Mails: Detailing the eternal Pulis problem

Date published: Tuesday 13th September 2016 2:02

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Overhead kick feedback
I’m incredulous that you didn’t include Ronaldinho’s overhead kick against Villareal in your top 10!!

How that isn’t deemed better than the majority of your choices I will never know.
James, Kent


…Talking about great overhead kicks, how could you leave out the gem from Luis Fernandez against the great German team in the mid 1940’s?

I know it was only a friendly, but still…
Jay, NY


…You did a top ten overhead kicks and didn’t have any from the king of overhead kicks, Hugo Sanchez? Shame on you!

I insist everyone in F365 Towers watch this on repeat in penance –
Adonis (I’m not really upset about an objective list, I just wanted to share this amazing video of an amazing player) Stevenson, AFC


…Excellent overhead kick article and hard to disagree with the number one. What really irked me was the inclusion of Zlatan’s goal against England. I must say I’ve warmed to the Swede over the years but this goal is still ridiculously overrated.

There was no goalie for heaven’s sake and he had all the space and time in the world to get his technique right. Could I have done it? No. Could most other professional footballers. Probably. Among all-time overrated goals it only ranks behind Van Basten’s volley (a beauty for sure but not the impossible angle everyone pretends) and Diego Maradonna’s second against England (masterly, but quite clearly an own-goal if you watch it closely).
Matt Pitt
(MC – Van Basten’s goal ‘overrated’? Send in your bad opinions and we will print them)


All is not well at West Brom
As the new season starts to get going it seems increasingly so that Tony Pulis will be the first Premier League manager to depart this season. Albion ended last season poorly but there was a general feeling that the job had been done in keeping us up so that we could share the wealth of the new tv deal. For the first time in a long time Albion were the top dogs in the West Midlands and here was an opportunity to capitalise on it and push the club forward.

In typical Albion style its been a wasted opportunity and all gone very badly. The takeover by a Chinese consortium has dragged on and still isn’t completed. Whilst everyone else has been spending money like its going out of fashion we have had a net spend of about £10m and actually started September with a smaller squad than the already stretched squad we finished last season with. Apart from Chadli and Phillips I don’t think anyone was particularly thrilled with the signings we’ve made. One man in particular seems to be Mr Pulis and various comments have been made by Pulis and the club trying to blame each other which show a real sense of disharmony at The Hawthorns.

There is no doubt that the blame needs to be shared. However, the squad that we’re left with is still pretty decent. Its certainly very short up front and an injury from Rondon away from having to be reliant on a sulky Berahino who looks as though his once potentially great career is on the way down. But despite this it’s a very solid bunch of players. Plenty of Premier League experience and proven quality. Yet Pulis plays the most negative, dull football that I have ever had to watch. There is a growing feeling within the Albion support of disillusionment and boredom. At the end of the day football is supposed to be a form of entertainment. I’m a season ticket holder at the club but I approach each game now with a feeling of just having to fulfil an obligation rather than being excited to go. We make no effort to attack other teams but this approach isn’t bearing fruit as a record of 1 win in 15 games shows. I just hope Pulis goes and soon. I genuinely believe a new manager would lift the crowd and lift the players. They must hate having to play this style of football. If we stick with the Pulis way I fear we’re only heading in one direction.
George, Birmingham


And another great long one on Pulis
I’ve long considered myself one of the more moderate Albion fans, not one for bombarding the message boards or local radio phone ins melting down after every bad result or crying when a reported transfer targets goes elsewhere, but even I have to admit that Tony Pulis needs to go now, for the good of everyone. This has become a messy divorce to the point where both parties are throwing plates at each other and screaming in front of the children.

Where to begin?

The football – Goes without saying that it’s dire, I mean eye bleedingly dire. Doesn’t matter if we are away at Old Trafford or at home to Bournemouth the gameplan remains the same, back four of centre halves, two (sometimes three) defensive midfielders, wingers told to cover the fullbacks and Rondon stood about 40 yards further up than anyone else chasing hoofs and trying to win set pieces. Rinse and repeat for 90 minutes. It’s hard to complain when it works, but our run since Christmas show it clearly isn’t, one win in the last fourteen.

