Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Is Martial awake?
You do have to wonder about the modern footballer at the highest level. Getting paid more money in a week than most of us earn in a few years, being feted whenever they go out, having loads of people showering them with adulation on social media.
But you also wonder if they completely lose any insight, or the ability to realise what is going on in the world, or for their own career.
Anthony Martial is talented, but useless. He is talented in his ability to play the game of football. He is totally useless in realising what is happening around him. For three years now he has been challenged to put in more effort. To run a bit more. To show a little interest in return for his weekly dosh.
But no. He trots on the pitch at Southampton and it is same old same old. Has no one in the dressing room told him, asked him, said pretty please, just the keep the fans happy, look like you are part of the team and trying to win.
If I were Ole, or Ole was Sir, he would have gone long ago. No more chances, no more excuses, take the money, and Run!!!
Arteta should resign
A lot of people say that Arteta should be given time to make this Arsenal team his own and I wonder how much time I’d he supposed to be given considering that Emery got less of a chance than he has been given.
Arteta and Edu have spent a lot of money on this team and their decision making with regards to personnel changes has left a lot to be desired. Loaning out Saliba and buying a CB who’s more comfortable in a back 3 for fifty million whilst having big problems in the middle of the park.
All the players are performing worse under Arteta not because they’ve become worse, but because he’s a mediocre coach who wants to micro-manage everything on the pitch. He just doesn’t trust his players to execute his instructions thus continually shouts on the touchline confusing players and not giving them freedom to express themselves.
The football is boring and even worse than Emery who was fired much earlier than this, justifiably of course.
To save us all from this dogsh*t football and a further slide to mediocrity, he should resign for the sake of the club.
Celani in South Africa
A transfer for each club
Almost ready for Jim White to ‘slam the window shut’… a few random ones here so feel free to improve on it:-
Arsenal – Xhaka signing a contract extension would be hugely funn….. oh !
Aston Villa – I would have said Ings so a great purchase. Outside bet for top scorer ?
Brentford – I can’t improve on their moneyball scouting network. Toney looks less a target man more of an all rounder and I think he will share the goals with Mbuemo
Brighton – Lacazette to finally put all those chances away the Potters boys keep creating…
Burnley – Coutinho turns Burnley into Europa league contenders playing lovely football
Chelsea – no more, please no more…. they have everybody
Crystal Palace – Origi, he’s better than Benteke
Everton – Benitez triple Liverpool swoop to really endear him to the Everton faithful
Leeds – Nketiah to rekindle his career back where he had his last top season
Leicester – already made great signings and ready to go again. People writing Vardy off too soon
Liverpool – Mbappe pre contract agreement in January please
United – Bissouma to finally replace ‘FredMatic’
City – Harry Winks, feels like there is a player in there who is perfect for Pep
Newcastle – hopefully the rumours are true and they grab Rodriguez to give the Toon army something to be happy about, whilst losing 8 on the bounce and going back to turgid defensive mode and surviving on 36 points
Southampton – never mind ins, no more outs
Spurs – surely Jimenez to rekindle his bromance with his favourite manager ?
Wolves – Somebody who isn’t Portuguese ?
Watford – no one, there’s no room at the training ground and they would have to buy another bus
West Ham – Phil Neville
Hong Kong Ian (Arsenal will be fine. 4 good signings, Booma will fire, just chill) LFC
Matchday two conclusions
Liverpool fans will point to this game as a reason Trent is great, completely forgetting that nobody who criticizes him doubts his output ability, while at the same time looking over the defensive mishaps people are likely to point out.
Jota has been a great signing.
One of the commentators used the word ‘devilment’ to describe a Richarlison shot. Great word.
How was Demari Gray signed for just 1.6M?! I’m not saying he is, but so far, he’s looked better than Sancho.
The new thing they do as the announce the line ups live on tv, were the player does some sort of move, before it shows them being normal. Not sure if I hate it or love it. It does bring back memories of WWF.
City were City and did the expected. Something I’m just realizing is; What if Jack Grealish just gets better? I mean, surrounded by better players and coaches, training better, challenging for new titles against the best, who knows how far the man may go..
The goal by Danny Ings was wonderful. What is even more wonderful was the fact he moved to Villa and not to a top 6 side. Not many players can score bicycles like that from the bench.
Bissouma is pulling a Grealish. In that every year we are like, he is good, but is he good enough to step up? And then he goes and shows us he is worthy.
Spurs and Nuno seem like a charming match. What’s more is that this Spurs team is almost a like for like upgrade to Wolves. Exciting.
Matic and Martial really bring United down a notch or two. Other than the odd touch, it’s almost like playing with 9 men.
