Bicycle-kicks better than Garnacho’s and why modern football is rubbish…

Editor F365
Alejandro Garnacho scores a bicycle-kick for Manchester United against Everton.
Alejandro Garnacho scores a bicycle-kick for Manchester United against Everton.

It’s a grumpy Monday morning Mailbox, featuring a missive on how miserable modern football is. The Garnacho-inspired best bicycle-kick debate offers some light amid the VAR and FFP…

Get your views in to

Garnacho debate 
Since everyone will be talking about their favorite overhead goals today, may I offer one from a CONCACAF perspective, one which as far as I know is unique. Luis “El Matador” Tejada for Panama against Mexico:

Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA (he did almost the same thing some years later in a league game in Mexico)


United’s graft
I would like to join in wishing John a speedy recovery. Agree or disagree, he is never banal and refused to conform to whatever the silly view de jour was on football or life. Get well soon.
On Man Utd, I could not agree more with the view that the chieftain among many chief problems United have faced and not addressed is the lack of graft and “fight” in the players.
To me, what separates players at the highest level – excluding generational talent – strictly comes down to desire and mindset to win at absolutely any cost, as talent and skill are a given at that level. There are too many players on United who see playing for the team as a sign of greatness rather than the platform to achieve it. At United what used to be celebrated – if I remember correctly – was fight, desire, commitment to the last moment. Even Ronaldo (03 – 09), as he was developing into the ubermensch of today, would do his bit to track, commit, close down, shithouse. It is decidedly embarrassing that Fernandes – who is older than Shaw (shockingly), Rashford, Dalot, Sancho, Mctominay, Antony, Martial – shows more industry and desire every single game than this group of players.
Recent reports, however credible, about discontent regarding strenuous pre-season training are a good example of that. The off season world tours are certainly a commercial joke but they have been around for 20 odd years now.
At City, Pep has created a machine of players that are incredibly talented but also run and fight for their teammates second to none. If a player does not fit that they are gone. Sancho is an example but the more obvious and recent one is Joao Cancelo. One of the most technically gifted full backs in the world was shipped out almost on a whim, while the technically-inferior Kyle Walker has been running his heart out and winning everything for 6 years.


Modern football is rubbish
I’m writing in before the Everton Utd game where I wholeheartedly expect Utd to struggle, but in all fairness, it doesn’t matter anymore.
Football today is crap, and anyone saying it’s a patch on what it used to be doesn’t know what football used to be.
We don’t support Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, we especially don’t support City or even Newcastle. We support a billionaires cash cow.
We don’t support players, we support these imaginary wannabes who are so out of touch with reality. None of them are truly likable, none of them are relatable, they live in dream land.
We don’t support our clubs, as they are made up of people who are there for one thing only, it’s not the pride to wear that badge steeped in history, they are there for the money.
Derbys are dire because none of them know what it means anymore.
The play is robotic and boring.
Individual skill is being wiped out and replaced by millimetre tactics analysed by morons.
What used to be a simple game has been turned into a cluster f**k of waiting 5 minutes for a goal to be allowed.
Fans are being mindlessly milked by extortionate ticket prices to watch, what is in general a shit game, played by selfish, abhorrent human beings, managed by fools, owned by corrupt billionaires, refereed by sub par officials overseen by a tech system not fit for purpose.
Sky has destroyed our game, foreign ownership has destroyed our game, more importantly money has destroyed our game.
99% of EPL and CL games are down right unwatchable unless you are interested in one of the teams, and then it might be bearable. But boy do you pay for it.

All in all, football sold its soul years ago, it’s crap, it’s dull, it’s predicable, where everyone involved in it cheats. I hate it, I’m done with it, and I pity any fool who continues to pay their hard earned wages on supporting a product that was once ours, but is now nothing but making horrible rich people richer whilst producing nothing.

I can remember games I saw from 20 years ago, no matter who was playing. Now, I struggle to remember who scored in a game last week, because every game is just….. forgettable.

Maybe football ain’t for me anymore, maybe I’m so glad about that.


Spawning another big seven
I read RK’s email about the big 7 leaving to a super league so all the remaining clubs could get on with having a fun competitive league. Sounds good.

Problem is, some clubs will still be more appealing to players than others, some clubs will still have more money than others and eventually the imbalance returns. Eventually, the reality of the human condition will set in and clubs will try to do anything they can to gain an advantage. There will be another super 7 within a generation.

So while I love the idea of rebooting the Premier league the benefit of doing so won’t last long.


Ange out of options
Dave Tickner really laid it on thick in accusing Ange of naivety after the Villa game, but there do seem to be a couple of fairly major points that need making. He says ‘does missing your first choice centre backs mean picking none at all’? Well since we don’t have any, the answer is yes. Eric Dier has very very little experience of playing CB in a 4, and is no better suited to it than Davies or Emerson. Thats absolutely Spurs’ own fault, but not Ange’s or a selection error.

