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Football, I wish I knew how to quit you
Apologies for the long email, but I think writing this may be cathartic even if it’s not to be published.
I am at a bit of a crossroads, and surely can’t be alone.
I am a pragmatic man. If something is having a negative effect on my life, I take steps to rectify it. If I am not enjoying my job, I find a new one. If I don’t like a person, I don’t spend time with them. I have spent years moulding my life to become what I want it to be, to provide maximum happiness in my limited years of existence. I am extremely fortunate to now have a wife way out of my league, a four-month-old son who has slept through the night from six weeks old and a great career. My life is generally fantastic, I spend very little time upset or angry over anything as I feel I am in control of most things.
However, I am also a football fan. In particular a Liverpool supporter (though this is not particularly relevant as my feelings are not based on the team I support, it probably seems more pertinent during this current rut). Though these feelings (and this email) have been a long time in the making.
Each week (sometimes more than once), I find myself filled with excitement at the prospect of watching my beloved Reds play a match. I am certain of a positive result prior to the kick-off of virtually any game. What then ensues is 90 minutes of raised blood pressure and disappointment. If we win a game 5-0, I’m not happy that we didn’t push for a sixth (I was the same when I played). Very few situations result in me being happy for a long period of time post-match. However, every single negative outcome will result in me feeling negative for a long time after the final whistle. Quite simply, the lows outweigh the highs considerably.
Now I have a wife to please and a son to raise, I just don’t know if this is worth it. Sunday was my wife’s birthday. The Utd result put me in a bad mood for the evening. That’s not fair on her at all.
It’s something I have zero control over. Whilst I have met several of the current Liverpool squad, I am still well aware that none of them know who I am or care one iota about how I feel after a bad result. I am allowing several strangers, a specific (unforeseeable) series of events, and a myriad of other variables (including luck) to determine the happiness of my day/weekend/week. That’s a ridiculous position to be in. I wouldn’t allow that lack of control in any other part of my life. So why do I allow this?
I was indoctrinated into the Liverpool family at birth (much like I have started to do with my son Hunter). I had no choice but to feel affiliated with this business for want of a better word. This affiliation seemingly gives people an excuse to judge or insult me based on knowledge of absolutely nothing else about me. I was taught that the result was king, and consequently I can’t enjoy a minute of football as a neutral (I really wish I could). I spend thousands a year in support. I will spend this Saturday travelling to Norwich rather than be with my family. I will come back satisfied if we win, and furious if we don’t. Why?
I don’t wish this to come across as a whine, I guess I’m just looking for some sense in the nonsensical. To see if anyone out there feels the same (I imagine there are lots of you). I am just becoming rather disillusioned with it all.
To paraphrase the late, great Heath Ledger; Football, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Jurgen needs a bigger boat
I see there have been a few e-mails recently from Liverpool fans confidently predicting that Klopp will get LFC back into the CL and challenging for titles within the next few seasons (based on the fact that the currently bang-average squad won’t be overhauled until the summer, and will then take time to bed in).
Don’t get me wrong, I think Klopp is possibly as good a manager as the hype and he also seems like a genuine guy who, like most fans, loves the sport so much he loses his sh*t every so often.
There is however one problem to their return to the ‘glory days’ as it relies not only on LFC continuing to progress but also to those in and around the top 6/top 4 either at least stagnating if not going backwards.
It’s fairly well documented that the more a club spends on player wages the higher up a club tends to finish (although Chelsea/Leicester are desperately trying to buck that trend!) In two seasons’ time however, when LFC are finally ready to return to winning ways, Spurs will have a shiny new 61,000-seater stadium.
I am fully aware that LFC are doing their own redevelopment of Anfield however this will only increase the capacity by an extra 14,000 (although I see a lot of mention of this figure in the press as ‘up to 14,000 extra seats’ which casts some doubt on whether the actual figure may actually be less than that).
Spurs however will be gaining an extra 25,000 seats. This extra match-day revenue however may be dwarfed by that coming in from the NFL contract, non-sporting events (I predict AIG the promoters, not the insurers, to buy the naming rights to the new stadium) etc.
