What a great week for the Mailbox. We loved it. Watch some football over the weekend and mail us at email@example.com
What exactly Juventus are trying to achieve…
Here’s a Juve supporter’s view of what Juve are doing with regards to the Dybala saga. Dybala isn’t that young anymore, 25 should be where he really shows his development and maturity. Last year there was a great hope that he would develop alongside Ronaldo, but instead he had his worst season ever. The positional issue is not that relevant – even under Allegri he played some of his best games starting on the right. Juventus players are judged not only by their class (of which Dybala undoubtedly has plenty) but also by character and leadership, and it is in these respects that he has been lacking.
Combined with that, last year saw a big misunderstanding by Juve with respect to Ronaldo. Since he had been playing as a striker in Zidane’s 4-4-2, the idea was for Ronaldo to spearhead the attack, supplied from the flanks by Costa, Bernardeschi and Dybala. That made Higuain superfluous technically and a burden financially, so he was offloaded. Only to quickly find out that Ronaldo doesn’t work so well as a lone centre forward, so Allegri ended up with Ronaldo on the left, Mandzukic up front almost by default, and Dybala, Bernardeschi and Costa time-sharing on the right. Which was good enough for the Serie A but not for the Champions League.
This year Juve ended up with three centre-forwards of which Mandzukic and Higuain are deemed past it, while Kean is not yet ready to spearhead a Champions’ League challenge (by the way I sure hope they have a buy-back clause for him). At the same time as part of their young Italian policy they are chasing Chiesa. Replacing Dybala with Lukaku makes sense in this respect – Lukaku can spearhead the attack for the next three-four years, Chiesa and Bernardeschi will be pillars of the team for many years after Ronaldo retires, and Costa, if he has an uninjured season, is an excellent winger, not to mention additional back-up for Cuadrado. What is puzzling is Juve’s apparent interest in selling Mandzukic, Kean AND Higuain – I would expect they would at least aim to keep Mandzukic as bac-kup. SAme in midfield, I would expect to sell one of Matuidi and Khedira but not both.
As to Cancelo, his defensive lapses last year caused more harm than his attacking input justified and his character in key difficult moments was questioned (see my point about Dybala), though I’m not so convinced about Danilo as a replacement. And the return of Buffon is clearly not so much a technical choice (although what better back-up to Szczesny could you have?) as one of providing leadership and a steadying presence in the dressing room.
Juve’s squad next year should be something like –
Szczesny (Buffon, Pinsoglio)
Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, Alex Sandro (De Sciglio, Bonucci, Rugani/Demiral, Pellegrini)
Ramsey, Pjanic, Rabiot (Bentancur, Can, Matuidi/Khedira)
Douglas Costa, Lukaku, Ronaldo (?Chiesa? / Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Bernardeschi )
That’s pretty strong all over except at full back, with a lot of depth. Without buying Chiesa that would generate a tidy profit, buying him would be at a small overall expense, and overall significantly reducing average age. As Seb’s article states, it is a bit of a risk to change too much with the arrival of a new coach with very demanding methods, but Paratici has shown some great judgement before and I trust it will be the same this season.
This will go better for Juve than Manchester United
I read Seb Stafford-Bloor’s article with interest and, whilst I understand and agree with his overall point, if you look at the Lukaku/Dybala deal in isolation I actually think it makes sense for them. Juve are well known for being the most cunning of transfer foxes and are rarely on the wrong side of a transfer.
Lukaku is only six months older than Dybala and is a significant upgrade on a rapidly declining Higauin, with the added benefit of depriving Inter (who many in Italy see as Juve’s greatest challenge next season under Conte) of their primary target. Who here cannot honestly see Lukaku bagging a boatload of goals for them and Dybala flopping at United? I say this as a United fan as our record with high profile signings post-Fergie is lamentable.
Juventus always have a plan, and it is normally a damn good one – they are a club with a definitive identity and clarity in how they set about achieving their objectives (the polar opposite to United’s current management structure). They are going balls to the wall Champions League chasing this season but why not? They will win Serie A at a canter so if they believe Lukaku is the man that will tip the Champions League scales in their favour ahead of Dybala then they should do it – Juve are not a team in transition and now is the time they should be trying win in Europe.
I am not worried about Juventus, but I am rather more worried about United’s end of the deal. I love Paulo Dybala – his handsome face and short socks combined with laughably good technique is exactly the kind of thing I would love to see work at Old Trafford but we have had our fingers burned badly with this type of signing. If he doesn’t really want to join and is being strong-armed into a move, then he is going to have to be one hell of a professional to get over that and play at his peak in a team that rarely does.
I still bloody hope he signs though.
Fearing the worst
I’m not questioning the player himself, but rather the fact that we might be signing him. We already have enough ‘Superstars’ on a high salary who don’t want to stay Pogba or expensive players we can’t move Sanchez
Dybala might agitate for a move within an year like other stars Di Maria . One good thing about Solskjaer is that he wants players who want to be here at Old Trafford. Not sure Dybala is one of them. And swapping Lukaku for Dybala is more fantasy football, than how real transfers work.
