Are we being racist about Chinese football?

Date published: Wednesday 11th January 2017 5:26

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Why is Schneiderlin not Carrick’s long-term successor?
So a 2-0 win, a very average performance and a very noticeable absence of Carrick. This just goes to show what an influence Carrick is having on the team. I’m not going to write him off, but I do question the wisdom of having a 35-year-old propping up our midfield. I can’t see us building a team around him so I really wonder why on earth Schneiderlin is being sold to Everton.

On pretty much every metric, he is better than Fellaini. I can’t be the only one to think that he would, given a run of games, be the perfect complement to Herrera and Pogba, and unlike Carrick and Schweinsteiger, for years to come, not just for a season or two. I thought that he was exactly the kind of player we needed when we signed him, and I still think he has the quality to be the anchor of our midfield. He is excellent defensively and has a better passing range than he gets credit for. He also looks like he knows how to play football when he gets the ball, which is more than anyone can say for that clown Fellaini. And despite all of this, it really does look as though Mourinho has forced him out (along with Depay in the near future I imagine) and I can’t get over how short sighted this is.

Still, when we’re talking about what a fantastic midfield player Schneiderlin is in a year’s time while Fellaini is still stinking out Old Trafford, don’t say I didn’t call it.
Daniel (doesn’t care that Fellaini scored a goal) Cambridge


Shock and awe
Unless my eyes are deceiving me Antonio Valencia just put it an excellent cross from Man Utd’s right flank…with his left foot.

2017 is looking up already.
Mick C, Dublin


Man United and those offside goals
Anyone know if Manchester United plan on winning a game with a legitimate goal at some point? That’s six offside goals in the last four Old Trafford games by my reckoning. But here’s a campaign against Mourinho. Oh yes. If ever you needed evidence that managers can set their own agenda it’s here. And I haven’t even mentioned the blatant red cards or joke penalties that have been awarded.

But remember, there’s a campaign against Man United.
Brad Smith


If Henry loved Arsenal…
Rob A (wish we had that passion in the dressing room) AFC
if Henry loved Arsenal so much, why did he f*ck off to Barcelona?
Conal, London


…Rob A must have a shocking memory. Henry was, indeed, an excellent player for Arsenal.

But you appear to have forgotten for about 2-3 summers he openly sniffed around a Barcelona move before finally getting his wish.

Reality bites I know, but take those blinkers off mate
Adam Halliday, Villa fan, Vietnam

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Disgusted with Incredible Hulk story
I have to express my disgust at Toby Springings long-term view on Hulk. It is one thing to accuse a footballer who moves to China of greed. But it is really low to look down on a man’s entire career and deride it.

If ever there is an article on F365 that offended me, this was it. This was not an analysis of the effect of money on the modern game. This was a very personal attack on Hulk tantamount to The Sun calling Raheem Sterling a footie idiot. Come on F365, you are better than that.

And Mr Springings, here’s a long-term view for you: When players were flocking to Chelsea and Man City, a lot of articles like yours were written about how these players are greedy mercenaries who value money more than their career. Now when a player signs for Chelsea or Man City, he is hailed as ambitious for desiring to win the big trophies e.g. Raheem Sterling again, F365.

So if the plan of the Chinese pans out and in (hypothetically) ten years time, the standard of the Chinese game rises to rival the European game, will you see Hulk, Oscar et al as greedy mercenaries or trail blazers? Why should it matter to you if a footballer wants to win an Asian Champions League medal rather than a UEFA Champions League medal?
Franklin, (agents, not fans and pundits, are paid by players to provide career advice), CFC, Lagos


…reading through the piece on Hulk, it dawned on me just how onesided and selfish Toby’s views are. Brazil is not the economic power that is UK. Money is AN issue. So when you get a big payday like that presented to players these days, you take it no questions asked. it’s not fair to criticize players as they thrive solely on a short life span career. besides, for all we know it’s xenophobic to suggest that playing in leagues outside of Europe is not ambitious or greedy. China, Russia, Japan…etc deserve the same opportunity like European nations to succeed as football powers.
Kwandui, Nairobi