These are all extra revenue streams not obviously available to LFC…partially due to Anfield’s slightly residential location.
So by the time Liverpool are ready to start regularly challenging for a place in the top four there will already be five other teams with 60,000+ seater stadia able to pay the wages required to keep them there (not to mention Leicester/Stoke/West Ham if they continue to wisely invest their new EPL windfalls who will all be bobbling about the top six).
Could it be that by the time they’re ready, Liverpool’s boat may have already floated (or at least left the Albert docks)?
Vincent, Clapton FC Ultras (sometimes anti-social, always anti-fascist)
No Didi, fans have no right to know about Sturridge
Didi Hamann was quite vocal on Twitter (and, I believe, on TalkSport) last night that Liverpool must let the fans know what is going on with Daniel Sturridge.
“Unacceptable situation for the fans, getting left in the dark,” wrote Hamann.
Sorry, what? How is it? A player’s injury situation is nobody’s business but the player, his club and their medical staff. Fans have no inherent right to know anything in this kind of situation, and there are both humanitarian and commercial reasons for this.
Most importantly, the implication is that something untoward is going on with Sturridge’s injury, with some fans responding to that tweet suggesting he may be suffering from mental illness, rather than physical injuries – and that somehow this only makes it more important to be transparent with the fans. This tweet is particularly unpleasant: ‘So basically the guy has mental muscle injuries and we are still paying 150k/week? Nice one’ – as though the wealthy are immune to mental health problems, or getting paid for a broken leg is fine but a broken mind is not. (It’s worth pointing out that a quick scroll through the tweets thankfully also shows plenty of people talking about the club’s duty of care).
Obviously, Didi has it dead wrong here. It makes no difference whether the injury is genuine or not…it STILL makes more sense for the club to keep it behind closed doors.
Upsides of going public: Fans know what’s happening with the injury.
Downsides of going public: Possible breach of confidentiality; breach of trust risks engendering culture of mistrust among players; lower potential transfer fee for club; lower potential earnings for player; risk fans’ invective towards player who you hope will recover; lose competitive advantage on return dates and known fitness levels
Not only do I think Hamann’s implicit accusation is irresponsible given that it seems to be based on little more than “feels like something ain’t right”, but his pandering to the fans is really unhelpful.
I understand that people feel deeply attached to their clubs and pay good money to watch them play, whether at the ground or on subscription TV, and that nobody likes to be told their views are basically unimportant; but there are an awful lot of fans who need to accept that they are a relatively minor stakeholder in the club, and drop this idea that buying a replica shirt entitles them to full visibility on HR and finance matters. There will be plenty of people at the club who don’t have access to that kind of information, and for good reason. Not only are many of those things rightly protected by law, but there is a competitive advantage in keeping those things strictly on a confidential, need-to-know basis.
Clearly there is a massive market for exploiting these fans’ baffling need to know every last detail about everything happening at their club, as the various fusses around Raheem Sterling’s England tiredness, laughing gas and employment contract sadly demonstrate. There are plenty of braying idiots who accuse him of being disrespectful to fans, but is it any wonder he no longer cares what they think?
The much-mourned gulf between players and supporters will only widen when the interests of the most rabid fans are so clearly at odds with those of the players as human beings. Like any relationship there’s give and take, and sometimes you just need to know when to back off and give the other party space to get things right in order for things to improve in the long run.
1) Jermaine Pennant, of Liverpool and Arsenal fame, just signed for a Singapore-based club, Tampines Rovers. Although his wage of around 5000 pounds/week makes him the highest earner in the Singapore league’s history, it’s hardly a last big pay day before he retires from the sport. His arrival has already generated plenty of buzz and excitement; hopefully his arrival revives our faltering league. He’s been uncharacteristically and surprisingly humble, and long may it continue. We can only hope that he walks the talk and reproduce some of the quality that saw him once play in a UCL final. How surreal is that.
