Mails: Forget Arsenal, what’s Wenger’s next move?

Date published: Friday 17th February 2017 3:48

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The Moyes/Ferguson thing won’t happen again
Arsenal fans should beware of wanting Arsene Wenger to leave. It’s not like you can get a manger coming into a new league and taking over a group of good but under-performing players to the title in his first season.

What’s that? Antonio who? Conte? Oh.

People always use the Fergie leaving example but that surely that was more down to the choice of Moyes than anything else. If the replacement is a step up (Conte>Mourinho) rather than a step down Moyes<Fergie), then good things can happen.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Wenger’s next move
In the last moments I’ve just read like many others that Wenger will decide whether he will sign the new Arsenal contract in March/April and if he chooses not to then he will not retire but manage another club next season, this revelation brings two things to mind.

1. He is most likely not going to sign that contract, he isn’t a mind games manager so to suggest he will manage another team next season strongly suggests he will do just that.

2. Barcelona are looking like they’ll go without a trophy this season which means Luis Enrique is most likely out of a job, now which manager has the pedigree of being world class and a proven track record of being fantastic with youth players? Arsene, a fresh start for Wenger and a potential new era at Barcelona, It could be the perfect marriage, and I stress COULD
Mike Clewer, CFC


The Pog
Cracking piece from Sarah Winterburn on Pogba

Only those outside the club – with a clear agenda – seemed to think that only a minimum 50 goals and assists would justify his fee. Most sane United fans have been keeping their feet on the ground while recognising his gradual improvement week on week – and the fact he’s 23 years old.

Delle Ali better my f***ing ar*e.
Richard, Manchester.


Regarding Big Pete (THFC) from the morning mailbox;

This mail from Pete is exactly the reason it is becoming increasingly difficult to love football and why next to nobody takes Spurs seriously. Despite some quite startling wit from Pete (Arse! He said ARSE! AHAHAHAHA….) the opinions put forward by him are so weak and defeatist that it made me physically sad.

This idea that all competition must take a back seat to the ‘dogfight’ for top 4 is some weird type of flawed British logic we all seem to have been sold on. The joy of actually playing the game to WIN the game has fallen by the wayside for the quest to be the 4th best team in England for that brief bit of football history.

I mean, the ‘Eurotrash’ league Pete? (see I said he was witty). This is realistically the most rewarding thing Spurs could hope to win this season right? I could cite the financial benefits of winning the Europa League but I’m going for the ‘love of the game’ feel today. I’d ask Pete, as a Spurs fan who hasn’t seen his team lift a trophy of note in over 25 years, would he not cheer if Spurs win the Europa League at the expense of finishing, say 5th? Would he sit, arms crossed, sullen look, bemoaning the Spurs regime for not heeding his advice and DELIBERATELY eliminating themselves from the competition in order to pip Arsenal to that magical 4th placed spot? When did winning become less important than earning in this game?

Just quickly take Sevilla as a purely ‘for instance’. They won the Europa League for 3 consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2016. Their league finishes during that time? 5th, 5th and 7th. This season, they sit in the last 16 of the Champions League (drawn against arguably the worst team to reach this stage in the tournaments history) and sit 3rd in La Liga. They won the thing 3 times, and have (shockingly) ended up in a far better position because of it. And I don’t buy the ‘fatigue’ thing, your squad is good enough and their little legs healthy enough to run about more than once a week, have some ambition! Try WINNING boys, you just might like it!

But seriously? ‘Eurotrash’ League? From a Spurs fan. Beggars really CAN be choosers
Chris. MUFC. Manchester


I’m just reading Big Pete’s email about Spurs and I’m absolutely gobsmacked. Pete, are you an idiot? Are you confused? Are you an Arsenal fan in disguise??

You call the Europa League the “biggest waste of time that football has come up with” – can you explain? Would you say to Sevilla’s fans that the 3 trophies in a row they’ve won is a waste of time? I’d say it’s pretty good compared to your absolutely nothing?

