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Football’s big question
Is Harry Kane the only player who looks more normal wearing one of those masks?
Si (that is all I need to know today thanks) MUFC
Oh do sod off Charlie…
I thought I’d write in regarding the comments made by Charlie Stillitano.
In my 31 years I’ve seen football explode into a mega industry (hate the term but it is what it is). Players are treated and act like Hollywood A listers, the money given to clubs/players/agents is incredible and the cost of watching (either at home or at a stadium) is a well-documented joke.
What we are seeing, and it’s been said a million times before, is the rich clubs getting richer and the rest getting left behind. Mr Stillitano has gone on record to say he doesn’t want to see PSV or Genk in the Champions League! Well, you might not want to over there in the USA but maybe we do here? Of course a neutral fan right now is going to choose watching Barcelona over PSV, but if football carries on the way it is, ALL we’ll be watching soon are the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern. There aren’t that many ‘super clubs’ out there to keep the new breed of fan interested for an extended period of time.
Those of us that remember football before what it is now will remember Ajax winning the Champions League and almost retaining it the year after. There weren’t many neutrals who didn’t love watching that team and willing them on.
Those days are gone and will be gone forever if we carry on this way.
Sports in the USA is wholly different to what we have here (my in-laws are American so I’ve been subjected to it more than most in the UK). And different isn’t bad. It’s just how they like it there. No relegation, play-offs every year etc etc. But that’s not what it is here.
European football is in danger of giving into the demands of the modern foreign fan. At the end of the day, if an American, Indonesian, Australian wherever fan of a European side has decided that he/she wishes to support that side, he/she needs to respect the way European football has been established and how it runs.
Put it this way, if the NBA became massive in Europe, it is none of our business how it’s run, we respect how the Americans have enjoyed it for all this time.
The real quiz
Instead of discussing whether Leicester City deserve to be on the same field as soccer’s inventors Manchester United, perhaps the real quiz should be this:
Given that almost every (association) football fan from America you meet (or read in the mailbox) is incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the English game, why is it that every American businessman who spouts forth about our game comes across as a clueless, insufferable c##t?
I mean, there must be a reason apart from them being a clueless, insufferable c##t.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
How UEFA could nip this in bud
So once again the subject of a breakaway European superleague rears its ugly head. Perhaps it is time for UEFA to say something about it, how about this –
‘If you want to form an independent league then go, however UEFA will take the following action. Any club that joins the league will be considered to have resigned from its national association. All players of that club will therefore not be registered and thus (I think) be ineligible for their national team selection. The club will not be able to take part, at any level, in any tournament or league sponsored by a national association or UEFA. There will be no automatic re-admittance to any league for any club.’
Now some people may think that this is a bit harsh, but basically if those clubs want more money, and I am a supporter of one of the ‘secret five’, and are using the threat of a breakaway to ‘blackmail’ their way to a bigger share of the pie at the cost to the rest of the clubs in Europe, then at some time somebody has to say no. I am sure there will be some interesting replies.
Ian, New Brighton
Why are we judging on assists?
After reading Stoky-Boy (MUFC) Enough of Sterling?? mail using minutes-per-assist stats to make a conclusion on Raheem Sterlings ability I have finally made the decision to write in about something that has bugged me for years.
Why are we judging players on a stat that they have no control over whatsover?
A player can create 10 chances in a game only for his team mates to repeatedly fluff their lines (Giroud, Walcott etc…), whilst another may get an assist for a simple pass only for his teammate to thump it on from 25 yards. Yet the latter gets an assist on his records whilst the former gets nothing. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
It’s about time we start to judge our creative players on minutes per chances created/key passes. This way it isn’t relying on anything other than their own ability to find a team mate.
Thierry Henry broke the assist record with 20 assists in the 2003/04 season. Now I’m not saying that Henry didn’t deserve this accolade as I’m not sure of the amounts of chances he created, however I doubt he created anywhere near the amount of chances Mesut Ozil will create this season, whether he finishes with 20 assists or not.
Frank Lampard currently holds the record for most chances created in a season which stands at 134. That is the record Ozil should be chasing not assists.
Biggest under-achievers in PL era?
