Seriously, send some good things to firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be much appreciated.
To add to Mike, LFC, Dubai’s missive, it seems to me that the best teams won’t necessarily be qualifying in those 3rd places either.
When qualifying directly from the results of your group (1st and 2nd places) only the results of that group dictate final standings. When competing against a best placed qualifier from another group on points and goal difference it removes that equality.
Any tough group would likely see more even games with a greater chance of draws and neutral goal differences. Any group with a whipping boy in it (or, to be fair, a massive under-performer – England anyone?) will see higher goal differences and more points for the stronger teams.
For example, a single win for Romania (pummelling Albania 5-0) leaving them 3rd on 3 pts and +2 goal difference might be enough to see them qualify over one of Croatia/Turkey/Czech Rep each with 3 high scoring draws between them leaving them on 2 points apiece and +1 goal difference. Is that really a fair way of determining who qualifies?
Everton have acted too late
It’s been talked about in the mailbox before that next season has an incredibly strong line up of managers all aiming for a minimum of a top 4 finish. Inevitably then, some have to fail. Add to the mix that every team probably has a minimum of £30m to spend and suddenly prices will inflate as all Premier League clubs will outcompete financially all but the largest teams across Europe. In that environment, £100m suddenly isn’t so much.
With all that in mind, Sarah’s article about Everton while in broad strokes being correct misses a lot of the point. Yes on paper it’s a great situation and at any time over the last decade that amount of money and a new manager like Koeman would almost certainly have led to a top 4 challenge which matches the expectations of Everton fans.
Now though it all feels a bit too late. Everyone has more money (apart from Southampton as we’re tight fisted b*stards). West Ham have a new stadium on a ludicrous deal and Spurs already have champions league and a new stadium on the way. Liverpool, arguably in the closest situation, are a bigger club (sorry!), with a bigger stadium and on the evidence of part 2 of last season a superb manager.
As a result of all this, I just can’t see Everton or Koeman breaking into the top 6. let alone top 4 any time soon as they’re already a few years behind several other teams who are in stronger positions. So I wouldn’t get too excited about it all; though the league as a whole is going to be blooming brilliant for the next few years.
Tom Saints (going through the 5 stages of grief over Koeman)
Do not forget Norn Iron
Greetings from Ulster, quick question though, have you all forgot about us or did someone once have a bad pint of Harp*? We all here in Norn Iron (obviously not all) are quite excited by competing in our first ever European Championships and I was looking forward to seeing some coverage or inclusion on f365, but seriously, what’s the craic?
For those not aware as such little has been written about the achievement in these parts, which is why some think we’ve made it as a result of the expansion of the tournament or as a raffle winner, Norn Iron qualified top of their group and go into Euro 2016 with the longest unbeaten run of all qualified teams. As great as the Wales story is they’ve been led by one of the world’s best in Bale and ably supported by UCL and premier regular Aaron Ramsay amongst others – Northern Ireland are spearheaded by Kyle Lafferty who couldn’t make the relegated Norwich team nor this list of players better at international level than club and Steven Davis, the much underrated captain of Southampton who we are often told needs replaced at club level.
Firstly Aaron Hughes was omitted from the legends list at the expense of Zoltan Gera, even my mail heralding the 100cap legend missed the mailbox cut in favor of some more Rooney debate but this unique team is really taking the p*ss including James Chester of WBA. Seriously you thought to yourself you need a defender for the bench and need someone from WBA and came up with James Chester of all of 8 appearances over Gareth McCauley and Johnny Evans. What’s that? Need another defender for the bench? Be good to get a Watford player in their to make the numbers? Aye sure include Prodl over Craig Cathcart, I mean so what of inferior rating on whoscored.com and his 19 premier league starts versus 34
Football365, as they see in these parts, wind yer neck in and catch yourself on or we’ll send Big Jim McDonald round
Brian Belfast Gooner (*they’re all bad. Tayto Cheese & Onion >>> Walkers Cheese & Onion)
Reliving football moments
Wonderful mail from Sean Peter-Budge on the magic of live sport and the inability to replicate that magic after the fact. His question at the end — If you could re-live any footballing moment for the very first time, what would it be? — got me thinking.
The last 20 minutes of Manchester City vs QPR to win the Premier League back in 2012 was drama with a capital D (to paraphrase darts legend Sid Waddell). I’m too young to remember Arsenal ’89 and while older purists may say that was more exciting, I’ve not seen a more exhilarating climax to a season than 2012. Jumping around my parents’ living room, scaring the dog out of the room after Aguero’s goal is a joyous memory. Liverpool vs AC Milan ’05 is an obvious classic that beggared belief. As Sean mentioned, United completing the treble in 1999 was wonderful too.
