Keep your mails coming to email@example.com…
Please tell me I wasn’t the only one.
You switch on the game after a draining day at work, you then gaze on wondering how San Marino are swarming all over England. What have they put in the San Marinese water?
Then, it dawns on you….. England are wearing a blue away kit at home, and Sky Blue San Marino are wearing white shirts at Wembley.
It’s just not right.
Colin (Ward-Prowse an England Goal scorer? Sure, why not when Saints are plummeting) Brown
…So Southgate finally plays 4-3-3 while he doesn’t have some of his best players available, or in his eyes, in form. A formation that would better suit them than the 3-5-2 dross previously being played.
Surprisingly (not) it suited the team better. Southgate saying he needed to try some new things – no sh*t Sherlock – after how many games?
However, against a team like San Marino, 210 out of 210 in the FIFA rankings and more resembling a team from National North/South (or worse level), England won 5-0. On pure conditioning alone, and the ability to bring on 5 top level subs in the second half, they should have been able them over even more. Not stellar, so gloss it over by giving their goalie MotM.
But of course it led to more gushing praise of Southgate, the team and certain individuals, like Lingard. “Southgate really trusts him”, “he played with a lot of energy”, etc. Yeah, sure he did. A pro from a very young age, higher levels of training and conditioning, been on his arse for how long? Of course he’s going to put in an effort for THIS game. And be better than the candlestick makers. And then Southgate brings Foden onto the wing, Bellingham for Mount, while the often out of position, mishitting but trusted Lingard is kept on. Can only hope it’s because he’s NOT playing the next two games. The trusted Lingard who rarely did much in an England shirt before but after a couple of lucky rebounds at West Ham, after being atrocious for Utd, is preferred over…well just about everybody. A literal case of absence making the heart grow fonder or at least the brain becoming more forgetful.
It seems that no matter how well and for how many games Grealish, Maddison, TAA, Ward-Prowse and more played. When in form. Southgate overlooks them. Given the statements about Lingard being trusted it means those others are NOT trusted. Ward-Prowse was far better than Lingard and his set piece delivery is useful. Even Mount, Foden and Bellingham got the equivalent of cameos even though they are pretty much mainstays in their team.
The hypocritical depths of Southgate and the gushing media know no depths.
Whomever puts the F365 England ladder together (and I suspect it’s Winty) must have slapped their face right off when Lingard was picked. Even our friend Phil was higher – @50 and Rob Holding @49!
Boothroyd in bother
Coming off the back of the Southgate ‘average’ mail, I’ve just finished watching England u-21s limply lose 1-0 to a Switzerland team who are supposedly the weakest of our group, managed by Aidy Boothroyd who thinks a 3-4-3 is our best bet.
Utterly bizarre. 3 CBs, in front of a midfield 2 of Skipp and Davies, shoehorning McNeill into a LWB position? What?
It baffled me at the start of the game and we’ve been suitably pants and uncreative in the centre. For about 20 mins at the end of the first half, Smith Rowe started moving inside and only then did anything happen. When he came off, the threat vanished.
Is this the England way? Are we going to waste a generation of England players because the managers are too uncreative and out of touch with more dynamic systems (that the players are playing at club level).
I’m worried Southgate will do it too. 3-5-2 is so unambitious for an England team crying out to use two runners on Kane (Any of Sterling, Sancho, Rashford, Saka, Barnes et al) and someone to control play between the lines too (Any of Foden, Grealish, Mount, Maddison).
Lock in 4-2-3-1 now, drill it for the next 4 years and grow some balls, for god sake. Are we a bit light in a couple of areas? Maybe, but drill the system to compensate and have clear structures so we can chop and change according to form.
Big clubs and trophy droughts
When Tarqs, Woolwich, NUFC put the question about similar sized clubs to Newcastle that are having a major trophy drought then three do come to mind, first up is Athletic Bilbao, they last won a major trophy back in 83/84 winning both La Liga and the Copa Del Rey, now you could point to the Supercopa de España this season and back in 2015 but it is the Spanish version of the Community Shield, so naturally i thought it would not apply, Bilbao could end their major trophy drought by beating rivals Real Sociedad in the 2019/20 Copa Del Rey final next Saturday, then retain the title by beating Barcelona on the 17th April in the 2020/21 version, two major trophies in the space of a few weeks? possible.
