A packed Mailbox. And to think we always think we will struggle in international week. We love you. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Our problem with Harry Kane
It has been bugging me for quite a while as to why so many footy fans feel the need to denigrate Harry Kane. It only takes one article praising Harry Kane (from Football365, for example) and then just wait for the scorn to pour in! Surely it can’t just be as childish and petty as simple football fan rivalry – i.e. “because HK doesn’t play for my club, he must be useless…” Or “…because Football365 are praising HK, that is obviously denigrating the centre forward in my team…so I am going to slate HK…”
At the risk of sounding like a second rate psychoanalyst, I think it is because HK is an ‘Everyman’ footballer, who is somehow beyond everyman. You could easily argue that there is not a single thing that HK does is exceptional compared to other players – his shooting, his heading, his passing, his pace, his free kicks etc. People can understand why Messi and Ronaldo are where they are, because a lot of the things they do are exceptional – Ronaldo’s pace and sheer physicality in scoring all type of goals, Messi’s touch and ability to run with the ball through rows and rows of defenders and leave them floundering etc.
So I guess people can accept why CR7 and Messi are ‘world class’…but Kane?…I bet there are many talented amateur footballers out there who are probably saying to themselves: “I can run faster than HK.” Or “I have a better shot than Kane.” Or “I am a better header of a ball than Kane”…etc. And yet, despite this overall ‘ordinariness’, serious people are debating Harry Kane’s ‘world classness’. And I think it is this that gets up many disappointed (in their own footballing efforts) people’s noses – “How dare an ‘ordinary’ player like Kane get above his station by proving himself a world class centre forward? I could do what he is doing…but no one is praising me…”
I think this is it. I think people just do not want to accept that a player, on the face of it having no discernible world-class footballing attributes – unlike CR7 and Messi – can be any good or can get lauded as he is.
And I think it is because what it says about these people themselves, that annoys them so much. That may be, just maybe, if they had worked hard, they could have made something of themselves as footballers. Instead of being pathetic keyboard warriors – and anyway, how dare Harry Kane work so hard to become special and ‘rise above his station’. He should get back in his box and know his place…I mean…who does he think he is…?
I for one can’t wait to see the internet bile pouring out in gallons, the day HK travels to Switzerland to pick up the Balon D’Or.
Kirit, NW London (Football reporter to Jimmy Greaves: “Jimmy, have you ever suffered a barren goal scoring spell?” Jimmy Greaves: “Yes I have. It was the worst 15 minutes of my career”.)
Harry Kane is to Tottenham what Robbie Fowler…
Raj and Leon both hit the same nail on the head, twice. Harry Kane is wonderful. He scores goals, loves his club and loves the fans that idolise him. Hell, I’m not a Spurs supporter and I have nothing but respect and wish my club had a player of that ilk.
I support Liverpool and the adulation he gets reminds me of the way Robbie Fowler was/is adored by so many of us in red and respected by so many of those who didn’t support the club.
I’m not comparing the two, although there are plenty of reasons why you could. The thing I love most is that they love scoring goals, and they both scored (and are scoring) a lot of them and it seems to be joy when they score, not some aggression or anger (most of the time). It’s a shame how Fowler’s career developed, but I’m pretty sure Kane won’t go down that route.
I couldn’t give a craps arse about whether he’s world class, the next Messi or better than Lukaku. He’s a player, doing what he does best and loving it. We should all be happy that we get to see someone doing that.
Harry Kane is the English Muller
Harry Kane is a really good forward! Over the weekend when I was hearing pundits and commentators coo about his exploits I began to realise why I have never been convinced of the “best striker” tag. A few years back I read a mail on this page about the beauty of Thomas Muller. At his peak, he scored his fair share of goals and assisted a lot of goals also. To copy from that email…Kane is not the fastest, he his not the strongest, he is not the best in the air, he does not have the best right foot in the league, he does not have the best left foot on the league, he is not the best both footed player in the league, he is not the best looking player in the league either. He does score a lot of goals admittedly and seems like a nice bloke, just like Muller (for Muller, consider goals when he broke onto the scene).
Harry Kane is a good striker. A decent bloke. Let us just enjoy watching the guy play without trying to rank or put a label on him.
