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Jurgen Klopp: One of us
Klopp can’t get the f***ing loss to Palace out of his head. Me neither. Quotes like this are the reason I’m such a big fan of Klopp. Where Rodgers talked positively at all times, Klopp talks like a fan.
Don’t get me wrong I liked Rodgers. I’ll never forget the nearly year and some of the football played was excellent…but he couldn’t recover from not winning the league. Such a big hit to the confidence and morale was too much for him to come back from. By admitting imperfections and failures Klopp allows his team to learn from them. I hope to see Rodgers in management again and I really hope he learns by watching his successor.
Martin (imperfect>outstanding) Jackson
To Guy, who loves Rooney…
Have you watched Rooney play this season? Van Gaal’s tactics do not stop Rooney making accurate passes or meaningful runs. Rooney is useless in that United side. I’d prefer to have half a Martial up front.
…the harsh criticism of Rooney is completely justified. I agree that he may not be getting the service he requires, that certainly explains his lack of goals and I sympathise there. However, a lack of service does not excuse his awful touches, his wayward passing and his questionable decision-making. Him consistently coming deep to look for the ball only hurts the team, it deprives them of another body in the final third and adds to the ponderous passing & congestion in midfield.
United need a link between the defensive unit and the attacking one, that seem to operate independently of each other most of the time. That link is Herrera, while not (yet, hopefully) world class, he is the best they have at that. That link is not a bumbling Rooney. For some reason he is more accurate with his 50-yard passes than his five-yard ones.
Until he can re-master the basics of the game and start contributing in a meaningful way, then criticism will not abate. The most frustrating thing is that van Gaal won’t even try someone else in his place.
Dan, Ireland MUFC
…After reading Guy S’s letter in the afternoon mailbox, I have to say I feel the same way about his defence of Wayne Rooney as I imagine I would if I were a lawyer being asked to represent Harold Shipman, ie. a lot of head shaking and bewilderment.
We’re at the point now where his form is literally indefensible. Whilst Rooney can’t take the blame for the negative tactics, he can be responsible for never being there for his team. As a no. 10 or no. 9 these days you have to be a player who is willing to want the ball to feet, be able to control said ball and continue building up the play. Against Leicester the other day he was nowhere to be found. You can forgive a player for having a bad game once in a while as long they’re trying to get in the game.
There was no bridge between defence and attack because Rooney was never in a position to receive the ball, and albeit let it bounce off him, but that’s not my point. Without an effective no. 10 in the team you get what we see most weeks with him in there. Sideways passing because there isn’t anybody coming to receive the ball and make something happen. I don’t think he’s ever really been that player to be honest but his other attributes glossed over that fact, now without any of the pace or drive he once had he’s finally being found out.
Going back to midfweek against PSV he seemed to spend more time on the wing than where we actually needed him to be. I’m sure it’s probably down to a severe lack of confidence at the moment that he doesn’t want the ball, but that’s down to the manager to sort out. LVG needs to take Rooney out of the team for his own good now. He can still do a job for us but if he’s being forced to play whilst so down on confidence it will only damage him more.
LVG does need to take some of the blame for the form of his players though I feel. As pointed out recently the centre midfielders sit too deep and don’t offer anything going forward either. I feel this is because of the manager knowing teams like hitting us on the counter because of the possession football he likes. He’s too scared about getting caught on the break, I imagine that’s why they sit so deep. So we’re in a catch 22 situation. The centre midfielders can’t push on because of the fear of the counter, thus meaning we don’t have enough players pushing high enough up the pitch to put the opposition defence under any meaningful pressure. If I could I’d have Ander Herrera playing alongside Schneiderlin and anyone bar Rooney at no. 10.
Herrera is our best player at linking play and getting forward, we need more of this if the possession game is to work. Unfortunately for all of our eyes at the moment LVG doesn’t even like a breeze at the back fence let alone a gale. Scweinsteiger is a great signing for us but I don’t feel you need him and Schneiderlin together. The idea of possession football as I see it is draw to players out of position and open up gaps. This doesn’t work if you’ve only got four players in their half against their back seven. It’s basic maths.
We’ve got some great players in the squad unfortunately the most exciting ones aren’t being allowed to show this. If LVG reduces the shackles a bit and sacrifices some safety we could be in for a great shout to win the league.
You don’t have to be as tactically astute in the Premier League like others around Europe, as soon as our manager realises this things could really take off.
