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How to remove Neville
Looking at England’s bench on Tuesday, I realised the exact point that Phil Neville will fall off your famous England ladder – that is the inevitable point when big brother Gary is given the opportunity to step up to the England hotseat and silly billy Philly suddenly drops down to about 5,000,000th on that list.
Maybe you can then officially “retire” the number 50 slot like some football clubs do with legendary players’ shirt numbers.
That is, of course, unless the elder Neville is smart enough not to accept the poisoned chalice when it’s offered.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
If everyone is fit…
As usual your England ladder makes very interesting reading and naturally a fierce debate will rage on between now and next summer as to who should be in Roy’s squad for the Euro’s.
However let’s stop for a moment and allow ourselves the wildly unlikely scenario that ALL the current eligible players will be fit, playing well and available for selection come the end of the season. With everyone up for selection then suddenly, with the exception of the keeper and right back, Roy’s choices get hugely complicated. Just picking a squad would be hard – the starting eleven seems like an impossibly close call to me
Hart, Butland, Forster – In that order, no real arguments here I don’t think
Cline, Walker – Clear first choice, followed by somewhat less exciting second choice. After which we’re probably looking at Stones and/or Jones filling in
Shaw, Gibbs, Baines, Bertrand – Shown in my order of preference, but all good players as far as I’m concerned
Stones, Cahill, Smalling, Jones, Jagielka – Stones paired with either Smalling or Cahill for me (Clive)
(At this point it gets really tricky and I’m bound to have missed a couple out. I also admit the lines between attacking midfielders and forwards are a bit blurred. Call them whatever position you like – these are the players in contention as I see it)
Wilshere, Barkley, Carrick, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alli, Dier, Delph, Milner, Townsend, Shelvey, Lallana
My choice? a fairly narrow trio of Henderson right, Alli central and Wilshere to the left, in order to allow our naturally attacking fullbacks to overlap. It wasn’t easy to leave Barkley out here, but he still does tend to give the ball way in dangerous areas even when playing well.
Rooney, Kane, Walcott, Sterling, Sturridge, Welbeck, Vardy, Berahino
I would pick a fluid, interchanging front three of Sterling left, Rooney in the middle and Walcott right. Rooney only just keeps out Kane due to his goal-scoring record at this level, and it’s only really their pace that gets the other two in ahead of a very unlucky Sturridge.
Overall, with everyone available, I see a young exciting squad. No real superstars, but potentially a collective that could gel together into something far more than the sum of it’s parts. I’ve made my first choice eleven above, but you could potentially change half of that team over for others in the squad and you wouldn’t see me panicking about it.
But this really highlights the real problem for me. In reality we’ve got no chance of having everyone fit and playing well, the workload of a full English season (38 premier league games plus two cup competitions plus Champions/Europa league ties on top) simply doesn’t allow it. Our players are all too often burnt out and/or carrying injuries by the end of the season, and this combined with the ridiculous weight of expectations they have to deal with (from our wonderful tabloid media in particular), nearly always leads to sluggish, tired performances from our national team at these tournaments
When we eventually address and hopefully solve that conundrum, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll see just what this England team is really capable of.
Rob, Bristol Gooner (the reason I like the ‘everyone fit’ scenario is that it would probably mean Arsenal have just won the league)
Thoughts are slowly turning to the weekend and I am starting to think about how messy a time it is to play Man City. Sterling looks really good for club and country and I fear he’ll be hugely motivated for the match. Plus they have about 21 other players who would waltz into our first team comfortably. Actually Viera might be 40 but I’d bet he’d still challenge for a role in our midfield when you factor in injuries.
Klopp will set the team up to bring City down to our level; he will want to make it scrappy and keep us tight and hard to break down but I think that will completely kill our own creativity. It’s hard to see beyond a Milner right sided performance skewed heavily towards defensive work with either Coutinho doing the same on the left.
This is the perfect game for Firmino to feature as a lone striker for me. He’s got the pace and the skill to either hold up the ball or to scrap it out on his own in a break. You’ve got to think that if we were going to win it would come down to catching Kompany high up the field and beating him in a 1 on 1 situation.
God they have so many good players it’s miserable.
But Sterling is overrated
Does anyone else think Sterling is overrated for what he does? I know he is young so he will improve but F365 rating him 3rd in Roys list, that has to be on public eye not on actual skill. Whenever I see him play he is never convincing. His burst of pace and ball control is incredible but too many times you see him either cut into the box take a touch, go to shoot…dummy it….go to shoot again…dummies it again, and then when he does shoot the keeper is more than ready and is surround by defenders.
The same for when he goes wide, so many times I’m screaming at my TV “CROSS IT NOW!!! O FFS!” as he crosses either straight to the first defenders face or defensive filled box. Hes goals for Man City have been against newly promoted sides 3 of them against a poor Bournemouth.
I know I am on my own with this, but is there anyone else who gets annoyed with Sterling taking too many touches and too many dribbles?
Stoky-Boy (MUFC so should really hate the poor kid,Ex Lpool now Citeh player)
Bring back wingers
I’ve been wondering for a while, though never bothering to write in(I prefer to look on from the sides), has the shift to playing a technical game these days killed the natural instinct of some players and thus draining the game of those natural thrilling bits we’d come to love from the good ol’ days? Many a winger nowadays just love to cut in and play a pass or shoot from distance, or at Man Utd, play it back to De Gea not run at their man, beat him and cross the ball.
Take for instance Di Maria (yeah, I know). It always felt like his natural instinct was to get the ball, run at the opposition, whip in a killer cross. This is what we (I specifically) came to love him for at Real Madrid and Benfica. But it always felt like it was stifled by LvG’s safe pass ideology. The same could be said for Tony V, Adnan Januzaj and players from other clubs that aren’t Man Utd. (I can’t name many because I don’t watch many games; they’re broadcast in the morning).
