Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
I always cringe whenever the PFM brigade explain away a Man Utd loss by saying “They just didn’t want it enough.” It is often used as an easy explanation that covers up deeper structural problems. However, last night that is exactly what happened with Liverpool.
Atalanta are not a terrible team, but neither are they a good one. They sit 7th in Serie A with 4 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. In these games, they’ve scored 18 goals but have conceded 14, which is the most in the league’s top half. They are probably about the same standard as Wolves or West Ham. In short, they are a team that Liverpool would normally spank with ease as they did 5-0 in the reverse leg.
Unfortunately, Liverpool were abysmal last night. I felt like I was watching a League Cup game. But, unlike a League Cup game, the team was not packed to the rafters with youth players from Michael Edwards’ puppy farm on display for Eddie Howe. Instead, the Liverpool team that played last night was full of superstars. Each about as useful as a cock flavoured lollipop. Or in the immortal words of the PFM, “They just didn’t want it enough.”
England need to bring back the 4-4-2…
The foundation of a good team is depth and versatility. Having a really good Plan A but also a really effective Plan B to turn to when you need a change. This often is, lump it up to the big man who comes off the bench. It’s not the most sophisticated tactic but it’s been around forever and it works quite often. Good crosses into the box with a really good targetman, at whatever stage in the game, will cause chaos.
England have really good crossers from deep in Chilwell and TTA/Trippier along with the best, most in form targetman in Europe in Calvert-Lewin. My suggestion is not only to have a really good Plan A with Kane, Sterling, Grealish and co but also play your Plan B at the same time.
To do this though England need to bring back the 4-4-2. or at least some variant of it. This would mean sacrificing one of Sterling or Rashford from the starting lineup, probably Rashford since Grealish occupies space on the left anyway. This would be the starting lineup.
You would have two avenues of attack. The slick passing and link up play from Grealish, Sterling and Kane. (Plan A) and the devastating targetman DCL, getting crosses peppered at him by Chillwell and TTA/Trippier (Plan B). If defenses are tight, closing space for runners from plan A then there will be space out wide for the fullbacks to launch good crosses into the box, directed at the best out and out targetman around. You would still have Henderson and Rice to recycle the ball and help with covering your advanced fullbacks.This way England would be less predictable and defenses would need to be more disciplined and multidimensional.
The other advantage is that England would have to drop a defender for an attacker. Given the fact that England don’t possess one great centre half why are they shoehorning three in there?
Additionally, if this is still not working, England still have a plethora of attacking options off the bench to change the game and their formation if need be (Plan C).
The rest of the squad is as follows: Shout outs to James, Walker and AOC (Ox not Ocasio) for just missing out.
*I still stand by AWB at centre half covering for Maguire and the advancing fullbacks if Gomez is crocked forever.
Hakim, Sri Lanka
I’m sure you’ll get a lot of emails about Diego, good and bad thoughts notwithstanding but I’d like to share my anecdote about how Diego shaped our lives somewhat.
About 15 years ago, some mates and I were travelling in Argentina and Brasil for a few months at my behest after I’d spent a long time out there telling them how amazing South America in general was.
We were on the Brasilian side of Iguazu and making our way into Argentina in a taxi and our tallest friend was sat in the front with one of our bags on his lap due to his size.
We passed through Brasil no problem but upon reaching the Argentinian side, the border guards spying 5 pasty guys in a loaded taxi pulled us over and asked our friend to get out and bring the bag with him. Another friend started panicking a bit as we had a small bag of something that is now legal in Canada and various US States on us that had sort of been forgotten, and ended up in the bag that was now on the table about to be searched. I owned said product but my friend had picked it up and put it in his bag so we were both saying that when it’s discovered, one of us would have to own up. We were both trying to take the blame but obviously not overly happy about transporting something illegal across a fairly notorious border.
As we’re getting increasingly worried about the bag being opened we noticed our non Spanish speaking friend suddenly wagging his fingers and shaking his head in disagreement. He was then making a snake movement with his hands alongside the head shaking. After that he’s then jumping in the air and making a batting movement with his hand and giving big nods of agreement.
The bag gets forgotten as the border guards all high five and hug him for his sign language portrayal of the hand ball being the better goal.
He came back to the car asking why there are two of us sweating and looking like ghosts in the back of the car.
God speed Diego
Wait a second while I dig out a photo of me and Maradona, or at least one where we are both in shot, I’m sure I’ve got one somewhere.
Ah baws, I can’t find it. Might as well delete that social media post I was composing seeing as I can’t make it about myself anymore.
This argument put forward by many that Maradona was the greatest ever because the pitches were bad and you “could tackle then” compared to now always makes me chuckle.Is Messi supposed to go back in time in Marty McFlys delorean and play on poor pitches?.You can only judge someone in the era they played and there are pros and cons to each era. Is it somehow easy for Messi now? How about the in depth detailed analysis teams go into these days to stop opponents compared to back then?.
Or the fact players(in all positions)are fitter,stronger and more athletic now?. Teams are way more tactically aware and disciplined compared to 10 years ago never mind 30+. Or the fact that if you have 1 bad game these days the media,fans,social media etc pile in on you?.You certainly couldn’t blow off steam now like Maradona did back then. Also,you could argue how good could the players have been back then if Maradona could go on 3 day benders and still look good on the pitch?(not saying it’s true,just a way you can look at things).
Everyone emailing in saying how great Maradona was, I’d love to know how many full 90 minutes(bar world cups)did you actually see him play?Absolutely you can see things on YouTube but actual full 90 mins? Live Italian TV didn’t arrive in the UK and Ireland till 1992(he had left by then).Yes,there were highlights shows but no great in depth analysis.We see every single second of every game these days.
