Thank you for your brilliant emails. Keep them coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember when Klopp got relegated?
There’s been plenty of enjoyable commentary here on Ole – both for and against – so I will spare the Mailbox my own thoughts on how he’s the man who’ll take my beloved United right back to the top. Will keep this short and focus on two quick things:
1. All season long, United have been criticised for only turning it on against the big teams, with Ole supposedly being a tactical mug who can’t break down a well-organised low block or beat long-ball merchants like Liverpool (this is bait, don’t take it.) Post-Restart, we beat the lower-half teams, carving out plenty of chances in a tactically fluid system spearheaded by an Ole signing made in January, so now it’s flipped into “No disrespect to them, but it was only Bournemouth etc”. Hello? There’s some cognitive dissonance happening here. Pick a lane please.
2. This has been another recurring theme — this “haha gotcha!” moment where someone points out how he got relegated with Cardiff in 2014, which has been annoying me all season.
Firstly, no shit he’s underqualified for the job. I don’t think anyone has claimed otherwise. But also, I’d just like to remind my Mailbox friends that Klopp got relegated with Mainz too. He stayed on out of loyalty to the club (good on him), and was unable to get them back up the next season. He resigned after, learnt some hard lessons presumably, and went on to do wonderful things at Dortmund before ruining his legacy forever by joining Liverpool.
Yes, he did get Mainz promoted first, which is a great achievement in context, the same way Ole winning the title with Molde was a great achievement. Bash Ole by all means, but let’s find better reasons to criticise him than points totals — no one cares, you nerds — or a four-month period from 2014, which was 15 years ago.
(Third paragraph. I think Ole rubs a lot of people the wrong way simply because he’s happy in his job, and doesn’t try to hide it. We’ve come to expect managers to be tortured [Pep] or narcissistic and agenda-driven [Jose] or weirdly intense [Poch] or just mad bastards [Klopp, Bielsa] or something. He’s not bland — like the recent discussion was about — he just has his dream job and he’s happy.)
Akhil, Delhi, Man Utd
Damned if you, damned if you don’t
So the inevitable has happened and the Newcastle takeover has been canned. Rather than go into any conspiracy theories I figured I’d try and give the mailbox one Newcastle fan’s view on the whole thing.
After the initial period of scepticism of the bid I was quite excited and intrigued by the idea of the takeover. Mostly from the prospect of being rid of Mike Ashley rather than dreams of success I should add. The moral misgivings over Saudi ownership were easy to handwave away with whataboutery; “they’re going to buy someone, why not us”, “other clubs have dodgy sponsors as well”, “there’s no such thing as a clean billionaire” etc.
As the takeover went into stasis over the summer, with the Premier League seemingly sticking the takeover paperwork in the bin and switching their phones off, doubts started to crop up. All the transfer targets and managerial shortlists felt weird, people like Pochettino & Coutinho whom you’d normally see linked with the big 6. As I slowly started to believe some of the rumours it felt odd, like I wouldn’t be supporting the same team if the takeover went ahead and these transfers came off. The closest comparison I can think of as to how it felt was as if Chelsea or Man Utd suddenly changed their kits and claimed to be Newcastle. The time in stasis also resulted in weekly articles or expressions from various individuals and global organisations, which forced me to think about the moral baggage we’d be acquiring rather than just that which we’d be losing. The sight of some Newcastle message boards pre-emptively fawning over a state with what I’d consider immoral values and practices felt deeply uncomfortable. I’m painfully aware that the above may sound cheap given that it’s being stated in hindsight mind, and it’s not intended as a cheap shot at fans who were pro takeover.
While it’s a relief to finally have the uncertainty end, I’m by no means happy the takeover failed despite my misgivings. We’re still screwed as a club. Ashley will continue to sink his claws into the club, refuse outside sponsorship in favour of promoting his own tacky brands and refuse to invest a single penny into the infrastructure. It’s a strange situation where this failed takeover has highlighted that one way or another Newcastle will be a billboard for an unsavoury regime; either a literal billboard for a tatty onshore sweatshop owned by an unscrupulous moron, or a glamorous sportswashing vehicle for a state that is deeply misogynistic, homophobic and implicated in unjustified conflicts. Quite a sobering thought.
All in all it’s not enough for me to denounce my support or anything that dramatic. This whole saga has eroded even more of the goodwill and strength of feeling I have towards my club though. It’s also given me a newfound understanding for those who actually stopped supporting their childhood club; without any family or geographical ties what defines your support other than memories and shared values?
