Keep sending your Mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailbox regular Adonis Stevenson is here writing about that “It’s up for grabs now” moment in 1989.
Pep vs Diego
Watching Pep and Simeone hopping up and down the touchline, screaming and shouting, gesticulating and slapping the odd official that had the audacity to be in their way, two things occurred to me;
1. When did the technical area become just a rough guide for where you stand as a coach? What is the 4th official doing to stop them just roaming around ?
2. Ive always had a soft spot for Atletico. I went their a few years ago to watch them play AC Milan and it was amazing. They are the underdogs that are hard not to love. But Simeone is pushing it now. Why does he have to be such a colossal A.shole? isn’t it getting boring now? I used to want him at my beloved Arsenal -but he’s just another Mourinho- he might win a trophy but the club is above his antics (as any self-respecting club should be.)
Oh, and Peps no angel either. He’s starting to look like a spoiled brat and a bad loser the more I see him. Given his increasingly unhinged behaviour and inability to get it done – I’m starting to wonder if Citeh may regret their choice. Its probably won’t happen- but wouldn’t it be very,very funny if he goes to the Etihad, spends a ton of dough and then totally spoons it? Can you imagine if Pellegrini wins the CL and then Pep has to take over and try to repeat it, just like at Bayern (where he has failed abjectly)??
Johnno “Eddie Howe for Arsenal” McJohnnoFace
At no point over the entire two legs did Bayern have the advantage. Bayern were never through, so they didn’t ‘bottle it’ as some people are suggesting. Thoroughly deserved victory for Atletico.
Only four of the players that started for Atletico against Bayern in Munich were in the starting 11 in Atleti’s 2014 CL final appearance. For Simeone to maintain this with a turnover of players in that manner is short of a miracle in modern day football. It must also be noted that the changes aren’t dictated by Altetico, in order to upgrade the squad, but simply because their players are routinely sold in order to ease the club financially (they’re no paupers, but with a turnover of less than half that of both the champions of Spain and Germany, who they have knocked out, it is still a fantastic feat.)
Simeone has taken Mourinho’s title as the best pragmatic coach in football. It could even be argued that he is the best manager in Europe simply for his work at Atletico. Their style has endeared them to some, and brought loathe/contempt from others, and as much as the semantics of their approach can be discussed, they’re moot points in the cold, results/trophy/money driven world in which the CL trophy resides. Simeone has brought Aletico the first two, without much of the last relatively.
On the topic of trophies, Simeone haul as manager of Aletico since 2011: La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup.
All with the possibility of a CL and/or La Liga this season, and also disregarding their CL final appearance in 2014., where they were 1 min away from a league and CL double
A clean sweep of domestic titles, and all but one of the European trophies (with two final appearances in the CL). There’s only one word to adequately do El Cholo justice: Incroyable.
…I’m sure the plaudits will overflow the mailbox and they are well deserved! Bayern have a fearsome home record. Before tonight they had a goal difference of +60 – just let that soak in for a sec.
What absolutely blew me away watching that game was how unbelievably clinical Atlantic were compared to Bayern. Up to the 80/85 minute mark Atleti hadn’t touched the ball in Bayern’s box. And by that stage they had scored!!!! By contrast Bayern had 33 attempts.
Bottom line Atleti need 1 chance and can defend under pressure from the two best teams in Europe (supposedly Barca and Bayern) over 2 legs. Astonishing stuff.
Royston (Diego at it all night) Queen
…I don’t care what type of football you want your manager to play, if he gets results like that (beating Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in one season) you’ll learn to love him unconditionally. Football is more than just attack. Defence is an art and Atletico and Simeone have mastered it.
Two Champions League finals in 3 years and the possibility of two league titles in the same period; with a team almost always seen as the underdog in games like tonight’s. I’ll say it again, Simeone is the best manager in the world.