On that note, please send more ex-PL players over to our shores! It’s sunny all year round and the football ain’t half bad.
2) I read that Vidic has had his contract terminated by Inter Milan. I heard Liverpool were looking for an experienced centre-half who could really head the ball.
Dominic, LFC, Singapore
Has Wenger been right all along?
After years of ridicule (from myself included) and as a Liverpool fan, I am now finally coming round to Wenger’s boring and sensible philosophy of just bringing in a really good player or two for loads of money, and only because they are better than the ones you have already got. Rather than just buying loads of average ones for the sake of it. Therefore please God let us not buy the likes of Shane Long! I would rather just see out the season if we can’t get anyone really good now. In the past five years we have bought 50 players – for five different managers! No wonder it’s a mess of a squad. Liverpool need to sack off (and as Brendan – it wasn’t me – Rodgers confirmed regarding the signing of Ballotelli) our policy of just bringing in players for the sake of it. Fair enough the odd loan punt, but not proper signings. If we can’t get a good one, get none at all. Be strong, lets follow Arsene’s hard-ass lead. We have got a young squad and now we have got a manager to attract them, lets get a couple of ‘top class’ players and we will be okay. One day…Maybe..
Saying all that. Long does know where the onion bag is….!? Could be a decent stop gap…
Just one more, last one, promise!
No sense in Long transfer
Shane Long at best is an average mid-table performer and is most likely not going to develop to another level. While a loan might be alright business for either Spurs or Pool, paying a transfer fee and giving him a contract makes absolutely no sense.
Liverpool and Spurs are both trying to reach a higher level and buying Shane Long is nothing but a step back. He might score goals (hahaha) till May but what happens after when you are trying to be a top four club ? He becomes dead wood and the clubs then have to find a way to offload a striker who is almost 30.
I like Long but Danny Murphy is right – buying Shane Long is a short-term fix (so average that it might not even be a fix) that would lead to long-term headaches for the club. Buying a sh**y Toyota to race against a Porsche is just idiotic.
Will you eat humble pie on Giroud?
As a keen reader of the mailbox, I have come to notice a kind of narrative against Olivier Giroud. Maybe not exactly a narrative but the general opinion on this page is that he is a clumsy, pretty boy who is incapable of leading the line for a side with title aspirations. However after the game against Stoke, the Gunners suddenly look in with a chance of winning the league this year. If Arsenal manage to go on and win the league, it is either the those who wrote on this page to slag Olivier Giroud off have to eat humble pie and admit that he is good enough, or they have to admit that perhaps a high-scoring Sergio Aguero-type striker is not needed to lead a title challenge after all and thus still have to eat humble pie for slagging him off in the first place. Either way, It would really be nice to see that side of pie going around.
Of course it may be Arsenal have only postponed the annual December/January collapse to February and we might still end up not winning the league. In that case it would be the likes of us Giroud backers who end up eating the humble pie ourselves.
Bayo (Until we sign Luis Suarez) Nigeria
Is Rooney’s confidence the issue?
With the theories on Rooney’s decline ranging from him being scared to being out of shape, I thought I would add my own. I don’t recall hearing anyone else put it forward, and if they have I am sorry.
I think he is suffering from a loss of confidence. Despite being all shouty and sweary on the pitch, he is quite softly spoken off it. Since the indiscretions of his early years we don’t hear much of his personal life anymore. He doesn’t strike me as a brash, arrogant individual.
It can’t be easy for him to have his every performance picked apart and criticised by an entire nation. Regardless of what he earns, he is still a human and subject to personal doubt like the rest of us. The big difference being we don’t live our lives in the public eye…or earn 300k a week. Him playing for Man Utd and being England captain will naturally draw a lot of attention and a lot of dislike because of his club.
After Fergie left, and hung Rooney out to dry, Moyes came in and gave him a massive contract and vote of confidence. He was the main man. Even more so with RvP effectively downing tools that year. He was trying to carry an average enough side by himself. This obviously didn’t work.
