The Mailbox fears we’ll be seeing plenty more of Frank Lampard after he was sacked by Everton. Also: Liverpool’s new priority; Arsenal’s NBA influence; and Spurs’ process.
Get your views in to email@example.com…
It will be interesting to see where Lampard goes next. I’m yet to be convinced he actually has the capability to be a football manager, certainly not in the Premiership, possibly in the Championship?
Unfortunately for him I dont think he will do the sensible thing and have a go at a mid table Championship club.
Doubly unfortunately for him is the era of the Old Boys getting jobs forever because they’re English and mates with the old chairmen seems to be (thank f*ck) over. If this was 10 years ago Lampard would walk into any one of those bottom 10 clubs with ease, waving at Allardyce on his way. (Leicester may have gotten used to Rodgers so much that Lampard manages to BS his way into replacing him – it’s the only club I could see him going, not sure why)
Unfortunately for us that might mean having him as a full time pundit.
Lampard the last of a dying breed
Anyone who has followed the French farce that is Everton Football Club over the last decade will surely acknowledge that Frank Lampard is not solely to blame for the club’s current travails. But he is partly to blame. Meanwhile, a few miles down the M6, Unai Emery is making short work of transforming Aston Villa after the fiasco of Stevie G’s brief reign in charge.
Which leads me to my point. When in heaven’s name are Premier League clubs going to stop appointing untested managers on the basis they were half-decent players? Apart from being bloody insulting to less heralded managers who have put in the hard graft at lower league clubs over several years, it’s just bloody stupid. How many great managers were any good in the days they pulled on club colours? Guardiola, Zidane . . . er, I’m struggling.
Read Connor Murphy’s email with great interest because it’s always good to get an outsider’s perspective. I think he hit the nail on the head with most all of his observations with two exceptions:
Evertonians know we’re in that doom spiral and if you ask an Evertonian, they’ll tell you that relegation is all but assured. Many of us felt that way at the beginning of the season even after our miraculous escape last season. Rotten spending on rotten players by rotten managers with a rotten board in charge.
Many Evertonians will tell you that when (not if) we go down to the Championship, we will NOT be coming right back up. In fact, I personally think that we’d have a more likely chance of going down to League One than back up to the Premiership. That is how rotten our club is from top to bottom. This institutional rot was only exacerbated by Moshiri rather than stopped in its tracks.
I am hopeful that when we go down, that it’ll clear out the current ownership & board and allow us to start fresh. Contrary to some misguided souls out there, we do NOT believe we have some divine right to stay in the Premier League. If clubs like Leeds, Villa, and Forest can go down, we certainly can as well. Hopefully it’ll let the current crop of players KNOW that they’re not Premier League standard. As I mentioned in a previous email, only Pickford & Onana would be snapped up by Premier League clubs. The rest wouldn’t get a phone call.
I’m also hopeful that when we go down, we somehow can turn it around and come back up soon. Leeds and Forest show that it isn’t a given however. Talk to an Evertonian and you’ll find a zombie wandering around with glazed over eyes wondering why this was allowed to happen from an inept board.
TX Bill (it’s the hope that kills you) EFC
…There are silver linings. For the first time in my life, I’ll get to manage in the Championship on FM next year. Provided we still exist by then.
Aidan, EFC, London
Villa fans recognise the signs
Conor Murphy, AVFC – I’m more than happy for Villa to go under the radar a little while longer. It’s lovely to actually look forward to to the games as the weekend approaches.
Spot on re: Everton too. The thing is, you’d think telling Everton fans that the ‘doom spiral’ is happening would help them see the light, and thus come to the realisation they’re doomed. They won’t though. I know this a) because I didn’t when others told me Villa were sinking back before the eventual relegation in 15/16, and b) I’ve tried telling Everton fans I know, and they still think they’ll be okay. They haven’t uttered the ‘too big to go down’ line, but they’ve come close.
