Mails: This is rather exciting, isn’t it?

Date published: Friday 26th February 2016 3:33

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…and you’ll all provide the sh*t
Dear Mailbox Compiler. Best of luck.

I’ll turn on the fan.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool


It’s a miracle: the Europa League is exciting!
Bloody hell, I wasn’t sure it was possible, but the draw for the Europa League actually has me interested – maybe even a little bit excited.

Though I usually have mixed feelings about two English teams being paired together (one, it’s not as ‘exotic’ as playing foreign opponents and two, as a Bristol City supporter I’m neutral in wanting all English teams to do well in Europe), Man Utd and Liverpool fans wouldn’t stand for anything other than their sides going all out in this one – particularly as the Europa League looks to be the only realistic route for either side to qualify for the Champions League.

Other than that, Tottenham vs Borussia Dortmund has to be considered the tie of the round – two sides still in the hunt for their respective league titles (only just in Dortmund’s case, but the gap to 3rd is too wide to be made up) and practically guaranteed to qualify for the Champions League next season. It’ll be interesting to see how much both sides prioritise the tie, but I’d like to think both will be well up for it, and though Dortmund will be favourites, Tottenham were very impressive in brushing aside Fiorentina. This is a great test of where they stand against Europe’s elite.

I’m still wary of those pesky sorts Sevilla who seem to have a knack to continually win the thing and as such I might go as far as to say they are my ‘favourites’ to win it again, whilst Gary Neville seems to be getting things right at Valencia again and Villareal are another dark horse (Soldado to score the winner against Tottenham in the final?).

Well done UEFA on giving the competition the shot in the arm it needed – now here’s hoping the teams involved give it the attention it needs to be genuinely thrilling.
Nick Hamblin, Bristol


Excellent Europa League draw for fans of Liverpool, Man United, and indeed the neutrals. It should bring some much needed enthusiasm to the competition.

A shame that basically no-one will (legitimately) watch it on TV.

Looking forward to your match reports!
Andy, London


Great moment in the office when me and my Utd supporting mate just looked up, pointed at our screens and celebrated.

My word. I’m so excited right now.
Kris, LFC, Manchester


So we drew the pool?

Manc in SA (Brilliant. Buzzing already)


I’ve got wood.
Rob Melia


Europa League > Champions League. Kind of.
I was going to write this before today’s draw, but the ties that have been thrown up have just emphasised the point I’m trying to make. I’m not trying be all hipstery but at the moment the Europa League is interesting me a lot more than the Champion’s league. There was a discussion in the mailbox a couple of weeks ago about dwindling Champion’s League viewing numbers and I can certainly think of a reason why. For me (Clive) it’s become far too predictable and repetitive. Back in the day, there used to be a real mix of teams you’d see in the later stages. Now it’s all the same. For a while it as all the English clubs and now we have the Madrid-Barcelona,-Munich axis. Barca, Madrid and Bayern will all be semi finalists, unless they draw each other in the next round. Aside from that, we’re seeing the same ties again and again. Arsenal v Barca for example just doesn’t have the same feeling it used to.

The Europa league on the other hand is seriously unpredictable. Looking at the odds, there are 11 teams between Dortmund at 4-1 and Shakhatar at 14-1. It’s incredibly open. And as the competition gets to the business end, the Champions League carrot is going to make things even more exciting for the teams involved. Not only that, but we get ties that really get you excited because you haven’t seen them before. Dortmund v Spurs will be brilliant. Of course, we’ve seen United v Liverpool countless times, but not under floodlights, on a European night, over 2 legs. Those stadiums will be rocking. Looking at other teams involved, I’d happily watch ties with Villareal, Bayen Leverkusen, Valencia and quite a few others. All would be interesting. Just think, who would not get very excited about Gary Neville’s Valencia against Liverpool or Man United? I know I would.

I’m not trying to claim the Europa League is better than the Champion’s league but it certainly gives you something you haven’t seen before. And the Champion’s League is not offering that at the moment. For the rest of this reason, Thursday night is the night for me.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


They’ve got a cup final, too
Liverpool are in a very good moment coming into the League Cup final. On the back of a 3 game run with three clean sheets without their “best center back pairing” (if there is such a thing with this team) will have done wonders for confidence within the team. It has become a cliché to say, “we can use this result as a springboard”, but if Liverpool can lift the cup this Sunday, it most certainly will be a result that could catapult the Reds towards the finish line.

