Watch the football tomorrow then mails us firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, lovely people
What will Leicester do?
Interesting that everyone is focussing on the possible transfers of the “big” clubs, but not much about the newest kid on the block.
A few assumptions:
Residual snobbery from Big 5 players will affect targets
Champs League football will be attractive to the rest
Mahrez and Kante will probably leave as they are the new shiny baubles.
I’ve avoided the probable foreign targets, as I’m too old to play FIFA 16
Kante replacement (dominant CDM) – Kouyate, Wanyama, Coquelin, Fernando, Imbula, Lucas, Jedinak, Kirchhoff, Sandro, Song ?
Mahrez replacement (fast skilful winger) – Bolasie, Januzai, Mane, Deulofeu, Wijnaldum, Arnautovic (or his chubby mate), Tadic, Sigurdsson
It could get quite interesting…and apologies to Leicester fans for assuming Mahrez and Kante will leave, but some things don’t change (Terry Butcher, John Wark, Alan Brazil, Arnold Muhren – the core of Ipswich’s best ever team in 1981…all sold to a “bigger” club).
Six months of Jurgen
I know it’s been more than 6 months but I still can’t believe JURGEN KLOPP is managing in the Premier league. So what exactly has he changed (or influenced) not just at Liverpool but the league in general?
1. Taking Europa League seriously – Despite annual complaints from British managers that Europa is a ‘waste of time’ and ‘affects their league form’, Kloppo has turned that notion upside down. Not only has he taken Europa seriously with an average squad that he didn’t even buy, he has taken them to the finals AND maintained a respective league position. Irrespective of whether he wins the trophy or not, this is a hint for other managers in the league to follow suit from next season and take the UEL seriously especially when the upside to winning it is huge.
2. Brought back magical nights to Anfield after a long, barren spell – Well the 4-3 against Dortmund was definitely Istanbul-esque. This man was born to coach a working class club and who better than Liverpool? Not only does this man live and breathe football but he inspires the entire stadium to do so. Anfield could not have hoped for a better manager in terms of timing.
3. Hugging and smothering players – Whatever happened to that lost art?
4. Heavy metal football – When was the last time we had that in the league?
Sridhar (Liverpool to finish top 2 next season) Iyer, Bangalore
United can go for a Kroos
Ben Gleeson says That Man Utd couldn’t possibly attract the likes of Varane, Godin or Kroos. He may be right about the first two, but they could certainly be in with a shout of Kroos. He’s the kind of excellent-but-not-a-superstar player that Real make a habit of selling (to their detriment) so that they can buy the latest flavour of the month.
When they do sell him there will certainly be a queue for his services, and Utd will have to work hard to get to the front of that queue, but, and I say this as a Liverpool fan, Man Utd are still Man Utd, CL or not, LvG or Mourinho or whoever else.
They’re a huge club who can offer some of the highest wages in the world. Granted, they’ll probably have to, but they’ve proven their willingness to pay top money with Rooney. And don’t forget, there’s always Neymar, Bale, Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos…..err, ok, maybe you have a point?
Welcome guest appreciation
Great welcome guest article about the ACL. As someone who has had 2 ACL ruptures and subsequent reconstructions, I certainly identified with Jonathan’s pain.
He also makes a great point about how the work needed to get playing again from injuries of this sort is never seen by the public and therefore doesn’t usually get the appreciation it deserves.
Adonis (feeling so gutted for dat Welbz) Stevenson, AFC
I’m writing in having just read Jonathan R. Smith’s take on the long and frustrating road back from the dreaded ACL.
Those three letters strike fear into the average sportsman and fan. A player of yours goes down on the Saturday, their leg twisting or buckling under the strain of a tackle or landing. The damage that’s been done can be obvious or equally innocuous. Plenty of ACL’s have been diagnosed by Joe Punter in the outer.
When the professionals assess the damage it doesn’t take long for the worst to trickle out on social media via the appropriate channels. “He’s done his knee.” Four of the cruellest words to hear, no matter the player’s standing or reputation in the game.
Living in Australia it’s an injury we hear about all too often. One poor lad in our AFL competition, Daniel Menzel, suffered four ACLs in consecutive seasons. Each one a heartbreaking blow to the footy community, which was fully aware of the toll just one of these injuries can take on the recipient. If anyone is interested a documentary was made about Menzel’s recovery, which culminated in his playing his first match in over 1,100 days last season. I’m sure it can be found online and would highly recommend it to anyone who has suffered the injury.