Maradona had a good,what,6 years max?. Like George Best he peaked way too early. He was past it by 31. Even at Italia 90 he only showed brief flashes. Messi is still doing it at 33 and has been insanely good for 12 years. For longevity and trophies won and talent Messi is the greatest to ever put on a pair of boots.Yes,he hasn’t won a world cup but put Burrchurga in with Messi and he scores the chance Higuain missed.Also,Maradona never won a CL.
Messi also scored 92 goals in a calender year and has scored more goals and at a better rate then Maradona.
Can we also stop this “he won the world cup on his own” bs?They played 7 games in that world cup and in 4 of the games he didn’t score.
Stats and trophies only tell half the story with these 2 geniuses but,for me,Messi is the greatest player to ever put on a pair of boots.
Maradona or Henry?
Simon C, SFC has no soul or imagination and I feel sorry for him.
Tom, South Stand Spur
In response to Simon C, SFC,
The only thing Henry even came close to matching Diego in was getting away with a handball. And even in this Maradona wins because:
A) His was against a far more deserving victim (rather than a plucky loveable underdog)
B) Maradona only needed one glorious touch (Henry needed two, followed by his foot)
C) Maradona scored from it (Henry only set up Gallas)
D) It was followed by the greatest goal ever scored
E) Argentina went on to win the World Cup (France qualified for one and promptly went out in the group stage)
So on the one point where I have generously decided they might be worthy of comparison, there’s no contest really. Viva Maradona.
Luke M, Connemara
Love is blind and we love to hate
Fat Man’s disassembly and summarisation of Sir Harry of Kane’s ability as “decent player with a good mentality” got me thinking.
Obviously, he is wrong. Kane’s goalscoring record alone puts paid to that and his all-around game contributions are just the icing on that particular cake. My thinking is that we’ve likely all had players that we “didn’t rate” even despite their obvious qualities.
Perhaps we were young and they played for our hated rivals. Perhaps we weren’t young but can’t get past that childish tribalism. Perhaps we understood their qualities but weighed them against their inadequacies on or off the pitch and decided that was a good enough reason to discount them.
For me, it was Thierry Henry. I was a young Spurs fan during his best years and found his obvious qualities unpalatable to watch, knowing they were for the benefit of Arsenal. Later I justified it with my dislike of his gamesmanship. Interestingly I never held the same dislike of Bergkamp who was undoubtedly the dirtier player of the two. While I’ll never love Henry, I’ve grown to begrudgingly respect his qualities.
Who is yours? Are you a Messi fan who discounted Ronaldo as “just a speed merchant”? Do you discount Messi because of his international record? Was Roy Keane just a violent b*stard who liked kicking people?
Can we all agree that Matt LeTissier was just the most joyous footballer to watch? (Prepares bunker for Pompey/Bournemouth fans reactions).
Thom, Bristol-Based Spur
Kevin de Bruyne comparisons…
I forget who said it but someone said it wasn’t fair to compare de bruyne numbers with Messi, Salah Ronaldo etc because they’re all forwards/wingers while de bruyne is a midfielder.
Fair point then, let’s compare him to other great midfielders then. His numbers don’t come close to giggs, Gerrard or lampard in terms of goals and assists.
On the flip side a lot of people would argue that Zidane is one of the greatest midfielders to ever play (I’m one of them) and Zidanes numbers are very low.
The point is stats don’t mean everything because it’s a team sport and you can’t look at the start or end of a move and assume whatever happens is because of one player or two. It’s because an entire team is moving and creating space and keeping defenders occupied so player X has the time to be magic.
The only thing which links all those players together (and de bruyne isn’t quite part of that group) is when each of those great midfielders play the teams win % increases. When they don’t the win % decreases showing you how important those players are and how large their effect is. Considering city are a better team when de bruyne isn’t in it, maybe he’s as talented as each of those greats….but he’s not as important.
Most stupid red?
With the wife heavily pregnant and asleep in bed, I settled down to do some admin and watch some CL football. A quick look through games and I decided on Inter vs Real as it was the pick of the matches…
What I saw was one of the most ridiculous red cards I’ve ever witnessed. Vidal perceives that he’s been fouled in the box. The replays suggested Varane got a toe to the ball, but it was a close call. He remonstrates with the ref, apparently too vociferously, and gets a booking.
Most normal people would throw their hands up in frustration and turn away, but not Arturo. No, he decides the appropriate response to this injustice is to force his way past a couple of his teammates to scream in the ref’s face…
The poor ref’s expression was exactly the same as mine: what the actual f**k are you doing? Another yellow, then a red. 2 cards in about 5 seconds when your team are already behind. Utterly inexplicable.
A reminder here that Vidal is 34 years old and a veteran player on the team. The guy is a total liability, not even very good any more, and if I were Conte, he’d spend the next fortnight training with the kids. Genuinely might be the stupidest red card I’ve ever seen.
Lewis, Busby Way
Dreadful pronunciations of a player name
This week a theme I have noticed in the mailbox has been how to pronounce a player’s name the right way, now I am sure many of us are guilty of a dreadful pronunciation or two in our lives, especially when we have the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Jakub Błaszczykowski and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, thankfully we do have google and YouTube where we can either hear the player themselves pronounce the name properly or a coach, anyway my question to the Mailbox is this, what is the worst attempt at a pronunciation of any footballer’s name you have heard?
Now this can be a commentator, a pundit or even from a colleague at work, when I was a young lad at first school I was guilty of calling the great Thierry Henry, “Terry Hen-Ree”, dreadful I admit.