You know what to do – fire up the old electronic mail and send us a missive at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fountains of Wayne excuses
Wayne Rooney’s recent comments, about how Man United’s signings over the last couple of years have allowed the standards set during the Ferguson era to slip, have caused a huge amount of controversy. Many United fans have vented their frustrations regarding his comments on social media, pointing out that nobody at Old Trafford allowed their standards to drop more in recent years than Rooney himself.
Regardless of where you stand in this debate, one thing is very clear; we really shouldn’t be surprised. If you look back over Rooney’s career, you will clearly see that according to Wayne, nothing is ever actually his fault.
When Rooney left Everton to chase trophies at Man United, it was David Moyes’ fault for being overbearing and controlling. He even blamed Moyes in his autobiography for leaking stories of his visits to ageing prostitutes to the press.
When Rooney was sent off in the quarter-final of World Cup 2006, which cost England any realistic chance of progression, it wasn’t Wazza’s fault you see, it was Ronaldo’s for highlighting his offence to the referee.
In 2010 when he flirted with a move to Man City, before performing a U-turn and signing a new improved contract at United, it was the club’s fault for not signing good enough players to remain competitive.
His poor showing at the 2010 World Cup, well that was the fault of England’s booing fans and Fabio Capello’s rigid methods.
Then in the summer of 2016 when he captained England to their most humiliating major tournament exit ever, he blamed Roy Hodgson for making wholesale changes for the last group game against Slovakia.
I’m sure your seeing a picture emerging at this stage, but lastly let’s look at his problems at United over the last five or so years.
When Fergie originally tried Rooney as a midfielder away to Stoke, Rooney took to twitter straight away to pronounce how much he loved his new midfield role. Then of course came his falling out with the manager and when David Moyes arrived, Rooney announced that he wanted to move to Chelsea as he was really a striker and didn’t want to play in midfield anymore.
After another new and improved contract with United and Moyes’ departure, he began playing in midfield again and talked of that being a natural progression for him with club and country, as he moved into the latter part of his career.
Of course it wasn’t long until he announced, at the start of the 2015/2016 season, that he saw himself as a striker again, and he proclaimed that he would get United 20 goals. He scored eight goals that season with his performances up top being of such a stinking standard that Louis Van Gaal dropped him back into midfield again.
Basically whenever Rooney has been poor over the last few years he starts to complain to his friends in the media, making clear that it’s because he’s being played out of position. But once he moves to whatever position he has been angling to play in, he’s woeful and then wants to move back to the previous position. Trying to keep up with the whole charade is enough to make you dizzy.
With all the negative press over the last couple of years it’s important to remind ourselves that when Rooney broke on to the scene as a teenager, he was probably one of the most exciting young talents the game has ever seen. There is absolutely no denying Rooney’s record breaking achievements with United, nor his commitment and will to win on the pitch.
However, I think it’s more than fair to ask if Rooney actually made enough sacrifices in terms of lifestyle off the pitch in order to prolong his ability on it.
He looked physically incapable of playing at the highest level last season. There’s an argument that he only looks so washed up at 31 because he began playing at 16 but that just doesn’t really wash when you consider his ex-team mate, Ryan Giggs, began at a similar age and he played until he was 40.
Ok, so maybe Giggs was a freak, but it’s also worth remembering that Rooney is actually older than Ronaldo and just look at what his dedication to his craft has resulted in, in terms of current form and fitness. It’s also worth considering that 4 of the 5 members of Juventus’ 2017 Champions League Final defence were older than Rooney and the only one that is younger, Leonardo Bonucci, is only a few months his junior.
With this in mind coupled with the memories of the lethargic performances that Rooney served up last season, where he looked like a player closer to 40 rather than 30 years of age, it’s easy to argue that perhaps Wayne hasn’t done everything he could to maintain peak physical condition.