He says ‘does missing your first choice holding midfielder mean not picking one at all’? Well here the answer is, he did pick one, Bentancur played there and absolutely bossed the game until he was kicked out of it by Matty Cash, he then brought on another one, who unfortunately is nowhere near as good. There isn’t a system Ange could play that suits the defensive players he has available. There isn’t a team in the land who could cope well without their best 4 CMs. In the circumstances I think spurs’ performance was pretty remarkable, to be by far the better team while Bentancur was on the pitch, and still be creating plenty of chances in the second half with the centre of their team absolutely decimated.

As a spurs fan I was delighted with the performance in the circumstances. We should have had a pen and Villa should have had one and possibly two red cards. The result was a kick in the teeth, and ‘banter’ fans will talk a load of nonsense, but spurs are looking up, even if the short term is painful with their horrendous injury list.
Philip, London

Read more: Postecoglou and Spurs double down in Villa defeat but can and should they stick to their guns?

Dirty Cash
Matt Cash’s tackle injured Bentancur and he was nowhere near the ball. How VAR didn’t give that a red is beyond me or even how he didn’t get a second yellow a few minutes later. It completely changed the game because even with all our good players out, with Bentancur, we were utterly dominant.

Just a reminder that like Tyrone Mings, Matt Cash definitely is ‘one of those players’ and recently took out Matt Doherty for the season with a similar horrible challenge at Villa Park.
Dave (Levy’s stinginess in the summer is absolutely killing us), Winchester Spurs


Banging TNT
What a refreshing change to watch an Arsenal league match on TNT sports. Since the opening day of the season, every league match deemed broadcast worthy has been carried by Sky, with Gary Neville either in comms or in studio. So hearing Lucy Ward and Darren Fletcher commentate (on what was a pretty drab match against Brentford) with well-informed objectivity and articulation, and without pre-determined narratives, was welcome and revitalising.

Since Sky decided to rebrand themselves as a Fan TV channel with Gary, Jamie and Roy talking in partisan soundbites that attract the most clicks and attention, their agenda driven discourse has been predictable and tiresome.

Had Sky been carrying Brentford vs Arsenal on Saturday evening, they would have continued non-stop about Ramsdale’s nerves, building up a narrative to be rerun and poured over on SSN for the duration of the week. Instead, Ward and Fletcher gave it the necessary attention and analysis without turning the commentary into a one-note repetition soundtrack designed to grab the most headlines.

It’s a shame as Neville and co were a breath of fresh air when they first arrived on the scene, providing fresh insight away from the tired generalisations of ex-pros who hadn’t done their homework.

Yet Neville (and Carra’s) voice has become so influential that they seem to drive and define discourse and agenda throughout the Premier League. Neither seem to be quite so forgiving of their newest chum Howard Webb when decisions cost Man United or Liverpool. What’s worrying, is given the length of VAR delays, is that Neville – who voices his verdict on every contentious decision in real time – is having a direct influence in the control rooms of Stockley Park. If Gary (and with it Sky) think one way, the VAR control room always seems to subsequently agree.

I’m all for having ex-pros with insight many an armchair fan doesn’t possess commentating on teams that aren’t their own, but please at least feign the pretence of objectivity. On the TNT coverage on Saturday night, studio guests Rio Ferdinand and Peter Crouch are hardly fan favourite at The Emirates, but they provided concise and articulated analysis, based on the game they were watching, rather than pre-determined talking points to roll out on news stations and affiliated podcasts.

Here’s hoping Sky can either have a word with their band of club affiliated cheerleaders to tone down their agendas, or better yet, TNT or Amazon win the next round of TV rights.
Carl, London


Champions League clarifier
Just a quick one to Lee to answer the question of why people are not angry at the qualification for the new Champions League format. They’re not angry because what he is describing is not happening. Qualification will be based on league position. And league position only.

Co-efficient only comes into play in terms of number of splots available. So England and Spain will likely get an extra place each because of their co-efficient. But that place will go into the league. So if Villa finish 5th, they get the Champions League spot, not one of the “big six”.

There was a plan at one stage to give teams places based on their individual co-efficient but that was dropped. It’s based on merit now. As it stands, Villa, Girona, Atletic Bilbao and other non-super league clubs would be there. It’s not a super-league. There are no guarantees for those clubs.

It is rubbish though, but that’s another conversation.
Mike, LFC, Dubai

Mikel Arteta looks frustrated during a match.

Levels of whining
Jeez, Chris C clearly needs to have a lie down. And he needs to learn to read adequately. He says that de Zerbi “expressed his frustration about refereeing and VAR without directly attacking anybody”. De Zerbi said he “doesn’t like 80% of referees” and that he “doesn’t like their behaviour on the pitch”. How is that not a personal attack? Meanwhile Chris C claims Arteta made a personal attack while he himself makes a personal attack on me. I’m no more self-righteous than you are, that’s a part of supporting a club and being biased.

Also Arteta called the decision a disgrace, not the refereeing team itself. He’s no more whiny than any other manager in the league, we’ve seen Pep and Klopp charging at 4th officials with a mad look in their face but somehow Arteta’s words make him more of a villain. All I’m asking for is consistently charging managers.