Seems very much like a Woodward signing to satisfy the shareholders. And that is one recipe for disaster.
Gaurav, MUFC (all this coughing not good for my health)
What Man United fans expect…
Ciaran C made some good points in his mail this morning; essentially you can’t have your cake and eat it. We (United) pride ourselves on how good we are at bringing though youth (an academy product in the match day squad since 1938 don’t you know) and winning things with kids. Therefore, to overlook the youth in favour of buying players, and to clamour for their signatures as fans, is a bit hypocritical. However, and perhaps as ever, there is a happy medium. The majority of the youth products will not be a major success in the first team and it has always been that way. Furthermore, even the much-lauded class of 92 were brought into a team which had quality, experience and leadership already there. Throwing a bunch of kids in and expecting them to perform miracles is not the answer (remember the LVG MK Dons debacle?).
Furthermore, it’s all about timing. Back then, ah the good old days, we had won a few leagues, were at the top and so Fergie had enough credit in the bank to be able to take more of a gamble on youth. Everyone knows our current plight and the pressure from fans and sponsors for us to be successful makes it difficult to blood youth. However, the (relative) lack of success has also led to some readjustment of expectations. If supporters see Ole is trying to build something for the future then most of us will accept a couple of years of tough rebuilding. And we do have some really exciting young players who I look forward to watching more of this season.
But there is also a need for a few signings to compliment the youth because the current squad lacks a leader at the back and someone in MF who will help carry the load in terms of creativity. In my opinion, Maguire and Fernandes could fill these roles so it would be excellent if we could get those over the line. If not, then so be it. We’ll get behind the team and see where it goes. One week to go and then it all begins again – hope, disappointment, joy, anger, joy, frustration, joy, excuses, joy, sadness, acceptance. Bloody cannot wait.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Pepe: The new Gervinho?
Let’s look at the similarities;
• Gervinho signed from Lille for big money at the time
• in his last season with Lille Gervinho scored 36 goals
• They are both Ivorian
• They are both very wasteful in possession sometimes
Arsenal fans – what are your thoughts????
Actually, Arsenal have done rather well
In yesterday’s Mailbox Andrew (then again, maybe it’s normal? What do I know) raised concerns that paying for a player in instalments could hamstring Arsenal’s spending power for years to come. Au contraire mon frere (as Nicolas Pepe might say), this is not so much a payday loan as a smart bet that the player(s) you are buying will help return to you to the Champions League, improve your league position and so increase your revenue in those future years.
It is an intelligent approach to the madness of the transfer window and a very welcome change from the previous management (who acted as if ever pound spent was a pound less in his personal pay packet). As well as being a sensible investment in the future success of our club, it has also overturned the negative feeling that has been pervasive around Arsenal for some time. While that delivers some less tangible benefits (see social media), there is also a pragmatic return in hospitality revenue for the new season and of course shirt sales, etc. Not to matter securing the support of young fans who might otherwise be drawn to the dark side of North London.
I am beside myself with delight and anticipation for the new season and thrilled at how the new management have started their reign.
Carolyn, (excited) South London Gooner
Things I am looking forward to…
As it’s Friday and I’m bored at work I thought i’d share some of the more quirky things i’m looking forward to for the new season:
1. N’Golo Kante doing the work of two humans in his natural position
2. Dan James running really bloody fast
3. Billy Sharp FINALLY living the Premier League dream
4. Benteke missing sitters from five yards out
5. Jack Grealish’s sock/shin pad get-up
6. Van Dijk continuing to be a demi-god
7. Whichever plucky underdog keeps pace in the top four until November (probably Wolves/Leicester).
8. Norwich doing their best impression of Blackpool 2010/11, scoring for fun with no regard for defending.
9. Ashley Barnes doing his best impression of a Premier League footballer.
10. Mesut Ozil doing his best impression of someone running.
11. The ongoing social experiment that is West Ham.
What else are people looking forward to?
Lee (bored of the pre-season mailbox chit-chat), LFC
Football is back this weekend. This is usually where I go on other forums and fill out my predictions. I’ve been published in the mailbox a few times this year so throwing out my late to the party predictions.
2nd-4th: Liverpool, United, Spurs
Relegated: Sheffield Utd, Newcastle, Norwich
Champions League Winners: Juventus
Player of the Year: Bilva
Young player of the year: TAA
Is there a F365 Fantasy Football league this year?
Culk The Younger
…While swimming along the southern coast of Italy, I was captured and brought to the Sea Life aquarium in Munich. The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope that this football-less, transfer-rumoury dystopian reality is soon coming to an end (F*** Pre-season!).
So in that note, here are my predictions for the season:
Top 8: (Because, you know, I have eight, erm, never mind)
Ole Gunnar (Can’t spell his last name) will not be sacked. Invoking the ’99 season will buy him time until December of 2020.
Moise Kean will light up the league.
Liverpool to win the FA Cup.
City to lose in the UCL semis to Juventus, who in turn will lose in the final to FL’s CFC, who will go on to lose to Arsenal in the UEFA Super Cup next season.
Spurs to add League Cup to their trophy-laden season, that begin with winning the legendary Audi Cup. Lucas Moura to be proven right.
