Mails: The biggest afternoon Mailbox ever?

Date published: Thursday 3rd December 2015 3:19

Gary Neville

A superb Mailbox. Applause all round. Now keep them coming to theeditor@football365.com

 

As you were
Memo to Liverpool’s Transfer Committee: Carry On
Christine H

 

Sturridge: The new Ledley King
Does anyone think that Daniel Sturridge is slowly turning into the new Ledley King?

Unplayable on his day, genuine ability to be a world class talent but hampered by injuries.
Ben, Bucks

 

A Southampton fan is a bit shell-shocked
We got mullered. Completely turned over. And the scary thing is we had a near full strength side out, playing at home in front of a full house. That just wasn’t supposed to happen.

Have to say, under Klopp, the Scousers look like they could win the league at this rate…With Chelsea out of the running, City blowing hot and cold, Utd can’t score and Arsenal broken, no reason why they can’t sneak in there and do the job. What a first season that would be for the fella.
Simon C (SFC)

 

A sad rant about Newcastle
Watching Liverpool cut open a poor Southampton defence last night made me deeply fearful of what they are going to do to Newcastle on Sunday.

I’m a Spurs fan but Newcastle are my “other” team after living in the northeast during the Sir Bobby era when Newcastle hosted Barcelona in the Champions League. That night was the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. How far Newcastle have fallen since then is a crime against both football and a community – I can only imagine how deeply the pain must be felt among those born black and white, not lily-white like myself.

Blame is spread by fans and ex-pros among players and the manager as well as the ownership, which is understandable when exasperation levels are what they are. But from an outsiders perspective, it is clear that the blame lies with Mike Ashley. Is there a more loathsome owner in British football, at least among the ones who aren’t overtly criminal (we all know which couple of clubs I’m referring to)?

He has run the club into the ground. Not content with overseeing one relegation, he now has the club on course for another. He has consistently appointed managers manifestly not up to the task such as Joe Kinnear, John Carver and Steve McClaren. Whenever there have been good moments, such as there briefly were under Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew, he has done nothing to build on the momentum. Some say “he spent £50 million this summer”, but that was far from enough to make up for chronic underinvestment since Yohan Cabaye was sold. He has adopted the same tactics for Newcastle as Sports Direct — spending the absolute bare minimum required. But football isn’t low-end retail. You can’t put footballers on zero-hours contracts to get an edge over your rivals.

Meanwhile, Ashley has turned St James Park, a cathedral of football, into a giant advertising board for Sports Direct, even attempting to change the name. He signed a sponsorship deal with Wonga, a financial firm who are essentially loan sharks (yes, that is what you are when you charge APR of 5,853%) and who will likely have been responsible for driving thousands of people in Newcastle alone into even more fire financial straits.

The word institutional drift gets used a lot in football, and feels relevant for Aston Villa in particular. Their owner has no idea if he is coming or going, and is making up strategy on the hoof as the club slides slowly into decline. But Ashley is worse than this — there is a malign aspect to the direct he sets. He clearly doesn’t care about the club, beyond protection of an investment — and even then, the £129 million debt that the club owes him, which he won’t let it pay down, means he will lose less than most if they go down again and can’t get back up.

Meanwhile, the club is stuck with McClaren, a guy who may once have been a good manager but is no longer. After the Leicester defeat, he claimed that “the problem was we were second best in all areas” — when someone says that you can be 100% sure he has no clue what the problem is. The gibberish after Palace — “it’s not about tactics, it’s not about systems, it’s about effort” — may have pleased the pundits on Monday Night Club, but in the real world it is utter nonsense. All but absolute idiots know that tactics and systems matter.

Of course, I want Spurs to smash Newcastle on Sunday week. But there’ll be a tinge of sadness if we do.
Charlie, THFC, Somerset

 

Attack, attack. Attack attack attack
Who are this Liverpool team?

