‘Football will survive’, more XIs and Mesut Ozil…

Date published: Thursday 23rd April 2020 9:30 - Sarah Winterburn

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Football will survive
Just on my rest days feeling tired and grumpy after 12hr nights and I wake up to read my favourite website to cheer me up and then…..

I read John Nicholson’s article.

I vehemently disagree and it’s not the heart ruling the head.

Let’s not get all misty eyed for the Bury FCs of the world and the clubs who are going to go out of business.

Avarice has done for them, trying to reach an unattainable and unrealistic goal.

This horrible virus hasn’t helped them but they didn’t help themselves in the first place buying beyond their means.

Football will survive. It will take time but it will.

It survived two world wars where literally millions of people died. This isn’t to denigrate the awful loss already.

It’s called ‘hope’ John.

Please continue to write positive articles, it’s an escape from the doom and gloom constantly on the news.
Ade, two more games and it’s ours, Guildford

 

…I’ve really struggled with John Nicholson’s writing during the pandemic. The latest article, just I don’t know, says everything is going to go to pop. I mean i’m not so sure.

Here’s my outloud thinking. Most football clubs are older than the car and it’s a matter of time before they disappear anyway. Look at Bury. Have you ever been to Bury? Not for the football but for any other reason? And Bury isn’t alone here. The only reason it hasn’t been bought and turned into flats is because it’s not financially viable. And we could say that for any number of clubs.

And this is why football will survive this.

Football is just 22 people kicking a ball around. The pandemic won’t stop that. There will always be football, there will always be people willing to watch football as a pastime. Ok, maybe not for 80 quid a pop but that’s not the point. There will always be a fourth tier of English football because the football pyramid is fed from the teams at the bottom. Football would have to be consolidated to less than 100 clubs for there to be no fourth tier. Maybe that would happen in the same way there’s only however many online retailers but I doubt it.

Then we look at Rangers. Went bust, stopped existing, new club created, got all their old records, now Rangers again. All forgotten.

Arsenal. Formally Woolwich Arsenal in Woolwich, then north London at Highbury, now at their plastic concrete super stadium. Whatever.

Liverpool. They play in red right?

It changes, it’s remembered then forgotten and just normal.

But no money and a business dies. Football clubs are businesses without money and they will all die. Sure. Maybe they’ll Rangers or maybe they’ll die.

Maybe Ipswich and Norwich both go bust. So a few people form an East Anglia team out of the remnants. And two clubs become one with a larger catchment area. Like Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Maybe the men’s football teams all sold off to the middle east or china for the money and we go back to being a nation that loves women’s football.

Or maybe it’s worse than all of that, and so bad it’s actually not as bad. Maybe clubs will go bankrupt but not bust as the bank won’t call in the loans. If no one is buying football clubs, either as a going concern or to turn into flats or shopping centres, then creditors won’t force the assets to be liquidated. They’ll just leave them there as bad debt or even write them off. I think they call them zombie companies. They are dead but no ones pulled the trigger so they are still alive.

Banks don’t want to own a portfolio of knackered football clubs. They become liabilities.

Maybe they’ll liquidate it and sell it for a pound or some nominal fee and the fans have a whip around and buy the club. Like a Richard Curtis movie they’ll realise the community they were looking for was all around them anyway.

And then economic forces have given us fan ownership, rather than any communist reclaiming of football and allocation of football clubs by a government department.

This feels like an end of the day ramble. Is it a ramble? It’s a ramble.
Alex, South London

 

On Jesus/Newcastle/Pochettino
If Jesus Christ himself appeared from the heavens to buy your club, there would be someone, somewhere pipping up complaining about something. That’s just how humans work.

The reality is you cannot please everybody. Understand their current potential buyers are repugnant, but cut their fans some slack. If any football club deserves some slight slice of hope on the field, it is surely the Magpies.

