Harry Winks for England and Everton examined

Date published: Monday 13th March 2017 4:53

If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at theeditor@football365.com


A new England midfielder?
Here’s a thought…

Henderson? Injured.
Dier? Currently playing CB.
Wilshere? Underwhelming.
Dele? Much better further forward.
Carrick? Too old.
Drinkwater? Next to nothing without Kante.

so…Harry Winks for England? I know people will probably consider me biased based on my club allegiance, but normally I want our players getting rest instead of playing in meaningless games for a hopeless manager.

This time, I know I’d pick him in the squad. He really is that good.
Lloyd Stiles, THFC, Vienna


Examining Everton
After watching Everton comfortably dispose of the only team likely to pip them to seventh place, and hence likely European qualification, I found myself reflecting a bit on Koeman’s first season in charge and how I think him and the team have done and what the future might look like. Then I figured I’d write it down and see if anyone cares. I always find it nice to read people’s opinions on teams outside the ‘Big 6’.

* Firstly, to put it bluntly, I think Koeman has done a really good job. As you alluded to in Winners and Losers, the team and season has not been perfect but going into this season most fans realised that Everton probably had the seventh-best squad in the division and were unlikely to break up the top six party, so the fact that with ten games to go they have seventh place all but wrapped up and are still putting pressure on the teams above them feels like a successful season. European qualification would be a very nice bonus. Sounds weird, but matching expectations is an achievement, particularly when it’s a manager’s first season in charge and especially as he’s shown signs of progressing the team rather than simply maintaining it. Something Martinez never achieved after that first season.

* He has shown he has ambition. He wants to manage at a high level and you get the sense he wants to create that with Everton rather than use them as a springboard (but who really bloody knows). This has become apparent in the way players are approaching games and the resulting performances. The West Brom game was a prime example. Sure, West Brom were woeful, but watching the game felt like watching Everton as a ‘Big Club’ up against an underdog in the way they dominated possession and dictated play. It was easy to forget there was only one place and four points between them and real potential for a costly slip up. Sure there have been the typical Everton exceptions (Middlesbrough and Stoke come to mind) but a general sense of superiority has often come from games against those lower than them in the table and a sense they can go toe to toe with those above them. Feels like they might finally be losing that lowered expectations vibe Moyes created with his attitude and Martinez perpetuated with his results. Early days though.

* On that note, I like the way Koeman speaks. No ‘we were outstanding and deserved more’ bullsh*t. Even after wins he highlights areas for improvement, he doesn’t settle for less than the level expected from him and is happy to call it out when he sees it. I’ve rarely heard him blame the referee (not saying it hasn’t happened) and usually comes across as measured and thoughtful.

* Similarly, I’ve been impressed with his man-management. He seems to know his players very well and is proactive and reactive accordingly. He still makes some weird selection choices. For example Barry against Tottenham was obviously never going to work, but I give him credit for then looking at the next game (West Brom), realising it was the kind of game Barry is built for (deep lying defense and high level of possession) and persevering with that selection. He seems to carefully consider each game and which team will be best for it. Unlike the ‘you are my best 11 players so I’ll pick you’ approach we’ve seen in the past.

* This is further emphasised with his transfers. While lots of fans saw a ‘new money equals famous people’ scenario, he seems to have carefully chosen areas to strengthen and made astute signings for those areas, big name or not. Schneiderlin was particularly good as it kind of ticked the glamour signing box as well. Interested to see what the club does in the summer.

Anyway, I know it’s a bit of a ramble. But on the whole I think he’s made a positive start and has a lot of fans quietly confident. I’m not getting carried away as many thought the same after Bobby’s first season and we all know what happened there. But Koeman’s solidity against Bobby’s charisma makes it feel different somehow. Like a foundation is actually being laid. It’s a weird league though and I really have no idea what will happen. We might end up finishing tenth.

Thanks for listening.
Will (he’ll go to Barcelona won’t he) Wymant, EFC


Stop having a pop at Roberto
‘Sometimes tough love is more useful than being drowned in compliments.’

A classic 365 stance on Koeman/Martinez in relation to Barkley. Of course you have always been such big believers in Ross’ ability (England Ladder – ‘Not picked by successive England managers and even his club manager has no sympathy; even at 22 it feels a long way back’…), so it’s no surprise to see you revelling in his current form.

Except that last season’s form (eight goals, eight assists) was just as good, if not better.

But that’s just numbers and isn’t really the point. My point is that Ross Barkley was a player under David Moyes at Everton, the tough lover’s tough lover. He dragged a 16/17 year old Barkley off for giving a penalty away, he brought on a soon to be retired Hiztlsperger ahead of him 3-1 up at home to Oldham with 20 minutes left, he sent him out on loan to a manager (Warnock) who had even less idea what to do with him than he did…and Barkley didn’t respond to it at all.

