Mails: Is Brendan England’s greatest hope?

Date published: Tuesday 15th March 2016 3:27

Keep your views coming – mail


Sh*tizen Smike more like
Ed: Stop sending these in now – we had about 30, and no-one wants to read about Leicester…


I feel like Citizen (the table does, in fact, lie), Smike must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

I’d like to address the points he made about why he hates Leicester:

1. They’re lucky for staying injury free
I can’t deny that there’s an element of luck here, but surely a lot of it has to do with buying robust players who aren’t prone to injury. Can you honestly say that the reason half the Arsenal team are permanently injured is because they’re unlucky? If Wenger purchased more solid players then perhaps they’d win a title.

2. They have no plan B
Why would you need a plan B when plan A is working so well? Did you want them to start playing tiki taka for a few games just so that they could show they can? They’re a football team with quick direct players. They want to win games. Why would you play in a way that doesn’t suit them. Wenger/Rogers are crucified because when they’re losing they still play the same way but Leicester hardly ever lose so why would they change. Tell me about that famous Barcelona plan B please.

3. Schmiechel
God forbid a player makes an error. How can you cope with watching football when mistakes happen?

4. Fuchs long throw
I suppose you don’t like shots from outside the area either because they aren’t passing it into the back of the net? Or passes over 10 foot? Or corners?

4. Vardy
I don’t think anyone’s forgotten about that or ignored it and there were a few mailboxes about this a few months ago. Do you want to banish him from the face of the earth or do you want him to try get on with his life and be a better person?

5. Leicester in the Champions League
This prediction makes me laugh because it shows no one has learned anything this season. A year ago people were saying Leicester were set to go down and look what happened.

6. The state of the Premier League
I’d much rather have a story like this, than have a team winning the league in March by 100 points (Ligue 1) or having a select few teams being miles ahead of the rest (La Liga). This is why this league is great.

Grow up and stop being boring.
Oli, Leeds.


Citizen (The table does, in fact, lie) Smike is joking, right? He’s like an American Adrian Durham just spouting the opposite of what everybody thinks purely to get a response to his utter nonsense

First of all, bemoaning a team’s injury record as good is just plain odd. Chelsea also had a near perfect injury record last season and they won the league deservedly and at a canter but I don’t recall people calling them lucky. Leicester’s injury record is more likely to be down to the lack of games that they have had to play this season rather than luck and I am sure that if you looked further down the league, at teams who are not in Europe, you’ll see similar injury records. Thankfully Shawcross leg breakers are few and far between and it’s utterly ridiculous to even bring up something that happens maybe once or twice in a whole Premier League season, if even that.

Criticizing Leicester for only having one game plan…they have lost three times this season and are five points clear at the top of the league. Why would they change their game plan? If anything, the numerous opposition that have been unable to stop Leicester implementing their style of play, despite it being so successful throughout the whole season, should be the ones feeling Hank Durham’s wrath. It’s also worth noting that they have become more defensively resolute since the start of the season so have actually adapted their style when teams may have started to figure them out.

Schmeichel’s long kicks and Fuchs’ long throw (do they use this that much?!) and I can add that they have two huge centre backs who aren’t great with the ball and Jamie Vardy being a bit snidey (although the 3 fingers were to City fans who had been taunting him and not Joe Hart). These are symptomatic of a mid-table team, which is probably where Leicester should ordinarily be looking at their team on paper. However, they have proved to be a team that is so much bigger than the sum of their parts and their very good players – Kante, Mahrez and Vardy – have been fantastic all season whilst all of the other players, who don’t always receive the same amount of credit, have been consistently great. They are a team playing with confidence, looking unnerved by the position that they have found themselves in, and just enjoying every game they play knowing that they really don’t have any pressure on them because nobody expected them to be where they are.

