Thank you for your brilliant emails. Keep them coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Predictions for 2020/21 season
With just over a month left for the new season to commence (with an international break in between – just great for injuries!) I thought I’d get the prediction business started.
1. Chelsea will NOT win the title, they will still finish in Champions League positions.
2. Timo Werner is the new Mateja Kezman (this’ll come back to bite me, but just my gut feeling!)
3. Jesus to be the top scorer in the season with around 26 goals, this season will get him really started
4. Though not a Manchester United supporter, I think they have a good shot at the title with about 88 points
5. Liverpool will tail off and struggle to qualify for Champions League
6. Spurs to finish third and win a domestic cup
7. Arsenal will stagnate between positions 6-9 again, though PEA will likely stay but not be very prolific
8. Manchester City to finish second again with Laporte again being injured, replacement not worthy enough
9. Of the promoted sides Leeds will end up in the bottom half with West Brom and Fulham (possibly) struggling to survive
10. Burnley will finally bid goodbye to the Premier League after Dyche’s heroics over the last few seasons
Think I have a good mix of eclectic predictions up here, onus on the mailbox to recod and shame me down the line or accept the gauntlet and put up some of their own.
Ben Bradshaw (Fairly prolific BTL, first pass ATL)
Best Team vs Best Performance
Wik in the morning mailbox rates the best sides, but I think when it comes to this conversation, people get confused between the best teams and the best performances in the Premier League. Now you might be wondering what that means, but it’s pretty simple, the best teams win every competition they play in, rather than overperforming in only one.
For this reason, I’m proposing a metric to actually measure the BEST TEAM in the England since the start of the PL (to all you moaning about football existing before 92, wouldn’t know, wasn’t old enough to watch). So here’s my criteria, in order of importance:
1. How many trophies did they win one season (UCL & PL count more than FA and League Cups obviously)?
2. Did they retain the title?
3. Three in a row?
4. How many points?
5. How many losses?
And based on this criteria these are the top 5:
1. United 99 – Obviously. Each of the top 3 categories have been met. The next two are irrelevant.
2. United 08 – Same as the above, less an FA Cup.
3. City 18 – Centurions, two in a row, domestic treble etc
4. United 94 – First PL champions, two in a row, league and FA cup double. Did the same thing two years later.
5. Chelsea 05 – Similar to the above. The order of teams 4 and 5 are interchangeable, but United 94 were one point away from three in a row, and got to the FA Cup final in 95.
The invincibles and Liverpool this year are not even in the top 5. When it comes to best PL performances only, sure they’re there. But even the most idiotic person would rather win two trophies (especially if one of those is the UCL) than go unbeaten or have 20 points more than the next team. The best teams don’t capitulate after one amazing season either, they go and win it again. However, if Klopp manages to retain the title next season, that changes the whole picture. Probably will as well.
IP (United 07 is my favourite, but the proof is in the trophy room)
I think Wik, Pretoria just posted the funniest mail I’ve ever seen in the mailbox. I hope everyone else takes it as the joke it is rather than bother to rip it apart. The best 5 sides ever in the premiership have a side that didn’t win the title and not a single utd side.
Jon, Cape Town (I understand Wik, lockdown for 4 months with no smokes or booze is getting to you – keep strong my friend from the north)
Why is there little emotion around Man City?
I find it interesting that, despite being arguably the best side to ever grace the Premier League, there is nothing but quiet, polite respect/admiration for the way Man City play, yet very little actual emotion around the club itself. Clubs like Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal stir the passions in fans, be they positive or negative, with acclaim and laughter applied wherever appropriate, yet City seem to stir nothing.
This indifference is seen in the amount of fans they’ve garnered in the last 10 years. I have no doubt that the fan base has increased significantly in the decade following the buyout, but the spike in numbers pales into comparison to amount of extra fans Chelsea managed to gain following their moneyed purchase.
The theory I have for this is that there is just no narrative around Man City; there’s no great story to tell. This is a by-product of how the club has been run by the Abu Dhabi group. Their approach was not simply to come in and chuck a load of money around on new shiny, trinket strikers but rather to go and get the very best football administrators and higher-ups available and then let them invest the money appropriately on the squad, with a clear, long-term strategic vision. It’s all just so damned sensible and, ultimately, dull. There’s no drama or intrigue in by far the wealthiest owners in the league sensibly and strategically investing in a club with little fanfare or craziness. As a result, there’s nothing much to talk about other than the odd “perhaps they should have signed a centre half” type debates or “aren’t they nice to watch”. As a Spurs supporting mate of mine once eloquently put it “You’ve pumped a billion quid into a club and now you win stuff; what the f**k is interesting about that?!”