Despite being a Newcastle fan, few Toon matches spring to mind. Oddly, I might pick Newcastle vs Spurs from this season. It was the first Toon league game I attended and the winning goal in extra time was magical. That, or the 5-0 drubbing of Manchester United in 1996, if only to remember how incredibly exciting that team was. From a neutral’s point of view, the blend of powerful, skilful attack and bungling, incapable defence always made for brilliant viewing.
If I had to choose just one though, it would probably be England 4 – Holland 1 at Euro 96. There’s been a lot of grumbling in the mailbox about the quality of the football from England, pissing all over nostalgia, blah blah. I don’t care what the cynics say, Euro 96 is THE reason I’m a football fan now. As a nine year old before the tournament, I had no interest in football. I clearly remember standing begrudgingly in a muddy goalmouth in PE and hating every second of it.
Following the England v Holland game, I’ve been obsessed with the sport ever since. I watch as much as I can and play twice a week… The tandem performance of Shearer and Sheringham was mesmeric. I was swept up in the feverish pride the country had in hosting the championships and the brilliance and excitement in that match sealed the deal. For my sins it even led me to be a Newcastle fan due to my new found love of Big Al.
As Sean’s e-mail pointed out, it’s impossible to replicate that initial magic, so let’s hope the lads can create some more great moments in France. Bloody unlikely though.
Tom, Devon, NUFC
I agree to a point with Sean Peter-Budge with regard to you can never feel the same emotions rewatching an old match. But I believe there are some exceptions.
I still cannot watch Liverpools Champions league final in Istanbul without reliving the same emotions. (And I watch it about once every year or so). I still feel sick after 10 minutes. I still want to leave the house at half time and generally either kill myself, walk through the stinging nettle patch or change to rugby. I still feel so much pride hearing the supporters still singing when we are 3-0 down.
Then when the first goal goes in. Riise taking two attempts to cross the ball, Gerrard just getting enough power and direction on it. I still leap and am just happy we have a little bit of respect, that it wont be too embarrassing. Then Smicers goal. Smicer, scoring such a soft goal. Once that goes in I knew we had a chance. Milan looked scared. Then Gerrard falling in the box. I scream for the penalty! Waking the neighbours kids. I knew Alonso would score, even when he missed I knew he would score.
Then half an hour of pure terror. My heart is beating as if I was playing the game myself. Dudeks saves, Carragher down with cramp, stretching to clear the ball and screaming with pain. Until we get to penalties.
Dudek is the hero. Sometimes hes so far off the line he almost reaches the ball before the opposition does!
And then the final save. I’m on the floor sobbing like a baby. I don’t even care that “injured” Harry Kewell is the first player to reach Dudek to celebrate.
Then I watch the celebrations for as long as I can. Just immersing myself in the sheer wonder of what football can do to you.
And this doesn’t change. Everytime I watch it I feel the same thing. I still go through the same emotions. Even at work now, writing this I get choked up.
So some games lose their excitement, I agree. But some matches are just timeless classics.
Peter PRS LFC
Dear Sean Peter-Budge, I wholeheartedly agree with you. The excitement comes from the unknown. I watch old Hull games on youtube far too often, and as much as I enjoy them, it’s not the same. Our first season in the Prem, beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates, was amazing. It’s still awesome to watch. But nothing will ever beat being crowded in that pub, surrounded only by Hull fans, and the place going mental when Cousin scored to make it 2-1. Like I said, it’s still great to watch, but it’s not the same when you know what’s coming.
Anyway, to answer your question, if I could relive any moment it’d be Deano’s volley at Wembley. It had everything; our first trip to Wembley, our first promotion to the top flight, an absolute peach of a goal. Not to mention it was the day after I finished uni, so to go from exams one day down to Wembley to see that the next, priceless.
On an unrelated note, my 2 pence about the Euros; I can’t wait. I know football is a terribly cynical, money driven global business these days, but what’s better than tournament football? Turning on the tv at almost any time on any day, and there’s live football on. On terrestrial tv. Love it.
Rob (if we win 1 game, it’ll be an improvement on 2014 and I’ll be happy) Leeds
What would Jose do?
In this mornings mailbox, Matthew seems to have submitted a long rambling opinion piece while attempting to disguise it as some sort of ode to a Jose Mourinho manifesto.