Would love to see Poch take over and see them challenging. These things take years, but would royally piss Spurs off seeing Newcastle overtake them.
Ben (Karma is a bitch, better make that bitch beautiful) Howarth

 

Maybe the Glazers are waking up…
Hello mailbox. Here to pose a theory. One that suggests that maybe just maybe the Glazer family are waking up. For those not especially familiar with sport across the pond, you’ll do well to know that the Glazer family are own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.

For starters, the family’s absolute neglect of Manchester United is well documented on this website and a lot of other places so I won’t dwell on that. However, if you’re familiar with the Bucs, you know they haven’t done well in the last couple of decades. Numerous people wrote off the Bucs’ “because” of the Glazers. They last won a championship in 2003 and haven’t made the playoffs in over 12 years.

But, last season, they amassed a decent wide receiver core, and this off-season have acquired the greatest quarterback the game has ever seen, Tom Brady (albeit not through the competence of their front office, but rather Brady’s personal reasons and the money they were offering). They’ve got him, the receivers they had last year, and added arguably the greatest tight end to play the game of gridiron, Rob Gronkowski (also because of Tom Brady, not the front office). Their odds of making/winning the Super Bowl have thus dramatically shifted.

Just as Man United are also getting their approach on the pitch back on track, Tampa Bay seem to have picked up on the same thing. Maybe, just maybe, the Glazer kids are starting to get their sh*t together? Should we expect something more from any of the teams they own? I don’t know.
Pat, (take a break from COVID-19), Across the pond

 

Talking Mesut
When the reports came out that three Arsenal players had refused a pay cut, was there anyone who didn’t think Ozil would be one of them?

I’ll be honest, as an Arsenal fan, I’ve never loved Ozil. I’ve appreciated his brilliance, very sporadically. But even at his best, he hasn’t ignited my passion. And I can’t explain why. The closest word I can think of is soulless. But this doesn’t quite hit the mark. So let me say what I think of when I think of Mesut Ozil.

The cover of FIFA. Those adverts for IBM, Deloitte and companies you don’t understand on BBC World when you’re abroad. Richard Scudamore. Perfectly polished PR.

A new found respect for players who left Arsenal because we didn’t meet their ambitions. A top class Instagram game. Seven years at Arsenal and we still don’t really know his personality.

Fan boys to rival Ronaldo and Messi, yet a fraction of their standing in the game. His own finger sign and catchphrase. An incredible PR team. Only speaking to the other superstars on the training ground. Fans who support the player, not the club.

Does a lot of good work for charidee, but doesn’t like to talk about it mate. The antithesis of Ian Wright. A truly sensational PR team. Those Nike or Adidas adverts where they talk about uniting the world. Tom Roth in United Passions.

YouTube brilliance. Annoyance at team mates with less talent. Selling shirts. The first ready made superstar at Arsenal. The biggest selling point for potential club sponsors. The ultimate Goldilocks player.

Games where he decides to turn up and you wonder why he can’t do that every week. A phobia of the north. A PR team that could make Covid-19 look like the good guy.

I doubt that explained much, but it felt cathartic.
Jaimie Kaffash, AFC, London

 

What if…
Moments in football; what if Glenn Hoddle hadn’t said that the disabled were paying for sins in a previous life?

Hoddle was, at the time, an astute tactician albeit with well publicised poor man-management skills. That said, England were quite good with him at the helm. The performances against Italy in Rome and Argentina during the WC in ’98 – two unlikely competitive England performances of different natures but equally as good as most seen since, told of a coach who understood International football.

It would have been fascinating to see how the players who were about to emerge, Gerrard, Lampard, Joe and Ashley Cole, even Rooney was only around the corner, would have been utilised by Hoddle.

Sven didn’t really do anything wrong as England manager but I’d have loved to have seen what Hoddle could have achieved with that group of players.

Pity he’s a bit, you know…bonkers shall we say!
Dan Mallerman

 

Rule changes ahoy
Thought I would suggest some rule changes that could spice up football if it ever returns. Love to get some additions…

* The person fouled in the box takes the penalty – this would be so much more fun than James Milner reliably sending the keeper the wrong way every time. Something beautiful about a 6ft4 centre back lumbering up to smash one.

