Now watch West Ham v Man United and mail us your views. It’s been a good week. The address is email@example.com
In defence of Martinez
Why do the press, including F365, so often paint failing managers as buffoons?
I’m an Evertonian. I want Martinez gone. The article you have written about him whilst amusing, is unfair and poorly timed. A vulgar media take-down almost.
You constantly rip journos to shreds in your flagship Mediawatch column for misquoting or twisting managers words, yet one of your very first examples of Martinez’s guff regarding Tom Cleverley has been misquoted and taken out of context. If you re-read his comments, he was clearly talking about Tom Cleverley in terms of the Premier League’s history of free transfers, yet you have omitted this. Yes, Cleverley is, imo, rubbish. Even as a freebie, he is far from sensational, but omitting this from your text changes the context hugely.
Again, similarly for the Gareth Barry quote, he was talking in terms of England midfielders in the Premier League era. Whilst hyperbolic, Barry is a fantastic player; one that the vast majority of fans don’t appreciate until he plays for you and you see him every weekend. I was one of these before he joined Everton.
Even the picture you have been using recently for Martinez-related articles of him appearing to be struggling to catch a ball is childish. Martinez was in fact a very skilful player in his day, and still has a some good skills as Everton fans have seen on the touchline or social media videos.
As a person, Martinez is likeable. He has taken our club to his heart, and you know he is very passionate about us. I know a number of people who have met Martinez and have all commented on what a really nice guy he is (perhaps the problem at Everton). Whilst he is endlessly positive and clearly has a large back catalogue of phenomenal remarks, you could have ran a similar article like this 18 months ago, when things were much rosier than they are now, but doing so now is just proving how much click-bait hungry F365 can be.
Rightly criticise him for his football and tactics, but don’t join the club of slating a manager’s personality because it suits the moment.
…I’m not the biggest fan of Roberto Martinez but I think it’s unfair to pick out his quotes in that way and ridicule him. It’s likely that one can do the same with almost any manager. I understand you need clicks but it brings down the value of gems such as Portrait of an Icon, 16 Conclusions, etc. when they share the same space.
Articles like that look more like arguments in Facebook comment sections so it’s a little disappointing to see. It might just be me but it seems like once F365 forms an opinion on someone, they leave no stone unturned in pressing that home, even if it leaves a slight distaste in the mouth (read constant Jamie Vardy targeting) and I hope there will be more unbiased writing in the future.
Sasank (Not even mentioning the Buzzfeed style ‘5 players who…’ series that has cropped up of late)
The FA Cup desperation list
The FA Cup is contains one of the most interesting subplots left in the 15/16 season. The five managers of the teams remaining in the competition could all do with winning the cup, but for very different reasons. I’ve placed them in order of desperation:
1) LVG – It’s rolling on three years since United last lifted a trophy. In that time he’s managed to ship out most of the players that won the league back in 2013. As case studies go, this might become a classic example of how you destroy a club’s winning culture. If you believe the rumours about Jose, this is the last chance Van Gaal has to leave with his head held high.
2) Martinez – The emperor has no clothes. Under Martinez the club has gone from fifth-place finish to 11th last year, and now on course for 14th. All this with some of Europe’s brightest prospects in his team? A cup win got him this job, now it might be only thing that can keep him in it.
3) Pardew – He could easily be higher up this list but his situation isn’t as urgent as others. Just one league win since the 19th of December indicates that the infamous ‘Pardew slide’ wasn’t confined to his Newcastle spell. Win the FA Cup and people will forgive the sins of the past four months (And he can probably start talking about the England job again)
4) Bilic – A stunning first season in the Premier League, and for a time it did seem they were in the hunt for fourth. West Ham are moving to a fancy new stadium, with a manager that seems like the real deal – but holding that trophy above those hard Croatian features would really announce that this man means business.
5) Flores – Watford picked up 29 points in the first half of the season. Since 1 January they’ve collected just nine as they sleepwalk towards the 40-point mark. Staying in the league is practically done, but can he show the fortitude that earned him a Europa League win with Atletico back in 2010.
