Is Jude Bellingham just a ‘slight improvement’ on Barkley and Loftus-Cheek?

Editor F365
Jude Bellingham, Rodd Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Jude Bellingham, Rodd Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Jude Bellingham is not all that. It’s an opinion that leads a Mailbox that is still largely talking about Bukayo Saka.

Send your views on all subjects to


Bellingham massively overrated…
Having now seen Bellingham play about 10 times, I am more convinced than ever that he is not the future god of all things football. He does not have the passing ability to break down a low block or the close control and dribbling to operate in tight spaces. But he will kill you if there’s space in front of him for him to run in to.

So I believe he is a combination of; and slight improvement on, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Good players in their own right. But prepare for him to be tossed aside once a striker goes to Real and Bellingham has to compete for a place in midfield.
Lorcan, Ireland


Captains’ challenges could stop the cheats
The biggest ONFIELD problem football faces and is getting increasingly bigger is cheating, seeking an unfair advantage. I coach kids football – 2 teams for 7 years now and the kids are ever more influenced by the pros and what they see on TV.

Saka and Havertz both dived several times in the game against Bayern, Kane throwing elbows, Partey making no attempt to play the ball when Bayern broke late on, fair enough he took the yellow as punishment.

Footballers challenge everything, even throw ins which are in inconsequential positions on the pitch, but they will still argue and harass the ref… other kids coaches I see teaching their young uns the dark arts.

Cricket is far from perfect, and has a lot of subjective decisions too, was it or was it not a wide, this can now be challenged in T20s and could be crucial to winning or losing the match.

One way to stop this and bring the role of captain back to the fore in football: Give each captain, NOT the manager, 2 or 3 challenges. If the challenge succeeds you keep it if it doesn’t you lose it.

Bayern could have challenged the Odegaard throw down from the corner in the box, Liverpool could have challenged the Odegaard handball, Saka could have challenged the penalty at the end of the Bayern game. Footballers act like complete petulant w**kers at the non award of a throw in, Fernandes throws hissy fits constantly. If you really think Elliott dived, is it worth a challenge or would he have asked AWB if he fouled him.

Footballers try and seek advantage all the time through cheating means, players faking injury to stop breakaways, if they are not dying, get on with it.

You’d see captains controlling their team mates better, it would bring accountability on to the pitch as well for all players too. If Jorginho/Garnacho/Kane/Saka/Jesus/Gabriel/Emi Martinez/Jota/Rodri commits a sin and don’t get the desired decision, would their captain support them. If Rice/Bowen/Van Dijk think they’ve been wronged on the pitch the skipper may be more likely to challenge as in general they are not CNUTS.

Maybe even give the manager 1 challenge per game… you’d see Klopp/Arteta chill the f*** out.

So what do you think, 3 challenges per skipper in the 90 minutes, would love to see Saka ask his Skipper for a review and he retorts, behave yourself you cheating little Englishmen, just thought I’d state Englishmen… as we cheat just as much now as those bloody foreigners…

Not every decision in the match will be correct but that is sport and not the desired effect. There used to be a word called sportsmanship and people used to desire this quality, now they seem to desire sh*thouses in the team rather than honest grafters. Maybe this could swing the balance?

Thoughts pls?

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No cheating from Saka
I’m not going to write a novella about this, but I did want to add my two penneth if I may.

The Saka non-penalty. Yes I am an Arsenal fan and yes I thought that was a penalty. I think it’s a fairly obvious penalty, and am surprised by the amount of people saying it was cheating by Saka, and unashamed cheating at that.

My thoughts are that, ever-increasingly, we hear commentators, pundits, writers etc… warning defenders about “leaving a leg out” when defending in their own penalty area. Opposing players are always looking for something to trip over and will also, dare I say it, TRY to trip over a leg. I mean, the justification is that if the leg’s not there then no one can trip over it, right?

A defender leaves a leg there, an attacker trips over the leg and goes to the ground, and to compound the misfortune of the defender it appears that the attacker made sure he tripped over the dangled leg. The penalty is awarded, the defender is chastised for his naïve defending and the attacker, we are told, is entitled to trip over a dangling leg.