Gaaavie (Leicester and Atletico proving possession isn’t everything is lovely), Cape Town
If Pep’s a fraud, so is every other manager (from the same Mailer)
Pep lost this tie last week with his conservative 4-3-3 away. Not too much to criticise him for today, perhaps the nature of Atleti’s goal showed that Pep didn’t instruct his players on tactical fouling well enough. Ignorant Prem fan boys will have a pop at Pep for needing Messi to win the CL but it’s clear that the player Guardiola misses most is Busquets. Alonso has the passing but not the legs; Vidal the legs & tackles but not the passing; Thiago too lightweight.
As for him being overrated, it’s not his fault that English football fans don’t know what they’re watching. Guardiola’s stated that his job was to give the players the tools & the best possible chance to win — the rest is up to the players. Instructive to look at his major “failures”:
2010 CL – Inter Milan, treble winners
2012 La Liga – Real Madrid, record-breaking 100 points & goals
2014 CL – Real Madrid, double cup winners, should have won treble but for Ancelotti pretty much throwing La Liga going into the penultimate round of fixtures.
2015 CL – Barcelona, treble winners
2016 CL – Atletico Madrid, joint-top of La Liga & now in CL Final
Other than 2012 CL with Chelsea, if you want to beat Guardiola, you better have a team that can win the treble or win 100 points in the league! That’s what it takes to beat a Guardiola team, so by no means is he overrated or a failure.
Pep Guardiola: The iPhone of football management
I actually think Guardiola is an amazing manager and would love it if he was joining Arsenal this summer instead of City.
However it can’t be denied that he’s vastly overrated by some fans and sections of the media. Weirdly I think one of the reasons for this is because he’s very handsome and trendy. As I say I actually think he’s a top quality manager as his trophies and achievements testify to. However just like an iPhone is undeniably a great phone to have there are, dare I say it, just as good phones on the market and generally for a lot cheaper. The thing is people don’t buy Iphones just for the performance and quality. It’s a fashion accessory.
In Guillem Balague’s biography on him Balague makes far too many references to Pep’s looks and fashion sense. In one paragraph he waxes lyrically about Guardiola still being able to ‘fit his snake hips and amazingly trim waist into those tight fitting trousers despite being over 40’.
The point is whilst he is a fantastic manager some of the praise and worship of him seems to come from somewhere other than football appreciation. If he looked like Ian Dowie would there be as much hype surrounding him?
Why this season has been bloody great
Can’t believe you’ve gotten so many sour emails and bitter petty arguments in the last two days.
Other than the obvious, there has been something mental this year that I don’t think everyone has noticed quite yet. It’s that right now, an awful lot of the teams can go into the summer with real genuine hope for next year. Optimism. Something to look forward too. The way in which the league has reset itself has been amazing, those that were cruising last May are all over the shop now. That means for some of the big boys there is a need to improve, for some of the others there’s something to build on. Here’s what I mean, from browsing through the league table tonight…
Leicester –A season travelling Europe and singing “Stand up for the champions”. Do you think they care right now if they might not even be top 10 in May 2017?
Spurs – Have the luxury of shopping now to turn a runner up, fantastic young side into a league winning side. They’ve never been closer and they are playing the football they love to see. Will they get those final jigsaw pieces right ?
Arsenal – Maybe, just maybe its sinking in now. Maybe Spurs will trigger a response. Maybe the dead wood will be cut. Maybe they will buy 3-5 players who actually aren’t injured for 30 games a season, who can all go straight into the first team, an actual striker and have a real go at it.
City – One of the very richest European clubs is to be united with one the best European managers to take what could be one of Europes best forward lines (Aguero, De Bruyne, Sterling), get given £200m and a year to sort the defence and holding mids out.
Utd – Maybe Wayne will mellow into a creative 10. Martial will rampage like Lukaku. Fellani will probably leave. They might get a manager who loves to play with pace again.
West Ham – A new stadium, more signings to pad out a good side, exciting football and a sterling mentalist on the bench. Proper west ham football.
Liverpool – A team that looks like it is starting to understand what the manager wants and how to do that. Looking pretty good going forward, can he unearth enough useful German defenders to get them more solid. League winners ? Probably not, but you’d fancy a few amazing nights at Anfield next year.
