Mails: England are no better than Peru or Costa Rica…

Date published: Thursday 16th November 2017 9:52

Thank you for your mails. We are nearly through the wilderness. Mail us at or there will be no afternoon mailbox.


Stop thanking Pep
Can F365 please stop with thanking Pep for everything? It’s honestly getting nauseating and I’m sorry to crush your dreams, but he’s not reading. He’s not going to email in to say ‘you are very welcome’ and ask to meet up for a coffee to talk football, then invite you back to his place.

Kyle Walker was a very good player before City spent a lot of money on him, hence why they spent a lot of money on him. John Stones, while clearly not the finished product, was already a very promising player before City spent a lot of money on him, hence why they spent a lot of money on him. That’s not to say Pep hasn’t had any influence on their development, he’s certainly improved them both (particularly the latter), but please let’s stop thanking him as though he’s turned Lee Cattermole into Zinedine Zidane.
Tom, Manchester


England are only as good as Peru and Poland
It is top trolling that you find the world’s top teams and include England in it. Here is the list of countries that are currently better and 0-0 in friendlies doesn’t count.

1. Germany
2. Spain
3. Belgium
4. France
5. Argentina
6. Brazil
7. Portugal
8. Croatia
9. Uruguay

I would argue that Costa Rica, Mexico, Iceland, Poland, Peru, Senegal, Denmark, Nigeria are more or less on par with England which means that a round of 16 is about par for Gareth’s team.

If England do get to the quarters, let’s celebrate the lads for over achieving and for the luck of the draw.
Sudarsan Ravi (Low expectations = Less devastation)


England need to bypass their midfield
England need two distinct styles of play. One is the qualifiers where you are likely to play substandard teams. Teams that make Jordan Henderson seem like Bond, James Bond.

Another is the World Cup where they make Henderson seem like Bond, Shane Bond (Fast, useless and a police officer who keeps yelling all round). Given that you are likely to face more teams better than you, it is best to understand and operate within limitations.

So, what do you do when you have a sh*t midfield? You bypass it. You have a wonderful ball-playing defender. You let him ping balls all over and then rely on your speed merchants. Rashford, Alli, Kane, Sterling. A Lallana is useful when you have to unlock tight defences with quick movements of feet. That time is over.

When you have Mbappe, De Bruyne, Neymar, Messi, Ozil, Eriksen, Modric, Isco pulling the strings, you are likely to need Dier, Livermore (or a better defensive midfielder) in addition to a three-man defence with two defensive full-backs and rely on three speed merchants. We don’t need a golden triangle in the middle of the park. We need two banks of four offering no space to the best teams and three excellent runners with good conversion stats up front.

Right now, England’s undoing is going to be the conversion ratio of the attack. One chance, one goal – Other than Kane and to some extent, Vardy. I dont see a Sterling or a Rashford or Alli offer that.
Sudarsan Ravi (I apologize to Shane Bond. Comparing you to Jordan wasn’t very flattering)


A long and interesting mail about Ireland
“They [Denmark] are a very good team, very good players, but they don’t have the character and the heart and the desire that we have.”

I like David Meyler. He always tries his heart out for Ireland and became almost undroppable by the end of the qualification campaign. However, this was twaddle of the highest order. It is also indicative of a problem we have in Irish football, albeit usually more so with fans than with the players themselves.

Under Martin O’Neill, ‘character’, ‘heart’ and ‘desire’ are becoming our version of the English PFM’s ‘pashun’. A lot of Irish fans are in the process of convincing themselves that we are either in possession of the only footballers in the world who are proud to play to for their country, or the ones who are the mostest proudest ever.


Pride. Heart. Desire… All countries have these, albeit some display them more adeptly than others. How do they display them more adeptly? Through their utilisation of tactics, skill, nous, intelligence, composure; none of which were in evidence against Denmark. It was ugly as all hell, but at least the backs-to-the-wall-hoofball used in the group stages was a kind of tactical plan; admittedly stretching the definition and usage of the word ‘tactical’ to breaking point there. And even that deserted us against the Danes.

None of this is to question the aforementioned pride and determination of the Irish players. That is beyond reproach and something I remain very proud of. However, they are not the only players who have that pride and determination. It is simply not enough to rely on those attributes. Doing so also handily ignores the part luck played in our getting to the play off. Bale was injured in Cardiff. Austria were in disarray throughout. Yes, getting through despite being fourth seeds was impressive. However, we have to be honest with ourselves when looking back on how it happened.

