Man City, not fading Liverpool, would be the biggest transfer gamble of all for Jude Bellingham

Editor F365
Jude Bellingham is a target for Liverpool, Man City and Real Madrid.

Liverpool would apparently be a safer bet than Man City for Jude Bellingham. Also: England’s hipster clubs; and Thierry Henry isn’t even Arsenal’s Prem GOAT

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City a bigger risk for Reds
I can’t help but feel Sarah is ignoring the elephant in the room regarding Manchester City. Yes, Liverpool look to be going in the wrong direction, but the adage ‘never catch a falling knife’ could more aptly be applied to the prospect of joining the club who have been accused of over 100 breaches of the league’s financial rules and only escaped punishment from UEFA due to a statute of limitations which does not apply to the outstanding investigation which could see them potentially kicked out of the league. It will likely be concluded by the summer. And it might not even be for Bellingham to decide, because even if they don’t lose their Premier League status, keep their European place and aren’t handed points deductions for next season or beyond, they’ll likely be serving a transfer ban or will be financially shackled by large fines at the very least.

For me, the news of Real’s financial prudence sounds like the same song Liverpool were singing last week. Neither club wants a bidding war, so they’re both making it known that Dortmund won’t have them over a barrel, while also temerping the expectations of their supporters who might start taking things for granted or get carried away by the constant speculation. They’ll still be bidding for him and will still be the most tempting prospect for a player like Bellingham. Liverpool have a chance only if Bellingham has his heart set on a move there, in my opinion, or if he’s determined to return to England and they’re somehow the best prospect by the end of the season. Time will tell. But of the PL clubs, City look like a bigger gamble right now.
Andy Lane

Read more: If it’s Manchester City v Liverpool for Jude Bellingham then ‘dispassionate’ follows Haaland


Top 10 WTF appointments
In the wake of Conte’s inevitable departure from Spurs, I was wondering if he now made the Top 10 list of stupid managerial appointments (TLDR – not quite).
– Gunner Graham to Spurs – Mr Arsenal, Double Winner, George Graham’s appointment as Spurs Manager is surely on its own as surreal, avant-garde, managerial theatre. Thanks Daniel.
– Avram Grant to Chelsea – it’s like your Dad’s mate from the pub rocking up to coach you, coz he convinced your Dad that you should play “4-4-2 with a diamond”.
– Brian Clough to Leeds – he f#cking hated them, they f#cking hated him…44 days later.
– Agent McLeish to Aston Villa – Based on the recommendation of Sir Alex, the Brum City manager almost managed to take Villa down before he was sacked.
– Rafa the Gaffer to Everton – The sheer horrifying hypocrisy of this was sort of lost in the general disdain for the man and his methods in the wider football community.
– Mourinho to Man Utd – the completely expected and inevitable slide into the merde was a joy for all to behold. Mourinho to Spurs was really just the poor sequel.
– Moyes to Man Utd – apparently, only Fergie thought this was a good idea. And then Moyes sacked all of Fergie’s staff and bought in Fellaini.
– Uncle Roy to Liverpool – nothing suggested that he would be up to the job, and he wasn’t.
– Ole to Man Utd – not sure anyone thought hiring a substitute teacher was a thing.
– Frank Lampard to Chelsea – it probably would have gone better if he’d kept his boots on.
Special mention for Steve Bruce to Newcastle – probably the most soul-destroying appointment of the lot.
Matthew (ITFC)


GOAT killer
If there is one thing I hate it is the Yank-ification of English / British culture and this bloody obsession with GOATs and fans’ investment in it is top of the list and just painful (well of the things that don’t really matter).

Watch and enjoy great players , their time is fleeting but don’t get so involved in their GOATiness that you can’t enjoy their “rivals” for this “crown”. At some point you will be glad to have watched all of these players in their prime.
Paul (just stop) Rhodes


Ronaldo > Henry
Noah, the Chicago Gooner has made a mistake in his analysis that is probably common for Americans when discussing football. Unlike American sports, football cannot be judged purely by statistics. Of course they can help add context and with analysis, but they’re not able to cover everything.

To stick with a Man United example, Andy Cole has a better goals per game record than Wayne Rooney. Does anyone think that means he was a better player? Of course not.

I’ll mention that Ronaldo wasn’t a striker in his first spell at Man United so comparing them on goals and assists doesn’t really work, and that Noah has obviously focused on PL games only because Henry never scored as many in all competitions in a single season as Ronaldo’s 42 in 07/08.

Instead we have to focus on more subjective issues, like how good did that player look when he played at his peak, who had the bigger effect on their team, etc. I’m sure Arsenal fans will all say Henry was the better player and all United fans will say Ronaldo.

I can’t speak for other neutrals, but for me, it’s clearly Ronaldo. Henry was brilliant, but those three seasons of Ronaldo once everything clicked were something else.

Doesn’t really matter anyway, the real experts know that Leon Britton is the PL GOAT.
Neil, Swansea


Henry not even Arsenal’s GOAT
Ronaldo is the greatest Premier League player ever.