Pogba with a bit of freedom is an immense watch. Get Rashford and Cavani back and we are in for a whirl of a time.
Livramento looks like an absolute fantastic footballer. At only 18, the future is bright. Will he be a Lukaku, Salah or Bertrand?
Lukaku is going to score so many goals.
Arsenal look lost. Arteta even more so. Are they a good team playing bad or just a bad team?
Antonio is some player and has had some transition. From the low leagues and right back to the top and up top. Well done sir.
The Moyes redemption has been a great watch. He really is a high quality coach, that unfortunate peaks at fourth place.
After spending the weekend watching every media outlet shoehorn the Kane “saga” in every way they could, I thought it might be fun to imagine where this might go. Perhaps from the BBC we’ll soon have: “The US and UK withdrawal from Afghanistan continues amid an unfolding humanitarian disaster. President Biden expected to comment later on whether this affects Harry Kane’s proposed transfer to Manchester City”. Then over on Sky: “You join us on the tarmac as Richard Branson prepares for his second space flight in as many months. As he breaches the Earth’s atmosphere he’s expected to wonder; “has Harry Kane played his last game for Tottenham?”. Because it really is starting to feel like there’s an even money chance of: “Shock waves felt round the world as God Almighty returns! Darkened clouds today parted above the USA and New York was obliterated in a flash of blinding light whilst the VOICE OF GOD proclaimed: “all non-believers will PERISH!!” – leaving many City fans to wonder if Harry Kane’s expected transfer will actually occur”
Ethan, We know he’s going this year or next you don’t have to be c**ts about it, from London
VAR: One Step forward, Two Steps Back
Here’s a question – has anybody ever heard a tennis player complain that the Hawk Eye call was unfair because the ball was in or out by a toe-nail or the proverbial armpit? Or even in cricket, where the computer actually projects the trajectory of the ball (this can never be theoretically accurate) – have you ever seen coaches, managers, pundits complain about the fact that so and so should not be given out because the ball snicked the bat by the width of an armpit hair? Or that it was just kissing the stumps? I’m guessing you haven’t because nobody does that. Because largely people accept that you have to draw a line and if you cross that even by a millimetre, you consider it as a transgression.
Yet for some reason the football community persists in being retrograde. VAR offered at the very least an objective way of measuring offsides. But pundits and journalists mocked the system for not being perfect. People complained about being just offside and presented a faux consensus that it would be better if just being offside wasn’t considered as offside. The FA obliged and instead of making the system faster and better, they’ve made the lines thicker. What did we achieve with that? Only that we’ve now slipped back further into the grey area of the referee’s judgement. We haven’t solved any problem because no matter how thick you make the lines, somebody will always be caught a millimetre beyond it. But we’ve made the situation worse because now neither players nor the onfield ref or linesmen know when exactly its an offside (unless they wear augmented reality glasses with the thick red and blue lines).
And now we’re going to spend the rest of the season complaining about refs, VAR, and bad judgement. In this respect at least, the football community loves misery. We seem to want a reason to complain. We don’t want a system that gets it perfectly right. On the plus side, Johnny Nic has a column for life.
Ved Sen (Is Ole playing Martial to send a message to the Glazers?) MUFC.
Man Utd fans’ bias against their own team
I have been noticing a pattern since the past year or so. Whenever Man Utd draw or lose a game, in most fans’ eyes, the other team should or could have probably won the game. Case in point, people talking about how Armstrong could have scored and hence Southampton were the team who could’ve won. But rarely do I hear how Man Utd could or should have won the game due to their chances. In my opinion, Man Utd should have won it because of the sheer number of headers we seemed to miss. Greenwood, Pogba and Matic had relatively simple headers which all 3 should have done better with. The only two real chances Southampton had were the Armstrong shot and the Armstrong header which he somehow failed to make proper contact with. Even their goal was from a shot which looked way off target before the deflection.
Now I am not saying that United deserved the 3 points, not at all in fact. A draw was probably fair. But do you all think this is a theme with Man Utd fans? Or is it prevalent amongst other big teams’ fans as well?
FerventFootballer (Feeling bad for Mari with how he got bullied throughout the match)
…It’s difficult to find an email that quite encapsulates the over-the-top entitlement that fans of certain teams have quite like the submission by Mike in the Monday morning mailbox.
The sentence that really stood out for me in his rant was dismissing the 5-1 win against Leeds because Leeds will win nothing this year. Why would you even bother supporting a team if the only victories you will celebrate are against champions league level clubs? How can you have so much anger against your team even though they’ve not yet lost this season and finished second last season?