You say it’s a dogfight to get in the top 4 – this is one point you’re actually right on. Do you know how else you get in to the Champs League? By winning the Europa! Mental that isn’t it? So you could play full strength and try and win it, and you’d get your Champs League place. And guess what? You’d have won a trophy too! Admittedly, that trophy is “the biggest waste of time that football has come up with”, but still it’s a trophy.

What’s the end game for Spurs in your head? Do you want to be the new Arsenal, winning the 4th place trophy each year? How about maybe winning an actual trophy? Because, well, your foray in to the Champs League didn’t really go so well this season…

Finally, Big Pete, you’re the reason people hate the English. How arrogant are you? Based on your performance in recent years, the Europe League is only a waste of time because Spurs aren’t good enough to win it. My beloved Hull played 4 games in it a couple of season ago and it was awesome. I loved every second! You’re acting like Spurs are too good for the Europa – I’d say based on the fact you’re in it every year, it’s exactly your level. And maybe based on the fact you haven’t won it once, it’s too good for you?

Maybe if you pull your head out of your a**e you might be less grumpy. And you can stop sending the same email every year.
Rob (Hull fan in) Leeds


Tiki-taka isn’t dead; it lives in all of us
Sorry for the slowpoke mail but I’d just like to comment on the greatly exaggerated rumours of the demise of Tiki Taka. Although the name itself is a bit up for debate, having been an avid fan of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona throughout the controversially boring years I just wanted to point out that Tiki Taka was based on TWO things, and that seems very much to have been missed in the dissection of Barca’s recent shellacking.

Whilst obviously in attack it was based on your ability to pass and dribble in tight spaces better than the opposition could close down, it was also based on the opposite in defence. Barca used to win the ball back for the most part within 3 or 4 seconds of losing it. They weren’t necessarily the strongest tackles but there would always be two small bodies darting around any opposition member with the ball always managing to leave a foot in the crucial place to knock it out of stride. If the person tried to pass or lay it off the Barca players knew all the angles for the short passes better than the opposition and were half a second ahead of them to intercept or cut it off.

With this in place Barca never tried risky passes until they were right on the edge of the opponents penalty area, which would either result in a great chance or a very short lived bit of opposition possession. These are all still true. PSG themselves used parts of Tiki Taka. Multiple times they played it out of defence in tight corners rather than try a long ball, and they were faster and more dogged with tackling in midfield. This is true of many more teams now, that possession football is being given more respect as is the fitness needed to press teams harder. Tiki Taka has spread out more evenly and Barca can no longer claim to be ahead of everyone in practicing it, but it is still as effective as it has always been if it’s done well enough.
Indie, (everyone loses the fire eventually) North London


Back to reality
Lately there has been lots of mails with knee jerk reactions when in fact it is all just deja vu from most of the last 10 seasons. Leicester last year just confused us to think the goalposts had somehow moved, they didn’t. Let me elaborate…

After the fluke (deserved win) that was Leicester last season we are now back to the following things that serve to prove the world is round and not flat.

Arsenal show some hope of a title challenge before Christmas then show their soft underbelly by mid feb and go out of all competitions. Wenger out brigade gets louder. St Totteringham’s Day is all they have to play for. CHECK
Leicester are crap again CHECK

Liverpool run around more than anyone else and score more than anyone else getting half of merseyside overexcited only for the first team to get knackered by Feb and us to remember that the rest of the squad are quite crap and so indifferent performances from one week to the next confuses the scousers even more for the rest of the season as they fall (probably) just outside of the top 4 CHECK

Spurs play really good football especially for a young team with a young manager overhauling the squad. They get scared of heights in feb and fall out of contention on all fronts by the end of Feb. St Totteringham’s Day is all they have to play for. CHECK

Man City start playing like they did at the beginning of the season and beating all before them. Sadly (lol) it is too late to win the title. CHECK

The one decent team that played consistently from the start trots to the title with maybe a wobble or two at the end go give some of the chasing pack false hope.