Personally, I’m picking Bilic.
My favourite season ever
Everyone seems to be very agreeable to the view that this season was about as predictable as that time Gazza turned up at a police siege with a bucket of chicken and a fishing rod. Leicester emerged from nowhere and have yet to be stopped, Tottenham have moved up a level (all thanks to the groundwork laid by Tactics Tim), Man City did an Arsenal, Arsenal did an even Arsenalier Arsenal, and what can be said about the rest has been said to death.
After reading Alex Stokoe’s Welcome Guest feature on ‘Tino Asprilla, I spent my morning at work watching Premier League Years 95/96. Despite the shows generally being one big Skywankfest, that season was incredible. Newcastle doing an Arsenal before Arsenal began doing Arsenals, Cantona’s return, Yeboah’s goal, the Brazilian player of the year signing for bloody Middlesborough! Fowler, Collymore, Shearer, Le Tissier, the emergence of Fergie’s Fledglings.
Being 11 years old at the time, this is when I properly fell in love with football. What is everybody else’s favourite season?
Jim, Manchester (formerly of Bali)
Why can’t Leicester challenge again?
Since the topic of how exciting next season will be has come up, one opinion seems common place. Leicester City have been bloody marvellous but they won’t do it again. It amazes me how no one sees the irony of confidently writing off a team for next season, based on sound logic and experience, when that same team made everyone’s predictions, founded on sound logic and experience, look so foolish this season. So I decided offer the (exceptionally longwinded) alternative view. I want to offer my thinking about how Leicester can stay relevant.
Firstly, a caveat. I am an optimistic realist. With that in mind, I feel Leicester should utilise the wonderful windfall they have earned themselves to attempt to establish themselves in the group of European chasers together with Everton (unless Bobby has other ideas), Southampton, Liverpool (current because there are no guarantees of where we will be in future), West Ham, Manchester United (for the next season or two at least) and Stoke.
The first step would be to keep the current squad together. No use trying to strengthen if you lose your best players. As a Liverpool fan I am all too familiar with this concept. I believe the best way to go about this, based on the perceived camaraderie and unity within the squad, is to guarantee the team that got them to where they are will play the Champions League games if fit. No Brendan Rodgers style reserve teams, allow the players that earned the reward to enjoy the reward. Agree with the players that will be in demand like Kante and Mahrez that once the European campaign is over, you would be willing to let them move to bigger clubs if they wish. In the meantime appeal to them to stay and enjoy the fruits of their labour. According to the proposed changes to the seeding, Leicester would be in Pot 1 with the other champions of the top leagues, so a Champions League group containing the bumper clash against one Europe’s elite (Madrid’s Real or Atletico, Dortmund, Napoli, Monaco and Porto are all possibilities as current leagues stand), a decent European name (PSV, Shaktar, Sporting Lisbon, Bayer Leverkusen or Roma) and finally the obligatory Eastern European minnow should be enough to entice them. No simple task, but I believe that needs to be the basis of building the team for the future.
After this step, the next consideration needs to be improving the squad to deal with the additional pressure that the European games will put on a squad. For a club that managed to name the same starting eleven for basically every game this is especially crucial, not to forget long-term replacements for the senior statesmen in the team. Add too few players, injuries and fatigue become a worry. Add too many and morale drops due to lack of game time. With the previous point in mind, and with financial considerations, Leicester should not buy at the Champions League experienced professional shop, as those players would want huge wages (comparative to the existing squad) and would demand to be the centre of attention. However, doing a Spurs or Liverpool is not a good idea either. So my thinking would be to buy mid to upper-table Premier League quality, players you can slot into league fixtures to rest the Champions league players. Easier said than done I hear you cry! Yes, but this is where I stick my neck out, for I have a suggested shopping list…
Obviously versatility is key. Being able to cover a number of positions to afford the largest number of players a chance of a rest without signing too many players. Fitting with the team ethos and style (Hi Christian, how is that Anfield bench treating you?) is imperative. I believe Leicester can follow a few well-travelled transfer roads. Firstly, the relegated player. Picking the carcass of the discarded teams to find anything worth keeping. From this bunch of disappointing performers, I would suggest picking up either Yann M’Vila or Idrissa Gueye. Both are all-action midfielders who have stood out from the dross around them and could definitely perform at the upper mid-table level, while offering similar approaches to the game that Kante and Drinkwater do.
