Mails: Time for a Mata-Willian swap deal?

Date published: Monday 30th May 2016 10:24

Keep those thoughts coming to


Swap Willian for Mata? Sure
Call me crazy but I am a Chelsea fan who can’t stand Willian.

He is one of those Brazilian players who flatter to deceive.

He is NOT a box to box midfielder. He is more like an edge of box to edge of box midfielder because unlike say… Dele Alli, he does not complete his runs into the opposition box to provide an option instead He just stands around and watches his teammates from the edge of the box.

He does not really win that many tackles. He does not provide enough assists. He does not score enough goals and despite being the ‘best player’ in Chelsea last season, largely due to the dip in his teammates form he still has less assists and goals than mata who was played out of position and far less minutes by LVG all season.

Willian missed a few games through injury and I really thought the team was better without him.

He holds on to the ball too long to show off a bit and unlike Iniesta or modric, looses it in very bad positions.

He scored what? 2 free kicks all season? And suddenly he is a free kick specialist?
I will however concede that he has pace and skill and far more potential than he has displayed so far.
I guess a good manager like Conte can get more from him. Mata is a much more intelligent player who despite his lack of pace, was better for Chelsea than Willian has ever been.
Paul (CFC).


Forget Jose, what about Rafa?
With all the attention on José Mourinho at Manchester United, a much more important story has been given short shrift: Rafa Benitez and Newcastle.

José to United is top top glamour, but it’s just another case of Big Club signs Big Manager. There are a few interesting political and stylistic issues distinct to United, but basically it’s the sort of thing that happens among the elite clubs every couple of years.

Benitez to Newcastle is very different. Here’s a manager with a Champions’ League trophy on his CV, who was managing Real Madrid less than a year ago, sticking with a club in the second division. That’s just about unprecedented.

Even more significant is that the impetus came from Newcastle supporters. Rafa had a release clause in his contract, so he could leave if they went down. But the amazing support from the fans, culminating in the final game of the season, when they chanted his name from the opening whistle, convinced him to consider it. After the season ended, he said his “heart” told him to stay.

And that’s when the most remarkable thing took place. To convince him to stay, Mike Ashley handed him the keys to the kingdom. This was diametrically opposed to Ashley’s long-time stubbornly-held club structure, with his crony Lee Charnley running football operations and the manager a yes-man. Now Benitez will have the final say on transfers, and no player will be sold unless he approves.

True, it’s not 100 percent about the fans. Benitez has a family in England, so he had other motivation to stay. Ashley is not wholly stupid, and knows that in order to get a piece of the huge Premier League pie, he needs to get back there quickly, whatever it takes.

But without the deliberate fan drive to woo Benitez, this would never have happened. It’s no exaggeration to say that supporters have been the primary force in completely changing the orientation of their club, almost certainly for the better. Best of all has been listening to Newcastle podcasts since the signing. For years under the Ashley regime, the supporters have sounded grim, defeated, drained. But now they sound alive again, with a manager and club they can love. And that’s headline news no matter where or when.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (Bravo Hull City AFC!)


Prem virgins
I’m hoping that Adomah is a hit, and that ‘Boro can chant

You can keep Benzema
‘Cause we’ve got Adomah
He scores and celebrates
He paints and decorates


Antipodean correspondence
Australian football has since the last World Cup been very quietly undergoing a mini-renaissance. For years we have been plagued by a cultural cringe towards our football and its national team. A revolving cast of Dutch and German managers and technical directors (whichever nationality was in vogue at the time of appointment) spent their time reinforcing this perceived inferiority.

All this changed when on the eve of the 2014 World Cup Holger Osieck was sacked as national team manager after suffering consecutive 6-nil defeats. His replacement was Ange Postecoglou.

Ange imbued the team with a confidence and élan that has rarely been seen in Australian football teams. Although Australia lost all three of their World Cup group games, (Chile 2-1, Holland 3-2, Spain 3-0) the attacking and open style we played made us watchable and entertaining in all but the final group game.

It was playing in a similar vein that Australia was able to defeat South Korea 2-1 in extra time to become champions of Asia on home soil in mid-2015.

The friendly (if someone says “there’s no such thing between these two countries” one more time I will hurl) against England was an opportunity for Australia to measure how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.

Bushranger bearded Jedinak patrolled the midfield dominating possesion; Tom Rogic of Celtic danced between the lines of midfield and defence showing off the skills that have him linked to Arsenal, Valencia and Fiorentina; and Aaron Mooy displayed the passing range and touch that have seen him dominate the A-League domestically this season. Yes we were lacking in cutting edge with former Blackburn youth prospect Jamie Maclaren and the perma-crocked Robbie Kruse struggling to make their stamp on the game. And our makeshift defence was caught out of position on more than one occasion when England gained the ascendency. But there was still so much promise and potential wrapped up in this Socceroos performance.

And to top it all off we’ve been drawn against Thailand in our World Cup qualification group. Bangkok away in mid-November is looking like a tasty little trip.

What a time to be alive in the colonies!
Ads, MVFC, Melbourne


The Torres penalty
Having read the 16 conclusions piece on the champs league final and agreeing with most of the points, the one that compelled me to write in and really grinds my gears is the view on Torres’ penalty win.