Final point, LVG mentions he needs more pace, but we don’t need more pace for this type of football, we need more Juan Matas and Ander Herreras. Teams sit so deep against us having pace in the line-up is just a waste of everyone’s time.
Phill Thomas, MUFC
The difference between Wenger and Ferguson…
Ben, AFC in the Tuesday afternoon mailbox misses at least two points when taking umbrage with Mediawatch’s list of signings that got away from Arsene Wenger.
Firstly, it’s fine pointing out all the world-class players that Sir Alex Ferguson missed out on, but the difference between him and Arsene Wenger was that generally speaking, if Sir Alex missed out on someone, he signed another player to improve the team. To pick one example, he didn’t sign Petr Cech but got more than he expected out of Edwin van der Sar, and then signed David de Gea, for whom a serious case is made that he is the best goalkeeper in the league (I can’t decide between him and Thibault Cortois).
On the other hand, Wenger throws all these names out and hasn’t signed anyone anywhere near as good.
Secondly, it is precisely because ‘he’s only admitting what everyone else does but no other club and manager will own up to’ that he ‘doesn’t do himself any favours’. It makes him look incredibly weak and not particularly clever. The main difference between the two lists is that Lord Ferg’s emerged in a book, when it was all water under the bridge, while Wenger’s is a compilation of quotes amassed and repeated around the world while he is still managing The Arsenal. The timing of these comments, reaching the general public the day so soon after three of his most important players have picked up injuries, with many fans’ concerns about a lack of transfer activity in the summer, is unforgivable for its borderline idiocy.
A manager with Wenger’s tenure, coupled with his reputation for attractive football, should have all the star players he could ever want queuing up to play for him – signing for the longest-serving manager in English football who can virtually guarantee Champions League football should be a no-brainer – but for whatever reason there isn’t one. Maybe it’s his negotiating skills, maybe it’s the fact that everyone who goes to play for him ends up seriously injured, or maybe it’s because there is a growing feeling that the jig is almost up for him and players want to see who comes in next before committing to a long-term deal at the Emirates.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Trying to be optimistic about Arsenal…
So, in very much his trademark manner, Arsenal has managed to break some of his key players as the most crucial part of the season approaches. Frankly, I’m glad it happened in November and no earlier or later.
Had Sanchez, Le Coq, Santi, or Kos pulled up earlier – Arsene would have given us his traditional “they’re back in so and so month and it’ll be like a new signing” instead of buying in Jan. Had it happened later, say in late December or Jan – Arsene would be rushed into the marked and forced to buy a makeshift player just to make up the numbers.
Given that he has one entire month to assess injuries, holes in the squad, and line up probable signings, I’m going to be the most optimistic I’ve ever been and say he’ll buy quality in Jan. Also, looking at the fixture list for December before the transfer market opens – Arsenal have relatively easy games against Sunderland, Villa, Southampton and Bournemouth (yes, considering they lost to West Brom and drew with the Canaries nothing is an easy fixture, but again I’m being supremely optimistic). The only real ‘worrying’ matches are the crucial CL game against Olympiakos and the small task of a Silva powered Man City at home.
Looking to Jan, they’ve got a struggling Newcastle side before a 10 day break after which there’s Liverpool on the 13th, and Chelsea on the 24th. If Wenger plays his cards right and acts early (which honestly he’s never done in his entire career) he could bring in a couple of top-class players, integrate them into the squad, and make a real attempt at a title challenge.
Of course, all of this is at the violent end of the spectrum of optimism. It’s all obviously going to fall apart after three straight losses to Olympiakos, Villa and City followed by draws with the Saints and Cherries.
Bamboo (Hello fourth place, we missed you)
De Bruyne: Brilliant but looks like a pear
City fan here. Just want to say De Bruyne has been fantastic for Citeh so far. I love the way he plays, but he does look a bit like a pear, and he also looks like he is allergic to everything.
Despite all this, he has played a lot of games for Citeh and looks like a fantastic and innovative attacking threat. 50£+ is a lot of money, but bloody hell are we rich. Love our club spending pocket change on such a talented and modest player. Sterling could still do with proving himself for the tag.
This also brings to mind who Citeh fans are. We have supported the club through thick and thin, and it is so great to hear that so many fans consider David Silva the greatest City player ever. The only man he could ever overtake is Colin Bell, another modest playmaker who is willing to work his ass off for the teams sake.
