Mails: Excited about Morata. And Barkley…

Date published: Wednesday 1st June 2016 2:39

Anything to say? Do it: And then read the latest Mailbox guest, on the legend of Roy Essandoh.


Lay off Morata
After reading today’s gossip column I’m growing tired of lazy criticism of Morata based on his apparently ordinary goalscoring record.

Looking only at the ratio of goals to appearances is ignoring three important facts:
– A lot of the appearances he has made in his senior career are substitute appearances, or ones where he started but did not finish 90 minutes.
– He has scored important goals in big games – e.g. winning goal in the Coppa Italia final, winner against Man City.
– His all round play is good and he gets assists too – e.g. the amazing run and layoff to Cuadrado against Bayern.

If you look at goals plus assists, he had one every 104 minutes in the Serie A this season. For Harry Kane in the Premier League, it’s one goal/assist every 130 minutes, for example.

He is also still quite young and widely thought to be available this summer, unlike many other good strikers. So it’s really not so strange that he is in demand.
James Bruschini


Barkley bullsh*t
Rich from Norwich has summed up the naivety and complete lack of knowledge around Ross that’s currently in vogue. You highlight Alli as a reason Ross shouldn’t be there- have you compared their stats? Course you haven’t. Ross hasn’t stood out? He’s had his best season! This goldfish memory so prevailing in society is why flash in the pan players with 2 good weeks/months get the public backing.

At least Ross can score and assist, as opposed to players like Henderson and Lallana who themselves would struggle to explain what they are good at. Fire your shots in the right direction next time.
Ian (not even English but got antsy at this mailbox) EFC


…Rich, Norwich asks how is Barkley there without doing much? Then compares him to Milner, Henderson and finishes off by praising Alli (who has looked incredible this season)

Well Rich considering how bad Everton have been and the fact the players have basically admitted they downed tools at the start of March, Barkley has managed the following this season:

Barkley 8 assists 8 goals
Alli 9 assists 10 goals
Milner 11 assists 5 goals
Henderson 3 assists 2 goals.

Hardly what I’d call not doing much.

The English mentality to jump on the younger players really needs to stop. Let them develop and grow with confidence. I’ve watched Stones’ confidence crumble completely this season due to Evertonians and the press getting on his back at every chance. Let’s enjoy them!
CJ (who will the papers blame when England crash out early on? Place your bets)


Made for each other
Since, Arsenal reportedly are prepared to spend big on Alvaro Morata and I know nothing about him, I decided to peek at WhoScored. I am looking through the advanced stats when I come upon the strengths/weaknesses section. Good, a nice, concise look at who this guy is.

Key passes – handy and fits in well with Arsenal style
Dribbling – nice, needed up front
Passing – Good skill for a top player to have, I would think
Defensive contribution – I like this guy

Finishing – Noooooooooooooooo!!
David O, California


Bored of Zlatan
So Ibrahimovic will reveal his next club when he is “tired” of reading all the speculation.

How arrogant do you have to be to not already be bored of the speculation?! I’m a United fan (who doesn’t want him but that’s irrelevant) and I’m bored senseless of it. When did players start playing the transfer market like it was a soap opera? I know the media reports it as such, they have papers to sell, but are the players now engaging in it as well?

First example I can think of was Hazard, although I’m absolutely certain I’m missing a load of other cretins who have acted like a child during a transfer window to stroke their massively inflated ego
Jack (Mourinho can do one as well) Manchester


Allam bells
Hi 365, Hull fan here. I just wanted to say a massive thanks for your coverage about our empty seats recently. We’ve been subject to much mockery and derision, but the fact is it’s just pure alienation from the owners. I was very happy when the Allams came in, and bailed us out massively financially, but that was the peak of relations. Since then, they’ve tried to change the name of my club, and told me if I don’t like it I can go die. I won’t lie, that comment didn’t sit too well with me. I’ve read in the news over the past few days talked are at an advanced stage with an American group, and I really, really hope it’s true. The Allams have long outstayed their welcome. They’re excellent businessmen, clearly, but they know nothing about football. And despite saying Hull is their home, they appear to know nothing of the people who live there, other than holding arbitrary hatred for them. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than the fact I’m going to stop writing now, because thinking about this makes me very angry, and I really don’t want to rant.

