Predicting no wins for Irelands and Wales

Date published: Wednesday 8th June 2016 2:42

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Matic makes no sense for Man United
The rumored transfer of Matic to United seems completely illogical to me. I know Mourinho is conservative with his tactics but do we really need another defensive midfielder? Matic wouldn’t be much of an upgrade of Schneiderlin (and that’s only if we get the 14/15 version) and we’ve got Carrick for another year to act as cover so what’s the point?

The only way this appears logical is if Jose intends to play two defensive midfielders in most games next season. Maybe he’s looked at the way the league is shaping up next year and decided to declare his bus ‘off the road’ and leave it parked up permanently. Even with Zlatan and Martial I don’t think there’s that many goals in this United side so defensive solidity will be essential, especially against the City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea, West Ham, and Everton (teams which will probably score more goals than us next season).

So at first glance this might be a reasonable approach. However as Schneiderlin and Matic aren’t the best passers of the ball, and as Zlatan isn’t the most mobile of strikers we’re going to need a pretty tasty No10 to shoulder most of the attacking creativity. United though, don’t have such a player, United have Rooney, who will inevitably play 40 games despite playing poorly in 39 of them. So we’ll end up with a decent defensive record and very few goals – that’s sounds familiar.
Dave, Manchester


Hell freezes over; Merson talks sense
Paul Merson may not be a pundit that one would often listen to and think: ‘hmm – what a good observation and inspired insight’, however I’m in agreement with him over his thoughts on Jamie Vardy.

Despite being a team game, people are often obsessed with individuals. Obviously, the best teams will be made up of talented players, but often, how they fit into the collective group that is the team is underestimated. There are countless examples out there of players who blossomed at certain clubs, but ultimately failed at others for various reasons, but it doesn’t automatically make them bad. For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of football is how players of different shapes and sizes, with different skill sets can flourish – it’s not always appropriate to simply say player A is better than player B.

Getting back to Vardy, as Merson correctly stated, he was the perfect foil for Leicester this season (as were pretty much all their players in their respective roles), which was based largely on devastating counter attacks – something Arsenal aren’t typically renowned for, as the majority of their opponents sit very deep, leaving practically no space behind their defence for a speed merchant to exploit. This is perhaps a big reason why Theo Walcott has never really excelled as a striker for Arsenal.

Of course, it would be lazy to assume that this automatically means that Vardy couldn’t be a success there – he might well be able to adapt his game and/or he could be an interesting contrast/alternative to Arsenal’s typical approach. Maybe when Arsenal inevitably get paired against Barcelona or Bayern Munich in the Champions League, he’d offer the best hope of making something of speculative punts out of defence. I think the odds would be slightly against him and the £20m fee could be better used elsewhere.

Though he’s now getting on and looks set for Man Utd, I think Ibrahimovic could well be the perfect striker for Arsenal – it would be a shock, but might well be enough for me to make them title favourites if it happened…
Nick Hamblin, Bristol


If I were Vardy, I would say no to Arsenal…
I really think you need to see things from Vardy’s point of view.

We may be Arsenal but the biggest trophy we have ever won in our history is the league. Our record in Europe is appalling, having only won two European trophies in our entire history and have never won the big one.

Vardy has just won the league with a club that showed belief in him. At Arsenal he may well finish above Leicester but let’s be honest, we’re not going to win the league with Guardiola at City.

So is it really worth incurring the hatred of Leicester fans to rock the boat and move to a club that aren’t going to emulate what you have just achieved?

And if Leicester can keep hold of their star players, my money is on them having a proper Champions League adventure and getting further than the last 16 which Arsenal are destined for.

If I was Vardy, I wouldn’t even consider Arsenal until we appoint a manager capable of taking us to the next level.

Appointing Simeone and a few horrible barsteward players would be what I would want to see at the club before signing.

