Right, now look here. We want Euro mails. Give us your Hungary rundown. Tell us about why Albania are dark horses. Who is Ukraine’s best player? Send the firstname.lastname@example.org
Good things don’t come to those who wait
This delay for Vardy really worries me.
Every day we are waiting for him other potential targets, such as Morata, edge closer to choosing their next club.
Not only that, would they want to be second best for Arsenal? I wouldn’t. I actually don’t see how it is a difficult decision to make. You either want more money and Ozil or you want to keep going with the friends you just won the league with.
I would chose the later…and Arsenal we will miss out on Morata. And Mahrez or Kanté because they won’t want to be seen as the money grabbers.
Rob A (what other strikers are available?) AFC
Third place going through is unfair
I wrote in yesterday discussing my ambivalence toward the new format on the Euros. I touched on the issue of 24 teams being unfair. The more I thought about it after writing in, the more I thought about an issue no one seems to be talking about. I wanted to see what everyone else thinks.
It’s been part of Euro and World Cup rules for a while now, that teams must play their final games at the same time in a group. This stops teams knowing what they need to do, or possibly colluding to get a result. However, this is blown out the water now as teams in different groups will affect each other’s chances of qualifying.
To give an example, Sweden play Belgium in the last game of the group. Now, it’s surely possible that they could go into that game knowing a draw will send them through (let’s say in 2nd and as one of he best 3rd place teams) but a loss would send one of them home. All the other games will have been played so they will know exactly how many points they need to secure a 3rd place qualification. At the start of that week, teams in Group A will have had no idea how many points they will need to go through in 3rd, so will be going all out for the win.
This is surely unfair and another reason 24 as opposed to 8, 16 or 32 teams does not work. Now maybe it’s just me and the 39C temperature I’m currently running has clouded my judgement, so can anyone confirm or deny whether this is as unfair as it seems?
Mike, LFC, Dubai
What would Jose do with England?
So, as we stare down the barrel of Roy Hodgson masterminding a Group Stage exit for our beloved England, my thoughts turn to another mastermind. Specifically, if he was manager of England, what would Jose do?
Firstly, it is unlikely he would bow to public opinion and egos and shoe-horn Rooney, Kane, Alli, and Vardy into the same team. Secondly, particularly for a difficult and unpredictable Group, it would be the ever reliable 4-2-3-1, with two midfielders shielding the defence.
The goalkeeper picks himself, as do Cahill and Smalling (Stones being the very definition of “optimistic” centre back that sent David Luiz packing).
Jose likes some adventure from his full backs (Marcello, younger Ivanovic), as long as they primarily defend – so Clyne over Walker, and probably Rose over Bertrand for the attacking intent.
Central midfield tends to have one enforcer (Makele/Matic) and one playmaker (Alonso/Fabregas), so Dier and Wilshere would start.
The attacking midfielders need to be high energy, fast, skilful, who generically track back (Willian is current best of breed), but with room for a special player (Ronaldo, Hazard) if need be. It’s arguable that England have someone that good, so we’re looking for high energy/fast/skilful/track back – Alli is a prototypical Jose player, so would go No.10. Sterling, and Barkley rule themselves out through lack of application, Milner is too slow for the counter-attacks, Henderson can only play down the middle (but is an alternative to Wilshire), and out of the forwards, Sturridge, Rashford, and Vardy are unsuited to a wide midfield role.
Rooney however can, and has played that role successfully (as a bare minimum he will run around and track back) – he’s also the only realistic captain (a big Jose issue) so will start. On the other flank, Lallana pretty much picks himself (but could be swapped for either Milner or Sterling if needed).
Up top, one striker – no question. And it would be Kane – big, strong, holds the middle, scores goals (and also good at defending corners) – again, prototypical Jose player (Ibra, Drogba).
And there we have it: 4-2-3-1: Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, WilshEre, Lallana, Alli, Rooney, Kane
Not sure I disagree…
Why England vs Germany ’96 was a classic
I read James F’s mail and I think he misses a rather important point: The beauty of live sport is not knowing what happens next.
It’s the sensations, both physical and emotional that can’t ever be replicated, let alone twenty years later. Re-watching that match is a little unfair on it, to be honest, because you can’t ever watch it with the nerves, tension and anticipation that enveloped the United Kingdom that day.
As pleasing or heartbreaking as reminiscing about the past can be, one thing it can never be is authentic. Reality has a habit of being amplified and clouded by nostalgia, both good and bad.
