Mails on Saka for England, and United kicking Arsenal around Old Trafford…

Date published: Thursday 19th March 2020 9:02

Get yourself in the afternoon Mailbox. Send your missives to the…


Saka for England
With all of the speculation over who England should take to the Euros in 2021 I find it really strange that I haven’t seen anyone mention Saka. He has been phenomenal for Arsenal and would surely have a great shot of being in the squad for either left back or his preferred position further forward.
Dave (don’t see too many other Arsenal players making the cut though) Windsor


England’s Euro 2021 winners
Henderson, Pope, Pickford, TAA,James, Chilwell, Saka, Maguire, Gomez, Stones, AWB, Henderson, Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Maddison, Ox, Grealish, Kane, Rashford, Sancho, Sterling, Greenwood.

That’s the squad he should take. Good quality.Get behind the youngsters. Good balance. The bench has versatility.

He won’t do it though will he?

So many big decisions to make. So much talent. The big question that must be on Gareth’s mind right now is;

Will waistcoats still be in in 2021 ?
Johnno  (regional balance despite being from London (unlike the Manchester lads -Williams ? why didn’t they just pick Phil Jones and be done with it ?)



There is still some football taking place, with the Belarussian Premier League kicking off this week. Stick on a bet with Bet365 and you can actually watch it and get your fix. We fancy BATE Barisov.



Decisions, decisions
On shocking ref’s decisions… I see from the last mailbox it has extended to full matches.

In which case Mike Riley’s performance at OT for manchester utd v arsenal in 04/05 where Arsenal lost the unbeaten run is right up there.

People tend to refer to that game for being the Rooney dive over Sol Campbell’s leg where there was no contact. But there was so much more. Ferdinand should have walked for barging over ljungberg when clean through on goal (contact was not ‘shoulders’ but in the middle of ljungbergs back), van horse face should have got straight red for going in knee high studs up on Cole and arguably Neville could have got a straight red for a pre meditated studs up from behind on Reyes where he clearly couldn’t have got the ball. That tackle got a yellow (unlike the others which got nothing) and Neville could have had multiple other yellows that day and seen red.

The whole utd team was at its fergie inspired worst. Systematic fouling and aggression as the tool to win. Why not… lose and arsenal marched on same as before. Win and it halted us on 49. Riley was too incompetent and bias to do anything about it. As the commentary noted, before the Rooney dive / pen Riley had given seven penalties to utd in his last seven OT visits.

Of course the butterfly effect was huge. Forget Scholes v Porto – Jose would have made his way anyway and utd have won big trophies since. But for Arsenal that was the end of the peak. It’s been downhill (save forever a few FA cups) since.

Thanks Mike. You useless b…..
Josh, Dubai


…Mikey, CFC touched on shocking refereeing performances from a Chelsea perspective in yesterday’s mailbox.

And although I agree with him regarding a certain Tom Henning Øvrebø and that game against Barcelona, where he failed to give 427 Penalties, I have to disagree regarding “the Garcia ghost goal”. Let’s be honest, it didn’t cross the line. No where near. But had it not been given, we would have been down to 10 men because Cech clattered a Liverpool player in the build up. We were far better off 1-0 down with 11 men, than a penalty being given, probably being 1-0 down and also being a man down.

In terms of other shocking ref performances from a Chelsea viewpoint, Clattenburg’s performance in a 3-2 defeat to Man Yoo immediately comes to mind, where we battled back from 2-0 down in the first 12 minutes to 2-2. Before Clattenburg decided to send off Ivanovic in 63rd minute (no complaints) and also Torres in the 69th minute for a second yellow for the crime of being fouled by Evans when through on goal.

Of course following this decision, Man Yoo scored a fairly late winner when (an offside!) Hernandez poked the ball home. Not that much of a surprise given that he ALWAYS scores against Chelsea.

