The Mailbox features a pessimistic Leeds fan unimpressed with their recruitment decisions. Also: Sadio Mane, Arsenal’s deal with Rwanda and books for the beach.
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It’s all well and good writing an article about the Leeds board taking a risk with Jesse Marsch’s rebuild, but like all things in football, it’s nothing new.
Cast your minds back ten years or so. Leeds have been promoted with a popular manager. He took them to the cusp of the unthinkable – as close to the Championship playoffs as Bielsa was to whatever that new Intertoto Conference bollocks is. Yet Grayson was let down by a thin squad that was strengthened in the wrong areas and an inability to concede fewer than three goals a game.
So what did the board of the day do? Sack him, replace him with a route one football rentagob who was more interested in TalkSh*te interviews than the training ground, sell off our best players (including the local hero running our midfield and the exciting winger who scored most of our goals), and let the new guy bring in players he’d worked with before.
Cue years of finishing 15th until the glorious Bielsa revolution.
It’s all scarily familiar.
Am I saying that Jesse Marsch is just the Wisconsin Warnock? Am I comparing Aaronson and Kristensen to Browneh and Tongeh and Paddeh Kenneh?
Yes. And Diego Llorente has more than a faint whiff of the Scott Wootton about him too.
But just like stagnation in the second division was enough for Ken Bates to fulfil his ambition of having a column in the programme to spout nonsense at us for years, stagnation in the top flight will be perfectly acceptable for the current Leeds board. A few years of finishing 15th will net them a few quid before they finally offload the club and turn a tidy profit.
And in the meantime, we can all enjoy watching the dimmest man in professional soccer enlighten us with insights such as “I don’t like my team getting wide, the goal is in the middle of the pitch” and “We started brilliantly until Chelsea scored (after 3 minutes).”
Andy – Leeds fan in Salford
So long, Sadio
Bit of a mixed bag of feelings about Sadio Mane’s exit all things considered.
There’s no part of me that actually wants him to leave, especially after the second half of last season. He has a very legitimate case to be a top 5 player in the world right now and surely unarguably a top 10 – it’s hard to be super enthusiastic about losing that. Nunez is a very exciting prospect and will maybe be world class in the future, but Mane is world class *now*.
We’ve got decent money for him considering we could have lost him for nothing next year and it’s covered his transfer fee from Southampton – even though he’s more than justified that many, many times over during his stay. He’s a very decent bloke too – very little drama has followed him over his stay.
I’m slightly surprised by the timing of it, in that you’d struggle to have much better of a season than we did last time out – he’s scarcely leaving Liverpool in decline. As a result joining almost anyone is a sideways step, which seems slightly pointless. But maybe he thinks it’s all downhill from here?
He hasn’t gone to play second fiddle to Lewandowski, I’m sure he’s had his fill of that with Salah. But replacing the prolific Pole seems like a fool’s errand to me, he simply will not score as many goals. As good as Mane is , he’s quite capable of going on stretches of missing opportunities you’d back your Granny to score and he can’t afford to do that and not be seen as a failure in comparison.
Maybe he really has gone for a new experience and if that’s so, it’s perfectly understandable. He’s won literally everything there is with Liverpool, anything else would simply be repeating what he’s done. With Bayern he can accomplish something new.
There is a small element of feeling ever-so-slightly jilted, that’s inevitable. But he’s been an enormous part of our recent successes and most definitely doesn’t owe us anything.
So all that remains really is to say thanks for the memories and wish him the very best for the future.
Bayern have got themselves a very good ‘un.
A recurring theme
Has anyone thought of using AWB at centre-back, asks OA.
Yes. Well, maybe not any of his coaches at Man Utd. But definitely contributors to the F365 mailbox. Probably every month since he first signed for Utd.
Ben (WHUFC), Godalming
Three more for England
So England will be able to take 3 more players to the world cup than usual following the rule changes. I wonder how many of them will be forwards. Guessing less than 1.
“I’m not against it but I’m not really for it.” That’s about the most Gareth comment possible.
We’re so going to win the world cup.
Let’s get hypocritical
Now I’m as happy as the next man to put the boot into Arsenal for anything and everything, but I’m not going to do that. Their team is already doing that for me. Instead I want to have a little talk about hypocrisy, something that each and every one of us suffers from.
