Keep those sexy mails coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Why would Arsenal not appoint Jose?
Read (and might I say, enjoyed) the Arsenal exclusive mailbox. It never ceases to amuse reading the whinings and rantings of Arsenal fans (mind you I’m not a sadist, just that I always feel the Arsenal supporters deserve better than what they get despite their holier than thou attitude). One of the striking aspect about Arsenal is their predictability – be it the manner of season unfolding, the manager’s presser after a loss (*cough* mental *cough* strength), the injury list, choking, champions league exit, league position etc etc.). Yet, the board are content with the status quo largely due to the fact that Arsenal is a business to them rather than a football club.
Now to the point I want to make, Jose Mourinho is available (despite the United rumours). He would love nothing more than to manage in England and get one over Roman Abramovich (heard this before, haven’t we?). More importantly, I would like to think that his favorite location within England would preferrably be London as his family has settled well in the capital. And he would like to manage a club that is well established in terms of finances and regular champions league participants. All the boxes tick with Arsenal. But why would he want to manage Arsenal? Simply for the fun fact that he can get his biggest ‘one’ over Arsene Wenger (whom he despises with envy as he believes the media fawn over Wenger while Jose gets the bad press despite boasting a superior CV). Hypothetically should Arsenal hire Jose, I am 100% sure they would be within a whisker of the league (or heck, even win it next season as every other team needs a rebuild including City). He would definitely take them beyond the last 16 of the UCL, importantly make them competitive in Europe. Should Arsenal ever face Barcelona again, a Jose-led Arsenal would be 1000 times difficult to score against and that alone would be a big achievement. Who knows, he may kick out all the players that the fans hate (starting with Walcott) All in all, for club and Jose this seems a great deal.
But what is likely to happen? Arsene Wenger in his terms remains, preaches signings before season tickets are for sale, gets an unknown entity somewhere or maybe a known player like ozil or sanchez. Forget the defensive side of his team. Praise how it is their year. And the loop continues!
P.S: Jose is not a defensive minded manager as people perceive, his teams are simply good at defending. On the other hand the extra baggage the man brings is a topic for discussion another day.
Aravind, Chelsea fan
United are still sh*t
I’ve waited for any Manchester United supporter to shut the rest of the deluded fan base that believes this new form is a kin to a second coming. The injury list if you clearly notice is synonymous to the slowest individuals on the team. Ian; Oxford Comma student, and generally talentless oik, Stavanger stated that he didn’t notice any “major” tactical changes. Let’s dissect the statement..Mata moved from the left wing to the CAM position, introduction of wingers in their best position, Memphis on the left and Lingard on the right, a midfield of full of aggression and hence faster transition from defense to attack, Carrick and Blind actually helped the transition because when the midfield would pass back, they had the time to pick the right passes to increase fluidity.
Now, the reason why United beat the last 3 teams is fairly simple, they all tried to attack. Which means they opened spaces for the team to capitalize on. The ridiculous conversion rate in the last 3 games, against Arsenal and Midtjylland, Rashford scored with only his first 4 shots.
The team hasn’t just been poor it’s been lucky and that has also been due to a lack of proper knowledge by the corresponding teams that united have played. Don’t be shocked if United draw or lose to West Brom. This team is appalling and the continued use of young players at a turbulent time could break them. This current team is one bad loss away from LVG attacking them in the press. Just ask Schweinsteiger, a player who has been grossly misused and unfairly attacked.
You might say it’s a… Big Weekend
Looking forward to another big weekend of football. After the midweek games, every game this weekend has some reason to be excited about.
Spurs v Arsenal – 2nd vs 3rd. As a Leicester fan, i’m hoping for anything but a Spurs win. I can’t decide which I want more though, a draw to give us the chance of being 5 clear of Spurs and 8 clear of Arsenal. Or an Arsenal win, to guarantee another week at the top and give us the chance of being 6 clear of both. Either way, it will be entertaining.