Who needs superstars when you have a squad of players playing for the same goal, or perhaps the same ‘project’?
I can see De Bruyne being the next superstar at City after Silva and Toure lose their special shine. Hopefully Jason Denayer can mature into a Vincent Kompany to become our young, Belgian, defensive leader who can also get our stuff organized at the back the way his compatriot has done for years. On with the Argentinian Blues now and on with the Belgian Blues in the future!
It’s a long season. Can’t wait to see Denayer prove himself in the Premier League. Come on City!
Mike from the States
If you don’t laugh…
The headline on the Mike Williamson article made me laugh. The story made me cry. We’re terrible.
Funnily enough after reading a ‘troll, lolz click bait’ comment I wasn’t surprised to see Liverpool next to the name. They’re joking mate, relax.
True love for Little Franky
Another excellent piece in your ‘portrait of an icon’ series, and one that falls very close to home.
There are two truly great, transcending moments I’ve seen live at a football ground – the guy hitting a Peruvian defender with a paper plane at Wembley, and that backheel against Norwich in the FA Cup. As memory serves, the cheer for the big screen replay was louder than the goal, as those in the far end of the ground realised this was no ordinary goal they had just witnessed. Poor Mikael Forssell’s late brace was very much overshadowed by that moment of magic.
It also reminds me of a time where success most certainly wasn’t something to be taken for granted as a Chelsea fan – we were a jobbing mid-table side who embarked on the occasional cup run before the likes of Zola, Desailly and Deschamps hit our shores, and from then of course our Russian friend and his rubles changed the landscape of football (and Chelsea fan expectations) forever. I’m not saying for one minute I’d trade the recent years of success, but it certainly gives some perspective in the current times of ‘crisis’ at the Bridge.
So thank you, F365, for reminding me of one of the reasons why I fell in love with football.
Little Franky. Legend.
Blunders, CFC, London (I’m OK, I’ve just got something in my eye…)
…Excellent write-up on the little magician Zola, as a United fan he was one of the very few players who you just had to love, I remember watching either a World Cup or Euro Champs game where he was sent off for stepping over the ball in the corner, I think the ref came to the conclusion Zola tried to stamp on the defender possibly the most ridiculous decision ever, Zola trying to hurt another human what was he thinking? Sat here now at work all misty-eyed for the glory years of Zola, Cantona, Di Canio etc.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
…Reading your latest profile of an icon reminded me of a time I met Graeme Le Saux.
We got talking about all sorts of stuff, from his time in the England side with Gazza, a man for which he had nothing but glowing things to say, and also his time in the Chelsea team.
When asked who the best player he ever played with or against, he answered without a second’s hesitation, Zola. He then went on to say that not only was he an absolute genius, but he was the nicest guy you could ever wish to meet. He was laughing about him being a “tiny guy that would always drive these huge cars, almost like he was stepping out of a HGV when turning up at training”, and that he drove like an absolute maniac around London, so every new signing or youth player called up was picked up by Zola on their first day of training and got out looking like they’d seen a ghost.
As a side note, he also told a story about being off with the England team and Ian Wright had been seen in the papers taking a “mystery woman” to Disneyland Paris. Hoddle went off to speak to him and told the whole room of players “not to say a word about it”. About half an hour later, Hoddle and Wright walked back into a completely silent room, only for Gazza to pick up two saucers, place them on either side of his head and say “so how was Mickey when you saw him?”.
Joe (Not much point to this mail, just reminded of some fun stories I’d hear) WBAFC
An excellent mail on writers and football
A quick reply to David, Brixton, despite the fact that I have some sympathy for the point made, and because he honestly seems to want views from other writers. Admittedly, I don’t write on sport, but let me qualify ‘sympathy’: the point is not entirely wrong, in that no media source is immune to the dominance of n*rrative, because n•rrative is by definition what a writer does. Yes, Storey writes narratives. Ian Wright “writes” narratives. The BBC writes narratives. It’s what writing/reporting means, quite literally, the OED tells me. The difference is in how coverage responds to the facts on the ground, and how reflexive it is about its own place in the dominant narrative. You can write ‘let’s revel in this part of a story, because it shows an amazing counterpoint to everything that is wrong in PL recruiting’ and ‘hang on a minute, it’s a great story, but let’s not pretend the man is a golden hero’ without contradiction…or you could sweep the tension between the narratives under the rug. And therein lies the answer to David’s other accusation.