No matter what side of the fence you sit on, with regard to whether or not Rooney is a good signing for Everton, one thing that is crystal clear, if his much publicised return to Goodison Park doesn’t work out, it won’t be Wayne’s fault.
Shed no tears for Lucas
Lucas is gone! Before you all go off on what a great servant to the club he was, and how funny ‘unlucky’ was, the fact is he was never good enough for Liverpool.
He was a mediocre player who had a knack for rash tackles and silly fouls. He played in one of the most important positions on the pitch for Liverpool Football Club for ten years and the statistics have not been kind. A handful of top four finishes and one trophy in his tenure.
Season after season Liverpool refused to upgrade on CDM and, towards the end even CB position, because Lucas was “good enough” but he wasn’t really.
Whoever Liverpool bring in, whether it’s Naby Keita or someone else, they will prove to be a significant upgrade on the Brazilian. Liverpool can now take the next step in their development.
Brian (People are calling for a testimonial ffs) LFC
Costliest text ever
With most top strikers now going for 80 Mn+, did Conte’s text message to Costa cost Chelsea about 60m?
I wonder if that means that players need to be better looked after. If a manager cannot get along with his players and that becomes known (how difficult is that in today’s uber social world?), the transfer value would costs the club – tens of millions.
Do you think Mourinho would bash Shaw up publicly especially when Kyle Walker just walked over town for 45mn?
Thoughts on Chelsea’s summer
It’s interesting to have some inter-team discussion so here’s my thoughts to Yash’s questions about Chelsea’s summer so far.
1) You’re absolutely right about Rudiger, he does look a good purchase that all fans I talk to are happy about. His versatility should be a real boon for us this year. Pedro filled in adequately at RWB but I’d much prefer to have an option of Az at RWB or Rudy at RB.
2) I don’t share your thoughts about Bakayoko, however. I don’t see him as being too similar to Matic at all, he is the superior dribbler and passer. He is not Fabregas with the latter (who is?) but I’m really hoping we’ve found a gem here, a player who can break up play (good tackling and interception stats) and either dribble his way up the field or find a wide player with his range of passing. There are zero worries about Kante and Bakayoko leaving us exposed.
3) The Costa situation was surprisingly short-sighted by Conte, almost childish. Costa had the chance to be the bigger man about it though and is thoroughly passing on that opportunity. The whole thing is very untidy and just needs a line drawn under it. As for who comes in, it’s looking increasingly like only Aubameyang is available. It’s almost at the point that we just somebody, anybody. If we start the season with Michy (who I do rate, in all fairness but he needs support) and Remy (yes he’s still there) we’re in trouble.
4) Caballero is good business. Solid, experienced and happy to play four games next season. Nothing to see here.
5) As for youth, I trust you mean Academy players. Christensen is likely to make an impact next season. But you’re right, that’s about it unless Musonda can ‘pull a Moses’. He was given a squad number of 17, if that counts for anything. I know F365 aren’t convinced and fancy he’s off on loan and that’s certainly a safe bet. I do have a glimmer of hope for him though.
…I was genuinely thinking about writing an email about why I am not worried (unlike previous summers post a title win) but Yash’s email just motivated me to respond. So Yash, here’s my responses to your email:
1. Rudiger – He’s the manager’s signing and a player Chelsea scouted for more than a year (if not for the ACL we’d have got him for half the fee last summer). From every Italian league covering journalist (and in general my respect for Serie A analysts, esp the Italians >>>>>>>> their English counterparts) writes that Rudiger was Roma’s best defender and with a coach like Conte will only get better. Tall, athletic, pacy, decent with the ball (definitely better than Cahill anyway), we’ve updated our back line straight away.