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide asserts in this morning’s mailbox that the 2015/2016 Newcastle are the “biggest underachievers in the PL era”.
I do take his point in that Toon fans could have realistically expected better – but I think to claim this as the biggest underachievement in the last 24 seasons (wow that makes me feel old) is a bit hyperbolic.
Off the top of my head, what about Nottingham Forest in 1992/93 (the team for whom the phrase ‘too good to go down’ was seemingly invented), but also and perhaps more pertinently, how about Newcastle themselves in 2008/09? A squad full of experience and international class, Shay Given (for half the season at least), Kevin Nolan, Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Nicky Butt, Damein Duff, to name but a few. Big-money signings in Coloccini and Xisco. Not just relegated but also knocked out early in both cups, both times losing at home. Ructions between the board and manager that saw Keegan depart early, then a rotating cast of Joe Kinnear, Chris Hughton and Alan Shearer failed to put together any kind of consistent form. Only seven wins all season and finished on 34 points in a season where even 35 points and -24 goal difference would have seen them survive. The joint top scorers with eight goals each were Owen and Martins – by comparison, Wijnaldum has already notched nine league goals so far with 11 games left to play.
I’ve no doubt that for the fans this season is nothing other a huge disappointment, and it must hurt like hell to see the club where it is, but speaking as a neutral, I don’t even think 2015/2016 is the worst season for Newcastle, never mind the entire Premier League.
Terry Hall, Switzerland
Well it ain’t City
‘Giraffe boy’ compares the recent achievements of Chelsea and Man City, concluding that Man City have massively underachieved by comparison.
I’m a Chelsea fan but I don’t entirely agree. Chelsea were already winning FA Cups and League Cups before the oil money came in, whereas Man City hadn’t won anything for decades, so they started from a much weaker position. Moreover, Abramovich took over in 2003 whereas Man City got their oil money in 2008. Chelsea have had a head start, with an extra five years to add to the trophy cabinet, without facing competition from a strengthened Man City over that time. Who’s to say that Guardiola’s Man City won’t catch up over the next five years?
Where Man City have underachieved the most is certainly in the Champions League, but again there is an important difference between them and Chelsea. Chelsea had already experienced some (modest) successes at European level pre-Abramovich: one UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup (and two other semi-final appearances in that nostalgia-inducing competition), one UEFA Super Cup won against Real Madrid (!), and a pretty exciting Champions League campaign in 1999-2000 where we twice held AC Milan to draws, beat the likes of Galatasaray, Feyenoord, Marseille and Hertha Berlin, and even beat Barcelona 3-1 at Stamford Bridge in the quarter finals (losing the away leg in extra time). Man City’s last European games against ‘proper’ teams before the oil money were a distant memory (the 1978-79 season).
It takes time to build the experience and confidence to become a mainstay in the latter stages of the Champions League. Still, it surely is a big underachievement that they haven’t made the quarter-finals yet and for that reason I think Man City fans can be glad that Pellegrini decided to prioritise the Champions League over the FA Cup, even if they had quite a favourable draw against Dynamo Kiev. By making sure Man City finally take that step at the fifth time of asking he is allowing the team to overcome a major psychological obstacle. Even if they don’t get much further this season, it could lay the foundation for European success in the coming seasons and I’m sure Pep appreciates that. What’s more, with Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool all struggling, Arsenal still being Arsenal, and Leicester and Tottenham vulnerable to ‘second season syndrome’ next year, Pep might have timed his move quite nicely…
James Bruschini (feel very weird now after defending Man City)
Pick form players, Roy, not former players
In an interview yesterday, Roy Hodgson was asked about Jack Wilshere, who will not be fit for England’s final two games before the European Championships. Wilshere hasn’t played at all this season. According to the BBC, Roy had this to say:
‘But Hodgson said a lack of game time does not mean he would not call up the 28-cap player, explaining: “Players are either fit to play or not. For me, it’s all about the class of the player.”
He added: “We need classy players, players we can trust, players we know what they will give us and players who have the desire, motivation and wish to play for England, to do all that’s necessary. Luckily we have some of those.”‘
I don’t think by referencing intangibles such as class, trust and desire over form he was just talking about Wilshere. I think he was talking about Welbeck, Rooney, Shaw and Wilshere. And Milner. And Henderson. And Carrick. And any other players that Roy has previously been able to rely on, but are now being outperformed.