Just read on twitter that the Saudi takeover of Newcastle is over because negotiations stalled with the premier league. That is top not bullshit. If Saudi cannot acquire a British club, neither should any other outside company. Well, It’d be hard to kill the British/American relationship but Chelsea and Man City also need to be cancelled. I hate hypocrisy. It’s a travesty, they are denying Newcastle the ability to come back to the top, and why? Is the Newcastle area not due some rebuild? Whomever is responsible, it needs at least to take legal action against the premier league and sue them for lost revenue. I really hope this is just twitter nonsense but if true, it’s a disgrace.
Dave(Anybody coming at me about human rights, I didn’t know Russia, Abu Dhabi, USA, were that good at leading lights at this), Somewhere
So the Saudi takeover has collapsed, and now we see that classic phrase tossed around: the Newcastle fans deserve better. Better than the failed takeover, better than Ashley, better than Freddy Shepherd, and so on. For years we have been told again and again that Newcastle fans deserve better.
I have no quarrel with Newcastle. Other than Sunderland, I’m not sure anyone really does. But I also cannot understand why are are supposed to feel eternal sympathy for them, to rally around this poor marginalised bunch. They have barely won a trophy since the first World War. What are we supposed to be rooting for? A huge club that is suffering in the greedy claws of evil? Nothing backs that up. Newcastle are a club that has a history of just being there, for the most part. Lots of local support doesn’t entitle you to anything, particularly when you are the only club in your city.
Ashley may not throw billions around, but what do you expect to happen? The club doesn’t make much money. Revenue is not profit. Newcastle are no more deserving of having endless billions than almost any other club. But they almost exclusively get this badge. It feels like everyone is stuck in the Keegan era, desperately trying to pat little Newcastle on the head for trying ever so hard. “Oh aren’t you such a passionate bunch with your shirts off!”. It would be almost offensive if not for the manner in which the geordies lap it up.
By the way, Newcastle fans picked up the most banning orders during the last properly attended season. That’s the passion, right? That classic Geordie banter?
Getting in the bed with the devil and justifying it because mean Mike doesn’t buy you enough toys certainly does make you deserving of something, and it’s not success. When you start flirting and cooing at a genocidal regime the only thing you deserve is complete failure. 97% of Newcastle supporters were in favour of the takeover. Well fuck you all, and have a shite weekend.
thayden / horses everywhere
Dyche to Palace……that feels like it would happen
So reading the prediction emails this morning, Hong Kong Ian put at number 7 that Sean Dyche will move to Crystal Palace, at first I raised a Carlo style eyebrow, then once it had sunk in I thought to myself, yes that makes a lot of sense, it fits, seeing him in front of the Crystal Palace dugout, wearing a Crystal Palace training top, it fits so well, now naturally this brought me to this question I will ask everyone “What managers do you feel would make the perfect fit for a Premier League club?”, it can be for tactic reasons or just because they look like they’d suit the tracksuit, the badge etc.
Some early shouts from me would be:
Ralph Hasenhuettl – Leicester
Sean Dyche – Everton or Palace
Rafa Benitez or Paulo Fonseca – Wolves
Chris Hughton – Watford
Thinking about the glory days
Why would you show us that save from Petr Cech on Andy Carroll? Don’t you know us chelsea fans are very delicate at the moment when it comes to goalkeepers. Watching cech fly across goal in all his glory puts it into perspective of how It’s actually been painful to watch kepa flap around the goals for the last two years most the time not even moving to try save the shots he is facing.
I’m not an expert by any means but when I think of the best saves I think of the keepers scrambling across the goal clawing the ball away in some super human fashion the best ones that come to mind are Cechs save vs Carroll in that fa cup tie, or Cechs save against Chicharito again I think it was in the cup, saves that no one had any right to make but he managed it through positioning and sheer determination, saves that kepa never has a hope in hell of making because he is standing still watching the game happen around him instead of partaking in it.
Watching De Gea slipping recently and Kepa being Kepa makes me reminisce about the goal keeping glory days back in the mid to late 2000’s. Man United vs Chelsea, Edwin Van Der Sar and Petr Cech, in my opinion the two greatest goalkeepers the Premier league has ever seen, each making ridiculous saves week in week out and we took it for granted. And before anyone starts yes Schmeichel was a great keeper but its my opinion and I have him third so piss off.
Aaron. CFC. Ireland
The mantra chanted by Arsenal fans regards their unbeaten season is being sang again I see. The unbeaten tag is a misnomer as they were knocked out of all cup competitions and basically concentrated on not getting beat in the League, a fantastic achievement no doubt but better than a cup double or the treble? Not on your life, the fact United lost only 4 games across the treble winning season is far more impressive playing Barcelona twice, Juventus, Inter and Bayern in the Champions League as well as Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle. So in summary Arsenal lost six times that season I think I’ll take the treble over your unbeaten season any day of the week thanks.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Only Arsenal fans could try to justify the importance of winning one trophy over two (or more). And head’s up, every team that’s fighting on multiple fronts has a chaotic run in, but that’s part of the game. United in 99 for example had to play Juve and Arsenal twice each in the space of two weeks, in semi finals no less.