Let’s enjoy Leicester and this quite amazing and unpredictable season because we are unlikely to see anything like it again for a very long time.
David (Luis Suarez was nominated for the Ballon D’or –things get forgotten about very quickly in football)


* Injuries can’t all be down to pure luck. That would mean Arsenal are the unluckiest souls to ever walk God’s green earth. Sometimes you just have to wonder if a team has terrible physios. Or in Leicester’s case, miraculous ones. That aside, “hating” a team for not suffering any major injuries is dazzlinlgy perplexing.
* How do you/we know that Raneiri doesn’t have a Plan B? Plan A seems to be working so well for him that he’s had no need to deploy any sort of Plan B he might have thus far. Plus, I don’t think Rodgers and Wenger would be “crucified” for their shallow tactics if their respective teams were sitting at the top of the league.
* Schmeichel is a very decent shot-stopper who is regularly linked with bigger clubs. But yeah… questionable distribution, I’d agree.
* Jamie Vardy may indeed be a nefarious character, but “taunting Joe Hart” is what has upset you the most about him this season?? Watch again. Those 3 fingers were very much aimed at the Etihad crowd who were getting on his back, and not at Hart at all.
* Rory Delap is a Premier League legend and any current player should welcome comparisons with giddy glee (IMHO).
* How can anyone hate a team that has Shinji Okazaki in the starting eleven? He’s so adoreable.
* A wonderful tale is (potentially) unfolding here and, fans of fellow title challengers aside, I simply can’t fathom why anyone would not get behind Leicester. I bet Citizen wanted the Jamaican bobsleigh team to lose in that Cool Runnings movie.

I’ve just noticed that you’ve referred to your distaste of Leicester as “irrational” (and yes it is)… But I’ve already scribed the above so I’m sending it now anyway.
Nik Rose


Well at least he admitted it to begin with but his rant is plainly daft. Lucky not to get injuries? Well yes there’s some luck involved in no-one breaking one of their player’s legs but in the same way that teams with stupid amounts of money are lucky that they can afford expensive squad players for every position. It’s also probably lucky in your eyes that they’re not already in European competition so they’ve had fewer games. These things aren’t luck, they are just facts of life. You’ll next say Leicester have forced other teams around them to under-perform so that’s their luck rather than their ability to win games.

Oh and if you think that their one-dimensional football only works against better teams surely they’ll do well in the Champion’s League next season. Or maybe you’re talking out of your arse about a team that plays direct football whenever they’re in possession.

And Vardy is unpleasant but I’m not sure how you consider Suarez not white and it’s easier to ignore racism and biting when it’s not actually on the field of play. Not an excuse, just an observation.

It’s interesting seeing a backlash starting before they’ve actually won the league though, assuming they actually do that which is really not a foregone conclusion.
Will (why the hell am I defending Leicester again? COYI!) Goodey


Having read Citizen’s mail this morning I felt compelled to run through his nonsense.

Firstly, it is very far from ‘miraculous’ that we have suffered very few injuries this season. Or in previous seasons. Have you any idea how much time and money the club invests in sports science, training methods and scouting of players? Ask anyone (Adam Bate, writer for Sky Sports, for example ) who has spent any time looking into the methods at the club, they’ll tell you that what they do in terms of analysis of potential targets, training and recovery methods and player monitoring is light years ahead of some clubs. There’s a reason Spurs and Arsenal have pinched some of our backroom staff.

The fact we have suffered relatively few injuries this season is testament to the work the sports scientists do. I’m pretty sure they even put on a presentation to other clubs recently to talk about their various methods. To say it’s luck does a huge injustice to the work of our department.

We have a certain style of play that has been very effective for the majority of the season, but to say we only play one way and have no plan B again shows how little attention has been paid to our games. Why not go back and look at the number of changes Ranieri has made at halftime in games. Plan A wasn’t working, so changes were made and Plan B invariably worked. Watford being the latest example. It wasn’t working, two changes were made at halftime and the game was won after the break. Norwich was a similar story. If our usual approach isn’t working, Ranieri changes things.

But, given we’re top of the league, it seems a bit daft to be having a go for not having a Plan B when Plan A is clearly so damn effective!

Oh, and as an aside, we’ve taken 33 from a possible 39 points against the bottom 8. Yes, they weren’t all scrapping when we played those games, but we still picked them off.

Fuchs’ long throw has resulted in a grand total of zero goals for us so far this season, what precisely is there to hate about it? It’s not as if it’s behind a significant percentage of our goal tally.

We may well be embarrassed in whatever European competition we end up in next season, we may spoil the sparkling recent record of English sides in Europe, but I can’t see anything in your reasoning to suggest why.

