Well done people. The north London derby is almost upon us. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Is hoofball England’s best chance?
Whilst watching England park the bus against Germany and Brazil, I wondered if this is actually the best chance we have of winning the World Cup. With everybody getting so excited about our youngsters as they ran about with such enthusiasm, I could help thinking that we lost shape in midfield and simply put more pressure on our young defence. Therefore, shouldn’t we give up the likes of those lightweight fly by night players like Alli and Sterling and Lallana, encourage the likes of Livermore and Dier to work more closely as a unit, set up as 5-4-1 and then just hoof it to Harry?? When he tires, we can simply sub on Crouchy and Vardy and look for knock downs from even bigger Harry Maguire hoofs??
Come to think of it, Tony Pulis will surely be out of work soon, couldn’t we ask him to come in on some sort of consultancy role for young Gareth?? Seems to work for Jose, we should try it.
Tim ‘Wenger Out (I know this isn’t about that, but I’ll keep pushing)’ Benson, Bedfordshire
PS. If you think we really have a chance to win the World Cup, you can still get 20\1. For those of you not used to betting terms, this simply means that if you put £10 on England, you will lose £10.
Don’t diss Dier
‘He played, he captained, and they didn’t concede’… you are aware that this was Germany and Brazil, right? And he’s been consistently excellent for Spurs wherever he’s played for the past two years, notably against Real Madrid twice? He’s exceptionally versatile, very tactically aware, adds a real determination and is obviously an influential figure in the dressing room, so there’s no need to be quite so resentful of praising an obviously talented player. Utterly nonplussed at the sobbing.
Besides, if Southgate has any sense, he plays Dier at CB with Winks in DM as Pochettino did vs Real.
Alex G, THFC
Where is England’s golden triangle?
So who can be our Sami Khedira, Tony Kroos, Ozil golden triangle in Russia? These are the three positions most important to our future success I´d say.
Are there any in the non senior teams that can play a Sami Khedira role? I’d heartily agree than Jordan Henderson needs to be dropped or tried further forward. Dier isn’t quite good enough yet is getting picked due to very little else being up to it. Perhaps we ought to experiment with some players being flexible.
Could Stones and Alli form a partnership in front of a back three with maybe Eric Dier moving into the back three?
What do Tottenham/City fans think? Can Lallana or Sterling be the key magician/creator? Or are Winks/RLC/Delph more likely? Has Chalobah got a shout?
Maybe the managers at club level can weave some triangular gold for England.
Peter (which donkey will win the derby). Andalucia
A tongue-in-cheek idea
An idea to help enjoy everyone the international breaks…
England only choose players that have played less than 50 club games. Win/win for everyone involved I’d say.
PLAYERS – These young players get clearly needed competitive football, the experienced ones get to concentrate on what they actually care about – Money.
CLUBS – The PL gets to continue rugby style, big winner here as I can’t stand the international break. (although you know they’d just have a 39th game or something.)
THE FA – Clubs trying to develop and play English players as they are more guaranteed to be available and not be called away to an International team.
ENGLAND – The England players are better rested because they aren’t playing 40+ club games a year.
FANS – England have proved we can be mediocre with or without Kane, Alli, Cahill, Rooney so who gives a damn. We’ll still beat Lichtenstein and qualify for most tournaments anyway. Also, as stated above, no international break.
Fool proof plan I’d say…
Aston Taylor (CFC) – Anyone know a good sarcasm font?
On the James McClean issue
As I sit scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed observing the reaction to the Rep. of Ireland’s hammering , I notice many of the football news pages have picked up James McClean’s emotional interview after the game.
My attention is immediately drawn to the comments of hatred and abuse towards him, comments who I can almost guarantee are from the same fans who boo him continuously during club games. Every time he touches the ball, is tackled or his name mentioned, boos and abuse ring out from every set of opposition fans. This has happened for as long as he’s played for WBA (No doubt Wigan and Sunderland too)
Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind a bit of booing every now and then, and James is a player who plays on the edge, but it’s the clear reasoning behind this hatred and booing towards McClean that really annoys me, his failure to wear a poppy.
If these ignorant people that hate him so much and hurl abuse at him, actually researched why he doesn’t wear a poppy they might, just might, change their opinion of a man that does countless work for charities and the less privileged which most media outlets can’t seem to see. He has outlined his decision not to wear a poppy, and I have the utmost respect for this decision.
