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In defence of Mourinho
Yes, I know. Criticising Jose Mourinho has become the fashionable thing to do and its given the ABUs a new reason to live for ever since he joined United. While the loss against Sevilla was definitely disappointing and his attitude in the press leaves a lot to be desired, let’s not pretend that the season has been a complete disaster.
– At the start of the season, I predicted that United would probably finish second, perhaps even a close third or fourth. However, I was sure that the squad was still some way off from being able to win the PL title. It looks likely that they fill meet these expectation.
– Man for man, Tottenham have a much better starting 11 at least than United. But it is United who have remained at least two places above for most of the year. Yet Pochettino is heaped with praise while Mourinho is derided.
– Chelsea was supposed to be the team to beat this year. Yet it is United who are nine points clear of their rivals with just eight games to play.
Despite the collective recent dip in form comprising of one defeat to Sevilla, United have scored only one less goal than Tottenham in the league, have the second stingiest defense and are on course for their highest league position post-Ferguson. It speaks volumes of the manager that they have been able to ground four key victories in the last five matches even whilst a majority of the stars are under-performing. While there is much room for improvement, this has been a good season for United.
Is it bullying?
Luke Shaw has been poor. Manager mentions someone who works for him has been poor and doubts if the employee has a future in the organization. How is this bullying? Mourinho is definitely not a saint, but I’m tired of people making Shaw seem like a victim. He’s being paid handsomely to do a job and he’s not doing it well enough. Surely being criticized isn’t bullying. Yes, it’s in public, but publicity and media coverage is part of football. It might not be effective from Mourinho, but I don’t think it is bullying. Can someone enlighten me please?
Deji (Please be polite), MUFC, Halifax
Bellerin can sod off; his failure is his fault
Bellerin Arsene’s greatest failure? Nah.
Now I don’t doubt a lot of the problems we’ve had with Bellerin are down to the manager and not the player but he really hasn’t help himself by having a pop at the fans or at least Arsenal Fan TV.
I used to hate Arsenal Fan TV myself – thinking it profited from Arsenal failure and to a certain extent it does but then I think back to before the YouTube channel launched. If asked most northern football fans what they thought of gooners, they probably had some fantasy about a prawn sandwich eating, Islington set that thought Arsene was doing a splendid job.
Arsenal Fan TV has exploded that myth and in some respect actually got the club to spend some of the damn money.
In having a pop at the channel, Bellerin has refused to take responsibility for his own p***-poor defences but worse still, he’s been responsible for Mustafi looking terrible in a year Germany will defend their World Cup. I defy any central defender to play alongside Bellerin and look good because half the time you don’t know where the hell he is.
The player I think is Wenger’s greatest failure is Kieran Gibbs – an Arsenal youth player, who came from the ranks, who never hid, took responsibility when he wasn’t playing well, actually looked a player under Bould’s tutelage and then the Wenger’s complete lack of any coaching saw the boy’s career go backwards.
I’d have Gibbs back in a heartbeat under a new manager – Bellerin can sod off.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
It’s the hair
My friend has an alternative theory about the stagnation of Bellerin: He is the anti-Samson, ever since he started growing his hair his performances have got worse. A trim back to the Oliver-Giroud-esque-haircut-you-could-set-your-watch-to will soon result in a sharp upturn in form!
Even Baggies don’t like Livermore
Good points made on Livermore. As a WBA fan, home and away, Livermore has had quite a remarkable 14mths at the club.
Signs for £10m from Hull
Wears Number 8 (Number 8!) For England
Made vice captain at WBA
Time off for ‘stress and fatigue’.
Attacks fan at West Ham game after being substituted (amid claims fan abused him over dead son)
Breaks team curfew by six hours and steals a taxi
Comes straight back into team without being dropped
Booed every week at WBA
Picked for England again.
In that time WBA have won three Premier League games. I can see Livermore has some uses in a team – though not one like WBA where we are already overloaded with water carriers post-Pulis – but he enjoys a charmed life under Southgate.
He can’t pass, doesn’t run and doesn’t tackle. I don’t want to look like some footballing Luddite who doesn’t understand the nuances of the game, but he’s largely been average. He hasn’t shone even in a dire team like ours.
We’ve backed him through all sorts of personal strife (which we were right to as a club) but he’s repaid us by messing about and playing s**t.
Plenty of valid points raised in your article about Jake Livermore not belonging in the England squad, all of which were then undermined with your suggestion of Jonjo Shelvey in his place! Shelvey may have a better range of passing but he’s also ill-disciplined, defensively poor, s**t more often than good and a massive pr***!
Here follows a list of English midfielders not in the squad better than both Livermore and Shelvey (some of these are injured):
Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater, Jack Cork, James Ward-Prowse, Fabian Delph, Tom Cleverley, Harry Winks, Will Hughes, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tom Davies, Nathaniel Chalobah, Phil Neville
(What an incredibly depressing list of names)
But there’s an even more pertinent point to be made here. Livermore is one of nine potential central midfield options in the squad. His place doesn’t need to be given to a midfielder. Why not include another attacking option to have a look at ahead of the World Cup, like Callum Wilson or Dominic Calvert-Lewin? Or another versatile player, like Michail Antonio? Or just have a laugh and give Crouchy a last hurrah.
But Shelvey? Seriously??
A Proper England squad
Imagine a world where the England manager didn’t succumb to snobbery or bow down to bureaucracy?