Along comes LvG, makes him captain and in his first season plays him in several different positions. Something Di Maria used to explain his own poor form. Second season and van Gaal decides Rooney is his main man and will be the one to get 20-25 goals a year. Then plays a system that doesn’t exactly promote a lot of goal getting. All this has to have taken its toll on him.
I know his profile and salary make him fair game for criticism and to be fair, he has to accept that. I wrote in before saying I thought he was done, legs are gone etc.. but I think I was wrong. I have seen signs of life in recent weeks. I think this partly stems from the club hitting rock bottom after Stoke. A bit of fear seems to have lifted.
Long term I think he has a future. Utd could do with signing one or two big names to deflect the attention from him. Perhaps as Guy S alluded to, playing him and Martial closer together and using actual wingers out wide. I don’t see him being the star of old but certainly no reason he still can’t contribute 10-15 goals a year. The technique is still there.
Anyway, that’s my rambling thoughts on it. I think him and Kane up front for England would make a great partnership.
Dan, Ireland, MUFC
It’s all about timing…
Firstly: How many people (g)oogled Miss World 1970 yesterday just to see if they were ever any good in the first place. Thought so. Shame on you all.
Which brings me to my next point. Wayne Rooney, you little beauty. The guy who just scored four goals in five games and a couple of them winning goals too.
If there’s a time to write in vilifying the guy, and there have been plenty, this week heck, this year hasn’t been it.
He just scored the winner against Liverpool. He could have lay in the center circle for the first 77 minutes for all I care. Just lay there, probably rolling from side to side to keep an eye on the game. I’d have been annoyed at the time but such annoyance is soothed by goals. Until the next anonymous display, you’re okay by me Wayne.
If Fellaini says he’s a DM…
Nishant raises some interesting points about Fellaini’s deficiencies as a defensive midfielder, offering evidence towards him being a number 10, but I’m afraid it’s pretty much all moot; he’s a defensive midfielder. How do I know? He told us. In June 2015, he spoke to ESPN and said: “Yes, I see myself as a defensive midfielder. I feel comfortable playing there and if the manager decides he wants to play me there, I will.”
Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a very good DM and he did indeed play further forward at Everton, but you can’t really argue with the man himself.
Up the Villa…
WE’RE UNBEATEN IN FOUR!
ONLY TWO OF WHICH WERE DUE TO OPPOSITION C*** UPS!
WE’RE COMING FOR YOU ALBION!
Neil Raines, AVFC
Reidy on the TV
I’m staying at a hotel in Algeria for a few days and I just flicked on BeIn Sport to see Reidy (of Mrs Dangly Bojangles 1976 fame) being interviewed by a couple of kids in traditional Arab headwear. Some sort of cultural diversity, Jeff.
One answer struck a chord.
When asked by these two 10-year-old kids what his new year resolution for 2016 was, he stared straight down the camera and replied: “To enjoy my life more – I haven’t done enough recently so I’m going to go and do more.”
Dread to think how bad the PFM sections are going to get over the course of 2016.
Ben, Algiers (Reidy actually comes across pretty well)
Computer game corner
While I fully approve of Daniel Storey’s top 10 football games, I feel it’s worth exploring the other end of this particular spectrum (no pun intended).
I paid good money (somewhere in the £5 bracket) for ‘Trevor Brooking’s World Cup Glory’ for the Speccy around 1994 which I realised early on was horrendous. Entirely text-based, you played the whole qualifying campaign and tournament, taking forever to rebuild your chosen 11 before each match (why it couldn’t remember your previous selection is beyond me) via numerous ‘Are you sure (Y/N)?’ prompts which broke my spirit too quickly to really get into it.
My younger brother seemed to have more tolerance than me and over the course of an entire day (game-saving was a pipe dream at the time) he managed to drag his England team all the way to the final and win it.
The result? ‘Congratulations, you have won the World Cup. Would you like to play again (Y/N)?’
…Great piece on football games which took me back to many wasted hours on my Amiga, PC and Playstations.