Correct me if I’m wrong but ‘most’ of Wayne Rooney’s best goal scoring seasons came when Manchester United had proper/improper-but-can-cross wingers. Nani(who if you remember racked up many assists in his Man Utd Player of the Year season 2011, most of them crosses), same as Tony-V (back when he knew how to play football), Giggsy et cetera.
Btw, before his time at Old Trafford, 51% of Falcao’s 153 goals in Europe came from getting on the end of crosses. Now, you know why he didn’t work out for LvG or Mourinho either.
Even Manchester United’s fifth all time goal scorer, Mr. Own Goal only has one goal to his name this season. I bet even Ronaldinho could look just above average playing under LvG! I could go on with more examples but I’ll have to choose between studying for my upcoming exams and doing research about more players like this.
I don’t quite see why he keeps demanding faster players if his philosophy doesn’t quite utilize their talents.
During the 09/10 season when Rooney scored 26 and Own Goal scored 10 for the season, it’s because Giggsy, Nani, Tony V, Park, Gary Neville, Evra, Rafael all marauded forward and whipped in killer balls defenders knew not how to deal with.
Everyone knows the trademark of the olden times, when wingers got the ball, run half the length of the pitch, beat their man in the corner and crossed the ball with 5 heads waiting in the box! That split-second feeling when a deadly ball leaves the crosser’s foot and you don’t know whether the striker is going to score or the defender is going to put it in his own net during the 89th minute.
All I’m trying to say is valuing possession and trying to beat the other team with a million passes in their 18 yard area during stoppage time is beautiful when it works (it doesn’t, because if it always did, Arsenal would be defending Premier League champs 5 years running now), but you can’t argue that the most thrilling games aren’t those where each team plays good ol’ all-out free-flowing counter-attacking football for 90 minutes. So LvG, please put Rooney and two more in the box play actual wingers and cross the ball for 90 minutes if it comes down to that. I’m sure he or someone will nick one in. Want proof? See the recent England-France game.
Patrick (you don’t know what it’s like to watch Man Utd play at 7:45 am!) K. Boston, US
In response to Colin, (England’s dream draw will quickly become a nightmare after a 0-0 draw with Albania) us minnows (Ireland) would actually fancy getting England in the group stages for very good reason, you are probably the weakest/second weakest team in that pot.
From an Irish perspective, we don’t tend to score a lot of goals but are well capable of digging in and being difficult to beat. England aren’t exactly brimming with world class attackers like Germany or Spain, Belgium have a very good team with 2 exceptional attackers, Portugal have Ronaldo and France have world class players like Pogba, Benzema & Griezmann. England have a lot of promising young players and an ageing Wayne Rooney. England didn’t cause Ireland a lot of problems when they drew 0-0 a few months ago. Just because you beat a clearly distracted French team doesn’t suddenly make you world beaters.
This isn’t some anti English rant but I find his comments referring to Ireland, Northern Ireland & Wales as ‘minnows’ to be very condescending. Especially considering the Welsh team are ranked very closely to England and have a genuine match winner like Gareth Bale in the side. England are a good side but the other teams worry me far more.
Group of death: Spain, Italy, Sweden/Poland
Hoping for: England, Switzerland/Ukraine, Romania
Dan, Ireland MUFC (A little respect please, we are all there on merit)
Leave Switzerland alone
Quick question that I’ve had for awhile but never bothered to write in: Why do so many Football365 Mailboxers seem to be of the opinion that Switzerland are minnows?
Switzerland qualifies for basically every tournament. Unlike countries randomly considered equal or superior to Switzerland such as Sweden Denmark Norway Croatia Serbia Slovakia(!?) Austria Ireland Wales Poland Ukraine. Etc.
It doesn’t particularly offend me that Switzerland aren’t rated – I’m just genuinely bewildered by this interpretation.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Well…I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
Bolton may finally be being taken over by a consortium, the real news is that the consortium is spearheaded by Dean Holdsworth and Amir Khan. Nuts.
There was also fanciful talk that Big Sam would return as Director of Football and Phil Brown as manager, creating some kind of strange Bolton dream team. I was half expecting Gary Cahill to return as captain. Nobody knows exact details, but fans are ecstatic that there might be a change at the top.
What this change actually means is unclear. Bolton haven’t paid a transfer fee for at least two seasons, and have relied on frees and loans. People could say Neil Lennon has not performed as expected, with the club in 23rd place, but without any funds at all and a requirement to further slash the wage bill, his job is near impossible.
Will this consortium add a cash injection? If not we will be in league 1 next season. Still, at least nobody will raise their voice to Amir Khan if it all goes wrong.
Dave, BWFC (As if having Ameobi and Heskey wasn’t comedy enough)
Football Manager says Alli shouldn’t go
On my current Football Manager save which is in 2036 (I don’t have a life), Dele Alli took the reigns at the Three Lions after a heroic season managing Swansea. He crashed England out at the first round round and every English fan began calling for his head.
Here are some bizzare details that happened a year before then:
1.) He took charge of Swansea at the tail end of the season from a Regen Manager called Owen Wilshere.
2.) The Swansea job was his first managerial Job and he took charge at the club with just 10 games left in the season.
3.) He won all 10 games finishing in a Euro Spot and bagged in an FA cup as well.
4.) Now here is the very spooky part. Guess, who he replaced at England the very next year? A Regen manager named Bryan Hodgson!!!!
I almost died!
Banjo Alfred (I screamed Hell No, Dele when he scored that screamer)