Keep those emails coming to email@example.com. Thoughts turn to the Premier League…
Yeah, they’re happy
If I may update a classic from 2002,
We all dream of a team of James McCleans, a team of James McCleans, a team of James McCleans.
…My synopsis? Typical Ireland. Always done the hard way. Bring on the play-offs.
Is Ramsey the epitome of a current Arsenal player though? Anonymous for 75% of the game and trying to be the hero otherwise.
Overall though, Duffy realised his inner Baresi. Excellent since coming into the team.
Brian (McClean is still a limited footballer), Wexford
…Well, well, well. What a result! Got to love an old 1-0 win!
Up to the 57th minute the best thing about that match was realising Ledley King was out of retirement playing midfield for Wales!
Then Hennessey rolls a crap throw out to Williams, Hendricks plays a blinder, Arter dummys the world and McClean hits the half volley of his life.
From here Ireland were monstrous!
Duffy and Clark snuffed out everything for the last 40 mins. Meyler was excellent. And special mention for Murphy’s tireless running.
God only knows how the playoffs will go but at the minute this is marvelous! I live nights like this!
P.S loved the Nigerian footy ladder. Will try my hand at an Irish one in coming days.
Praise for all the Boys In Green
Fantastic from Randolph, Duffy and Clark. Excellent work from Meyler, and Arter. Hendrick showed his quality and Jesus what a finish from a notoriously one footed mcclean.
Always said going into game that as long as one of us gets through to playoff and it doesn’t end in draw I’d be happy but…after seeing that heart on the sleeve performance they deserve the result.
Very proud of them today. Shane Duffy is like Richard Dunne 2.0.
Cathal (looking proudly out over the fields of athenry) Galway
Good on James McClean
I’m not Irish or Welsh so the match didn’t hold any real value to me but I seem to be really happy for James McCLean. After all the grim abuse he receives for the poppy issue I hope everyone can focus on his goal that sent the Rep. Of Ireland to the World Cup
Jack no brackets
Can Southgate be England’s Di Matteo?
Following on from the latest international break, and the uninspiring football played in our two narrow victories over the footballing superpowers of Slovenia and Lithuania, there has been much debate around whether the current England team really are as bad/dull as they seem and how much blame for this lies at the hands of the manager, or whether the baseline lack of talent was to blame for our uninspiring performances.
For me, you’re not going to find a less inspiring manager in club or international football than Gareth Southgate, but would we do much better with Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino or Jose Mourinho? Listening to the various commentators following from the game, the consensus is that we do have talented players, but that we didn’t have the management/system to be able to get them to play like they did for their clubs.
It reminds me of a question that was hotly debated over pints with friends – whether any of the top managers would get AFC Wimbledon promoted this year (or more pertinently now whether they could save us from relegation). Is a coach mostly responsible for the fortunes of their team? Is it their talent that makes or breaks a team, or is it actually just the talent in the squad which is a deciding factor?
I feel that it’s a bit of both, and that regardless of the blame, with the current set-up the best England can possibly hope for would be to mirror Chelsea’s run to Champions League glory under a similarly under-qualified coach who basically got the job because he’s an ex-player and the last guy cocked it up so badly – namely one Roberto Di Matteo. Di Matteo was able to ride not inconsiderable luck to get to the final and win the thing, and did so by grinding out results against better opposition by developing a largely drab defensive yet effective tactics. His tactics hardly set the world alight, but considering his resources compared to the teams he was playing against, they were correct, and I think it’s really important that England fans maintain this mentality when going into the summer tournament; don’t get on their back when we don’t set the world alight. If we get the results, back the team.
We are unlikely to outplay the better teams, so why lambast the current incarnation of the England team for not playing like a vintage Brazlian/Spanish side? Maybe the situation would change by getting in a Pep or Mauricio (or even a Jose?) to get us playing a different “style of football”, but until that point, I feel the best chance we have is to defend diligently, be really tricky to beat, and hope to nick results.
