Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
England as the old Man Utd
England are like the infuriating tennis opponent who never tries to hit a winner or go for the big shot to win a point. They just want to keep it safe with a controlled topspin forehand back into play to stay in the point. It can be effective against weaker opposition but oh so boring, predictable and torn apart by better players.
See the Springboks as another sporting example who bore the pants off everyone in their path but they are deserving world cup holders and Lions slayers (the bastards!)
Onto England… I did nod off briefly a couple of times during last night’s game due to the metronomic nature of us passing side to side, backwards and forwards in very predictable ways, only broken up occasionally by a Grealish or Sterling skip past a player or 2 to get into the box and then suddenly realising that’s not the game plan and passing it back out to get back into the usual routine.
It is admittedly a bit unfair to criticise an England team who is consistently getting results, qualifying with games to spare and twice getting to latter stages of a tournament. This hasn’t happened before in my footballing lifetime and I’ll take it over any of the golden generation underachievers. However, I do think Gareth needs to take the shackles off a bit and find some ways to surprise the opposition in our attacking play.
England are like Man Utd pre-Bruno. 2 defensive midfielders, plenty of young talent upfront but very predictable patterns of play that don’t create many clear cut chances and are easy to defend against. England have better personnel in their defensive setup and so should have even less of a need than utd for the double defensive pivot of Rice and Phillips. Or at least a transition to a more attacking formation second half or last 30 at least. Utd do have Bruno now but still haven’t transitioned to winning anything.
Gareth needs to find a way to attack from different angles and mix it up a bit. As does Ole.
Both Gareth and Ole deserve huge credit for how they’ve turned around their teams from being way less than the sum of their parts. Both managers have earned the right to try and take that next step to a title. However, if they don’t do it they may well have set the foundations for the next guy. Success breeds higher expectation and success at the top level is only measured in counts of shiny trophies with international managers only needing to get that count to 1 to reach legendary status.
Jon, Cape Town (Ironic that the big 12 clubs were labelled greedy bastards yet the corrupt FIFA now want the world cup every 2 years – and no-one dares tell them that extra devalued world cup will clash with the Euros which already clashes with the olympics)
All about Gareth
According to Transfermarkt, the value of the current England squad that played against Poland is £1.18 billion. This obviously excludes Rashford, Foden, and Greenwood. At the Euro’s England had by far the most valuable team, which will only increase as the World Cup approaches. The nearest team, and quite some way behind a “full” English team is France on £1.07bn.
The Polish squad has a market value of £265m.
England’s four attacking players alone are apparently worth £450m (Mount £75m, Grealish £65m, Sterling £90m, Kane £120m). Yet, we only had two shots on target against Poland (and eventually succumbed to a draw), after just 6 shots on goal against Andorra. This is a recurring theme.
On the unused subs bench we had several hundred million more of talent wasting away.
English managers generally qualify and qualify well for major competitions. England now have a tsunami of talent coming through, yet we continue to lose to “better teams” when it matters, even when they have clearly inferior squads (for example Italy).
It really is now all about Gareth – there are no more excuses.
Southgate, lovely guy that he is, is clearly not up to the task. Twice, mainly through lucky draws and raw talent, he got us into the finals. Twice he then messed it up when it counted. Unless something drastic changes, England will again squander this chance and will not win the World Cup even with by far the best team in the competition.
Heart felt apologies won’t change that.
Global warming as a solution
Andrew M’s suggestion that we remove all international breaks from mid season and chuck them all into the end of the season isn’t a bad idea. Summer 1 – qualification leagues that’s played all over Europe with home and away games. Summer 2 – the euro/world tournament.
Unfortunately I have to poke a hole in the entire idea, and that’s because some leagues doesn’t play from Aug-May but April-Nov due to wintery climate. These leagues already struggle with the international tournaments and are forced to play a bit during them or they won’t finish in time for winter. During existing tournaments this usually works fine since we, well, usually don’t go very far into them, but for a qualification league setup there’ll be games for all nations throughout summer.
The good news is that the global warming is fixing that problem, so give it a decade or so…
…Andrew M, AFC, Australia makes the suggestion that all the international breaks in a season should be eliminated and instead played in one 5-6 week period at the end of the season. This, he says, would enable the European leagues and competitions to finish in early-mid April, thus giving the non-international players a longer break, while the internationals will play the same number of games in the same time frame.
There are a couple of issues with this idea.
Firstly, the international windows are not put in place specifically for Europe, they’re for everyone, so moving them to suit the majority of UEFA leagues, won’t suit everyone. For example, the Brazil Série A competition began this year on 29 May and is scheduled to run until early December. The J-League in Japan runs from the end of February to early December. MLS in the US/Canada runs from April to December. Should these leagues just shut down for 5/6 weeks in the middle of their seasons because it might benefit the European league?