We were safe with about ten games to go last season, with nothing to play for you would think TP would attempt to take the shackles off and try to attack teams. He did not. The fans are sick of it, as the little sing song at Bournemouth testified to. The football is terrible and the results match.

Transfers – This window was a disaster, not helped by a takeover that can be generously described as botched (more on that shortly). Pulis wanted five players, but apparently not the five players he got, now this isn’t all his fault but there are some pretty big questions surrounding his record in the market (one of the conditions of him taking the job in first place was him demanding more control over transfers). James Chester, bought for £8m, played a couple of times at full back then bombed out for months. Callum Mcmanaman, bought for £4.75m, bombed out almost immediately. Rickie Lambert, bought for £3m when clearly unfit, been useless ever since. Then there was Gnabry and Pritchard, brought in on loan and never played.

In fairness he has brought Evans, Fletcher and Rondon to the club but there are massive questions surrounding him. By all accounts we had a £15m deal for Camacho lined up only for TP to pull the plug at the last minute citing “fitness concerns”. If there were concerns why did we get that far into a deal on deadline day?

Relationship with the board – Poisonous. The board want him out, he wants to go, but not without a pay-off (legal bills). As mentioned earlier, we are in the middle of a takeover, a takeover that currently sees our prospective new chairman John Williams side by side with outgoing chairman Jeremy Peace. Nobody seems to know who is actually in charge of the club at the moment. Pulis and Williams seem intent on antagonising each other in the press – Williams “He wanted five players, we got him five” Pulis “I didn’t want those five”.

I am becoming convinced that Pulis is actually trying to engineer his own sacking, he is grossly disrespectful towards our prospective new owners (previously he was referring to the new owner as “Mr Lai”, now it’s just “The Chinese”) and didn’t even bother turning up to a friendly last week where potential signings were playing on trial. There are shades of ‘Arry in how he manipulates the media to suit his side of the story, I guarantee when he goes the likes of Martin Samuel will write pieces decrying how poorly he has been treated, but Pulis knows exactly what he’s doing, constantly talking us down and the opposition up. Acting like survival is the very most our tiny club could ever dare to hope for.

Pulis has turned West Bromwich Albion truly toxic place, and this toxicity threatens to send us the way Villa went (oh how we laughed, not quite as funny now). For the good of the club and everyone in it he needs to go now.
DM, WBA (Pulis out)


Arsenal loanees: A big mess
We talked recently in this Mailbox about how loans are being used so poorly.

I hadn’t thought about it much but I was reading a blog about Arsenals Youth Team today and the following is part of their recent “On loan report”:

-Calum Chambers was an un-used substitute as Middlesbrough lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace.
-Dan Crowley was an un-used substitute as Oxford United beat Swindon Town 2-0.
-Stefan O’Connor was an un-used substitute as Maastricht drew 1-1 with Eindhoven. Kelechi Nwakali didn’t feature.
-Tafari Moore was an un-used substitute as Utrecht drew 1-1 with Zwolle.
-Julio Pleguezuelo was an un-used substitute as Mallorca lost 1-0 to Rayo Vallecano.
-Ryan Huddart was an un-used substitute for Easleigh in their 1-1 draw with Southport.
-Jon Toral didn’t feature as Granada lost 2-1 to Eibar.

Now, I’m not going to pretend all of these players are likely world beaters, but how can they even get the chance if they don’t even feature for their loan teams.

Jon Toral is especially frustrating. He played brilliantly for Birmingham apparently. I understand that our midfield is crowded, but why has he gone abroad on loan to not play. Crawley also looks like a very good player, sat on the bench.

