Stick your sheikhs, Ed Sheeran’s money means more…

Date published: Monday 10th May 2021 7:59 - Editor F365

We have a bumper mailbox that curiously starts with Ed Sheeran. Keep your mails coming in to…


Sheeran > Sheikh Mansour
With Man City in the Champions League final the conversation obviously goes to how they did it/oil money etc. and whether it counts/does it matter where the money comes from.

So many times over the last 15 years I have heard from Chelsea and man city fans that it doesn’t matter and no one cares; it wouldn’t mean more if it had come from a local, it wouldn’t mean more if it had come from a life long fan and it doesn’t matter it if came from murdering political opponents, torturing people who have different opinions or thinking women don’t deserve the same rights as men.

Well I am delighted to confirm (and so is my conscience) that is does matter. We wont get promoted from league 1 this season on the back of it but by god, having Ed Sheeran as our shirt sponsor feels bloody brilliant. For those of you who don’t know, he is a lifelong fan, whenever any of his songs come on the radio i dont care if they are any good or not, i care that he supports Ipswich.

We don’t have dirty oil money, we don’t have Russian money, we literally have one guy, who supported our club all his life and has made a fortune who decided that HE would be the shirt sponsor, him personally!!! That in my opinion is bloody brilliant. How many readers have said that if they won the lottery they would buy their team, or pay to play on their pitch?

Personally I love it and anyone who says it doesn’t matter where the money comes from you are wrong. We may not have got promoted this season but when we win the premiership in 2024 it will feel better for the fact it is down to Ed Sheeran rather than some dodgy owner.
Tom, tractor boy in Switzerland


Kane and the Webster rule
Now maybe I’m missing something, but shouldn’t the Webster Ruling be part of the Harry Kane transfer chat?

Kane signed his deal in 2018, before he was 28 and now three years ago…….the ruling means he can buy himself out of the rest. At £200k a week, that’s a payment of £31.2 million.

Surely, either:

A) Kane can buy himself out and get that money back via signing on fee at his next club
B) Kane can leverage the above to get Levy to reduce his proposed transfer fee to a high but acceptable value (£100 million vs £175 million?)

Apparently the Webster ruling isn’t used in football due to an unwritten agreement between clubs around the implications of it becoming used frequently. Surely it’s only a matter of time until a player uses it to move, as the current market is both inflated and cash poor?
Michael, York

Not far off
After yet another comeback win that looked inevitable as soon as they conceded, I’m thinking the league has such fine margins. Football has such fine margins.

Liverpool lost to city by a solitary point when they both obliterated everyone else. Liverpool then went on to win the league with 427 games to spare, proclaiming themselves the best team in the league ever along the way. And the best team in the world ever. The invincibles weren’t anywhere near arsenals best team. Utd won the treble although nearly bowed out of all 3 competitions.Agueros last minute league winner. Utd failing to beat West Ham on the final day…. and many more…

My point? I don’t think utd are as far away from the title as I thought they were. Neither are Chelsea.

I’m a utd fan so don’t watch Chelsea as much, but on the utd front I can see we’ve got better and better as the season has progressed. We were labelled as inconsistent or lucky or sh*t early on but now we’re just good and no-one can deny that. We’re more confident, movement off the ball is so much better, our full backs are a major threat, our forward players have so many more ways of scoring and Cavani is class. World class. Sign him for the next 5 years.

I think we’re one or two signings away from properly challenging. Maybe none away from challenging. Would be interesting to hear from a Chelsea fan how far away you think you are – probably also very ready to mount a serious challenge.

And maybe Liverpool might be back in the mix next season. if they’re not then last season will be their ‘Leicester’ year rather than the best team in the premiership ever
Jon, Cape Town (how did Jose get another job managing a football club?)


F365 Features: An XI of the best PL runners-up who never won the title


Going for the Glazers
Excellent fun to see the United fans continuing the campaign to drive the Glaziers out. Some idiots were claiming the protest the other day was a one off, but now sponsors are running away from United.

As the Glazers find their pockets and bottom line hit, they will start to take notice.

All other fans worth their salt should start to do the same. But I suspect fans of the other big name clubs will be happy to get the fleas from lying down with dogs as they’ve been starved of success.

And that is the problem in football. All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

Pep’s revenge
I have observed Pep Guardiola for the last decade, and my prediction is, Chelsea will, in the words of Patrick Banfield, “a thumping”. Pep seems the kind of manager who, when you get under his skin, he sets his team up to absolutely demolish you. Take last year for example, Liverpool, best team in Europe, take the piss after winning the league, Pep’s Man City absolutely slaughtered Liverpool, it was 4 or 5 at the end. Dortmund suffered similar fate. Hell Madrid go about buying Kaka and Ronaldo, he hit them with 5.
My worry for Chelsea is has Pep’s message moved from, let’s play an entertaining match, to, score as many as you can. I personally don’t think Tuchel us that good. I predicted Chelsea as top 2, that’s how much quality they have in the squad. Maybe Tuchel holds his own, tactically, but I foresee a thumping. I think he shuffled the bee’s nest by beating Pep back to back.
This will be an intriguing final, but don’t I trust Havertz or Aguero, KDB or Werner. I think Pep is pissed off , and he will take it out on Chelsea in the final.
Dave (Tuchel could be as good but hasn’t shown it), Somewhere


…I was really angry after the semi final, giving away the chance of a quadruple by playing a weakened side against arguably the best team in the country since Tuchel arrived. After Saturday’s game though I really couldn’t care less.

There is no way that playing some bonkers 5-1-4 formation with only 2 of our first team was a serious attempt to win that game. It was quite obviously just a way of getting everyone on the pitch that he wanted to play so he could rest the others. Granted we should’ve won the game but it was no surprise when Chelsea managed to come back. We really need to get rid of Ake, I was quite chuffed when we signed him but sadly just not one of those players who can make the step up. As for Mendy, it’s not just in the dressing room where he’s a banter machine.

What is everyone on though? I’ve seen pundits and fans in the aftermath saying that it has given Chelsea some sort of psychological advantage going into the final. Tuchel even said himself “but we arrived with the knowledge we are capable of beating them”. No my friend, you’ve beaten the stiffs a couple of times, let’s wait and see what happens when the big boys come out to play. I know some people may be offended by calling expensive footballers stiffs, but it’s still true compared to the rested players on form or just in general.

Pep has a history of overthinking things, so this could have been some devilish plan to instill the slightest amount of false confidence in Chelsea. Win with that team and they feel bad, lose and who cares? They think they have our number but really they don’t have a clue and they’ll get sorted out by our real team in the final. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway!

A final note on Aguero, I’m glad he’s leaving. There I’ve said it. He’s past it and injury prone now so that’s fine but I’ve never been completely in love with him like some fans because of the number of chances he misses. Some great moments but never been an absolute beast. Finally I’ve seen some proof of what I’ve always thought.

Andy, Cheshire


F365 Says: No hiding Tuchel’s threat as Pep’s new nemesis


Managers matter
Chelsea have defeated man city in the curtain raiser for the Cl final and amidst all the questions, one thing is certain, Chelsea have got themselves a world class manager in Thomas Tuchel and with him came the end to the two year duopoly of Liverpool and Man City.

So it is only fitting that the three clubs who are predicted to challenge for the PL next season are the only three with world class coaches, liverpool, city and chelsea.

The time has come then for the other three of the top six to question themselves; are our coaches good enough to challenge these three? For someone like me who is very fascinated by the coaching aspects of the game, I have to say man city are the most well-coached team on the planet, it is not only in what they pull off but even what they try to pull off, indeed, very, very rarely have I seen them ‘lack ideas’, Guardiola is just legendary.

As for Tuchel, no coach comes into a match more well prepared for the opponent than him, perhaps only Nagelsmann comes close, in Mainz, he took the bundesliga by storm by giving his team new tactics and formations depending on the opponent, everything in theory was perfect but human factors means you need consistency in things such as formations for example, he has learnt that with experience and I rated him amongst the very best since his days at psg so I can tell you, they are not there yet, but with time, Chelsea may become better tactically at least, than city. His style of football which is in many ways a chimera between positional play made famous by Guardiola and the german school of thought whose most famous proponent happens to be Klopp is highly effective too, it does happen to be more boring than one would have imagined which led to his problems at psg but looking at the Cl finalists, I am pretty sure one man who would not be sleeping without regrets is the psg sporting director.