Secondly, such a plan would benefit the larger countries, with greater selection options, at the expense of the smaller countries. Playing 8-10 games in a 5 week period means teams will have to have a larger pool of players available. England, France, and Germany could swap out two or three players every match without weakening their teams all that much and so keep their players fresh. The countries in Pot 3 downwards, on the other hand, wouldn’t really have that option. For many of those teams, once you go below the first team the standard drops significantly. Injuries and fatigue will impact the smaller teams far more than the larger ones. Of course, this means that as the qualifiers progress you’d have less and less chance of an upset happening.
I understand why people would want to end the random weeks of international football disrupting the domestic season. It’s annoying that three games into the season there was a break. However, given the international weeks are trying to suit everyone, regardless of when their leagues run, the current system is probably the best solution out there.
Right, I’ve had enough of VAR and it’s absolute p*** take when it comes to offsides. Now, let me begin by stating that I’m all for technology in the game, and feel it should have been introduced a long time ago considering how many other sports had already added very advanced tech successfully. Football was lagging behind the likes of tennis, cricket, etc, and we were always hearing how referees need help given what we were seeing on the replays all the time. Fine…
First we had goal-line technology, and that seems to work well, happy days.
Then comes VAR…and the principle of it is great. It allows referees access to those replays that we had been crying out to be used for years. We’ve had back and forth about how much it slows the game down etc, but I don’t think that’s an issue anymore. The game generally flows as we expect it to, so they’re doing alright on that front. I’ll also say that most of the time when they’re using VAR to make a penalty call, you get it, and most of the time it’s correct (e.g. Newcastle conceding a penalty against Southampton recently, as much as I was sickened by it, it was correct). Refs have made odd calls on those too, but that then comes down to personal judgement.
Where I do have an issue however:
How these VAR refs sometimes check the most random thing that no one even cared for or realised
The absolute hairline offsides that they give, and are then proud about it!
These offsides are the biggest annoyance. Absolutely destroying the joy of football. There have also been cases of inconsistency such as Bruno Fernandes offside by a mile vs Leeds. The same gameweek saw Callum Wilson flagged as being offside vs Villa. If you have played the game, you would never call that offside. Instead, it would be classes as a perfectly timed run. A quick Google Image search for “VAR Offsides” will provide plenty of examples of dumb calls.
They have claimed that they will do away with the 1-pixel lines and instead revert to thicker lines to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacker, but I’ve not seen this come into play in reality. You also then have the debate about when the assisting player truly made contact with the ball. They freeze-frame when it appears contact is made, but when you see them go forward and back one frame, it’s clear that the cameras are not good enough to capture the precise moment, and at the same time, the attacking player making the run could go from onside to “offside” within that split-second. The fact that we’re even debating whether it’s on or off when it’s right on the margin is ridiculous in itself, and I’m sure you’re going to get people arguing both sides.
So instead, I think we should do away with the current format of VAR all together – it’s basically lowering the responsibility of the on-pitch referees and they’re becoming (unknowingly) lazy and complacent because they have the safety net of going back to review the footage when their mates buzz their watch. Instead, we should introduce a challenge system like we have in tennis.
Each team gets 1 challenge each half to use as they please.
This means that the game flows as it should
The referees have a responsibility to referee the game to a higher standard
When a team feels aggrieved about something, they can use their challenge, which then forces the referee to go to VAR.
If their challenge is successful, they retain their challenge, otherwise they lose it for that half if incorrect.
In real terms, this means that the game is played as it used to be played…players can celebrate without worrying about whether it’s going to stand…by all means, the opposition can challenge a decision, but they won’t risk using their challenge unnecessarily given you only get 1 each half (or an alternative proposition is 3 challenges in the game).
Sick of VAR making a mockery of the game, and actually, as a technology advocate, am annoyed at how football’s application has made a mockery of technology too. Why do we have such a lack of intellectual awareness of sport at the highest levels of sport?!
Anyway, rant over…until the next VAR c**k up this weekend!
Why can’t the Premier league stop this 15:00 blackout by just not using it and set up a different time say 17:00 then every game can be live on tv. Taking the last complete season with fans Liverpool were live for 76% of their games, were as Southampton only 21%, pretty sure they don’t get a reduced subscription.
Also having foreign football associations dictate who can and cannot play is beyond stupid, and undermines the integrity of the sport. International football has to co exist or just do one, football was clubs first then internationals and should remain that way.