Watford v Leicester – This will be a very tough game for us, Vicarage road has always caused us problems and Watford looked very good against United. They play a similar style to us and could easily punish us with Ighalo due a goal. If the Leicester team from Wednesday show up, we could win. But if it is the team that scraped past Norwich, i don’t think we will.
Newcastle v Bournemouth, Swansea v Norwich – Huge games between teams near the bottom. Always exciting at this time of year.
West Brom v Man United, Villa v Man City, Everton v West Ham – Three teams battling to get into the top four – West Ham and United in great form. Man City were so woeful against Liverpool, maybe Villa could sneak an unlikely point (or is that too far?)
Palace v Liverpool – Not sure on the exact stats, but don’t Palace always win this game? Would be a vital three points to as good as guarantee safety if they could get it.
Chelsea v Stoke – Both will see themselves as being capable of going onto a strong win to get into a European place.
Southampton v Sunderland – Has nil nil written all over it. If this crazy season has taught us anything, predictions make fools of us all. This will therefore be a guaranteed goalfest.
Are the Invincibles the Invisibles?
Enjoyed the all-Arsenal collective therapy session immensely yesterday. I agreed with almost everything the Gooners were arguing, especially the idea that given the level of competition this year, Wenger really has nowhere to hide, and no excuses anymore. However, there was one thing that really irritated me, and I’ve seen it on here before – the notion that Wenger never built his own team. His record over the last ten years is one of relative underperformance, and he is beginning to feel more and more like an anachronism with every passing season (with Van Gaal for company) – but he DID build The Invincibles side. Of their most regular starters, it was only Bergkamp who wasn’t signed by Wenger, and each and every one of Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Gilberto, Pires and Henry were either bought by him, or given their first team debut by him.
This may be the biggest sign that it’s time for him to move on. Disenchanted Gooners are starting to re-envision the past, and the last decade is beginning to function like a coffee stain in the history book of Arsene’s former successes. As Harvey Dent put it in Batman – you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Time for Wenger to p*ss off before the Dark Knight becomes Batman and Robin.
Some United thoughts
With regards to Ian’s mail yesterday on United’s senior players, I do believe there is some truth to what your saying. The senior players do have to take some responsibility for the awful form this year, after all they are the ones with the ball. However the recent change in form has been accompanied by a slight tweak in ‘philosophy’ where (enforced by injuries) Van Gaal has switched to only one defensive midfielder.
The team now sets up more as a 4-3-3 rather than the rigid 4-2-3-1. Schneiderlin finally playing the role he’s best at doesn’t need to worry what his midfield partner is doing, he can simply get on with the job of breaking up attacks. The second midfielder is now Herrera, whereas previously Carrick, Schweiny, or the Tree would look to retain possession (pass backwards) his first thought is to move forward and get the ball to Mata. The enthusiam of youth also plays it part, I would imagine making your debut at Old Trafford is a daunting experience but their sheer will to prove themselves and take their chance is infectious, the whole club has been energised by it.
So really Van Gaal is still to blame for the awful form, but he must also get credit for making this rag tag team play with confidence and achieve results. My fear was that with such a decimated defense they’d be on the sore end of a 5-0 spanking from someone, with City (A), Eve (H), and Spurs (A) in the next month that could still happen but with De Gea back in net and the very promising Fosu-Mensah at CB that fear should remain unrealised.
Dave (he needs to keep playing the kids, and bring more through) Manchester
The biggest underachievers in Premier League history
Relegated or not, the Newcastle United of 2015/16 are the biggest underachievers in the Premier League era.
A lot of focus on the relegation battle has been on Villa, but there is another interesting story there – how a good squad can perform this badly.
Of all the teams in the relegation spaces, I think Newcastle is the most surprising. I wouldn’t want to put words into the mouth of other fans but I imagine that Villa fans are more angry than surprised and Sunderland fans would have seen this coming knowing that the same squad of players who flirts with relegation every year would eventually get caught out. – Newcastle have become serial flirts with the Championship too in recent years but at least the squad had new faces.