Heading to Germany, fallen giants SV Hamburg last won a trophy back in 86/87 when they won the DFB Pokal, again they themselves have won the DFB Ligapokal in 2003 which is similar to the League Cup but in Germany, however before it got abolished in 2007 that competition only had 6 teams within it, how it worked was the top four teams of the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal winners, and the winner of the 2. Bundesliga would qualify and compete for the cup, so whether anyone chooses to consider that as a major trophy is a tough one, part of me says yes, they also won two Intertoto Cups as well since the turn of the year 2000, but again not counting those.
Staying in Germany we have Hertha Berlin, arguably one of the biggest clubs in terms of size in Germany, their stadium the Olympiastadion can hold 74,649 and yet have not won a major trophy since 1931, they have won three 2. Bundesliga titles and the DFB Ligapokal but again that is up to debate if we are counting a 6 team abolished tournament as a major trophy.
The trophy droughts certainly are not as long as Newcastle, well apart from Hertha Berlin, that one is nearly a century old, which is again down to if you count the abolished DFB Liga Pokal, if you do and you are well within your rights to, then Bilbao hold the drought record which could be ended in the next week or two, sorry Newcastle United fans, but it would be interesting if i have missed any major clubs off of this list.
Rio and Mike sitting in a tree
Rio Ferdinand, what a sack he is, has his tongue as far up Mike Ashley’s arse as he can get it.
Aaron CFC Ireland
Man Utd and Brexit
I’ve read some teeth gnashing-ly awful emails in the mailbox before, but calling Man Utd a Brexit Team and trying to conflate the two? This is how much of a shambles I think Mike’s email is – I’m a Leeds fan and I felt like I should email in.
His point 1 – this isn’t anything to do with a fear of foreigners, its a lack of proper strategic planning and chasing short term success and financial rewards. And Wolves a successful EPL team? They haven’t won anything since their promotion, and haven’t qualified for the Champions league and are currently below newly promoted Leeds.
His point 2 – which club doesn’t hark back to their good old days. The Revie team are revered. Wilko’s barmy army and the O’Leary babes are held in high regard. It has little to do with the British spine of the team – when you have no success you go back to those days. The last period of sustained success for Man Utd happened to coincide with them having a British Spine. Citeh and Chelsea have relatively little historic success so there is nothing for them to revere or idolise.
His final point – Again. Poor strategy and ownership decisions. Hiring unqualified brits? Wolves hired Nuno Espirito Santo in the championship and ploughed money into building a team to get promotion – there is nothing savvy about his appointment, it’s all about the money. Chelsea hired Lampard, and even when they did hire foreign managers they sacked them when they felt like it
And the point about buying British players that aren’t good enough, what about the money spent on obscene wages for Sanchez and Cavani? What about the millions spent on Anthony Martial, Van Der Beek, Diallo, the ludicrous loan feed for Ighalo. The only qualified success is Bruno Fernandes.
Absolutely cannot stand these awful political equivalences when it comes to football, because you absolutely cannot conflate the historic political climate and disenfranchisement that lead to Brexit to a Man Utd team who are just a little bit shit at the minute due to awful management.
…Mike, Atlanta…just wow…where to begin on this one…
First of all, well done in wrapping up your political opinion in football to say how bad Brexit is, and disregarding all the facts (about football, not Brexit) that go against your point, so as a LFC fan (and not ‘the scouse team’ fan, at least try to show some class, if for nothing else because there are two clubs in Liverpool), I’ll do my best to enlighten you within this rather odd and misguided narrative you have created.
You may be right with the rhetoric of Brexit being all about ‘those foreigners comin over ere an takin arr jobs!’ but it seems a little odd to compare that to the current Man Utd team with a Norwegian manager and a squad that is largely made up of non-english international footballers, so to call Man United a Brexit Team is just wrong. Also odd that you choose Man City, Liverpool Everton, Chelsea, and Wolves as your go-to comparison teams, particularly when all of those clubs have foreign managers and the cities largely voted Remain in the referendum.
The nostalgia for the good old days, sure we all wish to look back when times were better. But here’s the interesting thing, if Man United are harking back to the good old days when most of their team were English, and because they were English, then why would they need to look back at all given their current team is the ‘Brexit Team’ and therefore all fans should be happy? Unless, of course, it is less to do with nationality and more to do with the golden era of Sir Alex Ferguson and the amazing teams he created over a 20-year period, constantly winning titles and vying for the best of everything? Who knows!