* The manager takes the penalty – scenes as Hodgson smashes top bins in the 86th minute to claim 3 points at Old Trafford

* Officials must take a press conference after the game – sometimes it would be good to get their actual view and not listen to Alan Shearer somehow tell me what Mike Dean was thinking

* Golden goal – this would bring so much more tension to extra time. I miss this.

* Everyone in the away end of the stadium is given a number as they enter. At 85 minutes a number is randomly pulled out of a hat and announced to the stadium. Whoever has that number then plays the last 5 minutes in place of a player on the away team – the home manager can decide (not goalie). If they have a valid reason that they cannot (are 4 years old, have one leg etc.) they disclose upon arrival to the stadium. I.e. on 85 minutes, Klopp draws number 167, and decides that John Smith will come on in place of Harry Maguire as Liverpool search for a last gasp winner against United at OT. Brings back some home advantage…

Anyone else got any better ideas? Wrong answers welcome…
Joel T

 

Let’s play football with social distance…
Why can’t football continue with 2m social distancing still enforced? Let’s just stick in a couple of new rules and get on with it:

Any intrusion to within 2 metres of another player is an automatic yellow card.

The team out of possession can hold their ground – so the team in possession must find a way around the defence rather than just running through them.

I think we’ll need a referee for each player to ensure social distancing, so 22 refs plus 2 linesmen.

If we could get Alan Shearer to draw those blue circles around the players in a live setting it would make it easier for the refs. Cheers Al.

How will it look? I imagine current tactics evolving to a sort of kabbadi-football hybrid where defenders work in packs to force the attacking team backwards. Crosses would be useless because teams would stick a couple of tall centre halves near the penalty spot and not move. Is it a dribblers game or a passers game? What would be the best formation? Let’s find out.

Problem solved. You’re welcome.
Pete, Wale

 

Glory, glory…
Reading the fans’ proposal that players should applaud the crowd before games at Old Trafford and I nearly spit out my morning coffee laughing. Should these things not happen organically because players actually appreciate the crowd? Joke however you want about Klopp lining up his players to cheer the crowd after a draw, but at least it comes from the heart. Maybe next to build an atmosphere naturally, Manchester United can require that fans applaud the players during the game and maybe not write on social media that their team has become soulless shit. And before you have a go at me and explain how my team is soulless shit in different, but equal ways, remember that this pandemic affects us all and we’re all one family, and it would be rude of you to respond that way.
Niall, Denver

 

More XIs please
Been loving the best or most hated XIs on here recently and came up with a couple of my own, not entirely original line ups. There’s all sorts of variations isn’t there? Keep ‘em coming.

Dirty B*stards XI
GK – Schumacher. Nearly decapitated Battiston. Worst foul ever.

FB – Kevin Muscat. Look I don’t know if he was a fullback. That isn’t the point. He was incredibly, recklessly, viciously dirty.
FB – Chopper Harris. His nickname was Chopper. You have all the information you need.

CB – Ramos. You don’t dislocate the opposition’s star forward’s shoulder by accident do you? He even smashed up the Copa Del Ray once!
CB – Pepe. Full on mentalist. Just google Pepe Goes Crazy. Actually, here’s the video..

LM – De Jong. We’re not looking for flair in this team, we’re looking for a nasty so and so who’s willing to put a boot into someone’s solar plexus in a World Cup Final. Alonso probably still has the stud marks.
CM – Roy Keane. Alf Inge Halland’s knee doesn’t care how good a footballer he was.
CM – Souness. He still looks like he’s about to go in two feet, studs up, mid shin even in the Sky studio.
RM – Vinny Jones. That scene in Lock Stock where he’s smashing a car door on a bloke’s head? That, but on a football pitch. And Gazza’s knackers.

CF – Suarez. Nasty piece of work.
CF – Ferguson. Big Dunc got lots of reds. But that’s not it. He went to actual prison for a headbutt in a Rangers game.

