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Is Rooney scared to get hurt?
I have recently been reminded of LL Cool J’s character Julian Washington in Any Given Sunday. Although I could have re-watched it before typing this point it’s not a good enough film to warrant it. So bear with me in case I don’t remember it vividly. In any case, I recall Julian Washington as being at the top of his career on the way down. He is just about making money and taking the safe option (in terms of himself and his no. of yards gained) to ensure the dollars keep rolling in. I think he has a moment of realisation when talking with a kid, who says his father thinks Washington doesn’t take passes through the middle anymore, probably because he’s too afraid of getting hit.
I’ve tried to nail down Rooney’s main problem for a while. I’m not conceited enough to think I have nailed it, but the Liverpool game gave me the opportunity to test my theory in public with a few friends in the bar. I said that you will always see Rooney doing one of two things. First, running away from a ball when a long pass is played over the top. It looks like he has made a good run that hasn’t been met with the right pass, but actually he’s just let the defender meet the ball unimpeded.
Alternatively, he will drop deep on the half turn, getting in the way in an already congested midfield and as he is already on the half’turn, he has telegraphed his next move to the player marking him (long pass to ring midfielder TM 2010/11) so its easy to intercept or adjust to compensate.
What he will never do, never ever ever ever ever do, is take the ball with his back to goal at the edge of the box or try an aerial challenge whilst trying to hold the defender off. Although it would be easy to let Drogba or Giroud spring to mind, which would be unfair given the difference in size and weight, I’m thinking more about Suarez and Aguero. Since they joined the EPL they have shown that you don’t need to be a brute to take the ball with your back to goal and ride a challenge. And more to the point, and I think this is what proves my point about Rooney’s (personal) safety first approach, Suarez and Aguero weren’t afraid to get fouled or at least left themselves in a position where they could.
According to WhoScored.com, Rooney gets fouled 0.4 times per game. That means in his 17 games this season he has won less than seven fouls. For a centre-forward getting £300,000 per week.
Truth be told, if his first touch isn’t a shot, it’s usually been given away before the second. Still a quality goalscorer.
There’a a dearth of No. 9s
I wrote in a couple of weeks ago about a seeming golden age of No.10s (Ozil, Payet, Eriksen, De Bruyne, etc) in the Premier League.
At the same time there appears to be a real dearth of quality No.9s.
Apart from the sainted Aguero, Man City don’t have much, Liverpool have spent an extraordinary amount on players who are either Andy Carroll or play like Andy Carroll. ‘Arry Kane’ is obviously a fictional character; Costa has finally been revealed as a flat-track bully with a penchant for Israeli teams and other defenceless foes. LvG’s philosophy clearly involves drowning strikers as witches, whilst Jamie ‘bleedin’ Vardy is surely more Marcus Stewart than Steve Bull (please, please can we have an icon piece on Bully, Bully). Further down the league, Lukaku will seemingly stay under 21 forever, and Tony Pulis’ magic cap is so good he doesn’t feel the need to play, use, or even sell his best striker. Add in a couple of dedicated headballers, and some very pretty boys with very pretty haircuts (Giroud, Pelle)…and Shane Long…and that’s about it.
You have to wonder…at what point will the glorious No.10’s get fed up with feeding delicious through balls for rubbish No.9’s to butcher…
Don’t blame Fellaini for not being a DM
A long-time reader, first time…With all the recent (read: since joining Man Utd) Fellaini bash, I would like to make a few points that people seem to have forgotten about him. People wonder what he actually does at CM since he doesn’t have a great passing range, great tackling ability or qualities a good CM of Manutd’s stature should have. Let me bring to light the fact that he isn’t a CM, but a No. 10. That’s where he used to play at Everton and people seem to forget that. Now, now, before you say a No. 10 has to have even a better range of passing, his qualities were/are of a different (read: smash and grab) type of guy.
I haven’t watched as much of Everton as I have Man Utd. The times he played against us, he absolutely terrorized our defense. This was Vidic and Ferdinand in their primes. He was suited to Moyes’s style of play there. A team that was compact, playing long balls which he used to bring down high up the pitch, and pass it quick to a team mate who usually would set up the goal or score himself. He himself got a fair amount of goals and assists as well. Did you guys forget all the 1-0s Everton had? It isn’t a co-incidence. ‘Smash and grab’ kind of a player. Everton set-up to his strengths and he was brilliant for them. This very site lauded him!