Then I would suggest this would be the England World Cup squad:
Pope; Pickford; Butland
Walker; Trippier; Gomez; Lascelles; Stones; Maguire; Cahill; Bertrand; Rose
Dier; Shelvey; Oxlade-Chamberlain; Wilshere; Alli; Lingard; Sterling
Kane; Vardy; Rashford; Carroll.
Lascelles has been outstanding and is captain of a big club under huge pressure. To not be in the squad is a joke.
Shelvey, again, has been outstanding lately in a similar scenario and bosses the midfield whoever he is up against. Whether it’s Man Utd or Bournemouth. His passing is beyond any other Englishman.
Carroll may be laughed at but when England are well up against it, the thing they really, really need is the big man to cause utter chaos. International defenders can not handle him. They aren’t used to his style.
The likes of Jones, Smalling and Henderson are your classic average players that only make the England team, never mind squad, based on the club’s they play for. Your classic England manager mistake.
The above squad is picked on form and quality, it also looks to the future without just giving places away to average youngsters that you see in the u21s.
It will be interesting to see how many of my squad don’t make it. If they don’t, I would suggest the snobbery and bureaucracy has prevailed!
England fans have the right to be miserable
Oh, do give it a rest, Sibbi. Iceland did brilliantly well at the last tournament, of that there is no doubt, but England did not. Hell, we haven’t even met par for 52 years (OK, maybe Euro ’96 was decent, but still). With the amount of investment by, the domestic leagues of, and the size of our respective nations, England can not and should not be happy with just taking part. You can’t expect us to judge England by the standards or expectations of Iceland because we are not even close to being the same.
Manchester alone has 2.2m more residents than Iceland does as a whole. Our FA has just invested £127m into entry level of football this year alone. We should be doing way better than we are, and we should definitely be doing way better than Iceland, even just going off the numbers. It’s not optimism to go into a tournament thinking you can do well when history and present circumstances provide irrefutable evidence that, actually, no we won’t; that’s called delusion.
Poor performances, poor planning and a distinct lack of effort from all concerned deserves criticism, and if we choose to boo having witnessed that then that’s our right. Iceland offered better in all three of those departments, and much more modest ambitions for the tournament, hence why you would be happy with your showing, but I guarantee that if your nation had turned in an England-esque display while having our resources and ambitions then you wouldn’t be happy either.
It’s all very well telling us to enjoy the ride, but when the ride is the equivalent of a log floom where the water has been replaced with diarrhoea then it’s pretty hard to have a smile on your face at the end of it. To paraphrase Mr Dickens: you keep your support in your own way, and let us keep it in ours.
Going back to a happy place…
The mid 90’s was, without doubt, my football happy place. In particular the 94/95 season for no reason in particular but:
1) The original SAS
2) Spurs’ famous five
3) Le Tissier in his pomp
4) Andy Cole joining United from Newcastle mid season
5) Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle getting sexier despite Cole’s exit (and Keith Gillespie joining)
6) Scandal – bungs, match fixing, assault charges and failed drugs tests
7) Flying wingers (Ripley & Wilcox)
8) Klinsmann PotY earning respect from a public and press baying for blood pre season
9) Cantona’s Kung Fu kick
10) Kenny Dalglish’s post-match comments
11) Four-team relegation dogfight
12) Mark Atkins, Robbie Slater and Tony Gale
13) Leeds away strip
14) Man United 9 Ipswich 0
15) Championship decided on the last day of the season, won at Anfield
16) Tim Sherwood wasn’t considered a twunt (by me anyway)
Football was a sport rather than a business, great music, launch of the National Lottery and Euro ‘96 – what’s not to love!
Brian (no bias at all) BRFC
Greatest season for wonder goals
I originally sent this mail a few weeks back, but it got lost in the ether. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with my reminiscences in the deathly dull void of the dreaded and despised International Break. Now seems as good a time as any.
I recently revisited an old Soccer AM DVD (please don’t judge me too harshly – it was a Christmas stocking filler from days of yore!), not for the, uh…’comedy’ stylings of Lovejoy and company, but because it was billed as a collection of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of the game, up to c.2004.
Right. Preamble over. I just wanted to know if there has ever been a better season – before or since – for legendary, unforgettable wondergoals that sing in the memory than the worldies scored slap-bang in the middle of football’s mid-’90s boom years, namely the 1996-97 season.
That season began as it would go on with Beckham scoring from the halfway line against Wimbledon. There followed enough sumptuous chips to make Harry Ramsden reflect and plan a mass murder; Phillipe Albert chipping Schmeichel to put the cherry-on-the-cake of the famous 5-0 rout of Man Utd before Matt Le Tissier did likewise just a week a later in another heavy defeat for United. Eric Cantona hit back for United with an iconic chip of his own, complete with equally iconic celebration against Sunderland. Premier League newcomers Gianfranco Zola and Paulo Wanchope’s toes twinkled and feet danced as they waltzed through Man Utd’s defence to slot past Peter Schmeichel (who seemed to concede an inordinate amount of worldies that season) and Trevor Sinclair ultimately claimed the BBC’s Goal of the Season award with his bicycle kick for QPR against Barnsley.
Meanwhile, on the continent, Brazilian phenomenon Ronaldo scored that amazing solo effort against Compostela, in his only season at Barcelona packed with many more memorable goals and George Weah produced THAT box-to-box run and finish against Verona. For good measure, in the close season, Roberto Carlos scored THAT free-kick against France in Le Tournoi.
Can any other single season match that roster? Or will 1996-97 forever be the high-water mark season for wondergoals?
Lee, wondergoal connoisseur
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