Chelsea – If something really is / has been wrong in the state of Denmark then you’ve got a man for whom the simplest review appears to be ‘proper hard bastard’. If he kicks out the bored, gets the others working harder and adds a bit…well…it worked with Jose for a while didn’t it
Stoke – More football. Actual real football. From August to May. Not from 40 points on.
Everton – New money in the club. New TV deal. Keeping your best players. Replace the manager or find that missing defensive coach that they need and who knows.
Bournemouth – Still. Being. There. Will those curious signings have spent enough time in English lessons / the gym for August ? Can they do it again ?
If either of these stay up;
Newcastle – Will Rafa stay ? What could he mould that new look side into ? What would he do with the same kitty spent this season ? Does he have the presence / gravitas to get the money out of the club and where he wants it spent ?
Sunderland – The emerging spine of a good team and a new Kevin Phillips up front. What could Big Sam do with another £20m and a pre-season ?
Or maybe I’m just a glass half full kinda bloke…but you might see a reverse of this season next season – by which I mean a very tight race with a lot of really, really good sides in it. Nicking points of each other, pushing each other to the wire. Let’s all hope eh. Just for a minute.
This season’s surprise XI
Here’s a Surprise XI (4-2-3-1), players who performed significantly better than most would have expected this year. The catch: no youngsters or relatively new players. They have to have started at least 38 Premier League games prior to this season.
GK: Heurelho Gomes. A figure of fun while at Spurs, has been both steady and spectacular for Watford.
RB: Kyle Walker. Much more controlled, now a reliable defender without losing his attacking potential.
CB: Jonny Evans. Derided as a failure at Manchester United, has been fantastic all year for West Brom.
CB: Dejan Lovren. Resurrected under Jürgen Klopp, now part of the first-choice pairing.
LB: Erik Pieters. An average defender became a very good one. (Honorable mention: Danny Rose.)
DM: Gareth Barry. Don’t laugh — watch him play. Considered by many a has-been, had a solid year.
DM: Mark Noble. His best season ever, particularly in attack.
RM: Marc Albrighton. Only once before had more than 15 starts in a season, became an integral part of a title-winning side.
CM: Mousa Dembélé. Erratic in the past, now a dominant figure.
LM: Marko Arnautovic. A mercurial provider became a fine goalscorer, and kept up his assists too.
F: Shane Long. Who would have expected him to be undroppable for a Europe-chasing side?
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
On Blackburn’s title win
In the past few weeks and especially the last 24 hours I have heard a lot about this being the greatest ever title win and how we’ve never seen the likes of this before. First off may I say I think it is fantastic and as far as a side going from relegation fodder to champions in a year it is remarkable and congratulations to Leicester. But we have actually seen a side made up of virtual nobody’s winning the league before.
However in multiple articles and comments I’ve read, a lot have referenced how Blackburn’ 1995 title win was due to Jack Walker ‘buying the league’. I may add a lot of these remarks appear to be made by Liverpool fans who seem to have to spout this rubbish as it eases their own sense of failure. Anyway determined to let the facts get in the way of a good excuse I decided to get researching and the figures show quite a different picture. Although it can be difficult to gauge a team’s worth when bought over a period of years let me give some of the facts.
The summer before the 94/95 season the only players Blackburn spent money on where Chris Sutton and Robbie Slater (Anyone remember him ?). The rest of the title winning side were already at the club. The following are the starting eleven with the most appearances that season (honourable mention to Tony Gale and Paul Warhurst who played a fair amount of games too. Also Before anyone mentions him David batty was injured and made only four starts that season and Jeff kenna was bought with two months of the season remaining for 1 mill and made less than ten appearances)
Tim Flowers (2.5m), Alan Shearer (3.6m) and Chris Sutton (5m) were bought between the period of 1992-1994. Here is pretty much where the heavy spending stops. The defence was made up of Colin Hendry, Graeme Le Saux, Henning Berg and Ian Pearce. Hendry was bought BACK for 700k in 91 (the same amount Blackburn sold him for), Berg was an unknown and signed from Lillestrom for 400k in 93, Le Saux was out of favour at Chelsea and cost 700K, Pearce also came from Chelsea (where he only played four games in three years) for 300K in 93. The regular Midfield four were Tim Sherwood, Jason Wilcox, Stuart Ripley and Mark Atkins. Tim Sherwood came from Norwich for 400k in 92, Jason Wilcox came through the ranks, Stuart Ripley bought from Middlesbrough (When in the old second division) for 1.3 mill in 92 and Atkins cost 45k from Scunthorpe United in 88 .
