A bumper Mailbox brings views on Darwin Nunez in light of MNF’s breakdown of Erling Haaland. Also: Liverpool need a replacement for Trent; El Tel; plenty on Villa; and modern football isn’t rubbish…
Get your views in to email@example.com…
El Tel should have been the template
Just wanted to mark the passing of England’s only ever attacking minded coach. As someone who 1st saw the 3 Lions at Wembley in 1972 I believe I am amply qualified to make that assertion. He was the only England coach with the personal skills and tactical nous to accommodate the flair players regularly ignored and/or criminally wasted by his predecessors & successors. His brief tenure should have been a template but the suits at the FA have never been interested in progress. One can only imagine what he might have achieved with the current generation.
Haaland v Nunez
Was watching MNF’s build-up to Wolves away to Fulham on Sky just now and part of the lead in was a segment where Carragher sat with Freddie ljungberg breaking down Haalands opener vs Liverpool at the wknd. In almost forensic detail they go frame by frame, Ake playing Haaland in (from Allisons miskick), concluding with the very efficient and almost minimal interaction Haaland has with the football prior to coolly dispatching. Feathery touch, no wasted movement, great awareness etc.
They both agree this is elite no 9 play and I agree w/ their agreeing it. What was left unsaid however is that our 9 has a nearly identical chance the other end when szoboslai plays him in and effectively the total opposite occurs. Darwin takes double the amount of touches, none efficient nor feathery, bumbles a bit then a lot, brain farts thru the entire sequence, then doesn’t get a shot off. Maybe carra and freddie are way ahead of the lazy narrative and long ago stopped comparing the two, b/c there’s clearly no comparison to be made.
They are worlds apart in class, demeanor and end product, and I don’t know what’s happened at the end w/ Pep but Darwin needs to keep his head down and let his football do the talking. Sometimes I do like his fire but really it’s Haalands ice cool that carries value. A book our lad could certainly take a page from.
**Another thing not mentioned on MNF despite the forensics was TAA’s utter lack of defensive endeavor in that same sequence, despite later heroics. Szoboslai sprints from 3-4x the distance to close down space on Ake (and fails) while Trent lops in slo-mo with Ake just ahead, half heartedly dangling a leg to no avail of course. Maybe carra’s right get another fullback in shift Trent up the pitch and just get it over with
Eric, Los Angeles CA
Villa and VAR
With Villa now up to the heady heights of fourth now means I have no idea how to feel. Nervous? Excited? A sense of dread that the only way is down? Or just happy to see my team win more than they lose with lots of goals and winning attitude? Or should I pipe down as we’re not that good/lucky/won’t last?
I dunno but the Tottenham fans in the mailbox blaming their travails on Matty Cash and the referee is a little myopic. You should have been four goals up before half time, try blaming your players for missing so many chances and getting caught offside constantly. Oh, and if Matty Cash and Tyrone Mings are ‘that type of player’ then they are in good company in the Premier League judging by some of the challenges I see week in week out. Cash’s tackle was hopelessly late but not a red.
We were very lucky, no doubt about it, catching Tottenham at a low ebb and their inability to finish but remember we’ve been playing all season without 4 of our best players available from last year (Moreno, Mings, Buendia and Ramsey). Just nice to see a Villa team resilient enough to take advantage of it!
Now look, I’m trying to make peace with VAR. I’d like to see it launched into the sun as we all stand and salute its passing but the wretched, vile curse upon our game is not going anywhere.
Decisions are made by THREE people in the VAR booth. These do NOT have to be referees, in fact there is a massive case for them NOT being referees, but people who have been trained to know the laws of the game and the current interpretations. Majority vote. They can remain anonymous to prevent abuse BUT every decision must be backed up after the game with a written statement linked to the laws or interpretation of the game.
Stop sending the ref to the monitor. Monumental waste of time. Players have to accept the decision is out of the on field referees hands and will not be changed.
Either we get automatic, instant AI offside decisions or we trust the linesman. Twice I have seen players take a kicking, risking injury, trying to stop an attacker that the linesman knows is offside but hasn’t put the flag up because, you know, VAR.
The ‘Coaches Challenge’ model seems about right. Sick of VAR being employed every five minutes for bullshit reasons. You think it’s handball? Should be a red? Offside? You better be sure before you ask VAR to poke it’s warty, pointy nose in.