Defending Lukaku (of course)
I read the mailbox every day and rarely do I feel the need to comment on any other entries. Save for the odd eye roll or subtle tutting, I’m happy to live in a world where everyone is entitled to their own humble opinion.
But when I read the entry on Lukaku by Lewis, Busby Way, I immediately pulled up the email and clicked ‘Compose’.
I’m not entirely sure what he’s getting at. If it’s a criticism of Lukaku then it’s not very clear or specific with what Lewis is actually being critical about. After a couple of reads, it just seems he is comparing Lukaku to Kane directly and looking for the differences, then drawing some kind of conclusions on that…
Well, Kane is a different type of player, playing in a different system, and with a different style.
The only part of Lewis’ comments that actually make sense are actually in praise of Lukaku:
Ultimately his job is to score goals, which he’s doing at the moment, and his movement is good which has helped others around him. He has obviously improved us a team through this.
Whatever your argument was, you just countered it perfectly, lad.
What else do you expect of Rom?
PS. No. Kane doesn’t remind me of Lampard.
Aguero over-rated!! Aguero mentioned in the same breath as Jermain Defo!! Are you out of your tiny, freakin’ mind??? Please go and see him live and carefully watch his movement, his strength, his touch, his burst of acceleration and the power with which he shoots. Then come back to me…
Banjo, Prague (have I just fallen for some seismic trolling?)
If all those players are sh*t…
So, judging from the last few mailboxes I have deduced that the following players are in fact a steaming pile of dog doo doo: Lukaku, Kane, Sanchez, Alli, Aguero etc etc…
I must be taking crazy pills. I feel like Mugato when he points out that Zoolanders’ looks are all the same.
I think you guys need to rethink what consitutes a good football player.
Just enjoy these wonderful players…
As a regular reader of the mailbox the last few mailboxes have really annoyed with mails on fans branding Lukaku, Harry Kane, and Morata from world class, to overrated to absolute letdowns. The season has barely begun and no one can say that either of the three have under performed, with all three among goals and all three teams undoubtedly be weaker without them.
Harry Kane’s stats have been ridiculous in the past two seasons, and he seems to be growing into the role as one of the best in the PL (not world class yet in my opinion, but definitely on his way to be one of Europe’s finest).
Lukaku too has his own crazy stats to back him up and writing off such a driven player without giving him a chance to prove himself at the highest level is ridiculous as well. The fact that Harry Kane has been in a team pushing at the top of the table and Lukaku has been able to maintain his stats in a team have not been at the same level is both a compliment and an opportunity for both these young strikers to prove themselves. Morata though not having as impressive stats to match has invaluable experience at an elite level from his time in Juve and Madrid that the other two need to push themselves to the next level.
In all three of them though, we have strikers that distinctly suit their teams play. People criticize Lukaku for not playing well throughout 90 mins, but Mourinho teams are set up to do exactly that – get the win despite not being dominant throughout 90 mins. In a similar way Kane and Morata complement their teams style and each player has been indispensable so far.
I have enjoyed Lukaku scoring a goal in every game and I have enjoyed watching Harry Kane hammer in goals in the CL and Morata build an exciting partnership with Azpilicueta. Passing judgement on who’s better before the season ends is depriving us the pleasure to watch these three develop their games and become better strikers.
The past few seasons has seen the PL bring in exciting attacking talent in the form of these three, Lacazette, Mane, Mo Salah, Martial, and Jesus to name a few. I, for one am glad to watch these exciting players first rather than proclaim such early unfounded judgments.
Yash, MUFC (Backing Zlatan to come back hungrier and make a bang)
We have seen Sanchez in a top team!
Aston Taylor is asking people to ‘Imagine placing Sanchez in any functioning top team where he didn’t have to create and score all his own goals. Imagine him actually playing a role in a team rather than trying to be the team’….we don’t have to, before joining Arsenal he was at a top team in La Liga (they won a couple of Champions Leagues from what I remember) and he was often benched in favour of Pedro and eventually seen as surplus to requirements which allowed Arsenal to buy him in the first place. Sanchez is a big fish in an Oliver Giroud sized pond.
Ideas for Jurgen
Since there is no football going on, I thought I’d try and offer solutions that could help Liverpool’s continued defensive struggles. I’m going to go back into history to see what managers with similar problems did to correct the issue.