…This has been building for some time, but has anyone writing in or writing on your site actually watched football in China or read more than your own press on what is being attempted? I understand the quality is less right now, based on my limited viewing, but we should be applauding the sheer gall involved in trying to compete against the status quo of European heavyweights. If soccer is truly the global sport, the only endgame is population. A European league with nearly 800 million people living in Europe will always have a place, but China is the promised land, so instead of criticizing how your true love is changing just relax and enjoy the seduction of what she’s learned away from you.
Niall, Denver


…Just a thought – from a website that (quite rightly in my humble opinion) criticises pundits for their inward looking arrogance towards the Premiership (and how they dismiss players such as Oliver Burke for moving anywhere else than their perceived promised land) I found the article questioning Hulk for missing out on the chance to play in Europe and Champions League football in return to earn mega money quite strange.

Why should a Brazilian (or any South American footballer) be that enthused about winning the European Club Championship? Growing up with dreams of winning the Brazilian league, winning the Copa Libertadores (thanks Google) make sense, but surely not many kids in Rio dream of turning out for Bayern Munich and the like?

Once the decision (and forget the money it is a big decision for often very young adults) is made to leave your homeland to earn a living in football why should your end destination be what someone in Europe believes is the ultimate? You have made a sacrifice, your family have made a sacrifice and now you get the chance to make the most of that. Let’s not pretend otherwise, European footballs position as the ultimate destination for players was alway built first and foremost on the money available. Now that the same money or more is available elsewhere the tables will and must even.

If it impinges on your dreams of playing in the yellow jersey of Brazil, then sure the move to the perceived highest quality leagues make sense. However considering the Brazilian FA does not seem to have any problem selecting players from other leagues what harm is done?
Peter Cafferkey


Defending a 48-team World Cup
Just read the mailbox this morning and Olly’s post really got me going. I’m guessing that’s why you put it first. The ridiculousness of the post is just baffling. You do realize, Olly, that the teams that would now qualify are not teams that would just lie there and tell the elites to get it over with. These teams would previously just miss qualification with a narrow margin. Teams that got to the play-off in Europe, like Wales or Sweden. South American qualification system is hardly a procession, look at the scorelines between the teams. African teams like Senegal, Egypt would not be fodder served to the elites to ravage.
These teams are not San Marino or Malta, and if you are worried about the defensive tactics, well it’s up to the elites to prove themselves. Besides Spain won it with a mastery of 1-0 wins, Chelsea’s Champions League win was a glorious affair and if a team is unable to break down Greece’s attempt to add a World Cup to their Euro title, then, frankly, those teams don’t deserve it.

If anything the changes protect the big teams and ensure they would never miss the tournament. I have no problem with that as the European qualification system is not exactly filled with quality football and it ensures that big names are always present at a global event which is good for publicity. There’s no right way to win and as I enjoyed Germany’s demolition of Brazil, I also enjoyed Chelsea’s wall in Munich. The chances of smaller teams progressing to the final stages have increased with these changes and that can only be a good thing regardless of the motives of FIFA. So, please shush the false outrage.
Victor A, Nigeria


…Am I the only person who feels that Olly Cole missed the mark with his negative view of a 48-team World Cup?

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on the matter.

Three-team groups would, most likely, make virtually every game meaningful. Arguably more so than in a four-team group where qualification can often be decided before the last round of games.

Olly says that with one point and a decent goal difference (as decent as it can be with a draw and a loss) a team can progress. This does seem to ignore the fact that if one team has a point then another team will also have the same, making them exactly level, ergo you would need a superior result than the team you drew with in your other game. Therefore you could potentially go through on one point by losing by less than the team you drew with, although I am not sure I have ever seen a team play for a 1-0 defeat! No doubt some teams may look at two draws as a way of qualifying and you invariably see some conservative football at major tournaments, but more negative than usual? I am not convinced.