2. Bakoyoko – I know you’ve been busy watching TV on Thursdays last year, so let me enlighten you a little about this. Nemanja Matic was not the player he was ever since Ashley Barnes tried to break his leg at Stamford Bridge with the blessings of the referee that day. It was purely the presence of Kante that made Matic look half-decent last season (in fact if we have to get back at Jose for Lukaku best would be selling Matic for the hilarious 40m). The answer lies in what you say ‘Matic proved to be a good partner to Kante, with his more restrained play and positional discipline’. However, you’re horribly wrong about the interpretation. Even at his best, Matic was never a mobile midfielder nor pacy, he had good technique and had long legs to cover him then. He was a refined version of Fellaini (the Serbian tree than the Belgian), and I mean no offense here. He was stuck to a point and would watch as midfields from various teams rolled him over. With Bakoyoko, we’re getting a potential (note this word) Essien. And I foresee a midfield of Kante and Bakoyoko steam rolling many teams in days to come. We still need squad additions in this position though. There, we’ve updated our midfield along with defense.
3. Costa situation – I love Costa. Have a genuine love for players who have that little bit of bastardy in them (no, not the Barnes type of scoundrel-ism). However, he’s a nuisance to the team as much to his opponents. You say you dont blame him for what Conte did, but your manager now has done worse in the 15-16 season for lesser offenses! Costa has been a bomb waiting to burst since a bid from China. And Conte clearly prefers a good collective than accommodate individual brilliance. Its ironical you dont realize this having watched (I’m assuming) Ferguson deal with such players with ruthlessness in the past! I dont mind Costa being sold, Batshuayi has bulked up, looked very good at closing stages of last season. Only reason I ever wanted Lukaku was to ensure he didnt land up at OT (blimey, it worked out finally). But my preference is always a CF than a striker for Chelsea. I’d take one of Moratta/Belotti and if not Aubemeyang (though he’s a striker) along with Batsuyai must be fine. Heck, who knows, we may bid for Aguero also!
4. Caballero – like you said, we sold our back up keeper for 10m and got one (tested in PL as a back up) for free.
5. Youth – there’s the problem. The type of managers we’ve hired (hello Jose) have never been the ones to manage/coach kids. Rashford in your case was given a chance and coached by LVG and even by his own awful standards w.r.t kids it’d have been suicidal to let him go (so dont ever give Jose the benefit of doubt with Rashford). Coming back to Chelsea, there’s a rule of thumb that before graduating to the first team kids between 18-21 must play 100 games at highest level – this was said by a Chelsea coach. Hazard had 100 games plus when we signed them. Whether this rule is right or wrong is another debate. But this seems the law at Chelsea. As sad as I was to see Ake and Chalobah let go, RLC is a different situation – a really gifted player awfully mismanaged between ages 18-21. Its good for him to get senior games. And in case you didnt know, Chelsea have put buy backs on all deals, so should it become another KDB situation we will buy them for a low price! And every player we’ve sold was not a first 11. Again its debatable w.r.t this policy but the facts are clear.
So what next?
We’ve upgraded the defense (I’m assuming Christensen will start sooner/later), midfield (assuming we keep Matic or sign a replacement) and hopefully the attack (with a striker incoming). That leaves room for two more signings – the wing backs! I’d assume Sandro is not coming (and should we miraculously land him the window is a remarkable success). Danilo would be a good buy for the price quoted. Even if we sign a striker and get Danilo, I would call this window a decent success. On the other hand, I’m not sure your team’s midfield has been sorted out yet. Jose needs signings. One in midfield for sure. A central midfield player is a must and should he fail there, United will have to dig deep.
Aravind, Chelsea fan
Laughing at Man City and their spending
I can only laugh at Man Citeh’s recruitment, especially defenders. Correct me if I am wrong but Mangala, Stones and Otamendi are in the top five most expensive defenders ever? (Maybe not the latter – now with Walker?)
They all worked out well.
And now Kyle Walker. The second best RB at Spurs.
What has Citeh’s defensive record been like since signing these players? Maybe some new coaches are needed instead. And don’t get me started on the GK situation. Pep arrives and tells the board: “I want a new flashy GK who can ‘pass the ball’ please”.