The underachievement can be seen simply by looking at the players in the team:
Gini Wijnaldum – Former PSV Captain and Dutch International
-Moussa Sissoko – French International
-Daryl Janmaat – Dutch International
-Siem De Jong – Former Ajax Captain and Jeff Winger doppelganger (yes I count that as a legit positive)
-Vurnon Anita – Former Dutch International and Ajax player
Alexsander Mitrovic – Serbia International/Former Champions League player
Chancel Mbemba – DR Congo International/Former Champions League player
There are some other players in there with decent reputations who have not had much of an impact yet due to being new arrivals or injured:
Tim Krul, Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend, Henri Saviet, Papiss Cisse (I’m a rare NUFC fan in that I rate Cisse –one goal every three games is good enough for a mid-table side)
Also in the side are some very experienced premier league players who while not world beaters should be “good enough” to be at a lower-mid table club: Coloccini (39 Argentina Caps, 200+ games for NUFC), Cheik Tiote (Ivory Coast International, 100+ games for NUFC), Jack Colback (2 seasons for NUFC, 100+ for Sunderland).
Basically, in terms of talent this will be the best NUFC club to ever get relegated. Better than the 2009 side. Better than the West Ham Squad to go down with over 40 points. Better than that Leeds side doing a fire sale of champions league semi-finalists over the course of the season.
As I’ve said before, we can’t really know what is actually happening behind the scenes at NUFC as the leadership is so murky. But whatever it is…its bad. For this side to be even in this situation is huge underachievement. Something needs changing at the club because regardless of survival or not…..no one can say that the first team’s performance has been good enough. The rest of the sides around NUFC are doing what you would expect relative to investment.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide
Coach vs. manager
Interesting point brought up by Ian Stavanger in the afternoon mailbox, when he says that the performances of ManU’s young ones shows that it was the senior players that were/are the problem and not LVG. Ian asks – At which point does it become the fault of these highly paid professionals, instead of the guy asking them to do what he coaches?
Which brings me to another question for the mailbox – is there a difference between a coach and a manager? And, would it better for a PL manager to be a good coach or a good manager and motivator? There are obviously some who combine both, and these are the more successful coaches/managers.
I would argue that the highly paid professionals, the senior ones, still need to be motivated, rather than coached. Schweini has being playing professionally for over a decade and has won almost everything worth winning in football. Rooney too (except the World Cup ofcourse). Yes they are still professionals and try their “best” in every game.. but so does every other professional PL player. What really motivates Schweini and Rooney to keep doing better than their “best”?
We decry the calls for “passion” from some “experts” saying that is not the only thing needed; but the hunger, the desire, the “passion” to be first to a loose ball, to win the ball back, to outrun/outjump an opponent, to outsmart them, is important too… as is to do it over and over again, minute after minute, game after game, season after season. That’s what a great manager gets his players to do, and is what made SAF truly great – the desire to find a winning formula, and pushing his players to do the same, year after year, over decades. A great coach who does not also motivate their players is pretty useless – Jose gave a perfect example of that earlier this season. LVG, and Pellegrini as well this year, are in a similar boat in my opinion – just not *that* bad.
Kyle Martino, football/soccer analsyt on NBCSN (there are apparently no ‘experts’ in the U.S. only analysts..) had a very interesting observation after the mid-week games – the young players who have turned results around for ManU in recent weeks, are the ones who have spent the least amount of time with LVG. Make of that what you will said Kyle. Players like Rashford, Varela, etc. even Lingard to some extent have had limited exposure to LVG. Depay too has apparently been getting coached directly by Giggsy.
It is likely that LVG has been trying to “coach” the players into being something they are not – essentially trying to teach new tricks to old dogs. It would be a lot easier and effective to teach a new “philosophy” to young, inexperienced and impressionable kids like Lingard and Rashford; but not very effective with the oldies.
Whose fault is that? Nobody’s really, it’s human nature. If LVG’s “philosophy” takes hold in the academy, Carrington might become like La Masia in a few years (one can hope!) Till then it’s going to be excruciating watching LVG try to impart his philosophy on Rooney, Scweini and co. But with a few Depays and Rashfords thrown in, it will be one helluva ride!
