You know what to do – watch Manchester United and mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Kane still has something to prove
I have to disagree with the world-class tag given to Kane. I think he is an incredibly talented and wonderful player. But until he can prove himself outside of the Premier League (either in the Champions League or with the national team), he is below Lewandowski, Suarez, Cavani, Aguero and Ronaldo. All these players have produced for years and have performed in the Champions League and for their national team. Kane has five goals in 17 matches for England and was abject like the rest of Spurs in the Champions League.
For me, he is in the same bracket as Lukaku, Higuain and Aubameyang. However, Higuain and Aubamayang will probably never be world class like Suarez, Cavani, Aguero and Lewandowski. Lukaku and Kane should join that bracket soon.
Let’s just enjoy watching him develop before hyping him and see where he goes.
…Is Harry Kane world class? I don’t know and you don’t either. We haven’t seen him in enough contexts outside of Spurs and the Premier League. Next year, with another crack at the Champions League and playing (presumably) as England’s main man, we should know more. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that, Yes, he is indeed “world class”.
Which is an irritating, undefined concept anyway. If you listen to Alan Shearer and his ilk, there are about five “world class” players on earth, which essentially renders the term pointless. For me, then, “world class” means you are a player who’ll always* positively affect a game, in any context. Champions League final, Barca versus Real Madrid, hype of the century? You’d positively influence the outcome of that game. Playing with some Swansea cloggers on a Monday night? You’d still look great. The context doesn’t matter to you.
Applying this to my club, Man United, you’d say De Gea and Zlatan obviously are world class and then there’s a whole bunch just below that – Pogba, Valencia, Bailly, Rashford, maybe Herrera…if it’s Ireland, Ireland, Repub-a-lic of Ireland, Seamus Coleman might scrape into my definition, largely because I’m in a good mood, but no-one else.
Anyway, that’s my theory. I’m genuinely interested to hear other perspectives. How do you all define world class?
* Always doesn’t really mean “always”. But it sort of does.
Stephen O’S, MUFC
…Is it time to label Harry Kane as ‘world class’? Let’s forget the world class tag for a moment, because it’s somewhat arbitrary/subjective. The question of whether he’s in the same bracket as Suarez, Lewandowski and friends is a fair one.
My view is that there are some criteria where he falls short, still.
An established record in the Champions League is still missing from his CV. One could rightly point out that he’s not been afforded the chance. While true, the only thing we can say is that the jury is still out on his ability to perform at this level.
The same goes at international level. The people we’re comparing him to all have more than 80 caps for their country, with Benzema having the fewest goals (27). Kane’s record of five in 17 games hardly stacks up. Obviously, it would be unreasonable to expect him to have amassed 80 caps at his age. The only thing we can say is that after 17 caps, the aforementioned had similar goals tallies.
I’ve saved the most important for last. My personal opinion is that the truly great players can play with any players in any team and succeed. Benzema, Lewandowski, Aguero and Suarez have all scored a stack of goals for more than one team. I wouldn’t say it’s a requirement for Kane to do that to be labelled a great player. However, all we can currently say about him is that he looks very good in a certain system, at a certain club, playing with certain players. A change of system, or team-mates could upset his rhythm. Or not, but it hasn’t been tested yet.
I would consider Kane to be probably the most impressive centre-forward in the Premier League at the present time (a relatively out-of-sorts Aguero would be his only real competition). Let’s not pretend this in itself is anything other than really impressive. However, the jury is still out in certain areas. Which is fine; time will tell if he goes on to accomplish great things. What we can say is that if we look at some of the top strikers in world football when they were 23, Kane is certainly on the same path at the moment. In three or four years, we could well be talking about a player who is part of the Ballon d’Or conversation, but for now, I don’t think we need to elevate him above his station.
England have had some wonderful centre forwards in recent times. Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler all did impressive things, and had broadly similar three-year stints in their careers to the one Kane is in right now. However, I’d say only Shearer, Owen and Rooney truly became part of the global picture of great forwards. Kane could be the next, but he’s isn’t quite there yet. Keep going, Harry!
…I’m afraid the reason why Harry Kane isn’t world class is right there in Ben McAleer’s article – Lacazette is a similarly prolific domestic striker who no one considers to be world class.
If Kane was banging them in 10 years ago in the Prem I’d be convinced but it’s a poor league right now and this is proven year after year when English clubs get schooled in the Champs League.
And consigning poor (terrible) performances on the international and European stage to irrelevance is such an English thing to do – surely the label world class means someone who excels on the world stage!
Kane may well one day be world class but he needs plenty more European and international performances before he can be talked about in the same breath as Suarez, Lewandowski and Aguero.
Adam (17 caps 5 goals), LFC, Macc
A play-off for the title?
The Premier League used to excite and enthrall in equal measure, and rightly lived up to the reputation as the ‘best league in the world’ now things couldn’t be further from that point. The league is now awash with players who have failed to cut the mustard at Europe’s most dominant clubs or players, those who are decidedly over hyped upper mid tier talents or are young foreign players who view the EPL as a stepping stone to the likes of Barca or Real Madrid. If you were to pick a world 11, I would suggest not a single current EPL based player would make that selection.
