Italian flops make Liverpool wary of Barella and fears for Tonali dragged to Toon…

Editor F365
Nicolo Barella and Sandro Tonali battle for the ball during the Champions League semi-final between AC Milan and Inter.
Sando Tonali played a big hand in AC Milan's run to the Champions League semi-final last season.

The Mailbox worries about one incoming Italian and another on Liverpool’s radar. Also: tracing your allegiance to one particular moment; celeb fans; and an apology…

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When and where it all began
Approaching the eve of my 63rd birthday, and casting my memory back as middle-aged men do far too frequently, I have come to the realization that I can track my team allegiance (Arsenal) back to a specific date and time – 6 pm (BST) March 15th 1969, to be exact.
I had just watched (on TV) Don Rogers score two extra-time goals – on a pitch muddier than Culloden – to raise Swindon Town above the Gunners in the League Cup final, and I was in tears. I had no idea why – before that day I had no more feelings for Arsenal than for any other team – but something about the occasion and the circumstances had gripped my 8-year-old sympathies. Perhaps it was the awful match conditions, perhaps it was the sadness of Bobby Gould’s dad (who was blind) not being able to see his son score the tying goal, perhaps it was because all of the adults in the room wanted Swindon to win…can’t tell you, but from the conclusion of that match, I was an Arsenal fan in my core. Nothing has shaken it off since.

Now, looking back, I quite like the fact that I can trace my support to a specific historical point., Next March 15th I’m going to crack a bottle of Veuve to celebrate exactly 55 years, and gently curse Don Rogers for beginning this beautiful obsession. Anyone else remember the exact time and date it started for them?
RJ, ex-pat


Ted’s cool
About 8-9 years ago I went to my local (at the time) in Raleigh, NC and took my usual seat at the bar. Began chatting with the random fella next to me, as you do. Ted MacDougall is a real cool dude.
Matt Carr, Spurs, Wilmington, NC


Italian imports
As a Liverpool fan, I worry about buying Italian, too, as Brian Morrissey rightly advised.

Our record there is atrocious, A Dossena lob of Van Der Sar and spiking Madrid in the space of a week aside. Balotelli, Borini, Acquilani. No, grazi.

Italians simply do not seem to adapt to England – the pace & physicality of the football, the weather, the food? The fact they cant bring along their 7 sisters, mama and grandma as their Golden Boy cheerleading squad?

I love Barella, but I love the INTER Barella – I’m afraid of the England version.
Scott, LFC Toronto


…As a Newcastle supporter, I’ll admit that I have my own reason for wanting Brian Morissey, Waterford’s troublingly convincing admonition to never buy Italian to be wrong, wrong, wrong. Still, it got me thinking: the French are at least the equals of Italians in their regard of their food, clime and culture as superior, but they come to England and play their t*ts off absolutely all the time. Dissatisfaction with life in Manchester or Newcastle seldom seems to trouble Frenchmen in those cities on the pitch.

Logically, this undercuts the foundation of Brian’s theory a bit. Reason should be a comfort, but I’ve the nagging fear that he’s going to be right in this case, too. Tonali was playing for the club he loves in the Champions League, and he’s being rewarded for his success by being forced to move away. That doesn’t make for a player happy in his work.

If any city and any coach know how to make a player feel loved, it’s Newcastle and Eddie Howe. I really do hope it’s enough for Toonali, because he looks a treat of a player.
Chris C, Toon Army DC [He looks like Kylo Ren, but he makes us shout ‘Gerrin!’, tha’s Toonali (Tha’s Toonalii)]

Read more: Sandro Tonali in tears over Toon: Five other stars who didn’t want to leave…


…Interesting read in Sunday’s mailbox from Brian Morrissey, Waterford in regards to Italian players not doing to well in the Premier League, apart from the four he mentioned (Vialli, Zola, Ravanelli and Di Canio), well it was Sunday so to cut the boredom i thought i would take a quick look to see how the rest have actually performed and how many you could arguably say made an impact.

Roberto Di Matteo, Benito Carbone, Massimo Maccarone, Carlo Cudicini and Jorginho certainly made an impact on their respective clubs that they played for, which adds another 5 names to the list, then for a modest impact I would throw in Graziano Pellè and Angelo Ogbonna, but there are certainly more transfer flops than successes.

Is there another country whose players potentially seem to fair worse in the Premier League?
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod


Celeb Toffees
Regarding Simon’s Email at the weekend regarding celebrity fans, I would like to nominate the top 3 WORST Everton Fans.

Joint 2nd, Matt Dawson AND Austin Healy. That’s right, not content with one of Rugby’s Punchable Banter merchants we secured both of them!

But Number 1 has to go to Former Talksport host and one time Cinnamon eater Mike Parry. Yeah… Santa from UKIP.

Best Fan? Louis McKechnie, a true Hero of our time!



Lay off the Neviller
Any chance there can be end to Arsenal fans emails on Gary Neville.

We are about a week away from someone emailing in to say that as Neville once left his bins out for collection on a Tuesday when collection is actually on a Wednesday, this makes him a HYPOCRITE, and means he has no RIGHT to comment on the journey that Mikel is taking Arsenal on.

Honestly it is one of the most pathetic football related bandwagons I have ever seen.
J Belfast

Arteta and Neville in Mailbox
Different ball game
I recently wrote in about commentators and the need for better options. I made a point of criticising Fletcher from bt (and Gerry “grumpy” Armstrong.