Vik M, MUFC, Stateside.
The Manchester City myth
Hello there just a mail to address an issue I have but others don’t. Manchester City have massively under achieved. Compare what they have won to what Chelsea have won. Chelsea since they have been bought have been the most successful English side. Consistently for 12 years. City however, have two league titles, one fa cup and two league cups to show for thier incredible investment. Plus the lack of penetration (hehe) in the Champions league it is crazy how easy they get it in the press and other media. Chelsea, before this year may I add have been consistently challenging for cups and in the latter stages of the champions league, winning it and the Europa league. Winning 4 league titles.
4 fa cups, 3 league cups. Chopping and changing manager all the time. City have had Mancini and Pelligrini. With the squad they have built, they should be dominating the league. As should Chelsea to be fair but their season has been a joke. Nothing is said on this. It’s as if their plucky attitude gets them off the hook.
Would be nice to see if anyone agrees with me or if I’m just rambling because the baby won’t sleep
Giraffe boy. Cybertron
I got bored in work so I thought I would compare Sterling with other midfield players in the primer league. When choosing I tried to not pick top obvious top performing players this season IE Ali, Ozil, Marhez etc but their second counter parts, also I tried to pick his competition and rivals, De Bruyne, Firmino and Coutinho.
I have never rated him personally, he takes too many touches, too many dummy shots before shooting, pushed off the ball etc. He did have an amazing season but was surrounded by the SAS at the time (well Suarez). I thought I would like to add some stats, we all love stats don’t we! (I dont know how well this will show below)
Name Mins Goals Assists Goals Per Minutes Assist Per Minutes
Deulofeu 1163 2 9 0.17% 0.77%
De Bruyne 1555 5 9 0.32% 0.58%
Firmino 1475 7 8 0.47% 0.54%
Erkisen 2049 5 10 0.24% 0.49%
Courhtino 1481 5 6 0.34% 0.41%
Tadic 1521 6 5 0.39% 0.33%
Llamla 1622 3 4 0.18% 0.25%
Walcott 1282 4 3 0.31% 0.23%
Sanchez 1560 6 3 0.38% 0.19%
Sterling 1700 5 3 0.29% 0.18%
Depay 1225 2 1 0.16% 0.08%
Average 1512.1 4.5 5.5 0.30% 0.37%
The average goals per game is 0.30% Sterling is just below with 0.29%, this sounds good but with Sterling playing the second highest minutes of 1700 minutes. With an average minutes of 1512.1 minutes you would expect him to be much higher than the average goals for a player of his quality.
The average assist per game is 0.18 which is massively below the average, which you would expect to be a lot higher than with a player of his price tag and status (look at De Bruyne). Although when the only player who is beating you to the wooden spoon on this case is a player who has played the second least minutes and has been called every harsh word under the sun for his performances….you know you have a problem!
So there we have it, he is nothing special, not even among players he should be better than let alone the superstars! I was going to try and compare him with other English players and by price tag and age etc…..but work got in the way….ah well….we can see he is shit and not worth any more mention.
If this does do well I will try and do some more of this with other analysis….it was fun! Also the best thing from this is Deulofeu has the lowest minutes but the second highest assists with a goals to assists percentage of 0.77%….also Firmino has the highest goals percentage……weird eh!
Stoky-Boy (MUFC) Enough of Sterling??
I enjoyed the article on Alan Pardew, and British managers in general. However, whilst I agree with the main premise – that British managers are not doing enough to get top jobs, I think the justification is somewhat dodgy!
For one, a lot of the teams at the bottom at the table expect to be due to budgets. I think Eddie Howe has done a wonderful job and Alex Neil has earned the chance to arrest Norwich’s slump. If Allardyce keeps Sunderland up praise will also be due. As such I think rather than league positions the more relevant stick with which to beat managers is performance against expectation. However in this category it appears thousands of Arsenal fans, Man Utd supporters and Man City diehards may have bigger axes to grind!