The main comparison to draw is with Chelsea when Abramovich took charge. Firstly, it had never been done before, and turning to the back page of the papers every day to find they’d just unveiled another new signing was completely bonkers at the time. Secondly, Abramovich, certainly back then, seemed to have a lot more fun with it, whether it was signing Shevchenko or sacking Ancelotti, there was a chaotic identity to it all that helped build a story around the club. There’s none of that with City, it’s just dull, quiet efficiency off the pitch. In that sense, are the owners victims of their own success?
Lewis, Busby Way
Couple of points for Gav about the emails/hearing as I had a bit of time this morning and decided to have a look at the decision to satisfy my curiosity:
Only 1 of the emails was from 2010 (that’s ONE year before FFP not TWO). The others were all dated 2012/13.
On the context of the emails, Section 83 States that:
‘the authenticity of the emails was resolved because MCFC ultimately – at least partially – submitted the unredacted original versions of the Leaked Emails into evidence. Leaked Email No. 4, however, still contained a part that was redacted. Furhermore, the attachment to Leaked Email No. 3 was not submitted.’
So MCFC didn’t provide the originals in full as you stated. And the missing attachment from email 3? Invoices pertaining to Etislat and Etihad funding that was to be ‘routed through the partners’, presumably through ADUG, as the invoices were sent to Simon Pearce instead of, y’know, the companies that were supposed to be making the payments.
In terms of ‘email doctoring’ the panel does ackowlege that ‘it transpired that the Leaked Emails were mainly slecected parts of emails from which certain information had been deleted, such as additional text, the names of people added in carbon copy and the dates’ as well as one of them being a combination of 2 separate emails but crucially finishes with ‘Although this gives a somewhat distorted impression, the panel finds that it did not effect the veracity of the Leaked Emails on which UEFA primarily based its case.’
Have a look at the combination email. What Der Spiegel have done is taken an email where the CFO is asking Simon Pearce some questions and put the answers from his responding email on the same page – it’s for clairty and certainly not to ‘make it seem more inciminating’ as you suggest.
In discussing the emails further the Panel determined ( 2-1) that the emails weren’t sufficient evidence because they only discussed disguising equity funding and UEFA needed to prove via contemperous accounting or transactional evidence that it had taken place. So what happened next? The Panel asked Simon Pearce if he facilitated the disguised equity transactions, he said no. They also asked some executives of the sponsors who also denied that such transactions had taken place. City’s owner wrote a letter saying he hadnt authorised the payments.
The accounting evidence only shows the full amounts from the sponsors going into MCFC’s accounts and, as noted by the panel, ‘the relevance is somewhat limited because its premised solely on acounting data of MCFC, while the arrangements of disguising equity funding…would not logically have been reflected in such accounting data…’.
The financial expert witness maintained and the panel agreed that neither UEFA’s or MCFC’s hypothese on the funding source could be excluded (and therefore neither could be established) based on the accounting evidence presented. This is because (paraphrasing) a) they only looked at MCFC’s accounts as above and b) the ADUG audit by Ernst and Young was carried out in ‘an agreed upon procedure with ADUG’ so it wasn’t an independent audit. The panel remarks ‘the results of an agreed-upon procedure are not as reliable and independent as an offical indpendent audit, where the auditor has full access to the books’. The Panel finds that E&Y conclusions do support MCFC’s case.
However, they close upon the fact that because neither hypothesis could be established that UEFA carried the burden of proof (as the accuser) and the panel (2-1) found that it did not succeed in satisfying that burden. Maybe it’s just me but this doesn’t appear to be a ‘TOTAL EXONERATION’ as the orange buffoon in the White House might term it.