It was the awful signings of the last couple of seasons at Everton that set the alarm bells ringing for me. At Villa it was Cissokho, Carlos’ Sanchez and Gil, Crespo, Amavi, Veretout, Joe Cole, Micah Richards, Kieran Richardson… I could go on. Not necessarily bad players, just clearly bad fits at the time. At Everton we have Gbamin, Kean, Rondon, Tosun, Godfrey, Keane, Iwobi, and Doucoure (amongst others). The year Villa went they down they sold Benteke, their main supply of goals. Richarlison anyone?
The similarities are really quite astounding. The trouble is, as Conor intimates, by the time you see it at your own club, it’s way way too late. The rot has already truly set in.
‘Trust the process’. It’s a phrase that Arsenal fans were heavily mocked for until the fruition of said process looks very very juicy.
Man Utd and Newcastle don’t have the catchphrase but you can now see their workings out. City have Pep and Liverpool’s planning has been faultless until this seasons seismic reality check. Chelsea are bonkers to be fair, but they’re at least rich.
But what to make of Spurs? I don’t understand or just can’t see what the vision is. Has there ever been one apart from ‘build a cool stadium’?
Conte is a short-term manager. That’s fine if the club / DoF has an overarching vision of style of football / player recruitment and everyone is aligned.
This is so clearly not the case.
Conte’s tactics (the rigid deployment of 3 at the back) is outdated. Pep can make that set-up work but he is playing chess whilst everyone else is playing chequers. We’re buying players for a system that the next manager just won’t use.
Conte also demands instant success which means signings for now. Which is great until success doesn’t come. Then what will we be left with? Seemingly 8 wing backs.
Conte will not be our manager in 2 years time. 2 months is now a push. Nuno was wildly under qualified. Mourinho was Mourinho. Short-term fix after short-term fix creates long-term problems. Spurs’ current DNA is believing that a manager is solely responsible for the clubs success.
Our director of football, Paratici was meant to be a coup for the club, but he’s just a transfer guy (who might be banned from all football very soon). He doesn’t own the vision for the club.
So it all comes down to Levy. This might irk other spurs fans, but I don’t think he needs to leave the club. The huge caveat here is he absolutely needs to step away from the football side of things. He’s too involved. He needs someone else to run the strategy, to own the vision.
If he can’t or won’t do that, then he has to go, because currently we’re in a position where we have a world class manager that I want to leave because the club has set him up for failure.
There is no manager on the planet that can change this clubs fortunes if Levy continues as is. If the club isn’t going to change, then spare me the heartache of hiring Poch just to watch him fail.
Trust the process? Just show me a semblance of a plan that isn’t a new manager and his immediate transfer needs.
We have a winner
Seem to remember around 18 months ago there was a lot of debate about who is the better manager out of Ole Solskjaer, Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta. Think that discussion is over.
Something I’ve noticed in the plays and movement that Arsenal deploy is that it isn’t based solely on Football thinking. Much has been made about how Arteta is part of a coaching circle, where he shares ideas and thinking with other elite coaches who aren’t necessarily in the world of football. We’ve heard about Eddie Jones, but I know there are multiple US coaches in this circle too.
Within Arsenal circles, much has been made about how certain passes that Arsenal use aren’t based on football theory, but Basketball. Ben White to Saka, the curved right foot pass into the channel is something straight out of the NBA playbook. And when I watched them against United on Sunday, again, some of the movement, expected positions and ideas seemed basketball-esque. The speed of moving the ball, and the shapes groups of 3 and 4 made seem tailor made to maximise the squads ability.
We heard Cesc on Sky talk about how Arteta has changed everything at Arsenal from inspirational quotes on the wall, better facilities and machines, and most importantly the mentality and attitude. I don’t believe there is a single cancerous cell left in the club. I feel like you either abide by Mikel’s rules or you’re out. The rot we had was so ingrained it was always gonna take a firebrand genius to get rid of it, and we got lucky that we found that person in Arteta. We may have had to go into the abyss before we got out of it, but the fruits of such a decision are for all to see.
And this brings me to Arteta and why he brings such ire from the likes of Richard Keys. Arteta, a very young man mangerially speaking, has moved the game beyond their punditry. They see their own rushing obsolescence. Arteta views the game at a level so deep that Keys and his fackin run around, stick it to em, they don’t like it up em, lump it to the big fella ideas are irrelevant. The old sticks to beat the club with are worn down to nubs.