The other problem is that managerial appointments are not all deserved. An English beneficiary of this is currently Gary Neville. Chelsea’s Avram Grant and Roberto Di Matteo (ignoring subsequent achievements) were not the most qualified candidates but were given huge jobs nonetheless!
I have a much larger theory on this that draws parallels with Oxbridge admissions (not enough to be fair but needs to be seen to be fair) but will happily omit this to make way for more enjoyable Wenger out mails!
Dan (‘neutral’ coming out for Leicester), LTFC
Right of reply
I avoided the site this morning, as I often do when Arsenal have ballsed it up. Laughing at Arsenal is a completely rational response to our relentless, hubristic, self-sabotage, so I really don’t mind F365 doing it, I just don’t want to deal with it when I’m already in a sh*t mood. So I found out about Stewie Griffin randomly mentioning me by name (in brackets no less) when a bemused friend texted me at work.
My mood lifted immediately.
Words cannot describe the pride and merriment I feel for having evidently been Stewie’s unwitting nemesis all these years. That I have been shorthand in Stewie’s mind for the Arsenal fans that stand up for the manager in the face of his pompous, nasty, singularly negative missives is seriously satisfying. If anything I’ve said has caused that overworked vein to bulge on his temple, or his fists to ball up in anger then, I gotta tell ya, I’m chuffed to bits.
Stewie is nowhere near the worst Wenger hater out there, they reside on Twitter. But he’s by far and away the most prominent one on this forum, and he shares the same traits with his repugnant cohorts. First there’s the complete silence when we do anything decent like, off the top of my head, win consecutive FA Cups. It’s not the title, I’ll grant you, but it’s still the kind of thing fans around the country and beyond dream of seeing their club doing. Maybe Stewie is too busy celebrating to write in, or maybe the MC has skewed his persona by only publishing his rants, but I think it’s likelier that his fandom has warped to the point that his real pleasure is derived not from the club succeeding, but from opportunities to rant about Arsene Wenger in a little corner of the internet and point out how right he is. Certainly the tone of his mails suggest just a little too much glee at the predicaments we get ourselves in. Second, there’s the inability to accept that anyone offering a rational argument or even failing to condemn the manager as excessively as he does is anything but a blind, gullible acolyte of Wenger. I think I like to put forward a balanced opinion that veers toward the sensibly optimistic but I don’t have a problem criticising the club or the manager, yet that’s evidently lost on Stewie, just as that approach is lost on the angry #WOBs on Twitter. Then there’s the final similarity, the fact he seems to be a bit of a weapon (this, dear MC, is not a controversial opinion among Arsenal-supporting patrons of your site), and no matter how much I might sympathise with some of the stuff he says, any chance of me siding with him is destroyed by the way he says it. Stewie, in this epic battle for the soul of the club between you and Wenger, who should normal fans like myself have more time for? The honourable man who steered the club to titles, cups and an unbeaten season, who gave us unglamorous (and increasingly unimpressive) stability during the stadium and oligarch years, and who stands up in front of thousands of people and millions at home, or a nasty keyboard warrior hiding behind a tiresomely outdated nom de plume?
Like many Arsenal fans I think, whatever happens this season, we’ve seen that the time is right for Wenger to go. Like many Arsenal fans I also believe the problems at the club extend way beyond the manager, but he is by no means free from blame. I’m pissed off about the club I love and the mailbox has clearly been a less enjoyable place to spend time of late. But the MC will tell you that any extended absences are far more likely down to my not writing particularly good stuff – boring, too much swearing, too many typos – than any sense that I should coyly keep schtum because Stewie was right all along. And I’d hope, given they were OK publishing a mail calling me out, the site will grant me a right of reply.
But here’s a deal for you Stewie, I won’t write in again if you do one thing for us. By all means continue subjecting us to your adolescent whining, but from now on, have the courage of your convictions and put your real name on the bottom of your work. Unless you are actually called Stewart Griffin, in which case I can understand just a little bit why you come across the way you do.
One-club men XI
Thanks to the pernicious nature of Twitter I was bombarded with photos of Ryan Giggs t’other day, marking the 25th anniversary since his debut (so he was really in the class of ’91!). Undoubtedly one of the greatest one club men ever, I decided to have a look (on Wikipedia, natch) to see if I could decide who was the greatest one club man.