LVG and his Man Utd side season two were in an even more precarious position, having lost the core of defence, they came in with perma-crocks Smalling and Jones, and an unreliable Rojo as backup. LVG’s solution was a severe case of safety-first football. Keep the ball at all times and limit the chances the opposition had by denying them the ball. This led to ridiculous possession stats but some of the most insipid performances Man Utd have had in over two decades. It reminded me of Xavi controlled Barca where teams were frustrated by Xavi, Busquets playing keep ball and never exposing the Pique-Mascherano defence. Some quarters even posed the question if Barca defence was good as advertised.
The result of tikitaka (keep all football) LVG stopped the leakage, made us all believe Smalling was good but bored everyone to death and was fired. It’s shown to prevent goals against, but without a Messi type in the team, it’s pretty tedious to even watch.
Conte’s Chelsea were in the wrong end of some heavy defeats early on last season despite having invested in Luiz and Kante. Solution, five at the back and an additional two in Matic and Kante (PFA POTY my ass, anyone who needs this much help to do their job should not win POTY, they stole it from Hazard). Result, stopped conceding goals almost entirely, went on a 13-game winning streak, and won the league. This is a plan Liverpool may want to try, I think they have the bodies for the seven-man defence, and he can probably convince Mane and Salah to play wing-backs, with Coutinho playing the Hazard role and Firmino or Sturridge as Costa.
Klopps Dortmund 2014-15 season suffered a similar fate as this current pool side. Injuries to Hummels and inconsistencies from Weidenfeller and Subotic led to a very poor campaign. 13w 14l. Goals for and against also show systemic failure on both sides of the field 46GF, 42GA. They recovered in the final months but the record highlighted Klopp’s inability to arrest a declining situation. Hindsight maybe a powerful tool at the moment for Klopp, if he uses his experience from Dortmund to correct the current issues.
Dave (The league’s a better place with Klopp, let’s help him out), Somewhere
Let’s do an international mash-up
Right, given it’s the international break and no one’s got any time for laboured introductions I’ll get straight to the crunch – who wants to know what my mish-mash international dream team would look like? All of you? Great.
I don’t think you can really look beyond the Italians for this position. Buffon is clearly in with a strong shout for best goalkeeper in history and you’ve probably got Zoff alongside him in the Top 10. Peruzzi was the first foreign goalkeeper I fell in love with and the Italians have simply had the pot stacked since then. Zenga was world class, Pagliuca was a player, Abbiati (with a paltry four caps and questionable political views) won the lot with Milan and perennial back-up Francesco Toldo was simply one of the best ‘keepers I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the fact they’ve got a freak of nature in Donnarumma lined up…sod it, I’m calling it – if I was building a Planet Earth XI from scratch I’d have an Italian between the sticks all day long. The Germans always seem to have a superstar in net but questions linger over their strength in depth.
Difficult. Really trying not to let my unashamed love for Cafu cloud my judgment here (best wing-back ever perhaps?) but I think on paper you’d have to go for a Brazilian. The French have had some absolute monsters bombing up and down the touchline over the years (still do to be honest) and Spain seem to have perfected the ‘converted winger’ game but I can’t think of a nation that has done more to aid transformation of the position of fullback into auxiliary winger than Brazil. This might be my turn of the 21st century-centric outlook talking but for a generally unfancied position, the Seleção have served up some unreal footballers over the years.
Italy. Italy. Italy. Italy. The current crop is arguably a bit uninspiring beyond the ageing first teamers but no one has their pedigree in this position, simply no one. Not even close. No, not Germany either.
Oh God f*ck knows. Why did I even start this? You could make perfectly reasonable, cogent and valid arguments for *inhales* France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and (were they extant) Yugoslavia as producing consistently excellent central midfielders. I genuinely don’t know where to turn with this one, probably depends on what your definition of ‘central midfielder’ nowadays. If we’re talking about non-specialists, ‘can do a bit of everything’, up and down, box to box, Roy of the f*cking Rovers type stuff then I’m going for Germany. Yeah alright this is probably where people point and laugh but I’ve got to nail my colours to a tree somewhere and for me it’s a big Mannschafty oak. I make no apologies for not being bothered to check spellings but you’re talking about Beckenbauer, Ballack, Scholl, Khedeira, Matthaus, Schuster, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Sammer…Christ even Lahm could play in there. They literally never have a midfield that’s less than 7/10 and as my dad famously once said to me as a wee nipper, “The Germans always have a good midfield”. I never claimed he was a wordsmith.