Are teams loaning out players to teams that are too good for them to get into the first XI? Are there extra fees for playing loan players that makes them less favourable? Why are they better off elsewhere if they aren’t going to get training time then at our start of the art training facilities? Baffles me.
Rob A (3-1 to Arsenal tonight) AFC


Well done Everton
Well, Ronald Koeman has definitely hit the ground running. Just 4 games in and Everton look like a completely different unit to the shambles that Roberto Martinez oversaw for the last two seasons. OK, greater tests will come than a disjointed Sunderland side but the signs are there. Fitness looks better, passing and movement looks better and Lukaku is finally slotting home a fair proportion of the chances created for him.

We now have a much better blend of attacking and defending (unlike the kamikaze approach of Bobby Brown Shoes) simply by shuffling the pack and bringing in / replacing players in key positions. Williams, Gueye and Bolasie (sorry Palace fans for pinching your chant) have all been immense – we suddenly look like a balanced side that is hard to break down but also (especially with Deulofeu and Bolasie on the wings) a side full of attacking options as well.

Last night’s second half performance was exciting, entertaining and – dare I say – classy. But classier still was the gesture by Everton to donate £200,000 towards Bradley Lowery’ cancer treatment fund. The 5 year old has neuroblastoma and his family need to raise £700,000 to give him life-saving surgery in the States. Everton’s donation makes that hope much more likely and its great to see that our new owner has already bought into the idea of Everton being The People’s Club.

It is entirely consistent with the philosophy of the club and telling at a time when the Premier League spends over a billion pounds to line the pockets of players and their agents and Manchester United announce breaking through the £500m revenue barrier that some still remember that football is for (and of) the people. A great gesture and hopefully the next team playing Sunderland can make a similar dip into their pockets and get this young lad treated sooner rather than later.
Phil, The Wirral


More on a European Super League
I think Hugo (NUFC) completely underestimates the cons of a European Super League (ESL) particularly if he thinks that it will make the domestic leagues more competitive and allow more teams like Leicester a chance at winning the PL. If the ESL comes to pass, it will because the clubs hold all the power, even more than they do now and any move to a Europe wide league will, in my mind have a negative effect on the domestic leagues.

The main thing to consider, do you really think the financial giant that is the PL will be happy to have Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea & Liverpool for example stripped from the brand?. So any ESL is likely to see the clubs remain in their domestic set up as well. We’ll be left with a situation whereby the big clubs will have a squad of 25 players registered for the ESL and another 25 players registered for their domestic league. If the ESL becomes a closed shop, which would surely be the plan, you would be left with a situation whereby any player wanting to play in Europe will need to be at the big clubs to make that happen – no chance that staying at Leicester will get you that opportunity.

So what will happen is the career paths for players will likely become – using Leicester and Chelsea as an example:

Leicester > Chelsea PL team > Chelsea ESL squad

The big clubs would simply use their even greater wealth to hoover up the best talent, give them game time in the domestic league and transfer them to the ESL squad when it was felt that they were good enough. This would leave us with a situation whereby there is even less talent to go around, the domestic competition would be more of a closed shop and we would all have to “enjoy” our teams getting beat by essentially reserve sides. Almost a larger scale version of this years EFL Trophy, and check out the attendances in those games for the effect it might have.

Even an ESL in itself is a flawed concept esp. if no relegation exists. Who is going to bother about watching Liverpool V Athletico if both are say 14th and 15th and don’t have the peril of relegation? It’ll probably happen one day, but I think it will make things worse rather than better for those left behind.
Paul (summer you’ve been great, but it’s really too hot for September), Germany


The richest 1%
A Super league is something that has been talked about for a long time now, and is something that an average football fan would find hard to resist. The idea of Real Madrid playing Manchester Utd or Bayern Munich playing Juventus guaranteed twice per season would make most fans think why this hasn’t happened already. The European super league has its appeal and you can see why it is a remarkable attraction to sponsors and fans across the world.

The Premier league over last season and up to what is happening this season is a good way of showing exactly how the European Super League will go. 2015/16 saw the emergence of the mid-level premier league teams. This was due to the huge TV revenue that had been injected into it by the various broadcasters. The new money allowed the mid-level English teams compete with larger teams around Europe for players that would have usually chosen Valencia, Leverkusen or Roma but opted for larger wages at a Southampton, Stoke or Leicester.

