We decided to draw a line under the interminable ‘Who had the better season – Arsenal or Tottenham?’ because we were bored sh*tless. E-mail your views on anything else to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some things on Wayne…
* When the cross or pass is blocked before reaching Wayne, he will allow himself to finish his shot or header, regardless of the fact the ball is elsewhere, just so everyone knows ‘I was about to score then’. Then he looks around in utter disbelief, that the ball didn’t in fact reach him, and his double seek drop bicycle kick was all for nothing. Trust me if there was a ‘ I would have scored’ stat table, he would be top.
* Olympic sprinters always begin their race, with their heads down for the first ten or so metres. They don’t use a ball in their sport though Wayne. So please stop copying them.
* Many times last night, supposedly faster players had Rooney one on one, there for the taking, only for them to magically seem to step into a higher dimension made of golden syrup. That being said his covering and defensive brain, is better than most…strikers???
* The reality is Rooney will end up in (France) midfield this summer.
In the upcoming friendlies he will probably be asked to do a job there, with Hendo/Wilshere unfit and subsequently impress against the mediocre teams of Turkey and Australia.
I just fear that when we play anyone decent, with a solid structure. They will let Wayne come deep, encourage him to play Hollywood balls, and we will have the same problem we had with Gerrard.
And that was we were terrible with him in the team.
Clubs in transition? Bah, I call bullsh*t
So much has been made about the fact that United are in a transition phase and that’s why Van Gaal needs time. If I am not mistaken, the same excuse was given for Rodgers after Suarez was sold and for Wenger after Cesc, RvP, Nasri etc left in quick succession. And somehow this excuse has started to irritate the hell out of me.
What exactly is a club in transition? A club where you have to integrate three-four new players in the squad ? Well Madrid, Barca and Co. do it every fu**ing season and they seem to do okay. Or is it that a new manager needs time to get his style of play ingrained in the players? This seems to be a pretty common Van Gaal apologist excuse and I for one call bullsh*t. Ancelotti, Mourinho etc have done it in the past in their first season number of times (Chelsea, Inter, Real etc.)
In fact I doubt any continental club would ever stand for this excuse which sounds nice and sophisticated but in reality is pretty much garbage. And most of them seem to do fine, much better than United have phased in their so called ‘transition’, which to me seems to be the euphemism of ‘the men at the top don’t seem to have the balls to fire the manager despite atrocious results/performances’. Why are English owners not as ruthless? Look at Real (who would have thought I would be giving Real’s manager appointing policy as a positive example !), Benitez didn’t seem to be working out, gets the boot and lo and behold they’re in the Champions League final while missing out on the league by a single point. Is it because continental executives are more accountable to the fans because of the election system while most english clubs seem happy as long as their shareholders are. Or is it that English owners are just risk averse and would rather go with the average than risk an even worse appointment? What do other mailboxers think?
Actually, the grass IS greener
In reply to Tom Saints regarding the recent ex-Southampton players who have supposedly gone on to worse things from a well-run, consistently upper-mid table Prem side.
Lovren, Clyne and Lallana are playing in a European final tomorrow night. Win and they get a medal, get to spray champagne around and will play Champions League next season. When did this (or a bigger achievement) happen to Southampton? Or is consistently finishing 7-9th in the league and not troubling the cups more enticing for players.
Lambert and Schneiderlin I’ll just about give you although I reckon most players would jump at the chance to play for Man U because despite them being a dogs breakfast this season, they were still in with a real chance of qualifying for the Champs League.
As for the Arsenal players you mentioned. Yes, injuries and individual performances haven’t been great but Arsenal ALWAYS qualify for the Champions League and get into the knock-outs. So providing you are fit and playing well enough you are playing in the world’s premier club competition against Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar etc. Surely that grass is greener than at St Mary’s.
Simon Fitzwilliams, Cambridge
…I read the mail from Tom about Southampton players moving on with some interest. I’ve often written into the mailbox in an attempt to provide a dose of reality and felt compelled to again. I’d like to remind him and anyone that agrees with him that there are other factors that come into play than league position. By far the biggest of those is money. Now it’s not romantic to say this and doesn’t fit in with the concepts of loyalty and love for the game but I don’t care – it is reality. Football is now a place to get rich.