They sign Bravo. He turns out to be utter pap. Summer arrives. Pep goes back to the board:
“You know that GK I wanted, well, he was pap. I want another one.”
“What about Hart, the England keeper – already on the books him, save a bit of money,” they say.
“Nah, don’t fancy him, not flashy and ‘dynamic’ enough. I want this Benfica GK,” demands Pep.
“Er, OK. Sure”, they say.
“Cool” says Pep. “He will cost you about 35m.”
“No worries, consider it done,” they say.
Does anyone else find this as pathetic as me? Everyone raves about Pep, I know it’s an old argument, but really. He needs to splurge billions ‘trying to get it right’.
Here’s a novel idea. Perhaps they should spend more money on hiring better scouts to find defenders, or even developing a fancy new academy…oh wait a minu…
Who was the last youth player to break through, from their new academy?
If you were a youth player at Citeh why would you bother – get me out of ‘ere.
My mate supported Citeh in the 80s/90s, in those good old days, but recently gave up (and started supporting Shrewsbury as they were nearer to him) as, in his words, ‘the soul had been ripped out the club’.
I used to think thought Chelsea bought their success, which they did, but Citeh are taking it to a new level.
Bonucci v Walker is not a fair comparison
I know it’s de rigueur to bash City for it’s recent acquisitions, and as a City fan we’ve heard it all before, and I admit we do bring a hell of it on ourselves. However, Paul K ignores some pretty critical points.
Yes City have been linked to Bonucci, and yes at that price it would have been a great deal. However, you cannot sign a player who doesn’t want to leave Italy. He wanted to stay near Turin, as his son has been afflicted by a serious medical condition, which made him contemplate retiring altogether. Uprooting his family to another country probably wouldn’t be a great idea.
In fact, reports state that in order to even contemplate leaving Italy, City and any other club outside of Italy would have had to pay overs for him to even consider it. He priced himself out of a move for family reasons, and fair enough in doing so, but it’s not simply a case of like for like in comparing this deal and Walker as Paul makes it out to be.
Also when you look at the defenders who have moved to Champions League clubs in the Premier League, Rudiger at 33mil and Lindelof at 30mil, paying what City did for arguably the league’s best right back, who wont have to settle into a new country/club etc, plus factoring the David Levy tax on transfer deals doesn’t actually look that bad.
Martin Todoroski, MCFC (it’s still a s***load of money though…)
…You may get a few of these in response to Paul’s mail but I feel obliged to give an explanation of the fee.
Firstly the fee for Bonucci was low due to supply and demand. Bonucci wanted to leave but wanted to stay in London. All the points you made should make Bonucci more valuable and if he was willing to leave Italy would have sent PSG, Barcelona, Madrid and the top clubs in England into panic stations and an auction would have ensued. A figure of £60 million would not have been out of the question and possibly more given his pedigree. But because he was adamant to leave, and equally adamant to stay in Italy, that whittles the options down to the two Milan clubs as the only two teams that could afford him. Hence the relatively low fee.
Secondly I don’t want to state the obvious but I feel I have to. Walker is English which basically doubles the price of the player. There is a dearth of talent at the full-back position which again drives up the price, and because every club in the PL has shed loads of cash there is no need for any team to sell and drives the price up even more. Basically the Walker deal is what it’s going to cost to pry a top player away from a club with no need to sell. Tottenham, in this case, have the players and financial clout to let Walker rot on the bench if he kicks out. Similar to the VVD saga the selling club holds all the cards and can name their price when the player has multiple years left on their contract.
No one would ever deny that Bonucci is by far the superior player and I completely agree with everything you said in a vacuum, but there are a myriad of other factors at play that can explain the ridiculous figures being paid for above average English players.
Oisin, NZ (The season cannot come quick enough!)