Referees to communicate with the crowd and viewers by explaining what VAR is looking for. They have microphones already, they do it in NFL and other sports, stop keeping the crowd in the dark.
Get well soon Jonny Nic, you absolute legend.
Funstar (Still hate VAR with every fibre of my soul) Andy
1) RIP El Tel. Euro 96 is still my fave tournament (just finished school, wonderful summer, the world seemed like a lovely place) and in the midst of all that, England played wonderful football all led by Mr Venables.
2) Spurs are very good arent they? I know they lost but this was the first time I have watched their “swarm” and properly paid attention. It looks chaotic, but you can see it is very choreographed and organised, designed to overload and provide more passing options for their inticate moves. Lovely on the eye and very effective.
3) Meanwhile Emery made his usual adjustment for away games, opting for the safety blanket of an extra CB, and pushing Cash into an advanced position. It appears that this is part of the problem with the away from home. Due to the way spurs attack, Cash had no clue where he should be and was thankfully saved from himself at half time.
4) before he got that reprieve, he was definitely part of the problem as spurs could possibly have been well clear by that stage. However, Villas excellent offside trap (most offsides this season, by a country mile), some good keeping and some terrible decision making from Spurs meant that Villa were still in the game in the run up to HT.
5) I do need to ask, if the game kicks off without VAR, and then it comes online, does this not create an issue? What if an early offside isnt given, then later on one is? Surely it should stay off if it isnt working in the beginning?
6) Both teams have been lauded/criticised for their high line approaches, but 4 disallowed goals for offside offers a perfect rebuttal.
7) The first spurs goal encapsulated the chaos of the game. Simple corner, Cash lets it run straight past him, it bounces in the area with nobody near it, falls to ex Emery player Lo Celso, who fires it toward goal, and Emi Martinez seems to have it covered, only for a deflection to beat him. At that stage it appeared there would be only one winner.
8) indeed, had it not been for the metronome at the base of their midfield being on the end of what I am legally obliged to call a “robust” challenge from Cash, it is very likely they go on to secure a comfortable win. A spurs friend sent me a message after the game decrying Cash for injuring Bentancur and Doherty in another recent fixture, and questioned why Villa are now a dirty team. Anyone who has watched more than one game of ours will know thats not a thing (in fact, we sit in 8th on the best behaved teams this season) and it seemed more of a reflection of how fast Spurs think and move that catches oppostion players out.
9) However, I think Carlos was very lucky to escape censure for what appeared to be an elbow on Ringo Starr… I mean Gil. (On a side note, its amazing how many players can look incapable of passing a ball under one manager, but look like world beaters under another. Many of this Villa team looked awful under Stevie Me, and the same looks true for a lot of this spurs squad. Shows what good coaching and tactical nous can do)
10) Onto that equaliser, and what a ball in from Luiz. Pau, who looked ropey doing his day job (lucky to escape Kulu walking around him and hitting the post) but what he does in an attacking sense is truly magnificent. Line breaking passes and the header to thump in the equaliser was truly unsavable.
11) That seemed to knock the wind out of Spurs and allowrd Emery the chance to rectify his initial mistake. Cash and the stragely subdued Diaby off for Bailey and Tielemans gave Villa a good element of control. The dynamics of the game changed and suddenly Spurs were the team playing on the counter, an almost perfect reversal of the first half.
12) Ollie Watkins had a quiet game, with poor touches coughing up possession when he did get involved. (Slight tangent, but since when did VAR start showing two completely seperate POVs of offside calls? One version looked on, the other looked clearly off.)
However, he is slowly becoming a reliable player who only needs one clear chance to score. Great build up, but a clear example of why fullbacks at CB dont work.
13) A word on both keepers. Emi Martinez showed off his full repertoire of skills, good passing out, reactive saves, closing down, and full length dives. Vicario was also fantastic, snuffing out danger early, opting for the right ball out every time and some great saves himself. They both really added to the spectacle.
