Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org…
No Man Utd players would get into Liverpool XI
Since football first started way back in 1992, is this the first ever start of the season where not one Manchester United player would get into Liverpool‘s starting 11?
Last summer you could have made an very good argument for DDG getting in front of Allison. Allison hadn’t yet played in the Premier League and DDG hadn’t yet had his alarming drop in form.
Also, before we experienced Fabinho’s upturn just before Christmas, last summer you would have made an argument for Herrera getting into our midfield.
This season, however, not one current Utd player would trouble the first 11 at Anfield and only DDG would get in ahead of Mingolet on the bench.
I believe this is the first time this has ever been the case in the modern era. How times have changed.
The reason clubs haven’t implemented a salary cap is that you need the players to agree too. So, uh, good luck with that.
Dan, Plastic LFC
Reading Paul’s idea this morning about clubs introducing a basic salary cap but adding incentives into the contract to bring back control to the club sounds a great idea in theory, but then I realised how quickly it could become pointless, just hear me out now;
A player could easily have a contract in which they are first paid the maximum weekly wage allowed, then the “Bonuses” added to their contract could be as simple as “turn up to training each week, 100k bonus”, we all know agents, players and clubs will think of simple and easy ways to navigate around any potential wage cap.
Mikey, CFC (The NFL has a fantastic salary cap system, but that sport works so differently to football)
Paul asks why don’t clubs agree to a basic salary cap? There are a number of reasons for this:
1) Any agreement would be totally unenforceable, so you’d be relying on the good faith of every single practitioner, that is every single professional football club in the world.
2) Although there’s no actual legislation forbidding it in the UK, many interpretations of competition law argue that wage-fixing, like price-fixing or availability-limiting, in coordination with supposed competitors, would constitute operating as a cartel, and would be illegal under UK law, EU law and WTO rules. A lawsuit against clubs operating a cartel, by, say FIFPro, would probably immediately supply case law that would confirm that it is wholly illegal. It would be ruinously expensive for any club found to be doing so, and every single contract signed under those terms would be null and void, releasing very expensive assets onto the market as free agents at a time when it has been established that limiting their wages artificially is impossible and illegal. As a way to reduce the negotiating power of a footballer coming to the end of a lucrative contract it’s limited, at best.
3) There is simply no moral argument for artificially limiting the amount of remuneration a worker can receive for his/her labour.
So, in summary, Paul, your suggestion is stupid, probably illegal and arguably evil. Apart from that, it might work!
To echo what Paul said, I totally agree there should be a wage cap. However, the problem is two-fold. The first is that having accelerating wages benefits the biggest clubs more and therefore the status quo serves their interests. The second is that the bonus payments need to be agreed upon using a set of clear tariffs, otherwise clubs will just make up random bonuses (most freekicks taken in training bonus or something) to indirectly inflate the amount of money they can entice a player with. In other words, the only way a wage cap will work is if it is regulated by whoever the footballing governing body is, and try telling FIFA or UEFA to bring less money into the game!
This morning Paul asked “Why don’t clubs agree to a basic salary cap?”. That’s because it would be an illegal wage fixing cartel. Competition law and player’s unions would put a stop to that pretty quickly.
Huge player wages are, understandably, an emotive issue with fans and these hypothetical wage controls are popular, but they miss the point.
Look up how football was run in the days of the maximum wage. There were a hoard of proto-Mike Ashleys happily pocketing the money at the expense of fans and players.
Lower player wages wouldn’t stop the money grabbing pre season tours, sky/bt subscription costs or even unsustainable debts. They’d just further enrich the Glazers of this world.
Life after Steve Bruce for Newcastle
Here’s my prediction for Steve Bruce and life after Bruce for Newcastle:
He gets off to an inauspicious start that sees Newcastle playing quite well but losing a lot. He clings to the fact that the team are being unlucky and key decisions are going against them but that once they start converting the chances they are making they will start putting some points on the board.
Somehow, at Christmas they are not in the bottom 3 so, despite vociferous calls for his head from the fans, Mike Ashley gives Bruce a 10-year contract extension. By March it is clear he cannot save them from relegation and he is finally sacked, costing Ashley millions in compo, and Keegan returns after Ashley fails to persuade Bobby Robson to come out of the cemetery.
Keegan arrives by drone and starts with a convincing 5-0 demolition of Manchester City followed by a plucky 4-3 defeat to Spurs before realising the transfer window does not open for several months and there will be no money for him to spend when it does. He quits and unemployed former player, just released from prison, Joey Barton is drafted in until the end of the season to oversee the formality of relegation.
Newcastle finish bottom and Barton makes out he’s walking out of the club in disgust when in fact his contract has simply expired and Ashley decides against renewing it.
Alan Shearer returns to the club to begin the rebuilding process but as late summer turns to autumn he realises he prefers the warmth of the MotD studio to the stress of the dugout, the bantz with Lineker and Lawro to the begging for funds from Ashley, and quits the club to return to the BBC on an even bigger contract that before.
Unable to find anyone else, Ashley then has a go at managing the club himself and by March 2021 relegation to League 1 is confirmed. He is then killed by an angry Newcastle fan in a hit and run during the close season.
Mort Snort, Saints
Wait and see…
Everyone and their aunt screaming about how terrible Arsenal are, that we an absolute mess, everything is going wrong and we are doomed to relegation.
If you ask me, I say lets wait and see what happens this transfer window. We are about to complete signing one of the hottest CB prospects in Europe (admittedly sending him back on loan), we are linked with serial winner and Copa America player of the tournament Dani Alves, there are very strong rumours we about to sign Everton, one of the other stand out players for Brazil in the Copa, we are linked with the decent Ceballos to fill a gap in midfield and Tierney who is one of the top left back prospects in the UK.