Let me just say, thank you Allams, for rescuing us when we needed it the most. F**k you Allams, for everything you’ve done since. The sooner you leave, the sooner the seats will be filled. It’s all well and good trying to make us a global brand, but if the Americans and Indians and Chinese and Australians turn on the TV to an empty stadium every week, do you think they’ll stick around?

Also, you do realise it’s in the Premier League rules that concessionary ticket prices must be provided right? Swallow your pride (that you don’t deserve), stop being so vainglorious, and leave us the F**k alone.
Rob (kinda accidentally did end up ranting there) Leeds


Embrace the positivity
Lovely stuff from the Manc in SA with all his “hefty” laughing at anyone who thinks England are not going to crash and burn in France. I could sit here and tell you he’s wrong because Kane and Vardy are the next Shearer and Sheringham etc but I won’t. The reason he’s wrong is because of the structure and draw of the tournament. England have an easy group. Top that group they play a third placed team. Come second in that group they play the 2nd team from a group containing Portugal, Iceland, Austria and Hungary (surely you’d fancy us against 3 of those 4?).

I’m not sure anyone is sitting here thinking we’re about to replicate Brazil c1970. England’s squad is reasonably limited, probably good enough to finish 3rd-5th in the Premier League. Fortunately so is everyone else excepting France, Spain and Germany and our route to the later stages sits perfectly. There is a very high likelihood England are going reasonably deep in this tournament. Don’t believe me? The following probabilities are drawn from the odds available on a rather large betting exchange;

Knocked out in group stage – 14%
Knocked out Last 16 – 25%
Knocked out quarter finals – 25%
Knocked out Semi finals – 17%
Runners up – 10%
Winners – 9%

In other words, bookies odds suggests there is a c60% chance England are getting to the quarters or further. If you disagree with that get yourself down the bookies and make a few £. If that’s not your bag, then get on board and enjoy a summer of football. The last few tournaments have been pretty woeful – with a bit of luck there’s every chance this could be quite good fun.
Dan, Greenwich


…As I sit at my office desk broiling in my own excitement at the forthcoming Euros, it occurred to me that how I would like to see England play, and how this would affect their chances of winning the tournament, is totally at odds with how managers and the media seem to view football nowadays.

Anything less than a semi-final and the tournament will be deemed a failure for England. Personally, if we had the option reaching a semi-final through stoic, stodgy football and the odd 1-0 win (e.g that awful England v Ecuador game in 2006; that awful England v Slovenia game in 2010), or some cavalier, riotously entertaining, absolutely filthy 3-3 draws, followed by a high-scoring defeat at an earlier stage of the knock-out stages (preferably 5-3 to Iceland), I would opt for the latter.

At a guess, I would suggest the dominance of club football has altered the mindset and expectations of managers and the media (and probably some fans, too) – where the proliferation of trophies and achievements on offer (e.g League Cup, FA Cup, through to reaching play-offs, European spots, and so on) makes tangible success a realistic option for a large proportion of clubs each season, and therefore huge pressure is placed on managers to eke out some sort of achievement every year.

However: this is England, and this is a major tournament – success is not a realistic option. We are extremely unlikely to win, very unlikely to reach the final, and I’ve only lived through two semi-final appearances in 32 years. We will probably play somewhere between three and five games. After that there will be no FA Cup run to fall back on, no last-minute League Cup tie victories to look forward to, no push for a Europe League spot, no local derbies to claim bragging rights, no chance of beating ‘one of the big boys’ at home, nothing. It’s almost always over before it starts.