No-one sums up Arsenal better than Theo Walcott – a man that looks as though he leaves stag dos early and apologises when he farts.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Peak Vardy is better than peak Arsenal
Ref: Stu in France and his comical little outburst.

If you are an Arsenal ‘fan’ (and hopefully the game in general) of 40 years, I’d expect you to show a little respect to Mr. Vardy, your national team’s manager and player reputation before opening your trap. Here’s a healthy secen-course meal with a side of pipe down for you to digest.

1) Jamie Vardy is currently with ENGLAND. He is no doubt focusing on the Euros and does not want the distraction of transfer gossip and the like to shadow what we all hope will be a good tournament for the team.

2) Woy Hodgson wants the team to remain focused and so does the nation.

3) Peak Vardy = Premiership Winner, Record Breaker. Peak Arsenal = Well…we all know the answer to that!

4) Jamie Vardy had 27 Leicester goals to his name in the season just gone. Olivier Giroud had 24 and required nine more appearances to do so (Walcott 7, Wellbeck 4 etc.). If Vardy came to Arsenal, you’d possibly have a chance of killing a game off and actually winning something.

5) You’d be signing a player above your station. He has a Premier League winnee’s medal (one more than the entire Arsenal squad last season) and is playing Champions League.

6) Jamie Vardy likes a party – We all saw the video of the boys from Leicester celebrating the Tottingham vs Chelski result and their EPIC league win. Vardy couldn’t show his face in public if he threw a party for 2nd/3rd/4th place.

7) A crate of Blue WKD probably costs more in London (approx. £100) than it does in Leicester (£12.99 Bargain Booze) – where is the draw?!?!

As the Dalai Lama once said ‘Chat sh*t…Get banged!’

Ant (loves how funny Arsenal fans are) Emery


Vardy is right to delay decision
Can’t bare listening to the numb-nuts self-centered half-wits throwing their toys out of the pram cos vardy has ‘delayed his decision’ until after the euros.

Anyone who has had to ponder a life-changing decision will understand that there are two parts to such an event. The pre-decision where the status quo is maintained and you can go about your everyday business as normal, and the post-decision where there is a fair chance you will be gripped with anxiety over a) what you have given up b) what you are heading into. And don’t give me the crap about ‘he earns enough money, he’s should handle it’. The guy’s wife has been abused even before he says anything himself. I don’t know where his family will be during the tournament, but can you imagine the stick they would get from whichever bunch of idiots felt ‘hurt’ by his decision? Can you imagine being away from your family when as well as dealing with the post-decision angst you didn’t know if they were safe? Can you imagine being able to do your job to the best of your ability with all that pinging around your head (okay, maybe not a problem if all you have to do is drag your knuckles to sign on)?

So think about it from a different angle. Vardy has ‘delayed his decision’ for the benefit of his family and England. Exactly the kind of person I’d like joining the Arsenal family and play for England.

Take your time son.
Ally (on my way to France – at least virtually)


…I’m not sure if Stu’s email this morning was:

a) An outstanding piece of satire
b) A good wind up
c) The most ‘peak Arsenal fan’ email I have ever read.

I mean seriously, could this email possibly be for real? How dare Vardy take some time to think of his decision? How dare he take some time to think about whether it’s right to leave Leicester, the club that gave him the opportunity to play professional football, the club he broke a Premier League scoring record with, the club he won the Premier League with? How dare he balance up the opportunity to play for one of England’s most successful clubs with the chance to be one of Leicester’s greatest legends and lead the line in their first ever season in the Champions League?

Life isn’t black and white. I’m sure he does want to play for Arsenal for the stature of the club, playing in front of 60,000, the chance of winning more etc. But I’m sure he would also find it desperately hard to leave Leicester. It’s possible to want two different things at the same time. However, the idea that he should just drop Leicester the second that Arsenal show any interest in him just takes supporter self-delusion to a whole new level (and that’s coming from a Liverpool fan).