For me, there are distinctly post-colonial (if we’re going to maintain this pretence that colonialism has actually stopped) undertones to the criticism of Rwanda’s sponsorship of Arsenal. It is heavily framed around the rule of Kagame, with very little acknowledgement of how he came to reach his unassailable position. This is a man who was widely feted for his approach and rule by the very same nations who now criticise him. We have seen this before. The colonial hand at play, obfuscating and deceiving. Meanwhile our own government is actively trying to remove our human rights, carries out secret trials, takes part in the rendition of civilians, and conducts proxy wars on foreign soil.
If you want to damn Rwanda for Kagame’s crimes, then you are free to do so. But please make sure to damn Belgium while you’re at it. Because his rule simply does not exist without the horrific, evil things they did in Rwanda in the decades prior. The genocide does not happen without them and the wilfully spiteful divisions they introduced.
Perhaps, instead of sitting in judgement against the nations of a continent that Europe divided up between them, we could focus closer to home first? Because it all feels rather distasteful to point the finger at nations that only exist because of the borders we drew, because of the divides we created, while those who profited from those political games and the mass slaughter that came with them, continue to amass disgusting wealth. And use that wealth to point us at every other issue but themselves.
If we should not visit Rwanda, where should we go instead? Where is acceptable to the British moral compass? Do we stay within our own borders? Because our government has killed far more innocent people than Kagame’s. The same is true of America, our baby brother that has grown bigger and stronger than us, having feasted on the blood of the native population, and that of the millions of people stolen from across Africa. And Australia, our other genocidal child, running rampant across occupied lands as though every inch of soil is our own birthright. Who on earth are we to claim the moral high ground over anyone? We think we can sneer at Rwanda’s tourist industry, yet welcome millions of visitors to our own blood-stained shores every year (as long as they don’t plan to stick around)? This nation grown fat through an industrial revolution built on slavery. But that was then and this is now, right? So it’s all okay.
Barclays continues to be one of the main sponsors of the league. The same Barclays who helped finance the Nazis in the Second World War. The same Barclays who took deposits of the money stolen from murdered Jews. We have Shell petrol stations all over the country. Ask the Ogoni people if they’d rather have Shell operating on their lands or for you to go on holiday to Rwanda. The list is endless. The corporate-sanctioned murder is relentless. The state-sponsored slaughtering has never stopped.
Barney Ronay asked where do we draw the line. Apparently, we draw it thousands of miles away in an impoverished country, as far away from our own crimes as possible. And then pat ourselves on the back for being ever so moral, while eating a beefburger farmed on land stolen from a murdered farmer.
The future will look back at the British with unrelenting, nauseated contempt. If we even have one.
…Jesus, here we go again… a non Western European country has had the absolute gall the try and get involved in football. Time to slate them for all every possible human rights issue possible. Its not like colonial European countries sucking the wealth out of these nations has led to the conditions that make such abuses possible/normal. Countires like Rwanda have to beg for such horrible political deals with the UK, such as the refugee deportation one because they have no other options. Maybe this will get them some extra income that can hopefully build a bigger more prosperous country (maybe it will go into Kagame’s pocket). Its certainly a horrible situation, but maybe save your anger for Boris Johnson and his gang of morally bankrupt cretins. The ones the UK public keeps happily voting into power knowing full well they will enact policy like this…
You mention critics of Kagame disappearing and being murdered, all the while Julian Assange awaits extradition from the UK to the US for the great crime of telling people the truth. Its not OK to murder opponents of governments, but its perfectly fine to slowly destroy them over years then eventually ship them off for imprisonment. Murder = Bad. Imprisonment without trial for telling the truth = fine… ok cool.
We had the same with Qatar’s world cup bid. The same with Saudi Arabia’s connections to Newcastle. Endless articles and opinion pieces from UK based media on the evils of these empires. For some reason such articles are only concerned with the evils within said country. We happily ignore the wests constant drone bombing of the world anytime they see fit to host an international tournament. Saudi Arabia are rightly scorned for their human rights violations within Saudi Arabia. I’m assuming next time the UK hopes to host a tournament we will all jump on our moral high horses for the UKs flooding of the world with weapons of huge destruction, weapons that coincidently only go to countries who kill people they don’t like. Or maybe we could just boycott any UK hosted tournament due to their refusal to accept refugees, often from nations they helped destroy and create the refugee crisis in the first place. Ok cool… so long as we are playing by the same rules…
As I’ve stated before in similarly themed mails. If you are morally opposed to refugees being exported to Rwanda, then vote the Tories out. Instead of giving me articles on the evils of Rwanda, give me articles on why the great British public is happy to vote for posh twats who consistently promote such horrid policies.
Colonial Britain and Europe plundered the world for centuries, sucked god knows how much wealth and resources out of poorer nations who are still nowhere near recovering. Then Britain/Europe decided to stop one day and say all of a sudden “look, we are the good guys now, why can’t you all just be civil like us”. And the general public genuinely believe it. They genuinely see themselves (wealthy, mainly white, safe, healthy) as the good guys and poorer nations (poor, usually dark, unsafe, unhealthy, living in fear) as the bad guys.
The hypocrisy is beyond absurd.
…Isn’t it refreshing to have a view from Turiyo, Rwanda on something they know about or at least presumably have a lot more direct experience with, being based in the country.
There’s nothing more tiresome than people applying their own life experiences and culture to countries thousands of miles away and thinking it’s all the same really..
For the record, I’m not saying Turiyo is right in their opinion, but they certainly carry a lot more weight than people judging countries they know very little about beyond what they’ve read in a newspaper (which often has its own political agenda).
On a football website, you really shouldn’t be hearing non-expert views on Rwanda, Russia/Ukraine, the Middle East, GCC etc., perhaps stick to insightful football analysis and keep international politics separate.
Other than that, love the site!
Books for the beach
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, as suggested by Dan in the Mailbox, is a marvellous read. Here are a few others that I think are essential, close-season break or not:
1 – A Season with Verona, Tim Parks – Along with The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, the best football book I have ever read. There is something about the fan’s view about football that cannot be matched by any analysis or peek into history. Just amazing.
2 – Talking of history, it is very difficult to find something better than Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy. Books like Kuper’s just can’t be written anymore.
3 – A Life too Short, Ronald Reng – mental illness does not get talked of much in sport, which is perhaps reason enough to read Robert Enke’s biography. But it’s an excellent read just on its own too.
4 – Soccermatics, David Sumpter – Statistics, as Roy Keane said, have taken over the world. But that’s perhaps because it captures the game so well. Soccernomics may be the more well known book, but Soccermatics does a great job in explaining how football is so naturally and deeply rooted in numbers and patterns.
5 – The Illustrated History of Football, David Squires – Does Squires even require an introduction?
…Keeping the discussion of football Books going, here’s one for you: 1312 by James Montague. About the ultras around the world. Had heard author’s interview somewhere and had bought it. The line that caught my attention was about the ultras in German football who have more of a socialist sympathies rather than the rightwing supporting groups in other parts of the world. Covers Asia, South America and Europe.
Vikas, LFC, India (Mane, Taki, Origi – The kind of players who make up a great team)
Perception of City in the market
In response to Rob. (No. Not a Liverpool fan)’s letter about excessive spending not mattering at Chelsea, City and PSG has he been sleeping under a rock? Since Pep took over City have had a ridiculously high strike rate over those 6 season. Liverpool get (rightly) lauded for their transfer hit rate, but City get the opposite treatment and transfer failures are magnified and successes ignored.
The ones I can think of that were mistakes are – Bravo, a terrible keeper (was he a hologram?) and Mendy (less said the better) had off field ‘issues’.
Then there was some normal squad management with players bought and sold – Nolito got homesick so we sold him, Sane was fantastic for us but got his head turned by Bayern Munich so we sold him for a profit, Danilo contributed and then we swapped and upgraded to Cancelo and Torres had his head turned by Barcelona so we sold and doubled our money. All that resulted in a profit of over £23M (using ransfermarkt.co.uk values). Including Bravo and Mendy makes it a modest loss of £45M, which is mostly caused by Mendy (FFS).
Then look at the undoubted successes we have signed since Pep took over – Stones, Gundogan, Jesus, Silva, Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Mahrez, Rodri, Cancelo, Dias. Pep keeps a small squad size so City need to ensure new players contribute, which means so much work is done on player acquisition by profiling the potential players on and off the pitch. The strike rate bears that out.
So it does matter if we get it wrong, and I can only think of two examples where we have and City finished 3rd with Bravo in net (Pep’s lowest ever league finish), and we’ve not had a proper left back at the club since Clichy and Kolorov were playing because of Mendy’s troubles (could we have won the CL with a working LB?).
So Rob, what have I missed? Which players have City been lumbered with? What mistakes have we made that hasn’t really mattered?
Andy D, Manchester. MCFC