The second approach to transfers, stealing from your neighbour. From this offering of players I would suggest bullying Swansea into selling Andre Ayew. A player most comfortable on the wing or wide attacker role but who can cover up top in a pinch. A hard worker with good movement and an eye for goal. The third transfer approach I suggest is the promising youngster who never got the opportunity to fulfil his potential. This approach is heading into a grey area admittedly but I would suggest picking up Steve Caulker. A very similar player to Wes Morgan and Robert Huth and would slot seamlessly into the settled backline. He hasn’t played much this season, mostly due to the signing of Virgil van Dijk and the panic loan to Liverpool when faced with Jose Enrique playing central defence. But Huth wasn’t getting game time at Stoke when he joined last January so I am sticking to my guns.
Lastly, I would suggest either the top team drop out or the European unknown. As the name suggests, the European unknown is exactly that and I wouldn’t credit myself with nearly enough knowledge to offer any suggestions here (where is Michael Jongsma when you need him?) so I will focus on the top team drop out. With full-back being the area of the team not yet addressed, two names spring to mind but a lot depends on their current clubs. Mateo Darmian was a very good defender before GLV got hold of him and I am sure he can be again so if United want to get rid of him Leicester could do a lot worse Otherwise, the recent contract debacle suggests all may not be rosy at Liverpool when John Flanagan is concerned. Our loss would very definitely be Leicester’s gain.
Those four players, added to the squad in place, could perform admirably in the league and Europe, setting Leicester up for the long term at the right end of the table. Of course, they could just as easily revert to type and get relegated, should be enjoyable watching either way.
Brandon, LFC (Next year won’t be Liverpool’s year but it isn’t far off) JHB
Why the bl00dy hell is Hector Bellerin not among the nominees for Young Player of the year?
I’m not saying he should win – my non-Arsenal biased sensible head tells me that Dele Alli ought to have it sewn up.
On the other hand my totally biased, non-sensible Gooner self is shouting that Bellerin’s the best young player in the league by miles and anyone that didn’t vote for him has got bum gravy for brains.
Rob, Bristol Gooner (idiot gooner me is not very far wrong either…)
Some City conclusions
* I wasn’t at the match but the crowd atmosphere seemed much better than usual. Too often we have been guilty of not firing up our team during Champions League matches, expecting the players to get the crowd going instead.
* As well as we played, PSG were shocking. I truly was expecting us to see very little of the ball, and be camped in our own half for much of the match, but regaining possession was ridiculously easy. I can’t remember a team who dawdled on the ball this much since Villa.
* De Bruyne once again was the one producing the goods when it mattered. I am of the opinion that he is the most exciting signing we have made since Aguero, and probably should be now considered our best player.
* Our defence for the first time in ages seemed organised and assured, and there was no Kompany. There has been talk of buying yet another CB in the summer, but I don’t think that’s necessary. It is defensive midfield that needs work. Toure has been a luxury player for a couple of years now. His omission from the team was key last night. If we can get Gundogan as some reports are suggesting, then we’ll have a player who will be able to keep up with the play a lot better and expect Mangala to shine behind that much-needed protection.
* I think Hart is starting to get the wider recognition he deserves. No he’s not the complete package, but he’s been massive in the Champions League. On top of that, like Kompany he has City running in his veins (sorry I couldn’t think of a less cringey way to put that). For that reason I sincerely hope he stays no. 1 under Pep.
* Still don’t think we’ll win the whole thing of course, but we are close enough now that the players will have no trouble getting motivated. Knowing that they could write their names in City folklore might just be enough to cause a couple of upsets. Damn it! I’m starting to hope.