“Wingers”, “wide men”, “wide forwards” look I’m not getting into semantics here people – the tricky speedsters who hug the wings and look to a) beat a man b) cross it or c) cut inside. You know, those guys. Probably the hardest spot to fill and so many of the game’s greats have played here at some point in their careers. What makes it harder is that practically every country can boast at least one legendary winger but this is about national teams that churn them out with most regularity. Portugal is a good shout, much of South America can make a decent fist not least Argentina and I’ve got a warm tingle when I think about The Netherlands but, after much deliberation I’m going for *drumroll* Brazil. Boo yeah boring I know but how am I supposed to look past the number of unreal wingers they’ve had since before the Summer of Love was even a thing? We all know about ‘that 70s team’ but you’ve also got Garrincha before that, pretty much the entire 90s-00s locked down, and today we’ve been lucky enough to watch Neymar’s rise coincide beautifully with Ronaldinho’s (remarkably) slow fade. Sorry, can’t really look passed the greatest footballing nation on earth for the flair players I’m afraid.
England. Ha don’t be stupid. No, when it comes to firepower one team that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Of course I’m talking about the Angels with Dirty Faces themselves, Argentina. The roll call is, frankly, sickening. Maradona, Di Stefano, Batistuta, Kempes, Crespo, Canniga (I think) Messi, Tevez, Aguero, Higuain…and that’s just the ones I can think of without going to Wikipedia to pretend I’m way more knowledgeable about football than I am (he says, masking the fact that is literally the extent of his knowledge). I suppose I should probably make an effort to sound out some other nations but this mail is long enough and I can’t be bothered. Basically, all I’m saying is if you need a goal, call an Argentinian.
That’s your lot folks. No, I couldn’t be bothered to sub-categorise positions – I’ll leave it up to you to tell me who the best trequartista ever was – and yes, my knowledge about football is about as broad as any thirty year old’s who can’t bring himself to read a book on football history that wasn’t written by Jonathan Wilson but I’m fairly happy with that. International honours galore, plenty of diving and a whole lot of bad haircuts. What’s not to love? The French can certainly feel hard done by, as can The Dutch to a degree. Portugal would have a clutch of bronze medals were this a meritocracy but it ain’t so there it is.
Now it’s over to you to tell me where I’ve gone wrong.
Simon (will not be accepting alternative suggestions for centre back) CFC
More Iconic Body Parts
As regards Doc Joshi’s Iconic Body Parts, surely the following deserve a mention:
Giggs’ Chest Hair (from that goal celebration)
Ginola’s flowing locks
Beckham’s floppy mop
Lukaku’s, actually, we’ve been told not to go there
Shane Tallon, ManYoo Fan, Dublin
…Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s backside. A thing of magnificence.
Paul Watson, exiled Shrimper, living in Surrey
…A few glaring omissions in Doc Joshi’s catalog of iconic body parts: Nose (Zlatan Ibrahimović), Forehead (Gervinho), Hair (Yordan Letchkov), Skin (Luke Chadwick)…
But why make hard work of this when a single player is iconic in every bodily regard? I give you Trifon Ivanov.
Tony Rev, Chelsea
What do we do about concussion?
A really excellent and important read. NFL been trying to bury it stateside for years but it’s absolutely catching up with them, as Storey says. Problem goes way beyond the FA, for me, it’s cultural. Blind loyalty to the traditions of the game, a stubborn resistance to any innovation even when driven by public safety, and meatheads like Keane and company serving as unwitting pawns as the game becomes more and more profitable while his professional peers a generation or two age into bad news. Any insight into solutions? Lighter balls; protective gear; limited heading in training?
Meeting the beach ball man
Last Friday I sold a new car to a rather nice chap called Callum Campbell. Mr Campbell wasn’t from Liverpool itself but was from the area (ie: he had the accent), and he came down to Swindon to come and collect his new Audi. Handover went well, and off he went, driving back home.
So today I’m reading about the ‘Beach Ball Goal’ in one of your articles and, interestingly, it turns out a chap called Callum Campbell threw it. I couldn’t resist; I rang Mr Campbell and asked him if he was that person, and he was! I directed him to your website too, so that’s a click or two you owe me.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite