Mailbox: Kane might not go…but Poch will

Date published: Wednesday 23rd March 2016 11:02

We’re not quite sure where this Tottenham v Man United thing came from…but please send mails on other things to


Pochettino will go to Madrid…
This is, Delle Ali and Harry Kane excepted, almost the same Spurs squad Tactics Tim managed. Pochettino is the driving force, the catalyst that took them to the next level. It’s not inconceivable that Real Madrid will steal him away in the summer. If he wins the league, it’s pretty much a certainty. He’s a good guy I’m sure but he’s not a lifelong Spurs fan.

Where does that leave Spurs? With Poch gone, his players will start looking to move on also. Ali and Kane may well follow him to Madrid if they do well in the Euros. Eriksen will go to Spain or one of the big English teams or perhaps even Bayern as a replacement for Thiago? And the status quo will be restored. Even if the players remain, they’ll be knackered from their summer exertions and do poorly at the start of next season, possibly going out of the CL in the group stage. Ali isn’t quite 20 and Kane will have gone two summers without a break. #burnout

Ditto for Leicester; Madrid w-ill appoint Ranieri if he wins the league (yes, I do think Madrid are that crazy) Mahrez leaves and the rest of the players revert to their previous, midtable, performance levels.

Why, yes, I don’t get invited to too many parties, why do you ask?
Jayraj ‘the cynic’, MUFC


If Leicester win title, they should sack Ranieri
Apologies for the lengthy mail. Came up with this Idea for ‎high-flying Leicester’s board/owners. If they win the league (or even come second), sack Claudio Ranieri. Oh.. what a bonkers suggestion you say? This has been an undoubtedly brilliant season for the foxes, the type of which may never be seen anytime soon. The more I think about what they have achieved, the more I worry for what lies ahead for them next season.

This is where my suggestion comes in. Their best chance of maintaining anything close to what they’ve done this year would be to adopt a Watford-like managerial approach. If they go on and win the league, I would like to think that’s as good as it gets for lovely Claudio there. The only way is down.

If the club wants to romanticise th‎eir achievement, then keep Ranieri in charge even if he leads them to relegation next year. But if they want to build on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, sack him (in the most lovely way possible with a huge payoff, mutual consenting perhaps?) and get a manager with a better track record in and consolidate on this unlikely title win by strengthening the squad and challenging for titles on all fronts.

With due respect to Claudio, I simply don’t think he can replicate with what he has done this season‎ subsequently. The reasons are: they will be competing in Europe, the standard of the league gets tougher next season due to the bigger clubs splurging on better players and managers, he will be reluctant – and rightly so – to upgrade the quality of the team due to his loyalty to those who did well for him this season and lastly, some of his key players may be snagged up by the moneybags home and abroad.

Some might say it would be verging on cruelty and ingratitude of wicked proportions to reward the most remarkable Premier League winning manager with a sack letter, but it’s purely administrative common sense devoid of sentiments really. If you win a lottery, why throw your winnings back into the uncertainty of playing another? Why not invest in a safer, more assured business?

Having said all that, I really hope Claudio acts before the club does. It would be the most classy sign-off in the history of the game to retire from ‎football having won the league with bloody Leicester. Leaving when the ovation is loudest has never been more apt. The club could even errect a statue in his honour.

On a final note, who could they replace him with? That’s the hardest part for me, seeing as the world-class managers are either engaged or already have agreements with other clubs in place‎. I’d say go for one of Jorge Sampaoli, Unai Emery or Rudi Garcia. Thoughts?
@ayodayle (why don’t we all sign off with our twitter handles?‎), Ibadan, Nigeria


No room for Rooney in a Spurs-style XI
So hopefully the mailbox is over with the LVG in/LVG out debate so that we can look forward to the notoriously mundane international break. Similar to WC 2014, the expectations surrounding the England national team seems be also understandably pretty low this time around. I have tried to figure out an England first XI in a 4-2-3-1 formation not unlike the one used by Spurs.






GK – Hart is the clear-cut No.1 with two able back-ups in the form of Forster and Butland.

