Bukayo Saka cannot hold a torch to Wayne Rooney as Arsenal academy claims debunked

Editor F365
Wayne Rooney and Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka is a brilliant player but can he be compared to Wayne Rooney? We also have mails on referees and more…

Want to contribute to the Mailbox? This is your page so e-mail theeditor@football365.com


Rooney a generational talent; that’s not Saka
I’m still bouncing between laughing at the comparisons between Saka and Rooney, and feeling a horrible sense of familiarity with how the media (and fans) build expectations up around a player before casting them aside when the impossible is not achieved.

Saka is an excellent talent, who will likely become an excellent player and is having a good season. I can fully understand Arsenal fans’ excitement at their season and having quality coming through from their academy. But please god don’t set expectations of the lad becoming a class of 92 player (for a start, you need a class not a single player for that).

On the comparisons front, Rooney was a player of a generation, much like Gazza (which is why they were compared, even though in different positions). They took teams to a new level, could do things others couldn’t. Rooney was also the top scorer for England until Kane scored a few more penalties (17 now, vs 7 for Rooney), and the lad was pretty much done before he was 30. Saka will not be that player for England. I’m sorry, if you’re looking to anyone it’s Foden but probably not him either.

As far as Rashford, setting aside the context of the respective teams they were playing in, he and Saka are incredibly similar in terms of output up to Saka’s current age. For me, accepting my natural bias, it’s Rashford every time but Saka is a wonderful player and it’s great that we have both ready to be screwed by Southgate’s tactics or preferences for England.

I hope Saka continues to develop, but give it a rest with the comparisons. Or maybe compare him to Henry since they play a more similar role and are both Arsenal. And Henry wasn’t even a generational talent, just an exquisite player. And that’s perfectly ok.

READ: 9 amazing stats that show Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s starboy


Class of 89?
Exiled Gooner is quite right. 1989 does eclipse this lot in terms of the sheer number of youth players bolstering the squad.

An interesting fact, and I could be wrong, but I believe Irishman David O’Leary was the only member of the 1989 squad born in North London.

Brian’s also right – but also wrong in that our Leah’s lionesses won the Euros not the World Cup.

Back in 2009 Arsenal gave members a bottle opener that plays Brian Moore’s famous Anfield commentary when you open a bottle. It is the single greatest thing the club has ever given away.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

P.S. How can anyone from Waterford possibly be so angry? It’s literally the nicest place in Ireland I’ve visited and I’ve travelled all over the Republic


Strife of Brian
Jeepers Brian Morrisey certainly seems to have got himself riled up for a person who’s team were on the cusp of a quadruple a few weeks back*. Anyhoo I happen to agree with his sentiments. He’s absolutely correct – the current Arsenal squad isn’t anything like the class of 92. Why can’t Arsenal fans (of which I’m one) just enjoy it for what it is, instead of attaching some other wanky, cringeworthy sentiment to it, that frankly isn’t required. It was nearly, nearly in the “this means more” category, which all football fans agree is the standard bearer for wanky, cringeworthy sentiment.
McG Belfast (* Although it could be because Waterford got beat in the Hurling at the weekend)


Don’t bang the drums
Been banging this drum for a while…

Dear Ashburton Army drummer,

I know you only have the best intentions, as the Ashburton Army do. But, please, for the love of all that is holy, leave your drum at home. You are fxxxing killing me, mate. Rarely are the beats to the rhythm of any chant. In fact, our chants are often rhythmically irregular, with a tight drum beat only serving to clash with the singing. My head is throbbing from the incessant pounding that, ironically, is a deterrent to any organic chanting that might occur. When Arsenal score now I’m so relieved as it means there’s a break from the drumming. Please don’t ruin this for me. Watching Arsenal should only be a headache for the opposition.

Many thanks.
Simon, Norf London Gooner


Is Conte right though?
I feel it is easy to criticize the man over the presser but it goes along with his reputation of speaking truth to power.

