Bale has every right to stay and play golf for £600,000 a week…

Date published: Wednesday 24th July 2019 9:50

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Bale no Bogarde
I am writing in with a defence of Gareth Bale, in response to criticism from Stijn, Amsterdam, about him being happy to sit on the bench and pocket a massive paycheck.

It does seem like he’s been willing to do recently, so I don’t disagree on the facts. But so what? Bale is one of the most successful footballers of his generation, on any measure. He’s won La Liga and the Champions League with Madrid, and his achievement with Wales at Euro 16 tops even that.

Arguably Madrid could have won more domestically during Bale’s time there, but that also coincides with the Cristiano Ronaldo era, and I don’t see anyone criticising him. According to the BBC, Bale is the most successful British football export ever, based on major titles won and top-flight goals scored. What more do you want?

I sense you’d be equally dismissive of him going to China, if that’s what happens. But if the other option is going to play for another European club below Madrid’s level, including any of the big 6 in England – I totally understand why he wouldn’t want to. He’s endured years of largely unfair criticism from the Madrid media/fans. Considering his likely fee and wages (even with a pay cut) he’d be setting himself up for exactly the same treatment if he didn’t score 30 goals a year for a new team. When he’s already won almost everything he can in the game, I reckon he can be left to make life choices for himself.


Anfield octuple?
It just occurred to me that Liverpool are gearing up to compete in 8 competitions this season, potentially 9 if they drop into the Europa League. Is this a record? Has anyone ever done an octuple?!

The chances are clearly around zero – but here’s hoping we’ll bag some silverware this year. Which made me think of which I’d like to win most, given the chance. So…

9. EFL Trophy: nice run out for the kids, but really should be a competition for the third and fourth tiers.

8. Community Shield: ridiculous we’re even in this really, given we won nothing domestically. Fun as it would be to put one over City and become the most successful English club again (lol), this should be theirs by rights. A City training game would be just as entertaining given the squad they have

7. League Cup: would be great to win something domestically, but this is the least interesting cup and to be honest we could do without the games in Jan/Feb when we’re invariably terrible

6. European Super Cup: we did the hard work last season, so putting the icing on the cake with a win over Chelsea would be a lovely start to this year.

5. Europa League: would mean we’d ballsed up our champions league defence, but a European trophy isn’t to be sniffed at. Could gain importance if the league season goes awry too.

4. FA Cup: By May it’ll be 14 years since we’ve won it and 8 since we were in the final. Time to bring it back. Need a decent draw and our form not to fall off a cliff in the new year though…

3. World Club Cup: possibly controversial, but hear me out. Yes, it’s a glorified Emirates Cup, but Liverpool have never won it. And the chance to call yourself a World Champion? I’d be jumping at that if I were a player. And personally, I’ve seen Liverpool win everything else (with one notable exception…) so having completed football (… cough…) perhaps I can do something else with my time.

2. Champions League: 3 finals in a row and potentially two wins would be a return to the dominance of the 70s and 80s.

1. Premier League: obviously.
Will, LFC (If they bring back the Cup-winners’ cup it’s ON)


Where are the big deals?
Ok I know there’s 2 weeks left and a lot of bad deals can get done at the last minute but…..what’s going on with transfers this summer at the big clubs? It’s so boring.

The most interesting movers this window are West Ham and Leicester! Lets have a look.

Man Utd – a right back from palace
Man City, Tottenham – a holding midfielder each. yawn.
Chelsea – Dortmund’s 3rd choice winger
Liverpool, Arsenal – nothing

whoopty doo

but who knows, maybe the exciting harry maguire saga will be concluded soon!

where’s yer ronaldo’s, yer neymars? I’m not that excited about next season jeff, looks like a repeat is scheduled.
Nobby Solano


Not about the money, money, money…
Jessie J may have said it best but it seems to be one of, if not the most popular talking point in all conversations football. In a few cases it can seem as though the investment was not worth it and I feel a lot of these are cases where the player in question is coming to an end of their prime where the risk mostly outweighs the potential reward for the team and in some cases the manager.

On the other hand, when the player is young and has a lot of years ahead of them, there still seems to be this big hullabaloo about the cost despite the price being fairly commonplace in today’s market.

The example I would like to use here is Raheem Sterling to Manchester City. This was £49m I believe. I mean to us readers it is an ungodly amount of money which could see our families live in extreme comfort for generations but in the current English football market, it tends to be the starting point.

With that, if we take ourselves back to the summer of 2015 when Sterling made the move from Merseyside, there were a hell of a lot of talk about the figure being too much for a young kid like Sterling.
Piggybacking on that he had three pretty below par seasons with City where at one stage there were some media outlets reporting that Guardiola may be looking to offload the young man.