I refuse to believe we will win the league, the pain of failure is still too fresh to think of anything but heroic failure. But I don’t believe anyone in my club is thinking like me. I genuinely believe their sole focus is City, and then Everton, and then whoever is next.
Personally, in a league of state backed clubs and oligarchs and billionaires, there is something massively heartening to see the biggest match of the season for us won by two youth products from our Academy.
John Matrix AFC
Quick one – being an Arsenal fan right now is just… nice. Fans at the stadium are happy, the kids are leading the charge, the veterans are playing well, results are going in the right direction. Even the weapons grade trolling from Stewie Griffin is a great reminder of just how miserable everyone was and a great reference point to the current happiness…
Yeah Man City will come, another injury or two up front and we’re in all sorts, Trossard might be a rich-man’s Denis Suarez etc. etc. etc.
But for right now? Nice…
Simon (of the age and birthplace where beating United > beating Spurs) Formerly of London
…Mudryk may well prove to be a better signing than Trossard but the timing of your email is weird, Stewie.
You see Trossard came off the bench and had a direct involvement with the winner while Mudryk’s Chelsea drew a blank against Liverpool – which makes him currently as effective “Finney on the wing” from the old Arsenal vs Liverpool Harry Enfield sketch.
Top of the league. 50 points. And two of our front three are Hale Enders. It probably won’t last but football, as with life, is about enjoying the good times and for now, things are pretty good at the Arsenal.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
The Belgian Cazorla?
Two-footed, amazing close control, and plays in multiple positions.
If Trossard starts taking free kicks, we basically signed Belgian Cazorla.
Wondering if he’ll follow in Santi’s footsteps and transition to central midfield when the team needs him there. Right now, think there’s value in him being used as an emergency option for Xhaka’s position until we sign someone…
Girish, AFC, Chennai
I was at the game yesterday, and came away feeling i had watched my beloved Arsenal beat the best team that had come to face us all season. Newcastle had been gloriously negative, rotating who fouled Saka (it was your go until you got a yellow, then someone else took over) and aiming only for the draw, but United, who i had expected to kick lumps out of us, actually at times looked quite good.
But i left the game feeling I’d watched us deservedly beat a good but inferior team. a cracking match worth the season ticket alone. Then i woke up to find we had apparently either been lucky (F365 conclusions and some Manure fans) or incredibly unlucky (the stats of the game say we dominated in every way ( xG, possession, touches, touches in the box, shots, and on and on)
So some conclusions from me:
1. it was closer than the stats show, showing the limitations of statistics.
2. It was less close than some have pretended. They were lucky to be in it at the end, and we deserved the win.
3. Bruno Fernandes may be the most despicable piece of crap to currently ply his trade for any team in the prem. Cheating, diving, time wasting, injury faking, sly kicking, whiny arsehole. i say this not as criticism, but as fact. Perfect Manure captain, you love to hate him.
4. Rashford is proper good right now, was trouble all first half, though better shackled second half.
5 McTominay won a prize draw to pretend to be a footballer right? How long does the prize last?
6 Martinez is tiny. Not just small for a centre back, but small for a human. that he socred with a header is hilarious.
7: Antony, is utter gash, offering nothing except blatant cheating dives, which never got carded.
8. AWB and shaw both had tough games and looked awful at times, but thats down to the quality they faced i think.
9: Bukayo Saka is the best young player in the prem.
10 Bukayo Saka is the best winger in the prem.
11 Martinelli is probably second best.
12 i would no longer swap Odegard for De Bruyn.
13 Someone is going to notice we seem to sneak both Zinchenko’s identical twin brothers onto the pitch when he plays. there were times i swore he passed to himself 30 meters away. He was everywhere, and did everything.
14 Eddie is good enough.
15 Xhaka, who i felt was limited but had given his best to us for years, has found another level we didnt know, or even guess, he had.
16.Partey is slow, and sometimes lazy. but my god the man is excellent and central to us playing well.
Joy and hope is starting to turn into belief, and nothing made me happier than seeing Stewie Griffin with so little to complain about.
David (Are we allowed to celebrate that win Keys? you misogynist Dinosaur.) North London.