I should come clean and say I’ve been in the Pepe role before where the free kick has gone the other way, and it’s pissed me off ever since (it must have been 10 years ago now – I should really get over it!!)

The general consensus seems to be that the pen was stonewall but what I see is that Torres is 2nd to the ball and trips Pepe up before he gets there. I’m not sure what Pepe can do, he can’t predict that Torres will stick his foot in front of him, nowhere near the ball.

Is this the reverse-Vardy? Am I alone in thinking this ?
Rob, Boro


Are Atletico cursed?
I’m mildly surprised that no one has noted the Atleti curse in European Cup/Champions League Finals. In 1974 they were seconds from beating Bayern Munich when Georg Schwarzenbeck tied the match at the end of extra time with a 25 yard rocket. They were run off the park 4-0 in the replay two days later. Even though they had a few decent sides over the next forty years they never got close to winning again. We all know the heartache of the 2014 and 2016 finals.

Now about that curse. In the 1974 European Cup semi-finals Atletico Madrid visited Parkhead and played in what is possibly the most disgraceful game of football ever played. They didn’t actually try to play football, they basically fouled Celtic all over the park and got three red cards (which was a remarkable feat back then) en route to a 0-0 draw. They won the second leg at home 2-0.

It’s not too hard to imagine that in April, 1974, in the east end of Glasgow, someone, or quite a few people cursed Atletico to the effect that those b*stards would never win a European Cup. Well, they haven’t.
Stephen (Toronto)


Poor Atleti
I have given it two night snow, but I am still gutted for Athletico and their fans.

Your first point of another enjoyable 16 conclusions doesn’t help my feeling at all.
This team, in this seasons of seasons for footballing romance again, were truly meant to win I felt.

This would avenge their last minute lapse which lead to capitulation in 2014, and give us all something of The Leicester Feeling again.

Sadly, instead I was left with CR7 absurdly harping on about himself (surprise), trying to imply that his penalty in a shootout should count as number 17 this season.

Hmm….where is that wonder guest piece I read last week about huge clubs, and the desensitised feelings of euphoria when winning…?
Manc In SA (not generalising about Madrid fans, but come on now, can you argue that Athletico fans wouldn’t cherish it more?! Instead of just immediately beginning to loudly demand Number 12 from the stands?)


Penalty bleedin’ shootouts
Once again a major final comes down to penalties. Whilst not agreeing that this is entirely a ‘lottery’ and admiting that clearly that there is a sizeable element of skill and technique inherent in this well-worn way of deciding a match, surely the random/luck element is currently too great. I’d argue that the methodology is open to some slight tweaking to make it fairer and would propose the following-

Each team to take ten penalties, five each before the match kicks off, five at the conclusion of extra time if the scores are level. None of the penalties would be counted UNLESS the match ended in a draw.

Each player would only be allowed to take a single penalty, so most teams would use their best pen takes for the initial batch, leaving five more reluctant takers to get involved after the final whistle {picked from the players on the pitch at the time as per usual}

Ten penalties, before sudden death kicks in, rather than five, would reduce the lottery element.

In theory the entire 11 players who started the match could be involved-so no hiding place!

The team that lost the initial shoot-out would be more on the front foot and attack harder through the game; the other team could not ‘shut up shop’ as they could still lose if the balance shifted during the final set of pens.

Anyway that’s my two-pennorth {no very slight and tenuous pun intended}
Mike A


Pepe’s antics
I want to begin this mail by making it clear that I really do not like Pepe, I agree when people say that he is the most prominent example of what is wrong with football when it comes to theatrics on the pitch.

But there is a line of thinking that may go some way to explaining (though definitely not justifying) why Pepe conducts himself in the way that he does. There is a Hall of Fame NBA player named Reggie Miller, who now commentates on NBA games, and he made an interesting comment the other day. Now Reggie was a similar type of personality to Pepe in that he was an irritant – he used to try and goad other players into reacting to something he had said or done, basically trying to distract them from the task at hand, namely winning the game.

Now the opposition crown and players all knew what Reggie was like – he played to it throughout his career, and he would cop barrages of abuse from the stands and from the opponents benches. And herein lies my point; Reggie loved it. Partly because he fed off of the hostility, but primarily because it meant the focus of the rival fans and players was all going to be on him. In his mind, if all the boos and abuse was directed towards him it meant that the rest of his team could focus on the game without having to worry about what was happening in the crowd – that was Reggie’s problem. Reggie would shoulder the burden of taking the brunt of the abuse (to the point where he would look for ways to antagonize the crowd, although as his career progressed and the fans got to know him it didn’t take much to get them going), leaving his team free to operate without the added crowd pressure.

I don’t know if Pepe is following the same method of madness or whether it is simply a byproduct of him being a complete tw*nt, but by acting as the lightning rod for the vitriol that pours down from the stands he does allow the rest of the team to pass by relatively unscathed from crowd abuse.
Ben, Sydney (He’s the hero no one wants… sod that he’s just a b*llend)

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