I’ve been to most of our home games this season, remember the one where we crept passed newly promoted Bournemouth with a dubious goal 1-0, When West Ham turned up and ran riot or even the 1-1 draw against a struggling Rubin Kazan. The defence looked weak, we were playing long ball football and I didn’t know what attacking football is.

Since the arrival of Klopp we look like an entire new squad of players, The way he has made this bunch of players believe in themselves again is unrecognisable, players who some groups of fans were calling for their heads after the prices paid for them are now living up to their true potential. Attacking football is becoming the norm with goal scoring now no longer a thing of the past, the leaky back four is beginning to look solid again. If this is what he can do in two months, I can’t wait to see what he is capable of doing over the course of the season and coming years.
Deano (LFC)

 

Why Lallana got booed
Quick response to Minty, LFC who asked why Lallana gets such a bad reception at St Mary’s.

The short answer is that he didn’t just “put in a transfer request”, he made comments that were tantamount to saying he’d go on strike and not play for the club again if he didn’t get his move.

It’s not that players leaving for another club automatically sparks outrage amongst fans, but in the case of Lallana it was the petulance and disrespect which saddened and then angered everyone.

If you believe the (numerous) stories coming out of the club, it’s not just the fans either. Reportedly the club officials themselves don’t have very nice things to say about Lallana based on the way he behaved that summer.

So yeah, he’s probably the most disliked out of any player who’s left in recent memory.
Mark (you probably received a few of these from Saints fans today), London

 

And a really long one on why they got booed
Unfortunately (probably fortunately) I couldn’t go last night, so had to watch the match on the television. You knew every time Lallana or Lovren got on the ball, because the whole stadium erupted in boos. As is perhaps typical, the commentary was entirely critical of the reaction, with the tired old lines about hows they had given good service to Southampton and then had moved on to the bigger club etc. The strong insinuation being that the Saints fans were showing a level of ingratitude and should instead have been pleased to see returning heroes.

What riles me most is the appalling laziness of the punditry and reporting, repeated again this morning in the Daily Mail. Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin have all left in recent years and been welcomed back by the fans and the club with open arms.

Sure, Morgan made a fuss when he wanted to go, and the club stood firm, but when he did go, the club went out of its way to pay him the respect he deserved, and the fans did too. The first time Rickie Lambert came back with Liverpool, he was the last off the pitch in the pre-match warm up and there was not a fan in the stadium who was not singing his name and clapping their hearts out. The same happened to Chamberlain at the final whistle in our last game at home to Arsenal. When Luke Shaw broke his leg, amongst the first to send their best wishes was Southampton FC, and his reponse expressing his love for the club, said it all.

Recently there was a documentary made about the academy and the heart of its obvious success, and many of these same players appeared in it, due to the fondness and gratitude they retain for the club, which of course is reciprocated. Conspicuous by his absence from the same documentary was Adam Lallana. When Lallana left, I don’t even remember the club acknowledging it in public, never mind sending him a farewell. The same is true of Lovren, though he only played a season with us.

Why did this happen and why is there so much enmity to these two? It comes down to the way they left. There is a right way and a wrong way to leave a football club and both of these two chose the latter. Lallana threatened to go on strike and behaved abysmally, Lovren came out with some idiotic speech about how his head was already in Liverpool and that the club should have told him of Liverpool’s interest despite the fact he was under contract and no bid had been accepted. What followed from there was a load of guff from Brendan Rodgers about how Southampton should somehow be grateful that a club like Liverpool was interested in their players. Rodgers was/ is a clown and since his departure, my deep loathing of Liverpool has lifted – it is amazing that someone who from a PR perspective, did so much harm to that club, was kept on for so long. I digress.

The fact is that Liverpool did not want to pay the fees Southampton were demanding for either player, so the players tried to force their hand by behaving like spoilt school children. I have no issue with players leaving to pursue further fame and fortune. A player’s career is short lived and many have neither the brains nor the education to do very much once they hang up their boots, so when an obvious financial promotion is on offer, you can understand why they would want to take it.