Now coming to his deficiencies, they were there in the past as well. It never got picked up, since Everton didn’t play possession-based football or slick passes around the pitch. It was just pass it to Coleman/Baines who were running the lines, thump in a cross with Fellaini waiting in the center and it worked for them. Now, you put a guy like that in CM and ask him to contribute to a certain style he isn’t meant for and expect him to ping in passes like Mata/Herrera or perform defensive duties like Schweinsteiger/Schneiderlin, then, it is never going to happen. The gaffer asks him to play in a certain role and perform certain duties and I doubt he doesn’t try to his fullest. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t possess those qualities/abilities. I think Van Gaal has him in the side because A) Schweini and Carrick are injured B) He doesn’t trust Memphis or is not in form C) He provides the last resort of thumping the ball up if the team fails to score. Remember there was a time (start of the season) when he was on the bench for quite a few matches with Schweini/Schneiderlin/Carrick (2 of 3) were in midfield and Mata, Martial, Rooney and Memphis the four in front of them. Memphis phased out and the midfielders got injured and now he took one of their places. If Memphis was firing, I doubt he would be in the team as a starter.
For the sake of older times, Moyes bought him for the DM or a Box to Box role. (Not forgetting that he was a panic buy, but even if Moyes would have gotten other players, he still would have purchased him. I think the delay was because he didn’t want Fellaini as his first signing for a top club) I digress. If you remember the initial matches under him, he plays a lot as a DM. I think, the thinking behind this was that given his physical size, he ‘may’ be able to perform the DM role by breaking up play and when in possession, even run from deep into the box and score goals with his head. It was the best of both worlds for Moyes (in his mind). Sadly he didn’t have the qualities for that role and failed in every aspect.
To conclude he is a No. 10 and would still be very good for a mid-table side playing to his strengths and we would see the ‘real’ Fellaini again. A club of Man Utd’s stature needs a silky player as a No. 10 with more versatile qualities and he was/will never be the right person for that job in this team. He is a great second option to have though. Once Memphis (or a new signing) gets going we will see less of him. In the meantime, don’t blame the chap for things he can’t do. He has a certain skill set just like every other person on this planet and can’t do jobs ‘effectively’ that he is tasked to do.’ He can, all but try. I hope people ease of him a little now.
Nishant (My first outing, never thought about what to write here) Bihani, India
Liverpool 0 Man United 1: Oh p*** off F365
I think that as usual, F365 has been far too critical of Manchester United. Let me offer my daggers in the list below:-
Marouane Fellaini – He was efficient. End of. There were many times when De Gea’s impeccable long balls his chest. Yes, his footwork and passing once it’s on the ground leaves much for wanting, no doubt. But this was an energetic, pressing Liverpool midfield. They tore City apart. They played some really silky stuff against United at times. And you know what – Lucas, and Henderson could never get going because – Fellaini. They tried to get joy down the other side but Smalling, Darmian and Schniederlin were equally effective there. United coped. Fellaini fouled, did the dirty work, hit the crossbar. What do you expect of him? To be a Toure-type sweeper and drive forward? To score goals like a proper center-forward? To make assists like Ozil? What? This is what he does. He’s damn good at it. Till we find a class CMF to replace him, he’s doing just fine. Don’t listen to them Marouane.
De Gea – Why are United being criticized for him making great saves? The long-range shot from Can which he saved did not indicate defensive weakness. Those shots come through. He is not ‘bailing’ us out. He’s doing his job. He’s a remarkable keeper. Over-reliance on keepers keeps them busy. To be very honest, I’d trust him to stop strong efforts rather than have a defensive team that lets just a couple of shots at him. Keep making those saves Dave. We are over reliant on you. But I’m fine with that. Because that’s what football is about, you know – relying on each of your XI. Jeez.
Van Gaal – When we did the 3-3 at Newcastle, something struck me. That if you’re going to play like this week in and out, you will get better at it. But it is very risky. We are asking him to abandon what he believes in. That result and that Man United will not be his Man United. Agreed his games have been utterly boring. But I hope he can combine the hard running, graft and attacking intent with his possession-based football and achieve what we did in those games vs Spurs (H), Liverpool (A) and Chelsea (A) last season.