James Outram, Wirral
PS. The G14? Or The Cartel as is merrily bandied around by the charming reisdents of the bluemoon forum: The G-14 was an organisation of European football clubs that existed between 2000 and 2008. It consisted of 14 European top class teams initially, later expanded to 18. It was disbanded in 2008 and was replaced by the European Club Association representing over 100 clubs, in a deal reached with UEFA and FIFA. (from Wiki)
Let’s talk about f**king Brentford…
Thank you to Paul Quinton, Wolves, for actually commenting on existing football that is ongoing and relevant, I was going to do a big mail going HEY WHAT ABOUT BRENTFORD???? but fortunately he already touched on the subject. I’m still doing it anyway, but a big thank you to the only man in the mailbox who understands sanity.
BRENTFORD!!!! F*CKING BRENTFORD!!!!! WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT GIVING A SHIT??? It’s nauseating having to listen to other ‘fans’ go on about hypothetical best teams, pontificate over whether the big six can still be recognised as the big six, the eternal waltz between Pool and Utd fans over who gets to be the man in this co-dependent relationship, when there is actual relevant football still going on, and not only is it still going on, a potential fairytale story is looking very likely.
I fully expect Fulham to be in the playoff final and can only hope that Brentford show the difference in the final their final points accrued in the season suggests they can, because we’ve seen Fulham before, very recently even, but the Championship run-in is always at it’s most exciting when a team who has never been in the prem is going up. It’s a ‘fairytale’ part of football. Yet people have fallen into the economist trap. Enjoying football for all these pedantic what ifs and disputes instead of actually paying attention to things that are happening.
Brentford have been slowly… slowly… VERY… SLOWWWWWWWWLYYYYY… building up their club over a number of seasons, lots of hard work, patience, determination, all that stuff, and they are exceedingly close to having their dreams come true. If a ‘controversial’ take that Chelsea 04/05 was better than this current Pool team is more important than the ascension of an actual club from nowhere to somewhere is bigger news, then we’re all listening to idiot savants instead of looking at practical genius being applied in actual life.
Davo (btw current Liverpool are better than Chelsea 05, they won the champions league the prior season instead of losing to a mediocre Monaco), Dublin-o
Weird football dream
Don’t worry Marcus, I have a weird football dream AND I intended to write in about the playoffs!
I also wanted to point out to Tedchester that United really don’t need to sign much and that they need Grealish a lot more than Sancho if it has to be a choice but I am SO BORED of United mails that I wrote it, read it and deleted it.
When I was a child my younger brother and I had bunkbeds. This led to lots of inventive ways to annoy. He discovered that as the top bunk he could pull the corner of his mattress up and dribble spit onto my face down through the slats of his bed, and I discovered that at 2 am I could gently tug the power cord of his bedside anglepoise lamp and cause it to topple slowly off his shelf and onto his face, resulting in a satisfying ‘bonnng’ and a delayed, quiet, but heartfelt “ow”.
I was a part of a Saturday morning football club at the local leisure centre where as many kids who felt like it would show up and be organised into futsal teams and play each other. One Friday night in my bunkbed I had a dream that my group of friends were going to be one short of our usual complement for futsal, and that I’d said I’d sort a replacement. In my dream I rang around to find someone, and my mates were messaging to find out if I had found someone, and I had not, as yet, found someone, and this whole finding someone thing was a massive stress on my fragile little mind. My younger brother says that this was probably the part of the dream that woke him up, as for what I think is the only time in my life I was talking in my sleep.
He said I made what after the fact he believes to be occasional ringing noises and then mumbled conversations. He said that I became gradually more sweary.
In my dream eventually I was told that there was a genius kid who loved to play futsal, but no-one knew much about him. I chased this kid down over the phone, dreamlike dead-end after dead end maze, no-one knowing anything at all about him, how old he was or what he looked like or anything except that yes he was great and yes if only I could find him he would definitely play and be brilliant and yes his glory would reflect unto me resulting in my mates stopping harassing me to find anyone anymore please.
Eventually I tracked down his number and spoke to his Mum who said yes he’ll be there how nice, and the relief I felt in my dream was so strong that I remember the feeling to this day.
My brother says that there was an intermission in my mumbling at this point, and he drifted back almost to sleep.
Back in Tim’s dream I met up with my friends and told them all how brilliant I was in tracking down this futsal prodigy and tried to answer their questions about who he was and what he was like despite knowing sod all as we headed to the leisure centre. One kid, Alistair, was being particularly scathing and dubious about the very existence of this replacement and how good he could possibly be and I was fighting my corner based on the feedback I’d been given.