Def – The back four is certainly underwhelming especially in respect to the number of caps/international experience. There are also question marks in the full-back areas. As impressive as the Spurs full-backs have been, I suspect they would have to be more conservative in their positioning in this Hodgson’s side. Teams also rarely bring two specialist full-backs so either Clyne or Walker would certainly miss out. In the absence of Luke Shaw, it is certainly touch and go between Rose and Bertrand with Rose having dynamism and momentum on his side due to Spurs’ form.

Midfield – There are stories going around that Woy wants to test out Alli in the deep lying midfield position. England have always been guilty of shoehorning their best players into the first XI so at least he is upholding traditions. Alli has done his best work higher up the pitch while Dier has also performed admirably in the holding role and the Spurs duo represent England’s best options in both these positions. The other midfield position is the one up for grabs. Playing Alli – Dier- Barkley together would probably be too direct an option. Lacking a true ball-playing midfielder to bring the ball out from the back and to channel in into the higher midfield lines. It is the problem Arsenal currently have as without Cazorla they have struggled to build their attacks properly. Wilshere would have been ideal as playing with Dier holding would bring the best out of him but his injury concerns make him an unreliable option. Henderson has also been underwhelming for Liverpool, lacking guile, creativity and ambition on the ball.

Wings – Sterling is the best out-and-out winger while Welbeck has always performed well for Woy and is an adequate big game player.

Striker – Kane top scorer. Vardy second top scorer.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room (no pun intended), Wayne Rooney. I for one struggle to see where Rooney fits in the current England XI. He might be handed the No.10 role with Alli being pushed back deeper into midfield. Or he could play No.9 with Henderson being brought in to play deep midfield. It would be unfair on Kane and Alli however to be benched or pushed around to accommodate Rooney on current form. On the other hand without Rooney, the team looks extremely short on experience (European club or international tournaments). The England manager spent the last World Cup playing Rooney on the wings, No.10 and in midfield and it was huge muck. Hopefully he gets it sorted out this time before the Euros come around.
Jeeva (Plastic Manchester United fan from Malaysia, currently in Germany)


Should Man United even bid for Kane?
At the moment, the bidding war between Man Utd fans and Spurs fans seem like a fun topic so I thought I’ll join in. I just have to ask Man Utd fans, do you really need to sign Kane (or Lukaku for that matter)? Do you? Have you forgotten that shiny legacy that will be left by Mr. van Gaal which you lot are so proud of? You know, the core of youth players….

I guess you never thought that signing Kane or Lukaku will/may stunt the developments of Martial and Rashford – but I think it will. Here’s why: If you buy one of Kane or Lukaku, players who have had two very successful seasons, he has to be your first-choice striker! So what happens to Martial whose best position is the central striking role? He gets shunted to the left wing again as he was earlier this season to accomodate Rooney.

Don’t forget that Kane and Lukaku are 22 not 32. So Martial can’t afford to wait a couple of years for them to retire or leave. As Kane/Lukau are slamming in the goals each year, Martial remains a supporting cast on the left wing and there goes that Balon D’Or!

Then think of Marcus Rashford. I’ll assume that the kid needs to be eased in to the first-team picture next season. (too late for easing in?) So that means loan moves to Bournemouth, Hull City, Sunderland etc. in next three seasons. But he should be ready for the first team by the time he’s 21. By then Kane and Lukaku will be at their peak at 25/26 years. That will keep Rashford on the bench for another season before he gets sold to Arsenal (cough… cough… Welbeck)

So instead of starting a bidding war Mr Woodward is not capable of finishing (Woodward vs Levy is the negotiating equivalent of Aston Villa vs Barcelona) why not polish the jewels you already have?

On a side note, I’m sorry Man Utd fans but you really are deluded. You think you can snap up Kane as easily as Di Maria becuase you are the great Machester United? Well, let me share some facts (thanks Rafa)

1) Kane and Lukaku are not on their clubs’ transfer lists, Di Maria was put up for transfer. There goes your “pulling power”.
Hint: It is easier to sign a player who is transfer-listed than one who is not.

2) The whole world, except Man Utd fans obviously, knows that Di Maria would have gone to PSG but for FFP (when it was a thing). There goes your “pulling power”.

