The Mailbox urges Tottenham to take a leaf out of Liverpool’s book and let Harry Kane leave. Also: more on West Ham’s triumph; City’s Treble; and the threat from Saudi…
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Liverpool, loyalty and Kane
How refreshing Jude Bellingham’s comments on joining Real Madrid, that he wanted to win everything in football and this was the club he saw to do that at. Gotta say Real boil my turnips but hard to argue with the fella.
He went onto say that while individual honours are nice basically it is a team sport and team honours trump any individual ones. Yessir they do.
For me this throws a very poor light on Spurs treatment of Harry. Again I don’t particularly like Harry Kane but he’s given the best years of his career to the couch dwelling, carling drinking, pringles munching slob of a club that is Spurs under Daniel Levy. To torture the metaphor, he’s cooked their dinner, washed up their mess and clipped their bitter bitter nails for years.
Now it’s time to let him go, join the 6 figure salary nice smelling club and get the cups he deserves. But will Levy facilitate this? Not without a fight I suspect.
While people moan endlessly about Liverpool and Klopp one of their many fine and ignored policy is that when a player really wants to leave they let him go, even if they suspect it is not going to improve their career as they think it is, see Mane, Coutinho, Emre Can. That’s decency, that’s respect, that builds loyalty and team ethics when players see a club treating other players right.
Spurs, not so much, and the club with poor old Harry strapped to them are sinking slowly under the weight of their own self interest. Jude would tell them it’s a team game, but teams need happy players playing at their level and striving for their best. How all so very spursy.
Saudi is the new China
I was surprised to read John Matrix expressing concern about the Saudi league, and agree with the view shared by The Admin on Thursday afternoon. There is nothing new or special about the Saudi league project throwing money at players. We have seen it before with the Chinese league, the Russian league (Anzhi), the Turkish league, the Qatari league, etc. Why would this be any different?
If anything, China was the real threat for that 2-3 year period of time. China was signing players in their prime. Are we really expecting any 25-30 year old stars or B-listers to move across to Al-Whatever? (I hope this doesn’t come across as culturally insensitive. I think its fair, as literally 16 of 18 clubs are named that way).
While we’re at it, despite the myriad of problems in Florida, the idea that life in Miami is barely preferable to life in Saudi is entirely absurd. The idea that life in Miami is inferior to life in UK-ex-London is also very fanciful, even if it’s probably more subjective. That’s the kind of worldview that finds it hard to understand why football players would rather live in Madrid/Barcelona/Milan than Manchester/Liverpool/London. It’s not that you’re “wrong”, it’s that the opinion is not aligned with the consensus view.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Saudi’s next steps
The inevitable question regarding Saudi money is two fold: how long before they offer UEFA a bucket of money to allow their clubs into the Champions League and will UEFA accept said bucket on grounds of two fingers at FIFA and growing European football?
Paul “all about the money” Rhodes
I wanted to add to the sentiments in the Thursday morning mailbox about the Europa Conference League. For an organisation that gets things wrong as often as Uefa does, they have definitely done something right here. I was skeptical at first, not helped by England’s first entrants being so completely apathetic in a tournament that they deemed to be beneath them. But it has turned into something magnificent.
Seeing the West Ham fans celebrating last night and the Roma fans the year before, was a wonderful thing. Major trophies are being hoarded more and more by a smaller selection of clubs. Opening a tournament out to a greater variety of teams is something really worth doing.
And it’s not just great for fans of the winners. Other teams get to enjoy a European adventure that they never would have before.
When we think of the top leagues in Europe, there is the so-called “Big 5” plus probably Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. In the Champions league there hasn’t been a team since 2018 to reach the knockout stage, who don’t play in one of those leagues. And even from France, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands it’s not especially common, or its a very small number of teams.
The Europa league is a bit more open. We had teams from Hungary, Ukraine and Turkey in the last 16 this year and there was Rangers’ success the year before, but it’s still a lot of teams from the above leagues.