And to your final point, taking reactionary action to go back to the good old days. You did indeed hire Moyes (again, show class, he’s not ‘the guy managing The Hammers ’) after SAF retired, but since hired LVG (Deutsch), Mourinho (Portugese), and most recently, OGS (Norwegian) – how odd they were left off your manifestations of Brexit actions. Man United have also recruited many foreign players who were not good enough, such as Falcao, Sanchez, and Mkhitaryan, and more recent players such as Bailly, Lindelof (United fans can debate this list if they wish) – but again, odd that you seemed to ignore all the facts to go against your foolish notion to create some form of Anti-Brexit/Football rhetoric regarding United.
There are numerous reasons why Man United are lagging behind Europe’s top teams (a debate already had in this very mailbox), but being the ‘Brexit Team’ isn’t one of them.
…Thanks to Mike, Atlanta for this: “Looking at it objectively the problem is United are a Brexit team.”
This is the first time I’ve laughed at a Brexit reference since 2015.
Aidan, Lfc (at least we can keep the fish)
Tales of going to the match
Bladey Mick asks for tales of match, so I’ll try.
Waking up on New Years Day with the obligatory hangover, a spot of fresh air was needed.
“Come on, l know we said we’d give it a miss, but let’s go the match”, the match being Nottm Forest v LFC at the City ground, a good 2-3 hours away so no time to argue and off we set. By the time we got there it was chucking down and freezing, the “away” end had no roof and I didn’t fancy a couple of hours being hungover and p**sed wet through. “We can go in the Forest end, at least we’ll be dry” I suggested, but my mates were very apprehensive, “You’ll get us into trouble, you won’t be able to keep quiet” they (not unreasonably) argued. “Nah, we’ll be fine, I’m too delicate to get into an argument, besides I’m not stupid!”.
Very little happened for 45 minutes and there were no incidents to possibly rouse me out of my silence. Forest dominated the game with Franz Carr particularly giving Jim Beglin a hard time and the Forest fans were gleefully dishing it out, in particular one guy who, for practically the whole match, had only one target, Ian Rush. Even more so when they took a 1-0 lead early in the second half. The reigning Champions
“Get your nose onside Rushie” “His nose is offside ref!” brought constant laughter from those around him even when shouted for the umpteenth time. With just two minutes left, a rare Liverpool attack caused the crowd to swell forward and an almighty groan could be heard as Forest conceded a late equaliser, “Who was it, who was it? I couldn’t see” cried my new best friend, cue a rather loud, scouse accented “Who’d you fu%^ing think, you kn*bhead!!!”.
Fair to say, we left rather sharpish!
Howard (have another about Leeds 4 – 5 LFC whilst sitting in the Leeds stand) Jones
…Re: football tales, back in the mid eighties when a student in Brighton I used to hitch up to Highbury to see Arsenal play. One day I had a particularly poor day hitching and only got to the game (V Sheffield Wednesday) at half time. I met my mates on the North Bank and learnt that we were winning 1-0. I was starving so said I would go to get us all jumbo hot dogs from the canteen at the back. The queue was large and I ended up missing the first 5-6 minutes of the 2nd half.
Finally got back to watch the footie, took a large bite of my hot dog and then watched the rest of my jumbo sausage fall out of the bun and roll down the steps.
Ended up 1-0, I trudged back to catch the tube to Brixton…
Joff, Barton Gooner
New world order
I think Mike, LFC, London is bang on with his proposed structure for UEFA World Cup Qualifiers. So, I thought I would add some teams to his idea to give it more visualisation.
Firstly, an example of a 5 team group would contain, based on one team from each tier of 8 in the current ranking system:
In theory, there would be something for all the teams to play for right up to and including the final game given nobody wants to finish bottom as they would risk “relegation” for the next set of qualifiers. The 15 teams who would play seeking “promotion” would be:
These teams would benefit from competitive football against teams of a similar competitive level, with a view to gaining “promotion”. The best 8 teams from this list of 15 would have a two legged play off for the next qualification process. In theory, you could expect, based on the examples above, Norway and Kazakhstan to participate in a play off for the right to be included in the main qualification process for the next tournament. Other continental associations have preliminary rounds before the main qualification process, and there is no good reason why UEFA shouldn’t do this too.
If being a sovereign state means that you can play international football then why don’t Monaco and England do?
Could it mean that its all bollocks and its all about commerce?
As someone who has visited a few tax havens I believe they should all be stripped of international football and be forced to play in Spanish/Italian/french leagues as located/desired.
It’s no different to Richard Branson signing up a team to play in conmebol.