3) When you needed a central midfielder, you pursued Fabregas and ended up with Herrera. I guess that says it all, deluded smugs!
Franklin (I wasn’t trying to break the record for brackets, I swear), CFC, Lagos


Sit down, we are Manchester United…
Mainly in response to JazGooner and David the Spurs fan from yesterday’s mailbox.

First of all, let’s get things straight here. It’s not ‘smug’ or ‘deluded’ that us United fans see ourselves at the top next season. The bigger the club are (United, in this case), the more of an expectation there’ll be, therefore, more pressure on the team. But this pressure isn’t always a bad thing, as it’s ultimately the ‘drive’ the club needs to succeed once again. Call it ‘reputation’ or whatever you like, but it’s true. That’s what’s made us so successful over time.

Take a look at your own clubs and be honest to yourselves. Arsenal FC are consistent at being inconsistent, hence the bitterness amongst the ‘in Wenger we trust’ brigade backing a manager that’s won them a sweet F all (of real importance) over the recent years. And Spurs – yes, Pocchetino has been great but good luck keeping him at your club. All of the big shots will be knocking at his door in the coming years, so like I said, good luck with that. Oh, and good luck with keeping Kane too.

I didn’t come on here to trash talk other teams, I came here to merely say “sit down” to the fans of the clubs offering input to United’s season when their own club has plenty to prove before commenting on us.


Spurs winning title won’t make them better than United…
How can some mailboxers possibly state that Tottenham are a bigger draw than United and then on the other hand dismiss those who state United are bigger than Spurs as smug and delusional? Where have you been for the past (insert any number you want) years?

Right, let’s make it clear: United have the biggest stadium in England, the most titles in England and make the most money in England! They’re at the top of the list for most things but we’ll just leave it at those.

I understand YOU don’t want Kane to join Manchester United! I understand YOU want United to be sh*t! I understand YOU want Tottenham to be bigger that United! But the barebones is that you’ve formulated an opinion based on United’s success (i.e. based on bitterness, but now’s not the time for cheap shots, see my next paragraph). It doesn’t actually make it true, like City fans who think Manchester is blue! Tribalism aside, it absolutely boggles the mind!

Do you know the definition of the word bitter? How can a United fan be bitter of any club? It’s completely counter-intuitive, United (who’ve won more titles in the last 25 years than all the other teams combined) are jealous of Tottenham (who currently reside in second, fighting for their first title in 55 years)? F*ck me!

I’m sorry if United fans come across as smug, I genuinely am, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some Johnny-come-lately try and tell me that their club has a better future than mine…based on one year’s competition! I’ll be f*cking damned! You didn’t finish above us last season and you sure as sh*t ain’t gonna finish above us next season!

Finally, I really like Tottenham, I sincerely hope you win it! It won’t make you better than us though!
Anonymous, (I’m just not good at being objective) Manchester


Spurs fans reek of desperation
I’ve always had a dislike for Tottenham. When people ask me why, I immediately respond with “it’s their fans”. I then sometimes struggle to back up my argument with any substantial support, caused by an over exuberant late teens-mid twenties lifestyle, leading to a drastically fading memory. Therefore it’s times like this that I cherish, and which remind me that my opinion is actually well founded and I wasn’t just being unfair and unkind.

The majority of Spurs fans, as highlighted in recent mailboxes, suffer from a serious issue – desperation. Desperation to be part of the big boys club. Desperation not to be the one standing alone at the end as the captains have already chosen who’s on their team. Desperation for people to include them; to love them; to envy them.

I have no doubt that this has been caused by being the lesser neighbours to a more successful club – the ugly, spotty kid with a taller, more handsome big brother – and so on the odd occasion where they do actually sneak past the bouncer and get into the VIP lounge, they feel it necessary to announce that they’ve “arrived”, and that they’re “here for good”. They walk brashly over to each individual in the lounge and arrogantly introduce their pretty new girlfriend, slobbering and spitting in an uncouth manner, increasingly drawing attention to themselves as being most out of place.

And then the bouncer kicks them out, and the big kid steals their girlfriend.