48 teams being 25% of all national teams is inconsequential, from my perspective. One of the things I like most about world cups is watching unusual matchups that you will not see at any other time. It is the world’s game and why shouldn’t more countries have a piece of the pie?

The real clincher, however, is something that Olly doesn’t mention. The best part of the tournament is the knockout rounds, right? Well, we get an extra knockout round of 32 teams, which will inevitably include some smaller teams and, if we are lucky, an opportunity to see a magnificent David v Goliath upset. That’s without mentioning 16 extra opportunities for extra time, penalties and last-minute winners that only knock-out football can deliver.

I think Olly is right to be skeptical of FIFA, how could anyone not be? But I think this change deserves a chance. It opens the world’s greatest sporting event to more of the global football population and, despite the increased profits, delivers more meaningful matches at the business end of the tournament.

Happy Wednesday everyone.
Jay, Morecambe


Actually no, it’s crazy
Like any sane person who doesn’t have both hands in the financial pie, I think the 48-team World Cup is likely to be a disaster. Olly Cole, THFC wrote in yesterday about a few of the reasons: the three-team groups will make for ridiculous scheduling, much less drama, and more negative football.

I’d like to add another reason: more knockout round games. Now you’d think that more knockout football means more excitement, more unpredictability, more upsets. But in recent years the knockout rounds have been dull to the point of absurdity, because teams tend to play even more conservatively as the tournament goes on. Not counting the third-place game, here are the average goals/game in knockouts for the last four tournaments:

2002: 1.73
2006: 1.73
2010: 2.6
2014: 2.13 (and this was skewed by Germany’s seven goals against Brazil)

The exception was South Africa 2006, where the group stages were so awful that things had to pick up later in the tournament. And even that 2.6 was lower than in any previous knockouts except 1990.

Even worse, the 32-team knockout adds 16 teams of lesser quality, many of whom will park the bus. Add in more extra-time wars of attrition, with sides hanging on for penalties, and you have a recipe for the most mind-numbing sequence of games the world has ever seen. There’s one hope: because the group stages figure to be dreadful, teams may feel ready to go for it more in the knockouts, a bit along the lines of 2006.

I won’t hold my breath.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (watcher of every World Cup game since 1986)


Let’s go for a 128-team World Cup
So the new World Cup format seems a bit odd, I’m sure we’ll all get used to it but whilst we’re still rebelling against the change I’ve got a suggestion.

128 team world cup. Over three months. 16 groups of 8, play each team once, top 4 go through. 6 knockout rounds. Random draw no seeding. No qualifying.

For clarity it would be the top 127 teams by fifa rankings and one team made up of the combined powers of the rest of the world.

These are the advantages as I see them.

– More chance of upsets but also more chances for someone to dribble round a whole team or blast one in from 40 yards.

– Minimum of 7 games, 8 or 9 for decent teams. Nothing worse than a world cup that’s over for your team after two games.

– Maximum of 13 games over 12 weeks for the finalists – hopefully less injuries and more time for injured stars to get fit.

– No qualifying means players can get a proper rest for the three years leading up to a tournament (I’m ignoring other international tournaments for the sake of my argument)

– Who wouldn’t want to see Congo Dr knock a cheeky last minute winner in against Germany or England dick nine past Cyprus before the inevitable exit in the first knockout round? Or

The World Cup has four years worth of build up, it needs to be an epic, ridiculous marathon of football. When the World Cup’s over I want to feel so stuffed with football I couldn’t even take in a wafer thin youtube video of Bergkamp’s goals in. I want to feel ill and bloated with football. 128 team World Cup. Three months. No qualifying. You know it makes sense.
Matt, AFC

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Is it because I is a girl?
John Blakeway
: thanks for explaining money to me. Until your email, I didn’t understand money and how it works, and was unable to make comparative judgments, such as working out which number is bigger than another. Admittedly your in-depth, masculine knowledge of sums was a little overwhelming and put me all in a tizz but I think I’ll pull through. Sarcasm aside, I’ve no idea what listing amounts of money was supposed to show — presumably some kind of superior, insider knowledge of the world of football. If only you’d thought to stick a ‘pat on the head’ emoji in front of it and finished with ‘see how it works, love?’

