Mails: A lovable Premier League XI, Klopp, Keane and…

Date published: Saturday 14th October 2017 9:15

Send your thoughts to for a Sunday Mailbox


Jurgen’s trajectory
I’ve found the dialogue around Klopp ahead of the game with Man U really interesting, having read everything from “he’s a fraud – worse than that David Brent character!” to “he’s the perfect fit and will take us to the next level”. Clearly you do not achieve what Klopp did at Dortmund without being a very competent manage and indeed the Liverpool fans seem delighted with his personality and presence, neither of which answers the question of “has he been a success at Liverpool”. I’ve a view on this and I want to use Roberto Martinez to illustrate it. The key point is all about Trajectory.

If you look at  Roberto Martinez and his time at Everton, the trajectory was really clear. Season 1 – He came in, lifted the club and they immediately began playing more appealing football, with them finishing 5th. Season 2 – the defence got worse, a half decent run in the Europa league did not cover up for the fact that the league was a disaster, finishing 11th. Sesaon 3 – Similar to season 2 , poor defending and rumours of discontent among players, the team eventually limped to an 11th placed finish again, things had got worse, not better from season 2.

The trajectory for Martinez was one of taking steps backward  – this was clear. However, imagine the same seasonal performances were reversed, that is Season 3 came first, Season 2 came 2ndand Season 1 came last, you’d have people singing the praises of Martinez – how he was transforming the clubs playing style and how it had taken 3 years to  develop the team etc. It’s a hypothetical, but it is even possible that Martinez would still be in a job in this backwards world.

Apply this to Klopp. Rogers was not bad, but the teams trajectory was downwards. Under Klopp, Liverpool recovered from a poor start under Rogers to finish 8th. The following season – Klopps first full one in English football – they finished 4th and shifted their style of football significantly. This season, his 2nd full one, has started with some patchy results and poor defending, but the trajectory has to be considered upwards, not downwards. They’ve beaten Arsenal, played reasonably competently in the Champions league and have teed up an exciting transfer for next summer. While Klopp may have made mistakes – he is only human – it is clear to see that he is slowly reshaping the club and developing what looks to be an exciting playing style. He has also taken the club to two cup finals despite trying to change the shape of the team and playing style.

Of course, it could all cock up, but the trajectory has to be seen, at the moment as upwards and the fact that he is popular among the Liverpool fans, appears to be building an exciting attacking team, has taken the team to 2 cup finals, finished 4th in his first full season and is doing all this in a foreign league must be considered resoundingly successful.

Now then – if only my own team, Chelsea can do the same and work something out with Conte to get him to stick around….



The millennial response
Alright Jimmy, strap in. I am, as the yoot say, triggered.

1. Are you seriously suggesting there were no childish nicknames in your day? It isn’t millennials’ fault that the language has moved on and you haven’t followed.

2. Messi vs Ronaldo I have to give you. It’s fine to think one of the two is better and talk about why, but the constant airtime the debate gets is tedious. I do take umbrage at the comment around people’s footballing ability though. I take it from this comment either you’re a professional footballer or you have never criticised a player?

3. I actually think the increased visibility of football is a good thing. It’s pushed the game to be played at an increasingly high level (good for the spectator) and those players in the “lesser” divisions are likely glad of the increased opportunities too. Again, it’s not millennials’ fault that you don’t know how to use the YouTube or the Internet to find out about new players (or, for example, that the population of Belize is predominantly Roman Catholic or Protestant).

4. Can’t fault you on the FIFA stats point either. I’m on the side of statistics in football being a good thing but that s**t is just dumb (mainly because it rates Messi as better than Ronaldo).

5. Have you read the definition of millennials? Whenever I’ve watched Arsenal Fan TV,  I didn’t find myself thinking that I was watching a group of people who had “reached young adulthood in the early 21st century” since they all looked a bit older to me. Also, it’s absolutely f***ing hilarious. Seriously, just search “Who’s name is Harry Kane?” on YouTube and enjoy.

6. Chants…really? So there were no terrible chants in your day? Nothing about a tally of wars won, or people being crushed in a stadium? Because the people those chants are relevant to were likely born earlier than 1987. Let’s assume you’re right though, you’d rather go back to the violence and hooliganism and alcoholism and sexism and……of your day just to hear some better singing? Very shallow.

Take off your rose tinted specs and then f**k off.
Dave, MUFC, Manchester 


I think Jimmy might be conflating the increasing influence of the internet and the emergence of the “millennial” with all the aspects of the “worst fans” he is seeing everywhere.

You only have to go on twitter to see middle aged men engaging in all the behaviours he lists in his mail. Often with added racism BUT I won’t go down that rabbit hole.

The internet has brought a world of football into a screen we can carry around with us. It has also brought fans together in a completely unprecedented manner. The tribalism you would see back in the day has been exacerbated tenfold by the internet and social media.

It’s not just Millennials who engage in LadBible-esque banter (hell, most of Arsenal Fan TV are middle aged) and we can’t solely blame them (us) for this. You’re just as likely to get a facebook-loving, “hilarious” 50 year old uncle posting all this sort of shite to his ever-increasing timeline. In between the pro-Brexit, anti-PC garbage.