Secondly, I think it is slightly disingenuous to portray him as strictly looking for a payout on the way back to the Mediterranean. Over the last few months he has lost and grieved three very close friends, while enduring a major medical procedure. Even the toughest of humans would likely be pushed to evaluate life and it’s choices in such a situation. For a serial winner in his profession, when that process of evaluation concludes with having to field Eric Dyer in your starting lineup on a regular basis… well can anybody really blame Conte.

It is also easily forgotten that Spurs still remain 4th in the table. He also happens to hold close to the best winning percentage of all managers the club has had in the history of the Premier League.

The fact that he does not play “sexy” or “gegenpressing” or whatever the contemporary term is should not take away from the fact that he is likely to be the best appointment Spurs have ever had. The man wins football matches and last time I checked that is what matters.

So rather than looking at him as failing as an appointment, the club – mostly the players – need to try and bring themself up to his level. He clearly has enough personal integrity to not allow the alternative.


Are referees underpaid?
Having read your article about referee bias, a subject came up that I can’t get my head around. Why are referees paid so little?

Yes, on the face of it, they are paid a lot, especially compared to… well… me. But compared to footballers? Their importance to every game can’t be overstated, and surely a competitive salary would make sure that there are a lot more referees all trying a lot harder, and the quality of refereeing would surely go up.

When you look at the overall importance of refs in the game, why would it be wrong for them to be paid as much as the players? Not all players obviously, but let’s say… Phil Jones. We’re talking 70k a year compared to £3.9m. It’s just a thought, but what if they, like many others are entitled to, downed tools? If all referees stopped for just one weekend, the consequences would be enormous, affecting even the most politically sheltered in the country.

It’s just a thought, but considering that they are well-known, public figures who are important to the game, why not make it an aspiration? You might find many more footballers who didn’t make the cut (of which there are thousands) making the switch, and improving the perceived lack of quality. This wouldn’t be expected to trickle down that far, but the same is true of player wages (and the broader economy), but the dizzy heights at the top are always the aim of those below.


Why players pressurise referees
In response to Will (Maybe I’m just an angry poor person), although he is quite right in question ‘Name a single time pressuring the ref has resulted in them overturning a decision’ is technically correct, it slightly misses the point.

The decision won’t be overturned but what it will do is affect the way most refs will referee the rest of the game. The referee will question the decision internally which leaves him second guessing himself for the rest of the game. How many times have we seen fouls not given after the ref has been pressured for an earlier decision. A soft penalty given after a contentious pen for the other team. A player getting away with a yellow/red card because the ref has recently given one that the players, or even the crowd, have given him abuse for. It’s human nature.

The fact numerous former referees have publicly come out and spoke about the bias United would get at Old Trafford due to pressure from players/SAF is a testament to the fact that this behaviour works. I would guess that technology with earpieces and var etc will remove the element of doubt refs have over decisions they have made but pressuring the ref is done for a reason and that reason is simply that in most occasions, it gets results.

My main issue with the whole issue around referees and abuse is that it is simply one of the easiest problems in football to solve and could be done overnight. Bring in the model used in rugby, only captains can address the referee or else you are carded. Simple. Now you are gonna to have a steep learning curve and players will be booked left, right and centre initially but bring it in from the highest level down to grassroots and the whole issue is gone.

Within a year it will be the norm and all you will have is the PFM and barstoolers complaining “football was better back in my day when you could scream at the ref”. Which will be a nice change for the already boring VAR moans.

Moyes out.
Hammer McHammerface


Rugger bugger off
Will in the Mailbox invites us to “watch one game of rugby…”

I’d really rather not, if it’s all the same to you. I think I’d prefer to rewatch the 7-0. In Toxteth.
Lewis, Busby Way


It’s a season of conspiracies
It has truly been a banner season of referee conspiracies. As someone who has never subscribed to any such conspiracy whether against my team (Liverpool) or in favour of a bitter rival, it’s been quite eyebrow raising.

Arsenal are top of the league but have spent months talking about how refs have screwed them over (especially on the treatment of Saka but also numerous penalty calls not given) while many-mainly City fans if Twitter was any guide the evening of their late winner against Bournemouth- believe that the refs are siding with Arsenal and want them to win the title. City themselves are frequently the target of accusations that the refs are on their side.