As for Klopp, his team are one of the best teams if not the best at forcing the opposition to play the way they want, they even manage to do that against city sometimes, he doesn’t toy with tactics too much but that is because he doesn’t need to, though, this season does raise questions. However, there is no denying that the man whose team have come closer than anyone to equalling the invincibles is a great coach and for the last two years at least, the best in the world.

But as for the other three, well, Tottenham have the easiest route, they have already sacked their under performing coach, so, they just need to find a new, world class one, but are there any? United have it tougher, it will feel wrong if Ole was not supported in the transfer market never mind letting him go! It is very hard to criticize him and the easiest of all those criticisms which was the ‘semi-final hoo-doo’ is not viable anymore, his team are very hard to beat as evidenced by them losing the fewest number of games after champions liverpool last season and being the team with the fewest loses this season at the time of writing, they play a style that is entertaining and when in song, scarily effective; but it also becomes very difficult to praise him when you bring in the phrase ‘by United’s standard’ but is it fair to criticize him based on a mythical standard or the quality of his own squad? He has the potential to become world class but the doubters rightly ask, is man utd a place to develop potential or a place for those who have already been there and done it? It should be noted that Jurgen Klopp has answered this question on Ole’s behalf. As for Arteta, the youngest and most promising manager of the big six counting out Ryan Mason, his, is a more complicated situation, tactically, I feel he is at the very top, but does he have the ability to adapt his tactics effectively to his players abilities and to achieve victory? His teams can be slow and poor such as against liverpool and villareal, but when arsenal are in the mood, I can assure you that I am sober when I say they play the best football in the country, one only has to see their game against leeds, chelsea or the second half vs west ham, you will be forgiven for asking if you are watching bayern instead, but as usual, questions remain, does he have the quality for the Pl, he certainly doesn’t have the experience and perhaps more importantly, if you want to beat Guardiola, is trying to beat him at his own game the most effective method?

For Tottenham and the other two should they fail and hopefully they don’t, who is the manager out there that can challenge these three world-class managers? Well, the most obvious candidate will be Allegri, he is certainly a world-class manager but one fears he is a bit behind the times, a manager that does not like pressing the opposition in their own half sounds very familiar to man utd and tottenham fans, is that what they want? But more importantly, how successful do you think it will be against those three and specifically Guardiola? My guess is as good as yours. His football is the closest thing to Mourinho to the point that even Juve fans who usually only care about winning started complaining. He is very good tactically though. Nagelsmann would have been the most obvious pick but fortunately or unfortunately, bayern get what they want. The wildcard is the man who stylistically is the closest thing to Guardiola, Erik Ten Hag, which is no surprise when you consider he was his assistant at bayern, seeing ajax’s matches against liverpool and Roma this season, it was clear that with better players, surely they would have won them all, the biggest question though remains the same as Arteta’s, Can you beat Guardiola at his own game? Ronald Koeman remains the only man to have done that. The best choice especially for spurs will be to steal Flick from Germany’s grasp, but I can’t imagine a man leaving the best club team in the world with whom trophies are guaranteed to go to.. well… Tottenham!? But who knows, the lure of the premier league is hard to resist.

But why are there so few clear options? The clearest answer will be how aggressively the ones at the top have risen the bar, Poch, for instance, would have certainly got into any list for world class managers in the past, but analysing him carefully you realise maybe, just maybe he is not there, if spurs drew 1-1 with palace or Huddersfield when he was in charge, it will be said that they created chances and it wasn’t their day, end of story. The same goes for losing 2-1 to city, liverpool or the other big clubs, a chelsea or man utd manager will never get away with that, reaching the final of the CL was great, but you had the feeling both city and ajax where better than them, just less lucky. Others like Favre, Gaitier, kovac, rodgers and many international coaches rank high but not high enough, assuming other factors remain constant, if arsenal, man utd and tottenham cannot find world class managers or do not already have them, then we know the teams that will dominate the epl for the next few years.


Arteta in
Last Thursday, come 10pm, once it was confirmed that Arsenal were indeed out of Europe both this season and probably next, I must admit I said aloud, to the cat, “Arteta’s got to go”. No need to go in to detail, but Arsenal just never looked like they cared enough to win. A lot of that is on the players, but so too it’s on Arteta.