Which brings me onto my question for the Mailbox? What average/rubbish players seem to turn into a hybrid lovechild of Messi/Pele/Ronaldo (original) and CR7 when they play against your team?

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against world class players such as Tevez, Aguero, Di Canio(possibly) who always seemed to score against Chelsea. But there is no logical explanation as to why Hernandez, Bellamy and even Shane pissing Long seem able to score against us at will.

P.S my favourite bad refereeing decision is Martin Atkinsons decision to award Mata a goal in the 2012 FA Cup Semi against Spurs, despite the ball clearly hitting John Terry (who has admitted this since) and the ball being absolutely no where near to crossing the line. We of course went on to win 5-1. Fantastic.
James (CFC of course), Gravesend


…Many Wolves fans of, shall we say, an older vintage will remember this one, and as we’ve found out in the last couple of years, the anger still burns.

Championship play off final, 1995, Wolves against Bolton. Wolves had won the first leg at Molineux 2-1, although 5-1 or more would not have been an unfair result. If there’s such a thing as a 2-1 thrashing, this was it. Second leg at the Burnden Park, and in the first few minutes, John McGinlay, the rotund Bolton forward, punched Wolves’ David Kelly to the floor, right in front of the referee, one Steve Dunn.

I have no idea what passed through the referee’s mind at that moment, fear, disbelief, who knows. Suffice to say McGinlay stayed on the pitch, proceeded to score twice, including the winner in extra time, and Bolton won promotion in the final against Reading. McGinlay, obviously, revelled in his ‘villain’ role every time he came up against Wolves in the rest of his career.

It took another eight years for Wolves to finally win promotion, but now, twenty odd years later, that match in Bolton still raises hackles, enough that, judging by the message boards, when Bolton were going through their recent troubles, a lot of Wolves fans found it difficult to sympathise.

We’ve all seen some horrible refereeing over the years, a big hello to Mike Jones and Stuart Atwell at this point, but that is the one that always comes to mind.

Paul Quinton, Wolves.


…Harald Schumacher mowing down Patrick Battiston and getting away with is one of the worst refereeing decisions. But, if the officials haven’t seen it, they can’t give it, which probably tells you how far off the ball it was! Re Roy Carroll/Pedro Mendes, I ran into Carroll a few years back and he assured me that it wasn’t a goal because the officials didn’t give it. There’s no answer to that.
Matthew, Belfast


PL clubs must step up
I’ve read the news this morning that everyone who is employed by Hearts, players, coaches and all full time staff will have to take a 50% reduction in their wages, unless this would put them on a salary of less than £18,000 a year. It won’t be first we hear of measures like this. Scottish footballers outside the Old Firm really don’t get paid that well (Aberdeen lost Adam Rooney to non-league Salford because they offered more money) so it’s no surprise that it has to be all staff, not just the players that lose out.

However, it got me thinking about the Premier League. If Premier league players took a 50% drop in salary for even a week, it would probably raise enough money to bail out every other club in the English football league. It won’t happen, but something needs to or clubs will go under, make no mistake.
Mike, LFC, London


An idea
So how do SKY and BT keep us entertained with no sport?

Re-runs of old games? Well, we know the results and who won the league in that year, so that’s boring.

How about we create a league of the 20 teams that have the most Premier League seasons under the belt and then for each fixture pick a random Premier League game between them and use that as the result.

Sounds weird but bear with me, we live in desperate times.

Results for the opening day of the Premier League sponsored by Andrex.

The league welcomes back former champions Blackburn, with former League one Winners Leeds United, joining them with surprise promotions are Bolton Wanderers, Sunderland, West Brom and Middlesbrough.

Unfortunately Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford, Brighton, Burnley and Sheffield United have all missed out. Boo. But you really don’t have the history guys.. (I’m joking).

Arsenal 1 Newcastle 0 (15/16) One Nil to the Arsenal… just. The unconvincing Gunners looked set for a point on a soggy Emirates Stadium pitch until defender Laurent Koscielny came to the rescue with a close-range poked winner in the 72nd minute. The Magpies should have come away with at least a point, having been on the front foot for much of the second half. Georginio Wijnaldum went closest but his shot was saved by Petr Cech.