Hart of the matter
I saw your Fergal Sharkey headline, and with the return of England’s number one, and with a hat doff to Ben the Baggie who points out there is the square root of eff all to do during the close season, so squat to write about, I came up with the following story arc including headlines and accompanying songs.
Pep bans Joe from ever returning to Man City – A Total Eclipse Of The Hart
Slaven declares interest in signing Joe – Anyone Who Had A Hart
Slaven warns West Ham team mates to go easy during first training session – Don’t Go Breaking My Hart
Joe injured in first training session at West Ham – How Do You Mend A Broken Hart
Joe makes comeback early due to a lack of keepers – Achy Breaky Hart
Joe gets injured again – Hart Of Glass
Joe goes to see physiotherapist – Hand On My Hart
Joe begins long road to recovery – Let The HartAche begin
Joe makes comeback at end of season as Slaven puts him on as 2nd half substitute – My Hart Will Go On
Joe looks sluggish in his comeback – Wooden Hart
Slaven Brings on new signing from Swansea – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Hart)
Joe makes save – Shot To The Hart
1 – 0 down, with a draw needed to avoid relegation, Slaven puts Joe upfront – Sheer Hart Attack
Joe gets fouled in the box – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Hart
Takes penalty to equalise – Hart Of Gold
I could go on, there are loads, but I won’t. When is football back?
Chris ITFC, (I haven’t got the Hart) Liverpool
Paddy Roberts might do okay
I enjoyed the ‘cup of sugar’ loan players article. A nice guide to the have and have-nots of the Premier League! However I think you may have been a bit quick to write off the chances of young Paddy Roberts.
Although there are currently 10 players fighting for 4 attacking positions at Man City the consensus seems to be that both Bony and Iheanacho are set for new pastures. Two players for every position is the minimum for a club like City.
The real advantage Roberts has is City’s lack of home grown players. There will be guaranteed places in the squad for Walker and Stones but that’s it really. Roberts and the rarely-used Fabian Delph are the only other ‘name’ homegrown players that City have. So, an unused squad place or Roberts – all he has to be is literally better than nothing!
I’d bet on him remaining at City for that FA reason but unfortunately (from an English perspective) he’ll probably get FA minutes.
Dan (all that money and no good English players to spend it on), LTFC
Accusing Johnny of ‘clickbait for lefties’
Come on John Nic, admit it. Your faux outrage at ‘babes’ is just clickbait for those of you who if forced to read a copy of the Sun would pretend to skip page three.
You can round the number of people who give a toss about women’s football to zero. The same number of people that give a toss about my five a side team.
I wish lefties like you and the BBC would stop trying to force it down our throats.
Matt (MUFC, who fortunately aren’t on the women’s team gimmick bandwagon)
Women’s football – simply not as good
‘Women’s football isn’t better or worse than men’s football; it is just different.’
More than happy to call this out as the sporting equivalent of moral relativism, and equally as obtuse. If we categorise a quicker, stronger, more technically capable player and team as superior to a slower, weaker and less technically able alternative, then yes, men’s football is superior. They may be different codes of the game, but one is played to a far higher professional standard, to larger crowds and with vastly greater commercial interest.
Some of the coverage of female sport is undoubtedly antediluvian and objectifying, but let’s not allow legitimate criticism of isolated media coverage of professional sportswomen to morph into the worst excesses of identity politics.
F365 need to write about the football
I agree with Johnny Nic, but quite frankly unless you’re actually going to give the football some coverage this time then you’re just as bad. I appreciate that there are few of you on the team and you do need clicks, but
a) You praise football media that treats fans as intelligent, so for you not to show that faith in your readers is hypocrisy
b) By focusing on the politics alone you are as guilty of defining the footballers by their gender and nothing else
So please. Actually provide us with something. Even if it is posting links to better women’s football sites on the homepage (who cares about another gossip column?) that would be more progressive than this white noise.
Germany v Sweden tonight though. Can’t wait.