In terms of Arsenal’s greatest player, it’s all about what you value. If it’s drive and determination then Vieira has a shout. If it’s end product then Thierry or Wrighty enters the equation. If talent that belies their years then you’re looking at Cesc or Bastin.

For me though, it’s all about the joy football can give and that’s why my choice for Arsenal’s greatest player is Dennis (wait, what the hell did he do there?) Bergkamp.

I’ve never seen another player capable of doing what he could do on a football field and I doubt I ever will again.

Arsenal fans should just be happy we had them both in the same team. As my Leeds supporting mate told me in 2004 – ‘you don’t deserve that team’. I think he was saying we didn’t appreciate what we had but by the time Henry returned against the same opposition eight years later, I think we did.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

An Arsenal fan stands by the statue of Thierry Henry outside the Emirates Stadium.

Credit for Kane
I did enjoy reading Noah’s email about the best individual seasons. I’m a spurs fan but actually agree with him that Henry’s 24 goal, 20 assist season in 2002-3 is top, the numbers just can’t be denied. But I did laugh that he mentioned Shearer seasons, and Salah, and Suarez but oddly no Harry Kane. Noah had mentioned Suarez getting 31 goals and 12 assists for a ‘pretty wank’ Liverpool side. They were 2nd in the table and scored 101 goals! If you want a stunning season for a really wank side, look no further than Kane in 2020-21. It’s famous as the only season other than Henry in 2002-3 when the same player led the league in goals and assists, albeit with lower totals of 23 goals and 14 assists. But when you consider how bad spurs were you realise how good it was. Liverpool scored 70 goals excluding Suarez in 2013-14, Spurs scored 68 that year including Kane’s 23! In fact, Kane scored or assisted a ludicrous 54.4% of spurs premier league goals that year, higher even than Henry in 2002-3 with 44 out of 85 or 51.7%, and much higher than Suarez. Not bad for a one season wonder….
Phil, London


Timing is everything
I think people need to separate the best player to have played in the Premier League from the Premier League’s best player.

The first is frankly Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s one of the all-time greats of the game and in the absence of a PL appearance by Messi, Maradona, Best, Pele etc he remains the best player TO HAVE PLAYED in the PL.

However, none of his best work was done in the PL, which separates him from the PL’s best ever players.

As a more extreme example ( purely for illustrative purposes ) Zlatan Ibrahimovic & George Weah have both been absolute World Beaters in their time.

Weah was a Ballon D’or winner, FIFA Mens Player of The Year and one of the best forwards on the planet. Similarly, Zlatan has pretty much been top class for decades now and honestly, if it weren’t for Messi and Ronaldo would have had at least 2 Ballon D’ors without those 2 splitting the votes.

As players they are both there or thereabouts when compared to any of the PL’s best, but because their best happened elsewhere, they’ll never be in the conversation.

The best player to have played in PL =/= the player who has been the best in the PL.

As to the player who has been the best in the PL…personally, I think Henry, but I also thoroughly enjoy the conversation around it.
Doug, AFC, Belfast


Striker Scott
A couple of Scottish correspondents have touched upon something I’ve thought for a while about Scott McTominay. He’s much more effective further up the pitch and could at least be used as a false nine by ten Hag. I don’t know why this hasn’t been looked at as an option as United remain severely depleted up front.

Lord knows he ain’t no defensive midfielder and certainly not a back-up for Casemiro. Stylistically, he’s closer to a Lampard than a Gerrard and I believe he used to be a youth-team striker to begin with. He has a good shot from distance, decent in the air, and often seems to pop up in good positions, despite not playing in a more advanced role.

He works his balls off and surely couldn’t possibly be less effective up top than Big Wout, God love him!
Lee, tactical layman


English hipster clubs
Hipster club? I offer you Ipswich in all their faded grandeur. My case:
– They provided the country with two England managers in Ramsey and Robson
– They won the FA Cup (1978) when that was quite a cool, hipsterish thing to do
– They won the UEFA Cup (1981) which is so goddamn cool and hipsterish that it won’t mean anything to anyone under the age of 30
– They have a lovely club badge
– Arnold Muhren played for them
– They’re currently a bit shit
– They’ve never been quite so vulgar as to win anything important
Matt Pitt


…I nominate Forest Green Rovers!

Certified Carbon Neutral; they play on an organic pitch mowed by robots charged by solar panels, in a stadium made of wood. The match day food is 100% vegan. The home kit is blinding-green camo and the away kit is luminous pink. Plus they are lower league, and they are based in the Cotswolds.

All they need to do is brew their own green-hopped IPA and get Vetements to make their kit and training gear, bags, merch…
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite


French Fried’s mail on hipster clubs was enlightening. I agree Union Berlin are definitely a hipster club – their fans even built their stadium. And also in Germany I’d nominate FC Sankt Pauli. If ever there’s a more alternative club out there you’d be hard pressed to find one. Born in a pub in Hamburg’s red-light district their fans can be classed as left-wing / anarchist/ social activist types who wear their anti-establishment beliefs with pride. When they went bust in the eighties Bayern Munich sent their team up to Hamburg to play them in a friendly so as to raise funds to save the club. And save them they did. My other honourable mention to be a true hipster club is Athletic Club Bilbao. They can’t sign any player who is not born on Basque soil which let’s face it limits them quite a bit. Yet they still have never been relegated from La Liga and regularly beat Madrid and Barca. Can you imagine if Man United could only field Mancunians and Liverpool could only play Liverpudlians? I don’t think they’d do too well somehow.
Raz, Dublin.


