The Mailbox revels in West Ham’s Europa Conference League triumph while crediting UEFA for splendid idea. David Beckham is also lauded for landing Lionel Messi.
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East End boys
Well done West Ham on winning their first silverware in decades and first European trophy in half a century.
However the real congratulations should go to UEFA for setting up the Europa Conference League in the first place. For an organisation that rightly gets criticised so often it’s only fair they should be praised when they get something right and the way they removed the previous cup winner cup when they saw the value of domestic cup competition decline and left a good 20 year gap before installing a 3rd European trophy has seemingly worked out pretty well.
Both Roma and now West Ham have genuinely been ecstatic to win this competition and it will be interesting to see if this is a spring board for West Ham as it seemingly was for Roma last season.
All the comments on football get focused on money but last night I witnessed pure unbridled emotion, no one was thinking about the prize money for winning the tournament or the bonuses they will get.
I also wanted to congratulate David Beckham and Inter Miami for persuading one of the world’s greatest players to join his 5-year-old football club for a hugely reduced salary compared to the Saudi option.
For those that criticised Beckham for going to the USA in his prime this is huge vindication. Not only did Beckham succeed in winning trophies in LA, building the profile of the sport in the USA, he was also able to play for AC Milan, win the league for PSG and of course become a club owner for a reduced price in the MLS.
He is now the owner of a MLS club that has just brought in the world’s greatest players obviously not in his prime.
Compare Beckham’s second career to his former team mates who have largely tried and failed as managers and are now grumpy middle-aged men getting criticised daily (probably in public) doing media work (Keane, Gary Neville, Scholes etc.) living in the rainy cold 4th city of a post BREXIT UK while Beckham is living the high life in peace in the sunshine state building a football club that has just signed the best player in the world.
I can see why Messi like Beckham has decided to move to the most diverse and cosmopolitan country in the world which is also the largest economy hence opening up new possibilities for Messi’s second career as it has for Beckham. I’m sure it helps that it’s also a majority Spanish speaking city (70%) and is an equal 9 hour flight to both Argentina or Spain Vs the Middle East which is a 20 plus hour indirect flight to Argentina.
I can also understand the attraction for Messi to go to a country where he will not be the most recognised celebrity (as he would have in Saudi) as well as to a US state that closer matches his and his families Latin-Spanish culture and embraces traditional Catholic values.
I know I will get pelters for praising UEFA, Beckham, the USA and Miami as although we supposedly live in a more equal and “fair” society this only seems to apply if you follow one line of thinking portrayed by one vocal side. I’ve learned to be indifferent about this and drown out the faceless emotive, irrational commenters below which I highly recommend.
Paul K, London
Happy for Hammers
I’m not a Hammers fan. I support Liverpool, but wow. I might have just witnessed one of the best after-final moments and coverage of all time.
From Carlton Cole giving a shout out to the cooks and kit men at West Ham FC, to Joe Cole’s excellent expression of what this final means to former West Ham players and what it feels like to win a trophy, to the on-pitch interviews with the players, to Noble and Nolan’s interviews, to the absolutely electric fan celebrations and singing, to the players and their family members dancing and celebrating in front of the fans—there was something magical about this Europa Conference League final after-show. Oh, and the game itself wasn’t too bad either.
These are the types of occasions that remind me why I love the sport as a whole, and not just the teams I support.
My only criticism is for the knob heads amongst the fans who threw things at the Fiorentina players. Seriously, grow up and act like civilised people. To all the well behaved fans, congrats on your trophy win.
Kritical Mass (Will Saturday night meet this high standard Wednesday night as set? I’ll leave that argument to the pro and anti Man City mailboxers.)
…Congratulations to West Ham. It feels really good as a non West Ham fan to have been rooting for them and be genuinely happy about their success.
I know Moyes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He has that perception of being a “dinosaur” but winning a European trophy puts him well above most of the managerial merry-go-round brigade. West Ham’s victory shows that it is perfectly possibly to sustain top flight football and have a serious go at winning a cup at the same time, instead of the usual nonsense we get of mid-table teams playing weakened teams to get knocked out of cups early, to focus on finishing in mid-table. Teams with the massive resources that you get from the Premier League should easily be able to sustain a cup run and meeting their league goals.
PS: Aston Villa to win the Conference League next season. Unai Emery is a European competition specialist.