Drama and excitement is at an all time low in Premier League circles. There hasn’t been a meaningful title race in three years, with the leaders winning the crown with 7, 10 and 8 points to spare respectively over the past three campaigns. In fact, since the heady days of the mid to late 2000’s the gap has been less than seven points in only two of the last seven seasons. Therefore when it gets to the tail-end of the season, the Premier League’s greatest prize is already safely housed away. I saw Cormac wrote in to suggest a play off type system for the final Champions League berth, but why stop it there? Why not put the country’s biggest prize back on the pedestal it deserves? Let’s keep its destination unknown all the way until the last game of the season!
Why not follow the template of the NFL, NBA and all the major global club rugby competitions and introduce a play off system for the top six, with seeded advantage to those who finish the regular season in a high position? No while that may not improve the standard of the player in the league per say, it would at least add some excitement back into a sport that is becoming less and interested in the on field product and more obsessed with bank balances. Let the top two receive a bye week…and let 3 play 6, 4 play 5 and so on, with the team with the most points over the season always having home advantage.
On China, racism and what the white guys say…
Having read the article on the incidents involving Hulk, Lavezzi, and Witsel, I thought I’d ruin my afternoon by scrolling down to the comments and reminding myself of the cesspit of humanity that exists below the line. Granted, the F365 comments section isn’t quite at the level of MSN or the Daily Mail, but there’s always plenty of ignorance frothing away. I think it’s a given that F365 is a little left-leaning, and this mindset influences the writers’ work – just as is true for most people on earth. It’s not a thing to be annoyed about. If reading viewpoints that don’t directly correlate to yours is somehow a cause for aggravation, I’d suggest you’ve spent too long in your own echo-chamber. Or you’re a self-involved prick who cannot countenance the possibility of any other view having value. Unfortunately (he said, while openly lying) I don’t have a Facebook account so cannot respond directly. But I fear the angry chaps have rather missed the point. This is not surprising. It makes it much easier to keep stamping your feet and maintaining you are right if you wilfully ignore the given argument.
When stating that Lavezzi’s actions are not racist because the Chinese FA didn’t punish him, you are missing the point. When stating that those actions are not racist because the photographer chose to take the photo, you are missing the point. I’m not saying Lavezzi is racist. I don’t know him. I don’t know his conduct. But I know that his wacky antics are ignorant as f**k. When a group of white men decide otherwise, because hey, the Chinese don’t actually care about our ‘Western’ values, PC gone mad innit, it is no better. Latin America isn’t exactly known as a hot-bed of open-mindedness when it comes to race. Before anyone starts whipping out the ‘hey, they use negro as a friendly term’ – and by ‘anyone’, I mean Liverpool supporters who still won’t let it go – I’d ask you this: have you ever asked a black Latin American how that term is used? It is still a means of separation, an ‘us and them’ mindset, in a continent with a massive issue with race and a long-term refusal to acknowledge it.
The issue is not the face. It is not the punch. It is the fact that these things are deemed acceptable by the FA and club owners, because the stars are more important than anything else. Citing the lack of response from Hulk’s alleged victim as proof that nothing occurred is idiotic in the extreme. The Chinese have already been shown that they are now second-class citizens in their own national league. You want to stand up against the biggest star at the club? Cool. What’s the Chinese for “here is your P45”? Then again, you could always stand up to the authorities and demand fair treatment. That usually goes down well in China.
The Chinese FA want the CSL to be a global success. Giving out preferential treatment based on race isn’t a great way to start. Even if Dagenham Dave says otherwise.
On Ed’s awards
The award for Narcissist of the Season must have been a very close run thing, between the eventual winner and the person handing out said award.
Handing out some F365 awards
Awards you say? Why not give awards to the writers and mailbox celebs? None of that best writer nonsense, there are already official awards for those. Here, here we’re hipster. Let’s begin!
The underrated writer award: This goes to Matt Stead, dude doesn’t get enough love. He’s the Kante of last season, if you will.
The made-me-look-up-the-most-words award: This is, expectedly, Daniel Storey’s award. (Chutzpah…I like that word.)
The he-must-be-fun-at-parties award: Again this should be no surprise but Johnny Nic seems like he’s not so far from the classic old man with a cane shouting “get off my lawn” to a bunch of kids.
The he-must-ACTUALLY-be-fun-at-parties award: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I present to you STEEEVVEEEN CHIIICCCKKKEENNN!
The oracle award: Close call but this has to go to Sarah Winterburn, she predicted Chelsea would win the league, Kante would be the signing of the season and Tom f**cking Davies would have a breakout season, sorry Degsy!
The “Oh Rooney, where art thou?” award has to go the one, the only…need I mention his name?
The Sarah-has-an-agenda-against-us award goes to our dear friend Ted, Manchester.
Longest mails award goes to, obviously, Ed. (Do you ever just start reading a mail and go, “Yup, this is Ed.”)
The best mailboxer award really can only go to one person, Peter Goldstein take a bow.