Stu said he wouldn’t want a player who would come to Arsenal without a moment’s thought. Surely the opposite is true though? Surely the player who does that shows a total lack of loyalty and class. If Vardy does go to Arsenal, respect the fact that he left a club he loves dearly to play for you. If he came running, the second a bigger club fluttered its eyelids, without a second’s thought or hesitation, that’s the kind of man you don’t want anywhere near your team.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


…So Stu in France, You are using Arsenal history as a deciding factor given wages are apparently similar, The money shouldn’t mean anything as long as he doesn’t party to hard as he should be pretty set for the rest of his life, but what is this recent history? If Vardy joins Arsenal he might win an FA Cup and get a couple more seasons in the Champions League. Recent history suggest you won’t be challenging for the title.

I get Vardy’s indecision, Arsenal obviously has some lure, but heaven forbid he want to show some loyalty (albeit with a nice wage increase) to Leicester and wants to try and keep the party going. Perhaps his indecision is because he (and his advisors/friends) just can’t see Wenger using him effectively?

We all want players who want to play for ‘our’ clubs. Arsenal are within their rights to pull out and move on to another target where your history and money might be a better lure for them. Just don’t pretend that any signing wants to play for Arsenal. Given how many players have moved on to better clubs from Arsenal, you are no more or less a stepping stone than Leicester.
Simon (Vardy’s Euro Bollox to Arsenal Party) Bristol


He’s a Mous buy, surely
If Stu in France only wants Arsenal to sign players who want to play for Arsenal I guess he is hoping they sign Moussa Sissoko pronto. He really, really, really wants to play for them.
Matt, EFC, London


We should have stuck to sweet 16…
I am writing about some of the recent mailboxes covering the increase from 16 to 24 teams for Euro 2016.

I think this is not a good idea and agree with the mails already posted about the fundamental unfairness for teams which finish third and don’t qualify. This is the strongest argument against 24 teams with six groups.

I also have a fear (only for European Championship qualifiers) that players from Germany/Spain/France etc will be further pressured by their clubs not to play in qualifiers as it is now even more likely that these countries will qualify. This could lead to a further deterioration in the interest and importance of international football, or at least for the qualifiers.

I appreciate Holland not qualifying weakens this argument a little, however Holland was a very unusual case and it is difficult to draw conclusions from such an unlikely event. You could also make the argument that the traditionally strong nations generally qualify anyway, but increasing the number of qualifers will clearly make it easier to qualify and I’m not convinced this is a good thing.

There is also a very legitimate risk that the number of one-sided victories will increase. Sarah Winterburn published an article during Euro 2012 immediately after Spain beat Ireland 4-0 (I can’t find the link) that this type of mismatch could be replicated in future tournaments given the increase in teams. I think this is a very sensible opinion. For example, would anybody be surprised if Germany very comprehensively beat Northern Ireland if Germany really needs a victory?

It’s great for countries who rarely qualify that they are more likely to experience the buzz of international tournaments. However I would personally prefer 16 teams for a fairer and higher quality tournament.
Tomas Kirrane, Ireland


It’s prediction time…
I can’t believe it’s only two days away. It seems like forever since football has been on!!

And, with just two days, it’s silly prediction time, isn’t it?

Winners – France. I know it’s the safe bet but they do well at home in tournaments and they have a frighteningly good squad – Pogba, Griezmann, Matuidi, Lloris… There are no real weaknesses throughout. Imagine how good they could be at the next World Cup if people like Zouma, Laporte, Digne and the above keep going? Yikes.

I fancy Spain to do well, too. Again, it’s not exciting but they look far better than they did – Georgia result aside.

As for the other big guns, I don’t hold out much hope for Italy or Portugal, while Germany seem far worse off than they were in recent years. It looks like a tournament too soon for half the squad and a tournament too many for the other half. Belgium to walk the group and to fall to pieces at the first sign of trouble in the knock-outs.

I fancy Poland, Croatia and Austria all to do well – at least one in the semi-finals.

The new format makes it a little trickier to predict because the second round ties aren’t set in stone so…

And as for Ireland, N Ireland, Scotland (whoops), Wales and England? Well…

England to struggle in the group but to qualify and to then go far. Maybe semis, the knock-out draw could be kind to them.

The other three, sadly, I think are in for a rude awakening. I’ll go out on a limb here and say N Ireland out without a point, Ireland out with one (maybe two? How bad are Italy?) and Wales out with one as well.

Every time I’ve played around with one of the result prediction games, I end up with England losing to Spain in the semis and France beating Poland in the other one.

Lewandowski, Griezmann, Morata and Lukaku all to do well on the goal front, with Alaba and Modric driving their countries forward too.

Disclaimer: my betting history is so dire, people should lump everything on the complete opposite of the above.

I can’t bloody wait – a welcome reprieve from transfer nonsense!
Kevin, COYBIG!!


Kids? F*** ’em, I’m watching the Euros
I mirror Matt Giles’ excitement at the Euros this morning, not for England, I hope we do well but I just can’t see it happening, years of hurt have just numbed me.

More for the fact I love tournament summers, not having to wait till August for the PL to start, having football on every day for a month is just what I loved as a kid, then going out to the park to replicate…although need a few years for both my boys to get a bit older so they hopefully want to do the same.

Anyway, on to the point, I’m so excited for these Euros that I’m planning on what I’m doing on the days the games is on…for example, the mrs told me she needs to go Ikea on Sunday and then drop some stuff to her sister, my first question? “Can your dad take you?”

2pm on Sunday is Turkey vs Croatia love, if she wants go at 11am I’ll take you and be back by two but as soon as we’re home, I take no responsibility for the kids.

Thursday, we (yes “we”, even though I have no hope) take on Wales at 2pm, I’ve requested a half-day, manager still hasn’t approved, do I chase him up or just wait it out?

Seems he’s also got us in a meeting that afternoon, like wtf??
T, CFC, London. (he’s a Spurs fan, maybe he’s booked meeting room for us to watch the game?)


Lauding it
Without a doubt the best portrait of an icon yet.

Jon (Yido), Boston


…Yes, yes, yes, yes, and more yes. This feature is the gift that keeps giving.

Laudrup was king of the through-ball and/or slide-rule pass. A player like this is exactly why I watch football – the pure artistry, vision and imagination of most of his passes in the final third is enough to make me want to go get my boots on and go for a kickabout somewhere in the sunshine with my mates. Damn you work/life/responsibilities. This is the sort of playmaker I have been busting for United to sign for years. But they are few and far between and certainly not to the standard of Laudrup.

Some people just don’t ‘get’ football, and watching players like Laudrup make me pity them a bit as there are very few sports where players can showcase this type of visionary talent. And it’s how simple he makes it look. Football is a simple game (pass and move) but threading a 30 yard pass along the ground, through a minefield of defenders, perfectly into the run of an attacker is not a simple skill. There is nothing more satisfying in football than watching or playing a pass that splits a defence wide open.

Michael Laudrup – take a bow son. Passes so good he could split an atom.

Is there anywhere that we, the general public, can find all these portraits in one handy place? If not, why not?
Garey Vance, MUFC


And still loving Denis
Having read the latest instalment in the (deservedly) much-lauded series, Portrait of an Icon, imagine my surprise to be able to resume my skiving at work after lunch with the article ‘The Unheralded Footballer – Denis Irwin.

As was typical of my generation in Ireland (currently a ‘young’ 30), it was usually either Man. Utd. or Liverpool who you supported growing up. With Man. Utd. winning a multitude of trophies it was an easy, if not honourable, choice for me.