14) And what a spectacle it was. Proper ebbs and flows, great attacking, great defending, tactically intriguing, both teams putting everything into it. Whats more, both teams had/have multiple first teamers out missing. Villa have had the entirety of last seasons left hand side out (Moreno, Ramsey, Mings) and have cracked on. Spurs now have the spine of the team missing, although not all due to bad luck…
15) Can we get a bit more of a write up on occasion instead of a newsdesk article and a paltry 20 words in an article about the losers? Please? (From the other 14 clubs in the league who dont get the coverage we should. Just a quick glance at Bpurnemouths page for example, shows not a single article about them in November. How is Iraola getting on tactically? Any of their signings making a name for themselves? Is Solanke actually fulfilling his promise now? There are planty of articles waiting to be written about all 20 clubs…)
(This secition is going to stop me getting published isnt it?)
16) so, Villa up to 4th in the table. I dont know a single fan who expects this to stay the same, but what a ride it has been so far under Mr Emery. If we do somehow finish in the top 4, I still expect an article on Spurs from Dave Tickner.
…Let me be clear; Spurs started brilliantly and Villa were woefully off colour in the first half. The odd flash aside. The 2nd half was much more even.
I’ve read that Spurs could have been ‘3-0 or 4-0 up at HT’ and that ‘9/10 times they would have won the game’. I’m not here to say those things are 100% rubbish, but they seem a little one-eyed/revisionist. I’d happily say Spurs could (should) have been ahead at HT. 2-1 might have been about right. Torres should have scored before he did. Cash had an early half chance. The Watkins offside was mighty close. Son’s were not. They were, you know, offside – so don’t really count as ‘unlucky’, or part of the ‘we could have scored 5’ narrative. They wouldn’t have happened pre VAR and thus wouldn’t have been ‘disallowed’ per se. The flag went up (eventually) each time. It was very much like being at the same fixture at Villa Park earlier this year.
I don’t like it as a stat but the xG was 2.34 to 1.76 in Spurs’ favour. Bailey hit the post. Watkins fell over when squaring the ball to Bailey would have resulted in a certain goal. Watkins also headed narrowly wide twice, somehow. Emery’s HT subs made a huge difference. That bodes well for Villa.
I thought it was a really good game between two entertaining sides. Spurs did deserve a draw, at the very least. The idea that they could/should have won comfortably though isn’t something I can agree with. Or maybe I watched a completely different game? I’m sure some will think I did. I generally try to be objective, but perhaps my bias is affecting me here?
Marco Van Basten’s bicycle kick against Den Bosch in 1986 was so good that, if I remember rightly, he devoted a chapter of his autobiography to it.
…Now, when we talk about one of the best bicycle kicks in Premier League history, my mind races straight to Christian Benteke for Liverpool at Old Trafford against Manchester United. Now, I get it, it’s somewhat overshadowed because Liverpool lost 3-1 that day, but let’s not sleep on the sheer brilliance of Benteke’s strike.
The pace he puts on that ball is nothing short of outstanding, and it’s like an arrow hitting the bullseye as it finds the top corner. I mean, that’s textbook perfection right there. And can we talk about Ander Herrera’s reaction? Priceless. It’s like he’s witnessing a magic trick, and he can’t believe what just unfolded before his eyes. Even in the midst of a tough result, Benteke’s bicycle kick carved out its own spot in the greatest bicycle kicks of all time.
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) September 12, 2016
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod
Some people love thunder bastards from 30 yards. Others like bicycle kick worldies. Some people (me) love a team goal. Some people love a Tony Yeboah (yeah I’m that old) edge of the area lash! We are so desperate to say one is better than the other, when it is utterly subjective!
We all love football for different reasons, so I don’t see why we try to qualify goals objectively. It’s all subjective. Garnacho scored a goal that made almost 99% of people who saw it go ‘oh my!’ Let’s leave it at that. Who cares if Trevor Sinclair was better. Enjoy the goal!
John (sometimes worry people are in abusive relationships with football) Matrix AFC
It takes two
Whilst partly agreeing with Carl about the TNT coverage between Brentford and The Arsenal, then I watched the game from my sickbed instead of being in the home areas of the GTech.
The coverage, as ever on all tv, was demeaning to the Bees and, as I said at the time, it was just like watching the warm up for Arsenal v Arsenal reserves.
Little mention of the Bees horrific injury list which at one point had us 13 players missing. We are now luckily down to eight!! We do not have multiple players to take their place and used a 17 yo on his full league debut.