Leaving Man U off here due to the fact that their last 4 years has been very different to the previous 25.
Jon, Joburg


Dementia in football
Re dementia in football, I think that we will have to wait quite a few years before we start to see the long-term impact of heading in football. Jeff Astle and his generation of footballers used leather balls, which, when wet, were basically like heading a rock. Ball design changed radically in the 70’s, and they went fully synthetic in the 1980s. This is from a quick google, but I think it is a reasonable assumption that the balls got lighter from the 70’s onward. Players that are in their 60s now are at the age where signs of dementia are starting to develop, meaning that they were on the cusp of the ball design transition. Now, I am not a (medical) doctor, but I think that the lighter modern balls will not have such a pronounced effect as the leather balls, although only time will tell.
Jim G (NFFC)


Peter G
What I imagined after reading the last paragraph of Peter G’s last stats article:

A grandfather in a big armchair by a fire, closing a large dusty book, picking up a small glass of something strong, reaching down to stroke a sleeping dog and then settling back in comfort before looking to camera and saying “goodnight, until next time”.  He closes his eyes for a nap and the camera pans out to some soft orchestral music.

Enjoyed the series, would read more.
Kevin G


Since 1990 Bayern Munich and Manchester United have both won the league 13 times. Yet the Bundesliga is referred to as a Monopoly while the Premier League is apparently the most competitive league in the world.

I would go into this further but my lunch break is about to end.
Kevin, Nottingham


Dreaming of Barry Davies (and Storey)
Take a bow Mr Storey

‘Instead, let me tell you my strongest opinion on Mulgrew: It would be wonderful to hear a commentary of one of his goals by Barry Davies that went “One.. *pause* two… *pause* Charlie Mulgrew! And you have to say that’s sublime.”’

Oh my. I’m off for a pint.
Richard, Manchester.


Friday thoughts
Just a couple of quick things from this mornings mailbox (it started off quick but upon writing realise this has become a little longer. My line manager hasn’t noticed so we good though):

Andrew, Warrington, THFC says that Arsenal do well after getting knocked out and tend to finish third. Usually right but just wanted to point out that the final day of last season did happen and they actually finished second, above Spurs. Still hilarious!

Also, minor point, but Spurs are are still 4th unless United somehow magically escaped 6th spot and leapfrogged Liverpool and Spurs.

Big Pete – what’s the point of the Europa league? Surely the exact same point of being in the top 4. A champions league place! If anything surely winning the Europa League would be a better, if not trickier route, due to actually winning something along the way. Arsenal have proved that top 4 alone isn’t really anything to celebrate but surely winning Europa league is? In a league with 6 competitive teams going into 4 UCL places then I imagine taking the Europa League seriously like United have may pay dividends at the end of the season.

A quick look over the teams still in the tournament and there’s no Seville or Dortmund. Roma and Bilbao are the most obvious banana skins, maybe Schalke too but you’d imagine Spurs and United should be aiming to beat those kind of teams if they do aspire to play in the UCL.

Lee, Darlington – nothing personal and quite like Pogba, even though he plays for United but you’re line about his friends helping him grow made me throw up a little. My personal prediction is that they will not get top 4 but win the Europa League. They have some serious fixture congestion coming up and they have 4 matches against other members of the top 6 in April and May, as well as 2 games against potential relegation scrappers.

Another exciting weekend of Premier League awai… Wait… FA cup weekend? Ffs
The Proud Shepherd of this Herd of Sharks


…forgot to say. Griezmann isn’t a number 10? Do you even watch football? Or do you just read United transfer gossip?

Okay this sounds a little meaner than I actually meant it to be. Ah well
The Proud Shepherd of this Herd of Sharks

Bit of a random thought this Friday afternoon – I wonder how well Paul Clement learned to speak French, Spanish and German when he was assisting Ancelotti around Europe?

I just couldn’t imagine him talking in anything other than that delightful cockney accent.


We had a few of these (not really)
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has sent in a long mail, then read the days mailbox and realised that what you mailed in was already covered and so your email was a complete waste of time.
Jon, Joburg (Oh well!)


Oh… He’s a long way out… It’s an audacious effort…

UNBELIEVABLE! A hattrick on his debut. And you can’t say he doesn’t deserve it! What a day this will be for his friends and family to remember.

(I may print and frame this mailbox if I pull this off)
The Proud Shepherd of this Herd of Sharks

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