Mails were a bit thin on the ground. Come on people, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Real men don’t play injured
Reading the ever-excellent Mediawatch today, I was reminded of a bit on Dennis Bergkamp’s book in which he discusses how he approached being injured. Basically he decided that he knew his body and if he felt a twinge, a pull or a strain he would tell the medical staff not to play. At the time this was more fuel to the fire with the coverage of these fancy lad foreigners coming over and being a bit precious but he retired in 2006 as one of the leagues greatest ever players.
In England we (the general ‘we’) always seem to value ‘commitment’ and ‘heart’ over anything else. If you have a central defender who can play with a leg amputed at the hip at half-time and a bandage around his head, you have a club legend and automatic membership to the next AGM of the PFM Club. Not wanting to seem soft and playing through injury or fatigue has thoroughly broken some wonderful English players over the years. Owen was broken by 26, King couldn’t train between games, Woodgate was ruined etc. Even more recent examples like Wilshere haunt Arsenal’s very corridors.
It’s never going to change (see the histrionics when Sterling said he was a bit fatigued) and young English footballers will be encouraged/pressured into putting their long-term careers at risk as long as the media peedles this particular idiocy. If Ozil is smart enough to know when he is in danger and alert the club staff who then the staff make the decision not to risk him the only reaction should be a nod of acknowledgment for a professional helping other professionals
do their job. Especially at Arsenal!
Dan (Would thoroughly recommend Bergkamp’s book to anyone who hasn’t read it)
Van Gaal is just a slightly better ‘Arry
There was an interesting line in the Winners and Losers piece, that triggered something to click. I contend that Van Gaal may just be a slightly better Redknapp (without car window interviews).
‘…you wonder what United would have achieved had the manager not picked players outside their most natural positions.’
So far, this is the story of LvG’s reign. Wingers at full-back, full-backs/midfielders in defence, Fellaini on the pitch, Herrera underused, Mata used as a winger…
4-4-2 suits the majority of the team, but unfortunately doesn’t give protection to the weak defence. I really can’t hope enough that we bring in a centre-back so everyone can go back to their natural positions. It will literally take one decent player there. Blind can play to his strengths and cover Shaw, Darmian and Young can mix in at right (depending on the opponent), and our midfield can settle to the most obvious pair of Schneiderlin and Herrera (or Mata, depending on opponent). That leaves us with wingers on the wing, and Martial paired with Rooney up front as the two obvious strikers who are already building an understanding.
So how does that make Van Gaal like Redknapp? When ‘Arry was at Spurs, he briefly settled on the winning formula and it was all spinning brilliantly away for a CL place. Then a key injury struck, but rather than just play someone weaker in that spot, everyone across the team was moved slightly out of their natural position. As a result, the wheels came off. Additionally when he did move away from that formula, he didn’t seem to know how to correct the deficiencies in defence or attack.
I don’t really mind, just please sign a decent centre-back so we can paper over the cracks.
Rooney: Like Miss World 1970
Eddie’s email is basically something I’d write in if I could be bothered to think it through first and eloquently write it.
Van Persie used to give Rooney a lesson in receiving the ball with his back to a defender, dropping a shoulder and turning his man leaving him for dead. Rooney prefers the turn and get the ball taken off your foot like an amateur approach. If you seek out old games on YouTube (MUTV always show 30 min highlights of old games so I’ve seen a lot) of what Rooney was like in his first few years – you realise he doesn’t do anything that made him special. No pace, he doesn’t drive through three defenders, he can’t dribble past them, doesn’t play fast football.
He used to have invention in his play, now he’s as basic as you can get. Always cuts inside (across) which the defender usually reads, likes to ping a pass – which is great – but not when he’s a striker. And he proved he can’t play midfield last season – he isn’t technical or intelligent. He was all about being gung-ho, head down and blitz through. The only thing he has been good at since I started writing in slagging him off in 2009/2010 is score a goal in an isolated moment – and he doesn’t do that often enough any more. Rating Rooney today is like still fancying Miss World 1970 because she still has a big pair of tits.
Fair play to him for notching in a few goals, but so does Jermain Defoe – why all the fuss?
Silvio (Guy S must work as Rooney’s PR man. Out of the woodwork as soon as he gets a whiff of a discussion) Dante
Rooney: Not in good shape
Quite an interesting mail on Rooney this morning. Some of it does make sense but I think it is probably more down to his style of play than him being scared of taking a hit. Rooney is definitely on the ‘Wayne’ (I will get my coat) but I think it is more down to the fact that considering he is a professional footballer he is in pretty bad shape.