Fast forward to his 4th season with City and he is voted the 2nd best player in the premier league. I know there were a lot of issues off the pitch which may have helped him when it came to the votes (and rightly so) but if we are speaking honestly, I don’t know how many people believe he is better than Eden Hazard for example. Even still, he was excellent for City and he deserved to be recognized as on of the best players in the league.

Now rumor has it, if you go into the woods away from all technology and human life and listen very closely. With the right gust of wind apparently you can hear that one salty Liverpool fan who still believes he is not good enough and it was a bargain for Liverpool.
Other than that, this ‘outrageous’ transfer fee doesn’t seem too silly now.

If we are playing the game of averages, it is just a cool 12.25 million over the last four seasons he has spent with City and one could be forgiven for thinking he will have a pretty good season during the next campaign.
I don’t know about the followers, but I feel like that was some very shrewd business done by City over the long term.

It makes you wonder why we are so quick to jump on someone’s back so early when they have so much of their career ahead of them. N one really bat an eyelid at Ronaldo’s €100m euro move from Real Madrid to Juventus when he was 33. That’s not a large margin away from what Los Blancos paid for Ronaldo from Juve and they got him right through his best years and then some.
Would there be more of an uproar now if someone like Sterling left city for the same price now? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were.

In saying though however, would you rather Ronaldo for a couple more years doing what he is doing or Sterling for potentially 10 years of doing what he is doubtful for the same price?

Now… How much for Maguire?! Don’t get me started on Longstaff.
Luke, Dublin.


Best pre-season strike?
So after seeing Rakitic score a screamer for Barcelona vs Chelsea today it brought a question to mind, what is the best Pre-season goal you have seen scored?
Mikey, CFC


Numbers game
I liked the shirt number handover article. Made me wonder though what the greatest shirt handover lineage ever would be? I assume thinking of the worst would be too hard, but I open it up to the boffins of the mailbox.
Jimmy (arhhh $20?! I wanted a peanut) Sham


Bergkamp to Gallas or Henry to Walcott?

Actually I’d go for Vieira to Cesc.

Arsenal haven’t won the league since our invincible captain left for Italy and don’t look like winning it any time soon either.

If you compare the two’s careers the contrast is startling. Vieira came to Arsenal with no expectation around him at all. I was at the game – it was a Monday night against Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury and Vieira wasn’t even in the first 11.

Rice, yes, Wenger wasn’t even manager yet, sent Vieira on for Parlour. I must confess I got my shirt printed with Vieira 4 before I had any idea who he was or what he even looked like. But he came on and the rest is history. I have never seen an Arsenal crowd take to a player as quickly as they did Vieira. But everyone that was there that night knew we’d seen something special – even though most neutrals may remember that night for Wright scoring a hat trick and for Wright pulling Regi Blinker’s hair.

Cesc, on the other hand, was hyped to the hilt as the great hope for Arsenal. The boy clearly had ability but never delivered on that potential and it actually annoyed me when he took Patrick’s number. The saddest indictment is unlike Cole, who we tend to hate because he left us and won everything, Cesc isn’t even despised by the Arsenal faithful for joining Chelsea. It’s like Cesc in reverse in that we probably got the best out of him and even that doesn’t compare with what Vieira delivered as Arsenal captain.

So for me Cesc gets the nod because I simply didn’t have great hope for Gallas or Walcott. Gallas looked like a mercenary from the very start and Walcott never really looked any good. Cesc was supposed to be the Arsenal captain that would lead Arsenal’s great young guns into a brave new world at the Emirates. But given that whole team were Arsenal ‘what could have beens’ – maybe he was the perfect choice after all.

At least he can console himself that he isn’t Xhaka – without doubt the worst midfielder I have ever seen play for the club.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Predictions corner
My 2019/20 Premier League Predictions:

1) Top 6: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Leicester, Man Utd, Chelsea – Bold prediction to start with, Leicester to finish 4th. Tielemans showed he is a good fit last season and alongside Maddison, Maguire, Schmeical and Vardy I feel that’s a very good spine. Of course if Maguire leaves then it’s no longer a spine, more a collection of vertebrae…

2) Relegated: Newcastle, Norwich, Brighton – A lot has been made of Rafa Benitez’s exit and the appointment of Steve Bruce but I also think the losses of Ayoze Perez and Rondon will hit Newcastle hard. Under Rafa their defence was well organized and did not concede a lot of goals compared to the teams around them. Rondon was the focal point of their attack and although he did not score a huge amount of goals, he was extremely effective as a target man and helped bring other, more technically gifted players such as Ayoze Perez in to play. Losing those two at the same time is a massive blow. Brighton did well enough to stay up last season but nothing they have done in the transfer market so far has inspired me with confidence. Norwich had an impressive season in the Championship however I am not sure if their transfer business would have been any different if they remained there. Sam Byram, Patrick Roberts and Josip Drmic hardly scream Premier League quality to me.