So with that slightly nihilistic mandate established, I would plead with Roy – please, just send out the most attacking team you can possibly shoehorn together. This will probably still involve James Milner in some capacity but if you could leave most of your pragmatism to one side for the summer, I’d rather have the fun of exciting football than a slightly-improved but still small chance of grinding out victory.

Dan (possibly just being a libertine), Brighton


More to Euros than England
Unsurprisingly, articles on the site and the mailbox especially have focused on England leading up to the Euros. This is not a criticism by the way-its fully understandable considering where your fine website is based and where the majority of your readers reside. However, the coming competition offers up a plethora of different stories, hopes and expectations from all nations competing. With the final squads now all finalized I spent a portion of my morning scanning them and something immediately jumped out at me: The Croatian midfield.

Rakitic and Modric, midfield stars for arguably the two biggest clubs on the planet. A supporting cast of Kovacic (sidelined a bit at Real Mardid this season but a terrific player all the same), Brozovic (starring in the Seria A for Inter), Perisic and “wonderkid” Ante Coric who, though still in his teens, is attracting interest throughout Europe’s elite leagues. Pretty damn sexy if you ask me!

“But who will put away the chances they create?” I hear you yell at your screen in anguish. Step forward Mario Mandzukic. In fairness his star is slightly on the wane having been outshone by Paolo Dybala at Juventus this season but he is still an elite level striker with a wealth of experience.

There is a valid point to be made that their defense is average but it still possesses the likes of Dario Srna, Sime Vrasiljko and the veteran Corluka (see what I did there?). That defense is probably not good enough to win the competition and if Mandzukic picks up a knock a lot will rest on Leicester ‘flop’ Kramaric and former Blackburn striker Niko Kalinic. Regardless, that midfield is dreamy and should ensure a large neutral audience for all their games.

So fellow mailboxers, especially the ones who are not too bothered by the make up of the England squad and scrolled briskly through this morning’s edition, which sides are piquing your interests? Can an Alaba-led Austria maintain their impressive qualifying form? Will Breel Embolo set the competition on fire? How much damage can Konoplyanka and Yarmalenko cause on the flanks for Ukraine? Will Will Gregg self-combust? Let’s get some variety up in this mailbox.
Osric, the Brave, Cape Town


Loyal Roy
There seem to be an awful lot of people asking what the likes of Rooney, Barkley, Wilshire, Sterling etc have done to justify their place in the team in the place of some who have had ‘better’ seasons domestically for their clubs. Is it me or is there a really quite simple answer to this other than Roy purely being ‘loyal’? The majority of these players not only lead England through the qualifiers and into the finals, but they did it with a 100% record. Now correct me if I’m wrong (don’t), but it seems like a pretty legit reason to me?

Of course there are players like Drinkwater, Cresswell, Townsend etc. and many others alike who deserve a crack at the national team bearing in mind the seasons that they have had with their clubs. If their club form continues I’m sure they will do in due course. However, as far as I’m concerned those players who have dragged England through the (usually undesirable) qualifying games in the middle of their already busy club schedules rightly deserve their chance at the finals. Just sayin’
Al Williams


Hodgson’s safe and sound
I really found this morning’s “Drinkwater’s great, Henderson/Wilshere/Barkley is rubbish” reaction odd.

Form is dependent on a million things, but I think it usually only works in context. You take Danny Drinkwater out of the one-for-all (and defensive) Leicester context and he probably becomes what he actually is – a half-decent journeyman. I imagine Roy saw this in the weeks he was with the squad and made his decision because of that. It’s not just about Kante. It’s all the players around you, the club’s atmosphere, how your manager deals with you, what sort of support you need to maintain good form, your mental state, your home life, a million things.