Slight error though in that FIFA 97 had a version of indoor soccer on it, which included such highlights as:
– being able to score an own goal when you hit a shot against the backboard of your opponent’s goal, the ball would bounce round the entire court/pitch and dribbled past your incompetent keeper (I’m looking at you Ian Walker).
– being able to block a keeper’s clearance by standing in the way of a goal-kick resulting in an very undeserved goal (Many fights raged over what we called a Collymore).
– Del Piero being called Del Piero Tongon for some reason.
– A bizarre celebration where the goalscorer fell straight back onto a hardwood floor, somehow avoiding a serious head injury
Andy (will be impersonating Motty’s intros for the rest of the day and watching old computer games on YouTube), Widnes
…Sensible was like heroin in the mid-90s.
Our neighbors once left their house keys with my parents for two weeks over Easter. My parents then went away for a weekend so I went into the neighbor’s house, took their Amiga 500 and played Sensible with 7/8 friends for about 48 hours straight….stopping only to watch the cup semi-final between Chelsea and Luton… before returning it on Monday morning.
Baz (shame about the final) Dublin
…Loving the revisiting to nostalgic computer games. I personally remember playing CM 97/98, which for me was the peak of the series. Albeit with its cheat characters. It made my year that Everton seemingly used it to scout Ibrahim Bakayoko. In fact, I distinctly remember when during one (in game) summer break, while Beckham was still quite young, he picked up a career-ending injury and that was that. I took it so badly, didn’t play it again for a whole month.
Anyway, when you mentioned soundtracks to the games, and the (now pretty boring) CGI intro sequences, one game stands out for me.
In fact I can’t hear Ocean Colour Scene’s Hundred Mile High City without picturing Ian Wright’s manically delighted face screaming with joy…thanks to Three Lions. Pretty average game all told, but that intro video used to get my heart pumping. Back when supporting England still seemed like a good idea, with a hope and a little belief, and before I was cynical.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ-h6Bs82uY if you don’t remember or didn’t experience the joy.
…I enjoyed the piece on computer games but, in my opinion, there was one glaring omission. I scrolled down to the bear pit that is the comments section, expecting it to have been pointed out straight away but no, not a word of it (likewise the subsequent mailbox). So I can only conclude that either I’m considerably older than Daniel Storey and the average f365 reader (I’m not having that – not yet anyway) or perhaps the mighty ‘Soccer Bos’” was only available on the Amstrad CPC464 and not nearly enough people owned one.
What a game it was, though! With a database of at least 30 fictional players, all of whom were described by pleasingly generic, old-fashioned surnames like Tuckwell and Lord, it must have been one of the first, if not the first football management game. You were given no clue whatsoever as to what position each player favoured, they merely had a single-digit rating representing their form/value which would go up or down by the week. So the initial challenge was to shoe-horn your in-form players into a team, Garth Crooks-style, and try to spot quickly which ones needed to move, when their form took a nose-dive. The actual match experience consisted of a green screen with a crude penalty box in white and a ticking clock in the middle (that was it – not a player in sight!). When a goal was scored, the outside of the screen would flash and you’d get a wob-wob-wob-wob build-up noise, which was either followed by a high-pitched trill, if the goal had gone your way, or what I can only describe as the sound of disappointment, if you’d conceded. If you actually got as far as qualifying for European competition, the results of your campaign came up vide-printer style along the bottom border of the final (domestic) league table.
It sounds ridiculous but was surprisingly good fun. Although it has left me with an irrational hatred of Darlington, who always seemed to thrash me when I started a new game in the bottom tier, and Anderlecht, who were so good in the European competitions that I still struggle to comprehend them not being a modern-day footballing powerhouse to rival Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
I’m hoping someone at F365 towers remembers this game (I’m imagining this mail being met with whooping, cheering and at least one staff member giving Daniel Storey noogies for his calamitous and embarrassing error) but if that is not the case, I urge you to get onto ebay or out to the nearest car-boot sale and get hold of a copy. I genuinely wonder whether Championship Manager/Football Manager could have existed without it.
Phil T (Everton and England)