For what it’s worth, I find most fans my age and younger benefit from the increased coverage the internet has brought. Knowing about players isn’t a bad thing (though banging on about them as if you discovered them is).

However, without the age of banter and the ever-growing meme culture I would have never heard someone call Liverpool “ChickenPool Bitch Club” and that will never not be hilarious to me.
Kris, Wirral, LFC


Jimmy in Spain, I’ll bite. Although I admit I found your email very amusing, it did also highlight the irrational hatred for millennials which people of all other generations seem to share. As an easily-offended snowflake, I coughed back my £2.40 latte, buttoned up my ironic Simpsons cardie (golden era, obviously), and set about responding with the extreme sincerity which annoys everyone over 35.

As I tried to defend my entire generation though, I realised that yes, we probably are the worst football fans ever. After all, nobody else has ever given footballers stupid nicknames. –

Or pitted two greats against each other in a reductive way. –

Or invented a weird a spinning thing to annoy everyone –

We invented all that, just like we invented sex, good music, sarcasm and 3 at the back.

Yawn yawn yawn.
Joe Rice (I’ll give you Arsenal Fan TV, dire.)


Jimmy from Spain has to be the biggest grumpus to ever feature in the malibox.

We get it, you don’t understand the Kidz, you’re out of touch and old.  However to pour scorn on people enjoying what is just a game for people’s entertainment in their own way? Why? How are they harming you?  You’re the one choosing to get annoyed by harmless youtube videos and below the line comments, it’s certainly your choice to watch arsenal fan TV – Not one of my preferred destinations for incisive opinions.

However the real thing that I take issue with is that Jimmy seems to think this is all new.  When I was a kid in the playground people made up songs, argued about who was best (Keegan/Dalglish was a good one, as was Hoddle/Keegan) and used stupid slang.  The one difference between then and now is that they can all film themselves and broadcast it on the internet free of charge. At least they aren’t setting fire to stuff, assaulting people and generally being criminal like they were in the 70s and 80s.

So your entire annoyance is about the fact that kids these days have the internet as a platform for their “content”…which is ironic given that you’ve written into F365 to express yourself in a very similar manner.
Matt L, London


I think the generation responsible for the display of violent and destructive behaviour that was widely exhibited by football hooligans just pips them.

The lack of perspective and catastrophizing of minor annoyances did produce a very enticing and clickable headline though…… Good for you.


Keane to impress
I feel it is a requirement to reply to Buhaditya’s assertion that Roy Keane ‘broke Alfie Haalands leg and contributed to ending his career over an altercation on the field and showed no remorse.’

He didn’t break Haalands leg
4 days after Keane’s challenge, Haaland played for Norway!
3 days after the Norway game, Haaland played for City!
Playing 2 football games in a week, after breaking your leg? I would doubt it!
Haaland himself admitted it was an injury on his OTHER leg that curtailed his career
The altercation on the field, was about 4 years previous, when Keane was lying on the ground, with a cruciate ligament injury that put him out for the guts of a year, and Haaland stood over him shouting that he was faking the injury. You make an altercation sound like it was just handbags. Haaland should be criticised for his actions in that initial ‘altercation’

As a final note, this is not condoning what Keane done, and the challenge COULD have ended a career, but the point is, that it most certainly DIDNT end it.
Gary B (Need more Keanes in football nowadays)


FFS. For the last time Budhaditya, Keane did not break his leg, nor did he end his career his other peg did that, Haaland himself says as much. Also the dig that Vieira did the same but more professionally, what Planet are you actually hailing from? When did Keane act unprofessionally? I assume you are citing his assault on Haaland if so in the Premier League Keane was shown red 7 times in his career, Mr professional was shown 8 reds so in your warped sense of professionalism Keane was slightly more the pro than Mr Vieira.

I’m sick of the same bullsh*t peddled about Keane and Haaland and that tackle, there are many sticks to beat a flawed character with, ending someones career isn’t one.
Paul Murphy


Loved Premier League XI
A lot of combined teams, mediocre teams, staying at home teams. One more to the pot.

GK – Speroni
Long term servant at Palace, despite I relegations and I assume options to stay in the Premiership. Fairly good keeper on his day too.

RB – Azpilicueta
Nicknames go a long way in football, and Dave is right up there with the best of them. Model professional, a full-back who can defend and attack.

CB – Hegazi
Cult hero in the making.

CB – Schindler
Poor mans Mats Hummels, and there is nothing wrong with that.

LB – Monreal
An Arsenal player who tries, has oddly begun carrying Arsenal in the last few weeks. Tough in the tackle, but never malicious. A neat and tidy footballer.

RW – Mata
Charitable blogger are just two of his newest claims to being the loveliest man in football. Wonderfully gifted, humble and successful.

CM – Kante
Works hard, works really hard. Rare for his role in that he’s not mouthy, not dirty and basically seems to be nice, just wants the ball to give it to his mates.