 

Thunderb*stard XI
GK – Pressman. THAT penalty.

FB – Roberto Carlos. Yeah.

FB – Riise. We don’t want to know how you scored that goal. We know. You smashed it.

CB – Kompany. Vinny, don’t shoot! Oh. OK.

CB – Ronald Koeman. Sometimes a cultured right foot, a precise curled set piece. Sometimes, just a straighforward thunderb*stard.

LM – Le Tissier. Yeah, he probably wasn’t a left midfielder but my word he loved a long range missile.

CM – Scholes. On the volley from a corner in off the underside of the bar? Sure, no probs.

CM – Gerrard. There was only one thing Stevie loved more than Liverpool. Spanking it in, really, really hard.

RM – Ronnie Radford. The Godfather of the Screamer.

CF – Yeboah. Little bit of ball juggling to give the impression of flair and nuance, and then BANG.

CF – Bobby Charlton. He could hit them. Maybe he thought the ball was to blame for the state of his hair.

Imagine being a keeper against that lot. Absolutely anyone could lash one past you at any time, from anywhere. But imagine being a ref with the other lot trotting out. No point leaving the red card in your pocket, you’ll be needing that.

Christ I’m bored. More please!
Rob Young

 

A one club hated XI
Well, if it’s a most hated XI, then surely it has to evolve/regress to a most hated XI of your most hated club? No? Oh well I guess my lockdown really is affecting my mood as well as my hair.

Anyway as a United fan, I obviously hate Liverpool and so, in a trendy 4-3-3:

GK – difficult as they’re not that dislikable but I’ll go with Grobelaar as he masqueraded as a keeper when he really just won a competition and got to stand behind THAT defence with his stupid tache. And that wobbly leg stuff, the prat.

RB – Steve Nicol, no discernible talent. Now looks like a caricature of someone’s dad who thinks spiky hair is cool at his age. Bet he tries to dance coolly to Simple Minds at weddings.

CD – Jamie Carragher. Like a lot on this list he’s a gobshite. Could easily have gone with Phil Thompson but the coin-throwing incident takes it. Along with the spitting incident.

CD – Alan Hansen. Mainly for the ‘win nothing with kids’ stuff but also coz he’s smug. Way too smug.

LB – Jason McAteer. Many reasons but trying to get away with wearing those suits in 96.

RM – Steve McMananan. Twinkle-toed fop. Comparisons to Ryan Giggs? Are you ****** kidding me?

CM – Steve McMahon – couldn’t stand this dirty clodhopper growing up. Poor man’s Robbo.

CM – Stevie G. Toss up between him and Souness. The Scottish factor nearly took it but really there’s nothing like a scouser who tries to act like a saint. Highlight is definitely his heatmap for the 2015 sending off.

F – Luis Suarez – obv

F – Kenny Dalglish – first time I saw him live I couldn’t believe what a dirty little whining bastard he was. On a level with Gentile and Marcelo for being sly then vehemently denying he ever did anything wrong.

F – Robbie Fowler. Showed his true colors with the Graham le Saux incident.

Manager – Klopp, as he’s surely the worst loser I’ve seen in a long time.
Steve (ex-Flixton Red), Canada (strapping on my helmet for the backlash).

 

The good buggers XI
We’ve all got players we like to hate.

But, it’s a time for love, brothers and sisters.

So, to counter-balance all the Most Hated XIs, here’s a team of great English top flight players who were/are also good buggers and who even the most fiercely-partisan fan would find it difficult to dislike.

Even if begrudgingly…

Pat Jennings (Arsenal)
Alan Hansen (Liverpool)
Vincent Kompany (Man City)
Leighton Baines (Wigan, Everton)
Phil Neal (Liverpool)
Gary Speed (Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton, Sheff Utd)
Juninho (Middlesborough)
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea)
Peter Crouch (Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Spurs, Stoke)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Nige. AFC. NZ

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