I’m not a United fan but I’m not sure fans like Mike will deserve any success Manchester United has in the near future.
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda
…I’d like to ask Mike where I should return my official Manchester United Fan ID card and decorative sash as I’ve just been informed that not wanting Ole sacked has invalidated 35 years of loyal support. I must admit to being rather upset, I hadn’t known that disagreeing with Mike’s opinion carried such a penalty and I’m sat wondering where he amassed the power to decide who is a proper Manchester United Fan and who isn’t, was it an ‘answers on a postcard’ type competition or a prize draw?
In reality Mike I’m not sure ‘fan’ is the best description for yourself either, ‘fanatic’ rings truer. Fanatics see in black and white, they say things like “I don’t hold sentiments, by doing so makes you weak, once you are not good enough you should be gone…”. They also have a tendency to see anything but absolute dominance as failure, there was a fair bit of that in your mail too. For the most part the rest of us can see the shades of grey, the nuance, the context, the competition. I won’t go into detail because you can’t reason with a fanatic, no argument would convince you. So instead please know that I think you are wrong, reactionary, impatient, ignorant, and wrong!
Ignoring fanatics for now I think the game was very similar to those at the end of last season, which given we’re right at the beginning of this season with the same players, coaches, and manager doesn’t surprise me at all. I think we’ll improve as the season goes on but I don’t expect the silly errors to completely disappear. On Sancho the problems he’s faced so far are being a late substitute when United have lost some of their attacking drive combined with trying to fit a different style to Dortmund, a bit of patience is called for before judgment is made. Structurally as well I think it will take a bit of time for the players to adapt to having a right side option. They have become so accustomed to pushing attacks down the left, there were multiple times against Southampton where we had two attackers open on the right and our midfield didn’t even look that way, but it will come with time. A fit and playing Cavani will help massively
TAA a defender in name only
For the last few weeks, there’s been constant argument in both mails and comments over how great a right back Trent is.
It’s incredibly telling that when stats are used to ‘justify’ this theory, the stat used is assists – an attacking stat. This only fuels the argument that he’s not a great right back.
Nobody can deny that Trent is on the level of Beckham when it comes to pinging in a ball from wide. Someone even compared his assist rate with Giggs.
Liverpool have the luxury of VVD and Gomez/Matip in the middle which allows Trent to pretty much abandon defensive duties and push forward more than a traditional fullback. You only have to google ‘Trent Alexander Arnold heat map’ to see how much more time he spends in the opposing half. Essentially he plays wing back in a back four.
Last season, he had to play a more traditional full back role. Surprise surprise, he wasn’t as good. That beloved assist stat also suffered, because he actually had to be a defender – and his shortcomings were laid bare.
The clues were already there before the VVD injury. He was absolutely run ragged by Jack Harrison in the opening game of the season and Villa spotted the same weakness in the back line and exploited it in the 7-2 drubbing.
The bottom line is, Trent is not a fullback. He’s either a wingback or a right winger who plays out of position and gets away with it because of the ability of those around him.
Of course, the ultimate irony is that he wears the number 66, commemorating Alf Ramsey’s Wingless Wonders.
Fantastic player though and I bloody love watching him. If ever Southgate decides to go 442, he’s the first name on the team sheet – in midfield.
International fullback in a back four, he is not,
…OK Shappo, I was really only writing with tongue in cheek to suggest that the hyperbole over Alexander Arnold is way over the top. I have already acknowledged that I think he is a very good, potentially great one day player, but I’ll do so again for the record – Alexander Arnold is very good. He is not a generational, role-redfining player yet though – the sort of assessment that can only really be made at the end of a career (or towards the middle of a preposterous long and successful Messi/Ronaldo type career).
The guy has only really had three and a half seasons worth of proper first team appearances. Two admittedly excellent, one pretty mixed.
He may well go on to be an all time great, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least, or it could all go a bit Dele Alli and not quite fulfil the early promise. Its far too soon to reach a conclusion.
Actually, looking at your very persuasive use of the neville/giggs statistics, I take it all back, he is really redefining the role of a right back… into the role of a winger. Which works great for Liverpool’s system with probably the world’s best centre back and a workmanlike midfield which will fill in for him. But Southgate’s decision to favour other right backs, who are among the best in the world and offers better balance for that team (that was packed with other world-class attacking talent anyway) is maligned by some as ridiculous for leaving him out when it was a perfectly correct decision… it grates.