Unless, it seems, unless you’re Bukayo Saka. If Bukayo Saka does it, then he’s a shameless cheat. And even then, I don’t even think Saka moved his leg towards Neuer, he just didn’t move his leg away from Neuer. Huge difference.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite


…To start with, my general position on whether Saka penalty should be given is ‘Whatever the referee says’ so in this case, fine, no penalty. I think it’s 50:50 but 100% seen them given.

But I do have an issue with the ‘clear dive/sought contact/cheater’ position. Because the question about his leg position and what he/Neuer did is entirely dependant on what angle you view it from.

The main replay (from behind Saka, and more or less the referee’s perspective) looks quite clearly like Saka maneuvered his leg right where it found contact, so I can get why the ref decided this was contact sought/no penalty.

But the first angle, behind Neuer, it captures Saka’s gait length and there, as the other mail pointed out this morning, it is clear having done the first side step/cut in with his left leg, Saka needs to plant his right leg wider to move his weight across and *if* Neuer doesn’t move his leg, there would be no contact. But it’s clear at the last minute from this angle that Neuer does move his leg and it’s now where Saka is planting his foot to make that side step shift, so it can easily also be seen as keeper driven contact where he hasn’t made a successful play on the ball so it is a foul.

It is definitely not a clear dive. The bizarre demonisation Saka has received is clearly not deserved and pretty obviously demonstrates in people their worst/most tribal instinct to slate an opposition player.
Tom, (also completely disagree with Stead and others calling Arsenal immature – Arsenal got punished by clinical finishing and a couple of mistakes, but had largely control of the game and I’m not that concerned about Munich next week) Walthamstow


…Odd talk about ‘cheating’ from some people. Do they think these guys just chuck their boots in a bag of an afternoon and jog down to the park to see if the lads are up for a game? Even spuds fan must recognize by now that it’s all about practiced muscle movement – the key element to any professional sport.

The repetition of controlled actions at increasing tempo being drilled into these athletes from primary school age, until each player’s body now simply ‘thinks’ what it needs to do. At the pace with which the ball moves in their version of the game, and the power behind their passing, the reactions are completely automatic.

Whether it’s one-touch triangles or going down under contact, the need to execute physically is the imperative – rather than pausing to make some moral judgment about sportsmanship or similar nonsense. We leave that to players of teams not fighting for trophies this year (or ever, in some cases).
George, Little Spruffleton on the Waters


Except, well…
I think it was a deliberate attempt from Saka to win a penalty. Purposefully making sure there was contact. Obviously, most Arsenal fans will disagree.

Can you imagine if Sir Harry Kane did what Saka did against Bayern last night and it was given? Arsenal fans would be so apoplectic with rage that Kane would never be able to return to London for his safety!
Westy, COYS


Refereeing decisions mean more
If football matters more to Liverpool fans (really?!?), then refereeing decisions certainly matter more to Arsenal fans. They are a different breed. Please stop your whining like it doesn’t happen to every other team. I’ve never known fans to complain about decisions as much. They even do it when they’ve won the game!?! It’s embarrassing. Shame on you.
Rosie Poppins


It’s a fun old debate that distracts from Leeds
Loving all the debate around the Saka incident.

Kind of reminds me of the Rooney/Sol Campbell no longer Invincibles incident…

Dave Gooner Amersham – if that’s Messi at Camp Nou he rounds Neuer and scores – in my opinion a big difference between Messi and Ronaldo (not the original one) is that Messi more often than not tried to stay on his feet and play whilst Ronaldo would go to ground – just an opinion of course.

Think Arsenal got away with one on the goal kick – but it did look like a playground “we haven’t taken it yet” moment.

Glad I didn’t spend all my time watching Leeds look increasingly tired and predictable (play the same eleven every week, teams are going to work you out Mr Farke) and waiting until about 10 minutes to go before any subs are made – actually come to think of it I did, it was just so predictable and frankly dull I’d sort of erased it from my memory already.