However, what both Lallana and Lovren owed Southampton, was enough loyalty to make sure that the fees they received reflected the value. The rumour with Lallana was that Liverpool had offered something like £5m up front and the rest based on their qualifying for and winning every competition that Southampton aspire to – in other words, in order to get paid for our captain, we would need to lose out to Liverpool who we see as our competition, even despite last night.

Lallana will never be welcome back – he played very well last night and they deserved their win, they were awesome. However, I hope for his sake his next few years at Liverpool are not as bad as his last year, because whilst Lambert will forever be able to do the after dinner/ match day circuit at St. Mary’s and probably get well paid for it, Lallana needs to find another club to be a legend for before he has any chance of post-playing income.
Roland W

 

Gary Neville and Steve Kerr
There are some remarkable parallels between Gary Neville and Steve Kerr the coach of the NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.

Steve Kerr had a very decent playing career and is primarily remembered as being part of the Chicago Bulls team, winning championships alongside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. He was always considered one of the hardest workers on the team, was never a superstar and was regarded as maintaining his career through effort and intelligence rather than pure skill.

After his retirement he worked as part of the behind the scenes management teams of a number of NBA teams. But he was also best known as one of the main analysts on US television, commentating on NBA games. Gaining a reputation along the way as one of the best ‘basketball minds’ of his generation.

He was then appointed as the Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors in Oakland (near San Francisco). He inherited a good team with one good player in Steph Curry but a team that wasn’t really troubling the very top teams.

He has since moulded them in his image and Steph Curry is now regarded as the best player in the league, they won the NBA Championship in 2015 and have started on a record breaking run of 20 straight wins from the beginning of the season (although he had limited involvement following back surgery).

No idea if he’s got a brother or if his dad was called Kerr Kerr but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Paul (granted, this doesn’t mean GNev will be a success) Jones

 

Spitting some truths on Valencia
I wanted to shed some light on what is happening at Valencia, after reading Dan’s email on them and Neville this morning.

The situation at Valencia is much deeper than simply expectant fans. Nuno Espirito Santo (NES) may well be a decent coach, shown by him finishing 4th last season. However, there is an underlying feeling that the club is being run as a trading post for Jorge Mendes’ players. NES was Mendes’ first ever placement as an agent, so it is natural that they are buddies. In recent years, Mendes facilitated the deal for Peter Lim to buy the club. Since then, there has been a huge influx of players on Mendes books (Rodrigo, Andre Gomes, Joao Cancelo, Enzo Perez… to name a few, as well as NES, who is also on Mendes books). The sacking of Amadeo Salvo and Rufete was seen as a victory for NES in the power struggle at the club, as the former two had remained at the club as part of the takeover arrangement (Salvo being the ex-president) to maintain some kind of identity with the fans. Fans and players began to resent Mendes influence over the club and his main pawn, NES.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the call-up to a champions league game by NES of a reserve team player, Rafa Mir, who has been in decent form for the under 19s, but nothing that would put him above other frozen out players, like Negredo. You guessed it, he was a Mendes player. A lot of players did not like this. Negredo was one of the most vocal in his outrage, apparently. Needless to say, NES lost the dressing room, and subsequently agreed to terminate his contract. I don’t think anyone is sure if he was sacked, if it was mutual consent, or if he resigned. Anyway, there is now very much an anti-Mendes feeling in the club. Chan Lay Hoon, the club president, has now turned up the anti-Mendes hyperbole and it is all over the Spanish press.

Which brings me to the Neviller. He is a man 100% outside Mendes’ sphere of influence and this is seen as a positive, a new beginning so to speak.

So expectant fans they may be, but the club is in a much bigger mess than just appointing an inexperienced coach.
Benji (thanks to my editor, Andre, for checking my facts)

 

On Sturridge and mental strength
I am sure you have received so many mails regarding Sturridge’s performance last night. Let me join in the discussion.