On the other hand, you do know what Jordan Henderson is. He’s a quite good midfielder. He’s not rubbish, not great, not even average. He’s quite good. Occasionally he has little periods above and below quite good, but these flashes of form do not change what he is. Wilshere and Barkley – you know them too. Naturally gifted midfielders who almost, but don’t quite, live up to their potential. Probably this is what they will always be too, with similar Henderson-esque periods above and below that. Just because all three are a little below their normal level right now, doesn’t mean you turf them out for someone with one good season in their pocket.

I’ve always felt England rely too much on form anyway when picking their teams. A quick check of the Slovenia game this time last year sees Jones, Cahill, Gibbs (!), Wilshere, Delph (!), Townsend, Sterling all starting, none of whom you suspect would be first choices now. The bench that day has guys like Jagielka, Austin and Cleverley on it. That’s huge turnover. I could be wrong, but I don’t think any other major nations chop and change so much, with so many players suddenly becoming completely out of favour and others appearing from nowhere.

If someone genuinely takes your league by storm, like Alli and Rashford did, of course bring them in, but remember that nobody knows how good someone actually is after one season. It’s a risk – and form doesn’t count for nearly as much once you’re away from your club.
Stephen O’S, MUFC


Five things about Milner
Shinji Out fancies fighting anyone who can name 5 positive aspects of James Milner’s inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad. I’m a lover (of James Milner) not a fighter (of Shinji Out) so here we go…

Aside from the obvious experience at international level and the stability he provides the manager away from the field – an oft overlooked issue when tournament football comes around – he has earned his place on the plane. He directly contributed to 21 goals for Liverpool this season – two more than Dele Alli achieved for Spurs (and in less game time too).

His new manager – clearly benefitting from Manchester City’s tardiness – understood Milner’s competitive qualities and allowed him to captain their route to a European cup final. This coming in a domestic season that could be tentatively referred to as a period of transition too.

There were only 4 players in the Premier League that achieved more assists than Milner – all of those players will be playing in Europe next season. His ‘solid’ description is intended to be a negative point but he has also received less yellow cards than Eric Dier.

Consistent performances, in isolation, might not provide the greatest example of why he should be in the squad but with the context of who else Roy Hodgson is taking it is clear that a dependable baseline of performance is required to allow the younger, faster, newer players to flourish.

I can understand why lots of people have a problem with Milner because it harks back to the dark, yet golden age of English football when reputation was the defining factor in selection. But the numbers and the additional personnel provide enough of a tonic to this notion and there are genuine reasons to be hopeful. Euro 2016 is nearly here and we should all be ready for a gritty win or glorious failure because both will be welcome; and as long as players like James Milner are around, both outcomes will be possible.
Gavin (a place for everyone and everyone in their place is Roy’s mantra) Hill, Malton


Shinji Out’s email made me have a right little giggle to myself in my office chair whilst I fill my boots full of white chocolate cookies & tea. I mean, does he realise that not only has he picked a midfield 4 of Wilshere, Barkley, Rooney & Alli (HA!), but he has also just tipped Ireland, bloody IRELAND, to mix it with the best in Europe and make the final.
Firstly, that midfield would be overrun into the ground, mainly because it contains a striker, a midfielder who hasn’t played a game all season, a 20 year old who was sneaking bottles of WKD out of his mums drinks cabinet the last time there was an international competition and Ross Barkley, who is dangerously close to becoming Tom Cleverly.

Now, i’m not a James Milner fan, i’m not even an England fan, but Boring James would make that midfield a helluva lot better. If you want to still fight a man over his inclusion, you come find me in Oriel Park on a Friday night, govna’.
Ryan, Dundalk FC – Jon Walters top goalscorer = free money. Ireland & Wales both to go further than England.


He is risen
I’m enjoying the gnashing and wailing in today’s Mailbox regarding the squad the Hodgson has chosen in his squad for the Euros.
However I must take issue with the phrase “Then you have players like Wilshere who have played no football all season yet walk into the squad”.

Wilshire? Walk?
The very idea.
Mark Kelly

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