Oh, and just for the record, Vardy was taunting the Man City fans behind the goal who were giving him stick for missing a one on one, in much the same way he did to the Swansea fans at their place earlier in the season in similar circumstances. But then, as is evident from elsewhere in your ramblings, you’d know that if you were actually paying attention to us instead of churning out ill-informed guff.
Andy (is this really happening?!) Howard


I don’t want Leicester to win either
I don’t particularly have a problem with Leicester, but reading Citizen Smike’s mail this morning really resonated with me; I’m neutral in all of this too, seeing as my team did their annual ‘out of the title race by October’ act and United aren’t going to win it, but I now really don’t want Leicester to win the league!

Earlier in the season when Leicester were doing their thing I was made up, I was happy that the money clubs (and I include Liverpool in that category) were being shown that there is a way to be successful other than throwing stacks of loot at a gang of mercenaries. But just lately the absolute media w*nkfest over them has become insufferable and really started to grind my gears. It has turned me off them big time.

I remember a few years ago, during Liverpool’s ultimately doomed title attempt, everyone complaining in the mailbox that the media love in was sickening, and I’ll admit, it was a bit embarrassing at times. But it’s got nothing on this!!! The media bias towards Leicester is astonishing, even the Beeb are at it and they’re meant to be the most neutral of the lot! We’ve got the papers and the Beeb going on about how everyone wants Leicester to win it and how if they do it’s the greatest sporting achievement of all time, better than what Old Big ‘Ead did with Nottingham Forest! No it’s not, it’s really not. Winning the league with Leicester, a team bankrolled by billionaires lest we forget, does not even hold a candle to getting Forest promoted, winning the league at the first attempt and then winning back to back European Cups. The idiots in the press need to put their d*cks away and get a grip, hyperbole at its finest!

Listen, I’m all for the league being more competitive and I’m all for it moving away from the ‘who’s got the most money’ contest it has been over the last decade or so. I think it’s great that the football fat-cats are getting a bloody nose from teams with smaller resources, but I just want the media nonsense to stop. We don’t all want them to win it and it is not the greatest thing that has ever happened in sport! They are not even the best team in the league and if they do win it then it will be a terrible indictment of just how piss poor the Premier League really is. For me, that’s not something to celebrate; on the contrary, it’s something to be greatly concerned about!
PG, (although if it wasn’t for the over the top media love-in I would probably still be rooting for them to be honest) Liverpool


Leicester observations
Last night was excruciating to watch, I’ve become so used to seen such fluid and dynamic football from us on the break that it was a bit of a surprise that they had regressed to a mid-table, scrappy side that, in all honesty, I thought was our best hope at the start of the season. Still, we won and ‘that’s what champions do’.

I hadn’t thought about who could have been man of the match until they announced that it was awarded to Danny Drinkwater on the screen and I had to spend a few moments thinking if a) they had been watching the same game as me and b) maybe my football knowledge aint all that.

In the end I thought Drinkwater played at a much lower level than he has done recently, but still managed to cover most of the field. I do doubt his England credentials though but would love to see him given a chance, even though I would much rather he put his feet up this summer in readiness for our European campaign next year (oh hark at me and my presumption!).

Kante was also below his best but he really is a beast of a man and was the difference again. What I find phenomenal is his balance. He seems to be able to stay on his feet no matter what the situation or size of the opposition unfortunate enough to be within his ‘personal space’. So not only does he dispossess his man, but he can then take advantage of the situation and mount an attack, when many other players will only be able to do the first part before ending up on the floor from their exertions.

I think a two horse race assessment is fair enough. But I still hold back from declaring we can win it. I was reminded this morning that Liverpool blew their title challenge in 13/14 despite having a 5 point lead with 3 to play. We have the same lead but with 8 to play. It’s not over yet by any means.

Ooooh, we have had our first hate mail this morning! Does this mean we are now officially a ‘big club’ and everyone is going to turn on us and rejoice in our failures when we ‘only’ finish 9th next year and get thrashed in the Champions League? I’ll play my part and be ready with my sense of entitlement in the mailbox too next season.

Palace will be tougher than their placing belies, I think a draw there will be a good result and another step closer to the holy grail.
Rob (If the table is lying then she can fool me all day baby), Leicester


It ain’t over ’til it’s over
Sorry Carra, Koeman, but there is no way the title race is definitely down to two. It is quite conceivable that Leicester could lose their next match (Palace are due a win, sods law it happens now) and get zero points from their last 3 games. Spurs also could get less than 3pts in their last 3 games (includes their nemesis Chelsea, and a potentially rejuvenated relegation-fighting Rafa). Admittedly Arsenal and City don’t currently look like capitalising on any slips (groan), but they still can, and if they win the majority of their remaining games then the title is ‘up for grabs’. Brian. The 2013 – 2014 season end is a case in point.