We turned up at the pitch to meet and witness my triumph, and there on the D was a small shallot sitting on a pair of comically small trainers. Like an emoji shallot. He wore a blue tracksuit top.
I sat straight up in my bed and shouted “OH MY GOD HE’S AN ONION” and my little brother was so surprised that he screamed in a high pitched manner reminiscent of an arachnophobe fire alarm on a rollercoaster with a tarantula, waking me up.
Parents running in, confusion, etc. And that’s my weird football dream.
I’ll write in about the playoffs after Fulham see it out tonight. That will involve a story about why despite Griffin Park being my closest stadium growing up, and despite a Brentford game being my first ever attended football match, I hate them with a passion.
A VAR suggestion
Like most football fans, I imagine, the farce of players being a toe or armpit offside is the worst and most frustrating aspect of VAR. The length of time it sometimes takes to decide seems to me to be against the spirit of the game.
I’ve even read that the technology isn’t good enough to be able to accurately judge when the ball is kicked, resulting in a margin of error of between a 12 and 18 inches.
Why not adopt the system used in cricket whereby very close umpiring decisions, even those LBW cases where the ball is shown by Hawkeye to be hitting the stumps, can on review be left as ‘umpire’s call’?
This would mean a goal would stand unless the linesman (or referee’s assistant if you insist) has flagged or that an obvious offside has been missed.
All systems proposed so far, including this one, have a human error element but anything that removes the absurdity of being a mm or two offside would be welcome.
Daniel and Ted’s discussion about Farage on the right wing has got me thinking about a political XI. Here’s my best shot:
GK: Jacinda Ardern. Like De Gea during the dark days at Man Utd, Jacinda is the only member of this team the fans consider world class.
RB: Boris Johnson. What he lacks in physical fitness and talent, he makes up for with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, he is basically a walking yellow card and is very prone to leaking unfounded rumours to the press about his teammates.
CB: John Prescott. The best center backs don’t put up with any nonsense. So who better to play here than a bitter northerner who once punched a protester who egged him.
CB: Donald Trump. For every Virgil Van Dijk there is a Dejan Lovren. Like Lovren, Trump is utterly deluded about his own talents and absolutely cannot be trusted to concentrate for 90 minutes. Rumour has it that the manager cannot wait till the transfer window opens so the club can bring in an experienced veteran called Joe Biden.
LB: Chris Grayling. Similar to Ali Dia, George Weah’s ‘cousin’, everyone is wondering if Chris is actually a footballer. He can’t seem to control even the simplest ball and his passing is shambolic. Unfortunately the squad is thin on the ground at the moment so we are stuck with him.
RW: Nigel Farage. Who else but Nige could play on the right wing? The perfect player for any manager who demands that his wingers hug the right wing as tightly as possible.
CM: Theresa May. A classic spoiler center midfielder in the style of Mascherano. Like Mascherano, don’t ask her to do anything creative.
CM: Kier Starmer. Like James Milner, he isn’t the most exciting center midfielder. However, he just does the basics right every time. The fans weren’t overly excited when he first came to the club, but are slowly falling in love with him.
LW: Jeremy Corbyn. An old fashion winger who adores his position on the left wing. Similar to other great left wingers like Bale, he is much derided in the press for his attitude. His fans profess that he is simply misunderstood.
CF: Dominic Cummings. A player very much in the mould of Diego Costa – a win at all costs b*stard who is absolutely not afraid to play in the grey area of the rules when breaking lockdown the offside trap.
ST: Emmanuel Macron. Every great premier league team has an exciting continental striker. Unfortunately, he spends most of his time getting peppered in the Sun and the Daily Mail for not scoring a hatrick every game and looking a bit foreign.
Just the truth…
Ok Dave mac, let’s take points out of it and discuss what you are saying is that Utd are moving forward. Post carona, Utds best spell. Beat Sheffield Utd, Aston Villa, Norwich, Brighton, palace and Bournemouth. Drew with Southampton, spurs and West Ham. Forgive me but what part of that is impressive? Would a team going for top 4 not be expected rather than praised for beating 5 of the bottom 7 in the league??? That’s the who’s who of crap teams. Infact the one game that mattered against Chelsea, Utd got dominated from start to finish. Which was pretty recent if I recall, but the poor boys were tired lol So again, open your eyes and put it into context. No points mentioned just truth.