FA don’t give a f*** about fans – everyone should get behind Man City’s boycott…

Editor F365
Man City fans do the Poznan next an image of Pep Guardiola at a half-empty Wembley.

The Mailbox urges everyone to get behind Man City fans as they stand up to the FA. Also: bravo, Bournemouth; opposing views on sportswashing; and impressive England.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


Show them football without fans
Having seen the latest display of contempt from the footballing authorities, City fans have decided to boycott the Charity Shield. Who in their right mind would deliberately schedule this glorified friendly, pre-season game at such an inconvenient time for the fans travelling from the North? It’s just another slap in the face. A 5.30 kickoff, on a Sunday, is completely unnecessary.

So, what to do, instead?

Anyone who was thinking of going can, instead, contribute to the MCFC Fans Foodbank Support JustGiving page for the Manchester Central Foodbank. I was pondering on whether to take my kids to the match but, having seen the kickoff, I’ve contributed instead. I’d urge all Blues to do the same, hopefully we can help to reinforce the message to the footballing authorities that this scheduling just isn’t on. In the same way that, if it can be reasonably avoided, Newcastle shouldn’t be scheduled to play Arsenal in the Boxing Day early kickoff, for example. Everton shouldn’t be playing Brighton on a Friday night when they could play City instead of City travelling to Villa for the late Saturday kickoff, etc, etc, etc.

I obviously realise that not all scheduling can be friendly but that’s not what’s going on here, it the deliberate, unnecessary, scheduling that just grips my shit.

Please, Blues, contribute to the Foodbank, instead.

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19


Gareth in
Gareth Southgate is by a distance the best manager of England in my 36 years on the planet, and likely ever.

He has created a club side that know and support each other forwards and backwards, that aren’t necessarily the best 11 players but are the best 11… team.

Players aren’t brought in or dropped without serious thought being given to how that affects the squad of England FC, not just how well players perform for their clubs or even if they aren’t playing much at all.

It doesn’t always work, the same way no club side always plays well.

But every aspect of Southgate’s England is vastly superior in terms of player solidarity and understanding of each other and the system that no other England manager is even close.

The man has transformed the national side and how it should be run from this point forwards.

Thanks, Gareth.

Tim Sutton (City = meh)


Clever Cherries
I imagine there will be a number of people asking “Wt-actual-f?” after the termination of Gary O’Neil as Bournemouth manager.

Undoubtably a good coach, I have to say that I think Bournemouth should be applauded for their vision here. It would be questionable to suggest that he is man to lead them long term, given his relative infancy in management and a season of mixed results.

However, as someone who lives in Madrid, let me tell you: Andoni Iraola is an inspired choice of appointment. The work he did at Rayo Vallecano has had them punching far above their weight in La Liga. He’s a young, progressive coach who excels in good squad management. To finish 11th the squad and budget they have (above Sevilla, Valencia and Real Valladolid, for example) is no mean feat. Reaching the semi finals in domestic cup competitions likewise.

The only parallel I can draw to this is when Nigel Adkins was dismissed from Southampton, at the time to some degree of uproar. And we all know how his replacement, little known Mauricio Pochettino, did there.

Bravo, Bournemouth. Unfortunate for O’Neil but he has a long future ahead in the game. Undoubtably this is a decision that will pay off.
Alex, Madrid.


Sportswashing has grander ambitions
Reading Aman’s response to James (NUFC) regarding sportswashing I can see where both of them are coming from.

Aman says that before when people thought about Saudi you thought about executed journalists, MBS and women’s rights, and now they think about the Ronaldo and Benzema. I would disagree and say that the people who now think about Ronaldo would have previously have thought about maybe oil and sand. When I think about Saudi now, I think about Newcastle, sportswashing, human rights violations and money. When I think about Qatar I think about migrant workers dying, the World Cup, human rights for minorities of various types, PSG and again money.

So to be honest, I think for the man in the street, you’ve won over, to an extent, fanboys of Ronaldo and fans of PSG, Newcastle etc. You’ve probably bought more bad press than good in these areas. Disclaimer: I am a Newcastle fan and although I appreciate the football, I am uncomfortable with the source of the money.

It’s the same with Berlusconi, lots of AC Milan fans might miss him but I think of corruption and Bunga Bunga parties, so I think he’s won over very few average people.

However, I do think the soft power is more relevant in the influence that these events hold for other powerful people. What politician or power broker won’t want a corporate box for the World Cup final or Champions League big nights in Paris (and a much lesser extent in Newcastle). Obviously buying arms and investing in the most prestigious companies around the world (Disney etc) will also give you bites of that pie too, but you’ve got to go at it from lots of angles to get all the people you want to get.