Today (Saturday), I think he should stay. He needs one more season, but he needs to come up with a plan, and play to that plan. In my opinion the plan is easy, the plan is “play to your strengths”.

This may sound ridiculous, but Arteta’s done a cracking job with the defence, he really has. Arsenal don’t really concede very many goals under his leadership, and the goals we do concede are invariably of the embarrassing kind. Leno will make a blunder, a defender will concede a penalty, or more often than not, we will be caught over-playing at the back and punished. Those are the goals which boils the Arsenal fans’ urine, I tell you. Cut out the mistakes and, crumbs, it’s not all that often we’re torn a new one. It happens, but not very often.

So the defence is alright, and the goalie is alright too. Not perfect by any stretch, but we cannot afford perfect. We have to make do. Tactically, I’m happy with Arteta’s defence.

I don’t think our strikers are an issue at all, so I won’t dwell on them. Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Martineli, Nketiah and Balogun are all very capable and talented and will score goals.

The issue is midfield. As has been mentioned last week, Arteta seems to want to play a midfield like man City do, but without the players that Man City have. We can’t do it. We’re not mobile enough. Just my opinion of course, and I freely admit I’ve never managed in the Premier League, but instead of an expansive, floating, position-swapping, technically wonderful Man City style midfield set-up we should probably consider the “Ranieri’s Leicester” midfield set up. Keep them deep, tight, and organised. On top of that, and this is crucial, those midfielders MUST be able to beat a press and launch a counter.

Do Arsenal have those midfielders? I think probably yes. Partey is exceptional at breaking a press with clever footwork; Xhaka is good at it; Guendouzi is exceptional at it; Saka & Smith-Rowe too; Torreira’s not the greatest at this, but he is very defensively disciplined; (Ceballos, and Odegaard, assuming one or both stay, are also very capable of beating a press).

I think if Arsenal played a bit like Leicester and less like Man City, they’d do a lot better. We have the players to play like Leicester did, but now how Man City do. Leicester don’t play around at the back, Leicester don’t give much away defensively, and Leicester counter-attack with speed and incise, direct passing.

My XI: (a kinda 442)
Leno, Chambers, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney, Guendouzi, Partey, Saka, Aubameyang, Martinelli, Smith-Rowe.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite

Arteta out
No wonder the Arsenal squad don’t like Arteta anymore. He’s blaming all of Arsenal’s woes on them – saying publicly they’re not good enough – and does not even recognise the possibility that his inept decision-making, tactical complexity and inflexibility accounts for the fact Arsenal lie in mid-table. The arrogance is grotesque.

I don’t disagree that the Arsenal squad needs improvement in quality and balance but I feel they’re better than others make out and that Arsenal’s sub-par performances are more to do with Arteta’s ineptitude.

The Arsenal vs Chelsea game is a great example. A Chelsea team mismanaged by Lampard is trashed by an Arsenal team set free from Arteta’s shackles due to injury-enforced changes. Chelsea secure the services of Tuchel to manage its squad and Arteta continues to shackle his own; now one team looks like world beaters and the other looks like mid-table dross.

But let’s assume I’m wrong and that no fault lies with Arteta’s management. Let’s align with Arteta and lay the blame for Arsenal’s decline squarely with the members of its squad carrying metaphorical question marks above their heads and then examine those players one-by-one…

Runarsson – a truly horrendous signing by… oh yes, Arteta (based on the recommendation of his own terrible goalkeeping coach that still has a job despite that recommendation and no goalkeepers at the club liking him).

Leno – a very poor season after he was promoted back to no.1 ahead of the league’s top keeper, Martinez; forcing Emi out. Guess who made that decision… yep, Arteta.

Saliba – Arteta thought he wasn’t ready to play yet he is once again tearing it up in Ligue 1.

Luiz – Arteta extended his contract.

Holding – Arteta just extended his contract.

Mari – Arteta signed him.

Gabriel – Arteta signed him (for £25m).

Bellerin – if he isn’t good enough then why wasn’t he sold last summer when he wanted to go and both Barca and PSG made bigger offers than they’ll make this summer? Oh that’s right – Arteta desperately wanted to keep him for another season.