United’s season – We are up against a very, very good Spurs side, incredibly offensive City, beautiful Leicester and perhaps the strongest title contenders – Arsenal. Keep at it lads. Something tells me if we keep showing up against the big sides and start getting the results against smaller teams, we might just nick it. Play the kids in the Europa League, get knocked out, focus on the FA Cup + league.
Akshat Pande, Mumbai, India
PS. Just because it’s Lucas, doesn’t mean Fellaini has to win every header. Positioning matters. People who say otherwise have obviously never actually played football.
Is this a league worth winning?
So, we’re past the half-way point and my question is this.
Imagine no-one pulls away from the pack.
Will this year’s League Champions have won because they were the best side in the most competitive and evenly matched league for years?
In a season that gave us up upset after upset and saw traditionally average clubs attract top class players and average players have the seasons of their lives?
Or will they have won it because they were the least sh1t and everyone else was more sh1t?
Especially Chelsea, who were sh1t. And Arsenal, who were sh1t. And UTD who were sh1t. and Liverpool who were…well you get the picture.
As a neutral now, at this stage the way the season’s unfolded, is this a trophy to be proud of or is everyone sh1t?
Doug AFC, Belfast
The good news about Mignolet…
The only silver lining I can find in Liverpool handing a new deal to Mignolet (Fove years?! seriously?!) is that he continues to crumble under the pressure and his confidence (well what’s left of it) slowly ebbs away until the summer. Then, Courtois gets injured and misses the Euros so Belgium have to play Mignolet against Ireland so we’ll have a chance against them.
I will admit this is a long shot but a man’s got to cling to something after news like this.
Rory LFC (Playing the long game) Limerick, Ireland
Is there any good news?
Talk about getting a kicking while you’re down; not only are Liverpool dog sh*te but to make it fun we are giving a pay rise and a longer contract to the keeper who has made more individual errors leading to goals than any other keeper in the past two years. A keeper who still hasn’t improved his distribution or his command of the area when congested.
Combine that with not sorting out a contract for Flanagan, a decent young local defender (admittedly with a big injury problem) and Jerome Sinclair (admittedly with the lovely Aidy Ward as his agent)…and no apparent plan to sign a player who could improve our impotent strike force in the next two weeks…oh we are proper f**ked.
Did Klopp come back too quickly?
Quick question for the good people on here; Was Klopp too quick in getting back to work?
I mean, with Pep’s summer exit at Bayern, Rafa’s sacking at Madrid and Jose’ dismissal at Chelsea, he could have had his pick of top jobs in modern club football but he’s stuck with this Liverpool team and might struggle to attract top players and have the Dortmund scenario repeat itself all over again.
Drawing from what someone posted in the mailbox some weeks ago about LVG still in management due to lack of suitable alternatives, he could probably have joined MUFC and step in the vacuum created by the *John Lennon* of football.
Only if he had like Pep stayed away for a season.
Your thoughts please…
Matt Stead’s unsatisfactory Masonry position
Great site with (usually) informative article and views, but this time you have really got my goat. In Matt Stead’s article ‘Five players who make us wonder: what do they do?’ I really had to take umbrage at Ryan Mason’s inclusion on the list. I can’t really comment on the relative usefulness of (a?) Fernando, although as a watcher of England games am certainly inclined to agree with what was said about Adam Lallana. However, as an article which certainly originated out of a desire to lambast another Marouane Fellaini outing, perhaps Matt would have been better saving his vitriol solely for the big-haired Belgian rather than scratching around for other candidates, and then closing his eyes and rather haphazardly jabbing his finger down on the first name that came his way.
Previously I believed Matt to be a decent commentator on Spurs – his recent article on Christian Eriksen a point in case, but now I have my doubts. Since the now 24-year-old local lad came into the side after a number of loan spells he has proven himself to be a tenacious tackler, energetic ‘harrier’ of the ball, and, herein lies the key, an accomplished proponent of the quickly played forward pass – something which has been forgotten in this age of ‘stat-pleasing’ sideways balls. Moreover, when sifting through statistics, there is no way to ascertain how many of a player’s passes were forwards, backwards, or damn-well even necessary, as so many passes don’t seem to be. Perhaps Matt’s oversight is that he is formulating his opinion solely through the interesting but limited array of statistics that are now on offer regarding modern-day football.