Emma (Ed’s mails are legit)
Let’s have a Golden Oldie award
If we have a Young Player of the Year Award; why not have a Golden Oldie (or similar) Award?
The more I think about it, the more value I see in introducing this accolade for players aged 34 and up. My argument is threefold:
1. Goalkeepers would finally have a chance of individual acknowledgement.
Since the introduction of the PFA Player of the Year Award in 1974, only two goalkeepers have won the award. A tip of the hat to Pat Jennings (1976) and Peter Shilton (1978). That’s 39 years since the last time a ‘keeper has won. Unsurprisingly, considering keepers tend to peak in their thirties, only one ‘keeper has won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award (Mervyn Day 1975). Whilst there is no guarantee a keeper would win (indeed, that would defeat the purpose), this award would give them an excellent chance of winning something or at the least, of being shortlisted and receiving acknowledgement for a good season – Brad Friedel, Edwin Van Der Sar and Jussi Jaaskelainen spring to mind.
2. It reduces the risk of the award becoming a Lifetime Achievement Award.
While Giggs (aged 36) had a decent season in 2008-09, I don’t think anyone really believed he was the best player in the league. Rather, he was given the award due to his longevity and excellence over his career as a whole.
To a lesser extent, Teddy Sheringham (aged 35) won the award in 2000-01. He won the title, but 15 goals isn’t exactly extraordinary for a title-winning side.
Both these recipients would have been more worthy of a Golden Oldie Award rather than PFA Player of the Year Award.
3. Longevity Deserves to be Awarded
As we have seen this year with the rapid decline of Wayne Rooney, performing at the peak of your powers for a long time is difficult to achieve. People like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth McAuley, Gareth Barry and Arthur Boruc deserve credit for continuing to perform well in the Premier League at this stage of their careers.
Palace’s next manager? Who cares?
I was just starting to warm to Allardyce so maybe it’s for the best that he has decided that he wants a simpler life. And after the last couple of days who can blame him to be honest. I’m always grateful when our lives and priorities are re-calibrated and right now the next manager of Crystal Palace is not something I am going to worry myself about. Instead I will be leaving work on time and getting home to my children before bedtime, asking them about their day and being the human climbing frame that I’ve come to accept is my main purpose, aside from collecting bloody Lego cards from Sainsbury’s for them.
We’ve battled relegation at some point in each of the last four seasons in the top flight, before that we battled it for several seasons in the Championship with the odd season in between where we managed to finish in the play-off places. So we’re quite accustomed to a bit of turbulence. Maybe 08/09 was the last time that we had a fairly relaxed time, a year after we’d lost in the play-off semi-finals and a year before we were placed in to administration and kept our place in the Championship on the last day at Hillsborough. I thought we may be heading in to next season in a stable situation and ready to build some consistency, perhaps not, oh well.
Personally, I’m not too fussed about who our next manager will be. When you look at the recent list of Allardyce, Pardew, Pulis, Warnock, Holloway, then maybe you can understand, imagine that Alumni dinner party. I’d prefer we looked for a longer-term manager and someone like Ranieri doesn’t fill that brief to me, but rather the geezer from Fulham or the bloke from Huddersfield if they don’t make it. But as long as they can give the crowd moments to remember then I don’t really care too much. Moments like Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool this season, FA Cup run last season.
Moments like the Hull game, a game that was my five-year-old daughter’s first ever, and one in which she came away saying “That was amazing!”. She wasn’t too bothered about the game, she found it funny that Palace started shooting towards their own goal in the second half and her highlight was probably catching a t-shirt thrown by one of the cheerleaders. But she felt the atmosphere and the mood of relief and celebration, the burst of noise when we scored and she was taken in by it all. It would have meant more to me than it likely will her in the long run but those experiences are why we go to football. Life is too short to worry about the small details.
A Liverpool squad numbers record?
The Liverpool vs Sydney FC game is the worst kind of money grabbing. Finishing the season Monday morning Aus time and playing here Wednesday night. They must have literally gone from the Boro game to the airport. I don’t want to hear any fatigue concerns from Klopp next year.
But what strikes me (apart from the aching legs of Gerrard and co playing) is that this must be some kind of record for the sum of the squad numbers playing. There is a 53, 58, 59, a 66. Outside maybe the MLS this has to be a record.
Em, Yorkshireman in Sydney
A Lion-sized plug
Because I’ve always thought of F365 as a bit more cerebral than your average T*******t offering, just wanted to flag up a film I helped put together for the BBC to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Lisbon Lions.
It’s a bit different than a club DVD, as much a social history documentary as a football film, but given how incredibly difficult it is to get UK broadcasters to look at any sporting story at all, we’re immensely proud of getting it to air – and especially not only in Scotland but all over the UK on BBC1 tonight.
As the Lions European Cup win is an achievement at once simultaneously over-celebrated, and yet which can never be celebrated enough, it was a total pleasure to work on (you can probably guess which team I support…) and the surviving Lions were true gentleman from a very different footballing era.
And you know, Scottish football has never had it so good, it was the same year Dundee Utd beat Barcelona 4-1 over two legs!