Mails: Giroud’s injury will be blessing in disguise

Date published: Wednesday 20th December 2017 1:56

Top work. Keep them coming to…


Managers can never win
People complain that young British players aren’t given opportunities at the big clubs. Then when they do, people complain that the clubs aren’t taking competitions seriously enough.

Others complain that managers rotate too much and should play all their best players all the time. Then when one of them gets injured they complain that the manager should have rested them if they were in the red zone.

It’s almost as if people just want to complain about something.
Adonis (Joe Willock looks like a player) Stevenson, AFC


Giroud’s injury a blessing in disguise
Is the Giroud injury a blessing in disguise? Obviously this is a busy time of the season so losing him is not ideal, however Welbeck can certainly fill in and Sanchez can play up front for the last twenty minutes after Lacazettes inevitable substitution.

More importantly though, this injury may put off potential buyers throughout January, leaving us with Giroud as an option at the business end of the season.
Dave (Agree with Wright’s comments about Sanchez and Ozil) Windsor


A proper preview of Bristol City vs Manchester United
As a follower of both club’s, thanks to my father and my place of birth, am I astounded by the lazy journalism of some outlets and am aiming to provide you lucky readers of the mailbox with a fair, factual assessment of both sides for this cup clash.:

Bristol City
Guaranteed to start a strong side. City have overcome 3 premier league sides already this season with a relatively strong line up in each round. There is every chance we’ll see top scorer Bobby Reid start up front, Jamie Paterson just in behind him – a great little footballer.

We should also see Marlon Pack, Josh Brownhill occupying the middle of the pitch with academy graduate Joe Bryan on the left of midfield. In defence expect city’s strongest back 4 in Australian Bailey Wright, club cult hero Aden Flint, the best defender in the squad Nathan Baker, yes that Nathan Baker and last but not least Icelandic hero Hodur Magnusson.

Manchester United
Mourinho has a few issues to address Fellaini, Carrick, Valencia are all definitely unavailable. This means for certain expect to see Matteo Darmian on the right and Luke Shaw at left back. The central defensive partnership will be two of Smalling, Lindelof and Rojo.

The manager also has a choice to make in central midfield. Fully expect Matic to be on the bench, the return of Pogba is an interesting one and may tempt mourinho into using him. McTominay and Herrera are the most likely to start in the middle. Martial is a guaranteed starter as he missed out Vs West Brom and much has been made of Mkhitaryan but given Mourinhos, let’s say harsh treatment of the Armenian it would not surprise me if he began proceedings from the bench. The last area of contention is up top. Ibra is back and that would be fantastic for the crowd, however rashford has started each of the last two rounds up front. Romero is 100% in goal.

Bristol City are the championships form team and have lost four times since march. Last season they experienced a dip throughout the December and January period but have bounced back emphatically and beat both promoted sides Huddersfield and Brighton on their way to survival last year and have not lost to any of the top 6 so far this term. League defeats to Leeds and Preston highlighted their flaws. Both occured when midfield man Marlon Pack was overlooked. He’s a crucial part of this sides midfield. Think lower division Michael Carrick.

Manchester United are the second best team in the country and look to be grinding out results at this moment in time. Say what you like about united but they are functional, which you’d expect given the money spent. But they do get the job done. However, they are susceptible to the press and are weak without Pogba linking the side together. Huddersfield lay the blue print to those sides looking to overcome this team. Press high and be functional on the counter.

Key match ups
Bobby Reid Vs Chris Smalling
Bobby is the club’s top scorer but he is not a traditional centre forward. Last season he spent the majority of his time wide right or just off Tammy Abraham. He does have decent attributes but is diminutive and will likely be bullied in most duels. So keeping the ball on the deck and clever movement will be best against Smalling who’ll look to overpower his opponent.

Joe Bryan Vs Matteo Darmian
This is one of City’s must win areas if they are to have any chance. Fortunately Bryan is a brilliant footballer. Also an academy graduate he’s a technically sound left back but revels in a more advanced position. Look up his goal Vs palace. Superb. He has a wonderful left foot and can work well defensively. He won’t be playing championship football much longer hopefully still at the club. Darmian will have his hands full and he himself has been firmly pushed out of the side. A decent performance required but could be a tough evening for the Italian.