(Next up, John Blakeway explains the offside law to the editor of football365. She may be a no-nonsense centre-half, but you know what women are like.)

Next: of course I f**king ‘understand the principle of keeping players fit’ you supercilious bell-end. The point I was making was that it might be nice if the reserve and younger squad players are given a proper run-out with a higher percentage of the first-choice players, so that they’re at least within a strong supporting framework — rather than being dumped in all at the same time, with a subsequent drop in overall performance.

The other point I was making that you may have missed was that actually trying to win something might be quite fun — because that’s kind of the point of football. Otherwise you’d see fans lining the streets, waving scarves, all welling-up and emotional during an open-topped bus tour, because their team gained an extra bit of money by finishing ninth rather than tenth.

As for this: ‘Sissoko… has a better knowledge of the English game than NKoudou and more physicality’” This ‘knowledge of the English game’ you refer to is exactly the kind of bullshit John Nicholson was mocking in his column on Monday. I refer you to his article to deconstruct that nonsense.

Plus, Sissoko’s ‘knowledge’ comprises entirely of being underwhelming with Newcastle for three seasons and getting relegated, and underwhelming for Spurs so far. I’m also aware of his ‘physicality’ — I mentioned it in my own email. He’s a hulking lummox. Physicality, in and of itself, is clearly why Barcelona are one of the dominant teams in football, and is always to be admired. If only English sides could have more of it and less of that ridiculous ‘technical skill, speed of thought and invention’ stuff. [NB: this is sarcasm, in case you now feel you ought to write in and explain that Barcelona — or Barca, as you men with more knowledge than me probably call them — have quite a lot of small players.]

So I’ll now summarise that wish three in easy-to-understand terms: I saw N’Koudou play a lot for Marseille. I believe he’s at least as good as (the inconsistent) Son, potentially better than Lamela and even if he isn’t, deserves more of a chance because it would be nice to find out. In a team with most of the regulars playing, and for entire matches.

Finally, good use of ‘Winksy’ and ‘for us’ — thereby laying claim to a more intimate knowledge of the team and its workings than you feel I must have. Much of what’s being said about Winks is what was being said about Bentaleb and Mason 18 months ago. There are even some saying he’s the new Modric. I regularly saw Modric play live and happen to disagree with Winks’ projected ability levels which is, you know, allowed — even though I’m female.
Daisy ‘Sorry if this sounds patronising’ Fraczek


A small matter of work permits…
John Nicholson says
 ‘… the fact that the English have freedom to go anywhere in the world to work is ignored, as though such an option doesn’t actually exist… ‘.

Well, that option actually doesn’t exist. The English have the freedom to go anywhere in the EU to work (at the moment), but there is the small matter of work permits for many, or most, other countries. As is the reverse case, as the UK requires a work permit for non-EU persons seeking employment.

(The UK, in common with others, can also deny an entry visa to a player just visiting to play a match, which can come in mightily handy, for example when PSG are in town to play a Champions League match).

It would be amusing seeing an H1 visa application from Allardici or Pards to come and coach in the US, as you’re meant to possess a skill that isn’t readily available in the local workforce. ‘Drop Avoidance’ isn’t really in much demand, as there’s no relegation in Major League Soccer. Pards might make it on on artistic merit though; his litany of excuses smacks of comedic genius. The FBI might also be a little nervous about Big Sam based on the rather shadowy financial histories involved there.
Steve (Green Card), Los Angeles

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