Oh and since you want to hear it, Joelinton’s push while jumping and falling on top of Gabriel in the build up to the goal was clearly a foul. This sort of action has been penalised many times before and since. I’m really glad that Chris C and other Newcasle fans are so rankled about Arteta’s comments and the fact that that victory has a massive asterisk attached to it.

I wish Newcastle fans would get this riled up about the Saudi regime’s atrocities and oppression of women and lgbt+ people (please tell me that this is as bad as being sponsored by a Gulf airline, which by the way I fucking despise, and having American billionaires as owners).

That said, I too would like to offer well wishes to Johnny Nic. I can’t think of anyone who cares more about the soul of the game than he does. It’s truly amazing that he managed to write an article while recovering from a stroke. I hope you get well soon Johnny.
Vish (AFC), Melbourne, Aus


…Avoiding all the usual claptrap and trash-baiting from the usual suspects on bog-standard topics (ill stewie with his sick mental acrobatics, joelintons shove on Gabriel was a legit goal, Man City are evil incarnate etc), I wish to ruminate on 2 points on which there has been much hullabaloo re: Arteta:

1) his appropriate/inappropriate comments on referees: while i do feel Joelinton’s goal should have been ruled out (hint: i might be biased) due to his two-handed shove, we ended up on the rough end of the deal. Granted. But I think we should move the feck on now with all the talk of referees being biased against Arsenal. We get some soft ones in our favour, so we will get some harsh ones too. And while its sometimes useful to get into an us against a conspiratorial world siege mentality, with referees, I am afraid it has become of a self-fulfilling prophechy now. The more we talk about referees being biased against us, the more it would piss them off. It is not a healthy environment, we are all humans and the environment will end up costing us. We should cosy up to them. Its part of the game. There’s a higher likelihood of getting soft calls if we are considered friendly/amenable by the refereeing fraternity; these are bare facts

2) this needless commotion by Arsenal fans on Raya vs Ramsdale debate. Look, there was a time when conventional wisdom was that the sun orbited around the sun, that morphine should be used with reckless abandon for medical patients, that skimmed milk/apple cider vinegar were good for our health, freezing out Aubamayang will finish Arsenal, Arteta is out of his depth etc.. Similarly, the goalkeeper should be assured of his place and should have no pressure of competition; this will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Arteta has proved us doubters wrong in the past, and he will do so again. Raya is the superior keeper with a more mental stable profile (Ramsdale is just not mentally mature enough to give his defence a stable platform and be able to distribute the ball well after attracting pressure). Raya is more calm and assured (individual mistakes notwithstanding, that can happen to anyone), and the half a second extra he takes to pass to draw in the pressing attackers is the difference between acres of space in behind, and a dead end phase of play. Facts.

We move.
Shahzad, Gooner now in Sarajevo


Radio rental
G, Swansea brings up an interesting analogy comparing ffp with stealing televisions: “Laws against stealing televisions are just designed to stop people who don’t own televisions from owning televisions. They’re written to protect the people who already own televisions and won’t let me watch, why should I go to jail just because I want a nice television.”

With just a small modification I think it’s more accurate to the spirit of ffp: “Laws against buying televisions are just designed to stop people who don’t own televisions from owning televisions. They’re written to protect the people who already own televisions and won’t let me watch, why should I go to jail just because I want a nice television.”

Even though I don’t live in the UK, I believe there are no laws against buying televisions. There should be no law either against injecting your own money to the club you own, as Tom suggested. If you steal money from other clubs, as G from Swansea seems to compare the ffp violations with, then it is another case. Why should for example ManU be allowed to spend multiple times more than a promoted team when they already have the advantage of having spent hundreds of millions or more on world class players in previous years? Ok, maybe ManU is not the perfect example but you get the point.

If you want fair play, then by all means restrict maximum spend per season similar for all clubs in the same league. Or install a wage cap. Same rules for all. FFP is not same rules for all and it is just cleverly named as fair play when it is anything but.

How about “Every PL club can spend x million per season for new players and the salary cap for the playing staff is x million per month. At the same time, PL clubs are not allowed to make more than x million losses after possible cash injections, not loans, from the owners of the club”. Problem solved.
Matti, Finland


…Geraint says he just equates city fans’ talk of FFP with the case for the defense of stealing televisions…

Hmm, this is why metaphors so often fall flat… Does the ownership of a television facilitate the formation of a monopoly? Having a television is a luxury. Having good players is the basis for competition and the denial of the opportunity to do so is unfair society where equal opportunities are valued.

I am not equating in any way city’s ‘crusade’ against FFP to the real heroes of the past few centuries but you wouldn’t compare Rosa Parks breaking the rules on a Montgomery bus to stealing a television. City are no Rosa Parks obviously but the established footballing elite certainly bears a resemblance to those in society that have all the privilege and are happy to create rules to keep the rest from having fair opportunity.

FFP could have been done differently. It could still be done differently. No one (read ‘few’) want City dominance but the league makes no effort to promote real competition, just protect the elite, who are happy to continue to serve themselves.

The response ‘yeah it isn’t fair, but it is the rules’ will continue to fall on deaf ears as long as ‘yeah City have broke the rules, but it isn’t fair’ falls on equally deaf ears.
Nick (MCFC)