As for that nonsense about arguing from a position of strength… garbage. I’m not some moron claiming Wan-Bissaka is the better player (in my last email on the topic I outright said I’d sooner have Trent). He isn’t, he’s not as good as Trent, or James, or Walker or Trippier and it is perfectly understandable that he’s never been capped by England and I’m perfectly fine with that, and the manager risking that he elects to go play for DR Congo instead – England and its fans (myself included) wouldn’t loose any sleep. But the suggestion that I’m not allowed to comment on the ridiculous overreaction to Alexander Arnold unless and until the team I support has unequivocally the best right back in the world… nah, not having it. I follow Manchester United as a fan, but their success or failure on the pitch isn’t really anything to do with me, is it…
In defence of Norwich
While it’s always our desire to get into the Premier League when we’re not here, I quickly remember how boring and irritating the condescending comments about ‘what’s the point of Norwich?’ are when we’ve finally arrived. Yes: we’ve been smashed twice; yes: we’re bottom of the league (albeit one place below the mighty Gooners); and yes: we look pretty pants.
However, we’ve played Liverpool and Citeh after a blighted pre-season which had cancelled games, and several key players missing out entirely due to COVID isolation. We’ve also lost two of our best players in the Argentinian Messi and Oli Skipp. Leeds got smashed 5-1 on the opening day and I didn’t see a single comment about relegation; Norwich lose 3-0 to Liverpool and we’re the worst team to have ever played in the Prem. Every single year, England’s top flight genuinely gets harder and harder to compete in – if you’d have told me in 2014 that James Rodriguez would be deemed not good enough for Everton… Therefore TalkSport, Garth Crooks (who appears contractually obliged to have a pop at us every week) and now even MailBox contributors banging the same old tired and lazy pre-written script should be forever banned from moaning about ‘money ruining the game’, ‘a Premiership monopoly’ or ever passing judgement on a closed European Super League.
The way it’s looking at the moment, we’re likely to finish rock bottom but we’ve done it under our own steam. We’re a club with morals (see: BK8) who help develop young talent (see: Maddison, Godfrey, Lewis, Buendia, Aarons, Cantwell, the Murphy twins, Idah), have had our fingers burnt by nearly going bankrupt and used nothing but acumen and fair play to turn it around, and owned by a local couple who care deeply about it. In short, everything that a lot of people bemoan is missing from the modern game. What’s sad is that in the Championship, the Norwiches are the likes of Wycombe, Rotherham, Luton and Peterborough and they are generally praised with plenty of goodwill, whatever their form. Despite what the Fifa Generation seem to think/expect, Norwich have absolutely earnt the right to be in the top level; better a “yo-yo club” than poor old Bolton, Portsmouth, Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipsw*ch et al.
Alex (plus we have a colourful kit, an east stand called The South Stand and Blakeney)
Two Arsenal points
1. Naz, Gooner – not very good at maths. Sheff Utd have not received less than they paid to Bournemouth for Ramsdale – you can’t knock £3m off what Arsenal have literally just paid them, and add it to what they paid Bournemouth, because that’s double counting. So yes, they have paid Bournemouth £22m in total, but they still got £24m from Arsenal, not £21m
2. Great to see Stewie Griffin back, but he has missed a key point from Sunday’s game. The Arsenal hone shirt looks like a dinner lady’s tabard
Got it wrong
Mort Snort, Saints’ email struck a chord with me. Sometimes we do get our judgements wrong and end up feeling like a right tit.
Back in the early 2000s I happened to be watching a Celtic vs Hearts game on TV (no idea why), and I predicted that Didier Agathe (Celtic) and Mark De Vries (Hearts) would be the next big things in football. I feel foolish thinking about that now.
On a similar vein but not football related, back in 2004 me and my brother were watching a then-very young Rafael Nadal playing in the Australian Open. My brother stated that Nadal would go on to become a huge star, to which I replied “Nah, no way”.
Clearly I know nothing about sports.
…In response to Mort:
1) At the time, I thought the price Manchester United paid for Michael Carrick was outrageous and that he wasn’t worth near that. Turns out they got it spectacularly right.
2) Thinking my Everton could get any points off of Liverpool over the past 10+ years. Haha….no, really, I did.
3) More recently, thinking Carlo Ancelotti could get us into Europe with enough time.
4) Here’s one for the future. Since he’s left us, I’ve thought Ross Barkley would always end up at a team like Forest.
Remember, you can never be wrong, just early.
TX Bill EFC
…I enjoyed Mort Snort’s admission of times he got football embarrassingly wrong so here is my main one of no doubt many.
On the say Arsenal signed Thierry Henry, I said to my Dad “I don’t know why we signed him. He’s just a sh*t Nic Anelka.” I remember the exact phrase because it was said to me after nearly every one of his 228 goals for Arsenal.
John Porter, Huntingdon