The youthful exuberance which he has when he first burst onto the scene has long gone and he has had to try and adapt his game but the main problem with this is he doesn’t have the necessary fitness to be a box-to-box player. Everyone jokes about Rooney being out of shape etc and compared to most men down the pub he is in pretty good nick. But when you understand he has the best sports scientists and training facilities at his disposal and he still looks a bit round around the edges it is pretty inexusable.
I can’t help but think that if he looked after himself a bit better we would still be seeing peak Rooney instead of this guy who scores the odd penalty or lashes in a ball that has dropped at his feet. I don’t mean to Rooney bash as I have always been a fan of his style of play, but for the amount of money he earns and considering how short the career of a footballer is, he isn’t doing it the smart way.
Around 20 years ago I visited the players lounge at West Ham to get some pictures with my heroes Julian Dicks and John Moncur. Both of them had fags in hand and pints on the go straight after a game which I think was pretty much the norm in those days. But that era is long gone and current professionals can’t keep that lifestyle if they want a career that is long and successful.
Is Mignolet the worst in the Premier League?
Watching Mignolet ship the 427th soft goal of his shortish Anfield career at the weekend I shook my head when I remembered he has inexplicably just been handed a five-year deal. I am surprised he didn’t drop the f*cking pen behind himself or go to ground uneccesarily early as the contract sailed over his head. Seriously, he single handedly cost us three points against the Gooners and one against the Mancs.
Those points might well have masked shortcomings in the squad but when one player is the reason why so many draws become defeats and wins draws it makes my blood boil. I challenge anyone to draw up a list of five worse keepers in the PL. Feel free to extend it out to the Champo if necessary. Beyond his penalty-saving debut I cannot think of one game where he has postively influenced the result. Quite the opposite in fact and can recount his litany of errors in stark relief. I thought the nadir was giving away the free-kick that led to Bordeaux’s goal after holding onto it for 20 secs but Simon really showcased his talents by falling under Rooney’s rising drive and getting beaten at his near post by Ramsey. It’s schoolboy errors. Nay, it’s worse than that. He’s just sh*t.
I started following Liverpool back in the late 70s (yes, yes, original glory hunter) and have seen all our keepers live home and away since and can confidently say he is the worst Liverpool keeper I have ever seen. Even Calamity put in the odd decent shift! How has this nincompoop managed 15 clean sheets in ’15? Westerveld and the others seemed to have very decent spells before their form fell of the edge of the cliff whereas this guy started poorly and has gotten steadily worse. And at £9m he was until recently in the top ten most expensive keepers of all time…
How good of Butland to put in such a good performance and I can but hope we sent someone along to watch our rivals play so well, even bereft of Shaqiri. Still, we’ve not done too well out of bying England’s next big thing: James, Kirkland, Carson spring to mind.
I bet Jasmien Claes never let this idiot carry her over the threshold! I’d love to have a good go on that nose…actually, looks like quite a few have been there already. If he did boxing when younger I bet he was sh*t at that too!
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
Who is tainted like Monreal?
Following the great news today that Nacho Monreal has signed a new contract at Arsenal I thought I’d write in on an issue that keeps happening with him.
It’s no secret that Monreal was at best an average full-back during his 12-18 months at the club and regularly received (deserved) criticism from Arsenal fans and rival fans alike. But following his spell as a CB during the first part of last season, he has been nothing short of fantastic for Arsenal, putting in consistent performances on a weekly basis. He has emerged as an unsung hero at Arsenal and has arguably been the club’s most consistent player since the start of 2015. Yet despite this, the opinions formed of him from fans two years ago still stick with him today. A number of rival fans still consider him rubbish and a weak link in the Arsenal defence, which is simply no longer true.
So I wondered were there any players at rival clubs who still get branded with certain opinions by rival fans when its clear those views are no longer true?
Dele Alli vs Wilshere
Dele Ali has a long way to go before being in Wilshere’s class. Wilshere might be an annoying player both on and off the pitch but when he plays he’s excellent. He’s been MOTM in five of England’s last six games that he played. He has the most assists and even has two or three goals to his name during that period. All that while playing in the withdrawn ‘Pirlo’ role. You can’t argue with those stats. Dele Ali has had a good start to his Prem and England career but Darren Walsh’s comment about pointing and laughing is premature to say the least. Plenty of players have had good starts to their careers then fizzled out once they get to a certain age or standard.
Steve (AFC), (What next? Eriksen better than Ozil?), Cricklewood
A Chelsea dream debut
My dad gave a speech at a wedding last year in which he reckoned the key to a good marriage is sharing the things you love with the one you love. Ignoring the fact he’s on his second marriage for the time being, I dutifully took him at his word and bought my girlfriend a Chelsea membership so she could see what all the fuss was about. Luckily for her, Saturday was her first match and f*ck me was it a good one.