The Conference League is far more open. Just this year there were teams from Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Switzerland, Slovakia, Romania and Cyprus to make it to the last 16. In the pre-last-16 knockout stage there were also teams from Norway, Serbia, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria.
Now I’m not necessarily saying I want to watch all these matches or all these teams, but that’s not the point. No one is making you. But it’s a brilliant adventure and experience for fans and players who otherwise would have no chance of competing on the European Stage.
My only criticism would be the bizarre choice of stadiums for the final .You could have filled an 80,000 seater stadium last night quite easily. Why Uefa chose a ground so small I don’t know. I’m pretty sure any team that reaches the final would be able to sell out an allocation in a far bigger stadium than what was on offer. It should be 40,000 capacity minimum.
So well done Uefa, just sort the stadiums out!
Mike, LFC, London
…How can anyone say that tournament is two bob. Absolutely amazing that was.
Best team in London?
We had a guy at our work who was rubbish at his job. Totally incompetent. Hopeless. The bosses sent him on a refresher course with other hopeless people from other offices. At the end of the course there was a competition and our guy won. He was given a little trophy and a certificate. He spent the next week at work telling everyone he was better than them as he had won a trophy. Please take note (some) West ham fans.
Paul – London
This ‘who had the better season?‘ debate is pretty stupid.
It’s relative and should be dependent on what you value and what your expectations are.
Did Man Utd expect to win the league cup and qualify for the Champions League at the start of the season? I’ve no idea but given the size of the club and its resources, you would have to say they have met expectations.
The goal for Arsenal was Champions League. No-one put us in the race for the title – so in many respects we’ve exceeded expectations.
But West Ham hadn’t won anything since 1980, finished bottom among the London clubs and will be the only other London club in European competition next season.
In short, I think the Hammers had the better season. Though I think the Hammers and the Gunners are the only London clubs that could consider the season a success.
As for United, losing to your local rivals in an FA Cup final is bound to make you miserable – whoever you are.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Watching the Conference League final last night a few things’ were evident.
1. Terrible game, two poor teams who couldn’t keep possession for any length of time.
2. Fiorentina were up to same tricks as Roma, constantly hassling the ref over every decision, player and staff and feigning injuries at the slightest touch. Something has to be done about players encroaching the area i front of the VAR screen. They were practically standing over the ref shoulder for penalty review.
3. Anyone who says Rice is better than Rodri or Casimero should watch the game last night. Was totally outplayed by a very average Fiorentina midfield Based on last nights performance I’d pay 10m for him tops
Ken, Cork, Ireland
Just reading about the Alexis transfer to Liverpool. Ignoring what impact he might have, fee etc, the reaction from Bloom and De Zerbi spoke volumes. An admirable and classy club.
Stu, London (WWFC)
Amongst the entertaining ‘My Treble Can Beat Up Your Treble’ to-ing and fro-ing in The Mailbox this week has been some spectacular revisionism re Utd’s 1999 Champions League run. ‘United beat an amazing Juventus team in the semi final’ is the example that finally got me arsed to write.
That Juventus team finished 7th in Serie A that year. Inter who Utd beat in the quarters finished 8th. Two Serie A giants yes but hardly enjoying vintage – let alone amazing – years. The equivalent of this years Inter beating Villa and Spurs en route to the final.
Utd’s far more remarkable Champions League feat that year (barring the last five minutes of the final itself obviously) was getting out of a group that also contained Bayern and Barcelona. Interestingly enough they managed to do this without beating either of them. Four draws to go with two wins against the mighty Brondby was enough to see them through. Whether this makes it more or less remarkable I’m not quite sure.
Conor Malone, Donegal.
City and Manchester
Back in the ring (hopefully) after 10 years, even though I’ve never stopped watching from the side-lines. Just wanted to address some of the condescending mails being directed at City fans.
I’m a Wolves fan. I grew up in the shadow of the Molineux, one of the houses nearest to the stadium. My first paper route included dropping off Sir Jack Hayward’s papers. I later worked at the local shop, which was regularly frequented by the club’s admin, cleaning, security staff and occasionally players such as Steve Bull and Keith Curle. My first home game was a 3-1 win over the Blues and in later life my local became the pub nearest to the stadium.