Just wanted to write in and say I’m watching the London series of baseball on Bt and Fletcher is far better suited to this than he is football. He seems to know what is going on and probably helps also having someone beside him who understands the sport. I apologise Darren.
Anthony, Dublin


Politics corner
Just a brief one to MAW: the only people who believe the USA to be a true place of freedom are those who benefit the most from the injustice within, or those far outside who have fallen for the decades of propaganda pumped out by both your government and your media.

On a footballing level, the US government doesn’t own any football clubs, as far as I am aware. So while they may be awful, hateful, murderous people, it doesn’t intersect with the discussion. The same is very true for my own horrendous government, and our shameful, deadly legacy of empire (the politest way of describing an attempt to conquer the world through endless murder). Our history (which absolutely continues to shape the present and future) is disgusting, just as yours is. But until our respective horrible governments decide to buy a few football clubs, it is a different conversation.

Although there is definitely merit in some digging into the sources of wealth of club owners as a whole, and into which are profiting from money made via slavery. That is something far wider than football, but also something that will never occur as I’m not sure our royal family want to hand back every single blood-stained penny. Just look at the fight whenever a ransacked nation suggests it might want its treasures back from our museums, and the openly racist assertions around preserving and securing said items.

We live in a world controlled by terrible people, where – during a week when hundreds of innocent people drowned making journeys that are directly influenced by the theft and murder committed by my nation – headlines were dominated by the idiotic follies of wealth-hoarders, and in which good, kind people will starve to death on a daily basis. A world without billionaires would be an infinitely better place, and something we should collectively strive for.

But having concerns about Saudi Arabian spending in football/sport does not always come from a place of discrimination against non-white, non-western societies. All billionaires are c*nts.


…I was going to write a light-hearted Championship Manager 3 related reply to Brian Morrissey, Waterford “Never buy Italian” mail but alas MAW, LA Gooner exists and I don’t want him making everybody who read his mail stupider, so I didn’t.

Although I agree with him on his Zinchenko comments most of his mail was attacking the US while missing out facts and context.

Yes the US they have the death penalty and lethal injection which has its problems but the country actually executes very few people each year. Saudi executed 147 people last year, many for non-violent crimes like drug offences, adultery and for being LGBT. The US on the other hand despite having a population of 300 million more executed 18 and these are only for the most serious offences like pre-meditated murder. In the US people on Death Row get multiple appeals and their execution’s happen many years or even a couple of decades after their conviction. This to make sure they don’t execute innocent people. In Saudi you get one appeal but the convictions are rarely overturned. The executions are usually by beheading with a sword or by hanging. Saudi also does mass executions sometimes up to 80+ people at a time. As you can see you cannot really compare these countries when it comes to the death penalty.

Now to the thorny issue of abortion. When the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade the Federal government did not ban abortion, it just gave back individual states the power to ban or limit abortions. Depending on your state abortion rights differ greatly. In Mississippi abortion is now banned but women can travel out of state to get abortions. On the other extreme in Colorado there are no restrictions, women can get abortion up until 40 weeks AKA up until the baby is born. To add if the baby dies for any reason up to 28 days after birth, even through neglect or actual murder the mother cannot be investigated or prosecuted. Let that one sink in.

What Europeans miss when criticizing the US over their abortion laws is that most European countries have stricter laws that most US states when it comes to abortion. In the UK the limit is 23 weeks (due to modern technology babies can survive outside the womb after 24 weeks). The rest of Europe bar the Netherlands in far stricter, limits of 14 weeks or less for a legal abortion. Even the very liberal Spain only allows abortions up until 14 weeks but you never hear people complaining they are denying women the right to control over their own bodies. It also needs to be stated that many of the US states with the least restrictive abortion laws also commonly had Covid vaccine mandates. They in fact are hypocrites when it comes to women having control over their own bodies, control when it comes to abortions but not certain other medical decisions isn’t really control is it.

Now to equally thorny issue of the slave trade. The North Atlantic Slave trade transported 12.5 million Africans to the America’s however 90% of these went to Latin America and the Caribbean while only 6% ended up in North America. The Middle Eastern slave trade was also larger, went on for far longer and never actually ended. The US fought a civil war between 1861 and 1865 to end slavery, over 600,000 American lives were lost to end the barbaric practice in the country. Saudi Arabia only officially ended slavery in 1962 and as we know there is still an African slave trade operating in Islamic countries across the Middle East. Suggesting the US’ history “is more inextricable from slavery than any other doesn’t” actual stand up to scrutiny. It is just a tool to attack the US while ignoring the reality of the historical slave trade.

Maw’s comments on US incarceration rates don’t take into account that certain racial groups commit considerably more crimes than others which is reflected in their incarceration rates. There are no ‘Draconian laws’ to make sure minorities stay in their place because that in itself would be against civil rights law. Cultural issues are the main explanation for incarceration rates in the US. Millions of African’s emigrate to the US, their incomes are on average higher and their incarceration rates lower than African Americans. Nigerian immigrants and their decedents actually have higher average incomes than white Americans. This suggests race or racism isn’t the issue, culture is.

Finally we get to school shootings. California the state with strictest gun laws has the most school shootings. I will leave it at that.

Second time I’ve stated this but can we please get back to talking about football, no more Middle East or people writing in about Zinchenko so they can make nonsense attacks on the US as I’m bored of fact-checking idiots. Just good old footie banter, can we do it?