Sure, the odds are in their favour and I really hope one of them does it,especially Leicester, but just wait and see.

Citizen Smike you are way too harsh you miserable bugger. Doesn’t matter whether Leicester are considered lucky, and you don’t like them. Chances are that this is a one-off season, and in future the champions will revert to one of the ‘Big’ teams (and no, I am not saying that includes us, although I have to have hope). How can you not be happy that some fans have a chance to experience unexpected joy which will keep them on a high the whole summer, indeed years to come. And surely most people could not begrudge Ranieri, or ‘Poch’ , a moment of glory.
Mike (sorry Rafa, wanted you to lose) Woolrich, LFC


I’d also like to praise Name Witheld’s column. It was well written, informative and generated several interesting points and ideas that others ran with in this morning’s mailbox. It’s something that that has been increasingly bothering me in football (not sure if behaviour is getting worse or I’m just getting older) and I’ve thought often about what could be done.

First of all, let’s talk rugby. I’m not going to go with the holier-than-footballers approach some do in their praise of rugby, because the reason for better behaviour in is very simple. As a child, when you start playing, if you say one word to the ref about a penalty, the penalty is moved back 10. If you complain about a decision to award a scrum, it becomes a penalty. Territory is everything in rugby, so those 10 mentres make a big difference (indecently, this is why this sanction would be less effective in football. Would a player really care about a free kick moving from 60 yards away to 50 yards away?). You learn very quickly to keep your mouth shout.

There needs to be a complete overhaul in football to address this, but it has to be done gradually. If you suddenly start sending off every player who swears at the ref (as the case should be) the game will go into meltdown. So what should be done? Here’s my plan.

Start with the professionals. People, especially children, copy what they see. If we get the pros to stop, it will have an impact. There needs to be sanctions that fans can get on board with, that players will not enjoy. So let’s fine them. Any player that is disrespectful to the ref is fined a weeks wages and the money goes to grassroots football. No fan is going to care about millionaires losing money but the players surely will. At the same time, in under 16’s football. Strictly enforce footballs current dissent laws.

Over time, this should see a reduction in dissent. When this happens, start to strictly enforce the rules with reds and yellows. A yellow card for dissent. Foul language aimed at the referee is a red. Leave it be for a few years and see how it goes. After fans have been watching for a number of years hopefully we will see a change at grassroots level.

When the time is right, start to enforce these laws across all levels of football. These changes might be hard, but as we have heard they are necessary. Worth a try surely?
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Much apathy should be afforded to referees. It’s a double edged sword.

Assisting a friend to referee under age games 15yrs ago, after one particularly bad game he told me; If I don’t allow them to play the English way, everything goes t*ts up.

I was reminded of this recently during a Liverpool game. Your typical English ref, allows pushing/pulling/kicking while missing the ball, late tackles all day (Sometimes without even a free being awarded), over aggressive play, spit and blood and all that malarkey until finally he actually blows the whistle for a foul that would normally be a yellow card on the continent. He only gave a free kick but cue the whole support base of Liverpool collectively losing their cool, baying for blood due to this farcical decision by the man in black.

I felt for the Liverpool supporters, and the referee. He set out his stall, basically saying you can kick seven shades of manure out of each other, but when he actually does his job and calls a foul (Probably a subconscious malfunction of the brain), the mentally of the nation is against him because let’s face it, our beautiful game isn’t exactly about finesse, class or technique.

If a young referee tries to implement the rules of the game correctly, he’s already on a hiding to nothing with our national mentality. Simpler to let the big kids bully the small skilful ones, let them kick and run in swarms. The parents love it, as we all do. It also would explain why so many senior referees referee the way they do.
Assistant name withheld


I agree with the mails from Dan and Brian regarding the drastic action needed to change the culture of referee respect. Dan is being pessimistic, but probably honest, and if that’s true then it’s such a shame because it would absolutely be possible and I don’t think would take all that long to change.