And using Mason’s England cap as a stick to beat him with is rather disingenuous, don’t you think? This is an opinion piece, and to that end Matt is quite rightly allowed to express his, but I think that it is only fair to say that his is one which is certainly not shared by the majority of Mason-watchers. Also, the lad has been out injured for the majority of the campaign after getting crunched scoring the important winner at the Stadium of Light – give him a break I say, and celebrate another young player who has put in the hard yards to be given a chance at a good Premier League club, and taken it with both hands. I believe Roy and Poch to be rather better judges of that than Matt in this case.
Steve (I believe parentheses are required in order for these comments to be published) Paget, Cork
Somebody needs to talk to The Ox
Is it a lack of confidence that the Ox tried far too many passes that he doesn’t have in his locker? Someone – his midfield partner, the captain, or the manager – should have just pulled him aside and asked for some minutes of calm and decent, safe passing and go from there. His face after trying to spray a 50-yrd ball on the run to a runner (and likely the easier ones too) said it all. Nobody should be asking him to do that. Rather, they should ask him, sternly, not to. Maybe that’s the added role of Flamini and Arteta.
Growing up we used to have to earn those types of mistakes. Build up to it, then play a little looser. Too loose, tone it down and build it back up. We certainly weren’t allowed that many mistakes without correction.
It was a little like watching the intern try a bit too hard on his first chance and spoil it by being a knob in a meeting.
Martin (I bet I was that knob)(& 3 paragraphs), Canada
Chamberlain = Jermaine Jenas
I saw a lot of flak directed towards Walcott in previous mails, but for me the most useless player currently in the Arsenal squad in the middle of the park is Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Seriously what is the purpose of Oxlade-Chamberlain? In my point of view he is basically our Adam Lallana, heck he is even the Arsenal version of Jermaine Jenas. A player without a point of existence.
Said previously he prefers to play in the middle, where he can excels, however when given the chances he look closer to a certain Eboue rather than Xavi. Against Stoke, he even manage to look worse than Chambers. Constantly making the wrong choice of pass, bad decision making, not good in tackling, and not even attempting to make up the deficiencies by a lot of running and harassing opponent causing mistakes from them. In all honesty I don’t expect him to surpass Xavi, but surely it is not too much of an ask to be least on par with Barkley? Sigh. At least Eboue was entertaining when he dances.
Saying that, I’ll gladly eat my hat or any related apparels if he turns out to be good. But I have no objection should we decide to cash him to those non-title challenger like Liverpool or something.
Syfq Amr, a biased Gooner
Some Leicester education
Just to educate Brad on his Leicester knowledge. Fair enough he couldn’t name our squad, as we haven’t really been relevant to Arsenal until the last six months. Still love how much we now get referenced in the Mailbox and thoughts of other Prem fans.
Leicester would be missing Mahrez (Ozil), Vardy (Sanchez), Kante (Coquelin), Drinkwater (Cazorla), Okazaki (Welbeck) and Albrighton (Wilshere). This would leave us with a front six of Schlupp, Inler, King, Gray, Ulloa, Kramaric. This obviously isn’t as good as reserves of Arsenal, etc. However, I think they could probably be a match for a few sides in the bottom half. Shows how much we have improved over the last year or so.
Also, on another point, I was quite impressed with Villa against us at the weekend. They were unlucky not to come away with a win if I’m being honest, as we were pretty lathargic, particularly in the second half. If they keep playing like that, I can see them edging closer to safety (though very hard to see them surviving still). Good luck to them, don’t want to see another big club go into the wilderness for a decade like we did.
Injuries are unremarkable to Arsenal
Brad Smith, Arsenal don’t have an injury crisis like the other clubs. Having 5/6 players injured is just standard for them, especially when two of them are Rosicky and Wilshere. I imagine Wenger is well used to it at this stage and knows not to use it as an excuse.
Fair play to them though, I thought it would have affected them more.
Dan, Ireland MUFC
…Brad Smith, the reason that Arsenal’s injuries don’t get talked about as much as other teams is because there’s ALWAYS a lengthy injury list at Arsenal. Anyway, the main reason I’m replying to this is that Dele Alli got paired with Wilshire in that comparision of players, and I’m not letting that go without pointing it out, and laughing while pointing at it too.