Rather than loudly boasting, perhaps it’s best to just keep quiet and enjoy the moment, without elevating yourself to royalty status. Don’t be so desperate to be part of the elite. Perhaps this is why the majority want Leicester to win the league and not Spurs.
Andy, Manc, Houston TX


…Manchester United may be the ‘new Liverpool’ but Spurs are the same old delusional Spurs.

I can’t see Harry Kane leaving Tottenham at any point. He seems to be in the “one club man” kind of mold. But Harry Kane isn’t Spurs most important player, or personal for matter. What makes Spurs fans think they would be able to keep Pochettino, Alderweireld, or Dele Alli at the club? Spurs have won nothing. Toby Alderweireld is tailor made for Barcelona. Dele Alli is a very attractive option being English and pretty good. I’m sure City could offer a little more than the massive 20,000 a week contract he’s currently on. Pochettino is loyal to Pochettino.

Regardless of TV money that comes in, clubs will still have to maintain their wage structure. Tottenham still have a new stadium to fund. If Spurs fans think for one second finishing second this year means they can start shopping in the upper echelon of the transfer market they are deluded. You didn’t see players flocking to Liverpool after they placed second (and we didn’t get beaten to the title by Leicester City haha). If you want to shop with the big boys you have to show consistency. One season winning the second place participation trophy is not enough.

With Pep going to City, Conte to Chelsea, United upgrading, and Liverpool with Klopp there are much more attractive options for players than a Tottenham team that could combust at any second. All of those managers mentioned above are long term solutions, unlike what those teams had this year.

This year is a one off because statistics say it is. What Leicester City is doing is unprecedented. There will be too much quality in terms of managers, and players brought into the big clubs next season to believe that a Leicester City type challenge will happen again. This year was the perfect storm and kudos to Leicester and Tottenham for taking advantage and making this campaign memorable, but it won’t last.
Brian (Kane may be one of your own, but he is the only one) LFC


It’s shaping up bad for BT
Before I get to my main point, I’d like to agree with Colin, Dublin on his excellent comments re: the lack of midfielders that control a game these days. It wasn’t so long ago that we had the likes of Alonso, Scholes, Pirlo, Schweinsteiger (in his pomp). Everything seems so much more frantic these days which is a shame, but I digress…

Anyway, it occurred to me how potentially disastrous (hyperbole alert) Leicester, Spurs and possibly West Ham getting into the CL could be for BT. While we’re patronisingly told that everyone who isn’t devil spawn (or something) will be willing on Leicester and Spurs this season, there will no doubt be a number of fat cats in BT Tower dreading the prospect. Having spent c. £900m on Champions League rights for three seasons, as much as BT claims that viewing figures haven’t been a disappointment, it’s clear that UEFA aren’t happy with the current state of play. It being reported in February that the BT Showcase channel attracted an average peak audience of less than 200,000 for its free-to-air Champions League coverage, compared to the average peak of 4.4 million who watched the play‑off round and group stages on ITV last year.

Now much of this may be as a result of tactical game playing from a pay-tv broadcaster that has no interest in being forced to broadcast a number of matches free-to-air, but if 2/3 of the traditional viewing figure behemoths of Man Utd, Chelski, Liverpool and Arsenal don’t qualify for the CL next season, there is no doubt that subscription figures will be negatively affected. After such a massive investment, would BT then trudge of with its tail between its legs or “go again” a la Steven Gerrard of 2013/14 title race fame? Would this then lead to another Sky Sports pseudo monopoly or would the likes of Al Jazeera snap up the British CL rights in the next auction? I honestly have no idea, but if anybody has any further knowledge/insight/thoughts, I’d be interested to know how this one could play out
Heston LFC (Unlikely to be signing up for 2016/17 for CL at least. Bloody Dortmund. Bloody Skrtel)


Where are the West Ham fans?
There’s been some great mailbox taunts flying around these last couple of days, providing welcome light relief from far more serious matters here. I particularly enjoyed Burtie, Spurs’ comments suggesting Man U players would be looking to move up, rather than Spurs players moving down, this summer.

H’ve been wondering where all the West Ham fans are, though. We read a lot from deluded Man U supporters and depressed Arsenal fans, but what about happy hammers? West Ham are only one point off the top four, and have looked good value all season. Their improvement has not caught the headlines as much as Leicester and Spurs but for me, they also deserve massive respect if they can break the hegemony of the (previous) elite.