The Unemployed one will land a lucrative job by January.
Gareth Bale to pull off the biggest upset of the season by thwarting Tiger Woods to win his first Masters Tournament.
Neymar Jr to win the Ligue Un with PSG.
Disclaimer: I think the water’s a bit too much chlorinated, so any deviations in these predictions becoming reality is totally down to that.
Paul the Octopus (Remember me?)
What of Chelsea?
I am a Chelsea fan and have been for an awfully long time.
The reason I am so excited for the coming season is that I really do not know what to expect. Not since Vialli was manager in the late 90’s and I had a season ticket have the expectation at Chelsea been so varied. Some people are down in the dumps some people are on a high for many different reasons.
The reason why I liked the Vialli Chelsea was they had some amazing players. Zola, Poyet and Desailly are probably the ones that stand out most in my memory but you also had the likes of Babayaro and LeBoeuf who whilst great most of the time had the ability to be so bad in patches that it boggled my tiny little mind. You never new if we were going to win 5-4 or lose 3-0 and for me that jeopardy is what got me hooked on football in the first place. It only makes you feel alive if you have something to lose.
Which is why football has been getting a little bit stale over the last 16 years of the Abramovich era. It is not that success is guaranteed but that there has been a certain level of expectation and if that expectation is not met or exceeded it doesn’t matter as much as you feel that the next week or next season the team will meet your expectations. Back in 97 winning the FA Cup might have been the only trophy Chelsea won in my lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong an unparralleled era of success for the club is certainly better than the constant threat of relelgation and the glory of the Makita Tournament and I feel blessed to have seem my side win it all. But I feel this might be a nostalgic season for chelsea fans. Some results will blow us away with the team looking like world beaters and then they might just get beat by Villa at home with some lanky bloke scoring and then going on to ruin my fantasy side so much I gave up doing it (May 2002 was not a great time to be a Chelsea fan).
Life at Palace not so bad
I have to take issue with your piece on the doom and negativity around Crystal Palace’s squad, transfer policy and future prospects published yesterday.
The comments were naive and in parts disrespectful and were they written by Martin Samuel, Mediawatch could have gone to town on it.
The writer stated CPFC’s season is already mapped out (my bo**ox it is, nobody has a clue how we’ll fare), questioned the logic behind last summer’s purchase of Cheik Kouyate (just captained Senegal to the AFCON final), said it was unlikely we’d top last season’s finish (a record PL points haul for the club so no, it’s not too likely) with Roy Hodgson sited as a reason for the likely lack of progress (in my view Roy is the most diligent manager to grace the Palace dugout in years), then went on to claim that Bournemouth are running a better ship.
Just to point out that Bournemouth’s net spend over recent years dwarves that of the Eagles, who if he’d looked at last seasons table came below the boys in red and blue.
No doubt a few quality signings (a new right-back is vital) would gee everyone at the club up but any football fan with sense knows the transfer market is incredibly complex, and especially tricky for the lower-mid echelons of the top flight.
The drama around this piece was ill conceived and in parts completely lacking in fairness for a club in Palace’s situation. Admittedly I’d take a 17th place finish come the end of the season but it’s very possible we’ll entertain and sauce it right up on the field once more.
Bring on the Zaha (and McArthur) magic!
Remembering the Revie years
We lived in Leeds and I followed the team when we left (at the ripe old age of eight in 1968) with acute interest. Seb Stafford-Bloor is on the money with his review of the Revie years, but he misses an important piece of the puzzle.
There was also the ‘trainer’ who followed Revie to the England team – Les Cocker – who got the players up to a fitness level greater than any other team in the First Division, way before Arsene Wenger even conceived that fitness was a key factor in success or Pep or Klopp began focusing on the press and the intense energy. Granted the players still smoked, drank, and ate chips, but this was when you had a ‘First XI’ that picked itself and everyone else was ‘in the reserves’. I think the players were each given a 200-pack of John Player Special cigarettes for Christmas. I think Wayne Rooney would have had a hard time keeping up with those 70/71 players.
There was no such thing as squad rotation – Leeds were even fined by the FA for ‘fielding a weakened team’ ahead of a key fixture when Jimmy Greenhoff and Keith Peacock were picked ahead of the ‘first team’ regulars in a weekday game.
Did you know that Keith Peacock was the first substitute used in a league game? There were no tactical substitutions back then, but eventually the FA relented and allowed a replacement player (just the one!) to come on for someone injured. Up until then, you were down to ten men and tough.
Peter Lorimer used to deputize for an injured (or sent off, more likely) Gary Sprake. Sprake would take off the green jersey on the way to the touchline and Lorimer would pull it on and trot off between the posts. I think he was more effective than Sprake, but Leeds missed his outfield skills while he was in nets.
Different times, that’s for sure. Happy days!
Steve, Los Angeles
Well done to all of you who donated. The amount of F365 donations, or those subtlety giving £3.65/13.65/23.65 is honestly amazing by all those involved and it just goes to show that the footballing world is one big family.
I feel strangely proud to be reading the same articles over the past 10 years or so as many of you.