Tax havens should not play international football, the end
Small nations XI
Really enjoyed James Wiles’ XI of under-represented UEFA Nationalities in the Premier League, and it got me thinking about what a Rest of the World XI would look like. Criteria: all players must represent a nation from which 6 or fewer players have appeared in the Premier League, one player per nation. You can come up with a surprisingly strong, balanced team once you’re done sifting through the reams of deeply average strikers from minor nations who spent a season at lower-mid table clubs.
Goalkeeper: Ali Al-Habsi (Oman), the only Omani player to appear in the Premier League, the only Omani player ever to win the FA Cup. First name on the teamsheet, though admittedly that’s largely because he’s the goalkeeper. Neil Etheridge of the Phillippines provides solid competition.
Left Back: Maynor Figueroa (Honduras). It was a toss-up between Figueroa and his compatriot Wislon Palacios for the coveted Honduran place on the team. As the only one of the two to have scored from his own half, it was an easy decision.
Centre Back: Christopher Samba (Congo). One of five Congolese footballers to have played in the Premier League, an imposing presence at the heart of Blackburn’s defence for a number of seasons. The less said about that weird QPR spell the better.
Centre Back: Ryan Nelsen (New Zealand). One of six Kiwis to have played in the Premier League, an imposing presence at the heart of Blackburn’s defence for a number of seasons. The less said about that weird QPR spell the better.
Right Back: Cuco Martina (Curaçao). Selected entirely on the basis of that goal against Arsenal.
Defensive Midfield: Victor Wanyama (Kenya). How do you suppose it felt to be the first Kenyan player to appear in the Premier League, only to discover that the nickname “The Kenyan” referred to someone entirely different who wasn’t even from the same continent?
Central Midfield: Naby Keita (Guinea). We still haven’t seen the consistent best of him at Liverpool, but we’ve probably seen enough to get him in the team ahead of fellow Liverpool cult hero Titi Camara.
Left Wing: Akshan Dejagah (Iran). One of just four Iranians to appear in the Premier League, and the only one to have been voted as Iran’s greatest ever left winger by Iranian TV viewers. In your face, Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Right Wing: Nolberto Solano (Peru). Newcastle legend, one of five Peruvian PL players and the only one to ever do anything of note.
Striker: Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo). One of four Togolese footballers to appear in the Premier League, which is three more than I thought there was. Adebayor scored almost 100 goals while playing for some of the division’s top clubs, and Crystal Palace.
Striker: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon). Makes it into the team ahead of Liberia’s George Weah as he was a bit past it by the time he arrived on these shores. Though if anyone wants to mount a spirited argument in favour of including Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon I’d like to hear it.
One nationality XIs
Following the recent one-club nationality XIs I notice that technically nobody set a start date. So here’s a pretty nifty Irish XI* to have played for Liverpool.
Finnan, Lawrenson***, Staunton****, Beglin
Houghton, Whelan, McAteer, Heighway
* Well, players who have represented Ireland, say.
** Given that he left in 1934 I haven’t exactly seen him play, but he is Liverpool’s longest-serving player ever. If we’re not allowed to pick Northern Ireland players, I could cheekily point out that he played for the all-island team before partition. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to take Caoimhin Kelleher instead.
*** Lawro used to play football, you know.
**** Stan didn’t play centre-back for Liverpool, but did captain Ireland in a world cup there. Plus, this way we get to include Beglin, keep “Heighway on the wing” and let Phil Babb be the manager (which is almost certainly better than if we swapped them around).
***** Definitely included for his “Irish legend” status rather than his “Liverpool legend” status.
Dave Lillis, Dublin
P.S. Hilarious that the Milan Brazilians are identical except that one omitted Ronaldo himself.
…How has Thom, Bristol left the real Ronaldo out of his Milan/Brazil team??
…A Scottish team from Leeds United – had the pleasure of seeing all of these play for Leeds at Elland road – sadly not all at the same time!
Frank Gray, McQueen, Cooper, Matteo
McAllister, Bremner, Strachan
Lorimer, Jordan, Eddie Gray
Sullivan, Burns, Collins, Snodgrass, Graham, McCormack
My go at the one nationality 11 and I’ve gone for Inter Milan Brazilians:
GK: Julio Cesar
DF: Maicon, Lucio, Maxwell, Roberto Carlos
MF: Coutinho, Rafinha, Filipe Melo, Kerlon
ST: Adriano, Ronaldo (Fenom)
Pretty sure they would give most a run for their money.
Edward Canhands (Better players than Kerlon were available but I’ve included him because I like watching him do that silly seal dribble thing)