Whereas I don’t want to call the invincibles a fluke, because I remember how friggin good they were, the question remains, why couldn’t they at the bare minimum retain the title? Surely if they were truly one of the best teams ever they wouldn’t be a one and done.
And if you’re talking unbeaten, both United teams that won the UCL and League double went unbeaten in Europe. Try doing that when your opponents are Barca, Bayern, Inter, Chelsea, and Juve. It’s a different game entirely.
IP (Treble winners also lost less games overall than the Invincibles)
Guillaume, I’m not sure Perugia, Spartak Sofia, Benfica, Galatasaray and other teams I have missed who went unbeaten for a whole season but didn’t win the league wouldn’t have rather actually had 2 shiny trophies instead.
And would being invincible also trump Man Uds treble year? Just wondering but presumably not.
Rating teams against other teams in previous seasons who had different competitors is always going to be highly subjective – Maybe if people who don’t support any of the sides that have won the league gave their opinion it should be less biased because I am definitely not going to come up with an unbiased list.
Jon, Cape Town (Yes, I will admit I was very jealous of Arsenal doing that invincible season and for a couple of years after wanted us to emulate it. Doing it second just wouldn’t be as impressive so I’m over it now – it was undoubtedly a great Arsenal team)
In response to Guillame’s assertion that he would rather see his team go unbeaten for a season than win multiple trophies, I felt compelled to point something out to him. Although Arsenal did not lose a league game in their ‘Invincibles’ season, Man Utd lost less games in total in their Treble season AND won THREE trophies compared to Arsenal’s one.
Utd only lost a total of 4 games (3 league + 1 league cup) compared to a total of 6 games that Arsenal lost in their ‘Invincibles’ season.
It was simply a statistical anomaly that Arsenal did not lose a league game, whereas Utd lost less games and won the big 3 trophies.
I therefore propose that Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ are renamed the ‘Anomalies’.
The Damski (MUFC)
Look, I know this has been done to absolute death, but just to respond to Guillame – the reason why going unbeaten pales in my mind against winning trophies is that it doesn’t even guarantee a trophy in itself. In 1979 Perugia went unbeaten in Serie A, but in drawing more than half their games they finished second to a Milan side that was beaten 3 times. While I know that’s an extreme, to me it illustrates that the glory in football is in winning and performing in those moments of extreme pressure, beyond just ‘not losing’ (which I accept is hard enough in itself.
As to whether a team has ever faced such a tough set of fixtures in such a short space of time, here’s some United treble results from mid-April onwards:
7/4 Juventus CL (drew 1-1)
11/4 Arsenal FA cup (drew 0-0)
14/4 Arsenal FA cup (won 2-1 aet)
17/4 Sheff Weds (12th) (won 3-0)
21/4 Juventus CL (won 3-2)
25/4 Leeds (4th) PL (drew 1-1)
1/5 Villa (6th eventually but top as late as Christmas) PL (won 2-1)
5/5 Liverpool (7th) PL (drew 2-2)
Missing from that are games in Europe against Barca, Bayern (three times) and Inter plus FA cup ties against Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United. The team lost 4 times all season, and not once after the turn of the year. The very definition of performing under pressure, and winning it all. I actually think other United teams had more talent (07/08 for one) but still think it’s difficult to argue that anyone has ever met the standards set by the treble team.
The invincibles vs trophy debate that has been raging in the mailbox really comes down to personal preference. There is no objective correct answer as to which is the better achievement between say, an unbeaten season or a league and FA cup double. It comes down to what you value more. If you prefer records and making history then you’ll prefer an unbeaten season. If you value trophies, you would prefer the cups.
I’ve always thought that the invincibles achievement was slightly overrated. Yes, its a nice footnote to the season, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as, for examples, City’s centurions, Chelsea in 2005 or Liverpool this year.
Guillaume was very insistent that an unbeaten season was better than a double, commenting on the fact that it was so rare, whereas teams winning doubles or even trebles was more common. But he’s missed a key point here, which is that perhaps the reason it is so rare is that teams aren’t really that bothered by it, whereas they are desperate to win as many trophies as they can. We’ve often seen runaway league winners rest key players in a league match to focus on the cups. I’ve never seen a team rest players in a cup game to try and achieve an unbeaten season.