Get Real, Harry
Reading Ian Watson’s piece on Kane maybe not wanting to go to Real Madrid so he can get the PL goals record and I just think is he really that petty? The goals record is great if you stay at Tottenham your whole life sure but go to Real Madrid man!
Benzema seemed to only score more goals as he aged at Real. All goes well and it’s a great few years for him and his pride. If it doesn’t then meh, get yourself sold to Uniteds Newcastle or Manchester. But if he wants the record, he should stay at Spurs and get it for Spurs.
Let’s not forget Shearer only got 260 PL goals but another 23 from the First Division. Kane needs 284 to beat Shearer. Kane topping up from La Liga still counts really.
Alex, South Londom
Ornstein just confirmed it. Bellingham, Camavinga and Tchouameni in the same midfield. Haaland or Mbappe eventually, probably. I had an email published here before where I half jokingly talked about looking forward to reading 16 conclusions the night Real win their second decima. They might actually f*cking do it. From Kroos, Modric and Casemiro to this has got to be one of the most seamless transitions in the history of top level football.
Move for Martinez
Why is no-one talking about Lautaro Martinez? Forget Kane, any clubs with 100m+ in their back pocket should be pointing it at this guy.
He can also fill in at centre-back.
The Saudis are coming
Tuesday saw the news that the Saudi sports investment arm had bought the PGA, with them already owning the rival LIV brand. They also bought 4 football teams. And now they’re throwing £200 million at 37 year old Benzema and £100 million at Kante.
I know people will say it is impossible, that the European leagues have prestige that the Saudi’s could never accrue, but at what point do players like Mbappe, Haaland et al, who may end up winning all the major european honours by the age of 27, not go, in their prime, to the Saudi league? If someone offers to make you a quarter or half billionaire for 2 years work, would you not bite their hands off? Added it’s probably tax free and you have an enormous incentive.
The premier league grew on the back of the money Sky pumped into football which allowed them to out bid all other European leagues. What’s to say that in 20 years, whatever football brand the Saudi’s have created is the global dominant one?
I’m doom mongering a little here, I do think prestige holds a lot of sway, I just think the phrase “quarter of a billion” rings VERY loud in the minds of young footballers.
John Matrix AFC
I think both thinks that have been said so far about Ance Postecoglou are fair. He has really impressed in his time at Celtic, but really how much merit is there in winning the league with the best team & comfortably biggest budget? To be honest, very much in-line with Brendan Rodger’s performance in Glasgow.
However there are a few things that do stand out.
He seems like a decent & genuine person, doesn’t put up with too much nonsense from the press, talks respectfully about the club & players and didn’t really get caught up in much of the pettiness that colours a lot of the Old Firm activity. It seems even some Rangers fans respect him.
He basically swapped out the whole Celtic team, either bringing in players or promoting from within. He wanted players that would fit his system, promptly went out and got them, and had a firing team in fairly short order. Expect some changes at Spurs.
However by far the biggest thing of note is that the Celtic team he sent out was cavalier as all hell, I’ve never seen anything like it. Press hard to win the ball quick, swarm forward in attack, repeat. 2-0 up, or 2-0 down, just do the same. Relentless. Worked a treat in the SPL, wasn’t so effective against better teams in Europe. Plenty of goals and excitement certainly, but results weren’t guaranteed. Should be a breath of fresh air for the Spurs fans, just no promises it’ll deliver results….
…You guys are all flogs. Ange will be a sensation in the Premier League. Carry on about how managing Celtic is easy and Japan and Australia don’t count as pressure positions or prove anything about managing on the big stage all you like. Ange is a legend at every club he has been to because he built culture within his team and staff. Something that is lacking on the big stage in world football at the moment. Especially Tottenham.
I don’t care for spurs at all. They have been a joke for a while now. But them getting Ange is the best thing they could have done. They will be the new hipster team for at least the next season. You watch as they start playing for each other and how they look like a well drilled unit, all while having smiles on their faces. Ange-ball is more about the culture of the club but his football is nice and progressive as well. Not quite as revolutionary as Pep or DeZerbi, but high quality and he will be up there with those names this time next year guaranteed as people start talking about how club culture is the new hot formation.
He will do well, no worries.
Scott “Kangaroo steak is superior” Daniels.
In the bin
Australian lower leagues have been trialing 10 min sin bins for dissent. It’s worked great.
This led me to wonder if a solution to a number of problems would be to just upgrade all yellow cards to a sin bin.