Darragh Martin WBA (Stand up for what you believe in even if it means standing alone)
Ireland will not be missed
The World Cup is poorer without Ireland according to Adam L. Yup, we’ll miss those long balls, elbows and dreary football. How will we all cope without a team that scored a massive 13 goals in 12 qualifying games?
Some say it’s a tragedy that Alexis Sanchez won’t be at the World Cup but, surely the greater injustice is that we won’t get to see James McLean light up the world stage? We’ll never know the moments that we might have missed.
Oh wait, it’s the fans I’m supposed to miss? I will grant you the fact that Ireland at a major tournament provide a number of lovable, well-oiled cheeky chappies but if that’s all you’re offering, you can stay at home thanks.
There’s a whole number of countries who’s fans offer “passion”, including the Danish. It’s a bit insulting to say otherwise. I would have missed seeing Christian Erikson at a World Cup. Not seeing Ireland I think I can cope with.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
A French World Cup ladder
After two positive results against Wales and Germany, here is Deschamps’ world cup ladder. Despite being my second one, it is incredibly hard to do these.
1) Griezmann (1): going through a tough time with Atletico, but a great performance and goal against Wales cements his place at #1. The team will be built around him.
2) Lloris (2): Mandanda was pretty good this week, but showed Lloris’ importance this week. If France wants to win the World Cup, it needs a world-class keeper.
3) Varane (5): Solid performances this week, and solidified his place in the starting line up.
4) Koscielny (4): It is hard to predict who will start such a strong team, but the center-halves are near-certain to be the strong Koscielny-Varane partnership.
5) Mbappe (8): Is slowly getting back to his best form after a few tough month. But he look impressive with France this time around with some wonderful assists.
6) Pogba (3): Both Pogba and Kante lost big this week, but there is no way they are not starters in Deschamps’ mind for the World Cup.
7) Kante (7): Reliable, strong, energetic. We will need him in Russia. But Tolisso and Matuidi showed they are ready if he isnt.
8) Matuidi (6): Still strong and was class against Germany, but is not guaranteed a starting spot
9) Giroud (12): Scored against Wales, which is what is asked of him. Might be sweating considering how strong france looked without him in Germany. Lacazette,his replacement for his national and club team also scored two against Germany.
10) Mendy (10): If he comes back, he will start. But pressure is on him considering how well Digne played.
11) Sidibe (11): Jallet didn’t do enough to push him to the side, and Pavard, however brilliant he was, is still not experienced enough to push him out.
12) Lacazette (15): A big winner of this week. Two wonderfully taken goals against Germany. Deschamps is stubborn and will not change his formation, but if he does revert back to a 4-3-3, Lacazette will push Giroud to the bench.
13) Umtiti (16): Continues to impress, and will surely replace Koscielny after the World Cup.
14) Martial (20): Best player on the pitch against germany, had more touches than anyone at half time, and just for that assist should be on the plane to Germany. It is hard to predict who will start on the wings in Russia considering the competition, but he is close to a starting berth.
15) Payet (9): Big loser of this round. While he deadball expertise might bring him to Russia, it is hard to see him start.
16) Mandanda (14): Played ok, but was never going to shake up the goalkeeping dynasty afer 8 years.
17) Tolisso (26): Another big winner, performed admirably and is a great back up in midfield. But once Kante and Pogba are back, he should rejoin the bench… for now.
18) Coman (25): Extremely frustrating player, has that Gervinho effect (will get past his man, then make a meal out of a simple cross/pass). For now is on the plane, until others come back from injury and outperform him.
19) Jallet (18): Solid option for right back, didn’t do much of note this week.
20) Lemar (13): Injuries are hurting his chances, especially the way the competition is for places on this team. But should have enough goodwill (That volley against the Netherlands alone should get him on the plane)
21) Kimpembe (21): Yet to play a single game, but like at PSG, is a great back-up.
22) Areola (22): Deschamps has said time and again who is #1, #2, and #3 keepers are. And that won’t change.
23) Kurzawa (23): His crossing is terrible, but when you score hat-tricks for your club in the Champions League, it is hard to not get selected.
24) Rabiot (17): Controversial as he got some playing time, but Tolisso has leapfrogged him. And if Pogba, Kante and Matuidi are fit, he is the odd man out.
25) Fekir (29): Ligue 1’s player of the month for October and player of the season so far with Cavani and Falcao. Was selected but did not play. But if he keeps playing this way, might replace Payet on the team.