With the three pints of cider I forced down her at midday having had the desired effect, her normal indifference to all things Chelsea was replaced with vague intrigue as I gave a quick run down of the sh*tshow that is Chelsea’s season on the way to the ground (she found it particularly funny that Chelsea had bought the new Drogba and then sold him). Safely to Stamford Bridge sans hiccup, disaster struck as soon as we reached the turnstile and she managed to void her ticket putting it in the scanner too soon. Although her eagerness was encouraging, we missed the kick’off and had to do the ‘sorry mate’ sideways shuffle to our seats in the Matthew Harding.
Now my biggest fear going in was a flat 0-0 and with nothing to show at halftime I was beginning to sweat. Luckily for me, John Terry also realised the game was lacking drama and decided to turn one into his own net as a personal favour. However, it was at 0-2 down that she really got a taste of what it’s like to be a Chelsea fan nowadays with players looking bereft of confidence, fans calling each other out and a growing feeling that you might just be about to witness a titanic thrashing.
Like much of this season however, only when we went behind did the home fans begin to galvanise around the team and with carefree ringing round the ground, Chelsea managed to roar (bundle) their way back into the game. If I hadn’t already lost my voice by the time Everton took the lead again, watching a centre-back snatch redemption with a last-gasp back-heel with the last kick of the game would surely have done. Admist the sheer bedlam that followed that ball bobbling over the line I caught sight of my girlfriend getting the full I’ve-just-lost-my-mind-must-grab-nearest-person-and-scream-in-their-face treatment from the blokes behind us.
Suffice to say she had a cracking time at a game with more drama than a Jane Austen box set. Only downside being she maintains she could never bring herself to support Chelsea because, well, you know.
PS. Quote of the match: “Why didn’t he want to pass to his friend?”
Football game corner
I have long been a huge fan of Championship Manager and then later Football Manager. Yes I have explored other management games, the FIFA offering springs to mind. It was great fun to see you training complexes and club shops built, however in the head (where these games are really played) it never felt quite real.
Over the years I have developed special relationships with many players from various incarnations of the game, most notably Simon Karkov, Jamie Moralee and Anthony Vanden Borre. However, this love affair all began with Premier Manager.
I made Bolton Wanderers the best team in Europe. Players only occassionaly retired. This was announced on the fax machine icon and they always retired to run a country pub. The other way you lost players was if they were struck by lightening and died. That was pretty grim.
Premier Manager set the benchmark that Championship Manager built on.
Ben (Boing Boing)
…A bit late to the party, but can I commend Daniel Storey on his top 10 football computer games list. The stand-outs for me were FIFA 98 RTWC and Championship Manager 01/02 (deservedly number one).
After years of not playing any football management game, I recently jumped through the multiple hoops required to install CM 01/02 on a modern PC. Once working, I set out to ‘Gegenpress’ my way to the SPL and break the duopoly in Scotland, and within seven seasons, I took Queen of the South to the title, which brought about the Champions League and our famous night in the Camp Nou.
I couldn’t top that season, so I left for Crystal Palace and watched from afar as David Moyes took charge and wrecked everything I had built over 10 years (in his turbulent eighteen-month spell at Palmerston Park), before fleeing to Gillingham.
Michael (not even surprised), CFC
Clearly, the greatest football game ever was Emlyn Hughes International Soccer on the Commodore 64.
The beauty of this game started even before you played.
If it actually fully loaded, you were already a winner.The loading process was three minutes and you and you had three possible outcomes. 1. The game with a few bugs. 2. The game. 3 A screen with word ‘ready’ and a flashing cursor.
The last option was the least f**king desirable and would require potentially multiple reloads after blowing on the TDK 90 cassette and cassette machine. This method was also effective with cartridge games btw.
The game itself was a triumph for diversity. Each player was identical, and presumably modeled on the man himself, although skin colour was indeed darkened for countries such as Oman or Qatar which to the average 8-year-old kid in the 80s were countriesclearly created for the game and didn’t actually exist.
Whole tournaments could be won by scoring exactly the same goal. Hold the shoot button,r un from the halfway line to about 40 yards out, just inside the post, release the button and shoot. Guaranteed goal.
Great memories. Sh*t graphics.
…Can I just ask why none of the Fifa games were included on your list Daniel Storey?
Either you deemed it as so far ahead of the rest that it was unfair to include it, or else you’ve tried your best to come across as some kind of football gaming hipster/nostalgist/snob?
Seriously, there is a reason that it is the most played football game. It’s simply the best by miles. I really don’t want to appear like a games console geek, I liked playing FIFA with the lads in college and don’t play it anymore, but I would really like to know the actual reason for its omission?
(The actual reason, Paddy, is that it clearly says we have chosen one from each series. And Daniel chose FIFA Road to World Cup 98 – Ed)