Marlon Pack Vs Ander Herrera
Marlon is a lovely player to watch. Completely controls City’s midfield and looks to pick the ball up deep and keep it ticking over. He’ll be up against Herrera who looks to have taken a bit of a confidence hit this season after being United’s best player of 16/17. The arrival of a specialist CDM in Matic has hindered Herrera this season but the Spaniard will look to harass the whole of the City midfield who themselves are much better than championship footballers.

Bailey Wright Vs Anthony Martial.
City’s right back is Australian Bailey Wright who is most definitely a centre back doing a job. He’s filled in well for Eros Pisano but can at times look a little uncomfortable. Martial will be looking to work his way back into starting premier league games after a little downturn in form following arsenal away. But the Frenchman looks to have added resilience this season after resolving his off field troubles which hampered him last term.
Gary, Bristol. (Way too excited for tonight)


Pep Guardiola and Brexit
I thought you’d be up for an awe-inspiringly bad take on Guardiola. If you like your Brexit, you’re unlikely to warm to Pep.

On the one hand, there’s the “he’s a foreigner and not a PFM. Give Pards that money and he’d be top of the league” mentality. This is best seen on the sports pages of The Sun, complimenting beautifully as it does that rag’s political agenda. They think Mike Bassett would be a good England manager.

On the other hand, there’s the Corbyn-supported “Lexit” brigade who think it’s all about money and refuse to believe the evidence of their eyes. The sort of people you end an excruciatingly pointless conversation with by use of the phrase “mate – I did A level Economics.” This is particularly amusing when coming from Arsenal, United and Liverpool fans who all think that their clubs are as pure as the driven snow and are in no way driven by rapaciously capitalist owners looking forward to that massive tax cut coming their way from Trump paid for by the American poor.

In the middle are the rest of us, who see the world as a complicated, conflicted place but also see the country we live in as one part of an interconnected world without too much right to say we are better than the rest. Yes, we were cool in 1940, Shakespeare, The Beatles, The Stones, The Suffragettes, Jane Austen and Rosalind Franklin and whoever else you want to class as national heroes but our “golden age” in the 19th century had much to do with the reinvested profits of slavery, evacuating wealth by force if needed from the Empire and a Navy that would show who’s boss if necessary. Whatever, we can’t claim credit for one without blame for the other, and it’s probably best and fairest to do neither.

And now this guy, someone extremely proud and conscious of where he is from but a complete Citizen of the World, comes over here and shows us what we are missing. This City side are absolutely a Guardiola team but they are also far more direct, far more “English”, far more viscerally thrilling than that great Barca side.

Without noticing (maybe without Pep even realising) this team has adapted to its habitat and scores from corners and loves a long ball when the time is right. To be considered as good, there are a lot of trophies to win first, but when I see a team fuelled by Sheikh Mansour’s fortune, I also see British, mainland European and indeed global influences combining to improve each other. We benefit massively from the influence of others – and we must have enough about us for people to want to help us.

No wonder The Sun want to minimise and sneer.
Mark Meadowcroft


Newsflash: You can celebrate how you want if it doesn’t hurt anyone
Chris, Croydon…the “overcelebrating” was justified and well within the realms of acceptability.

City with a team half full of kids, had just won on penalties in a cup tie that should have been over after 90 minutes. They had to contend with Bobbins Madley giving a ludicrous penalty in the 97th minute of the game for a dive, pick themselves back up and then keep out a dangerous and fresh front three of Vardy, Mahrez and Gray for extra time with a patched up backline.

Said backline finished the game consisting of Walker who came on as a sub, Danilo who has never played at centre half, our 5th choice centre half who is a 20 year old youth team graduate and a just turned 21-year-old attacking midfielder at left back.

Further up the pitch we’d had Foden and Diaz start, and finished the game with two further debutants in Dele Bashiru and Nmecha (great penalty in the shootout by the way!).

We can’t win with some people. Let the young lads have their moment, Scrooge!
Mark M32 Blue


Some hard truths on Rooney
Rooney was awful on Monday. He got dispossessed more than any other player on the pitch and his pass completion was in the 60’s%.