In summary, I think the concept of Sportswashing is complex, but I don’t think we in the mailbox, terraces and couches around the world are the big prize.
Derek from Dundalk

Read more: Fans too divided to stop PIF, Qatar, private equity from conquering football’s soul…


No dirt 
I really have to laugh reading all the mails on sports washing, the litany of articles too and that’s just this site.

And while F365 prides itself on being a liberally minded organisation, anti colonial, anti racist etc. Ye still can’t help but adopt a self centred westernised view of the world !!!

What on earth makes any of ye(readers included) think that ANYONE in the Middle East gives a sh*t what ye think about them or their country ?? They don’t share the same values, don’t have the same culture, the same political system or the same beliefs.

They are just as contemptuous of ye as ye are of them !! Ye think how they treat homosexuals is abhorrent. Well I can assure you no less than they find giving children gender affirming medical procedures.

They want nice things in sport because like all rich people they like to show off how many shinny things they can buy. They also want their population to enjoy the best of sporting events. It’s about prestige not getting the approval of Dave from Surrey about their thousand year old cultural norms !!! Get over yerselves. They don’t want nor need yer approval.

What do you think they need yer approval for anyway ?? What is it they can’t buy NOW. They buy yer players, coach’s, managers and literal clubs.

It’s literally all in yer egotistical, self centred minds.

And that email today saying it was one of the most family safe events and that was just to sports wash is INSANE. That is how they do things. You can’t see the forest for the trees. They didn’t have a well run, safe event to truck people !! That’s how they operate.

You act like it’s two different things but it’s two sides of the same coin. They have a strict authoritarian regime but on the flip side they have a safe, low crime well run society. In the west we have lots of personal freedoms and the flip side of that is thousands of coked out England fans, fighting and p*sing on the street and storming stadiums.

Sports washing implies they have dirt to wash off. I can assure you they don’t consider themselves dirty.
Gerard Eire (probably too hot to post)


Scouse, not English
So, my previous mail dealt with whether Liverpool’s strategy of pursuing bargains over established world stars was sensible. Good to see it garnered some chat. It was probably the description of me in the shower that drew you all in.

But that was not my only issue with our transfer approach, I have another… Our disinterest in English talent. Which is poorly timed considering England have just won 7-0 with 2 Liverpool players starting, but hear me out…

During Klopp’s reign we have paid for only 2 English senior players (I don’t count the players under 18 who transfer between academies) Ben Davies, who I didn’t know then and I don’t know now, and The Ox, whose nickname can only have been ironic considering he is about as robust as a glass one dropped into an empty swimming pool.

There are a couple of obvious explanations for this approach. One, Liverpool haven’t actually signed that many players for a fee so 2 is a reasonable return (24 players in 15 transfer windows – inc. Mac Allister in this window) – Two, we tend to seek out bargains and the English premium makes finding English bargains difficult – Three, Liverpool have been a world class team the last few seasons, competing at the pointy end of domestic and European titles, and that means the pool of available players who can improve your squad is smaller. Our timely fall from grace has at least made that last point much less of an issue.

Here we are in summer 2023 and it just so happens that we have a selection of English midfielders available to coincide with Liverpool’s existing midfield having either left, not yet arrived or looked old and tired. The boy wonder, Bellingham. The destroyer, Rice. The… other guy Mount. Ages 19,24,24. Before we go through the Bellingham debate again, I have seen enough from his Madrid presentation to think he probably turned us down rather than we turned our noses up. How hard we fought to convince him on a move to Liverpool we will never know. But Rice and Mount are there for the getting, particularly Mount as he has 12 months left on his deal and Chelsea need to sell.

Liverpool started 2023 with rumours they were trying to convince Mason to switch to Liverpool. Then United came on the scene and Liverpool backed off, adamant they will not be dragged into an unseemly bidding war. Which is awful fucking handy for United who probably didn’t want that either, but fortunately for them, they watched their competition slink into the shadows instead of risk being beaten up.

As for Rice, I simply can’t understand it. We supposedly have a data driven recruitment team. Well, Rice is leading a swathe of the defensive midfield metrics, is 24, is homegrown and seems like a model professional. Now, I can see why he might not want to come to Liverpool, but we should sure as hell want him. The obvious hurdle, as is always the case with FSG and Kloppo, is the price. Bloody Liverpool fans wanting a Ferrari when we can’t even ride a bike yet. Obviously Jurgen’s patronising analogy isn’t perfect in this case considering Liverpool fans would actually really like a good, young English defensive midfielder to replace our existing defensive midfielder who runs like he is wearing Velcro boots on a green carpet made of whatever the fuck Velcro sticks to. Silly Liverpool fans, why don’t you grow up and start wanting a young, inexperienced French midfielder who plays in Germany and who has a perfectly reasonable release clause?