If all this comes through, it would be a brilliant window for Arsenal. Admittedly our defence will still be a bit short but realistically we aren’t dropping Ozil or Miki on those wages but we have kept Auba and Laca so far.
I realise none of the above could happen and we could offer Ozil a pay-rise but things seem to be headed in the right direction and hopefully I won’t be eating my own words…
Least our new kits are lush
Rob A (Holdini is back in sprint training, fingers crossed) AFC
The thing about Solskjaer
Wenger was nicknamed ‘the professor’. Probably because he wore glasses and looked like a teacher, but I’d like to think it was also because he was intelligent and the thinking man’s manager. It started a trend which was followed by Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Spurs of the top six. I could probably add West Ham, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton, Everton, Leicester, Huddersfield and Southampton of last year’s Prem teams. Maybe some others. All employed managers who not only seem the full shilling, but came across as pretty smart. All of them apparently thinking for themselves, not just following the word from down the pub ( a characteristic we would surely benefit from being applied to the recruitment criteria for pundits, but that’s a different matter).
Then there’s OGS. He just seems a bit thick.
Nice to see a fellow Guardian Fiver reader in the mailbox in James Vortkamp-Tong, though I appreciate his disillusionment with his club’s choice of manager. I grew up in the Medway Delta in the 1990s so I’ve always kept an eye out for Gillingham’s results, even if they are one of the hardest football clubs to love. As a quick potted history, for most of their history they were in either the Third Division South or the Fourth Division, regularly looking like they could get promoted before their form dipped in the spring every year. In the mid-1990s they ran out of money, and were saved by Paul Scally. After this, they began an upward trajectory that culminated in an 11th-placed finish in the Championship in 2003. You could argue this was English football’s equivalent to the Miracle of Castel di Sangro, he says, having not read the book.
Throughout this period, and the subsequent inevitable decline, the constant pattern has been the way popular managers have left the club very suddenly, sometimes following a falling out with the club. The suspicion has always been that Scally is not happy with the chairman’s lot: as a background figure whose role in success is rarely credited while being overly blamed in the event of any failures, and the main criticism of his tenure has been the suggestion he doesn’t like managers who are more popular with supporters than his is. This is unlikely to be a problem with Steve Evans.
A game for these lazy summer days
I was reading a US Sports website yesterday and came across an article where the journalist picked his 21st Century NBA Wine Bottle Team.
Whats a Wine Bottle Team?
Well, we have all picked our best ever Premier League XI’s, Best Club XI’s, Best England/Ireland XI’s etc, but this is a slightly different take on this.
It’s a team picked of players, but the best version of those players.
When they were at their peak.
Or vintage if you like.
So, with that in mind, I present to you my Manchester United Wine Bottle XI.
I have stuck to the Premier League era as, given my age (39 thanks for asking), it gives me the best frame of reference.
I was too young to really appreciate Bryan Robson and his ilk, and never saw Best, Law, Charlton etc.
That said, here goes (4-3-3)
Peter Schmeichel (1996)
The big Dane had a huge impact at OT when he signed, but none more so than in the 95/96 season.
It seemed like he was unbeatable in goal and was the base of the spine of the team with Steve Bruce, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona surrounded by a bunch of kids that never amounted to much.
United went on to win the double that year, with Schmeichel the man mountain in goal.
The Newcastle game where they won 1-0 being the stand out.
Denis Irwin (1994)
Mr 8/10. So consistent throughout his career, the 1994 season Irwin is picked purely because of his Free Kick in the 3-3 draw with Liverpool in Anfield.
There was no-body in the box as the Corkman stood over the ball.
No matter, he smashed it into the top corner past Bruce Grobelaar.
He only got 2 goals that season, but for a 15 year old Irish Boy like me, that was the stuff dreams were made of.
Well that and 1994 Pamela Anderson (Baywatch Era)
Rio Ferdinand (2008)
Nemanja Vidic (2008)
These two come as a pair. F365 described them this week as silk and steel and nothing could be more true.
Together they were tremendous at centre half and United have struggled/never replaced them since they left.
The 2008 season is picked as the club won the Champions League that year in Moscow, cementing their status.
Gary Neville (1999)
The 1st of the treble winning vintage, Sky Sports Gary Neville is picked at Right Back.
His overlapping partnership with David Beckham was fantastic and as above, this season is picked as it culminated in the treble.
Roy Keane – C (1999)
Coming back from a cruciate ligament injury to captain the club to the treble.
The driving force at this time before it all went a bit sour.
I will leave it to Sir Alex to fill in the rest.
“ It was the most emphatic display of selfishness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player”
Paul Scholes (2003)
So many seasons to chose from.
Ryan Giggs (1994)
Like a dog chasing a silver paper in the wind, this was Giggs at his electric best.
Old enough to have some experience, young enough to take risks.
Still had electric pace at this stage.
Like actual wine, he seemed to get better with age.
Cristiano Ronaldo (2008)
The season that secured his record move to the Bernabeu.
Everyone knew he was leaving, but he still powered the team on that season.
What ever happened to him?
Eric Cantona (1996)
Came back from the Crystal Palace incident to guide United to the double and be the catalyst for the younger players to prosper.
My favourite ever United player.
Robin Van Persie (2013)
Ultimately f**ked over with Sir Alex leaving, but for that 1st season it looked like he was born to play for United.
Edwin Van Der Sar (2008)
Jaap Stam (1998)
Wayne Rooney (2012)
David Beckham (1999)
Patrice Evra (2012)
Michael Carrick (2008)
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (2003)
Sir Alex Ferguson (1999)
Football, Bloody Hell
Makes quite a decent Red I think!