CM – Silva
In a team with a lot of egos, the best player also seems the quietest. Goes about his business destroying defences without breaking a sweat.

LW – Son
Infectious smile and enthusiasm for the game. Seems to be so happy to be a footballer.

CF – Defoe
Was already pretty widely loved, not least for his caricature partnership with Crouch. His friendship with Bradley Lowry was moving, showing the humanity of football.

CF – Crouch
Did the robot. Useless footballer whilst also being a useful man to have on the pitch.


Love for Roy
When Roy of the Rovers came back in the mid-90s, they played around with things a little bit, I’m fairly sure they had a Rocky Race on E story at one point.

Either way, this strip from that era is 8 pages of absolute wonderfulness. I think it needs sharing.
Rob, Birmingham


P*ssing on cornflakes
Can we cool it a bit on the Weah love in? He was a great player, and vitally important for the development of African football, but there are issues with his presidency campaign.

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes, back in 2013. At his trial he was found guilty of a number of crimes, including Acts of Terrorism, Rape, Sexual Slavery and Conscripting Child Soldiers, among other things.

Despite this, Weah has said he is in contact with Taylor over the phone (though has denied Taylor is running the campaign) and has made Taylor’s ex-wife his deputy. Additionally, campaign videos made by Taylor in prison have been shown in parts of Liberia where he is still popular.

Sorry to piss on everyone’s cornflakes over this. If you need a new footballer-turned-politician love in bandwagon, I recommend Romario’s work as a disability campaigner in the Brazilian Senate.
Adam Shenton


Footballers as politicians
I’m sure you’ll get a number of similar emails, but talk of George Weah possibly being elected president of Liberia got me thinking of other current/former footballers in political roles. Just a bit of fun, and obviously, I’m broadly stereotyping here.

Prime Minister: Starting with the big one, a poisoned chalice if you will. You need to be experienced, and able to take the flak. Understanding that doing well is expected and you won’t be praised, but perform badly and people will be quick to turn. Also helps to be disliked by the majority of your own supporters, expect a short tenancy…
David Moyes

Chancellor of the exchequer: A tough one as the common stereotype is that footballers are perhaps not so cerebral. I’m going to plump for a former player who seems to have built a substantial property empire and therefore must have some business acumen…
Robbie Fowler

Defence Secretary: The obvious answer would be John Terry, but I worry he’s a little impulsive and could start a war with ease. So perhaps someone a little more considered, but equally useful at organising a defence…
Tony Pulis

Health Secretary: An easy one. To fix the system, you need to understand the system…
Daniel Sturridge

Education Secretary: Another tough one, but based on seemingly being a nice guy, and actually caring about children’s well-being, coupled with some excellent lego building skills…
David Beckham

Brexit Secretary: Must distrust ‘foreigns’…
Paul Merson.

Any better ideas than these?
Marc, Brussels


Common Goal
Enjoyed the email on George Weah, one of those stories where a footballer really transcends the game and tries to make a difference.  Something I don’t think I’ve seen much of is Juan Mata’s Common Goal Charity.  I may be a City fan, but we’re all Juan fans (not the Atletico player) aren’t we?  Seems like a decent guy and the drive to ask footballers to donate 1% of their salary is a great idea.  Some people I’ve spoken to immediately asks why not more?  These guys are millionaires 1% is nothing?  Glass half full I say, as 1% of a millionaire’s salary is a whole lot compared to nothing.

From what I’ve found Hummels, Gnabry, Alex Morgan, Chiellini and Megan Rapinoe have all got on board pledging to donate 1% to underprivileged children around the world.  According to the Express article about the initiative the average premier league salary is £2,450,201.  On that basis they could raise £1 million a year if 2 premier league players from each team joined.  Admittedly a lot of footballers have their own foundations and charities, and I guess they could lay equal claim to disappointment that others don’t get on board, but imagine if even 10% of the premier league players got on board with Juan.  Part of the beauty of the 1% donation is that it doesn’t matter how much you are paid, and frankly most people could stand to surrender a hundredth of their/our wage without it really affecting them and footballers certainly can.

It would also add a nice cherry on top of the greed sundae when a player is negotiating astronomical wages knowing that at least some good is done with Sky and BT’s money gun.  The additional benefit is that it doesn’t even matter why someone wants to join; want to genuinely do some good and help the less fortunate?  Underprivileged children receive a donation.  Want to look like a good and altruistic person to improve your public image?  Underprivileged children receive a donation.  Only doing it because everyone else is?  Underprivileged children receive a donation.

I can’t say I have done too much research, and after I heard Mata announce the idea haven’t heard too much about it, so I can’t say how the money is being used any further than for underprivileged children via a collective fund of 120 charities in 80 countries around the world.  Speaking about where the idea came from he said it was after Chelsea one the Champs League; “As we were celebrating, I looked around at my teammates, and I saw the beauty of football, we came from all over the world, from different circumstances, and spoke many different languages.  Some had grown up during wartime.  Some had grown up in poverty.  But there we were, all standing together in Germany as champions of Europe.”
DBM (In an ideal world the next step would be clubs donating 1% of their wage bill) MCFC

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