Meanwhile quite a few United fans believe that referees have been harsher on them since the controversial Rashford goal so as to ‘balance things out’. Liverpool fans were muttering about conspiracies this season because the team had gone more than 30 games without being awarded a penalty but as recently as 2 seasons ago were being dubbed LiVARpool because plenty of rival fans thought the refs were in their pockets. Newcastle fans have also taken out their conspiracy glasses quite a few times (the meltdown on social media after that injury time Liverpool goal against them in August was truly something to behold). Spurs fans are rarely happy with the referee.

Meanwhile most of the teams outside the big 6 believe that the big 6 are heavily favoured by refs and will usually state something like ‘If that had been (insert big club) that decision would have been given but since it’s little old us of course the refs aren’t interested’.

It’s quite a tangled web, this conspiracy. It clearly runs much much deeper than any of us could have imagined.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda


We don’t send off Bruno, no, no, no
I hate VAR. It’s bullshit. At least with refs during a game you can see why they make mistakes. I hate offside calls that are imperceptible to the human eye. I hate slow mo edited clips at the ref’s monitor that appear to show someone murdering a player when all the other angles show no contact. I hate the league’s in form striker bearing down on goal with the ball at his feet who is not affecting play. I hate penalties for United at Old Trafford that are given 2 minutes after your player was assassinated at the other end. But that’s no excuse for Mitrovic and he deserves a ban.

I do disagree that the Bruno incident was ok. On the sliding scale of contact with the ref there should be the captain shaking their hand at the beginning and nothing else. Ref’s shouldn’t feel that they need to back up away from players. Players shouldn’t surround the ref. Ref’s should be untouchable. In the Bruno case he had lost control of himself so much that the linesman had to separate him from a player. He had to do this because referees are so under respected that Bruno was not listening to instructions. Whether he was giving a pat on the back as acknowledgement or whatever, the players should not be coming within touching distance of the refs.

I know that the 7 (seven) – 0 thrashing of United was a freak result but during the freak 5 (five) 0 thrashing of United in the historic before times of last season Bruno was not held back by the linesman when trying to stop the game from being restarted and some little gust of wind or dust got in his eye and he needed to roll around for a bit. The line possibly saved his life there. We know he gets hurt easily.

We have Arteta yards out of his technical taking the piss of referee decisions, Bruno having to be held back by assistant referees, increased trouble in the stands, pitch invasions. I don’t know if the keep politics out of football impartial brigade allows us to talk about racism, homophobia and misogyny but if they do then football is not going in a good direction. Refs need to stop saying sorry for bad calls, stop backing away from players, stop saying that the abuse that they receive and hear from players is ok. The institution of the referee should always win over the playground bullying antics of the footballer and manager.

The refs do need to start being more open with the reason for bad calls and the methods in place to reduce them. They shouldn’t be without challenge however this challenge should come in a mature and professional structure. Not on the field of play, or from the dug outs or through the media. Maybe we can move from referee based analysis to football based analysis. It seem we don’t talk about football anymore, just VAR and money. As Good Charlotte may have said fans don’t like football, fans like VAR and money.
Alex, South London


That was a sh*tshow from Fulham
I find it amazing the reaction from Fulham after Willian handled the ball, in real time he would have got away with it, but there’s this thing called Var. Willian denying it hit is hand is comical is he that thick to forget Var and cameras everywhere. Then Silva complaining to the ref about two non incidents, one where Mitrovic deliberately tripped himself over an opponent, do these morons not realise there’s a thing called Var now. Or is Var so bad that they think a slow motion replay might give it, which is possible but not on this occasion so well done Var

And well done Chris Kavanagh, normally you’re a thorn in United’s side but this time you played a blinder. And Fulham can literally go get relegated now for all we care, a new favourite team to dislike after Liverpool and Chelsea.


Darwin v Mitro
I guess we won’t be getting any more of those updates from Tim Sutton comparing Mitrovic’s and Nuñez’ seasons anymore 🙁
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland