Mails: England need players like Vardy. Urgh

Date published: Tuesday 16th February 2016 2:54

Today’s Mailboxes have been ruddy good. So keep it up. Send your mails to


For the record I am an Arsenal fan (apparently we should outline this at the beginning now)

Tim’s email riled me a little bit. I was going to send in conclusions but got distracted on Monday.

I thought it was a blatant penalty. I thought Simpson’s red card was deserved but I thought any player could and should have been sent off for all sorts (drink water, coquelin) but Simpson was the fall guy.

The Emirates had a fantastic atmosphere until halftime. The Arsenal players weren’t baiting the ref and it was a great game of footy.

Then, in a match that decides whether we are in the title race or not, the ref ignores a foul outside the Leicester box and gives a (deserved) penalty the other end.

If you can find any fan, player or otherwise that wouldn’t feel injustice at that then I would just call them a liar. So the Emirates turned on Leicester and the Ref. The players started pushing the referee to make decisions. This isn’t entitlement, this is anger, desperation and passion. The amount of yellows for both teams showed just how much each player was putting on the line for the match.

I think any self respecting Arsenal fan would admit we didn’t deserve to win and that we got a bit lucky. That shouldn’t take away from the relief, yes relief, and joy of winning the match.

If you don’t think we get the joy out of football anymore, did you hear the noise after Welbecks goal? I’ve got tickets to Barca and I still grin like a kid at the thought of it.

Mind you, I doubt I’ll be grinning at full time…
Rob A (vardy didn’t dive, one of the reasons I like him tbh) AFC


…While making some valid points in regards to fouls/yellows, which were admittedly sporadic in a poor refereeing performance. Frankly what do you expect in an important game? We did what a home crowd should do (for once) and hopefully influenced some decisions. There’s a time and a place for talking about correct decisions, 1-0 down to title rival at home isn’t that time.

We don’t appreciate the joy of football? Have a look at the fans come full time, seems like everyone drew a lot of pleasure from that game.

Save your pity, we’re fine cheers mate.

James, (Welbeck with more goals than Hazard? Tasty), North London



…In response to Tim’s mail, I thought I’d offer an alternative opinion form behind his blue tinted glasses. Arsenal fans are not necessarily entitled, but they do expect – that’s the club’s responsibility for how much they charge and the perceived ambition from inside the club.

In response to the nature of us ‘berating referees’ and your ignorance on the ‘penalty’ decisions I note that you refuse to mention the quite blatant gamesmanship on display from Leicester.

Danny Simpson, yes it looks like a quick decision for two rash foul on MOTD, but in reality he (amongst many of your players) and persistently, and cynically, brought down our players when we attempted any form of break from midfield. The first yellow was for persistent fouling, the second for a mindless foul. The referee clearly said enough was enough after the break and was maybe trying to redress the balance for not giving us a penalty for handball (if Sterling’s was, yours was) and for giving a harsh penalty against Nacho at the other end. But either way, he saw the way your immaculate, saintly, heroes were trying to break up a game of football and decided enough was enough.

The Vardy penalty – yes, it was a foul on Ozil, but yes Kos deserved his booking, the pen was ‘won’ not earned. Vardy sees his opportunity and leaves his leg there to make contact – simple as, maybe the reason why Vardy has won the most pens this year.

The Mahrez penalty – do me a favour, you were desperate for a chance and with your only success coming from the spot it’s easy to believe that any attempt to get a penalty would be taken. The crazy part for me is how he wasn’t booked after a pen not being awarded.

Danny Drinkwater’s foul – surprisingly absent from your ‘analysis’

The timewasting – seriously, it’s pathetic. When Danny Simpson got sent off, even Coquelin tried to usher him off the pitch there was that much time to act. Every sub, every throw in, every goal kick was languid – you don’t win titles like that.

In summary, you mention your previous ‘soft spot’ for Arsenal. I had a soft spot for Leicester, until I witnessed it live. You haven’t spent much, you’re doing really well, but they fairy tale story is undermined by the ‘anti-football’ that you play when the chips are down – bring back old school Stoke, all is forgiven.

