Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Why Grealish wasn’t worth it
Nice piece on Jack Grealish though hindsight is a wonderful thing. It’s very simple to play the “what could have been” game when it comes to buying players.
Phrases like “should have bought him” and “sure what’s he worth now” have been used by supporters and fans alike for years regarding players that slipped through their teams net (an Arsenal buddy of mine showed me a “Arsenal XI” that had both Ronaldo and Messi in it as missed transfers).
Nobody fired out the cash for Grealish over the summer because then, he wasn’t worth it, he’s been in phenomenal form since August but in the last 10 games of last season he provided one goal and zero assists. The reason for the sudden up change in form is space.
Last season his average position was just in behind the striker, this season his average position is wide left, usually behind the right back of the opposition isolating a centre-back that has been pulled out wide. His left back own left back, usually Targett, doesn’t venture beyond the halfway line, leaving Grealish all the space. It’s in this space that Grealish is causing all these problems. Deny him space and he struggles, against Leeds the right sided doubling up of Costa and Dallas saw Grealish compete only 75% of his passes, against Soton the doubling up right sided team of Walker-Peters and Armstrong saw him kept quiet, yes he got an assist for Mings and a 97 minute goal but his passing dropped to 68% and only 2 chances created.
My point (we got there eventually) is this, would Grealish get that sort of space playing in Manchester or for Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. Teams dig in against the best, put men behind the ball and most importantly “double up” on players, Salah, DeBruyne and Co regularly are faced up by 2/3 defenders.
Maybe the big teams watched Grealish in a more central role last season and decided he wasn’t worth the bucks, this season with space and rightly so he’d be worth every penny, there’s that pesky hindsight again.
Robbie DFC Éire (Watching him against Ireland did break my heart a wee bit)
England are at their level
Here is a counterpoint to all the handwringing about Gareth Southgate’s tactics: England lost away to one of the top European sides and that is neither a shameful nor even an unexpected result.
England is good not great. Quarter-finals is usually our level. We are not entitled to anything higher. The players are not that good.
After the Euro 16 Iceland disaster, expectations were finally lowered. For once, people in this country seemed to realize that there is no reason England should be expected to win against every opponent. England has some very good players, but those players are not better than, for instance, Belgium’s.
For a while, people finally stopped considering England as a permanent favourite to win any international competition. I rather suspect that, outside these isles, nobody has in a few decades.
But now Southgate is now becoming a victim of his own good work. A very good run in 2018 with a good but limited squad returned the media and many supporters to the same level of delusion. “We’d be winning this thing if only the manager weren’t such a clod!”
No we wouldn’t. 2-0 at Belgium is not proof of Southgate’s inadequacy. It’s to be expected. It’s England’s level. 2018 was an overachievement. You can hope for something better, but you shouldn’t demand it.
READ MORE: Belgium 2-0 England – Rating the players
It was only a matter of time before the gutter press went after Marcus Rashford, and I am utterly unsurprised that hateful rag was the first to do it. Mediawatch has already elaborated on the rank hypocrisy, but I wonder if there is something larger at play. And that is the freedom that the Daily Mail can do this time and again and no one cares. Why? Because young black and bi-racial men are fair game to those guttersnipes at the Daily Mail, and large swathes of its readership.
Why can they get away with it? Because the Daily Mail reflects us as a nation. Small minded, bigoted, hateful and rapidly becoming an irrelevance. It isn’t just the death throes of an empire anymore, but a calcifying of this country. As K Pop sweeps the world, and a generation comes up that is gender fluid, care for the environment and believe we can actually make the world better and fairer, the pragmatism and conservatism of the past becomes an impotent ideology.
Conservatism hasn’t fed the poor and the needy. Conservatism hasn’t protected us during a pandemic. It has done nothing but harm us. The Daily Mail hates Marcus Rashford and other young successful black men because the disprove the narrative they have been spinning for 50 years. They hate that someone from poverty can rise up and want to bring all those around him up with him, rather than pulling up the drawbridge. He is everything the Daily Mail and its readership are not. He is caring, compassionate, not greedy and fair minded. Ironically all the things this country purports to be but demonstrably isn’t.