Soares – Arteta signed him.

Chambers – true, Arteta didn’t sign him or extend his contract but he’s playing him ahead of two Arteta players; Soares and Bellerin. So he can’t be that bad, right?

Partey – Arteta signed him (for £45m).

Ceballos – Arteta signed him on loan after already having him for half a season. Plus it’s not as if he didn’t have alternatives to
play. Willock, loaned out to Newcastle, is showing us what we could be having in our team instead.

Xhaka and/or Elneny – Arteta plays them week in, week out when he could be playing AMN instead who, like Willock, is having a blinder out on loan.

Willian – worst signing in the Premier League this season? Probably. Who by? Arteta (and on a 3-year contract at £200kpw so he can’t be moved on!!!)

Pepe – he has clearly not lived up to his £72m price tag which is not all on Arteta but Pepe has looked impressive this season when given a run in the same position and with the same team-mates around him. Yet who keeps chopping and changing personnel to the point of perplexed players? You guessed it – Arteta.

Nelson – never gets a game (unlike Willian) which is (a) insulting and (b) makes it hard to know whether he’s good enough or not.

Auba – who extended his contract at 350kpw? Yep… Arteta.

Nketiah – who opts for him ahead of the very promising Balogun, every time? Arteta.

Kolasinac, Torreira, Guendouzi – clearly all players that Arteta doesn’t fancy, didn’t sign or extend and probably aren’t good enough to take Arsenal back to top 4. But that’s 3 out of the 19 under question. The other 16 are all tied to Arteta.

I agree with the perspective that Arteta had an impossible task under these owners but after 1.5 years in charge it’s clear to me that whichever way you cut it, he’s definitely part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Ben (London)


Same old Spurs
HUGE opportunity missed by Spurs today but not a surprising result. With Scum Bag FC currently losing 1-0 to City and, if they do indeed end up losing, we coulda/shoulda been 2 points behind them tonight. Then you’ve got Leicester who played like Spurs for 80 odd minutes last night – who I did not realise had such a ridiculous set of fixtures to end the season with – getting battered by perennial banter team, Newcastle.

The Foxes could potentially lose their next 2 PL games against United and Chelsea (though I hope they win the Cup now) and if Spurs had won today we’d have been looking at 2 very winnable home games against teams playing for absolutely nowt (Villa and Wolves) with a final day game against LCFC potentially being a blockbuster showdown for a CL spot.

Imagine that, this Spurs team (if you can call us that) pipping Leicester and not just pinching their spot but -bigger picture time – giving Rodgers some deliciously interesting food for thought. But we f*cked it. Obviously. All of a sudden, Brendan could have been looking at a CL team, with one of the best strikers in the world + his superb wingman thrown in for good measure, a beautiful shiny stadium soon to have actual humans in it and, to top it off, £15m in Queen heads per year to pay for his teeth and lessons in how to speak in 3rd person for the rest of time.

Even the Mrs, who has no idea about football and barely swears, will say ‘f*cking Aurier’ as soon as a commentator mentions his name. Even she knows how shit he is. And Mason, despite being a Spurs boy and all that, has very simple tactics of simply not being Jose and picking your best front 3. Fair enough. But if you are going to pick Bale, the combo with Serge is just a non starter. Zero defence. For the 3rd goal, just look at where he is and what he’s doing. It’s utterly mental. I’d prefer a scarecrow. Better positioning after all.

Last point on my guys, I promise, is this second coming of the messiah. Dele. Sorry but no. He’s been awful and whilst he was slightly better today, which really wasn’t very hard to achieve, the one good thing he did was very fortunate. I don’t think that ball was getting to Sonny before it took a useful deflection on the goal.

It’s still a fascinating battle for 4th with Pool having 2 games in hand, which both won would seem them 1 point behind The Blues, and the Hammers right up there with a winnable game in hand against the Toffees tomorrow which would see them level on points with Chelsea. Then you’ve got Chelsea and Leicester having to play each other.

For the sake of variety (and hilarity) I’d personally love to see the Hammers sneak in there just so they can get walloped and suffer some dismal league form. Plus Leicester. Spurs can’t get Brendan now and they’re a nice team so all power to them and you could also see them having some fun in Europe.