When I was a young, my parents had a fabric business and during the holidays I’d have to accompany them to Manchester, as this is where many of the distributor warehouses were based. In the era before smartphones, I promise you this was a turgid affair. Often, they’d be dealing with sales staff in the office for hours, so other than kicking stones in the car park, one of the few other things to do was to strike up a conversation with the warehouse lads. It was the early 90’s, so naturally first thing I’d say was ‘Utd doing well, or Giggs is amazing, isn’t he?”. To which the response would always be “We support City mate”. Being young and from a one city club I could never get my head around this. Like, ‘you have two clubs to choose from, why would you pick the crap one, especially when the other one is winning leagues” I even remember coming back to school to tell my friends everyone I met in Manchester supports City and they wouldn’t believe me either.
Long drawn out tedious point I’m trying to make here is, fans like me and them don’t care about International fanbases, or what fans of the historically successful clubs think about us. We grew up in our local communities and supported our local clubs regardless of success and will always do so (even though I wish they’d stop battering us each season).
No one likes them, they shouldn’t care?
Genuine question here, why do City fans care so much that people don’t like the club?
I see a lot of staunch defence against the ownership regime, the perception of whether the football they play is nice or boring, whether anybody cares about them wining the treble etc, if Pep is the coolest manager who ever lived………….one of theose might not be true.
It does get a bit attack dog though if you mention anything less than 100% positive against City.
I support Chelsea. Have done for 40 years now since my first game (god I’m old) as a young kid and have seen us be alright, be awful, be middling, be fun to watch in the 90’s, become an utterly hated behemouth over the last 20 years etc and back to meh in the last season or so.
In essence though, there is absolutely nothing I could have done that would have positively or negatively changed any of the ownership changes (one cartoon villain to one actual shady character to whatever on earth we have now) apart from completely withdrawing and not going to any games etc. They were my local team, the team I supported as a kid so I carried on through the changes. Obviously it’s much easier to support a shit team when they suddenly get a lot better.
None of the barbs bothered me though, why would they. I’m not a Russian billionaire, I’m just a guy who likes that particular team in blue from West London and that’s it.
City fans, if you don’t care about the human rights abuses and stuff then don’t stress it. Enjoy the best version of your team you’re ever likely to see. If you do care, then don’t support them. Why waste a load of energy though in continually defending a very dodgy rulership. You’re not the owners, you can’t do shit about whether your team gets taken over or not.
Lee, (still can’t believe I was cheering like mad for West Ham) Hornsey
…They may win this weekend and they may not, but it is now widely accepted, whether through gritted teeth or otherwise, that Manchester City are an exceptionally good team.
Thrilling, boring, scintillating, soulless, call it what you will, but they are good. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be doing all those winning things.
In the MB there was rarely a mention of them, but now it seems like it’s every day, and it usually consists of “yeah, but” comments, which I have stayed away from because it’s a pointless exercise in futility. In fact those mails seem to have ran their course as it’s just repeating the same thing over and over.
But now we have shifted over towards the fanbase. My God, is this where we now are? What’s next? Moonchester has a fat head? The stadium is too close to a supermarket?
I now know how Manchester United fans felt for years, having anything thrown at them because they just happened to be a better club than everyone else, but like them then, I will just lie back and look at the trophies and ignore all the childishness.
Mike D (Funny how the more City don’t apparently matter, the more people have to mail in to explain why that is)
Final for all
Just wish to share with other readers that the Champions League final is available for free on YouTube, live via BT sport.
As a reader for well over a decade I understand that many of the sites readers and mailbox contributors are as old as my Dad and may not be comfortable with using a VPN to watch from Oz. Obviously there’s many out there older than myself included who are tech wizards, but not everyone, and we’re all about inclusivity these days aren’t we?
I did try to comment this on your advert, sorry “article”, on today’s front page so folk would be aware, but it didn’t seem to get past the guards.
Kind regards and thanks for the great site.