So just to summarise the three big signings cost £11.1 million with the remaining 8 first team premier league winning regulars costing a combined total of £3.85 million and were purchased over a period of five years. In the 94/95 season alone Liverpool spent £8.6 million on Phil Babb, John Scales and Mark Kennedy, United spent £8.2 million on David May and Andy Cole, Newcastle spent £6.2 million on Marc Hottiger, Steve Guppy, Philippe Albert and Paul Kitson, Chelsea spent £4.5 million on David Rocastle, Scott Minto and Paul Furlong. That’s not to mention the money they spent in previous seasons and I would like to point out that Newcastle bought Darren Peacock towards the end of the 94 season for £2.7million which is more than it cost Blackburn to assemble their entire championship winning back four.
Shearer, Sutton, Sherwood, Le Saux, Berg and Wilcox were all bought for a combined £10.1 million and sold on for £42 million. This seems to make people think that they were all established stars when they came to Blackburn. They most certainly were not. The squad was made up of the goalkeeper with all the bottle, a sensational strike force (Sutton never reached those heights again) a rag tag back four that no one else wanted, a midfield comprised of a home grown player two signings from the lower leagues and a not yet cocky or famous Sherwood. They deserve respect for being the original under dogs. Well done Leicester, you have just done a Blackburn !!!!
David (You could buy three Blackburn winning sides for the same amount as Christian benteke) Dublin
‘Lingard has looked more at home in a United shirt than Schneiderlin’
Have the good folk at F365 actually watched much of United this season (and I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t)?
There has been a growing amount of sniping about Jesse Lingard over the last few months but continual praise of Morgan Schneiderlin throughout the season. Out of the two of them, Lingard has looked more at home in a United shirt this season. He at least doesn’t shy away in games and takes responsibility, Schneiderlin has gone missing in several games when we have needed him most.
They are exact opposites in a way. Schneiderlin has been statistically good this season but when you watch him with your own eyes he’s very rarely had a good game since joining United, certainly not worthy of being in the top 10 defensive midfielders in my book! While Lingard is statistically poor but when you watch him play he just makes so much happen around him with his intelligent movement and the positions he takes up on the pitch. United simply play better when he plays at the moment.
Whilst I agree Lingard isn’t of the required standard to be a United starter I’d say he is definitely good enough to be a 1st reserve squad player. As for Schneiderlin, I am actually a big fan of his and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come from him, but in the context of this season I find your opinions on these two players a bit odd.
Kev The Clarke (MUFC), Skem
Please sign Griezmann
Dear Ed/Louis/Jose/Whoever is in charge next year,
Ask Atletico want they want for Griezmann, and give it to them.
Talking Le Tiss
Thank you again for the piece on Matt Le Tissier, in one sentence you mention two of my favourite ever players Le God and Le King, Matt & Eric sitting in a tree scoring hat tricks 1 2 3, (sorry).
I loved the languid way he played football and I loved the fact he looked like a Sunday League substitute rather than one of England’s finest ever players, the England side should have been built around his genius rather than marginalised by a succession of blinkered managers.
I don’t think I have ever seen a Le Tissier scuffer, tap in or bobbled shot, every goal the man scored smacked of perfection, I think Blackburn suffered 2 of the biggest Le Tiss Thunderbastards in successive seasons, he may have a face like a robbers dog but he was a beautiful footballing legend.
Thanks for the memories Matt.
Paul Murphy, Manchester