Constant references to all Arsenal players during the match was littered with occasional mistakes on the Brentford line up. We are a small club but deserve to be where we are and deserve a much better coverage from Broadcasters. It takes two to have a match up.
I have been musing on this for a while- how many games can any manager lose in a row before being sacked? Obviously it depends on context. This will be how long the manager has been in charge, what they have won (both at their current club and at previous clubs), what the expectations are at the club and how much cash has been flashed or how many injuries they have.
So, different levels of different managers and different clubs. For example, Burnley are on a run of six successive defeats. However, Vincent Kompany bought them up in wonderful style so he gets more time. How much more time? I would say not much more. I estimate eight games in a row is enough for Kompany to go.
What about the club on the next longest losing streak, Spurs? Three in a row for them. Context is important, Ange Postecoglou was manager of the month for August, September and October so to be sacked in November would be peak Spurs. They have City next so a fourth defeat in a row is certainly possible. They then have home games against West Ham and Newcastle. If they lose those, I think six games in a row is enough to see Postecoglou posteco-gone.
Who could survive the longest? I reckon Klopp could lose 10 in a row at Liverpool and survive. He lost five in a row at home a few years again and there was no talk of the sack. What he has won at Liverpool, and before, provides the armour. Interesting aside, Klopp is still the last manager to stop City winning the Premier League and Bayern winning the Bundesliga.
However, I say Pep is the most defeats-proof manager in the game. I say he could lose 12 in a row and survive. I would go so far as to say there might not be a number on Pep. He would decide to go before he is sacked, no matter the number.
On the flip side, who could sustain the fewest defeats in a row? Moyes. West Ham lost three in a row in the league recently and have bounced back with two wins. I would wager he cannot risk three in a row again or he is out.
The Liverpool “Hacking” in 2012 is an interesting issue for Phil, MCFC, Rochdale to raise. Now, obviously, because it was settled, there are lots of grey areas where we simply don’t know what happened, but there are a couple of facts that I think are agreed by all parties.
1. In 2012, Michael Edwards, Dave Fallows and Julian Ward, all former employees of Manchester City’s recruitment team, joined Liverpool.
2. Manchester City alleged that a number of attempts to access their online scouting system were made in an eight-month period following that.
3. Liverpool, while not accepting any liability, and Manchester City agreed a settlement and both clubs agreed a confidentiality agreement.
Anything over and above that is pointless and idle speculation. So let’s do that, shall we? The easiest way for someone to gain access to a previous workplace computer account is if that previous workplace neglects to terminate their access on the end of their employment. Another easy way is if employees regularly share logins, or login from shared computers meaning that the fundamental confidentiality of the system is breached.
Taking speculation further, IF either of those were the ways in which a former Man City employee was able to gain access to their scouting system, then the institution legally at fault under the 1984 and 2002 Data Protection Act (and the General Data Protection Responsibility of 2016, which supersedes this but which was not in place at the time of the alleged breach and the settlement,) is the holder of the data, in this hypothetical case Manchester City.
IF I was the holder of data which, due to my lax systems had been accessed by an unauthorised third party, I might agree a settlement and confidentiality agreement rather than pursue that third party and expose the fact that I had breached my Data Protection responsibilities to players I was scouting, many of whom would be minors.
This is all a very silly argument, of course, but I think Phil likes these kind of hypotheticals. I bet he likes alternate history books and TV shows, like that Man In The High Castle programme.
Dara O’Reilly, London
The biggest winner of winners and losers this week is Newcastle.
A deserved 4-1 demolition of Chelsea doesn’t even get them on the winners list at F365.
Adam G, NUFC
Modern football is pretty great
Hi Hugo, can you go a bit easy on drinking that hateorade?? Lets take your nonsense point by point.
– I support Manchester United & most definitely do not support the Glazers. You know how i know that? Today the Glazers can all die & i wouldn’t really care other than feel bad for them from a humanity perspective. If Manchester United ceases to exist, I would be devastated. If you think you or anyone can run a club like United, Chelsea, City etc without having a billion dollars to back it up, you are in la la land. The world is expensive, so buying a football club is most definitely expensive, and running it is even more expensive. It’s nonsense to think otherwise. No one is stopping a thousand people putting in a million bucks each to buy a club, but I do not see anyone putting their money where their mouth is. Just because you are cheap/basic doesn’t mean that talented players, managers, staff do not take a high salary mate. Yes there are owners who deserve to be jailed for the way they handle a club, but thats not the club or its supporters fault.