You will never be as elated re-watching Gascoigne score as you were when you saw it live.
You probably knew all about the Scots’ good play, their possession and chances as the match unfolded. That’s why there was such jubilation.
Gazza’s outstretched boot in extra time won’t ever be as gut-wrenching as when you saw it live.
Southgate’s penalty won’t ever be as heartbreaking as when you saw it live.
However hard you try, you can never recall with accuracy the sense of pride, satisfaction, relief, anguish, despair or otherwise in the moments immediately before or following an England game that Summer.
Now it’s all a facsimile of how you felt. A convincing forgery. A re-run that’s lost its impact in the years since. It’s Del Boy falling through the bar… yeah it’s still funny, but nowhere near as brilliant as it was the first time around.
Over twenty years those moments, days and weeks have lost their lustre. The palpable, hopeful sense of ‘football’s coming home’ long-since bogged down by the wretched reality that it didn’t. Certainty, the enemy of live sport, has condemned England’s Euro ’96 campaign to the catalogue of failure.
Your truest emotion was the first one. Was the match a classic? Because of the drama and tension of the afternoon it didn’t have to be. Every Englishman and Scot had skin in the game that day and for a couple of hours it had everyone on the edge of their seats.
You know the result now. So, perhaps the question should be, ‘if you could re-live any footballing moment for the very first time, what would it be?’
For me it’s “Beckham… into Sheringham… AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!”
England tournaments being a bit s**t
There are very few major England games over the last 20 odd years I can remember as being of any quality what so ever (never mind revered).
Euro 96: basically had Holland getting a good walloping & I seem to remember thinking we had the better of the Germany game but lost.
France 98: we had the better of the Argentina game but lost (that was an exciting one)
Euro 2000: was garbage save the first 20 mins against Portugal
Korea/Japan 02: was awful throughout
Euro 04: was the one tournament I remember having some genuine positivity about England. It was going alright too until Rooney’s troublesome foot snapped (He was quite good back then). That was a genuine chance for England to win something.
Germany 06: awful (except Joe Cole’s goal)
Euro 08: Steve McClaren
South Africa 10: miserable
Euro 12: stank
Brazil 14: Sterling had us going for 30 seconds then back to awful.
The rest was just garbage. So that gives us Holland in 1996, a couple of “brave” losses and maybe 2 good games from 2004 (Croatia & Switzerland if you even count the latter). Maybe 3 of those tournaments I had some excitement for, Euro 96 was exciting regardless of the quality. France 98 Michael Owen complete with functioning limbs. Euro 04, the last time England looked like doing anything which is now over a decade ago
A non-Brit on the England negativity
The England squad had plenty of positivity around it before the final 23 was announced, judging by the mailbox (therefore scientifically proven) that has recently been replaced by heaps of negativity. I’d like to address some of that negativity.
1) I was too young for Euro 96 (and not British at all) and therefore England’s current obsession with that tournament is verging on vomit-inducing for me. I’ve seen the Scotland game from the tournament and James F, BCFC KRO hit the nail on the head when he said ‘let’s be honest, the football was cr*p’. To take the same point a step further: football from the past, in general, is always going to be cr*p when compared to the sport today due to the evolution of both the game and the athletes. That said, I laugh hysterically when someone uses the claim ‘none of the current squad would get into the Euro 96 squad’ because of the absolute absurdity of this claim. So, please f*cking stop comparing this squad to the Euro-winners of 1996… oh what’s that? Also, I’d like to add that if I was English, I’d prefer to have a hardworking team that bows out of a tournament due to their lack of quality as opposed to (judging by the mailbox’s claims recently) a top-quality team bottling it. Bottling is inexcusable, frankly.
2) With Sturridge, Vardy, Kane, Rashford and Rooney all in the squad, Roy seems certain to want to play the diamond with two strikers up top. Then you compare the number of wingers chosen and the number (and attacking style) of the full-backs to the central midfielders (and their respective qualities) selected and that notion is, more or less, confirmed. Of that five aforementioned strikers, three are in scintillating form and offer their own, unique skill sets. So, what’s the point of banging on about single striker systems when there are NO out and out wingers in this squad? And also, with the strikers in the form that they are, how is there no excitement (note: not acceptance, genuine excitement) about any two of Sturridge, Vardy and Kane starting up front with the third (and Rashford) being impact subs? It’s going to be f*cking mental, I can not wait.