And yes, you offered the qualifier ‘sometimes’, not to suggest there is a time and place for it but to suggest Barkley only responds to one sort of encouragement. It’s not as black and white as Martinez bad, Koeman good – no matter how many times you repeat it – and the oft-mocked Señor Brown Brogues played a huge part in the development of both Barkley and our former-reserve-right-back-cum England’s new Bobby Moore, John Stones.

That Barkley is picking up different strengths/positions/motivations is simply a reason to applaud him and Koeman, not denigrate the previous manager who taught him just as much. He’s building on what he has, not overwriting his memory.

Thanks for listening (maybe this time?)
Rick (Peter G – a midfield of Barry and Schneiderlin is ‘a bit soft’?)


Maybe Stones is just rubbish
I enjoyed the W&L article. It’s always nice when my boys utterly destroy Burnley and everyone rushes to praise them.

This was not the reason I wanted to mail you however.

Now I don’t usually take any notice of the things you write about the blue side of town but this amused me.

‘but to have transformed last season’s team into the Premier League’s fourth most miserly defence over the course of a season is still a sterling effort. To do so after the sale of John Stones for £47m…’

A player leaves one team for a ridiculous sum of money and the defence improves and moves to another and that team’s defence gets worse. Maybe it’s nothing to do with managers, tactics or team set up. Maybe just maybe this Stones chap is not very good?

Just a thought.
H, (hope Dyche had a little cry when he got home)


In defence of Wilshere
Reading Andy J’s mail this morning, he made a point that I’ve seen quite a few Bournemouth fans make in the last few days, namely that we play better without Wilshere in the team. It’s a view that I have to take serious issue with.

Firstly, since we got Jack fully fit, there have been six games where he hasn’t played the full 90. Against City and West Brom he was substituted and both times neither the score nor the performance improved after he went off. He didn’t play at all in both Arsenal games and against United last week. In those three matches we managed to collect two points, not terrible by any means but then we played Spurs and Liverpool (both above United and Arsenal in the table) with Wilshere in the team and managed to collect four points, whilst producing better performances too. The sixth game where he didn’t play the full 90 was on Saturday, a game which we were drawing until Jack came on and played a major part in the winner.

If you actually look across our season, we have eight league wins. In six of them Wilshere played the entire match and in the other two he came on when the scores were level and played a part in the moves that led to the winning goals. We are yet to win a league game this season without his involvement and if you look at the day he joined, we were in the relegation zone, having played very poorly across our opening games and the bookies had us odds on (ie, above a 50% chance) to down. Now we have a reasonably comfortable gap to the relegation zone and most bookies and stats models have us at a 5-10% chance of relegation. Our position has clearly improved since Wilshere signed.

I do fear that if he does stay on the bench it will cost us whatever chance we had of keeping him permanently as starting every week was our trump card in that particular game. He had seemed fairly open to the idea but if he isn’t starting for us he might as well take his chances at Arsenal or City. The worst-case scenario would be that he’s where he is now, only he’d be earning more and probably picking up the odd medal too, which would be a shame because he could potentially be a game changing player for our club.
James, Bournemouth


Too much football?
Some thought-provoking lines from the ever-excellent Mr Nicholson today. I think the apparent fall in viewing figures is probably due to a saturation of the ‘market’. Obviously, 20 years ago, there was a lower availability of live football, so people would take the chance to immerse themselves in the opportunity to watch football from a new perspective – there were player cams, fan-based commentary, special interviews and so much more. Before Sky, you had MOTD and Football Italia as two primary sources.

Where are we now? Even on F365 we have the ten best games to watch over a weekend. Just a weekend. And that doesn’t even necessarily reflect all of the matches that are available. It also doesn’t reflect all of the sports that are available to watch! Rugby. Tennis. Golf. Skiing. Swimming. Cycling. As a more developed nation, interests inevitably vary as people can access new and different things. Revert back 20 years ago again, and very few fans of these sports had the opportunity to watch them all on TV. All of a sudden, the opportunity to watch one of these sports is prioritised and football falls away.

Interestingly, I suspect the big competitions in these sports probably have a greater ‘pull’ because the general coverage of these sports still remains low, compared to football. The access to information and coverage of football even extends far beyond the live footage. You have preview programmes, review programmes, programmes focussed solely on goals. You have programmes recapping an entire season. You have these programmes on Sky, BT, BBC and so many others. The majority of PL and Championship teams have their own channels.

Inevitably, it feels that we’re reaching saturation. I don’t mind missing a live game or two because I know I’ll get to see some comprehensive highlights within a day or two. Maybe television coverage isn’t the source of entertainment it once was. Maybe football isn’t as interesting as it once was? I doubt it, but it does feel like the unrelenting coverage across various media sources might be slowing interest. It does make you wonder how coverage deals are continuing to increase…
Phil, London


…Great article by Johnny Nich on falling numbers in football. Can we put this down to overexposure of a product? I’m in my early 30s and last year I found myself in the position of having all Sky Sports for the first time in my life. I was massively excited to be able to watch all the big Prem games and also to become as clued up on European football as I was before adult life took over. Yet, within a year, I barely watch the matches and usually get my content from an array of news sites (F365, BBC, Guardian) and watch the goals via Youtube or other highlight reel videos.