Death, taxes, and McTominay flak
I am probably one of the few Manchester United Fans who genuinely have time for Scott McTominay. It was a pleasant surprise he was starting yesterday but even before a ball was kicked you could tell that Social Media would be awash with negativity, Samuel Luckhurst of the MEN leading the charge. It was the same when the winner for Arsenal went in, you could tell that McTominay especially would be the scapegoat online and sure as anything he was the one taking the flack for a TEAM losing the game. Whilst online is not exactly reflective of the real world it is always the same players being abused from the same people and you have to wonder, do they even watch games or is it just a piley on? You see it with Maguire as well when he plays, often the abuse is quite toxic and absurd. I am 99% sure that of the Trolls online do not watch the games.
Whilst he did not set the world a light he certainly was not the worst Player on the pitch but it just seems as if he is always the target irrespective of performance. For example Eriksen was worse, been poor for weeks, escapes any form of scrutiny. Fernandes, whose behaviour is not befitting of a Captain another one who seems above scrutiny also. The problem I find is that these “journalists” and “pundits” know that if they target certain players it will get a lot of online noise and Clicks for their platforms.
The fact of the matter is you do not play over 200 First Team games for any Top Club and your Country let alone Manchester United if you are not good enough. The Manager clearly thought he was good enough yesterday and I think he is more qualified to judge than some “experts” on Twitter. Support the TEAM, if you cannot then go and support someone else.
Lay off ETH
Given most weren’t giving us much chance of top 4 this year, and how much good work has been done by TH already, it’s disappointing to see some fans blaming him for losing to Arsenal in the final minutes. The tactics and team selection was spot on, sometimes the game goes a certain way and yesterday Arsenal had wind in their sails. We just hold our hands up and say the better team on the day won the match.
We are ahead of schedule after one summer transfer window, playing some fantastic football and have beaten most of the bigger teams already this season, including Arsenal. Furthermore, we are still competing on four fronts. Chill out and enjoy what he’s building, we were never going to go through the rest of season without dropping points. Nor will Arsenal or City for that matter.
Garey Vance, MUFC
The new Liverpool
As an LFC fan I watched the Arsenal game yesterday just to realise how far we have dropped in our performance level. They are what Liverpool used to be the last 4/5 years, a high energy, unrelenting pressing team with 2-3 top class players that can make the difference (For Mane and Salah, see Saka and Odegaard).
It was no contest really, Utd did what they have done all season against any team they know they cannot out football, park the bus and play counter. It’s worked on the whole, Arsenal totally dominated them at OT and lost with this tactic from Utd. Glad it didnt work yesterday, after the dire game that was Liverpool vs Chelsea (Such a low quality game, terrible passing, organisation, low energy, was truly awful) was great to watch Arsenal yesterday and kudos to Arteta for building the sheer COURAGE required to play Football in the way that they are, and the belief that is now flowing with the run of results. Really do hope they win the league over City.
…Watched the Arsenal match on Sunday. Not an Arsenal supporter, or anything close to it (Liverpool supporter with Spursy connections in fact). It was a joy watching them, reminded me of Liverpool a few seasons back, and I’ll be watching them again. If they go on to win the league, fair play. But if not, it’s a pleasure to watch a team absolutely on song at the moment.
My point: I read the mailbox most days so can I suggest to any Arsenal supporters bemoaning the current situation (mentioning no names) to button it because it can disappear as quickly as it arrives and not enjoying it in the moment only means you miss out.
Good luck to you Arsenal fans this season – half way through and if you continue like this, you’ll be worthy winners of this title.
Liverpool must go all in for Champions League
Is it time for arsenal fans to start believing the title dream?
I’ll admit at the start of the season I underestimated arsenal and never would have placed them top of the league at this point.
It’s been through a combination of playing very well and the other rivals being pretty poor. Similar to Leicester title win. Doesn’t make it any less impressive because even when your rivals are poor…you still need to be good. And arsenal are.
Arsenal fans got a taste of what it’s like to challenge with city via spurs. They must have been thinking ‘this is the moment city dropped out’ as a seasoned veteran of watching city be the most infuriating unstoppable engine I did not think that. 45 minutes is a very long time against peps City.