I’m a Grade 1 teacher. Now I know the ideal teaching environment is to create a respectful and safe environment where children feel valued blah blah blah but at the end of the day the way you get 25 7 year olds to behave in a classroom is through carrots or sticks. When I first started out I tried carrots – all sorts of rewards and positive reinforcement and restorative conversations etc – but by the end of term the kids still wouldn’t shut up or listen or do their work. So I decided the following term I would try the stick. So every time one of the kids broke our class expectations, just a little, (seeing as you can’t use real sticks any more) they would have something they wanted taken away. At first there was outrage from the kids, but consistently doing it every single time someone was slightly out of line meant in a couple of days their behaviour became impeccable. I’m still hard on them but being consistent for those few days meant I’ve been able to soften and enjoy the class a bit more as they know what to expect.

Now like it or not, footballers are like Grade 1 children. At the moment the carrots (Respect campaign, public image etc.) are not enough to stop the behaviour. So as was suggested, the best course of action is to actually carry out the actions outlined in the rulebook and every time someone shows dissent, book them. Seriously, do it. Announce at the start of next season that the whole refereeing body will be consistently hard on this rule, make sure the referees do it and I guarantee you’d see the behaviour change after a week or two. Sure you might have a couple of games that finish 6 v 7, the FA might not allow it as Dan suggests and referees may become public enemy number 1 even more than they already are, but the behaviour would stop. Then you can rebuild with the expectations in place.

I dislike referees as much as the next guy and they have absolutely been at fault for every point Everton has ever dropped, but I dislike entitled, disrepectful footballers more. This needs to happen.
Will (don’t know if I actually made a point in all that) Wymant, EFC


Is that all we have?
Following on from Tom, Manchesters mail about British managers and the pressure put on them to succeed, it made me think about the England manager position and the whole new f*ck show the F.A are entering into.

It has been widely reported that Roy Hodgson will be stepping down after Euro 2016. Its also pretty safe to say the new manager coming in will simply have to be British ( So the press can include Martin O’Neill / B-Rodg / David Moyes etc in the discussion to fill their pages). So lets look at the potential candidates assuming they start the role after Euro’s:

Brendan Rodgers – 1 strong season with Liverpool shows he could get most out of team in relatively short time frame. Not currently in a job so would be cheap for F.A. the role may become available too soon and could benefit from rebuilding at another club first.

Gary Neville – Struggling at Valencia and is not a good audition for the national team role. Unlikely to continue after this season so is available. Great leader and captain on the pitch. Once again, opportunity may come too soon in his coaching career

Alan Pardiola – Starts off season/qualifying campaign well. Confidence in team high. Once get to ‘business end’ / ‘The finals’, monumentally crumble. Hes basically doing the job now. Of all the candidates, Pards is the one I can see being ran out of town the quickest by the media. Will get the best out of an average set of players however which is where England currently are.

Eddie Howe – Genuine contender for manager of the year this season and would love to see him move up. Burnley will always be a blip on his CV and has not proved himself anywhere else. May be the case of ‘hand in glove’ perfect fit between club and manager and he is clearly conscious of the grass not being greener on t’other side.

Gareth Southgate – Strong start to U-21 role. CV (do managers have CV’s?) Still scarred somewhat by Middlesbrough and win percentage of just 29%. May look to bring through youth but so has Hodgson and that only lasts for so long before the media starts demanding results.

Sam Allardyce – Just when you thought there was no joy left in the national team. Would be able to organise the team but the F.A will ruin the Wembley pitch again by holding MMA triple threat matches to make some money to cover the empty seats not taken at every England match that Big Sam is watching over.

The above are the top 6 according to a well-known betting website. There’s also Sean Dyche, Garry Rowett, Steve Bruce, John Terry and even Curbs. An interesting but not overall inspiring list. There are simply not enough British coaches at the top level. I also believe there are not enough British managers interested in taking on the England role which should be considered the pinnacle of a coaching career.