– No likable players? The f*ck are you on about. Let me name a few, old and new. Kaka, Ronaldhino, Iniesta, Beckham, Rashford, Micah Richards, Drogba, Salah, Mane, Saka, Messi & many many more. Again, just because you & I are poorish (comparatively), doesn’t mean people like us cannot relate to these players who came from nothing to become superstars through hardwork and effort. It’s not their fault they are getting paid what they demand for. You pretend like you haven’t ever asked for a salary hike, the only difference is that you/we get rejected most of the time. You know for every 11 players that start a match, there are atleast 11 thousand who had their dreams broken while dedicating their life to the sport, and earned nothing out of it.
– Who is “we” ?? You can talk about yourself mate. I enjoyed every minute of supporting Manchester United, from 2000 to 2013 when we were winning, and 2013 to now when we are rubbish & tough to watch.
– For “robotic play” & “No individual skill” you can checkout the Garanacho goal mate.
– As for VAR, it’s not perfect, but i remember the daily conspiracy theories before VAR existed about how refs take bribes and what not. Atleast VAR today is better than all that.
– EPL & CL games are unwatchable? Damn, I loved the Chelsea City game, Spurs Villa game, Brighton Forrest game & that’s just the last few I can remember. The worst games I watch are of the team I support, United!
Just because you don’t enjoy football anymore, or have outgrown the game, doesn’t mean the game will stop or change for you. Get with the times or move on & watch your local grassroot teams perform. There is a lot to dislike about the Premier League, UEFA, FA & FIFA. But let’s not put the entire blame on the Club, fans or the players who are following the rules setup by the organizations. You lot were bitching when a new idea like the Super League came in, and now you are bitching when nothing new is being done. You bitch when the refs call was the final call in a game, no matter how wrong or stupid, and now you crib when technology intervenes & takes a decision. There is no pleasing people who love to be cynical. If you saw Chelsea-City, or the Garanacho goal, and this game is still not for you, then i suggest that you are over football as a sport mate & thats fair.
…I had a good chuckle at Hugo’s ‘it was so much better in my day’ lament.
I think he possibly means ‘waaah…it’s not fair…why can’t United financially bully everyone anymore?’
And I was surprised to learn that players ‘played for the shirt’ 20 years ago, not like now, eh? All these millionaire mercenaries. Is Hugo under the impression everyone played for their boyhood club for a pittance, and got the bus to the stadium with the fans on match days in the early 2000s? And had a few pints in the local Working Men’s Club afterwards?
Still he’s right that it’s all about money these days, who could have seen that coming when the ITV ‘Big 5’ led the breakaway from the Football League because they wanted to cream off more money for themselves at the expense of smaller clubs? Or certain clubs becoming PLCs and focusing on making as much money from overseas ‘fans’ as possible?
The phrase ‘reap the whirlwind’ cones to mind.
PS…and have you heard the terrible pop music they have these days…?
Michael The Bert
…Hugo will never read this because he doesn’t follow football anymore but I wanted to hazard a guess and when he thought football was great… it was when you were a kid right? And now you aren’t a kid?
When was the best music made… when you were a kid. Films? All rubbish now, great when you were a kid. Christmas? Much better when you were a kid.
What you are describing Hugo, is being an adult. Life sucks, get over it.
No it’s not
Big thanks to Hugo for putting into words what a depressed, anxious nobhead like me can’t. Basically everything I like is now shit.
I blame it on one thing……money.
Some might say it’s the way it’s always been, we’re just aware or it more now. The problem is unplugging from it all. It’s just rammed down your throat through every medium (TV, news, radio, magazines,online) and there is no way to step back.
After Everton’s struggles a couple of years ago, I thought, what’s the point? Tried to give it up but I couldn’t. I hate the way that these things have a hold on me.
Maybe it’s time to go back to an old Nokia phone so I’m not being pinged all the time by things desperate to get my money.