First things first, I am not an Englishman and usually take great pleasure in laughing at the inevitable trials and tribulations of the 3 Lions at major tournaments. This current crop however are strangely likeable and rather than having an easy cut off Hodgson, I think their manager deserves credit for building a young and exciting team while somewhat tempering the usual hype and expectation which goes with these campaigns.
Matthews second sentence mentions that Jose wouldn’t bow to public opinion by shoehorning Rooney, Vardy, Alli and Kane into the same side. Surely that is the exact opposite of public opinion? Pretty much every Englishman and his dog, including the United fans, are in agreement that Rooney being forced into the side isn’t helping things. Shoehorning the other 3 isn’t bowing to anyone, it’s just picking your form players in their best positions.
Then there is a dig at Stones, despite the fact that Jose is a known admirer of the Everton man and has tried to sign him on more than one occasion. We hear that Mourinho prefers adventure from his fullbacks but then that this somehow means Clyne gets the nod over Walker? Oh and the idea that Jack Wilshere is anything resembling a playmaker in the Alonso/Fabregas mould is laughable.
I’ve watched young Jack for several years now and can’t understand how he is anything over than a souped up Tom Cleverley with papier mache legs. He seems exactly the sort of nothing midfielder Jose would avoid like the plague.
Agree on the points regarding Alli, Milner, Sterling and Barkley but the idea that Rooney is anywhere close to any of Sturridge, Vardy or Rashford employed from a wide position is ridiculous. All 3 have more pace, greater threat with the ball at their feet and critically, more recent game time playing in wider areas then the aging, slowing captain who will surely play in the midfield, no10 or nowhere at all.
I’ll not comment on Adam Lallana picking himself lest I choke on my own incredulity but I can’t see him getting next nor near a Jose England squad.
Diarm (quite fancy England for a semi final to be honest), Cork
Czech this out
In a group containing Spain, a Turkey team they lost to at home but beat away in qualification, and a relative ‘derby’ against a similar Croatia side, it’ll be interesting to see which Czech team turns up. During qualification they went from the sublime of nobbling the Dutch both home and away, to the aforementioned 0-2 loss to Turkey in Prague, and barely scraping a 2-1 win against a pretty rotten Latvia.
This is not, by any means, a free-flowing, total-football Czech side the likes of which we saw in the early 2000s (Pavel Nedved in his pomp, Tomas Rosicky learning from him; Jan Koller with defenders bouncing off him, creating space for an inexplicably energetic Milan Baros); no, this is a more workmanlike side with, admittedly, a couple of exciting players out wide.
Pavel Vrba (ex-Viktoria Plzen) has moulded the national side into the style which brought him so many plaudits as Viktoria manager – they should be difficult to break down, and a large percentage of the goals are going to come from midfield. This is more through necessity than design. The Czechs are only taking three forwards: David Lafata (a fine striker at club level, but when you’ve only played for clubs in the Czech league, that’s not saying much. 9 in 38 for his country), the squinting, hulking mass of Tomas Necid (who was supposed to be the Next Big Thing seven or eight years ago; a move to CSKA Moscow didn’t work out and he’s been lumbering around almost permanently on loan since then), and Milan Skoda (whose surname means ‘pity’, and whose goal-every-five-games from Bohemians and Sparta bear that out).
No, midfield is where it’s at. Rosicky still, somehow, manages to roll back the years at tournaments, despite not having played a club game since 1973. Hertha Berlin’s Vlad Darida has made the step up from the Czech league to the Bundesliga seamlessly (and was brought through at Plzen under Vrba); Jaro Plasil is still class at 34, while Jirka Skalak is coming off the back of a superb first six months at Brighton. Add the full back threat of Pavel Kaderabek on the right and the sod-this-defending-lark of the evergreen David Limbersky on the left, and that will be where almost all the energy/talent comes from. A less-than-mobile centre-half pairing have the luxury of Petr Cech behind them, but, if the midfield fails, the whole thing will collapse in a large, clunky mess.
So how will they do? Getting out of the group is eminently possible, although the first game, against Spain, will set the tone. A point there, and Turkey and Croatia will seem beatable. A loss by a couple of goals will see the confidence drop, the midfield will stop pressing, and a reliance on slightly panicky long balls will result.
Sound like any other team you know?
David (where is Reznicek?!) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.
Higuain? Yes please
Please let it be so. Please please please.
I won’t ask for anything else for Christmas. Pleeeeeease!
Just noticed that if you type Higuain, spellcheck corrects it to the rather less exotic Johnson.