Oh well, ‘Arry will lead us to glory in Russia.
Martyn, MUFC, Manchester


Wenger leaving now would be a disaster
Stories abound of Wenger considering his position; perhaps they are supposed to appease the fans and scare the players into performing. Who knows. The reality is, Wenger leaving this year would be an absolute disaster, one that for which he and the board are entirely responsible. Think about it. What would he be leaving? a team with absolutely no confidence, the only two “top, top quality” players considering their future, and a brand of football that has resulted in the very name of the team becoming a verb meaning any one of “choking, bottling, nearly men, glorious failure, sterile domination, or, (as BFG put it), playing and playing and playing until the opposition scores.” True, his legacy also includes a 60k seat stadium and loads of cash in the bank (and both past and recent trophies) but how much will that matter when the team drops out of the top 4, corporate seat sales wither and tv revenues are more evenly shared among all the teams. Kroenke and the board should be terrified. Ferguson left on a high but nevertheless, look at the impact on United’s revenues and share price from their failures on the pitch. Arsenal barely make half the commercial/sponsoring revenue that United earns. If they lose Champion’s League and stadium revenue, they will be in real trouble. Having said all that, odds are this will come to pass no matter when Wenger leaves. So it is like that age old question: do you rip the plaster off the skin or peel it slowly. Either way, it is going to hurt, a lot.
Townsend (Arsenal fan who thinks our business model is in dire shape)


Toon thoughts
* We played ok last night, but I think there is a bit of a blinkered view over McLaren’s ill-fated time as our manager. We weren’t always terrible, but we could never seem to get a result. Which is what happened last night too.
* We are too prone to making more mistakes than our opponents in every game, that is what will get us relegated. And we can’t seem to score either.
* Very much like our American cousin in this morning’s mailbox, I too dislike Leicester. But I dislike any team that Newcastle are competing against.
* Seemingly the Foxes have been naughty with FFP…they learned that from the big boys.
* Our game against the Mackums on Sunday is going to be so tense. Even more so for me as the good lady wife is close to dropping our first born…which might help me take my mind from the nerve shredding anticipation. My main concern is that I might have to leave St James in a hurry and it might look like I’m sneaking off.
* I think Big Sam will set up not to get beat. All he has to do is match us result for result and they will stay up. He will be ******* insufferable if they win.
* I believe the pleural is scrotai.
* It would be nice if the referees were allowed to ‘go nuclear’ for a few weeks to enforce the laws of the game. The clubs and players can p*ss and moan all they like, without a ref, they can’t play.
* I would also like to see the rule about ‘raising your hands’ changed. Just let them go at it ice hockey/MMA style. If some soft ar*e is rolling about on the floor because someone wafted their man-bun, get them in a choke hold.
* Whatever a commentator says that they ‘don’t want to see that in the game’, I defiantly do, especially streakers.
Paul, Newcastle


Curse you Mr Storey for getting ”I Believe in Miracles” chorus stuck in my head on a 10 second loop.
Dale (LUFC need a miracle)


FA Cup draw
This year’s FA Cup semi-final draw was arguably more interesting than many of the recent past. All five teams will have been looking at who was left and fancying their chances of winning the whole thing. There was no obvious easy draw, but there’s also no team who look so good that defeating them was beyond the realm of possibility.

Having seen the draw, I’m hoping for a repeat of the 1984 FA Cup final, for two reasons:

*Everton’s team that day was one of the most PFM of all time, with Reidy in midfield and Andy Gray up top.

*Before the season started, I sent this to the mailbox amongst my “predictions”, which F365 described as “amusing” and “quite good”:

“As part of the build-up to Watford’s first FA Cup final appearance for over 30 years, they arrange for someone to “white up” as Michael Barrymore”

The literary Ed Quoththeraven


Don’t forget little Yeovil
There’s been a lot of talk on F365 recently about the lack of English managers (or lack of good ones), but I want to single out one new English manager for praise: Yeovil Town’s Darren Way.

Three seasons ago, Yeovil were in the Championship — an extraordinary achievement for a small club from Somerset that spent the first 100 years of its existence outside the Football League. But it proved to be a case of flying too close to the sun, with Yeovil crashing down to earth, Icarus-like.

The club were relegated from the Championship, and in the following season, parted company with Gary Johnson, the manager who guided them to such lofty heights. (By the way, he took over at Cheltenham Town, who are now top of the Conference — Johnson is one of the most under-rated managers in the English game).

Despite making a change, Yeovil finished dead last in League One. Paul Sturrock was brought in at the end of that campaign, and given carte blanche to rebuild the squad. He did a dismal job, and Yeovil have spent most of this season languishing in the League Two drop zone. Eventually, the club were forced to sack Sturrock, but instead of turning to Terry Skiverton, the assistant manager and club legend who has been caretaker twice without much distinction, the club turned to Darren Way, who has long been “number three” at the club.