I’ll keep it brief but a little word on methodology is probably warranted: has to have played their entire senior career at a single club and greatness in this context means supreme, undeniable talent rather than just trophies.
Having run the numbers (scrolled down for ages) here’s my greatest one club men XI, 4-4-2.
GK: Lev Yashin
RB: Joao Pinto (not that one)
CB: Carlos Puyol
CB: Franco Baresi
LB: Paolo Maldini
RM: Thomas Muller
CM: Andreas Iniesta
CM: Paul Scholes
LM: Ryan Giggs
CF: Lionel Messi
CF: Francesco Totti
Had to do a bit of positional jiggery-pokery to get them all in but that’s your lot.
Surprisingly few Germans to pick from so I had to get Muller in there somehow. He’s arguably the most natural goalscorer around today and will probably retire having won everything (including most World Cup goals) so he can stay. Berti Vogts could have taken Pinto’s spot but he wins out by virtue of the fact I actually remember Pinto and he was boss.
There really are less stand out, top drawer one club men than you think and a real dearth in the striking department (Nat Lofthouse anyone?). I couldn’t find a better one club Brazilian better than those lot and most of the ‘greats’ have moved around, lots of annoying swansongs out there like Pele or Gerrard.
The question is then, who is the ‘greatest’ player in that team? F*ck if I know. Messi? Can’t think of many better defenders than Maldini or Puyol. Yashin? Literally wrote the rulebook on goalkeeping from what I’ve read. Sod it, it’s probably Messi. Go through that list and say, man for man, ‘are they better than Messi’ and they’re just not.
Boring conclusion I know but as I began refining the XI I became more intrigued about the ones I might have missed. Anyone got any better alternatives? Right flank could defo do with a bit of polish.
May I just say that the description of Slaven Bilic is the most perfectly accurate and correct description of anybody I have ever seen in my life. A thousand times well done Sir.
Watch him sit, watch him Elneny
Could you have not selected a sadder picture for your Ten January Transfers : Why did they bother?
I feel gutted for Elneny just by looking at it. Poor guy was just used as a bluff by Arsene Wenger in his game of poker with the club’s fans. Don’t blame yourself Elneny, you are better than Flamini, doesn’t matter that you cost a little more than a penny, continue to believe in your qualities if you have any.
Vatsyayan MUFC (Jai Mata Di)
In reply to Jimbles, Watford in Thursday afternoon’s mailbox, who says “you still need to actually make contact with the player for that to be a foul” regarding the free-kick Martial won from which Mata scored the winning goal.
This is directly from the FA’s rulebook:
“A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
– trips or attempts to trip an opponent
– jumps at an opponent
– charges an opponent
– strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
– pushes an opponent
– tackles an opponent”
Yeah, I’m that guy. There’s no mention of contact.
Whilst I agree that fouls without contact are dubious, if the attempted tackle stops the attacking player from continuing on and gets nowhere near the ball, why should the attacker suffer from it? I seem to remember Gerrard winning a penalty against Sheffield United years ago when no contact was made, because the defender didn’t get the ball and impeded him.
This obviously heightens the debate over when a player is impeded and when it is a dive, but I guess it’s intended to stop defenders flinging limbs at attackers and getting away with it just because they didn’t touch them.
Side note: how is a dive any different to ‘clever fouls’ in terms of cheating?
Regards, Rob, Brighton
Above Phil Neville?
Just wondered where Marcus Rashford featured on your Euro Ladder?
After two excellent performances surely he is a dead cert to make the plane?
My guess is number 32! Wayne who?
Wilf (Last season before retirement) Smith!
This has been the best fortnight in the football calendar this year. A carling cup final, two premier league games and it all started with some European action.
I must commend your team for keeping the coverage awesome. To have every set of games start with the Big weekend’s and to follow it up with 16 conclusions (and large ones too) and winners/losers.
I have enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for making Football awesome for me and the many million supporters around this site.