Worst signings
Just lol…. Vieira has mitigation for not been a “flop” , Anthony doesn’t because he cost a shitload of money!!.

Same age, 1st season in EPL yet one has to perform “regardless of the need to adapt”.

And to think Richarlison isn’t a flop at Spurs.
Tee Mac, Lagos

Read more: Arthur, Auba, Antony: Every Premier League club’s worst signing of the season

Rodri’s Toys
Last seen: being thrown out of his pram after getting soundly beaten by Scotland.

If Kieran Tierney running 70 yards down the left wing and skinning their right back isn’t ‘football’, then 1 billion of us are wrong, and he’s right.
Sesh Juan


Who do Spurs love to hate?
In response to John (waiting for some wailing man-baby to cry it was never a rivalry because United were so far ahead etc etc) Matrix AFC’s mail about rivalries, as a Chelsea fan, it has to be Chelsea v Tottenham for me, Clive.

In the past 20 years, especially since Tottenham finally learnt to occasionally beat us, this game is THE game.

The games are always played at close to boiling point i.e., the battle of the bridge etc. and there’s certainly no love lost between the fans and the players.

I even know several Tottenham fans who claim to “hate” Chelsea more than their North London Rivals (but admittedly, this perhaps this has more to do with me being a bit of a t**t whenever Chelsea win more so than anything else).

So, a question for any Tottenham fans in the mailbox; who do you hate/like to beat more? Chelsea, or Arsenal?
James, Gravesend (Chelsea and the mighty fleet)


Spurs shambles
Oh dear. Spurs, Spurs, what have you done?

I have sort of enjoyed Dave Tickner’s many articles taking the p*ss out of Spurs. As a Spurs fan too often he has been sadly spot on. And that hurts of course. On Thursday he wrote about the sh1teshow that is Paratici and his FIFA ban and it hits the mark again.

I mean, back when this was first announced I was sure Paratici would at least be on gardening leave while an appeal was put in. But no, he continued to work. Just read the article. Says it far better than I ever would.

And then on Sunday, Paratici released an ‘official’ video that looked like it was shot in a cupboard and lit with a few candles. Spurs are awash with video gear. Surely the Conte Cam guy was available now to do some work? Sit in a studio, dress up, decent mike and lighting, club background. Y’know, be bloody professional about communications! Shoddy isn’t the word.

My own two cents on Conte? I had to stop watching us a few months back. We were awful most of the time. Slow, ponderous and lacking any sort of urgency until we let in a few goals. The losses in the FA Cup and Champions League were poor. Everyone was to blame for that. Conte, the players and the club. As for Conte, his heart has not been in it for some time, you can see that. The loss of 3 close friends hit him badly (and his surgery) and I accept that. It was time for him to move on. He was done with Spurs. And maybe I am too…
Andy Gilleran, Dublin and barely hanging on to THFC


Arsenal ladder
Now the final interlull has concluded, here is my fourth and final Arsenal ladder of 22/23 season. Final lap time!

This is my estimation on the thoughts of Mikel Arteta. Numbers in brackets indicate previous positions.

1 (2) Saka – Starboy
2 (1) Odegaard – Nudged off top spot by the Starboy
3 (3) Partey – Arsenal need their “Work Event” to remain fit.
4 (10) Martinelli – The end product is back.
5 (6) Ramsdale – If we have to turn to Turner, the title is off. Nice alliteration.
6 (5) Zinchenko – Glorious position switcher. There is nobody who replicates his skillset.
7 (4) Xhaka – A physical machine. A Leader. A key component.
8 (7) Saliba – Glorious debut season so far.
9 (8) Gabriel – A glorious partner in crime.
10 (15) Trossard – From squad depth signing to Top 10, well done sir.
11 (11) White – Placing him 11th is an indication of how strong the best 11 have been in recent weeks.
12 (12) Jesus – He may well shoot up this ladder between now and the end of the season.
13 (13) Jorginho – Has provided the squad depth he was recruited to provide.
14 (18) Holding – Elevated as a consequence of the Saliba and Tomiyasu injuries.
15 (22) Nelson – Maximised his minimal minutes. More alliteration.
16 (17) Tierney – His professionalism and defensive qualities are still important.
17 (16) Vieira – A roast dinner. Will be great, but will take some time to cook. The gym is his oven.
18 (21) Smith Rowe – May still have a “NELSON!!!” moment this season.
19 (19) Kiwior – We have now seen him play.
20 (9) Nketiah – Broken and falling rapidly with the addition of Trossard and the resurrection of Jesus.
21 (20) Turner – Nobody wants to see him again this season apart from Man City.
22 (14) Tomiyasu – Broken. Sadly.
23 (23) Elneny – Broken as well. Sadly.
24 (24) Hein – Baked Beans.
25 (25) Nwaneri – Busy revising for his GCSE’s.
Naz, Gooner.