Praise for Fernando
Sitting at work the day after that game in an office of UTD fans, I can feel quite smug today despite the hangover the match led me to. Not just that we won, not just that we kept a clean sheet, not just that we’re in the semis, but that Fernando (almost) completely redeemed himself for that absolute playground mistake in the first leg.
The performance last night from the man was exactly what I said we bought the guy for. Admittedly he surely was supposed to be more of a squad player than starting 11 for both PSG ties, but he is combative, screens the back four, and allows Fernandinho to go forward when he wants, but when he plays well he also takes some of the pressure off the all too often shaky back four. There was even a brief moment of Brazilian footwork to escape a couple of challenges. It may be Pellegrini’s fault that at times he has had to rely on Fernando and Demichelis in the biggest games, but unlike Martin, Fernando stepped up when it mattered most.
And lastly, KDB, what a footballer! Take note UTD, if Jose comes in he may look at Martial and think ‘but Ashley Young will track back more’.
Dave (Come on Benfica and a generous draw!) Morgan, MCFC
Shots on target? A nonsense measure
I have always had an issue with people stating the ‘Shots on Target’ stat, as I think it is a completely misleading statistic. Gavin in the morning mailbox referenced it – now I know he was only saying it to compare with Leicester, not to knock Man City, but it is mentioned a lot in these hallowed pages with damaging intent.
The way I see it, you can hit the ball directly at the keeper, or you can try for the corner and miss. To me, they are both as useless/effective as each other, except only one counts towards the ‘Shots on Target’ stat.
Aguero had good chances last nice, and they all went wide, even the penalty. To say they had a single shot on target makes them sound like West Brom. Far from it!
Rant over, hoping for a Man City-Bayern semi, oh the narrative…
Some Man United and Chelsea rejects
Watching how good de Bruyne was last night got me thinking about some of the mad decisions made by the two most successful English clubs over the last decade, namely Chelsea and Man Utd and the players they offloaded. You could make a very formidable team from just the castaways of those two clubs, a team which I think would comfortably account for the current Man Utd and Chelsea teams. The criteria is pretty straightforward – only players are included if they were sold seemingly willingly by the club who evidently didn’t rate them highly enough (so no Ronaldo for example who Utd would obviously have liked to keep). We’re talking about players who, for the most part, would have stayed had they been wanted or had the chance of regular football and who are currently performing pretty damn well.
GK: Cech (ex. Chelsea)
RB: da Silva (ex. Man Utd)
CB: Luiz (ex. Chelsea)
CB: Huth (ex. Chelsea)
LB: Bertrand (ex. Chelsea)
LW: Nani (ex. Man Utd)
CM: Pogba (ex. Man Utd)
CM: de Bruyne (ex. Chelsea)
RW: Welbeck (ex. Man Utd)
F: Hernandez (ex. Man Utd)
F: Lukaku (ex. Chelsea)
Valdes (ex. Man Utd)
Luis (ex. Chelsea)
Shawcross (ex. Man Utd)
Evra (ex. Man Utd)
Fletcher (ex. Man Utd)
Kagawa (ex. Man Utd)
Van Persie (ex. Man Utd)
Schurrle (ex. Chelsea)
De Bruyne and Welbeck are a little shoehorned into their positions but it’s nothing overly egregious I think. Is it not usual to have such a strong selection of players rejected by just two clubs? Are the superpowers in the other European leagues jettisoning quality players with such alarming regularity?
Poll of the day
Is Alberto Moreno’s ridiculous new tattoo of a monkey carrying a gun while wear a suit and headphones proof that most Premier League footballers are a bunch of overpaid moronic asshats with the mental age of a particularly stupid five-year-old? I vote a resounding yes to that!
It’s been emotional
David’s quite excellent video on the Brno stadium brought both a big grin and a tear to the eye. As has been said by a better man than me – ‘Football, bloody hell!’
In addition to Daniel Storey’s marvellous piece on Georgie, you’ve certainly put us through the wringer today.
There’s a five-year-old me on the front row of this pic with George, various ’68 heroes and the European Cup (and a nun). Still my favourite photo of all time.
F365, the site that caters for all your emotional needs.
Bill, MUFC Manc in Melbourne