Blackburn Rovers 3 Everton 2 (97/98) Everton got off to the ideal start away to Blackburn, Gary Speed scoring after only 7 minutes with an assist from Danny Cadamarteri, Kevin Gallacher equalised before half time only for Duncan Ferguson to restore the visitors lead and Everton looked to be heading for a opening day win only for 2 late goals to turn the match on its head. Damien Duff and Tim Sherwood both scoring in the last 10 minutes to give Rovers all 3 points.

Crystal Palace 1 Middlesbrough 0 (16/17) Patrick van Aanholt scored the winner for Crystal Palace. Palace had the better of the first half and deservedly took the lead through the Dutchman’s low drive from the edge of the box – his first goal since joining the club in the January transfer window. Chasing the game in the second half, Boro’s Cristhian Stuani struck an effort straight at Wayne Hennessey from inside the area, and Fabio sent a shot over the crossbar late on.

Fulham 1 Southampton 0 (04/05) Tomasz Radzinski opened his Premiership goalscoring account for Fulham to earn a vital win against Southampton. Radzinski glanced home Luis Boa Morte’s near-post cross to leave Saints head coach Steve Wigley still looking for his first Premiership victory. Kevin Phillips missed a chance to level when Ian Pearce’s slip left him with only keeper Edwin van der Sar to beat. The big Dutchman’s stunning late save from Rory Delap preserved their lead.

Leeds United 3 Leicester City 2 (04/05) Alan Smith’s late winner settled a thrilling game at Elland Road. Leeds led early on through Michael Duberry’s header and Mark Viduka’s acrobatic overhead kick – and looked in control of this opening day battle. Foxes keeper Ian Walker had to keep his side in the game with some superb saves before Paul Dickov’s drive and Muzzy Izzet’s rocket levelled matters. Leeds were rocking but Smith had the last word with a close-range finish before Viduka’s late red card.

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 0 (06/07) Steven Gerrard came to Liverpool’s rescue as their captain’s first league goal of the season guided them to a narrow win over Manchester City. Gerrard crashed a swerving shot past Nicky Weaver after Dutchman Dirk Kuyt intercepted Joey Barton’s poor pass. Before the goal City had frustrated Liverpool and might have taken the lead themselves had Bernardo Corradi taken a couple of reasonable chances. Georgios Samaras also went close with a clever shot in the last 10 minutes.

Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0 (07/08) Manchester United climbed to the Premier League summit with a stunning display. Cristiano Ronaldo’s outrageous flick started the agony for Aston Villa after 17 minutes and he provided Carlos Tevez with a simple second before half-time. Wayne Rooney rounded Scott Carson for a third after 53 minutes and he slid home the fourth with 20 minutes left after more superb creativity from Ronaldo. Shaun Maloney missed Villa’s best chance, but United were outstanding.

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Sunderland 1 (14/15) Christian Eriksen’s late goal bagged the points as Sunderland debutant Jermain Defoe was beaten on his White Hart Lane return. Jan Vertonghen’s deflected shot gave Spurs an early advantage. But former Tottenham striker Defoe, who signed for Sunderland from Toronto FC on Friday, won the free-kick from which Sebastian Larsson equalised. Harry Kane hit the post for Spurs before Eriksen struck with two minutes to go from Andros Townsend’s pass.

West Brom 0 Chelsea 1 (16/17) Michy Batshuayi’s late goal gave Chelsea the victory at West Brom. It looked as though Antonio Conte’s side might be forced to delay their celebrations as they were frustrated for long periods by the resilience and organisation of their hosts.But the mood changed with eight minutes left as substitute Batshuayi, who had previously endured a season of struggle after his £33m move from Marseille, ended a scrappy passage of play by steering a finish high past Ben Foster. The final whistle sparked wild celebrations among Chelsea’s fans, and manager Conte was tossed high into the air by his squad.