So what’s the mood among West Ham fans? Are you believing you can catch Man City or Arsenal, and stay ahead of Man U? What’s Bilic’s secret, is it great recruitment, man management, or just not being scared of having a go? Bilic has surprised me because I (ignorantly) didn’t think he was that good a manager. Or are you just happy to be up there and waiting to see where you are at the end of the season?

Meanwhile, spare a thought for your Belgian players – I don’t think any of them really want to play after the sickening events yesterday. There are real concerns about how to ensure safety at matches in the Euros. (Thanks F365 for your article). It’s a reminder also not to take our club allegiances too seriously – there are more important things in life, guys.
Paul in Brussels (I’d pick Sturridge over Welbeck)


Personality v tactics
Matt Stead’s article on successful mid-season changes in manager
suggests some interesting (to me) questions. What makes the most difference, a change in personality or a change in tactics? And what is the recipe for long-term success?

Some managers are renowned for their personalities, good or bad: Rodgers, Ferguson, Mourinho.Others are better known for their tactics: Wenger and Pulis, for sure, despite their tactical differences, and perhaps Benitez and Guardiola.

The most successful, like Ferguson, Mourinho, Guardiola, Ancelotti, and others, bring both to the table. But even in the ‘most successful’ group, some only have a reputation for short-term success. Those who try to lead mostly by the force of their personalities, like Rodgers, will be found out once their initial impact has waned. Those who rely on clearly defined tactics, like Pulis, will be reliable but uninspiring.

Ferguson, I would argue, was probably 70% personality and 30% tactics, as his relative weakness in tactics was revealed when Queiroz left. The Manchester United teams of his later years were known less for stellar play than for a dogged refusal to give up.

Mourinho was pretty clearly a master of defensive tactics, with a huge personality (ego?) to go with it. It seems his combination of negative tactics and negative personality eventually wears on the club he is with. (If he does end up at United, the board will have to structure some clear performance bonuses into his contract, and I’m not talking about on-field success, I’m talking about things like number of young players developed and maintaining a positive image. But that’s an aside.)

For the mailbox to ponder, how would you rate your present club manager in terms of the personality/tactics ratio? And what is the ideal mix for a football manager? Is it 50% personality, 50% tactical savvy, or is one of these factors more important in the long run?
Cameron, Toronto


Three managers and out…
After reading your article about successful mid-season managers it got me thinking about unsuccessful mid-season appointments, or what I like to call, the three manager rule.

The three manager rule is basically that any EPL club which appoints three managers in a single season will always be relegated. This is a chicken and egg situation though as often when the third manager is appointed – its already over. If the first and second manager fail, manager three almost always has run out of time. Should Remi Garde go and be replaced then Villa will be a perfect example.

Newcastle had an unusual take on this in 2008-2009. Keegan – resigned rather than sacked, Houghton as caretaker, Joe Kinnear appointed and leaving due to a health scare, Houghton again, then Shearer (sort of Dowie as well) to do a four (sort of five) manager season.

I wonder if there are any examples of a club staying up with three or more managers in a season?
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide


Imaginary international week
I am very much enjoying reading the impassioned arguments between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur fans on a hypothetical transfer of a hypothetical player.

Since we seem to have removed the mailbox from the constraints of reality, I look forward to future mails on the following topics:

– The break-up of Liverpool’s 2014 title-winning team.
– Just how Barcelona can stop their terrible run of results against Arsenal.
– The miracle run of seven straight wins which kept Colchester United up in 2015/16.
Jeremy Aves


Sad, sad times
Today is a very sad day. After landing up at work and clearing my inbox I opened my browser to access your website. But alas, instead of the latest moanings from the Manchester faithful, I was met with the horrifying message stating ‘Content blocked by your organization’.

It seems my firm has finally cottoned onto what I (and many others) are doing instead of work and put a firm stop to it.

We’ll still see each other I’m sure, but it’s just not going to be the same anymore. It sure was good while it lasted though.
Ankur (Gunner) Ghosh

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