What frustrates me most is that Jurgen has had the perfect opportunity to understand what value domestic players can have in the modern game. Yes, you ultimately want the best players you can get, but a team is built on high standards, camaraderie and teamwork, and often domestic players provide a platform for that. Jurgen has had the fortune of working with Henderson and Milner, one is Captain Fantastic and an all-round nice guy, the other is a robot sent from the future with a chin you could crack an anvil on. Both are as committed and professional a pair of footballers as you will ever meet. They have set incredible standards, are absolutely selfless in giving to the team and provided a cast iron spine around which to hang the acquired shiny trinkets of Allison, VVD, Salah, Mane and Firmino. Their value was immense. Now one has left and the other is 33 and going to have to reckon with starting half as frequently as he used to. In our first choice starting 11 we are currently down to 1 English player. Trent. It is another indictment of a lack of planning, or at least, a lack of importance placed on English players.

And look, this is not just me getting my Asda own brand Boxer’s in a twist over nothing, Liverpool were unable to have a full 25 man squad last season. Every squad can have 8 home grown players, with the other 17 being of any nationality plus as many U21’s as you want. However, Liverpool could only field 7 HG. And that included Milner and Ox. This season Curtis Jones counts as he will be over 21, but we are still down to 6. Nathaniel Philips is one of those and apparently he would like to play actual football next season, which might mean our quota falls again.

Jurgen once said he would ideally like an entire team of scousers, which is a little like a child wanting a Ferrari, however expecting a few English players to make up the numbers, considering the wealth of talent out there, that’s surely like a child wanting a toy Ferrari.
Ed Ern

Reece James of Chelsea looks on during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge, London on Saturday 18th March 2023.

Don’t forget Reece James
Reading Ben’s email from Monday morning I couldn’t not respond. He mentions four players who absolutely must not leave Chelsea.

Now at the risk of sounding like a JCL glory hunter I haven’t really been invested in Chelsea’s season from about October on. I also think it is hard to judge pretty much all the players because every part of the club has been like a box of frogs since the Americans turned up.

I am though surprised he fails to mention Reece James. Personally, I think he is the brightest of sparks in the Chelsea squad and the Chelsea hierarchy should be doing everything they can to get him properly fit and keep him fit and happy to stay at the club long term. I also think that making him club captain is probably a great idea. He makes the whole team better when he plays.

I completely agree on Lewis Hall. The kid could be a great player for the club and should be given all the chances in the first team. I think loaning him out might actually be a bad idea as Chelsea seem to have two options when it comes to loans. Loan them out, they don’t get played and then get sold/released (Gilmour, Ampadu) or loan them out they play impress then move on a permanent deal (Livramento, Guehi maybe Colwill too).

Fernandez and Madueke are undoubtedly great talents and could be legends but surely the jury is still out on whether they will be a Werner or Hazard.

One thing I am always certain of is that if the player doesn’t want to be at the club it is always best the club and the player agree to part ways on good terms with a transfer that leaves everybody at least not unhappy. I really don’t think anyone wants another William Gallas or ripping out the whole defence like Christensen and Rüdiger. If Mount really wants to leave, the club certainly don’t seem to be pulling up trees to make him stay, then let him leave. Just don’t sell him to a rival.
Simon, Woking.


Irons in the fire
Kind of a weird mail from Mike. You have a 15,000 bigger stadium than Liverpool. Um…well done? I guess? I hope you’re happy with it. Although, I must say it’s the first time I’ve heard anyone bragging about the London Stadium. As for Declan Rice, he would NEVER come to Anfield? As far as I was aware, we were never in for him, but good to know you have the inside scoop. And as for your trophy win, well done. I genuinely mean that. I think most Liverpool fans were really happy to see West Ham win the Conference League. So yeah, bit of a weird one, but I hope that venting makes Mike happy.
Mike, LFC, London


Move on from Messi
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the Ballon D’or and this year feels like it will boil my piss even more than usual. The reason being, it is quite obvious that the player of the year this year was neither Messi or Ronaldo. Sure, Messi won a winter world cup, kudos, but I don’t believe that means he is the best in the world. He has had a demonstrably worse season than Haaland. It sickens me to praise City, but they did the treble. Haaland was the best goalscorer in the whole of Europe. It has to be him.

But it won’t, will it? It will be Messi, and we will have to hear more diatribes about how he is the GOAT etc. We KNOW he was/is the GOAT, he won his final World Cup, that’s enough for him to sail off into the sunset, secure in his legacy. He doesn’t need a Balon D’or and we all need to move on from the Messi / Ronaldo dichotomy.
John Matrix AFC (They never gave that award to Thierry Henry so its all BS IMO)