No, writers don’t have to list their long list of indiscretions with their byline. Why? Because no one holds them out to be role models for children. In fact, if anything, they tend to be very much the opposite, if my history of lit hasn’t entirely escaped me…it is assumed that writers are either repetitive drones or iniquitous, fickle, usually substance-abusing geniuses (and not entirely without reason). I challenge you to find a mother or father who reads an article on F365 and says “daughter/son, just look: you could be that some day”. You might find a few, but I will happily hold those up against the several millions of examples I could find of the other side Apparently a director is considering making a movie of Vardy’s story: I don’t know, Daniel, had any calls from Hollywood recently?
The point is not, as apologists are so wont to say, that footballers are held to a ‘higher standard’: actually, it seems extaordinarily lower, given Leicester’s (and, in fairness to Leicester fans, the problem is endemic and not just specific) disciplinary record versus my employer’s on comparable offenses. See the Harrowing Quote. The point is whether a writer is willing to whitewash a narrative and entirely ignore its ugly sides – or more insidiously, say the ugly sides *vindicate* a ‘boy come good’ – or willing to confront that the two don’t go together.
Is Vardy a saint? No. Is he being crucified by F365 for the way in which he is being newly sold as a golden child, on the grounds that the sales pitch provides a grand way to avoid talking about race and physical violence, because it is the new narrative on the market? No. That’s just what’s wholly, and unfortunately true. I could go on about the strange parallels between this moment and Mark Walberg in the States, but the point is made…you can lionize an achievement without erasing what that lionization might otherwise hide. Vardy can be himself – an instructive case in *both* the glorious and the terribly ugly – or he can be treated as a paragon of All Things Good. I know which story I want to read my kids at night, even if it’s the harder one.
Iain (Grimm’s are pretty bleak for a reason) CUFC, Seattle
Why mention morality? This is business
As it seems to do on a very regular basis, the issue of morality in football has raised its very ugly head again recently, this time with Jamie Vardy. Given that I’ve said this before (no-one listened) and I’ll probably say it again (no-one will listen) I will get straight to the point – there is almost no morality in football. There is profit and there is team performance. They are the driving forces behind the decisions that clubs make.
Football is there to be enjoyed as an often wonderful sport, providing drama and thrills on the pitch, fantastic highs and terrible lows. But it has become (for better or worse) much more than that. The players are superstars, they advertise everything and their private lives are constantly in the papers. But that does not mean they should be role models. It does not mean that clubs and their approach to disciplining players should have any reflection in normal life.
I have a young son and I am sure he will become interested in football. I respect footballers who show the effort and commitment to get to the top because the odds of doing so are ridiculously small but there isn’t a chance that I will allow him to consider them role models. Or to think that how they are disciplined by their club is in any way connected to the severity of the offence. There are better ways for responsible parents to teach children about right and wrong than football. The approach with football is that if you’re a good enough player you can get away with almost anything, not exactly one to guide the next generation. Eric Cantona physically assaults someone and is back the following season because he was excellent. At Liverpool Luis Suarez bites and racially abuses people, that’s OK. Charles Itandje giggles at a funeral and is sacked. Perfect example at Leicester with Vardy who is still there and the youth players who were dismissed. One of the few brave decisions I can think of is Chelsea sacking Mutu (and even then they successfully sued him for the transfer fee).
So please let’s stop this tiresome bickering around what clubs should or shouldn’t do. And stop using the whole “footballers are role models” nonsense. Maybe they are to some people but they really shouldn’t be. If you want to debate whether or not the response from a club is appropriate then it should be in terms of how good a player is (or how much merchandise he sells) because it’s got little to do with his offence. It’s high time we recognised this and moved on.
Listen, let’s just watch football
Look, I know that the mails on Vardy’s indiscretions are going to stop being published soon, but this is more of a general mail.
Can everyone stop obsessing about what footballers do off the field (yes, you F365) and just enjoy watching football. I couldn’t give a s#1t what footballers do when they’re not playing as it doesn’t have any effect on a game. I like watching football and enjoy seeing all types of footballers. Jamie Vardy and Luis Suarez are good footballers to watch and that’s all that matters to me. I don’t really care what they are like off the pitch as it really has no direct effect on me.
So please, could everyone take their feet out of the stirrups and jump off the moral high horse and just enjoy football for what it should be, a 90-minute game.
Paddy (not condoning racism either) Ireland