26) Thauvin (19): Keeps getting selected, keeps playing well with his club, but if everyone is fit, I am not sure he comes to Russia.
27) Dembele (24): Another one out injured. Is scheduled to come back in January, but race for competition has already started, and players like Mbappe and Martial look miles ahead right now.
28) Pavard (NE): This one came out of nowhere. Unlucky not to get a goal against Wales, and looked solid against Germany. Is behind Jallet for now, but would not be surprised to see him again for France.
29) Nzonzi (42): Selected and played. Still no chance of him coming back unless injuries occur.
30) Bakayako (30): Nothing much has changed for him. Midfield and attacking places are so competitive, you really need to stand out.
31) Rami (31): Back up to the back ups. Will need a lot of injuries to see him come back..
32) Costil (33): Fourth choice keeper.
33) Augustin (NE): Playing well for Leipzig. Option for the future
34) Amavi (34): Playing well with Marseille, but that is not enough right now.
35) M. Dembele (35): Great potential, but again, needs to move to be considered for France.
36) Laporte (36:) Even with all these injuries, wasnt selected.
37) Sissoko (27): The French team is looking further and further away right now.
38) Corchia (37): Another decent player, but even pavard is ahead of him
39) Gignac (32): Deschamps loves him, but with younger players doing so well, he is far off from the team.
40) Gonalons (38): No real chance with that midfield, even when you play for Roma
41) Cabaye (39): No real chance with that midfield, especially if you play for Crystal Palace.
42) Zouma (40): Not good enough
43) Sakho (41): Talk about having a bad few years.
44) Schnederlin (43): When you are kicked out of practice at Everton, you dont really have a chance with the french team.
45) L. Hernandez (45): One for the future, but not right now.
46) T. Hernandez (46): Maybe the future De Boers, but againt, not right now.
47) Souquet (47): Another potential one, but seems unlikely.
48) Plea (NE): Performing for Nice, but again unlikely.
49) Ben Arfa (49) Rejoins Puel at Leicester, scores 15 goals and gives out 10 assists to lead them to a champions league place. Or not…
50) Nivet (NE): 40 years old and still playing, Absolute legend. Still better chance than Nasri and Benzema.
A Spanish World Cup ladder
After seeing German and Nigerian World Cup ladders this morning I thought I’d have a go with Spain’s. My conclusion is that Spain’s strength in depth is just baffling. I fully expect the order to be disputed but I’m trying to envision what Lopetegui is thinking.
1. Sergio Ramos – central to this team, and the drop in quality to his replacement is worrying. Two goals against Russia indicate he’s the designated penalty taker too.
2. David Silva – simply Spain’s best player. Core of everything good Spain do in attack and has a knack for scoring a lot for the national team. His eye for a pass is vital with all the movement around him in Isco, Morata, Asensio, etc.
3. David De Gea – the heir to Casillas’ throne. When you attack as much as Spain do, you need a reliable keeper. Arguably the best in the world.
4. Isco Alarcon – a joy to watch. Ability to beat a man one on one is unrivalled and is becoming increasingly important to Real Madrid. Undroppable at the moment.
5. Sergio Busquets – shields the defence brilliantly and keeps things ticking over in attack. Essential, and with Iniesta adds experience to a young midfield since the retirements of Xavi and Alonso.
6. Dani Carvajal – Spain are significantly weaker in his absence, as are Real Madrid. With the full backs providing the width for Spain, Carvajal is key, as Azpilicueta doesn’t offer the same in attack, while Juanfran is past it, Odriozola is raw and Sergi Roberto is injured.
7. Andres Iniesta – the grandad of the group, but his skillset is still essential. Will likely retire after the World Cup so will hopefully go out with a bang.
8. Gerard Pique – may not get along with defensive partner Ramos but they form a solid base for Spain to build from and have done since Puyol retired 7 years ago.
9. Jordi Alba – plays as a left wing more than a left back and has a happy habit of scoring for Spain. The emergence of Alberto Moreno and Jose Gaya this season, as well Nacho Monreal will keep him on his toes.
10. Alvaro Morata – the move to Chelsea has done his Spain chances the world of good, and unless Diego Costa explodes on arrival at Atletico in January, Morata will likely start in Russia.
11. Koke – Not a guaranteed starter considering Spain’s options in central midfield but certainly effective and is favoured in big games by Lopetegui.