With his two well-taken goals last night, Daniel Sturridge proved why he’s one of the best finishers around. Liverpool fans rightly celebrated for his comeback and goals. But I also want to credit his mental-strength (along with other successful injury-prone players) to comeback and settle right in.

Injury is a part and parcel for athletes. No matter how fit the sportsmen are, the body will succumb to minor/major injuries or accident that will keep them outside the pitch for some time. Remember other sportsmen like Michael Schumacher, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, etc who spent quite some time out injured. Footballers like Daniel Sturridge, Sergio Aguero, and Robin van Persie were even more injury prone.

Apart from criticising their fragile physique, we must applaud the mental strength on them. Of course, they are receiving professional supports for that (and also get a lot of money), but the way they responded after injury and giving meaningful contributions back on the pitch is worthy to be applauded. I imagine it’s frustrating to be kept out from the game those players love for long time because of injury (no matter how much support and money) and rusty skills due to lack of practice. Somehow, they come back and still do the things like they haven’t left the pitch for sometime. Sturridge, Aguero, and Van Persie showed that in the striking department. Schumacher came back from horrific broken foot to break the record in F1. Sharapova and Nadal shrugged off their respective injuries (although Nadal is still fragile) and win some more Grand Slams.

Having said that, it’s good for Liverpool supporters to see Sturridge around again. No matter what those doubter say, he is a class finisher. Like old saying goes: “you cannot teach that, you are born with that.”
Vincentius, Cambridge

 

League Cup isn’t lowest priority
Why do football writers persist with the lazy idea that the League cup is the “lowest priority” for clubs each season? How do you know its “clearly Klopp’s lowest priority”? Did you ask him??

Before last night, Liverpool were three games from a Wembley final. Compare this to the FA cup (a minimum of five games) or the Europa league (8/9 games) and we have a club, desperately needing silverware, in a great position to win one of the four trophies available to them at the start of the season.

Liverpool and Chelsea played out a titanic battle in last seasons semi-final. The competition didnt seem like their “lowest priority” on either occasion.

In my opinion its only referred to as a “lowest priority” because Arsenal consistently play their Under 16’s in it and make a mockery of the competition. Gotta keep those gooners onside F365.
Baz (Jacking it all in when Neville wins Man U promotion in 5/6 years) Dublin
(MC – We said it because Klopp made significant changes, which he hasn’t for other competitions? But yes, it’s all because we want to keep Arsenal fans on side).

 

Defending Makelele
‘There are certain “underrated” players who become so well-known for being “under-rated” that they end up in the end being “over-rated.” A good example is Claude Makelele, who, while a very very good, just-short-of-world-class defensive midfielder, was never quite good enough to have a position named after him.’

I’m sorry what Dara? I’ve just spat cheese from my rather bland sandwich across my work desk…very good, just short of world class? Never quite good enough to have a position named after him?

What does a player that has won 6 league titles across 3 Leagues (2 being arguably the two most competitive leagues in Europe in Spain and England), 6 domestic cups, a Champions League and runner up in a FIFA World Cup after your country’s team peaked between 1998 and 2004 scream but ‘Overrated’

The reason you get a position named after you is because you have a trophy list longer than your arm and that one of the greatest midfielders of all time in Zidane backs you with a corker such as “Why put another layer of gold on your Bentley when you are losing the entire engine” after your maniac president sells you for a tuppence and replaces you with David Beckham.