More likely if we are honest.
H (please please be true)
Love for Austria
One thing the expanded Euros will bring is a chance for Austria to compete. Austria should be most people’s second-favourite national team (even if you are Austrian), because of the following, from a 2013 edition of Mediawatch:
On Wednesday morning, the Austrian players took the unprecedented step of writing an open letter – published on the Austrian FA’s website – complaining about the coverage of the national team by Austrian downmarket tabloid Österreich.
It begins: ‘We know that with this letter we are breaking a taboo – namely that of firmly criticising the media. Nobody would do this without thinking it over, because naturally we have to be prepared for an exacerbated level of unfair ‘reporting’.
‘We, the players of the Austrian national team, are taking this risk for good reason. As we see it – and after various attempts by our press officer to find an amicable solution – enough is enough. We no longer want to let pass without comment the abundance of badly researched or wholly unresearched articles in the newspaper Österreich; the articles billed as ‘exclusive interviews’ for which not one of us has been interviewed; the lurid texts that quite frequently amount to insults (our manager Marcel Koller was recently described as a ‘traitor’ who should be ‘sent to the Swiss in a parcel’, for instance).
‘Luckily we live in a country where we have the benefit of freedom of expression. We respect the public’s right to information. We are also aware that we are human beings with faults and weaknesses, and by no means perfect individuals. Nevertheless, we wonder, given the ‘reports’ about us in Österreich, whether journalists really can do whatever they like and whether we should just let it go. We say: NO!’
Please, please, please let England’s players do this to the Daily Mail or The Sun. Somebody needs to buy them crayons for Christmas.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not a character, just a sequence of phonetic sounds that looks good on a t-shirt)
Premier League Euro 2016 XIs with different twists
My word, that wasn’t easy. The amount of times I had to revise this team to stick to the rules was ridiculous.
Looking at the bench you guys selected also. I am guessing most people’s will consist of similar players…
My team (4-2-3-1):
Emre Can (Liverpool)
Payet (West Ham)
Silva (Man City)
Martial (Man Utd)
Subs: Boruc (B’mouth), Prodl (Watford), Evans (WBA), Cabaye (Palace), Arnautovic (Stoke), Sissoko (Newcastle), Vokes (Burnley)
Rob M, Cramlington
Here’s my Euro XI, using only one player per Premier League Club. I’ve gone for a Roy Hodgson inspired diamond formation. Not much on the subs bench!
Bellerin – Smalling – Fonte – Stephen Ward
Dmitri Payet – Alli
Sturridge – Lukaku
Following up on your ‘One player from each Premier League club’ Euro 2016 team – I thought I’d put together a squad, using similar guidelines (11 starters, seven subs) featuring no more than one player from each national team. Partly because I get a strange and not unerotic thrill from seeing people strongly disagree with me in the comments section.
FW: Gera (mainly out of curiosity)
I’ve tried to keep a balance, hence the agonising decision to leave out Kevin The Bruyne in place of an actual central defender (rather than my original attempt which featured two full-backs playing in a back three). I realised completing this that there aren’t many genuinely great defenders going to France – might be a high-scoring tournament.
Dan, (honourable mentions to Gylfi and Will Grigg who is, as we know, literally on fire), Brighton
So I decided to one-up your euro 16-team challenge by adding the following rule:
Each country can only be represented once. Here’s my team:
Coleman (Everton/Ireland) – Ogbonna (WHam/Italy) – Fonte (Southampton/Italy) – Fuchs (Austria/Leicester)
Schweini (MU/Germany) – Larsson (Sunderland/Sweden)
Hazard(Chelsea/Belgium) – Cabaye (CrystalPalace/France) – Silva (City/Spain)
Evans (WBA/Norn Ireland)
Here’s my stab at the worst (a bit harsh, maybe least-best) Euro 2016 XI with a twist (even though it’s 18):
GK – Darren Randolph, West Ham
RB – Bacary Sagna, Man City
CB – Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal
CB – Paddy NcNair, Man Utd
LB – Christian Fuchs, Leicester
RM – Aiden McGeady, Everton
CM – Joe Ledley, Palace
CM – Valon Behrami, Watford
LM – James McClean, West Brom
F – Sam Vokes, Burnley
F – Jon Walters, Stoke
Artur Boruc (Bournemouth), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Kevin Wimmer (Spurs), Seb Larrson (Sunderland), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Shane Long (Southampton), Christian Benteke (Liverpool).
Harder than it looks, had to leave out some real tosh just to be able to get some of the better teams represented.