Why? Because every single game is advertised and celebrated as the greatestest bestest thing everer. West Brom vs Burnley? It’s SUPER SUNDAY! A dull 1-1 draw? It must be Red Monday! With a rise in smart phone use, 24 hour content availability and hyperbolic advertisement (which could lead to Trading Standards stepping in at some point), are people just getting a bit bored with anything other than genuine ‘Big Games’ (knockout games and the final 5-10 games of the season). The next time you’re at a match (not many of us), watching a match in a pub (less and less of us) or watching one at home, have a look around and see how many of those in attendance are on phones to find out.
Jonny, Sky promotional package runs out in three months and I have to pay full whack (nice one), South Shields


How are these viewing figures sustainable?
Interesting article from Johnny Nic on the viewership of football on TV. I’d always assumed given the vast sums of money involved that there were much higher viewing figures, in particular for the more established Sky TV.

I’m not sure whether the numbers in the article also include commercial viewers/revenues (as while you could probably find out how many pubs were showing a given game, it would be pretty hard to even guess at average viewership per pub for example), and I am not an accountant, but was curious enough to try to work out how much Sky/BT pay per viewer per game across their bid for the rights to show the games.

Based on a quick spot of googling, in their 2015 bid, Sky retained five of the seven packages, paying £4.18bn of the total £5.14bn (the other two packages therefore falling to BT). This was reported to work out (across both Sky and BT) at ‘more than £10m a game’ which is a handy figure to make the maths easy for simpletons (and fans of Fermi estimations) like me.

Johnny’s article also tells us that for a given game, BT are averaging “400,000 to 700,000” – again for easy maths, I’m going to pluck 500,000 from that range, and so on a given game, BT are effectively paying £20 per viewer for the rights. A BT sport subscription, depending on your existing ‘relationship’ with BT/Sky, costs from £3.50 a month (if you have BT TV) up to £22.99 a month (to add it to your Sky TV).

As I said, I’m not an accountant, and I’m not in marketing either… and I’ve heard of ‘loss leaders’ to get the customer into your shop and sell them something else. But how can those numbers add up to anything commercially sustainable? Surely the money from commercial subscriptions can’t make up that much of a shortfall?

For Sky the viewing figures are higher and therefore the cost per viewer per game is less painful reading – but still, at £10m a game surely they cannot be making any profit on this either?

I guess what I am trying to understand is, can someone explain to me why this isn’t just a massive bubble that is set to burst as soon as the TV execs stop agreeing to take the (considerable) hit to their bottom line – or do they genuinely make enough cross-sale revenue to balance this out? And, if this is just a huge loss-making exercise that will one day ‘normalise’, is modern football at risk of being the equivalent of Renton in the first half of Trainspotting, with a spinning-headed-baby-cold-turkey-detox just around the corner…?
Terry Hall, Switzerland (or is it all just passed on to extortionate advertising deals – in which case how much are Ford paying per car per customer per game per…)


Stop picking on Man United
So Ricky G Blue thinks Kante will prove he is better than Herrera tonight when Chelsea take on United? I presume he didn’t see the news that United have zero strikers fit, if you don’t beat us tonight then you want roundly spanking matey. Herrera is underrated by a lot of people whereas Kante seems to receive a journalistic circle jerk every time his name is mentioned.

While I am on about United there seems to be a lot of sly commenting on United and Jose lately here on F365, I do realise we are still sixth but I also realise we are playing a lot better and moving in the right direction, the rhetoric seems to be that we are blinkered that all is rosy in the United garden but guess what “YOU’RE STILL SIXTH” we know but we also know we will soon be challenging for first. One Cup in the bag a winnable second leg in the Europa League and hopefully a complacent champions elect tonight, what could go wrong?
Paul Murphy, Manchester


You are silly, Gary
I must say, after reading Neville’s latest comments about Liverpool I’m speechless. This is the same man who said last year August that Man. United will win the league and Chelsea will end outside of the top four…

How someone can pay him for his opinions and ‘punditry’ is beyond even my limited knowledge, I might not be the brightest but even I can call bulls**t when I see it and you Mr. Neville are full of it.

Gary, aren’t you tired of always being wrong? Drico out!
EL, South Africa


Handy shorthand
Couldn’t help noticing in all the protests about Arsene Wenger, someone expressed their desire for him to vacate his position by combining the words ‘Wenger’ and ‘Exit’ to make ‘Wexit’. See if you can guess which words I am combining to describe that person as a ‘funt’.
Ed Quoththeraven

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