He is awful. Has been awful for 4 or 5 years and will continue to be awful till he retires. I could go on a massive Rooney rant but I won’t.

We do not need him back in the England squad and him retiring leaves just two to lose their place/retire (Looking at you Joe Hart & Jordan Henderson) to have a very likeable England squad going forwards.

Kindest Regards


Help a man out
I’m trying to make up a song for Sigurdsson to the tune of Careless Whisper.

So far I only have the line… “Gylfi feet belong to Sigurdsson”

Can anyone help me out?
James (probably beyond help) EFC


VAR not that successful in the Bundesliga
I am slightly surprised to see some people speak positive about the use of VAR in the Bundesliga. Surprised because it is the talking thing number one here I Germany and not in a positive way.

Most people are complaining about it simply because the viewer doesn’t really realize what is happening never mind understand why a decision has changed. On top of that there have been quite a few obviously wrong decision by the VAR. Which creates the impression, that the VAR has not added any additional help to the game.

Yes they are still working on the system and tweaking some things to try and get it working in a good way. Which is probably a good thing if they manage to make it more transparent for the spectators in the stadium. But currently you get the feeling it is an additional opinion which helps sometimes but just as the refs on the pitch get things occasionally wrong. So no different to without a VAR…

Cheers and Merry Christmas from Germany


But it is going ok in Serie A (this is the last one)
I watch a lot of Serie A, which has been found to be using VAR tech to largely positive effect.

The average time of the game spent reviewing is now around one minute per match, with an average increase of just 19 seconds of stoppage time per game. It started off higher, but now that referees are used to the system, it’s a lot smoother.

After review, it’s found that 93% of initial referee decisions which go to VAR for review are being confirmed correct There has also been a 20% decrease in the average number of fouls committed, including (anecdotally) an almost total elimination of grappling and shirt-pulling at set-pieces, as well as an huge decrease in players abusing the officials. They know they’re being watched and the tape does not lie, so they’ve lost their ability to cheat and get away with it, or intimidate referees into leniency. All of which can largely be considered to be Good Things.

It’s contributing to a levelling of the playing field. I’ve seen my team, Juventus, fall foul of it (insert obvious joke about not paying the refs enough here) multiple times this season, including a penalty (correctly) awarded against them just 40 minutes into their first game (at home, no less), and twice in the same game against Atalanta, where they had a goal disallowed and a free-kick leading to a goal given by VAR, resulting in a 2-0 lead becoming a 2-2 draw. Was I salty about it? No, because both decisions were correct – and the VAR also harshly gave Juventus a penalty, which Dybala missed.

The point about the harsh (OK, “incorrect”) decision is that human error is not eliminated by the VAR. But that’s not the fault of the technology, it’s an issue with the competence of the officials. It does, however, remove a popular crutch that referees and their apologists use to defend their poor decision making; “there’s too much going on / the pace of the game is too quick”. With an enhanced decision-making tool at their disposal, referees (theoretically) should be able to make more considered decisions, getting a higher degree of them correct. If not, then perhaps this should be raised by the referee’s assessors.

There already is a totally inferior version of the VAR in the Premier League. It’s called the “trial by TV after outraged pundit (usually Ray Wilkins) spots something and kicks off about it”. This has resulted in a number of post-game bans which do nothing to assist the team against whom the infraction was committed, and are inconsistent to the point of farce – see Alexandar Mitrovic receiving a ban for not jumping with his arms by his sides, whereas Wayne Rooney was allowed to forearm smash Matt Ritchie in the face, right under the referee’s nose, and get away with it.

The sooner it’s introduced in the Premier League, the better – our refs need all the help they can be afforded. You’d have to be a bit of a dick to moan about a goal for your team being correctly disallowed after a VAR review, to be fair…
S Mole


The Mailbox: A perfect place for interminable debate (what a tagline)
After reading for the millionth time (or that number F365 uses) about “the interminable debate…Messi vs Ronaldo…some people are simply unable to simply enjoy two of the greatest players ever”

Is it just me that enjoys the interminable debates? I thought that’s why we read the Mailbox? I’ve been on here 10 years and I don’t think anything has been resolved to date.

This seems to be up there with the notion that nobody likes to see a dirty game.
Adam, LFC

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