It looks very likely that the top two teams at the end of the season in the Premier League will be Spurs and Leicester, with English players Rose, Walker, Trippier, Dier, Mason, Alli, Albrighton and Drinkwater absolutely essential to that success.
It also looks very likely that two of the top three goalscorers in the Premier League will be English, in Kane and Vardy.
And it looks very likely that in England’s first game in the European Championship against Russia Roy will play absolutely none of those players in his first-choice 11.
I think it’s objectively impossible to make a case that the best team England could choose for the match against Russia on the 11th of June would include Rooney, Henderson, Welbeck, Wilshere, Clyne and Shaw. You cannot possibly look at those six and judge them to be more likely to perform well in a game than any six of the Leicester and Tottenham players listed earlier.
I know that it’s easy for anyone whose job isn’t on the line to say “Plan A worked great last year. But it’s outdated. Throw it away and make a new plan for this year.” But that’s exactly what I would do.
Pick a team of 11 English players to play a match tomorrow. If it doesn’t have Vardy, Alli, Trippier, Drinkwater and Rose in, then you’re Guy S or Garth Crooks. Or, unfortunately, Roy Hodgson.
Where are Arsenal’s local boys?
With all the fun we’ve been having with Arsenal fans here on Football365 and on Twitter (ArsenalFanTV has been GOLDEN this week) there is a question l asked my Arsenal-supporting friends on Facebook but failed to get an answer.
When was the last time a local boy came through the ranks and pulled on the shirt for the Gunners in a league match? It’s one thing to talk about Arsenal’s youth team structure but accoring to most of them the last local player to come through was Wilshere. Isn’t THAT the biggest indictment of Wenger’s legacy?
Man United, City, Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, etc have all had players come through but for all the scouting they do and for the fact that they are in the capital city with the largest population isn’t it terrible that htere are NO players good enough to play for them. You can try to deflect all you want and say that there are lots of teams in London, but if you look at the 30 miles around the Manchester area there are many towns who also have teams and scouts looking at and signing players.
A lot has been said about the lack of fight from Arsenal when it starts to get tough. Wouldn’t having a core of local boys help get through that? Just a thought.
Israel (Gonna enjoy the pace and enthusiasm from my team til the old slowpokes return), MUFC since 1977
I wrote this on Arsenal five years ago…
I used to write on my former blog and for several websites a few years ago. Due to work and time constraints I had to stop. Funnily enough, after Arsenal’s recent ‘failings’, I remembered one of the posts I had written back in April 2011 about Arsenal crumbling. I decided to go back and find. And I’m quite shocked that almost every point I mentioned in there is still valid till’ this very day! Check it out here.
I must be Nostradamus or some sort of savant…or Arsenal are just stuck in groundhog day.
Anthony Semaan (Beirut, currently in freezing Paris)
Do Spurs have the balls?
I think if Tottenham have any b**ls and are the real deal as everyone is making them out to be, this is the game to completely obliterate their north london rivals low on confidence and ravaged with injuries. If they’re the same old bottlers, they’ll probably draw/lose and remain could haves..
Jose for Arsenal? Behave yourself
I don’t even know where to begin with Aravind’s mail on why Arsenal should appoint Jose Mourinho…
Personally I don’t even want to see him back in the Premiership, let alone manage the team I support, such is his vile behaviour. Remember when Benitez took over at Chelsea? It’s like that, except much, much worse. I would quite honestly go another decade without a trophy than win anything with that consummate [expletive here]. I’m ready to see Wenger go, and have been for a while, but I still respect him and have many fond memories of his time at the club. Appointing Mourinho as his replacement would be tantamount to slugging him square in the plums as he walked out the door. I honestly think there are few more disrespectful things you could to do to a man who, when it comes down to it, is literally the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history.
And the topic of his ‘baggage’ is certainly not one for another day as it completely precedes him as a manager; he’ll be needing a personal Sherpa to lug it round for him before long. You may have noticed I’m not especially fond of him, and without wanting to presume the role of spokesman for all Arsenal fans, I feel it would be safe to say I’m far from alone.