It simplifies a lot of VAR red card issues – yellow or red foul?…10 mins, most fouls covered, far fewer arguments. Time wasting/diving – off you go. Surround the ref…maybe not after the first time. Rodri “breaking up play” on the halfway line – maybe Pep won’t coach that next year? Or even the tactical foul higher up the pitch, if de Bruyne spends some time off the field.
It’s simple, can be implemented at all levels of football, and is a clear and immediate punishment and deterrent without “destroying” games.
Fishing for City bites
Man City fans seem big mad that people in the mailbox aren’t exactly enamoured with their club and its empty successes. I think the best reaction to their hurt feelings is just to enrage them even more.
The screw to turn today is that City despite all these years of success don’t have a big club fanbase domestically or anything that resembles an international fanbase of any sort.
I’ve lived abroad for over a decade now but have never even seen one person wearing a City shirt, never met a fan of theirs who isn’t from Greater Manchester. You see a lot of Arsenal, Utd, Chelsea, Real, Juventus and Barca shirts everywhere. Even seen people wearing Villa shirts but the only time I saw a City shirt it was a knockoff in a market. To make this even more amusing said City shirt had the sky blue and the Etihad sponsor logo but the club badge was actually Utd’s. City are such a non-club outside England they have to use Utd badges to sell fake shirts.
This brings me to a hilarious conversation I had with an actual City fan who got a little annoyed I called them a small club no international fanbase. His reply was that they do as their fanbase has grown in the UAE, Algeria and Panama. Doha where their human rights abusing despot owners live is in the UAE so that makes sense but since the whole region only has a population of 9 million people that can’t account for too many fans. Next there is Algeria that has a population of 44 million but they are Mahrez fans so will quick jump ship once he leaves.
The final one is by far the most funny if the fans claims were true. Panama is a central American country with a population of just 4 million people famous for a canal and being a great place to setup shell corporations for shady business dealings. Now I ‘m not saying there are not 2 or 3 City fans living there, it is however more likely the ‘fans’ this guy claimed live in Panama are actually warehouses full of millions of pounds worth of City merchandise rented by a shell corporation linked to Sheikh Mansour.
So Utd have an estimated 1.1 billion fans worldwide whereas City have warehouses in Panama full of shirts no one will ever wear that Sheikh Mansour bought to add yet another fraudulent revenue stream and to pretend they have fans.
Looking forward to more City fan tears.
William, Leicester (and temporary Inter Milan fan)
I have never disagreed more with Lee than any other mail boxer when he says it’s the refs fault for not having thick enough skin when he is being assaulted in car parks and his family are having crowds throwing chairs at them. Disgusting and totally ridiculous.
Refs can handle crowds and managers disagreeing with them. This isn’t the problem and its part of the job. The problem is when certain managers, and its always Mourinho, develop a coordinated tactic to bully and frustrate the ref which in turn riles up the crowd to such extent that people are attacked in the street when with their families. This is a disgrace. Its not the ref who doesn’t have the thick skin here, its Mourinho. He is a pathetic excuse of a man. His tactic of bullying and frustrating football matches, strangling them down to one half good chance has been very successful for him when its not he can’t handle it. He has to deflect it and on to the ref. A ref who will earn a fraction of his inevitable payout over his lifetime.
You say you were an insurance claims investigator. Sometimes you would have said a claim wasn’t covered and people would have disagreed with your decision. That doesn’t mean that its your fault if you and family should be assaulted and that you should just grow a thicker skin. That is not ok and its not part of the job. This is professional football and if Jose can not act in a professional manner he should not be allowed to be a football manager. Simple as that. This is a far more heinous act than telling a mate you might be moving to Madrid which Trippier got a ban for.
Professional manner doesn’t meant act like a lawyer. Police get spat at, soldiers get shot at. It would be better if they didn’t but that’s their job. If boxer punches someone in the ring, its their job. If they punch them in the street it’s a crime. Football managers screaming near a ref that they think that the throw in went their way, that’s part of the job. Football managers waiting around in car parks hours after the game is a disgrace.
The line needs to be redrawn. Klopp goes the wrong side of it, Arteta isn’t even in his area to be near the right side of it, and Mourinho has gone so far the wrong side that he should be banned from all football related activities for 6 months. At least the same punishment as being a gambling addict, missing a drugs test when called Rio Ferdinand and telling a mate you may get a job in Madrid.