3) Player of the season: Bernardo Silva – ended the season spectacularly and I think he will only get better. Fantastic attitude on the pitch with superb technical ability as well.

4) Young player of the season: Daniel James – Will likely become a regular starter for Man Utd and I think he will flourish

5) Manager of the season: Brendan Rodgers – He’s no Claudio Ranieri but if he takes Leicester to 4th place as predicted above, then I think he will win manager of the season. “Outstanding”.

6) Surprise team of the year: Leicester – see point 1).

7) Surprise player of the year: Ravel Morrison – Once a great young talent, now a bit of a wildcard. Maybe he finally lives up to his potential?

8) Biggest let-down: Ndombele – Fantastic player but I think it will take him some time getting used to the Premier League. I think next season will be his breakout year.

9) Biggest waste of money: Pulisic – decent player but not worth the price in my opinion.

10) Champions League finalists: Real Madrid & Inter Milan – Zidane back at Madrid making huge signings, alongside an imperious European record, means Madrid will surely do well in the Champions League once more. I think Inter Milan will surprise a few fans with Conte at the helm and Diego Godin marshalling the defence, at the very least they will (probably) be difficult to break down

11) First manager sacked: Unai Emery – I think he’s a good manager under a bad regime. Seems Arsenal have made numerous poor decisions over the last few seasons and unfortunately I don’t see that trend changing an time soon. After a disappointing end to the season I feel the pressure will be on Emery from the start of the season and, unless make some major defensive upgrades, I think that pressure will be too much.

12) Bargain of the season: Daniel James – £15 million for a young, fast, skilful winger. I think he will excel at Old Trafford.
Akib, Woking


…Prediction time, loving it. Although probably not very rosy for my club (Chelsea), this could be an exciting season.

First, I’ll say that as much as we want the top 6 to be broken up, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Yes we do want Wolves, Everton and what have you to break the glass ceiling, but are they truly in a better position than year to do it? Chelsea, MU and Arsenal were diabolical at times last year, yet still beat Everton, Wolves, Watford, West Ham and Leicester comfortably. I don’t think those clubs have improved enough and Arsenal, MU, Spurs and Chelsea degraded enough.

1. Champions: hard to look past City. Still better than Liverpool.

2. Top 4: Liverpool of course but I believe Spurs will struggle. Chelsea have only lost our wonderful Eden, we have kept the rest and there are great players there. We’ll finish 3rd. I’ll put MU in 4th after a change of managers mid-season.

3. Arsenal and Spurs for 5th and 6th.

4. Surprise team: Southampton. I think the Austrian Klopp is a great manager and he now has his own team. Villa will also prove very hard to beat and ruffle a few feathers.

5. Disappointing team: Leicester. Well, disappointing to the F365 team who has them already breaking into the top 6 despite no evidence as how this could happen. Vardy and a few of his team mates are getting that little bit older. Brendan is always prone to a tanty or 2.

6. Manager of the season: biased here but Frank Lampard will surprise everyone and lead Chelsea to 3rd, winning the gong. There is a positive vibe around Chelsea these days, a bright optimism. I think the loss of Hazard will enable him to play his system, and he has Pulisic for the creativity and Kanté to provide stability and enable various attacking combinations.

7. Relegated: Brighton and Palace look weak. Burnley too but Dyche is a survivor. Then one of the promoted teams, I think Sheffield Utd will play the Cardiff role this season: lots of fight, combative manager but ultimately too limited and marginal decisions going against them.

8. best signing: Rodri will prove a good replacement for Fernandinho.

9. Worst signing: Wan-Bissaka is not going to take to life in the big pond.

12. First manager to go: Roy Hodgson. Getting old. Good service to English football, great man, but time to go.

10. Best youngster: TAA again, but as best newcomer: Phil Foden from City will play more than last season and show his class.

11. English players with great seasons: Declan Rice, CHO, Rashford.

12: managers who won’t last the season: Hodgson will go first, Solskjaer won’t last past Christmas either. Sheffield Utd, Newcastle, Brighton might need to change in order to attempt to improve their fortunes. Bournemouth will be tempted too after a period of struggles but Howe is too entrenched there and will stay and save the day.

