ‘cited about English football
Has there ever been a better time in recent memory to be a football fan in England? Just two days before the Euros start and there is a flush of optimism and genuine excitement over our squad; the Premier League player and manager transfer merry-go-round has already started, and several of the leading coaches in the world will be employed in this country next season. By my count there are six teams who will realistically be hoping to mount a title challenge and that doesn’t even include the reigning champions. We could enjoy watching a young England side full of attacking intent have a successful Euros in France before one of the most exciting Premier League seasons ever.
So England will scrape through their group before going out on pens and United will win the title at a canter playing Mourinho-ball…
What a sodding transfer summer already
Gundogan, Xhaka, probably Zlatan and Aubameyang, Higuain looking likely and even that global megastar Eric Bailly bound for these shores.
Chelsea yet to make their move, but are sure to go big when they do.
There’s a transfer arms race going on between three or four managerial titans.
And I’m loving it.
Roll on 2016/17.
No surrender from the Irish in 2016
Last night on Irish TV, a documentary series about Ireland’s exploits in the European Championship Finals concluded.
As we’ve only qualified twice (’88 & ’12), it was a short series and since we haven’t progressed past the group stages, each episode was only 30 mins long. Also it was in the Irish language so not much interest outside the island.
Part one covered Euro 88, where under Big Jack Charlton (TM), we beat the English, drew with the USSR, and lost to the Dutch. It was a brave campaign and one which resulted in the team being welcomed home like heroes.
Part two last night covered Euro 2012 where we were soundly beaten by Croatia, thrashed by Spain, and beaten out the gate by Italy. In a campaign where Sean St.Ledger was our top scorer, it was no surprise there was no heroes welcome this time around.
It was also notable for Roy Keane’s comments on ITV about the fans only going along for the singsong.
Now, the Irish fans during 2012 were widely commended for their behaviour and sense of atmosphere and fun they brought to Polkraine. While Keane’s ire was misdirected, I feel the underlying point is valid. Fans want to see the team perform well, and failing that, go down fighting. None of this happened in 2012 under Giovanni Trappatoni. It was the worst performances of the Irish team in memory.
So, what to expect in 2016. We are in a group with Sweden, Belgium and Italy again and we go as the worst team in the group. But…Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have instilled a quiet sense of optimism in the team. We beat the Germans en route to qualification and there is a determination about the team which gives us a little hope we can progress out of the group.
We have players in form in Shane Long, Jon Walters, Robbie Brady and James McCarthy. We no longer rely on Robbie Keane’s goals (that said, don’t bet against him coming off the bench for a crucial winner/equaliser). Seamus Coleman and Cyrus Christie are fullbacks who like to bomb on and we have wildcard options in Wes Hoolahan and James McClean.
Granted, none of these guys are world beaters but it’s what we’ve got.
So, we may not be the best team in the group, but as one flag heading to France states, paraphrasing Conor McGregor “we’re not here to take over, we’re here to take part”.
And that’s the best a fan can ask for. Taking part and competing. Not rolling over and surrender.
A rare mail about Japan
Last night was the final of the Kirin Cup, which is either a tournament for teams with nothing better to do this summer or a vital opportunity for young players to get experience prior to World Cup qualification matches, depending on how you look at it. It was a four-team tournament, featuring the hosts Japan, Bulgaria, Denmark and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bulgaria lost their two matches 7-2 to Japan and 4-0 to Denmark, who lost on penalties to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
So the final was between Japan and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it was far from the cagey defensive affair that finals often are: both teams attacked from the off and neither seemed terribly bothered about defending. Japan were set up in a 4-2-3-1 with Okazaki up front but were missing Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke “E.” Honda through injury. Japan lost 2-1 despite taking the lead, let down by two defensive lapses, one of which led to them conceding the equaliser immediately after taking the lead and the other led to the winning goal. They had two glorious chances in stoppage time but Hiroshi Kiyotake, who had scored earlier, first elected to pass into traffic instead of shoot and then missed his kick.
Despite the result, it looks promising for Japan as they prepare for their next round of World Cup Qualifiers in the autumn. The younger players performed well and hopefully they can improve on Japan’s disappointing Asian Cup campaign last year (a shock quarter-final loss to UAE) and their turgid displays at the last World Cup.
