Was Antonio Conte a victim of Spurs anger about Arsenal being top?
A question for Spurs fans, if Arsenal weren’t first, do you think you’d be happy with fourth and Antonio Conte? Plus, some love for Bukayo Saka and more.
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Did Arsenal make it impossible for Antonio Conte?
A question for Spurs fans, if Arsenal weren’t first, do you think you’d be happy with 4th and Conte? Or was the turgid football to blame? Who do you want to replace him and what does success for that manager look like?
England fans, you must love to get to support Saka. See how joyous he is. See how he just does the simple things, in simple ways, and effectively.
I genuinely think people would like him more if he did spins, tricks and step overs. Instead he is just ruthlessly direct. Get the ball, make the most impactful use of it. It isn’t flashy, or fun, but god is he good at it. He makes the right call 90 times out of 100. After decades of having to cheer Owen, Rooney, Kane et al, I now get to sit back and cheer for an Arsenal boy, he really is the business.
John Matrix AFC
Amazing Saka scenes
You have to say that was amazing from Saka.
Not only did he win a free kick outside the box when he was clattered but, get this, the referee actually BOOKED the opposing player!
Graham Simons, Gooner, (Saka’s goal wasn’t bad either), Norf London
READ: Rating the England players against Ukraine: from sensational Saka to mid from Maddison
An actual England mail
1) The fact that in our last 2 matches against top opposition (France and Italy), Southgate has felt comfortable playing a back 4 instead of a back 5, and we’ve been the better team in both those games, is a big step forward. It’s another part of our evolution over the last 5 years. Obviously tournaments can come down to moments and fine margins, but no doubt we should be one of the favourites for the Euros if we get there.
2) If squad sizes are going back to 23 next summer rather than 26, there will be some difficult choices in the wide forward positions. Nice headache to have though.
3) As much as people want to see someone like Foden in central midfield – the balance we currently have is almost perfect. Having 2 of Rice/Phillips/Henderson as an insurance policy means Bellingham has licence to roam, and he’s the guy we have to build around.
4) I’m a Utd fan so I love Rashford to bits. But the overreaction from a lot of Utd fans to what was actually a valid comment from Southgate baffled me. He’s missed a lot of international games in the last 2 and a half years so he wasn’t ‘missed’ at this break in the same way a regular like Kane would be.
People criticise Southgate for his lack of gametime at the last two tournaments – but at the Euros he was carrying an injury so was never going to be a starter. And the guys that played ahead of him literally got us to a final so I’d say his selection choices were pretty justified!
He could have played more at the World Cup, but as I said in point 2 – the competition in those places is immense so there’ll always be good players who miss out (I’m old enough to remember the outcry over Grealish being a sub, now it’s pretty much accepted).
5) This obsession people have with club form confuses me. The latest example was the number of journos desperate for Ramsdale to start ahead of Pickford – who is the best keeper we’ve had in 20 years. It reminded me of all the talk before Euro 2021 of how Pickford and Sterling should be dropped because they had a difficult time at club level. Southgate stuck with them because of their track record in an England shirt, and they were two of the outstanding players at the tournament.
If I’m an international manager, the most important thing to judge players on is….surprise surprise….their performances at international level. Call it the ‘Podolski and Klose test’.
Yes, good club form should get you into the squad, but that doesn’t automatically mean you get into the starting XI over players who have a proven track record at international level and major tournaments. It might be harsh, but you have to wait until those players stop performing well for England / get injured or suspended.
So quite frankly, even if Ramsdale and Toney were to outperform Pickford and Kane at club level for the next 13 months – they wouldn’t get into the England XI and rightly so.
Circle of safety
In an effort to rid the game of the old crowd-the-referee-with-sad-faces epidemic, I simply suggest the following: once VAR is enacted for review of play where the referee has stopped the game; the referee jogs to the centre circle; the referee remains in the circle whilst the footage is being reviewed (the referee can leave the circle to see the replay on pitch side monitors); any player who enters the centre circle receives an auto yellow; problem solved.
Who do you hate?
After this last week, I wondered if the mailbox and commenters had any players they had a completely unwarranted or unreasonable dislike for.
For ease, let’s exclude the likes of Bruno for whom there are many reasons to dislike him. Being a shithouse is too good a reason as well.
I’ll start with a handful, although it will surprise no one that there’s a long list. I know why I dislike them, but they aren’t good reasons.
Fabregas (ratty face with no loyalty), Lampard (a midfielder that didn’t like to pass), Muller (always seemed to do well in spite of having no discernible particular skill set), Fred (I don’t get it, he runs around and occasionally does something but mostly not), Thiago (Pep saying he was better than Wilshere), Carrick (channelled his inner Maguire before Maguire was a thing with incredible slowness and just left me frustrated all the time).
Anyone have others?
Henry was no Benzema or Mbappe
I think John Matrix AFC skipped the basics of English as a child. A generational talent is one that is once a generation. Hence Rooney was a generational talent for England, as no one else in his generation comes close.
On the other hand, we can all name a few French players that were above Henry including the likes of Zidane, Makalele et al.
Also, listing off trophies won by France and Barcelona doesn’t make Henry a better player. He is class, but he is not generational. For Arsenal, maybe. For France, definitely not. Henry would be in the same bracket at Benzema: Class, but just not Mbappe (who can be defined as generational).
Hope that helps.