Delighted to have taken 6 points off you this year, and sincerely hoping that you don’t win the league!
Conor, London


Defence from a Leicester fan
I think the reason Arsenal fans come across as entitled is due to two things:

1. Of the teams currently in the top four,they have the most fans, and therefore if we assume one in ten fans is an idiot, due to having more fans, they will also have more idiots.

2. They are expected to win trophies and have a history of doing so. Any defeat brings calls of their brilliant manager being sacked as they expect to win each game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it probably means the players have an extra desire to win. They also have unrealistic expectations, especially since they went a season unbeaten (though Dickov did you give them a fright on the final day!). It will be very difficult to ever top that.

So lets not be annoyed with the fact that they come across as entitled. A lot of them, from mails i’ve seen, don’t seem particularly happy with their team a lot of the time. Let them have their lap of honour around the pitch having beaten us (with a 95th min winner against ten men). The real lap of honour comes in May, hopefully at Stamford Bridge. After Sunday’s game, how brilliant would it be if we did win it all. Even if we don’t win, this season will be remembered in Leicester for years to come – the year “little Leicester” broke records and mixed it up with the big spending clubs.
Toby (We’re staying up!) Mitchell


A call to Leicester fans
I’ve noticed over the past 48 hours or so that some of the joy surrounding Leicester’s exploits this season seems to have disappeared. Therefore, I wanted to send a bit of a rallying cry to Leicester fans who are getting drawn into arguments with fine fellows such as Johnno (“Leicester aren’t a fairytale – they are a nightmare”. On this point, he must be an easily ruffled chap. Does the sight of Marc Albrighton scurrying around really wake him up in a cold sweat? Perhaps it was the sight of a beanie hat adorned Claudio without glasses at Man City last week which sent chills down his spine…).

Anyway, back to the point. Stop getting distracted by the silly bickering and name calling. Our club is still having an incredible season. They are two points clear at the top of the league a mere twelve months on from being written off for relegation back to the Championship. In one way or another, fans of other clubs up and down the country have found Leicester to be exhilarating this season, with the sheer improbability of their rise enough for those who aren’t fans of the team’s direct style of play.

Such times are unlikely to come around again for us anytime soon. Therefore, don’t waste your time getting involved in petty disagreements over whether Aaron Ramsey’s theatrics and Olivier Giroud’s complaining are more irritating than Danny Drinkwater’s horrendous challenge or Jamie Vardy’s ‘creative’ methods in the penalty box. Every team has model professionals, prima donnas and odious individuals with some players even demonstrating a mixture of these roles within the space of 90 minutes. Sunday’s game was a perfect example of that and, ultimately, these are the petty ‘soap opera’ aspects of the game which won’t be remembered come the end of the season.

Instead, focus on the fact that, for our remaining 12 fixtures, you probably won’t have to wait until the end of Match of the Day to watch highlights of our games. Focus on the fact that you’ve been able to watch our games live on television more times this season than for the previous five combined (I have not researched this…). And finally, focus on the fact that, for the next fortnight or so at least, you can look at the Premier League table IN FEBRUARY and see that Leicester are top by 2 points.

You can argue with fans of other clubs in future seasons when the bubble bursts and you need to be distracted from mid-table mediocrity or the terrifying prospect of life back in the Championship. For now, just enjoy the rare riches that Mahrez, Schmeichel and Kante are offering this year and how it’s been so much easier to get of bed for work on a Monday morning this season.
Gareth (Overly sentimental and prone to bouts of bleeding heart liberalism), Manchester


The final (and sensible) word on these arguments
– Leicester beat Manchester City. Leicester fan Tim likes Manchester City and their fans.
– Arsenal defeat Leicester. Leicester fan Tim doesn’t like Arsenal or Arsenal fans. Makes sense.
Tim (Arsenal fan, obviously)
(MC – Can that be the end of this one now? Ta)


England need players like Vardy
Sarah Winterburn writes

“These people dismiss Wayne Rooney and call for Jamie Vardy to play in his ‘proper’ place as an out-and-out striker, ignoring the fact that England have cruised to European Championship qualification using an entirely different system to Leicester.”