James T, Kanazawa, Japan
Love for Laudrup
As a boy (probably still do) I always preferred the skill players. The ones that saw what was about to happen rather than react to what had happened.
So comfortable on the ball, time to take a look and play an incisive pass that very few others could see let alone play.
It always annoys me when this type of player is accused of being lazy. Happens to Ozil, Le Tiss, Hazard etc. They see the game quicker than the rest, always ready to take the ball and move it effectively which tends to give the unfair appearance that they are not putting a ‘shift in’.
You don’t have to sprint round the park like a headless chook to be the most important player on the pitch.
Yes there is a place for the grafter who has got to the top through hardwork and commitment (it gives the average park player hope that one day they could be signed up too) but I watch for that 1% of magic that very few have and Laudrup had it in abundance.
H (can’t believe he nearly joined the redmen *silent sob*)
…Thank you so much for the portrait of an icon on one of my favourite ever players, Michael Laudrup was without doubt the best passer of a football I have ever had the privilege to see and believe me seeing Laudrup pass the ball was a privilege, his vision and touch was mesmeric, the way he found players with a telling defence splitting pass was a joy to watch, I have actually watched the 83 min passing video and loved every second, unlike compilations of thunderbastards, headers, volleys and overhead kicks this seems more like a purist’s vision of what football would be like played in heaven by all the greats of yesteryear, passing porn. I absolutely love the series and long may it continue, educating younger readers in the joys of players like Cruyff, Best, Laudrup etc must be one of the best gigs at Football365, well done.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
…Never mind being out the sunshine I wish didn’t have so much work to do that I could watch the whole Michael Laudrup clip. Magical.
Football moments to re-live…
Assuming this is meant to be a moment I’d want to see again, and not a moment I wish I’d seen, I’d go with three simple moments:
Jonas’ goal to keep Newcastle up. A moment of magic for a man who had been through so much, saving the team that shat on him.
Shearer’s header against the Germans. 1-0. I loved Wor Al. Seems like the last time we beat them when it mattered.
Pele and the New York Cosmos coming to play the San Diego Jaws in 1976. I mean, FFS, it was Pele. And I was eleven. Wish I could’ve appreciated it more
Pete Murcott, California
…Expat Brit, at the Trafalgar Arms, Ft. Lauderdale, Chelsea at home to Barca, 2000 Champions League quarters, three goals in eight minutes against a really good all-out attacking team (none of that tika-taka sh*te).
I was nearly in tears, just glorious stuff. The replay wasn’t half bad, 4-3 with 8 mins to go when Barca’s Dani scores to tie it 4-4 at full time. Extra time, Babayaro gets sent off, Rivaldo scores, game over.
People forget how we were getting pretty good years before Abramovic, despite always being the underdogs.
That Wayne Bridge goal to finally kill off the Arsenal hoodoo a few years later ran it pretty close though.
More than anything I want England to win something. At 52, I’m getting worried that I will never see that in my lifetime…
André, CFC, Florida
…Reading a mailbox full of history and emotion got me thinking (after a few beers on a work night out, on the train home) the times that you feel most emotional about football aren’t always the ones you expect. I remember seeing the Dutch lose on penalties in ’98 while on holiday in France while on holiday in a bar with hundreds (literally) of Oranje was heartbreaking. After Bergkamp’s (my childhood and still current hero) goal against evil Argentina and everything. As a gooner I naturally recall the painful Champions League final but it was both the away and home legs against Real Madrid that filled me most with pride and fear. From Henry’s wonder goal to Lehmann’s brilliance at home. Another was the2-1 win against Barca where Arshavin scored the winner. Who cares about the overall result, that home leg contained all the emotions of football that tie you in for life.
Alex, Pompey Gooner
…Further to the excellent letter from Sean yesterday, I recommend to younger readers the episode of ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?’ in which our heroes spend several hours desperately trying to avoid learning the result of the big (England?) game before it was shown on the telly later. Is there any fan anywhere that hasn’t done that? I do it every week.
My list of favourite moments include Gazza scoring that goal against the scots at Wembley in 96 – right in front of my seat and immediately after the joy of their penalty miss followed the despair that preceded it. Me and my mates also had a cracking time with some Jocks in the pub up the road beforehand. (Memories of that tournament slightly tarnished after I contracted dysentery from a burger van outside Wembley at the quarter final – sick as a dog even before we kicked off against Germany and had to give away my final ticket).