Following up with comparison to Jordan Henderson is then frankly insulting. Jordan is a very good player, but under and overrating him or even using in the same sentence as Claude is embarassing. Perhaps wait to under or overrate him once he has a Champions League and several Premier League trophies under his belt. Carrick too, even as a United fan doesn’t hold a candle to Claude. Plus your Liverpool side don’t appear to be missing Jordan too much really…

Let’s just set it straight. Florentino Perez underrated Claude Makelele. No one else did.
Rosso MUFC Kent

 

…Fair enough, have a go at Michael Carrick (5 PL Titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 Champions League etc., etc., etc.), mainstay of various of Fergie’s most successful teams, if you must – the debate over his ability has been going on for a long time, straw man v straw man.  He is not world-class (whatever that means), he is just a bit below the Pirlo and Xavi level, but Carrick is certainly one of the best English midfielders of his generation.   The team he is good enough for is Man Utd, who are a little bit more than a possession-based also-ran, or at least, they were when Carrick was in his pomp.

However, please do not have a go at Claude Makelele (1 Ligue 1, 2 Premier League, 2 La Liga, 1 Champions League, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup, 1 Coupe de France etc., etc., etc.) as your preamble to doing so!

The reason there is a position named after him is precisely because he was good enough to have one named after him – this is empirical proof if ever it existed.  With some players, who do not score hundreds of goals, or make Hollywood passes, or do tricks, or dribble very much, the effect that they have on the game is subtle – less what they make happen, than what they stop happening.  In Makelele’s case, the proof he was world class was based on the things that did not happen when he was on the pitch – these being largely his team conceding goals, or losing matches, or losing rhythm or possession in the centre of the park.  These effects upon a game are just as important as the more visible impacts a player might have.  Makelele was a bit of a god, in my view, basically.  I’ve not seen anyone better at what he did.

Carrick is similar in some respects, much of his work is in this invisible preventative, steadying influence.  He’s not as good at that as Makelele was, but he is damn good.  Not quite world class, you might say.  Carrick also has an uncanny, if not-quite-Schweinsteiger-like ability to find a few more seconds on the ball than everyone else, in order to make a lovely, weighted pass employing vision that many players only dream of (except for example, Pirlo or Xavi, who were a bit better at that) to slice the opposition defence asunder.  So Carrick is not-quite-world-class at a lot of things that most players simply do not have the capacity to do.

In the 2009 CL final, Carrick was partnered variously with Anderson, Ji Sung Park, an aged Ryan Giggs; against prime-time Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta.  It may be that had he been partnered with players equivalent to himself, he may not have been so hopelessly overrun?  Who knows…

I realise that somehow, this mail has turned into a Carrick apology, for which I myself apologise.  Dara did admit that he was quite good in fairness.  I think it was the Fiorentina / Villareal bit that got me going…

Now, the reason I listed the trophies that the two above players have won, whilst being core members of the heart of various legendary sides, is to aid in the comparison of them in another empirical manner to players who are considered to be ‘world-class’ e.g. Ronaldo (pick one), Zidane, Thierry Henry, Fabio Cannavaro.  Their trophy hauls are comparable to these players.  Someone like Maldini, Giggs or Messi smashes them all to smithereens trophy-wise, and there are varying degrees below and between, however, Makelele and Carrick are both players who have achieved far more in the game than most.

Credit where credit is due, really.  Henderson, yes, overrated, but Carrick and Makelele?  No f-in way pal.
Ben, MCFC.

 

Be careful what you wish for?
F365, could you please clear something up for me? I believe Liverpool sacked an underperforming circus act and replaced him with a superior alternative. Weren’t they supposed to “be careful what they wish for?”

I thought your second string side was supposed to get thrashed at places like Sheffield Wednesday? Also I don’t understand why Liverpool fans aren’t moaning about injuries preventing them winning the X Factor? They thrashed Chelski at the Bridge, then battered Citeh at the Etihad and then destroyed Soton without Sturride, Sakho and Henderson. Their spine basically.

I thought injuries made it acceptable to play like incompetent llama turd? I’m confused. How are they thrashing quality teams, with the exact same squad that was previously underperforming?
Stewie Griffin (once my injuries clear up, Jessica Alba is mine. Promise.)