This argument seems to miss the point entirely. If England want to do well at the Euros, they WILL have to change their system and play more like Leicester.

The fact that England cruised through their group is not a consequence of the system used but simply of the low quality of the opposition. If they reach the knockout stages at the Euros they will come up against teams made up of more gifted individuals. England might be able to dominate possession against Estonia, but not even the most naive fan would deny that Spain or Germany will inevitably dominate possession against England. In this scenario, you need players who might still get a result.

Suddenly it’s not so silly to call for players like Vardy to be included, as they actually have experience of playing for a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not just about Rooney/Vardy, but using these two players as an example illustrates the point.

Imagine you are an employer recruiting a team of individuals.

Rooney has experience playing in a team that has 56% average possession and yet only scores 1.27 goals per game. Vardy has experience playing in a team that has 43% average possession and yet manages to score 1.85 goals per game, through effective counter-attacks, higher number of tackles, higher number of interceptions etc. Vardy also has a better individual record than Rooney.

Which player is more suited for the job?
James Bruschini


Change the penalty laws
I have written into the mailbox before on the bugbear of mine surrounding penalties and the penalty area. My gripe is that players are so well drilled into winning penalties rather than being fouled whilst trying to score that it’s become a little predictable and almost impossible for defenders.

For example look at Vardy’s penalty on Sunday, now he was fouled but only after kicking the ball one way and running the other. He had no chance of actually getting to the ball even if he hadn’t run into the defender so why should he get a pen, it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity that was denied. It always seems to happen, the keeper rushes out, the striker kicks the ball out for a goal kick and then either run’s into or is impeded by the keeper, but again there was no way that he could have reached the ball where he had kicked it.
If I was top dawg at FIFA I would change the penalty rule so that it’s a pen only if it denies a clear goalscoring opportunity and not if it’s simply a foul in the box irrespective of what is actually happening. Same for handballs as well, if not denying a clear opportunity then it’s just a freekick.

Might make the job of the ref a little easier, the importance of playing for fouls a little tougher, defenders and strikers can again do what they are paid to do. It’s not perfect of course as mistakes will happen but it just seems so skewed in favour of the attackers that it’s gone way beyond being fair.

Football is now saved.


How many points is a goalkeeper worth?
At the start of the season some commentators claimed that Peter Cech would be worth 10-15pts to Arsenal over the course of the season. While clearly there are other factors at play, I thought it would be worth doing some simple sums. And it is fair to say that the evidence is far from compelling. Last year Arsenal gained 75 points from 38 games at 1.97pts per game. Thus far this year, with Cech in nets, they have 51 points from 26 at 1.96pts per game. No change. Perhaps Arsenal are always Arsenal.

However, Fraser Forster’s stats at Southampton are really quite impressive. Over the course of last season and this he has played 36 games for 69 points at 1.92pts per game. Without him Southampton have gained 31pts from 28 at 1.11pts per game. A difference of .81pts per game or 30 points over a season.

Does anybody know of a single player who has had a greater impact (I am assuming Leicester’s transformation this season is more of a collective effort).
Rob, London


Championship TV rights
Since it’s half term and therefore dead quiet in my office, I thought I would occupy myself by writing a short mail on something a bit different – the news this week that my team Leeds have been asking questions about the collective TV rights that have been sold in the Championship.

There have been conflicting reports – some tabloids have reported an “exclusive” that Leeds have tried to get out of the collective bargain, and Leeds themselves have indicated that all they have asked for is a bit more transparency around what rights Sky have to move fixtures around at short notice.

Either way, I’m interested to hear what other fans of championship sides think – Leeds have been on Sky 10 times (I think, don’t quote me) this season, which is a hell of a lot of games to have moved around for TV. What could have been a good Saturday day out for Middlesboro fans turns into a 7.45pm on a Monday night trip, which nobody in their right minds can prefer? Do other fans find fixtures being shunted around like that frustrating?