Oh. Chelsea just scored.
Glen, Stratford Spur

Kane Spurs


Felt compelled to share an anecdote from the Leeds versus Spurs game which starkly highlights how amateurishly VAR is still being applied all these months on from when it was first introduced.

So as most will know, VAR was used to heavily scrutinise the Kane goal at 1-1 for a fair amount of time, before deciding his toenail was offside. Fair enough, we are fully aware at this point that VAR is incredibly nit-picky on offside calls, to a degree that when they show up the screen it’s often impossible to make out the deciding pixel’s difference in the two lines. Sure, nothing new, we move on.

However, cut to the second half where Leeds score a game killing breakaway goal, which to those watching the game on tv – in other words, everyone – appears as though Raphinha might’ve been offside.

However, in their infinite wisdom, instead of VAR showing a slow motion replay with a cross-pitch camera view to confirm, the “VAR check” notice shows up, and an “onside” message briefly appears underneath a standard tv angle replay. No slow motion replay and the VAR check is all over in no more than a couple of seconds. Thus providing absolutely no confirmation to those watching the game on tv – again, which is everyone – whether it was or wasn’t offside.

VAR has been implemented for long enough now that it should be obvious to those applying it that if they’re going to enforce such microscopic scrutiny, then the key tenets of transparency and consistency are paramount to leave little doubt as to the final decisions. This is the least any of us should expect of a £multibillion+ revenue generating profession sports league. And yet it constantly fails on these tenets. Incredible incompetence really.


German model
As I watch Bayern Munich shellack Monchengladbach (who finished 4th last season and 5th the previous one) 4-0 in the first half, on the way to its 9th (!!) consecutive Bundesliga tile, I smile and remember all the wanking about duplicating the “German Model”….
Nana Kofi (New York via Accra)


Half and half
In football mad Colombia it’s 2019. The men’s league commands huge and passionate crowds but, for the women’s game they felt marginalised, facing up to the prospect of a cancelled season. This seemed like another dispiriting example of disrespect and decline. But not this time. A campaign called Half Fans was unveiled. Starting with the then Categoría Primera A men’s champions Atlético Junior their club crest was chopped in half. This caused huge online outrage (imagine that). The campaign’s genius was how the Atlético Junior women’s kit had the crest’s other half.The campaign then really kicked into gear, challenging assumptions that the men’s team was the only one worthy of fan support.

Every other Colombian team then joined the movement. The season had started on July 13th 2019 and finished on 30th September with the second leg of the finals. América de Cali won their first league title following a 3–2 win on aggregate against Independiente Medellín

Attendances at women’s games that season rocketted by 633% with their league playoff attracting a stunning 55,000 fans. The league sponsor Águila came up with the campaign which revolutionised the game and finally woke fans up to the idea that you only fully support your team if you follow the men and women. Whether it was simply to maximize their beer sales doesn’t matter. Their innovative and confrontational campaign supercharged the women’s game and gave plenty of food for thought to the global game about how to show women the respect they deserve.


Capitalism and exploitation
At a risk of derailing this forum a little I’m gonna make a few comments on capitalism.

First – why do people get so defensive at any criticism of capitalism? Its not your dad, it’s an economic system. Don’t refute criticism for no apparent reason like it’s a family member.

Secondly – capitalism has lifted many (white people) out of poverty that is correct. But you didn’t finish the sentence so allow me – capitalism has lifted many people out of poverty by causing more poverty to other people.

The only reason capitalists get wealthy is by exploiting people and things. This is why they cry about minimum wage being raised – because without paying people non livable wages the business fails.
This is why they cry about taxes – because without paying their fair way the business fails.
This is why they cry about unions – because without dividing working people their business fails.

And none of these sets of regulation were self imposed by capitalism. These were all leashes placed on capitalism by government because capitalism is a ravenous animal that will eat anything to satisfy itself.

Incidentally capitalism has only flourished because governments have created the infrastructure to do so (something which continues to happen today). Capitalism only flourished because governments give them money in the form of grants, tax breaks, and subsidies which reduce their costs and make the industry more attractive.

Capitalism is by far the biggest benefit scrounger in the history of human kind, all while crowing about how efficient and powerful it is. Capitalism is actually extremely good at one thing, better than anyone in fact – controlling optics.

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