Gary in Germany
Keane and moving with the times
Ed Quoththeraven says Roy Keane wouldn’t like me. Well, loved him though I did when he played, Roy is a toxic and bitter old dinosaur… I’ll live with the insult.
You can also spare me the pompous superiority of the “something to be watched on television” jibe. Because, I’m guilty yes, I do watch most of my football on TV, like most people. I love going to an occasional game but have zero intention of dishing up a decent chunk of my income (even if it was lower league) but more importantly, substantial amounts of time that could be spent with my loved ones, travelling to watch a random lower league game every Saturday. If you think being a frequent match goer gives you the superiority of being the “true fan” then I’m glad you have that to cling to, because I suspect you don’t have much else going on in your life.
The bit about meals at your seats and deluxe seating was meant to be tongue in cheek, sorry if that didn’t translate… but as for describing “revenue stream” as corporate speak as if its a dirty word… I’d suggest makes you, like Roy, part of the problem. “revenue stream” is not “corporate speak” as that term is understood (that term is meant as an insult around idiotic jargon like “let’s catch up off line”). Revenue streams are actual things that businesses need to have to stay afloat. If you think it’s healthy for small clubs to put all their eggs in the basket of artificially denying fans the ability to watch higher-tier games on TV, rather than figure out other ways to make money, then fine. Good luck to you, but it won’t work in the long run.
The blackout is a ridiculous policy and it is doomed to fail. There is no way in the world of Disney plus, TikTok and the emphasis on more and more “content” (now that’s a term that makes the skin crawl), that all those lovely Premier League games that are going unbroadcast are going to stay that way forever, whether you like it or not. If lower league teams’ survival depend on it, then they need to figure out a way not to depend on it sharpish.
And finally, if you’ve been conned into buying a line that having more choice for how to spend your money and time is a bad thing, then fine. But it obviously isn’t. It’s a daft policy. Dario’s supermarket analogy is a good one, but I’ll also offer you “no email in August, so football clubs can make use of the fax machines they inexplicably still have to send paperwork”, “no streaming unless you’ve bought vinyl album that week”, “no overhead lighting in the evenings, grab the candles” “turn the internet off on the weekends, because I miss the nostalgia of checking the results on teletext”.
Attacking trios and Ronaldo v Messi
With all this talk of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe at PSG now and reading articles and hearing people talk about Messi, Neymar, Suarez at Barca. Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo at Real. I wanted to mention my favourite of all time. It was Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez, that was such a terrifying monster of a frontline it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it! I’d be interested to hear from other readers about their favourite front line of all time.
On a side note I read Johnny Nic’s article about Ronaldo the other day about, just as I disagree with most of the hot air that comes out of his keyboard (he clearly lives in a twitter bubble detached from reality), I disagree about him thinking Ronaldo is a better player than Messi. For one his goal to game ratio is lower, secondly he’s not even close in his assists. Unfortunately poor old Johnny’s viewpoint is so premiership centric, just like all my English friends who think he’s the best but have never watched much of any other leagues in Europe (little England syndrome ala Brexit) I’ve watched both players whole careers here in Spain and Ronaldo definitely ranks as the number 2 in my lifetime. But to put him ahead of Messi is like putting a sparkly Damien Hirst piece ahead of a Da Vinci masterpiece. I’ve never watched Ronaldo run circles round whole teams the whole length of the pitch in La Liga and champions league and make it look totally effortless like Messi has. In 2012 Messi took football to a whole new level, a massive stratosphere above what Ronaldo has achieved when he scored over 90 goals. Watch the show reel for all the goals he scored on youtube that year and then when you watch Ronaldos equivalent (although insanely impressive next to mere mortals) is like looking at a Ferrari (Messi) next to a Ford Mustang (Ronaldo). Basically Messi is Rembrandts brush and Ronaldo is a blunt object used to beat you over the head. One is art, one is a machine.
One last point – I think even though a lot of people saying he’s past it, Ronaldo is a phenomenal signing for United and the Prem. He has more followers than all the top English clubs combined on Instagram and his insanely amazing win at all costs will hopefully rub off on all the shirkers who shall remain nameless (Paul Pogba). As much as everyone in England says the prem is the best league in the world, you haven’t had a top world class star since Ronaldo left back in 09.
Robert, Marbella, Spain
I normally hate listening to ITV commentary on the footie (and usually use the 5live option on BBC too) BUT so far tonight the bestest thing ever has been the pronunciation of Poland’s Puchacz as… wait for it…. “Poo-Hatch”.
Every time it makes me giggle like a school girl! Love it!.
Dave (35) PVFC