On the financial side, my view (based on not much more than instinct, admittedly) is that Leeds might actually be better off out of the collective bargain – as a “big” club, Sky clearly want to put our games on TV a lot, and I imagine we could negotiate a better deal than the equal part of the pie that we currently receive. I’d be interested to know if anybody actually has details of the finances involved – Swissramble, perhaps?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like a lot of what Cellino has done at LUFC. However, I wonder whether on this particular topic, he might actually have a point.
Niall, LUFC, London


Handball rule
Josh, London raised some interesting points regarding the handball rule, prompted by the decision given against Raheem Sterling on Sunday, but I fear he may see things in purely black and white terms, when this issue has a significant grey area. Firstly, Josh states that the handball rule was surely intended to prevent defenders becoming secondary goalkeepers and saving goals with their hands, but actually the intention was broader; to prevent players gaining any unfair advantage, e.g. a player using his hand to knock a bouncing ball away from a challenge in the middle of the pitch. Secondly, Josh claims that the current interpretation allows players to ‘manufacture’ a penalty claim by smashing a ball at an opponent’s hand from two yards away. Does anyone believe any players are actually aiming for that? Or that they could reliably achieve it?

Next up, Josh suggests the penalty claim would be less ridiculous if the ball had hit Sterling’s hand or lower arm. Why? It’s a handball if you play the ball with any part of your arm below your shoulder.

I’m going to quote Josh’s last point in full: “Let’s go back to the days of intentional handball, where if a referee judges a player has used his hand to gain a clear advantage they are penalised, and if it hits their hand from 2 yards out they are not.” There are a couple of points to pick up here. The first is the use of the word ‘intentional’. This winds me up more than it rationally should, but the word used in the Laws Of The Game is ‘deliberate’.

You might think that ‘intentional’ and ‘deliberate’ are synonyms but there is a small but important distinction to make, since deliberate comes with guidelines within the rulebook. A player can commit a deliberate handball without intending to do so. The next point is the use of the word ‘hand’. Again, handball can be committed with any part of the arm. But the last point, I think, is the most pertinent, because Josh creates a distinction between two scenarios without considering that they might not be mutually exclusive. What if a player rounds the goalkeeper and fires a shot at goal from inside the six-yard box but a defender has got back on the line and throws himself across goal hoping to block it, and the ball strikes him on the hand, unintentionally blocking an otherwise certain goal?

For what it’s worth, I do agree with Josh that the current guidelines have created a ridiculous situation where defenders clasp their hands behind their backs to avoid giving away handballs, but I don’t really think that is a particularly difficult thing to remember to do or to carry out. I would also like to return to the specific incident involving Raheem Sterling and say that I agree that it shouldn’t have been given as a penalty.

However, I would also say that Sterling didn’t help himself. I do actually think that the ball did hit him on the arm, but at about the same time as hitting his back/side, so having his arm flat against his side wouldn’t have prevented that. His mistake was to jump towards the ball with his arm away from his body whilst, crucially, turning his back. He had no way of knowing, at that point, where the ball was, and it could easily have hit his hand. Since he had his back turned, you couldn’t have said that such a scenario could possibly be intentional. But it would have been deliberate.
Jimbles, Watford FC


More Villa therapy
I just wanted to follow on from this morning’s Villa mails with my own, reading other fans’ perspective is strangely comforting.

The game Sunday genuinely felt like Villa were trying hard to ensure they had a purpose being on Super Sunday next to four title contenders and the big draw of Liverpool (yes we mock them, but they are still one of the biggest draws in the country, pubs are packed in London for Liverpool games), namely entertaining neutrals with an inordinate amount of comical goals conceded. We currently offer nothing else, so we really turned it up to 11 to ensure we played our part for those who weren’t turning over to rugby. Jamie (AVFC) bemoaning Lescott apologising for the lack of commitment seems to have missed the actual reason for outcry regarding Lescott’s social media controversy.