An out-of-position Arsenal XI
Seeing Steven Caulker sent on up front again for Liverpool got me thinking about footballers playing out of position. I’m sure we all love it when a keeper comes up for a corner at the end of a game. Or when an outfield player has to go in goal.
So anyway – I wondered – what’s the worst team you can come up with, just by playing players out of position. You have to take your team’s first XI and then place them in positions they are very poorly suited to. Sort of like reverse Football Manager.
Here’s my effort with Arsenal. (Alright I cheated a bit and dropped Ramsey because he’d probably be good everywhere).
GK: Santi Cazorla. Phenomenal close control and a glorious ability to dribble out of tight spaces – all things you don’t need in a goalkeeper. Also five foot five. In fairness, being two-footed would be useful (why can’t all keepers kick well off both feet under pressure?)
RB: Olivier Giroud. Desperately slow and one-footed…he’d get turned inside out by most wingers and probably most full-backs in the Premier League. At least would give this side some height in defence though.
CB: Alexis Sanchez. He’d probably be pretty good anywhere – but his habit of dummying/stepping one way and then turning another is exactly what you don’t want your centre-back doing. Putting him in a position where he can’t joyfully run with the ball and take on defenders would be like showing your labrador videos of other dogs being taken for walks.
CB: Mesut Ozil. God I love him, but he would struggle. He’s not lazy – but he really doesn’t enjoy challenging for headers. He would apply virtually no pressure to a centre forward receiving the ball with his back to goal. The thought of him marking Benteke/Lukaku/Costa makes me shudder.
LB: Hector Bellerin. He’d actually probably be fine here. But I just had a space left over and couldn’t work out where to put him…
DM: Theo Walcott. The defensive instincts of a drunk toddler who spotted his favourite toy in the distance. Being a DM is about being in the right place originally – not the trademark Theo guilty sprint back into position. Weak in the challenge, and for an Arsenal player often has a pretty bad first touch. The turnovers he would generate in the middle of the park would kill the team.
CM: Petr Cech. As a goalkeeper he’s used to being able to see everything in front of him – but central midfield is probably the tightest area of the pitch with players potentially tackling you from all directions. Big guy though. Could be that leader in the middle of the park everyone goes on about.
Playmaker: Monreal. I really like Nacho – he’s a solid defender who reads the game well. He’s (rightly) pretty unambitious in his passing however – and I think would really blunt our attack a lot in this position. Loves making an overlapping run, but you sort of sense he’s often hoping teammates don’t pass it to him.
FW: Per Mertesacker. I can’t even imagine what he would do playing out wide. Possibly he’d become a sort of dead end for counter-attacks – calmly passing the ball back the way it came. Worse still – he could become our Fellaini.
FW: Laurent Koscielny. Would probably do a job here and I had to slot him in somewhere, but a lot of his strengths (stepping up and intercepting, ability to time a tackle) would be largely wasted.
CF: Coquelin. Never scored for Arsenal. He’s only scored twice in his career in 142 appearances. Wenger playing him at centre-forward for a game would be the ultimate trolling of football punditry…a two-fingered salute to both those who say Arsenal need another striker and those who say Arsenal need more defensive cover in midfield.
Can you do better/worse?
Football game corner: Feel free to ignore
Oh my, I log on at work this morning to be confronted by the glorious loading screen of the all-time greatest football gave ever, Sensible World of Soccer, joy of joys how one little picture can make my day feel better, thank you.
I thought I would tell you a Sensible story, my brothers Uni football team were coming to our local town in Lancashire 99% were from the south coast and I was tasked with arranging some entertainment for after the afternoon game. Luckily I was good friends with my local landlord who had a giant screen projector TV so I hooked up the Amiga 500 (extra disk drive and memory) and set up a Sensible Soccer Tournament, it started at 1pm (along with pie and peas) and finally ended at 5am the following day, an epic night of drinking, football and the best damn game you could waggle your zipstick at, so thank you for stirring the memories good people.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
…I agree with most of Daniel’s list with the exception of Pro Evo 3 as Pro Evo 6 was far, far better!!
Inter Milan with Ibrahimovic, Adriano, Solari, Stankovic, Figo and Cambiasso. Stunning!
I have had four versions of this game as I kept on breaking the disc through over playing…such good memories.
Ginge, London (North London Red)
…I’m sure you’ll get numerous, far more detailed mails on this…but the football game list was exquisite :’)
Brian Badonde (bourettes)