Iceland are brilliant (so stop mentioning England)
Iceland just won their World Cup group, ahead of Turkey, Ukraine, Finland and Croatia.
So rather than keep disparagingly using them as a dog butt mud stick to beat England with, can we just admit they are pretty good and concentrate on how dull we are instead?
Jae (Sorry, Wales should have done better) Mordor
Jonjo Shelvey is EXACTLY what England need
After more insipid English performances, other mailboxers have suggested this idea of sideways = good passing has infected our midfield… And it has. Henderson and Dier will not push your team up the pitch.
Now, Jonjo Shelvey is not a typical English football starter, nor is he even THAT good, but what he does have is one skill set – getting it forwards quickly and affecting the play.
If you’re going to play pace on the wings or from full back you need to hit them early. Getting Rashford one on one with his man is far better than having him pick up the ball after 10 stale passes facing up lots of opposition shirts.
Now, why Jonjo works is his attitude. Yes, he’s a bit of a loose cannon and people may not like things he’s said but the fact that he doesn’t really care is a huge positive. He’s not going to shirk from attempting forward passes after a few go out of play, he’ll keep trying. And in an England team of nicey nicey safe players, taking Jonjo passing is exactly what we need.
Would England prefer Winks not to play much?
Your article on Harry Winks yesterday had me wondering if it was necessarily a bad thing if Winks only played as a sub and occasional starter for Spurs over the next 7 months. Perhaps Gareth Southgate should be on the phone to Mauricio Pochettino and asking for it to be the case – and a host of other managers, too.
What if England based our squad around the less-selected members of the World Cup Ladder? Would the following 11, with an outfield mainly rested and full of energy from a half-year of training, 30 minute sub run outs and maybe 10-15 starts really do much worse than the expected first choice team, who seem likely to play 4 matches if lucky? If nothing else, they’d want to impress in the shop window that every major tournament doubles up as.
Hart – Gomez, Jones, Smalling – Trippier, Winks, Delph, Rose – Welbeck, Lingard – Sturridge
It may be asking a lot for Jones and Smalling to both be fit, and Jones is actually getting a lot of match time at the moment, but I’m assuming he’ll have a lay-off or two over the course of the season. If one’s not fit, take Lascelles as he’d be a positive story for the media to focus on. As for the nominal first choice 11, by all means have them on the bench. That way, when we want to change a game, we can bring on a Sterling, Rashford or Kane, and not a Lingard or Delph.
Easy, this international management lark.
Michael (I’m assuming Danny Rose won’t walk straight back into the first team at Spurs) C
Nacho Monreal was never leaving
Ever so rarely, I read something on this site and think we’ve been watching a different sport.
A throwaway line in a Top 10 article, but it’s one that’s wormed its way into my head and has become an aneurysm of fury – hopefully this email will prove therapeutic.
Nacho Monreal expected to leave in the summer? Fringe player?
He’s been our best defender for about 18 months and is an integral part of the 1st XI, whether at full back (last year) or part of a back three. He’s going nowhere mate. Ever. We love him over in North London
As the kids say, “you dizzy, fam?”
Love & good things
Rich (and I’m not even Nacho’s no.1 fan…) London, AFC
Everton defenders: An international break
For anyone unsure of why the malaise is happening at Everton this year, look at the performance last night of Ashley Williams.
Ronald Koeman, one of the best defenders to ever play the game, signed this guy as one of his first. His second was almost Thomas Vermaelen.
Then, Michael Keane, England new defensive prospect nearly scores a brilliant own goal and appears to be getting worse.
Convinced he needs to go yet? I certainly am.
Love for the Nigerian ladder
I absolutely loved Timi’s Nigerian World Cup ladder and hope we get more ladders from our overseas neighbours.
That said, did anyone else think that number 50 was going to be Phil Neville or a Nigerian equivalent?
Matt (Sunday Oliseh or Isaac Okoronkwo perhaps?), AFC, Essex
Cheers for the insight
Klop must go.