Alex, South London
…It is truly disheartening and disappointing to come across the notion that the answer to abuse, whether it’s directed towards referees, children, or anyone else, is simply to “get over it” and develop a thicker skin. Lee is so far off base, I was almost lost for words. The letter is more a reflection of his skewed view of the world and, apparently his upbringing and not too small hostility towards his parents.
Social media platforms amplify all the negative shit in the world and it is easy for some to get sucked into the notion that ‘everyone does it.’ Just as all influencers are wealthy, doing well mentally or living in nirvana. Right. But toxic behaviour gets views because people who are horrified by it are more likely to click, it doesn’t mean they agree with it – but it gets more exposure. But as a functioning adult, you should know that Lee.
We should be standing up against abuse rather than turn a blind eye or pretending it’s okay because ‘everyone’ does it. Ignoring it only perpetuates the problem and allows it to fester. We need to challenge and address abusive behaviour, both on and off the field. All of us.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
There is no reason we cannot live in a society where everyone feels safe, valued, and respected. And football, with all its exposure, would be a great place to start.
…1. What the actual f**k does people yelling at their kids + parenting tactics have to do with how people should treat others outside of their family units?!
2. I’m not at all convinced that Lee is correct in claiming that “everybody” yells at their kids, nor that “everybody else” approves of parents yelling at their kids, certainly not “all the time”.
3. Between the above description and the citation of his professional experience, it seems like Lee has had horrible behavior normalized, and is now projecting that horribleness and using it as a rationale for why people shouldn’t expect decency from others. It’s sad but also illuminating.
4. People are not unanimously in favor of fans yelling abuse at players either.
5. Even if we ignore #4, there is a clear difference between insulting someone from a distance and getting in someone’s face about it, and it’s dishonest to act like you don’t see the difference.
6. Reporting a crime to the police is not “running to mummy and daddy”. If an insured client with a rejected claim chased Lee down in the carpark after work, I am doubtful he would have “just ignored it and done his job”, but i am admittedly making assumptions on this point.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
A few points from recent mailboxes:
*When Tottenham appointed Mauricio Pochettino I remember hearing Iain MacIntosh on the Guardian Football Weekly (simpler times) saying the biggest obstacle for him to overcome was the notion he was stepping up. It’s fair to say that Pochettino certainly proved he was talented enough to improve Tottenham’s position. Ange Postecoglu similarly comes in with the need to justify his appointment, he is a bit of a gamble, but he has been upwardly mobile in terms of the profile of the teams he’s managed.
*Comparing Harry Kane and Ian Rush is not entirely fair. Rush didn’t settle in Turin, but was Juve’s top scorer in his sole season in black and white. It’s hard to say much beyond generalisations but his move from England to Italy was far more of a culture shock than Kane moving to Real Madrid would be. A brief glance at YouTube compilations (which I know won’t be entirely representative) shows a lot of goals scored against a four-man defence that has pushed up after a long clearance, only for Liverpool to win the ball in midfield and attack, enabling Rush’s excellent movement and willingness to shoot from anywhere to finish off some great moves. A lot of Italian teams played systems descended from catenaccio, so there was less space for forwards, exacerbated by an extra defender in a lot of cases, and defenders were more comfortable passing the ball among themselves. At the very least, Kane has had lots of experience of playing against defensive units happy to have possession of the ball, so has the potential to adapt to a new league in the way that Rush, as brilliant as he was for Liverpool, was not able to.
*Lee, writing about refereeing and Jose Mourinho, channels the spirit of people whose “it never did me any harm” mentality betrays the fact that, actually, it does seem to have influenced their outlook on the world. Most customer service roles have a policy on handling abusive (as opposed to simply frustrated) customers, because while you cannot prevent them altogether, you can minimise the effects of their abuse. It’s not enough to simply say “just ignore it”.
Also, there is a fundamental difference between a large crowd of players chanting about a player, which is for the most part background noise (regardless of how offensive it is) and a player or manager screaming in the face of an official. Complaints and disagreements come with the territory of officiating, but there are – or at least should be – limits of acceptability in how these are expressed. For all that there is supposed to be a clampdown on swearing, it seems a much better approach that referees will let things go if the player is expressing annoyance to/with themselves instead of towards others.
It’s the car park incident that Mourinho needs punishing severely for. During a game, anything said in the heat of the moment can be punished but can also be viewed within that frame. If you’re waiting in the car park, that’s a course of action you’ve decided upon as a deliberate means of causing trouble for or harm to the official. A long ban – and a whole game day ban at that – will enable other football associations to hand out similar punishments to offenders at all levels of the game.