Fat Man (having a diagnosis doesn’t help either)
…Hey Hugo, I agree with everything you say, and i have felt that way for years. I have just accepted that it is now entertainment. It is all part of the entertainment package. Some football makes its way through though. If it helps, I always stream, and haven’t paid a penny for football in years, other than the one bar that shows Man Utd games here but they deserve it. Did not watch a minute of the World Cup in Qatar and tried to not even give it a click. I failed but just gave it a few clicks. Not even one for Saudi though, even though it sucks that I still end up reading about it a lot, and writing once in awhile unfortunately. Pretty much I am trying to do it on my terms and it seems to be working.
Hard wage caps aren’t the answer
As an alternative to FFP, various people have suggested wage caps. Now let me tell you, if a wage cap was instituted, the most delighted party would be club owners. A hard wage cap would depress wages for top players, even if it does increase the competitiveness of the league.
I think a fairer solution would be soft wage caps or luxury tax, where a club paying wages in excess of a certain limit (probably last year’s median club wage bill) would have to pay an additional percentage fee to the FA or UEFA or whatnot for redistribution down the football pyramid. Note the amount of money available for paying players would remain the same, just redistributed.
Additionally, if a team did pay their players off the books, that would be literally stealing money from other clubs who would have received the luxury tax redistributions, so clubs would support enforcement of the rules much more readily rather than frustration at the violation of rules which seem arbitrary.
Noah, Chicago Gunner
*Not sure really what to say about the weekend’s football, only that Crystal Palace find themselves in the weird situation of being a Roy Hodgson team incapable of defending. Luton Town deserve credit for the goals they scored but it’s also fair comment that they will face tougher opposition than whatever Palace are supposed to be.
*Worse than the result was that for the second time this season the Eagles have come away from their first game after an international break with injuries to key players. Marc Guehi was injured on England duty previously, and on Saturday both Eberechi Eze and Cheick Doucoure departed before the end. Eze’s was the result of a defender failing to stop him by fair means and landing on his ankle, not a million miles away from the sort of outcome that has led to rugby league clamping down on hip drop tackles. Doucoure appears to have injured his achilles and will be lucky to be back before the end of the season. All of a sudden, that thinness of squad that plenty of us have remarked upon previously is making itself known again.
*Michael Olise’s goal was a thing of absolute beauty. Imagine a parallel universe where he’s leading Palace into a prosperous future instead of being a rare bright spot in a sea of drudgery.
*That result meant that the highlight of the weekend’s football was seeing Lewis Dunk get a red card. Pantomime villains gonna villain. For all that plucky little Brighton deservedly win plaudits for their entertaining football and for removing huge sums of money for their players from bigger clubs, there has always been an underbelly to them. Their playing style has lots of people looking sympathetically on Roberto de Zerbi as a passionate character, instead of being criticised as a prolific collector of yellow cards for his behaviour towards officials, which regularly makes Jurgen Klopp and Neil Warnock look like shrinking violets. It shouldn’t be a surprise that it was his captain who became the first player in twelve years to be sent off for foul and abusive language.
*Rob Edwards deserves credit for the way he and his team are approaching this season in the Premier League. They’ve added some top flight experience but they’ve given plenty of those who got them there a lot of opportunities to show how good they can be. Regardless of what happens to Town, there are lots of players who are showing they are capable of doing a job in the Premier League.
*Carl in the Monday morning mailbox calls for television companies to get their “club affiliated cheerleaders to tone down their agendas”. I have a similar pipe dream, only I don’t have Sky and TNT, so mine is that the Athletic tweet proper goal updates instead of ones from their club-specific correspondents celebrating goals.
*Terry Venables will be remembered by different people for different things, but for two current Premier League teams he’ll always be remembered as part of the origin story of Brighton & Hove and Palace not liking each other very much. When he was Palace manager, he took the Eagles to the top of the First Division with a very young team he hailed as “the team of the 80s” – like everything for Palace it wasn’t quite to be, but the potential was there: two of those players (Terry Fenwick and Kenny Sansom) would represent England at the 1986 World Cup, and two others (Mike Flanagan and Neil Smillie) would go on to manage Gillingham. The way his legacy touches all levels of football in this country, as well as being beloved at Barcelona, is something any of us would be proud of.