I write this because sometimes I feel the rest of the sporting world is so far removed from the reality of this injury. Whilst devastating and debilitating, a number of players in our rugby and football codes make full recoveries thanks to what I can only assume is world class treatment, surgery and rehabilitation.
We always read of local players traveling to, say, Germany for radical treatment for hamstring injuries (it was something to do with injecting calfs blood). I never hear of international players coming here for treatment of this, arguably the most serious of all sporting injuries.
In my first love, AFL, we have players of all sizes playing one of the most intensely aerobic and athletic sporting codes in the world. Jumping, tackling, high speed changes of direction… Yet most ACL’s are repaired and within a year and the player is back running around, soon thereafter at something resembling their best.
That’s the timeframe we have engrained into us. Player A tears his ACL in round 5, needing a full knee reconstruction. He won’t be available until at least round 5 the following season. That’s the recovery we all accept as an industry. Of course there are exceptions to this, with some coming back sooner, but a year, 12 months, is considered the norm.
A part of this recovery clearly comes down to the confidence one has in the knee. For me this must come from the surgeon. We see so many of these injuries our surgeons and sports science types must have the template for return down pat.
It seems like the recovery from such an injury, especially in Europe, is partly hampered by a simple and quite frustrating lack of patience. I understand in Jonathan’s case he’s denied much of the remedial therapy and expertise available to professionals, but 12 months is the time frame.
I don’t know who oversaw Falcao’s treatment, but they’ve done an awful job.
I completely agree with Jim G in the mailbox on this concept of “experience” as a basis of quality.
Considering this idea, would it be appropriate to start Rooney in every FA Cup match at Utd because of his “experience”? I believe Milner has the most caps still in the history of the England U-21s team: should this apparent experience necessitate he starts for the full international team?
I recognise it is a well-used indicator to rationalise why someone should be in a team, but I would suspect that there are other characteristics and traits deemed more important. Composure. Professionalism. Work ethic. Team work. (I better send an email to Football Manager for helping with this email) Experience is rarely considered as a metric of quality in any other industry, rather concentrating on underlying capabilities.
I’d hasten to add that people would probably assume that John Terry should be signed up by some teams due to his experience. Then again, I see two poorly-timed challenges that effectively rule him out (potentially) of his last two games at Chelsea, suggesting a lack of composure and professionalism. Age and appearances are not necessarily a reflection of quality, and may in fact reflect circumstances presented to individual players.
I made a point previously in the mailbox about Rooney going to the Euros due to his capabilities as a captain. I can’t comment on these capabilities as I’m not close enough to his performances or personality, but I would assume that one of the factors that will dictate whether Rooney goes to the Euros is because of his ability as a captain, and how well he can support players off the pitch as well as on it. Throwing this argument under the title of “experience” just strikes me as pretty lazy.
Poor corners explained
One thing that has always mystified me about professional footy is the consistently-bad quality of corner-kicks. It seems that every game has at least one corner that does not beat the first man. Considering these are professional players, and the distance and angle to goal NEVER CHANGES, not beating the first man should be pretty inexplicable.
But then I got to thinking about how some stadiums design their corner-kick taking areas, and I have come to the conclusion that the way most stadiums are set-up makes taking a corner harder than it should be. Just take the Man United v West Ham game. I know Upton Park is an old stadium and West Ham are moving out of it, but that field had a race track that went right up to the edge of the playing surface. A player taking a corner had to first run off the track, then run onto grass, in order to take the corner. In cleats, this is fairly awkward. My point being, the way some stadiums are designed seems to encourage poor corners – either by having that race-track thing, or having a sloped surface around the edges (a la Old Trafford) or just generally not giving players enough space to take the kick. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen players move cameras/equipment out of the way just to kick the ball. I would love it if in the rules said, “Fields will be designed so that the player will be given a circle of X feet in diameter to take the corner,” or something like that, just so we have some uniformity here.
Anyone else think I’m on to something, or am I just making excuses for the Iago Aspas’s of the world?
Citizen (well done Leicester) Shmike
I’m at the park right now with my little boy. 3 teenagers are on the football court playing heads and volleys and one has just declared; ‘he’s Drinkwater, I’m Mahrez and you’re Vardy’.