The other issue I have with praising the unbeaten so to such a high regard is that it takes away from football is actually about. The point of football is to win. Not to avoid defeat. Arsenal fans saw their team win 26 games in 2003/04. I saw Liverpool win 32 this year. I know which I’d prefer. To add to this point, Perugia, Galatasaray and Benfica have all had unbeaten seasons in the past yet failed to win the league.
Now all of this is just my opinion and you are perfectly entitled to disagree. All I know is that I was genuinely not that bothered when we lost to Watford. It was a case of “Ah well, would have been nice but nevermind.” I was a lot more annoyed when we lost to Chelsea in the FA cup because a double would have been a great achievement. And that sums it up really.
Mike, LFC, London
Brendan…is he actually any good?
I saw in this morning mailbox Brendon Rodgers (not the first time) being described as a great manager. Is he really?
Did a solid job at Liverpool with a good bunch of players. Just fell short, declined quickly, got sacked. Managing Celtic and winning … it’s like Football Manager in cheat mode, lets be honest. Leicester City (see Liverpool), really good squad, started well, fell short … I predict a sharp decline and the sack next season.
I like having him in the Prem because I love his nonsense and he’s probably a decent coach, but a great manager just feel like a stretch. What am I missing? Any other doubters out there?
Don’t drink and mail…
Is it only me or did Ben have 5 teams to finish in the top 4 of his prediction?
Chelsea will still finish in the Champions League places.
Man United to have a shot at the title with 88pts.
Liverpool to struggle to finish in the UCL places.
Spurs will finish 3rd.
City to finish 2nd.
Or by ¨Struggle¨ he means they won´t qualify?
Guys please don´t drink and mail at the same time.
Vasa Gee (Werner as the new Kezman is very funny)
Despite the shrill and somewhat condescending emails from City supporters lecturing those of opposition teams that City have been totally above board and UEFA, well, the axis of evil, the latest revelations appear to categorically show City had been playing fast and loose with their sponsorship funds.
I am not going to get into the fairness of FFP in possibly supporting the status quo of traditional powers, because in legal situations that is simply a red herring.
What is at stake is City’s integrity and especially in terms of club owners meeting fiduciary standards to be eligible to compete in the Premier League and European competitions
What is clear is that people lied to Cas. The question is, after publishing their verdict, are there any further ramifications, such as fines, points or withdrawing eligibility to compete for purgery. While they may have made their case with the evidence supplied to the tribunal, it is now clear they or least Pearce lied and there should be consequences.
Slightly underwhelming top scorers
I read and shuddered as I recalled Joey Barton being our top scorer that season, but because in over 40 years of watching City, including 5 relegations , that 2006/07 season is The only time I waited to renew my season ticket and the only time I was happy a man lost his job, At least Ball and Clark had Kinkladze to light the darkness, that season was just grim, grim, grim.
Our man in Japan…
We’re a month into the restarted J.League season so here’s a brief update on my team, Zweigen Kanazawa in J2, who lost the first game of the season back in February and have had a quite eventful few weeks since the restart.
Results-wise we’ve been magnificently inconsistent, but we have been playing well. I think the inconsistency is down to age and squad size: according to Transfermarkt, we have the second smallest and second youngest squad in the league. We began with a bizarrely entertaining 0-0 at home to Matsumoto in which neither side seemed interested in defending and both sides hit the post several times. This was followed by a trip to Niigata, who went one up 4 minutes in, then found themselves 4-1 down after 30 minutes; we won that one 5-3. We then lost two in a row, 2-1 and 2-0 to Kofu and Chiba, then won two in a row, 1-0 away to Tochigi and 5-0 away to Gunma. Yes, that’s 5 goals in a game twice in a month. We ended July with a 1-0 loss at home to promotion chasers Omiya, who have had six 1-0 results in their 8 games, which strikes me as a very Crystal Palace statistic.
So we find ourselves in 11th with an overall record of 3 wins, 1 draw, and 4 losses, with 12 goals scored and 9 conceded. The schedule is relentless and Zweigen are back in action this Sunday evening away to Mito. Mito have been in the second division for many years and last year looked like they might finally break out, but they missed out on a playoff spot on the final day.
Each matchday the J.League’s International YouTube channel has been showing one game live for viewers outside Japan, and this Sunday it’s Zweigen’s turn. Kickoff is at 11 AM UK time, so if you’re at a loose end then why not tune in and watch. We might score 5 again, but more likely we will do what we did v Omiya, Kofu, and Chiba, which is dominate and create loads but lose. If you do watch, let me know what you think in the Mailbox or on Twitter (@kanazawadreamin).
James T, Ishikawa, Japan