I am an Arsenal fan, and IMO Marcus should be BBC SPOTY and every year after this. He has shamed this Government twice, ironically doing the job that the useless Labour party should be doing. The Daily Mail has come for one of the best of us, and we need to defend him from tax exiled non doms who have far too much influence over this island.
John Matrix AFC
Always sunny in… Wrexham
With the recent purchase of Wrexham by Rob McElhenny, I can only assume we are going to see the release of a feature length film titled “The Gang Ruin a Football Club”.
Conor (Billy Koumetio to the rescue) LFC
Congratulations to Johnny Nic for finally jumping the shark with his Chelsea vs Krasnodar diatribe.
The weird thing here is that I fully agree with JN that we, as a society, aren’t taking climate change seriously enough and that unless we do (likely even if we do) then our lives are fundamentally going to change in the future, and not for the better. The answer to this in a wide range of policy decisions, changes to behaviour and technological solutions that will either remove the harmful impact/emissions related to our actions or to mitigate their impact. We can see the shift in these already with a move to green energy, electric cars, talk of carbon taxes and the increase in vegetarian/flexitarian diets.
My issue is that I just don’t get the point of what JN is trying to achieve. Choosing such an extreme example which has such limited overall impact is surely just going to alienate people from engaging with the message. As with most things this would ultimately just become political. The clubs themselves and UEFA/FIFA could easily afford to offset the carbon related to these activities and also involve themselves in education campaigns to get people to make decisions in their own lives that would improve the situation (akin to football’s engagement with the Say No to Racism campaign).
Like I said – I’m onboard with the climate change message but saying we need to cancel flights for football ultimately just seems to justify those idiots on twitter/facebook who think the left wing are coming to ruin your life.
John Walsh, Keyboard Warrior, Belfast.
…The thing is though, John Nicholson is right. If we do want to avoid the climate apocalypse, we do all need to fundamentally change the way we live. And that does mean largely cutting out flying. It’s unpalatable, but it’s true. I don’t think “this might put people off football” is really a good excuse not to.
…Reading Michael’s email, and completely get where he’s coming from, but I always think disqualifying people from suggesting ways we can do better because there are ways they could have done better in the past is a pretty pointless endeavour that usually just stops anyone trying to effect positive change.
Regardless of anything else, it is undeniable that if we’re facing climate catastrophe with a third of the world’s population migrating in search of survival and our food systems breaking down, and more deadly and frequent pandemics and more extreme weather events (which, miserable and all as it is, is what is predicted), it’ll be hard to look your kids in the eye and say “yeah but, playing matches in other countries 5 times a year was more fun, so it was definitely worth it”. I’d say he was well aware it was going to be a point that was universally pilloried, but it is beyond mental that we never even talk about it as an issue, and that even trying to bring it up results in people reminding you of all the times you’ve been in vehicles with combustion engines, you big leftie hypocrite.
Which is all a roundabout way of saying I think it was ballsy, and a fair point worth at least discussing, which is what these pages are for if nothing else.
…In response to Michael, and in Johnny Nic’s defence. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with preaching against something that you’ve done in the past. People change, they have regrets, they develop… I’d agree that it’d be a bit rich if John was still living that life now, or if he insisted that how he lived back then was right. But I doubt it.
Still though, I think it’d be great if John could find a middle ground between his writing of yesteryear (2006, 2007) and his uber-preachy, anarcho-syndicalistic sermons of today. An example for the young ‘uns. It was through JN on this very site that I learned eating celery makes your jizz load absolutely massive. He said that apparently male pornstars do it to get those spectacular money-shots.
John, maybe once a month you could write a piece for the column that harkens back to that old-school style. But, you know, a bit woke-y like.