Nobody realistically expects Ireland to be world beaters or even perennial attendees at international tournaments. Our talent pool is too small, our players too limited when compared to the likes of Eriksen (singular, can we please stop with the pluralisation of your Eriksens, Denmarks, Irelands, etc). However, neither can anybody realistically be over the moon at the prospect of two more years of O’Neill’s footballing ‘style’. I, for one, would be happier for us to (occasionally) keep the ball on the ground. Yes, we might take the odd hammering. Thing is, we do already. We do have a limited pool but there are younger players who can play a bit given some confidence and the opportunity to do so: Sean Maguire and Daryl Horgan at Preston, Callum O’Dowda at Bristol City. Maguire scored enough goals to win Cork City the League of Ireland title in half a season before his transfer to Preston. Horgan tore defences apart all over Europe last season in the Europa League with Dundalk… Hell, even Harry Arter looks a different player when allowed to actually play under Howe at Bournemouth. Same goes for Hendrick and Brady under Dyche at Burnley.

Granted, mentioned above are two Championship teams and two (at best) mid-level Premier League ones. However, that in itself is not a roadblock to success. Instilling confidence in both the players’ ability and their game plan can result in the whole being significantly more than the sum of its parts. Example? Iceland’s Euro 2016 squad. It contained players from European heavyweights such as Augsburg, Cardiff, Molde, Hammarby, Charlton, and Kaiserslautern… Even their best player played for – drumroll – Swansea.

Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting that Ireland should be as competitive as Iceland on the world stage. Their success is the result of years of careful planning, investment and encouragement. Also, in Iceland football folks don’t have to compete with an omnipotent GAA – not a complaint, I come from a GAA mad family – or a successful and well marketed international rugby team when vying for the attentions of sporting youngsters… More importantly, they don’t have one John Delaney in charge of their football association.

However, their system is one that could be used as a model. Our limitations are there and are plain to see. However, we don’t need to limit our aspirations. It is possible to do more with less. Never mind comparisons with England, there are more people living in county Cork than in Iceland.

And finally, for those of you still brave, drunk, or bored enough to still be reading this, on behalf of all self-aware Irish football fans, I want to extend an apology for those ridiculous ‘World Cup will be lesser without us’ statements seen in the comments here and elsewhere…. It won’t be. If anything, it’s been doing just fine since 2002. Yes, our fans are great fun, great craic and an undoubted credit to our country while abroad… However, we’re not the only ones to be so. Again, we’re not the only people who like to get drunk and sing songs while on holidays. You get to be the best supporters if your team meets the bare minimum to be there. It hurts but ours didn’t.

And on that note, if we have The Best Fans In The World TM, then why was the Aviva Stadium practically empty with ten minutes to go on Tuesday night? Bar the Danes, of course, who were doing a lot of that ‘Irish’ singing and dancing and having fun stuff… Don’t think they caused any trouble afterwards either.

Or before.

John (Honestly, gutted not to make it through. I’m lucky enough to remember all of our previous appearances at the World Cup. However, that don’t mean you can’t be realistic as well.), Ennis


A legendary non-World Cup team
Neville Southall
Mark Bowen
Kevin Ratcliffe
Mike England
Peter Nicholas
Leighton James
Ryan Giggs
Gary Speed
Mark Hughes
Dean Saunders
Ian Rush

Subs: Jussi Jaaskelainen, George Best, Georgi Kinkladze, Craig Johnston, George Weah, Sammy Hyypia, Jari Litmanen, Nolberto Solano, Mido, Ronnie Rosenthal, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Arnor Gudjohnsen

BTW I don’t boo James McLean but if I did, it wouldn’t be because of the poppy business. It would be because he’s a dirty player who is prone to diving in two footed whenever I see him play.
Adam Jones


Nigeria will bring the noise
After reading in the mails today about the Irish missing the WC bus bus majorly due to Eriksen’s happy boots, I also agree with a mailer who quipped that the Danish can never bring the atmosphere the Irish would have brought.

That reminded me of the atmosphere we Nigerians bring, we’re in the WC so you better be ready for lots of trumpets, dancing, chants and opposition taunting songs. We also have our famous human green-white-green statue. And the best part it is we bring all this without needing to travel. Nigerians are numerous everywhere. It’ll be nice to read of other countries’ fans and their gimmicks.
Otito, Lagos


World Cup Winners and Losers
This is based solely on qualifiers – friendlies aren’t included


After 36 years that shirt is back on the world stage

To book their spot they had to take out the Dutch and the Azzuri – they better be good

They are the reason there won’t be Irish passion at this World Cup ….they better be good

Christian Eriksen
A hat-trick in a make-or-break game away from home and he isn’t named Messi can he walk on water too

All they had to do was avoid defeat in Cote D vorie> they were 1-0 up after 30 minutes A 20-year wait is over.

