Let’s have a debate. Read these mails and then send yours to email@example.com
Benitez v Klopp
Just to spark some debate in the mailbox. Do you think Klopp’s best Liverpool team would beat Benitez best Liverpool team? My money would be on the Benitez team (Gerrard, Torres, Alonso, Mascherano, Carragher, Hypia, Reina).
Shidaan (South Africa)
Are chequebook managers a problem?
Saw John Matrix revisiting a pretty common criticism in the mailbox – that of chequebook managers. F365 have been banging the drum that different managers are better suited for different circumstances as opposed to being universally capable regardless of their managerial context, so is it actually such a crime to be a chequebook manager? I’ll use Mourinho as an example, as he is the manager mentioned by John.
Firstly, the spend that Mourinho has made over the windows since being appointed at Man Utd doesn’t look that ridiculous given the financial climate he has been operating in i.e. an obscene one of seismically shifted fiscal paradigms. Secondly, excluding one year in his entire managerial career, Mourinho has spent money on players in a fashion that has led to consistent success at his clubs; he is a successful chequebook manager. There are plenty of examples of managers that have been trusted with enormous amounts of money that have fallen short. Pep last season, Van Gaal at Utd, Hughes at Man City, Ranieri at Chelsea, Rodgers at Liverpool, Villas Boas at Spurs. Not every club of enormous resources is successful, but with Mourinho handling the cash, far more often than not, they have been. Mourinho has proven consistently adept at finding round pegs for the round holes that exist within his squads, and has paid handsomely in order to do so. He has worked at big clubs with big budgets and has delivered what he was appointed to do.
With the exception of the Leicester miracle, almost all of Europe’s strongest leagues are routinely won by one of the clubs with the most potent financial clout (PSG, Monaco, Bayern, Dortmund, Juve, Inter, Chelsea, Real, Barca, City etc.) so why wouldn’t you want a manager who can be trusted to deliver when spending to succeed?
Support for Old Player of the Year award
I agree with Jamie Walker that there should be an old player of the year award. This is not just because players in their mid 30’s that can still play to a high level in the fast-paced and physical EPL are impressive but also because a lot of the older players tend to play for clubs lower down the table so deserve to be recognised for their efforts. If it was as suggested players 34 and over then Zlatan probably would have snatched it last season but my choice would have been Gareth Mcauley for helping West Brom finish comfortably mid-table while scoring six goals in the process. Honorable mention also goes to Jermain Defoe for scoring 15 goals in a hopelessly terrible Sunderland side.
Who are the contenders for this imaginary award this season?
Did the F. A. not try that idea a few years ago and Giggsy won it?!
Alex, (love adding a y to get your football nickname), Ayr
Gazza and mental illness and all that
Kudos to Mediawatch and F365 on the calling out of Kidd’s ‘nonsense’ comment re Gazza.
It’s all too easy to tut and move on; it’s bold and positive and productive (in however small a way) to call it out for the bullsh*t that it is.
Every time the trivialisation of mental health issues passes unchallenged, we’re all, in some small, way responsible for the continuing sorry state of affairs that surrounds mental health in this country and in our game.
Seemingly small things like this are hopefully steps towards a future with fewer lives ruined like Gazza’s or Gary Speed’s, and those of their families.
Chris (but, you know, his actual middle finger…! Despicable! Remind me what they did about Nazi salutes again…?) St Retford
England fans need a reality check
Late to the party, but…am I alone in thinking some England fans need a reality check?
England won two matches with an aggregate 6-1 score, and are one point from World Cup qualification. They’ve done this despite:
A squad almost entirely based around journeymen footballers (were we expecting Total Football?!)
The few players with outstanding potential (by which I mean Harry Kane mainly) being relatively young and having no significant experience of football outside of the Premier League – they’re learning on the job how different nationalities play.
A journeyman manager with no real top-level experience of coaching (so he’s learning as he goes too).
This means it’s very likely that England will get dumped out of Russia at the group stage. The best outcome is to hope that the players and manager learn a lot from it and emerge stronger as a result Getting past the group stage would be a real achievement. What could change this?