West Ham 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 (09/10) Bolton made the most of some poor West Ham defending to clinch their first away victory since September and climb away from the Premier League drop zone. Kevin Davies nodded Bolton ahead from Lee Chung-Yong’s cross before James Tomkins’ error let in Davies to help set up Jack Wilshere’s volleyed finish. Bolton stayed on top until they had Tamir Cohen sent off after 70 minutes. Alessandro Diamanti replied with a low shot before Junior Stanislas hit the bar for the Hammers in injury time. But Davies also hit the woodwork for Bolton in what was a frantic finish and, ultimately, the visitors got their reward for a determined display.

So United head the table thanks to an ominous display from Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo, but will they even play next week. Joey Barton’s mistake sees City in the relegation places as Gerrard pounces while Tim Sherwood and Alan Smith both grab late winners for Leeds and Blackburn in 5 goal thrillers.

Anyway I’ve got to keep myself entertained somehow..
Matt (anyone care to know how Arsenal v Spurs goes in the 2nd round of fixtures)


Hands across football
Thanks to Mediawatch, I came across the recommended reading about the Milan team coming of age.

I really enjoyed the article as a whole, but one thing stood out to me. This was – ‘The Milanese skies wept for football. In a country as soccer-conscious as Italy, the Hillsborough tragedy was not some distant disaster on a foreign field…The crowd of 75,000 broke into prolonged and respectful applause, and behind one of the goals a section which only minutes earlier had turned the terraces into an inferno of red flares swayed gently as they sang You’ll Never Walk Alone. It was not a silent tribute, but it was far more moving.’

This was a story I had never heard before, and, being too young to properly remember Hillsborough, I thought was truly brilliant. Football fans, often fairly, get a pretty bad rep, but this seems like a genuinely emotional and supportive response to a horrible tragedy. As a United fan, I feel genuine shame when hearing or seeing fellow football fans joking about the loss of life of innocent people.

So, due to the fact there is no actual football, are there any examples of football fans doing something that moves past pathetic tribalism (completely different to healthy rivalry) that makes you feel proud to be a football fan?
Jack (Also watched a few videos of Dejan Savicevic, what a talent – any chance of extending the Legends series to fill the gap?!) Manchester


It’s only a game
Right, seeing as we are all going nuts at the moment, how about a nice, in no way controversial topic. Top 5 Football Games of All Time. I’ve tried to limit it to one a series. I believe they are as follows, people can feel free to disagree:

Fifa 10 – most substantial changes, in terms of graphics, animations etc
PES 4 – The perfect balance between the slower pace of newer games, and that slight arcadey feel so you could still score worldies (also FIFA stunk during this time)
Championship Manager 2/3 – It never really changes, and is ostensibly a series of spreadsheets, but it is in pretty much every boy who loves football blood.
Sensible World of Soccer – the fake names for players only made it better. Sognori was a BEAST
New Star Soccer – If you want some football on your phone, in a way that was made for your phone, I prefer this to any of the proper FIFAs because you can play it for 5 mins while on the bog!

What are the mailbox’s top 5? I also have a soft spot for Virtua Striker, but even I can admit, it sucks.
John Matrix AFC


VAR corner
Be warned : This is a non corona-virus and non-Liverpool email :

After reading Arsene Wenger’s proposal of tweaking the existing offside rule to avoid VAR controversy and some of the backlash to Wenger’s proposal, I just want to understand one thing : How are the rest of the leagues (apart from EPL) handling VAR so well?

I do occasionally watch some Bundesliga and Serie A matches and they’ve been using VAR for more than 2 seasons now without a peep of controversy over marginal offside decisions.

Can someone who’s been an avid follower of the other leagues explain to me how their offside laws (and usage of VAR) are different from EPL?

Sridhar (Bangalore)


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