12. Thiago Alcantara – the heartbeat of Bayern Munich’s team but faces a battle with Koke to start alongside Iniesta and Busquets. A happy problem for any coach to have.
13. Marco Asensio – Spain’s new wonderboy. His breakout season last year was incredible, as were his performances at the U21 championships in the summer. Will be key to Spain for years to come.
14. Cesar Azpilicueta – reliable, versatile defender but doesn’t offer as much going forward as Carvajal or Alba.
15. Pepe Reina – yes, he’s still going. Well liked among the players and a solid keeper to boot. 2nd choice and content
16. Saul Niguez – a growing star. Like Asensio, greatly impressed at the U21 Euros in the summer and is guaranteed to be in the squad, if fit
17. Nacho Fernandez – Real Madrid utility man and back up CB. Solid and reliable, if unspectacular.
18. Asier Illarramendi – returning to Real Sociedad after his nightmare in Madrid has done him the world of good. Unlikely to play in Russia unless a good few ahead of him get injured.
19. Marc Bartra – 4th choice. If he has a great season with Dortmund, he might become 3rd choice.
20. Vitolo – hard worker, needs to hit the ground running when he joins Atletico. Playing in a woeful Las Palmas team isn’t helping his cause.
21. Kepa Arrizabalaga – incredibly talented 3rd choice keeper who will be 2nd choice when Reina eventually retires.
22. Rodrigo – jury still out on him, has a lot of doubters, myself included, but if he continues to score alongside the reborn Zaza at Valencia, he will go to Russia.
23. Nacho Monreal – Solid and versatile, may miss out if Moreno and Gaya continue playing well as they offer more in attack.
24. Diego Costa – hasn’t played since May, hasn’t really played well for Spain yet, needs the half-season of his life to get into a team that is happy to play with no striker.
25. Cesc Fabregas – a stalwart of the Spanish team, but he needs to up his game if he wants to get into a squad littered with quality CMs.
26. Sergi Roberto – currently injured which doesn’t help, nor does the fact Barcelona don’t know if his best position is RB or CM. Good player but needs game time at club level to make the squad.
27. Suso – Liverpool reject, playing well for AC Milan, and if he continues to do so will most certainly challenge Vitolo’s spot.
28. Alvaro Odriozola – in the latest squad, but raw and has a lot of competition at RB.
29. Sergio Rico – good shot stopper but unlikely to make the squad unless there is an injury.
30. Alberto Moreno – unthinkable last season but in the latest squad so is evidently in the manager’s thinking. Good attacker, questionable defender, similar to Alba.
31. Inigo Martinez – needs a quality season with Real Sociedad to force his way into contention. CB for the future.
32. Javi Martinez – oddly been on the fringes for a long time. Injury prone, needs to play more frequently for Bayern.
33. Gerard Deulofeu – disappointed at Everton, flourishing is Dembele’s absence at Barcelona. May not get enough game time to prove his worth when the Frenchman returns to get in Spain’s squad.
34. Pedro Rodriguez – always plays well for Spain. A good season for Chelsea will see him challenge Suso, Deulofeu, Nolito and Callejon for what is currently Vitolo’s place.
35. Dani Ceballos – not playing regularly for Real Madrid, but is a quality player. Another who impressed in the summer, a recent hattrick for his club, and for the U21’s last night will keep him in Lopetegui’s thinking.
36. Raul Albiol – Spain have a lot of decent CBs
37. Luis Alberto – another Liverpool reject excelling in Italy, this time with Lazio. Just got his first call up, but would be a big shock if he made the squad in Russia.
38. Aritz Aduriz – a physical presence and aerial threat and has improved with age. Shouldn’t make the squad but wouldn’t be a huge shock if he does.
39. Iago Aspas – Liverpool reject, again. A goal laden season like last year with Celta will give Aspas hope.
40. Jose Callejon – a key part of Napoli’s fearsome attack, hasn’t had much of a chance with Spain but if Napoli challenge for Serie A, Callejon will be hard for Lopetegui to ignore.
41. Jose Gaya – started this season on fire with Valencia. Has an outside chance if his form continues.
42. Juan Mata – needs to play more to be considered.
43. Lucas Vasquez – see above.
44. Carlos Soler – like Gaya and Rodrigo, has started the season brilliantly for Valencia. One for the future.
45. Diego Llorente – May continue his club partnership with Inigo Martinez for the national team at some point in the future.