Tom states that Schneiderlin will now miss the Euros because he moved to Man Utd instead of playing every game with Southampton. There’s some guesswork involved here (as there will be with all wage estimates) but over the course of his contract he might earn an extra £10m at Man Utd. Ten. Million. Pounds. Was he guaranteed a place in the French squad had he stayed? No. They have quite a good midfield…
Theo Walcott currently earns £140,000 per week. He isn’t in the England squad because there are better players in better form in his position. He’s been at Arsenal a long time so it’s hard to say how his career would have panned out had he stayed but let’s go back to that wage. One hundred and forty thousand pounds per week. Seven point three million pounds per year. Twenty-nine million pounds over one contract. I’m sure he’d rather be with England than not but I can also see why he’s not too upset about missing out.
At this stage I’m going to refer back to football being a career again, a place to make your corn. I recognise I’m sounding extremely materialistic here but money does matter to these players.
Moving onto the Liverpool players (ignoring Lambert who got to play for his childhood team while also earning more money) they again are hardly worse off under any measurement I can think of. Even if they lose to Sevilla. They’ve played in Europe (beyond the first qualifying round…), are fixtures in their national team squads and…oh that’s right also several million pounds better off than had they stayed. They could be in the CL and are at a club that seems to be moving in the right direction. Southampton will probably be 6th, Liverpool 8th. Is that somehow supposed to negate everything I’ve mentioned?
I feel I’ve made my point. The best example Tom cited was Calum Chambers but even he set himself up for life the second he signed his Arsenal contract. I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on Tom here, it seems he’s just someone who still sees the romance in the game whereas I’m more cynical and see it for what I believe it to be – a huge multinational business designed to extract every penny it can. And the players (and their agents) seem intent on coining it in as much as possible. 99% of us would take a 5/6 times increase in wage even if the job was a bit worse and even that is highly debateable in this situation. It’s not like these players moved from Southampton to Villa on the same wages…
Not afraid of Spain? Silly.
I’m hoping KC’s mail was a wind-up, because surely nobody can say with a straight face that they wouldn’t be concerned about a side midfield/forward line Busquets, Iniesta, Silva, Koke, Fabregas, Thiago, Isco and Pedro…and that’s just the names well known on these shores!
Speak to any Spaniard about the form and ability of Saul Niguez (or anybody who saw his goal against Bayern in the Champions League), or how vital Bruno has been to Villarreal’s fantastic season. I agree that their forwards look a bit suspect at first glance, but looking more deeply you see Aritz Aduriz with 36 goals in 55 games this season. Nolito and Vazquez may not be the most prolific of players (putting it mildly in fairness) but both play out wide and have enjoyed strong seasons, particularly I remember Nolito’s first half of the year being magnificent at Celta Vigo. Morata will more than likely lead the line, and he hasn’t had the best time of it goalscoring-wise this year at Juve but he has had to contend with the incredible form of Paulo Dybala and come out with 11 goals in all competitions. There’s also a reason he’s consistently linked with a move to any of the ‘big boys’.
They may not have the stellar names of a few years ago, and to me it seems crazy to leave behind Torres, Costa and Mata but to not consider them a team worthy of worrying our side seems somewhat over-confident and short-sighted. Particularly when England’s provisional squad includes Andros Townsend, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, any one of those defenders (although Smalling has been largely very good), a shadow of Wayne Rooney, James Milner (I know I know he’s been AMAZING since Klopp etc etc etc and so on…) Point is those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
England can do this!
I am feeling so very optimistic about our Euro 2016 chances. We are going into the tournament with genuine competition for places and not just players playing out of position to necessitate other players. Every one of the 26 chosen can do a job for us and have that special moment. Even our leading goalscorer Rooney.
I believe we can win this tournament. My team has just won the Premier League against all the odds (5000-1 in case you didn’t know), so why the hell can’t England win? Let’s go into this tournament with a positive mindset and not the usual negativity. I don’t want to hear people laughing at our chances and making their minds up that we can’t win before a ball is kicked. Let’s try and take some of the fearless belief that Leicester have shown this season and apply it to our country. Vardy and Drinkwater need to be in the final 23 to facilitate this mentality. If we concede, the crowd need to get louder and cheer the lads on even more. We need to bring the atmosphere of the King Power to Marseille, Lens and St Etienne.
We are going to do this.
Toby (Champions) Mitchell
How will Hodgson deploy his team?
