Mails: Are Tottenham the new Newcastle bottlers?

Date published: Wednesday 29th November 2017 2:37

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Bottlers Spurs will finish sixth
Are Spurs the most-hyped team in history to have won absolutely nothing?

I thought Pochettino was Europe’s best coach?

I thought their title challenge last year was derailed because their only striker missed about five games?

If ever there was a microcosm of Spurs’ short comings, it is their last two away games against Leicester. Back in May, league lost, no danger of slipping to third, Leicester safe so both sides have nothing to play for, win 6-1. Well done. What a team. Perhaps a couple of those goals would have been more use last night or at West Ham last season when the pressure was on?

Spurs will finish sixth this year. Below Arsenal, and I bet Spurs’ fans will still have the audacity to sing ‘Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay’



…I am a Newcastle fan…and if you cast your minds back to the early 2000s, you’ll remember an exciting young Newcastle team that the late, great Sir Bobby Robson put together.

The ‘Young Guns’ they were known as. A team of fast, dynamic, fearless young players, many of them internationals, with the world at their feet and ready to take the Premier League by storm.

Messrs Dyer, Bellamy, Bramble, Jenas, Ameobi et al bristled alongside the foreign flair of Laurent Robert and Nolberto Solano and learned a lot from the experienced British and Irish backbone of Given, Shearer and Speed.

We had some great days, finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th in consecutive seasons. (You really don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone) Champions League campaigns, nights at the Delle Alpi, San Siro and Nou Camp spring to mind. Famous Premier League wins, classic away victories away to Leeds and Arsenal among them, all whilst playing an extremely attractive, exciting brand of free flowing football.

But we won….NOTHING. Zero. Zilch. We won plaudits, admirers but never any trophies. We fell at the last hurdle, always. We have the memories and the platitudes, but the trophy cabinet remained (and still remains) more or less bare.

Which brings me on to this current Tottenham side. A young, fearless side, full of young internationals attempting to take the Premier League and Europe by storm. Sound familiar?

Whilst I, and many others take great satisfaction from watching the current ‘Young Guns’ such as Rose, Winks, Dele and Harry strut their stuff on the biggest stage of all, seeing them fearlessly sweep aside Real Madrid and Dortmund under the guidance of their charismatic coach, my worry about this Tottenham side are that they are too similar to the NUFC side I once idolised. They play the good football, they have the young lads and the likeable coach…but when it comes to the crunch will they win anything? Can we really see them winning the league? Or are they, to put it bluntly, bottlers?

I for one hope they prove me wrong, I just sadly can’t see it at this moment.

For sure, they’ll have the memories and the European nights to look back on, but will they deliver when it matters most and make this good Tottenham side a great one and deliver silverware?

Here’s hoping they don’t become a forgotten team and have more than memories and platitudes to look back on in a few years.
Steven, nostalgic Newcastle fan from Gateshead


Where is real Tottenham?
What’s going wrong at Spurs? We used to be a nightmare to play against – the intense press and relentless energy has been a hallmark of this Pochetinno team but it’s not there at the moment.

Maybe it’s too many games but i think it’s a personnel issue – the players that have been crucial to this high energy football, for me, are Kane, Dier, Wanyama, Dembele, Rose, Walker and Lamela.

Kane is absolved of any blame whatsoever (obviously) and Dier has had some iffy games but been OK. But walker is gone, rose/lamela coming back from long term injuries, Wanyama has a long term injury and Dembele is a long term injury (which is sad to see).

This season is far from a disaster and there’s a long way to go, but think we need to get back to what we do best in order to improve…
Josh, London


DO draw conclusions from one match
I’ve read a few comments on recent articles saying that sports writers and fans are becoming too quick to draw conclusions and making knee-jerk reactions to a few bad results. It seems to me these ‘wise’ commentators are missing the point. If we can’t express inflated or deflated expectations, think our team is the best ever (so far this season), or judge that this is the beginning of a corner being turned, then what can we say? Not only will they then have got rid of the mailbox, they’re also going to forbid 16 conclusions (because how dare you draw that many conclusions from one game?) and reduce sports writing to the bare reporting of Gradgrindian facts -who scored, who assisted, and when. Indeed, Football365 would be reduced to Football7, where you will be allowed to draw conclusions only for seven days at the end of the season, when all that you claim can be verified.

Besides, some results are pivotal, and can spark a run of form or a loss of confidence. Three or two points dropped now can make a big difference at the end of the season. And players, managers and teams fluctuate wildly during the season and it’s part of the fascination of the game, seeing how different clubs and managers deal with these changes – bring in Allardyce, Moyes and Pardew for some, or stick with Howe, Benitez and Clement for others.