A lot of my friends were Liverpool supporters so there would often be arguments about who the best team was and why. Often, the honour or virtue of the United players would be called into question, with the snarling Roy Keane chief amongst the jibes. However, one such player who was never subject to any abuse or having his question called into character was his fellow Cork-man, Denis Irwin.

At the time, being an Irish Man. Utd-supporting lad, it was natural I would idolise the two Irishmen playing for my team. As much as I would like to, I never had the ruthlessness to act like Roy Keane. Instead I found myself plying my trade in the lower reaches of the Waterford under-age league…but as right-footed left-back. Initially I felt I was just shoe-horned in there, plugging a hole but soon I began to realise/completely pluck out of thin air that I was in actual fact, Waterford’s answer to Denis Irwin. Imagine my joy!

All through the years, watching the highlights of United on Match of the Day or any Ireland matches, I would marvel at the cool, calm, consistent high levels of play he exhibited and also the free kicks and penalties he would score. Also his goal from a typically insouciant Cantona flick on the edge of the box stayed with me throughout the years (which is unusual given my somewhat casual approach to being a glory-hunter in my younger days).

Whilst we may both be remembered in the history books as being consistent, it was the making of Denis Irwin and, alas, my biggest impediment, having failed to scale the heights of one of my early heroes due to a medically-diagnosed condition known as ‘complete lack of talent’.

Nonetheless, reading that article brought back some great memories so thanks F365.

And thanks Denis, Irwin in a million.
Le Goose


Degsy and Spain v Georgia
Good to see that Degsy had some luck this week, reading his column sometimes it seems that if he fell in a barrel of t*ts he’d come out sucking his thumb, but he clearly touched gold over the course of this week. I myself was checking my account around the time the Soccer Aid match was on and noticed that I had a free £10 bet, redeemable up until Friday when of course France play Romania. Needless to say I wasn’t stupid enough to bet on a charity match, even though like Degsy I thought England looked a cert from the start of the second half. It’s a charity match, and as you know, crazy things can happen, and they did.

No the tenner was going to go on France to win the opener, but it was a promotional bet it had to be £10 on a single bet with the winnings going on future bets. I fancied splitting it on a few markets, and so despite promising myself of no flutters before the Euros took off, I felt quite smug spotting Spain v Georgia last night. Georgia are 137th and this would be Spain’s last warm up before the tournament started. Starting 11 surely. Defeat would be the worst in Spain’s history.

I won’t go into what bet I did, but, FFFUUUCCCC.. My only consolation now is that before any bet I place at this year tournament, I’ll take a moment, and have, ahem, Georgia On My Mind. The pun doesn’t really soften the blow if I’m honest.
Chris ITFC, (Bit worried about Degsys Cheeky Punt Of The Week) Liverpool


Inspired by Phil…
Just to add to some of the memories of football matches.

I remember my Dad putting two hot mince pies cooked from home in my brothers jacket in the mid 80s, as a make shift (albeit terrible) hot water bottle.

Anyway, as we walked into our first match (Mid 80s, East Stand, Newcastle), my naive brother held his hands up to be patted down by the steward, who then proceeded to burst the two pies all over my brother. Hilarious.

I’m only reminded of this because of Phil Dewhurst’s letter. What a cracking finish to a letter Phil, you couldn’t have finished that any better for me. Cheers mate.


…I’ve never cried over football, not even as a child, and I’ve always found it odd when I see grown men doing it, but f***ing hell Phil Dewhurst, you got me there mate.

I don’t think you miss anything more than a trip down the match with your old man, even though at the time it seems such a trivial past time. That there is what football is meant to be about, and that’s why I couldn’t care less that the game is being taken over by commercial greed and businessmen. It’s still just football, for 90 minutes, it’s just a common goal to get behind, and you can forget about everything else and just enjoy it. After all, it’s just a game.


…Phil Dewhurst, bravo.
Adam Whitemore (haven’t cried so hard since Field of Dreams, I mean had something so irritating in my eye)

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