A better manager – since 1990 (under the late, great Sir Bobby), England have got past the group stage four times in six: in 2010 (Fabio Capello), 2002 and 2006 (Sven-Goran Eriksson) and 1998 (Glenn Hoddle, with a squad Southgate would kill for). Unfortunately, we’ve decided foreigners can’t manage England properly and neglected to develop any good English alternatives. Whoops.
A bunch of better players emerging to replace the current lot – unlikely, because the FA think this is the job of the clubs and the Premier League clubs mainly don’t want to take the risk on young English players (with apologies to Southampton).
1990 is England’s best World Cup Performance since 1966 – a top-drawer manager, combined with a crop of top-class players. Until we can repeat that, get used to celebrating scrappy victories and mourning disappointing defeats.
Graeme, NUFC (and don’t get me started on Arsenal fans moaning about their owner…)
…England fans aren’t half a bunch of moaning ninnies.
So we don’t have a Wilshere type to pass the ball in pretty triangles between team mates – so what? we’re on the verge of qualification for yet another tournament.
You know what you get if you remove the constant shooting and replace it with pointless passing don’t you? Arsenal – that’s what – and I get enough of watching that shower during the regular season.
Take it from gooners – we’ve spent years shouting at our players to shoot. The opposite of what England does currently is infuriating. In short, you don’t shoot, you don’t score and I get to experience the joys of this this very weekend – great.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Some people still love international football
A bit late but hoping to make the cut before the best league in the world TM kicks in again.
As a fan of a now lower league club I do and have always looked forward to the International break matches. Nothing brings the country together more than a tournament year, be it the Euros or the World Cup; 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2004 were summers made infinitely better by the rollercoaster rides of tournament football following England.
I (and many other supporters of non ‘big 6′ clubs) pin my hopes on major football highs on a collection of our nations best players facing other nations’ every other year.
The England qualifying games may be low on entertainment but so are 427 Premier League fixtures per year too.
A good performance in a major tournament would give everyone in England such a feel good bounce we should all get behind the team and drop the tribal agendas (and 55 boring cliches) for the greater good.
View qualifying matches as the bread (dip into other nation’s matches if you would like olive oil and balsamic) before you dig into the starters, mains and dessert of the Summer.
Brian (final in 2018 would be a croquembouche) BRFC
An accidental defence of Gary Cahill
Interesting discussion about youth football in the last couple of Mailboxes. One point need to be made though – it’s no coincidence that the best players at youth level are all midfielders or forwards. The vast majority of professional players will have played there as youngsters because those are the most influential positions on the pitch for creating and scoring goals, so that’s where coaches naturally put their best players.
The likelihood is that even a central defender who looks bang average at elite level was probably an outstanding attacking midfielder in his youth. Take Gary Cahill, as he was mentioned in an earlier mail – a quick look at his Wikipedia page shows that he started out as a central midfielder. I bet when he was 14 he was the best player on the pitch by a mile in every game. But when he got to the Villa academy, every other player there would have been as good or better than him, so he had to move into the defence in order to stay in the team and get a professional contract. The best players remained as attacking midfielders or forwards, but that doesn’t mean Cahill was rubbish – he was just in the top 2% of players rather than the top 1%.
So in summary: if I wanted my (hypothetical) kid to play for England, I’d encourage them to play in any position except defender when they’re young.
Why can’t commentators and pundits pronounce names properly?
So, one thing that always annoys me with pundits and commentators (besides their banal analyses) is their ability to take names and butcher them. British and American pundits always seem very keen to anglicise names and speak without research. The major areas of failure are:
Iberian names – Jose Mourinho (after all these years!), Azpilicueta, Llorente, Cazorla, Atletico Madrid
Francophone names – Kante, Mangala, Sessegnon, Drogba, Gueye
West African names – Ayew, Ndidi, Ogbonna, Iheanacho
English names of African origin – Bamidele Alli, Jordon Ibe
During my graduation, the announcer went round and asked everyone how to pronounce their names properly, wrote the phonetic spellings out and got every name spot on. It’s not that hard! A name is a person’s identity and it is who they are. Football is a multi-cultural sport and the lack of awareness should not be excused.