Play off disappointment looming for Leeds then, ah well another season of not having VAR to moan about, every cloud…
Steve Leeds since 1970 – more points taken of the top two than the bottom three


(I)FAB refereeing
If ex-playing pundits, current players and managers, and a lot of fans are going to say ‘it’s clever to leave your leg there/he’s entitled to go down’ when it suits and ‘he’s initiated the contact/he’s played for that’ on other occasions, then it’s no wonder that Saka penalty incident causes debate. It really does highlight how hard it is for referees. I don’t think it was a penalty personally. I think Neuer barely makes a challenge, if at all, and that’s the key for me.

I also think the ref did well with the Gabriel situation. In a way Arsenal could have had no complaints if a penalty had have been given, but I just don’t think anyone wants to see a goal scored like that. Gabriel is under no pressure from a Bayern player. He gains no advantage. It’s a non-incident really. To give a free shot at goal from 12 yards for that would be crazy. If he did it with a Bayern player pressuring him then I would imagine the ref would have whistled for a pen. I applaud a sensible bit of refereeing that used common sense. More of that please. Not that IFAB allow it.
Gary AVFC, Oxford


Not stonewall
Please can we stop using stonewall as a synonym for certainty when discussing penalties.

Stonewall is synonymous with defiance/resistance, not certainty.

Cast-iron would be more apt.

Feel like I’ve written in about this before, yet you all still do it.
Chris, NUFC


Man City indifference
After an electric night of Champions League action, in which English teams went head-to-head with some of the biggest names in European football, I find it amazing to see the lack of comment, conversation or even recognition of the performance of Manchester City away at the Bernabeu last night.

I am an AFC Wimbledon fan and don’t really care who wins the whole thing (mum is a massive Arsenal fan so maybe them at a push to be generous) but I watch the big games to see the best go toe-to-toe on the biggest club stage there is.

And last night was a corker, flicking between two games that were frantic and fast-paced, but with bundles of quality on show from all four teams.

I wanted to watch the Arsenal game, but I couldn’t help but find my attention drawn to the ding-dong in Madrid. Two teams packed full of quality, led by the two best managers of their generation (all time?). What a game. Some of the goals scored were breathtaking – Phil Foden’s in particular was out of this world.

It got me thinking, how often has an English club gone to the Bernebeu and been favourites pre-game? This is no weakened Madrid team, they’re walking away with La Liga and have a superstar in nearly every position. That’s quite a statement on how strong City are currently.

City ended up taking only a share of the points from the game, but Madrid were extremely fortunate with two of their goals and generally looked second-best throughout.

I’m amazed that the game hasn’t had more analysis and there were no comments in the mailbox this morning from jubilant City fans toasting a performance from the ages including a worldie from their homegrown wonderkid-come-goat Foden.

Do people just not care because of their extreme recent success? Or the charges/money? Do City fans not even bother engaging in conversation because they’re a level above now? Or are there just hardly any City fans out there?

Either way, hats off to them for a brilliant performance. They’ll be hard to stop retaining their title on that showing.
John-Jack, Tooting


Our favourite Man City fan writes…
City fan here. Given the contents of the Wednesday mailboxes, I felt duty bound to point out that there was, in fact, another CL match on Tuesday evening. Admittedly, it was nowhere near as important as Arsenal v Bayern Munich, what with the Saka/Kane scandals which prompted such vitriol and angry discussion.

In our game, we had to travel to a (closed roof) Bernabeu stadium to play a team that have, just once or twice, won the whole shebang. In the event, six goals were scored, some of which were rather good.

In the aftermath, has anybody noticed the lack of self-flagellating mails from City fans about deflections or Ref decisions? Is it because there are only four or five City supporters that regularly read this site?

Personally, I think not. I think we’re far more grounded in defeat and despair and, as such, have no sense of entitlement that the ‘usual suspects’ on here have about United, Liverpool and Arsenal. If you are a fan of those three teams simply enjoying your club’s journey then I, for one, am with you 100%.
Mark (City. Quietly going about their business). MCFC


Thank you Dallas
Gutted to hear that Stuart Dallas has been forced to retire after two years out with a knee injury. Such a great servant to Leeds both on and off the field, scorer of a memorable brace against Man City at the Etihad, and an FPL legend. A 4.0 defender scoring 8 goals.
Pete B

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