 

The great chip debate
I enjoyed the mail from Simon CFC and it got me thinking, chips n’ lobs is great debate. What is a chip? When is it a lob? But for me you also have to widen the sphere to include clips, scoops and dinks. These are types of goal that can set apart the genius’ from the other professionals and can often be the most aesthetically pleasing goals you will see. Back to Simons mail for a second, a long range chip for me is a lob. But you also have to look at technique displayed/distance score from to decide which category each goal fits into.

So chips, lobs, clips, scoops and dinks that is full descriptive sphere of the goals you are referencing. See these examples (sorry for the lack of links)

Chips – See Matt Le Tissier and Philippe Albert ‘doing’ Big Peter Schmeichel in 95/96 as classic examples. Or John o’Shea’s at Highbury for Man Utd fans

Lobs – This is the broadest element in the sphere. As you can have Beckham/Adam/Nayim type effort, which can be a drilled or floated from distance or something like Ian Wrights effort v Leeds United which is a clever volley off his in-step or Andy Cole over Ian Walker. All very different but all ‘lobs’ in my opinion. Often scored first time from a lofted high pass or bad goal keeper positioning/judgement or poor back headers from defenders.

Clips – Hard to spot these ones. Usually a first time effort with a grounded ball like Ramires’ in the Nou Camp. I also remember David Beckham scoring a beauty at Upton Park over David James. Can easily be confused with a chip or a lob it is a thin line.

Scoops – Karen Poborsky at Euro 96’ v Portugal and Angel Di Maria at Leicester last season spring to mind. Francesco Totti is a master of the scoop.

Dinks – Peter Beardsley, Franco Zola and Leo Messi are the kings here, these goals are scored 1-on-1 with an advancing keeper from close distance’s.
Chris, (chatting sh*t but hoping to aviod getting banged) Newcastle

 

Simon CFC, I reckon this effort from an in-his-prime Wazza (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiF9-E1BwyI) is a long range chip. I don’t think you can exclude it on the basis of height, as this would defy the laws of physics, and we can’t expect players to do that. If we’re considering a chip as an arched shot (as opposed to the more straight projectile of the ‘welly’), it will need to gain height in order to travel further.

What makes this a chip over a lob is the technique. A chip is clipped, with no follow through in the leg. A lob has a follow through, where the ball is guided over the keeper with a pendulum-like motion. Meanwhile a dink is a variant of the chip, deliberately removing as much power as possible and adding just enough height to be particularly cheeky. Indeed, the focus of all three is to lift the ball over the keeper, rather than to beat him with power or accuracy, so to suggest height as a nullifying factor strikes me as problematic.

Anyway, Wazza’s is definitely a chip here, and always struck me as a particularly odd and audacious one, as it never really looked on. Cantona’s is a chip that refused to come down. Charlie Adam’s was more of a welly that had arch simply because of the distance – only Seedorf and Ronaldo can strike it that far on a line. Dunno about the rest.
Mark, Warwickshire

 

Clips of chips
Simon CFC wants clips of long-range chips, instead of crowing Scousers. I leave him with this http://youtu.be/DiyIwqtsHEs
Sam (crowing Sturridge fan) LFC

 

…Dear Simon CFC,

Philippe Albert vs Man Utd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deXicnyXt3g

Thanks,
Joel Bradley, London

 

…Loved Simon CFC’s mail about the chip. Probably my favourite type of goal. Instantly thought of the Iceman. I had a video back in my teen’s called Bergkamp “The perfect 10” which was mainly about his Ajax days. Found this beaut of a collection on youtube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dlKgCYalLIY

Also, one of my favourite goals of all time happens to be from Dennis’s heir apparent and bar owner, David Bentley.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Os5h_NmbG-o

Thanks for the chips Simon. Enjoy.
Mark Boulton

 

…Your lob and chip chat has just upgraded you to a seat at the bar of my ultimate pub.

Well played sir.
H (buying the rounds since 1992)

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