Arsenal also still need to play city twice as well and when the heat is on very few teams squeeze you like city do. I’ve watched city a lot over the last 3 years purely because I wanted to know how they make games against bus parkers look so easy when Liverpool, even at our best, really struggle with that. As such I’ve grown an admiration for just how effective they are. And this is why despite arsenal’s superb football this season, my money is still on city. There’s 19 games and city are capable of winning all 19…in a row… Easily. I don’t think arsenal are quite experienced enough to do that yet.
As for liverpool we aren’t even in the conversation and don’t deserve to be. I hope klopp is seeing this for what it is now – a hail Mary for the champs league. It’s entirely doable and we are a team which does it more than everyone bar a couple of teams. We need to throw everything at it and sacrifice the league an cups. Blasphemy I know but missing the champs league next year will likely see our first choice targets in midfield go elsewhere and we’ll end up with more slightly average ones who are just younger than our already average ones. And that won’t help anything.
Klopp past it?
All great managers, excepting a few outliers get, old. They reach a point where they struggle to rebuild their teams and maintain their innovative advantage.
Is Jurgen Klopp now old? It’s plausible to think so. Momentum looks to be elsewhere. The squad needs a refresh, but alot of players won’t want to be part of a “project.” There’s a certain negativity surrounding the club. And a new generation of managers has emerged, managers who probably studied Klopp’s systems while working in smaller roles and getting their badges.
At the start of Klopp’s second season at Liverpool, the Premier League had Mourinho, Guardiola, Wenger, Poch, and Conte managing its top six clubs. Ancelotti popped by for a bit too. Given that company, what he’s achieved at Liverpool over the last 6/7 years has been outstanding. He’s a fantastic manager. It’s no shame being a Wenger or a Mourinho (or a Dalglish) and maybe that’s who Klopp is. There are idiots who throw around words like “fraud”, but anyone with an ounce of competitiveness knows what an achievement it is to hang around at the very top for any period of time.
But maybe he has arrived at that inflection point in his career. Right now he faces a very interesting challenge. If he does it all again and builds a team that competes at the very top for another cycle, he’ll be up there with the greater greats. Otherwise he’ll “just” be a lesser great.
Next season will be an interesting one.
Postcard from the Palace
*In the past week Crystal Palace have faced three teams with genuine Champions League aspirations and come away with two draws and a defeat by a single goal. There have been worse weeks in the club’s history.
*The Eagles have a mixed record against Eddie Howe’s teams: in 14 games across all competitions against his Bournemouth and Newcastle United sides they have won four, drawn seven and lost three with a goal difference of +4 (17-13). However, the most frequent result has been 0-0, something that always seemed far more likely than any sort of goal fest this weekend.
*Patrick Vieira made three of changes from midweek, with Jeffrey Schlupp, Jordan Ayew and Eberechi Eze brought into the side in place of Will Hughes, Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta. Chris Richards continued at centre-back, and was once again impressive.
Vieira’s boldest selection choice came in the 90th minute, when he withdrew Odsonne Edouard and handed a debut to David Ozoh. At 17, he immediately became the youngest player to make a Premier League appearance for the club, but that didn’t stop people on social media questioning his age. It’s a common racist trope to infer black people are actually older than they say they are, and in other spheres it has contributed to some problematic policing, so don’t do it.
*The worst moment for Palace was seeing Wilfried Zaha go off with a hamstring injury. He’ll be a big miss, but this is an opportunity for the other forwards to show there can be life after the Ivorian, should he depart in the summer as people seem to expect. In any case, it seems Vieira will take a different approach to his predecessor – one of the most irritating things about Roy Hodgson’s time at Palace was how he’d react to Zaha’s absences with an air of someone who knew before it started the game was unlikely to be won, so wasn’t worth wasting any time or energy on.
*United will naturally see this as two points dropped; they had seven shots on target, albeit without massively testing Vicente Guaita, and 15 corners as they pinned the Eagles back. There’s an argument – admittedly, not an easy argument to win – that Palace might also see it as two points dropped, when they produced the best chance of the match as Mateta forced a tremendous save from Nick Pope.