Herve Renard
Has now won two African Nations cups and one World Cup qualification in six years with three teams. Every African FA should have his number on speed dial.

They ended the soap opera early by winning their rescheduled game…boo. Congrats all the same on ending a 16-year wait and with a talented bunch of players.

Since transferring to the Asian qualifiers, they have qualified for every World Cup.

Nordic Teams and Arabic teams
Three (Denmark,Sweden and Iceland) and four (S.)Arabia Egypt Tunisia and Morocco representatives that’s some sort or record

Stood up to be counted when it mattered unfortunately we will have to wait till at least the second round for them to play Peru in a battle of the shirts.

You’ve got another chance try and get past the first round this time. The hard work had already been done.

By avoiding defeat to Algeria they have now not lost a World Cup qualifier since 2004 for about 36 games that’s up there with Spain and Germany

It will rile Northern Irish fans for the next 20 years but the Swiss are going to be there again.

Those who hate international breaks
March is such a long time – try and enjoy every game


The Azzurri probably heard the Dutch whining about how their team not qualifying was the greatest tragedy of the tournament and said hold my beer.

To be perfectly honest they’ve been pretty rotten at the last two tournaments and besides the Juventus keeper and defense you struggle to pick any Italian players that really set pulses racing nowadays. Like the Dutch it’s time to look inwards and come back stronger. Forza Italia.

Congo DR
In the end their qualification failure came down not to this game which they won but the less than ten minutes they fell asleep while leading Tunisia that’s the difference between belting out your national anthem in a cold stadium in Russia and watching like the rest of us sorry guys

The Playoffs
My condolences to anyone who chose to watch the following games Denmark vs Ireland, Switzerland vs N Ireland, Greece vs Croatia , Honduras vs Australia, New Zealand vs Peru and Sweden vs Italy not a goal in sight .There where only 12 play-off games – six were goalless. For perspective you would have to look through almost 70 games to get similar score lines in the premiership.

Cote D vorie
The golden generation (Drogba the Toure brothers) are well and truly gone now and if the next generation don’t step up it might be a while till the elephants roam at this level again.

Marc Wilmots
Failed to take a talented Belgium team past the quarters in the Euro 2016 failed to take Cote D vorie to the World Cup. Is there a more horrible international coach?

Gian Ventura
Hold my beer

African group D
After a lot of intrigue it ended anti-climatically, prematurely one round early …. I’m still talking about football here right.

Northern Ireland
You’se was robbed

You’se was rubbish

The other home nations
Now you’ll only hear about Ingerlund for the next six months

Were probably out after the first leg to be fair.

New Zealand
All whites All out

So close, better luck next year.
Timi, Super Eagles fan


No chance of a Japan ladder
Japan’s international break didn’t quite go to plan: a 3-1 loss to Brazil and a 1-0 loss to Belgium. In the first game, Maya Yoshida bear-hugged a Brazilian to the ground to concede a penalty given after consultation with the VAR, which Neymar converted. A few minutes later Neymar missed another penalty, but Brazil were 3-0 up by half time and despite an improved second half performance Japan couldn’t really get back into it.

Vahid Halilhodzic used the matches to give game time to fringe players and the decision was met with criticism by some elements of the local press and reports that if things didn’t go well he would be sacked. Remember these were friendlies! Actually, there are some elements of the Japanese sports media that have criticised every decision Halilhodzic has made since taking over as manager of the national team, but I’m not sure why. It could be his curmudgeonly nature, his nationality, or his sometimes unusual team selections. Whatever it is, it’s misplaced: Japan won their World Cup qualifying group after an opening loss that shouldn’t have been, as the officials missed the ball clearly crossing the line and going into the UAE goal. As an Englishman, it’s strange for me to see the press criticise the national team manager (I jest, of course).

I admire the work other Mailboxers have put into making World Cup ladders for their countries. I would try and do one for Japan but it would be pointless because aside from a few names I have no idea what order to put the rest of the players. In my defence though, Halilhodzic has admitted that he doesn’t know either.

Kazuyoshi Miura would definitely be number 50 though. Coincidentally it’s also his age.
James T, Kanazawa, Japan


Who is your Phil Neville?
I’m guessing there’s a lot of good work and wasted work hours gone into compiling those World Cup ladders that appear to be the rage right now. I haven’t got a clue about half the players mentioned but Nigeria’s first 10 names sounded tasty. However, my gripe is that no one is properly using the ‘Phil Neville’ position – apart from Timi, Super Eagles Fan who had Shola Ameobi in as last man (I’m presuming this is a ‘Phil Neville’ – if not, it should be ).

So who is every country’s Phil Neville? I’ll start with ROI – Paul McShane.
Steve (ex-Flixton Red), Guelph, Canada

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