13. Golden Boot: probably Harry Kane if he plays the whole season uninjured.

14. Success abroad: excited for Kieran Trippier at Atletico. Not sure how Ramsey is going to work out at Juve, I suspect he’ll just play a bit-part role.

15. Abroad: Zidane won’t last the season (coming back never works: ask Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, etc.); Barcelona will win the Spanish league and probably the CL, with or without Neymar (Messi/Suarez/Griezmann is scary enough). I’d place Juventus in the final as well. Will it be the year that City finally do well? Probably not. Pep is actually not that successful in that competition.
Mike, Auckland Blue (CFC)



…1) Top 6 (in no particular order): Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester United, Leicester

2) Relegated (in no particular order): Newcastle, Sheffield United, Brighton

3) Player of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold. The lad made a PL record with some 12 assists in a season in which he did not play nearly 28% of minutes. If Liverpool finish 1st/2nd and TAA plays nearly every game, he will assist more and score a few too.

4) Young Player of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold again.

5) Manager of the Season: Brendan Rodgers if Leicester finish in the top 4. Klopp if Liverpool win the league.

6) Surprise team of the year: Good surprise – Leicester; Bad surprise – Newcastle (will it really be a surprise though?)

7) Surprise players of the year: Tammy Abraham and Craig Dawson

8) Biggest letdown of the season: Gabriel Jesus and Serge Aurier

9) Biggest waste of money: Joelinton and Rodri (hopefully)

10) Champions league finalists: Liverpool and Juventus

11) 1st manager sacked: Steve Bruce

12) Bargain of the season: Che Adams and Lloyd Kelly


…Oh go on then if everyone’s having a go…

TOP 6: Man City, Liverpool, Spurs, Leicester, Arsenal, Man United. I think the lack of depth at the back will mean City won’t be as far ahead, and may crap out of at least one cup pretty early rotating their backline. Similarly, I think Liverpool will drop off a bit rotating some of the younger lads in for the front three and finding the right midfield combination, but still very good. Maybe an FA Cup run this year. Spurs do this every year, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do better without Trippier providing an open door down their right hand side. Leicester I think will be the big movers. I’ll come on to that. Chelsea I think will be the biggest losers as I think they’ll struggle to start with and improve after christmas. Who knows with Arsenal and United, they could win 10 on the bounce then lose the next 10. Or only get points at home. Or away. Couple of absolute states at the moment.

RELEGATED: Some awful teams stayed up last season, but it’s difficult to see it working for Sheffield United and Norwich, although it wouldn’t surprise me too much if one or the other managed 17th. Hot tip is Newcastle, but I think Brighton might finally get found out no matter how hard Potter works on that weird group of players.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bernardo Silva will continue to blossom into one of the best all-round midfielders in the world with David Silva’s advancing age and de Bruyne’s broken knees meaning he plays in every game. Hopefully next to Foden a lot.

YOUNG POTY: Trent Alexander-Arnold has a bit of a head start here, but if United are any good at all Aaron Wan-Bissaka will have had a lot to do with it. Outside shout for Marcus Rashford playing as an actual center forward for a manager who trusts him he may well start flying.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: With a bit of luck with injuries, Brendan Rodgers has the makings of a pretty extraordinary Leicester team. Throw in a league cup and the deal is sealed.

SURPRISE TEAM OF THE YEAR: Leicester. Solid keeper. Good solid center backs. Two quality, adventurous fullbacks to provide width. Ndidi destroying, Choudry’s energy and Tielemens creativity in the middle. Perez and Maddison buzzing around behind the evergreen Vardy. He’s bringing the Christmas tree back and it’s going to be unplayable on their day.

SURPRISE POTY: Ayoze Perez is going to look like he’s worth twice that £30 million by this time next year.

BIGGEST LETDOWN: Man United not being as much of a shambles. More seriously perhaps I think VAR is going to be fucking horrible until Christmas when the FA dial it back a bit for the second half of the season, a bit like what happened at the Women’s World Cup. If I have to pick a player, I think watching Christian Pulisic scoring goals for fun against carribean islands with smaller populations than my native Bristol may have given people a bit of false expectations. Dortmund let him go for a reason.

WASTE OF MONEY: Still not sure what the point of Matteo Kovacic is, and Chelsea only signed him because he was literally the only player on the planet they were allowed to. Absolute handbreak on Chelsea’s midfield.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALISTS: After last year who knows. Science says Barca and Man City, but in my water I’m feeling another Spurs miracle, pretty much exactly like Liverpool last season.

SACK RACE: If West Ham aren’t flying by October Pellegrini is toast. West Ham can’t stay this sane for this long.

BARGAIN: The correct answer is Youri Tielemens.
Pierre, LFC, Bristol

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