Liam Brady scoring a brilliant solo goal with the last kick of his career, and of the game (it had to be after the pitch invasion) at Upton Park.
Di Canio sitting down on the half way line at UP when Harry refused to sub him after he had – inevitably – been denied about three clear penalties – before jumping up after the crowd sung his name and almost immediately – in my memory at least – scoring.
The very best memory though is not a moment but a game. And an important one that we lost very badly. West Ham played Forest at Villa Park in the 1991 Cup Semi. Keith Hackett ludicrously sent Tony Gale (of all people) off for a ‘professional foul’ at the half-way line after around 20 minutes. We went on to get spanked 4-0. But for the rest of the match “Billy Bonds’ Claret and Blue Army” was the only thing anyone could hear. In between each repetition we treble clapped and/or stamped. There were wooden floorboards beneath me that had barely stopped shaking by the time of the next round of stamping. There was a pause at half time of course, and very very briefly as each of Forest’s goals went in. But it was the most magnificent show of support, and I’ve never been more proud to be a Hammer.
Fortune’s Always Hiding.
Guy H. London
…Please spare a thought for us poor Scots folks who once again are stuck at the window peering into the greatest football show on offer this summer.
Two matches which I would do anything to relive having been at both:
September 2007 Paris – France v Scotland, travelled there with 10k other hopeful Scotland fans but deep down worrying they would give us a doing. What followed was unbelievable: I can still recall James McFadden (who had been abysmal to this point) swinging at the ball and thinking ‘oh for fuuuuuuuuuck sake that’s a waaaaaa ohhhh that’s going close, is that in??) and then mass euphoria exploding all around for what was one of Scotland’s greatest ever results.
Second match was 7 November 2012 when Celtic beat Barcelona at Celtic Park. The entire night the atmosphere was louder and better than anything I have ever been to, victor wanyama and Tony watt’s goals took me to places of euphoria and disbelief that only football can do. To this day watching any of that match brings tears to my eyes such is the emotion.
As the great man himself said: football, bloody hell!
…The footballing moment I would like to relive happened in the last minute of a match against Bradford at SJP, on the 14th October 1989, in the then Second Division. I was 10; it was my second ever match. In the first, sat upon a concrete barrier in the old Milburn Paddocks, I almost cacked myself when Andy Thorn scored the winner and pandemonium ensued. I willed myself to react better should anyone score in the next match – I had almost a month to mentally prepare myself.
It was a terrible match, but in the final minute, Mark McGhee collected the ball on the touchline, right in front of us, and jinked past a challenge. Somehow, I knew he was going to score, and I set myself to enjoy the moment. He slalomed past a few more lumbering defenders, and caressed the ball into the corner. This time I took part in the pandemonium.
In those days, there was little TV coverage. I didn’t see any footage of the goal until over a dozen years later, in the living room of my student house in York, on a late-night Tyne-Tees sports show. But here it is.
It wasn’t even all that great, really.
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle Sitel
…In 1973 or ’74 I was eight years old. My parents were from Liverpool and living in Hertfordshire. My dad decided to take me to Kenilworth Rd to see Liverpool play against Luton. Because of the fighting at matches he refused to take me into the visiting end because that’s where most of the trouble kicked off. Consequently we went in the home end, with me wearing my bright red LFC tracksuit covered in liver bird pins etc. I was not happy at this turn of events and being the soft arse that I was I blamed my dad and wouldn’t stand with him and went off to watch the game from the corner next to the fence.
At some point Liverpool won a corner and Kevin Keegan came to take it. As he placed the ball down he glanced over at me and asked “what are you doing in the Luton end?” I explained that my dad said it was too dangerous in with the Liverpool fans and he replied “he’s right.” I went running back to my father with Luton fans slapping me on the back, sharing in my joy that I was Keegan’s new best friend. (Thanks Kevin). My Father was right about most things. Eventually I came to realize this, although I was in my thirties when it sunk in. If I could relive that moment again, however, it would not happen the same way, because I would be standing next to my dad holding his hand and watching the game and not chatting to Kevin Keegan. I miss you dad.
Phil Dewhurst, proudly raising four Liverpool fans in Brooklyn, NY