Although to be fair he may be able to get rid of one or two of our physios…
Michael, AFC, Crawley
…You’ve done it again 365 haven’t you? You published Aravind, Chelsea fan because you KNEW we’d bite!
Mourinho to Arsenal? You just don’t ‘get it’ Aravind do you? Mourinho, like Costa is everything Chelsea stand for. Win at all costs, intimidating referees, dive, block, feign injury, waste time, cheat…do whatever it takes. We won’t even go down the ‘not having that woman in our dressing room’ route! Wenger and Arsenal are the absolute antithesis. Known for ‘doing things the right way’, with a bit of class. See how even Souness respects them (though I admit Wenger does take this too).
Mourinho is about the worst fit possible at Arsenal. If Mourinho in charge means winning a league title, then NO THANKS. Mourinho is a tornado. Spectacular for a short period of time leaving destruction in its wake after its brief but violent passing.
When you start talking about CVs, Wenger has stayed at ONE club with an owner/board (as you correctly point out) who are more interested in the profit line than the trophy cabinet. For that reason alone it is impossible to truly compare them. The ONE thing Chelsea do have over Arsenal is the fact that their owner is in it for the sporting glory rather than the financial return.
I am sick and tired of pointing out to Chelsea fans that they are not the massive club they think they are. Football was NOT invented in 2004 when Roman arrived. The whole club was sold for £1 in the 70s. They really should keep their opinions to themselves. Yes, Arsenal need a change at the helm. We know Wenger is tired and just repeats the same season. Yes, we need to bring the custodianship of our club back in to hands of people that care about football…but we’ll sort our own problems out (eventually). Aravind, you just concentrate on your players diving and faking injury to get opponents sent off…you’ve had the perfect teacher in Jose!
Chris (you seriously owe us tomorrow Arsene) Charteris. Yes, old enough to remember Chelsea in the 70s.
Thoughts on Adam Johnson
As a former lawyer, I followed the Adam Johnson trial. I wish I could say it was an edifying experience. It wasn’t. It wasn’t even titillating. It was just utterly, depressingly predictable. A lustful footballer, a star-struck 15-year-old: there wasn’t a single line of testimony that would surprise anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of human frailty.
What came across most strongly is the tremendous magnetic power of the professional footballer, and how tempting it must be to use and abuse that power. Of course we can blame contemporary culture for idolizing our athletes, but the situation has been around for a very long time. The Greeks built statues to the winners in the ancient Olympic Games. A. E. Housman’s 1896 poem ‘To an Athlete, Dying Young’ opens ‘The time you won your town the race/We chaired you through the market-place/Man and boy stood cheering by/And home we brought you shoulder-high.’
Younger people are probably more susceptible, but even in this cynical age, anyone can get star-struck. I remember when I was in my late 20s, I had the chance to talk to John Denny, a decent but not exceptional pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and I was totally tongue-tied. I’m 60 now, but if, say, Santi Cazorla (gosh, he’s a great player!) contacted me for some reason, goodness knows how I’d react.
Ideally we should treat footballers as people like everyone else, but then football wouldn’t be football. I’m not sure heroes are terribly healthy for a culture, but we seem to need them, and sport, with its clear winners and losers, and basic irrelevance to the real world, may not be the worst place for them. A hero footballer can do significant damage, but a hero politician can do a lot more.
In the end, I don’t have any brilliant insights to offer. But maybe this very public shaming can serve as an example. Maybe some athletes will say “this could be me” and think twice; maybe some parents will tell their kids “look where this can get you” and a few will listen. And maybe the rest of us can say “we’re really all in this together,” and find a way to give footballers the adulation we want without giving them the social power they can abuse.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Football People On TV is the gift that keeps on giving. This week’s effort on Joey Barton was a standout in that Johnny hits the nail on the head in some depth, but the PFM part about Glenn Hoddle ‘faxing his genitals to Big Sam at 4am’ still has me in stitches. I feel like there are some things you haven’t seen that you just can’t unsee.
Owen (It ain’t grim up north in NZ), Whangarei