3) Rooney: face it, he’s not going to be dropped, injured (slightly more likely) or suspended (most likely but also very unlikely) for too long. His best position, in my humble opinion, is either as a number 10 or in midfield. ‘But he’s fat/slow/just a filled space’ I hear you scream and I don’t disagree. But, he’s going to be lining up alongside some very attacking/attack-minded and pacy players (Vardy, Sturridge, Kane, Rashford, Barkley, Lallana, Alli, Sterling, Wilshere, Clyne/Walker, Rose/Bertrand, etc) and suddenly Rooney’s inclusion in the starting XI makes sense: he’s going to be tasked with holding his position in an effective enough manner to allow those aforementioned players the chance to roam forward and still play a quarter-back role without hindering the defensive midfielders and their responsibilities. I don’t think this is a compliment to Rooney but one of the reasons for Drinkwater’s exclusion must be because Rooney can do everything (and more) Drinkwater can do from a deep position (evidenced by the number of options available in the number 10 and striker slot, other than Wazza). Rooney’s the jack of all trades in the squad this year. With Dier/Milner/Henderson/Alli/Wilshere lining up alongside him in midfield, England have enough ‘legs’ in midfield, attack and defence to run for Rooney and allow the captain to sit and spray the ball at his will.
4) But England will get caught out against the best teams this summer, you say. They’ve got Slovakia, Russia and Wales in the first three fixtures and have beaten (comfortably or otherwise) Germany and Portugal very recently. My point? You can’t expect Hogdson to play according to hypothetical situations made up in the minds of the fans. Moreover, by clearly choosing a formation in advance, Roy has allowed himself to pick players best suited to his system, rather than picking players to fit multiple systems (an approach used throughout the ‘Golden Generation’ time and which reaped the barrels of success England fans bathe in today). As Greece (and numerous others) have proven before, focusing on your own strengths is the only way to guarantee success against the tide (and England have been, since 1966, firmly against the tide).
5) The experience issue: this debate may have been shut down in an earlier mailbox but I’d just like to reiterate: yes Dier, Alli, Barkley, Sterling, Kane, Vardy are all likely to be vital parts of this England team without having ever really ‘done it’ for England before but exactly what experience would you require from your players before a tournament? Previous success? Because none of that kind of experience is available. Instead, the players chosen are all hungry to want to be mainstays in this side for years; a lot of them have also had a cracking season and so are high on confidence and good on form. Does that not sound somewhat close to a winning mentality? Inexperience may well be the best form of experience for this England team.
I’m not a betting man (yet) but England are definitely worth more than a punt this summer. Encouraging words from Jogi Low and Toni Kroos prior to the Germany game only proved that, to those looking in from the outside, this team and its fans have lots of reasons to be optimistic this summer. The central defense remains a massive issue (as does Hodgson’s ability to motivate/inspire this/any team) but instead of drab 1-0’s and 1-1’s like predicted by Ted, Manchester, I’d wager that if England do get knocked out it’ll be by a scoreline of 3-2 or 4-3 or the sort. Regardless, it promises to be the best tournament for England since Euro 1996 seemed to have been for you Britishers.
Emad MUFC Boston
Arsenal and wrist supports (not like that)
First there was the failed Suarez bid, now Arsenal are in the hunt for Jamie Vardy. I can only assume at the back of the club shop at the Emirates, there is a box of Arsenal branded wrist supports that they are desperate to get rid of.
Fowler, LFC (No, not that one)
One the expanded Euros
I think that Mike, LFC, Dubai, has let himself down somewhat in Monday afternoon’s mailbox. I agree with the first part of his mail that the expansion of Euro 2016 to 24 teams is more about money than giving smaller nations a go.
However, he goes on to complain that the expansion has led to a ‘dip in quality’ and means ‘fewer fixtures to get excited about’ and uses the following examples to back up his argument – Iceland v Austria, Northern Ireland v Ukraine, Albania v Romania, Russia v Slovakia.
Out of the 8 teams mentioned by Mike, 7 of them either won (Austria and N. Ireland) or came second in their qualifying group meaning they would all have most likely been in the tournament even it was the ‘tight, short, 16 team tournament’ trumpeted by Mike – i.e. nothing to do with the expansion of the tournament. It kind of ruins Mike’s argument.
The less glamorous teams have more than earned the right to be in France, embrace it Mike you might just enjoy watching them.
Colin, LFC & Northern Ireland, Bangor (Co. Down)