*Overall United will probably think this was a mixed bag: they must feel terrible they got all the way to Selhurst Park having forgotten their kit, but as luck would have it, the Saudi Arabia national team were nearby and able to lend them some.
Inevitably, the subject of United’s owners was a part of fan discourse on Saturday, with video footage of Palace fans singing “f*** the Saudis” doing the rounds on social media, and United supporters answering with the very clever gotcha that there were advertisements for “Saudi Arabia” around the pitch. In fact, Saudi Egyptian Developers is an Egyptian company.
*Presumably this is something they’ve got plenty of mileage out of with other teams’ fans, but accusing Palace fans of being jealous of their newly-acquired riches is wide of the mark. More than many other clubs, Palace supporters have been vocal in their opposition to many of the game’s ills, and would likely resist such a move. Not everyone sees eye to eye with Steve Parish all the time, but the majority of people respect that he has the club’s best interests at the heart of every decision he takes, instead of simply looking to line his own pockets. The club has committed to a programme of upgrading its academy and is in talks to redevelop part of Selhurst Park. That’s about the long-term future of the club, when that money could easily have been spent on a player to make the first team better. What he and a lot of fans want to see is local players coming through the academy and being good enough to play in the Premier League for a club with a deep connection to its community. That’s something United used to be very proud of, too.
Cloudy crystal balls
At the start of the season I’d written a mail suggesting that Newcastle should be considered in the top 4 contrary to almost all the pundits’ predictions. I also suggested that one or two of the ‘top teams’ would have a bad season. But then I spoilt it all by saying it might be Liverpool & Spurs along with Man United and Newcastle in the top 4. Anyhoo, I was looking for that mail but then I came across a bunch of early season comments, that made my afternoon! Predictions are a mugs game, so they’re much more fun when they are made with angst and certainty. This is not a name and shame game, we’re all guilty (I bigged up the Ronaldo return!), so here are a few gems with the names masked.
26 July: Mailboxer x suggested that Salah, Haaland and Kane would compete for the Golden Boot. And that Haaland would have to stay fit to keep pace with Salah. I’d say he’s been fit.
10th August – Mailboxer y (a Liverpool fan, fortunately), suggested that Ten Hag would be sacked by the end of the season because he had “no plan, no strategy for a rebuild except to try to raid Ajax for players” and that “Rashford is a squad player at best”. Oh well.
14th Aug: mailboxer z (Man United) (admittedly on the darkest point of this season): comparing the United team with Paul Jewel’s Derby and wondering “Can we crown this side the worst of the PL”
15 Aug – Mailboxer a (Man United) suggested that United should get rid of Shaw, AWB, Rashford (yes, the same one, I believe!), Fred, Dalot along with AWB, Maguire, and Mctominay. The same person also expressed great concern that we didn’t buy Sterling.
21st Aug: Mailboxer b (LFC): On the Casemiro transfer: “Call me cynical, but United have just been played. Paying £70m for a now benched player for Madrid, and paying him £360k a week for 5yrs, smells of desperation yet again in search of reclaiming past glories!”
23rd Aug: Mailboxer c (LFC) after United beat Liverpool: “But let’s not get all knee jerky and make this out to be something it wasn’t. This wasn’t a dominant performance by Manchester United. It was a shock win by an upper mid-table club against a side looking to win the title.” I’m guessing that upper mid-table is looking quite attractive now!
I could do this all day.
Ved Sen, MUFC (yes, I started with x and rolled with it)
I saw Stewie Griffen jumping in on the Mudryhk transfer, saying Arsenal have made another transfer cock up. Of course, there is another view: like all businesses (and indeed homes, in these times of unprecented rising costs of living) Arsenal have a transfer budget, which they were unable to break.
This of course lead me to wonder whether the cost of living crisis has actually affected Stewie at all, as he clearly didn’t consider budgets. Whatever next, a gold plated mansion? ‘Accidentally’ getting his tax returns wrong?. If we hear he has aranged a bank loan via a colleague who may or may not have been director general of the BBC, then should we expect a run for Parliament in a safe Tory seat?
Exiled Gooner (Politics has no place in Football. Vote Stewie)