46. Nolito – Needs a very big season with Sevilla after the fiasco at Man City.
47. Juanfran – form failing as his advancing years catch up with him.
48. David Villa – Unthinkable that he’s here, but called up to the squad in September so clearly playing in America hasn’t removed him from the manager’s thoughts.
49. Santi Cazorla – would be a huge achievement if he made it considering his injury problems. Another quality midfielder.
50. Victor Valdes.
All hail King Christian
I am very excited that Denmark has qualified for the World Cup. It’s been a while since we last took part.
Last night’s victory was superb, if somewhat surprising to me. We did serve a warning in the 4-0 trouncing of Poland, though I took that as a major blip from Poland. I also thought Ireland would give us a much tougher game last night. I am very happy to be wrong on both counts. In the end the class of Christian Eriksen shone through. He has carried us through this qualification, he must be knackered.
Though it was very necessary to replace dear old Morten Olsen as coach of the team, Åge Hareide had his doubters when he took over. I am include myself amongst those who were less than ecstatic. We started the World Cup qualifiers poorly losing to Poland away and Montenegro at home. Even the following 4-1 win over Kazakhstan felt workmanlike and unconvincing. Then an uninspiring goalless draw in Romania had me thinking we’d blown it. As is our wont. Hareide stuck to his guns and somehow something clicked and last night was the result. He seems to have a good idea of how he wants the team to play and line up. We obviously rely heavily on Christian Eriksen but there are some other good players in the team. Pione Sisto is still a little rough on the edges. He especially needs to work on his decision, but his talent is there for everyone to see. Yussuf Poulsen works hard all day long and has a trick or two up his sleeve. Lord Bendtner is the greatest player of all time (quote: N. Bendtner). Simon Kjær is finally showing what a fine defender he is. Andreas Christensen is an elite level talent and as a Chelsea fan I am so happy that Conte is showing more and more faith in him. He is the future in the heart of the Danish and Chelsea’s defence. Thomas Delaney and William Kvist are not going to set pulses racing but they keep things ticking in midfield allowing Eriksen to roam about. And while Kasper is certainly no Peter Schmeichel, he is a very decent keeper. In all that makes a good spine to the team. It’s probably up front we are lacking. Andreas Cornelius and Nicolai Jørgensen are not good enough and Kasper Dolberg is probably too young to lead the line.
Everyone knows Germany will defend their World Cup. As for Denmark? Given a good group (do us a favour New Zealand and beat Peru, will you?) we’ll likely have a good old time of it next summer.
Martin (Plans of boycotting next year’s World Cup have now been shelved), Danish Chelsea supporter in Zurich, Switzerland
Great defenders who have never played at World Cup please…
A quick World Cup-related game before the mailbox starts looking forward to the return of club football:
What is the best XI you can make of legendary (or at least really successful) players that have never featured at the World Cup finals?
Rules – has to have won silverware with his club team, and has to currently be over the age of 30 (and not qualified for Russia 2018). Bonus points for players who were still active in the last 20 years (so that there’s a chance I could have at least seen them play).
I would have a go myself, but can only think of one defender… Plenty of attack-minded players though!
Someone please educate me.
Elias (Hyypia), Johannesburg
Silva move would not reflect well on him or Everton
In the context of the stories currently going around about Marco Silva, I thought I’d chip in with some thoughts – mainly, surely the short-termism of him leaving for Everton would be damaging in the long run?
Everton suffered reputational damage when they hired Ronald Koeman – a risk they were fully aware of – due to his media comments from the beginning, i.e. he did not see his long term future being at the club. Everyone knew Koeman fancied Barcelona one day, and now everyone knows that, barring a miracle, it’s not a target he’s likely to attain.
For all the sugar coating they will inevitably sprinkle over Silva’s appointment – were they to hire him – how would this not be seen as something similar? I.e. the hiring of someone who doesn’t want to work with the club for the long term? To move from Hull to Watford and then leave again for a higher rung so quickly – surely this would suggest that Everton had again hired someone who would be leaving within two years?
Equally, for Silva himself, surely he wouldn’t benefit from being seen as a manager who would do 11 games at a club, improve his image and move on for more money? Is this the reputation he wants?
I don’t know – it just seems like such a bright young talent could come across as a mercenary. Some trust or loyalty wouldn’t go amiss.