After the shambles of World Cup 2014, Hodgson stumbled upon a system that seemed to suit England. He played what was essentially a 4-3-3 formation. Wilshere was the deepest-lying midfielder, tasked with receiving the ball from the back four and starting attacks (the Pirlo role if you will, and no, I’m not saying he is as good as Pirlo, just that the role was similar in what was expected of him.) Either side of Wilshere were the high energy shuttlers, Delph to the left and Henderson to the right. The wings were the area for pace with Sterling and Welbeck, and the lone centre-forward was Rooney.
For various reasons, mostly injuries to Delph, Wilshere and Welbeck, this system was not used towards the end of qualifying. And now, with Welbeck unavailable, Sterling not at the same level of form, and the emergence of Kane and Vardy (not forgetting Sturridge returning from injury), the question is what formation and system, maximises the use of the players available and best suits England for Euro 2016?
It is safe to assume that Hart, Smalling and Cahill pick themselves. There is little to choose between the full-backs on either side, and he isn’t going to tamper with a flat back four. He will also want Wilshere, Rooney and Kane in his starting 11.
If Hodgson decides to revert to his original 4-3-3, he has Wilshere, Delph and Henderson available again, could play Sterling wide, Rooney up top and replace Welbeck with a “worker” like Milner or Lallana on the other flank. I can’t see this happening though, because that midfield has been too injury prone this season to base the team around, Rooney doesn’t want to be a number 9, and there is no space for Kane.
Hodgson could include Kane in a traditional 4-4-2, with Rooney playing just off him. The problem with this system is England arrive in this tournament without in-form wingers. I can’t see Sterling and Townsend both starting in a 4-4-2, and I can’t see Milner, Lallana, Sturridge or Barkley being asked to perform the role of a winger in a 4-4-2. Square pegs and round holes etc…
A system Hodgson has used quite a lot is a 4-2-3-1, and this has its merits because one of Milner, Lallana, Sturridge or Barkley could be deployed in a wide role, with license to roam, allowing which ever full back playing behind them to overlap. It’s the best system of the three so far. But…
What about a 4-4-2 diamond? Kane starts up top with Vardy/Sturridge competing for the other striker slot, leaving the team with a game changing sub on the bench. Rooney gets his position in the ‘hole’ (I delete a mental image of Mick McCarthy from my mind), and we’re left with three midfielders. It could be Dier at the base, with Wilshere plus (knowing Hodgson) probably Henderson, but maybe Alli. Depending on the opponents/need to chase a game, Wilshere could drop in to the deepest midfield position with both Henderson AND Alli ahead of him, thus adding extra creativity (Alli in over Dier and Wilshere creating from deeper would definitely be more creative). We also definitely have the adventurous full-backs on both sides to offer offensive width to make this system work.
My main conclusion is that Alli will be the biggest loser in Hodgson’s quest to shoehorn Rooney in to the number 10 role.
What do others think?
Naz, Gooner (Rashford, Delph and Drinkwater to be chopped if everybody is fit is Hodgson’s thinking too, I reckon)
A few Euro thoughts…
I think people are underestimating just how good Noble has been this season. Would I take him instead of Wilshere? No. Would I take him instead of Delph or especially a mostly fit Henderson? Absolutely.
It is a shame for Defoe as he would have got into the squad in another year. Unfortunately for him this year we have three genuinely excellent strikers and Wayne Rooney. Rashford is there to get some experience with the team, not to go to the Euros.
Shane Long may surprise a few people this summer.
Why take Tom Heaton?
The general consensus seems to be including Rashford in the 26 is a good idea, experience with the big boys, don’t need the spot for anyone else, another backup forward probably wouldn’t get used anyway.
Along that line though, why is Tom Heaton in the squad? Why use a middling Championship keeper as back up to the excellent Hart and Forster? If there wasn’t much in it between Forster and Heaton then I could understand, but he is so far behind the other two that if we do have to use him something bad has already happened!
Why not instead blood more youngsters in a safe environment and give a true opportunity too then to learn about tournament football? I know we seem to be throwing caps to anyone who fancies one (Lingard, Mason), but like Rashford, the third-choice goalkeeper likely will not be playing, and will only be there for training and experience.
So why Heaton, and not someone who has a bigger long-term future for England? Pickford, Bettinelli, or even Alex Smithies are much more likely to actually play tournament football in the next 10 years, so get them in to see the players around them and start to plan for the future with the ‘free’ spots.
KC (Butland if he was fit though)