This made the premier league far more competitive and there were upsets up and down the table all season. The dynamic had shifted and the money had changed the landscape of the Premier League forever. Or so we thought; fast forward one season and you are seeing this revert back to the status quo. Both Manchester Clubs spending in excess of £150m, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all spending £100m each. I don’t think anyone would bet against either Manchester Clubs or Chelsea making up the top 4 this season as well as the top 6 containing all of Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs.

The example of how the premier league has been from last September to now can be put forward as a microcosm of how the first couple of seasons of the European Super League would go. I do agree on the most part with Hugo Adelaide, that the European Super League is probably the only way to inject competition into the other European leagues and the only way the rest of Europe could compete with the Premier League financially.

Fast forward to the year 2030 and the European super league is in its tenth season; Real Madrid and Barcelona are the top two and have been for the last four season – Bayern Munich are a close third and Manchester Utd have just finished fourth for a fifth successive season. The league becomes stagnant due to 20 teams competing for first place and nothing else. With the emergence of football around the world this could force the creation of American and Asian Super Leagues, which would in turn allow the creation of a World Champions League. Life again has been injected into the European super league and teams can compete for top four places in each league where they can hopefully compete in this new cross continent competition.

Say thirty years from now and the governing body of the time will now be trying to appease the big clubs: LA Galaxy, Guangzhou Evergrande and Real Madrid after they threaten to break away and form the World Super League unless there are more safeguards in place to guarantee them entry into the World Champions League. The whole thing will come full circle eventually and will again, once interplanetary competitions are able to take place.

I believe overall that a super league will do nothing but be a stop gap for a few years until the eventual emergence of the “big two” (probably Barcelona and Real Madrid). What I think should be addressed in the game is trying to increase competition in the leagues we already have and also do something that would increase competition within our continent competitions – see John Nicholson’s latest article for this.

Without rules against stockpiling players, restrictions on loaning players and restricting excessive wages and transfer fees there will always be a monopoly on any league system eventually. Money always rises to the top and sport run like a business will act like a business, making the European Super League a glorified Forbes rich list.
John (NUFC) Lavery


Jack Rodwell misery
You might have already read this somewhere by now, but it’s a fun fact for the afternoon mailbox anyway:

Sunderland have never won a Premier League game that Rodwell has started. Poor guy.
Olly Cole, THFC (Bale did have a similar record at Spurs for a while, that might comfort Jack a bit…)


On the Mendy…
So Emad MUFC Boston has decided that Nampalys Mendy has failed to adequately replace Kante. Seems like a rash judgement of a player that has been unavailable for all but one game this season, which happened to be their only clean sheet so far in the league against Arsenal (albeit only playing 53mins due to the injury which has kept him out since).

Oh, and according to WhoScored he had 100% pass completion as well.

‘Yes, pah-lease’ Mendy,
Eoin, Cork


But this Leicester fan is a bit worried
Completely agree with the conclusions of Emad MUFC Boston on Gueye and Mendy at Leicester. I’m not the only Leicester fan out there left a bit puzzled by our transfer dealings in CDM. When we signed Mendy, we were told (and the stats backed up) that he would be a different type of player to Kante, and that has been clear in his (albeit limited number) of performances so far.

Interestingly, we were linked to Gueye (as well as Bolasie) in the summer before Steve Walsh departed to Everton. Lo and behold, look who they sign as soon as he has strolled through the front door.

Whilst I am happy with the additions we have made to our squad this year, we now have to find a different formula and quickly. I am troubled by how easily we have been giving the ball away and how open we are at the back throughout pre-season and into the start of the season.

I can’t help but think that Steve Walsh and Claudio did not completely agree on transfer targets, with the latter taking a less scientific view. I fear this might have been at the heart of Walsh’s decision to move on, which is a huge shame because he was one crucial ingredient I really didn’t want to see us lose. In the longer term, I’m also left hoping that our winning formula in the transfer market hasn’t been broken.

Having said all that, Claudio can do what the hell he likes as far as I’m concerned.
Jamie, LCFC (predicting big things for Everton)

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