Way’s appointment has been a textbook case of someone taking their chance when it was given. He immediately injected a sense of purpose to the club, bringing together a disparate bunch of summer signings. He did enough in his first few weeks to be given the job on a permanent basis, and since then he has dragged the club off the foot of the table, and almost to a position of safety. All the while, he has injected a sense of positivity to a club that had been on course for three consecutive relegations and a return to non-league football.

As a former number three coach at a small club, and without an illustrious playing career (he played 230 times for Yeovil before his career was ended by a car crash), Way will never have the profile and experience considered necessary for a big job. Yeovil will likely remain a League Two club for the years to come, flirting occasionally with relegation to the Conference or promotion to League One. It’s just a small club with a small ground in a small town, and no one pays much attention to what happens there. Darren Way may, if he continues to do good work, get the chance to move up the ladder. But if someone like Gary Johnson, who took Yeovil miraculously to the Championship, is forced to go into the Conference for his next role, you can see the glass ceiling in action.

Rather than bemoaning the lack of English managers in the Premier League, I think we should acknowledge that there are fine managers outside of it, and that a manager can make a huge difference to a club, and a community, outside of the Premier League. The Premier League isn’t the be all and end all (although I bloody love it) in this country — we have a footballing pyramid that is unrivaled anywhere in the world, and we should celebrate it more.

Come on you Glovers,
Charlie, Somerset


Big Jan’s big lost goal
Your lovable chubsters article inspired me to share a story about big Jan Molby. Plenty of Liverpool fans will be familiar with it, but it deserves a wider audience. (Unless it’s actually really well known, in which case this won’t get published and I’m essentially talking to myself).

In the mid 80s, Molby scored a wonder goal against Man Utd that entered fan folklore, such was its brilliance. The only problem was that his crackerjack came slap bang in the TV strike of 1985. There were no recordings or replays to marvel at, no Jimmy Hill to wax lyrical on the highlights, leaving only eye-witness reports to go on. Football fans aren’t noted for their subjectivity, and with each retelling, Molby picked up the ball a few yards closer to his own goal line, dribbled past a few more hapless Mancunians, and rifled the ball into the net from further and further out. I heard it described by old stalwarts of the Kop in the 90s, and it sounded to me like a glorious hybrid of Maradona against England and Barnes vs Brasil.

Such a tragedy that the goal was lost forever. Except that it wasn’t. One of the United staff had recorded the game for coaching purposes and had it all on tape. My favourite part of the story is that the tape wasn’t lost in some dusty, forgotten corner of Old Trafford. The United staff had given it to Molby as a memento of the strike, whereupon the big Dane deliberately kept schtum and allowed the story to grow and grow (no doubt helping it along with the occasional anecdote).

All the while, the great lost goal was on a VHS in big Jan’s loft, maturing like a fine wine. I was almost disappointed when he finally gave in a few years back and aired it (I seem to remember they even had a dinner at Anfield for the premiere!). It was, in fairness, a bloody good goal, and the fact that Molby kept it hidden all those years whilst inwardly laughing at us all is what makes him a proper loveable fatty.

See for yourself:
Pete, (I picture a forlorn Jimmy Hill analysing the window cleaners to his bored wife during that TV strike) Singapore


You too, fat man
Add Diego Maradona to your top ten list of chubbies and you have a starting eleven. I would call them either Tottenham Chubster or Chub Brugge, although I’m sure mailboxers could come up with better names. Imagine the disappointment on their faces of only having oranges at half time. “We thought it was going to be the chocolate one”. Lovely.

Speaking of chubbies, how sexy was Shinji Okazakis goal last night? That was cause for a chubby. Too much info, sorry.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool


I really enjoyed your article about the top 10 footballing chubby funsters, particularly the natural number 1 – Ronaldo.

Every now and then footage pops up of him playing in a charity match or testimonial, and even though he looks like a walrus and his knees are made of Jacob’s cream crackers, he’s STILL quicker over 5 yards than anyone around him. He’s the kind of guy you’d see pitch up for a game of 5-a-side, let you have a little laugh with your mates about how you’re going to ruin tubby over there, and by hlaf time has scored 15 times and you’re wondering what the hell happened. Legend
Pierre, LFC (Bristol)


Gotze gold
“It is yet to be proven that Mario Gotze is not a chipmunk.“
Yorkie (lfc)


Mediawatch: Painfully funny
“Scrota? Scortae?” Ouch, that’s funny.
Matt Carr, Spurs, Durham NC

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