It wasn’t that he apologised for the lack of commitment, which I agree is pretty annoying, but more that he tweeted a picture of his ridiculously expensive car in response to people abusing him then went off on a rant about how he’s going home to his model girlfriend to count his money. Now I don’t excuse fans abusing our own players, it’s utterly pointless, but have some self-awareness and realise the high percentage of fans who aren’t abusing you who are going to be hugely pissed off this kind of reaction. The PR at the club is as low as I’ve ever known it.

I wrote in a while back saying we were obviously down and people should stop thinking otherwise after a win against Palace. Clearly no one listened as after the win over Norwich there was suddenly optimism again, and it baffles me. Our 3 wins this season have come against Bournemouth (first game of the season), Norwich and a hideously out of form Palace (although maybe they weren’t when we beat them). These wins should not instil confidence in a revival, come back when we’ve won 3 on the bounce (hint: it won’t happen).

I do agree with Jamie’s point about players wanting to play in the Championship, anyone who isn’t interested needs to leave. It’s obviously going to be a difficult pill to swallow to be the latest ever present Premier League side to drop out of the league (then there were 6), but we have to take the time now to use motivated and hungry players with potential to one day play in the Premier League. I want to be excited watching Villa again, see players who love the idea of playing at Villa Park, in touch with the fans, we need an identity that isn’t ‘club where overpaid, lazy players can amble around offering very little to the amusement of many’. It’s a difficult league the Championship, so we simply can’t have players who aren’t interested or think they’re too good for it, they’re not, and will be exposed as much should we try it.

The rest of the season will be painful, we’ll sink deeper than we have already as relegation becomes a reality, but I just hope next year we can start afresh, and hopefully in the not too distant future return to the Premier League with a spirited, talented, group of players with the desire to do themselves proud. This will obviously be difficult given the current structure at the top of the club, but until there’s a sale or huge change, I see very little point in sitting around waiting for it and pinning our hopes on it.
Mike (AVFC), London


Hating on Schteve
Any chance you could write a nice long article which questions even further than the five weird positional changes article how Schteve McClaren is still in a job?

Hopefully someone can then forward it to Ashley and get McClaren and his sh*t hair out of Newcastle ASAP. Now would be the ideal time to appoint a new manager with the 18-day break and all.
Ross (just shave your head Schteve), Cork, NUFC


Tiny margins
Really enjoyed the feature on title winning goals today. The bit on the 4-4 between United and Everton helped unhappy memories come flooding back though.

I can vividly remember the relief as we went 4-2 up, scoring about 2 minutes after Everton has reduced the margin to one. I thought we’d see the game out and that would be that. And then the tiny margins that win or lose you titles – just before Everton scored their third, Patrice Evra hit the post with a header from about 4 yards out. That goes in and it’s 5 – 2, game over. We could have afforded to lose at City and still win the title.

All for the width of a post . . .
Kevin, Dublin


You’re welcome
I am incredibly bored in my new job and naturally to pass the time I copy and paste the vast array of articles from Football365 into Word – make the text appear official looking and then sit back and read under the guise of working. 16 Conclusion, Winner and Losers, F365 Says, News and of course Mediawatch.

This morning as the copied articles sat above a spreadsheet detailing huge amounts of money owed to my current employer who provides an inadequate yet expensive service, it suddenly dawned on me that I am entertained, amused and educated by you good folk every day, for free! Not only that, I happened to notice the word count of all the articles copied today and it was nearly 10,000 words. As someone who had to pad out their 10,000 word dissertation with oversized font and meaningless graphs, the daily volume of free, intelligent and stimulating entertainment you knock out every day is impressive.

As a regular reader for 6 years I take it for granted and so just wanted to say……Good work Football365 and thank you for getting me through this murky time of health and safety training sessions, work station assessments and banal conversations in the office about data.
Stewart (Now, anyone know why my VLOOKUP formula macro in Excel isn’t working?)

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