How times have changed
Dom (I was always McManaman) Littleford
More USA ’94 love
I think your demographic for this website all love USA 94. It was amazing. I did so much bartering with my mum to stay up late for games that she still has the advantage in our negotiations over anything. My favourite memory is eating tomato soup with a not so legendary Dundee United player who lived next door to my Aunt. It was USA v Switzerland, no idea what the score was but the soup was good.
Ageing Italians: Where are they now?
As the season draws to a close, it’s time for a recap on that most wonderful group of footballers: the ageing Italians.
As we all know, Luca Toni has retired at the age of 38. He celebrated his last game for relegated Verona with a meaningless but nice victory over Juventus, scoring a ‘panenka’ penalty and generally playing rather well. He leaves quite a legacy behind: 14 clubs, 586 appearances, 268 goals, one World Cup, one Bundesliga title, one European Golden Boot, one memorable celebration and one classic song. He also worked hard to maintain several important footballing stereotypes, including ‘good feet for a big man’ and ‘late-blooming Italian striker’.
I believe Di Natale (also 38) is retiring too, after months of indecision. Having managed only one league goal all season, compared to double figures in nine consecutive seasons before that, this seems a good decision. He is an icon and will be missed.
Totti’s future remains in doubt, though Gazzetta reported yesterday that he will be offered one more year at Roma. He is turning FORTY in September and his lack of mobility is incredible. He fell out with Roma coach Spalletti and played very little overall, but made a comeback towards the end of the season in a series of very effective substitute appearances. He managed five goals and three assists, at a rate of one goal/assist every 45 minutes!
38 year-old Buffon has signed a new contract that will take him to 2018, after setting a new record for consecutive clean sheets this season. We’re glad you’re sticking around, Gigi.
Maccarone (remember him?) is 36 now. After a spell in Serie B he has had something of a renaissance and managed a very respectable 12 goals in Serie A for Empoli this season (his eight club).
Abbiati (38) may be retiring or he may yet sign a one-year extension. He is now third-choice keeper at Milan, who have put their faith in 16 year-old Donnarumma as number one. As an aside, it’s amazing that Abbiati and Dida together amassed almost 500 appearances for Milan over one of the club’s golden eras, despite not being very good.
Cassano’s future, as ever, is very uncertain. The latest reports are that he has been sacked by Sampdoria for offensive and insulting comments made in the dressing room. He is turning 34 soon and it would take a brave manager/chairman to take a punt on him now. Surely one of the greatest wasted talents of his generation – check some youtube clips if you’re not convinced…
Gilardino is surprisingly only 33. He is at struggling Palermo, who may or may not be relegated this weekend.
I was also shocked to discover that Chiellini is only 31. What a fantastic player he has been, keeping up the great tradition of Italian defending in the post-Maldini/Nesta/Cannavaro era.
F365 fan mail
I’m sooooooo sick of this website’s f-King narratives. You lot have become a bit of a joke amongst some of my friends who also read. (Less and less) It’s very much like listening to a stuck record at this stage.
Is a player based in the north, working class and English? Yes. Then he must be rubbish. Based in the south? Amazing. Class. The new ….. This frustration dates right back to your ridiculous championing of Scott Parker over Michael Carrick but this season you’ve really taken the p!ss.
Jack Wilshire hadn’t f-King played this season until a couple of weeks ago and even if he had been fit he’s not an automatic starter for his club. Yet you fall over yourself raving about his passing and dribbling whilst stating he should start for England in the summer off the back of two goals against a poor team in qualifying. Danny Drinkwater has just won the league!
In today’s media watch you make another sly did about “bang average” Jessie Lingard and went on to discuss him being “sh*t on Tuesday” he played 8 f-King minutes!
Ross Barkley has 8 league goals from the same position in a much worse side than Dele Alli who has 10. Hardly a huge difference, but f-King hell you’d think Alli was the second coming whilst Barkley should be in the spl the way you lot have constantly compared the two.
Nick Miller summed it up in his article this week when he said the editor wouldn’t allow him to put Barkley in his top 10 attacking midfielders. How sad.
The most sad thing however, is that it’s seems the website doesn’t care whether is balanced or fair to footballers or the reflective abilities to change,it’s more interested in saying “We told you so”.