With the return of Allen, Lallana, and Lovren to full training today Liverpool are almost at full strength. There also seems to be a deeper understanding emerging within the players on what their responsibility under Klopp is. Things are beginning to take shape.

The City team that Liverpool will face this weekend is not the City team of the past few seasons. Yaya Toure is a shadow of his former self, and the big money signings have not clicked with the consistency that is required to win the league. As dangerous as City is on the attack, they are equally as vulnerable at the back. This should be a cracking final.

Brian (Two wins in five days will see a trophy and 4th place gap cut to 6 points…)LFC


Big Sam/West Ham
Billic has rightly been praised for the way he’s got West Ham playing this season which sees them pushing for European qualification – and Big Sam has rightly received a bit of criticism for his sour grapes at not being highly regarded by West Ham fans, or Newcastle fans, or just about anyone who wants their club to play ‘attractive’ football.

The problem I see is akin to Everton in 2013. Moyes had built a tough defensive unit over the years and a team known for their resilience scoring 55 goals and conceding 40 in the league in his final season. When Martinez took over their style became riskier, more attacking but the defensive sensibilities were still there. They had a great 2013/14 season, pushing for a top 4 place scoring 61 goals and conceding 39. With squad changes plus Martinez’ training starting to bite (or lack of defensive training at least) the 14/15 season was much tougher scoring just 48 goals whilst conceding 50.

Last season under Big Sam the Hammers scored 44 and conceded 47. If we extrapolate numbers for the rest of this season under Bilic they will have scored 58 and conceded 45. Just like Everton their attacking output has increased whilst their defensive solidity has remained about the same. Could this be attributed to how Big Sam trained that defense? Its logical. Could West Ham follow the Everton pattern and end up a defensive shambles next season?

Hopefully Billic has a bit more sense about him than Roberto, he may be as good a defensive coach/tactician as Big Sam or even better. Time will tell but if the Hammers do struggle next season I hope Big Sam gets a bit more credit for his part in their success this year.
Dave (Hammers are miles better to watch this season though) Manchester


Some lingering United excitement
What a great performance that was from such a young, inexperienced, barely played together team. 2 make shift CB our 5th choice LB and 4th choice RB, a (normal) under performing winger and a 4th choice striker. Dominating possession, brilliant movement and physical throughout the game.

I was up all night thinking about that performance and how I can see why LVG wanted a “thin” squad to give these youngsters a chance because look how good they are…..but also LVG wanted to be playing in the champions league this season, probably wanted to win it! If United were still in the CL with this injury crisis, how would these players have played against some of these teams… wouldn’t have been fun to watch Barca 3 strikers run circles around these kids….it would be soul destroying!

If LVG plan from the start of the season was to play with this squad in the CL then I admire his trust in the youngsters…..but is it just naive?
Stoky-Boy – One step along the longest round back into CL done!


The United myth
This is really grinding my gears. Again in the mailbox this morning these United fans want to claim that LvG is giving youth a chance. Well if you didn’t have 14 first team players injured do you really think some of these guys would see the pitch? No they wouldn’t. So yes he is giving the youth a chance but that’s because he bloody has too!!
Adam F (don’t get me started on giddy United fans after beating a “minnow”, too big to do a Liverpool? Doesn’t look like it)


Turning points
Hearing van Gaal talk about hoping Depay’s performance is a turning point made me realise, we’ve had that many possible turning points this season I think we’ve disappeared up our own arses.

Yours flippantly,
Andy Race


Louis’ litter
Louis’s Litter isn’t as bad as the option which went through my head, Van Gaal’s Virgins!

The first article in Mediawatch just confirmed I need to see a physcologist as soon as possible!!
Andrew, Ireland


I have to say I was disgusted by your mini paragraph on Marcus Rushford/Jimmy Savile in Mediawatch. Capital letter after a colon? Good grief.
Ed, Oxford, BHAFC (Does this mean we get to keep Wilson?)


Donald Trump. Leicester City. 17 degrees in December. The Europa League attracting a bigger TV audience than the Champions League. The world truly has turned upside down.
Michael, MUFC

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