It’s not spurious to point out a slump in a club’s fortunes, or a lack of impact by one player – these are the opinions that fuel conversations in the pub. And it makes for hilarious reading after a while when you look back and read people saying Man United were going to run away with the league or Salah was going to be disappointing.
Paul in Brussels (there’s no way Pardew is still going to be at West Brom in 2020)


The Lukaku criticism is ridiculous
So I’m clear, Ted from Manchester is suggesting that because he only set up two goals that Lukaku isn’t doing his job because “he’s there to score”.

This seems slightly counter-intuitive to me. If he’s there to score goals, then, in the grand scheme of things, his primary objective is to help the team score more goals than the opposition. Surely by this logic, whether he physically scores them himself or whether he sets someone else up to score them, he’s doing his job? I suspect Mourinho or any other manager would rather a player who scores or creates 35 goals a season than one who scores 25 but does nothing else.

Eight goals and four assists is by my reckoning equal best return in the league alongside Harry Kane, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Morata. By my reckoning there’s four strikers and a winger in that list. Should we be shouting at Sane for scoring too many and not providing enough (6 and 6) or Aguero for not being selfish enough and laying on goals for his bloody mates (9 & 3). Of course not, the days of a Ruud van Nistelrooy style striker are gone and more is expected now.

It’s not just Lukaku who seems to suffer from this myopic view. Morata was getting a bit of stick early in the season for not doing much; Aguero was written off as well (and everyone knows that Harry Kane doesn’t actually exist). It’s just Lukaku’s turn at the moment. There seems to be so much expectation on these guys that any dip in form is immediately heralded as the four horsemen of the apocalypse come to declare Armageddon on their career (OK…I’m getting a bit carried away).

There are two players in the history of the world that have consistently achieved more than a goal or assist per game. One of those actually got stick for a number of years about not scoring in the big games so no-one is infallible to this! However, I don’t understand why we insist on using this as a benchmark standard? Players will go through peaks and troughs. Keepers and strikers are more noticeable because they score and let in goals but everyone does it. It’s, generally, not possible to be at the absolute peak of your powers for periods extending over months and years.

If only there was some sort of format used where we could look at things over a more extended timeframe and make judgements on quality with appropriate hindsight….like an end of season awards process…
Alex (Degsy really fluffed his lines for me!), Ayr


…It’s true that in tight situations, Lukaku’s first touch is still letting him down sometimes. The chance that got stuck underneath his feet was tough to watch to say the least. But it’s worth pointing out that he nearly squeezed in a shot after a confident run around a minute later – that another run and shot lead to that Lingard chance that would have had the game over at half time – that his passes led to openings for two other goals. Mikki Attridge should probably watch him play a little more rather than pouring over those spreadsheets, he might pick up a few of the nuances that Dan, MUFC has. It’s also worth remembering he’s played less than 25 times for his new club… I know we live in an accelerated culture, but yeeeessshhh….
Pablo, MUFC, Dublin


…Everyone knows the two narratives at this stage. Lukaku is a fat track bully and Spurs would be f**ked without Kane.

Kane is seeing as England’s number one striker for the next decade, and destined to leave Spurs if they don’t start winning trophies soon.

Meanwhile, Lukaku’s PL goalscoring record has an asterix next to it for simply the reason that he never does it against the “big teams”, without even considering that most games he played for WBA and Everton were “big” games relatively speaking to their ambitions and standing in the league.

Kane’s goalscoring exploits have rightly been lauded on this site and in other media outlets, but if Lukaku’s stats for the season have been forensically scrutinised, the same could be done to Sir Harry.

Kane has scored ten Premier League goals this season. The current league standing of the sides he has scored against reads: 17th (Everton x 2), 18th (West Ham x 2), 13th (Huddersfield x 2), 6th (Liverpool x 2), 16th (WBA) and 9th (Leicester). A veritable who’s who of underachieving, out of form sides placed with a Liverpool team that fell apart on the day.

He has also gone three games in a row without a goal already this season, and has only provided one assist to date. His two most recent goals have resulted in a net gain of one point for Spurs (well in reality two points dropped at home to WBA), while it could be argued that the only brace that made a vital difference in the other matches, was in the 3-2 win away to the Hammers. When he isn’t scoring he looks as very much an awkward Sunday League player as any non-scoring forward does.

It must be noted too that his 29-goal tally least season is skewered somewhat by the fact that he got eight goals in his last three games in dead rubbers against a United side preparing for the Europa League, a Leicester team with their beach attire on and an already relegated Hull.

The way I see, Lukaku’s form is been over-criticised. He’s doing just fine. Stats can be used in a lot of ways to boost an argument. In fact, only three of Fergie’s 13 title-winning seasons had more points after 13 games than United have acquired this season.

Leave poor Lukaku alone.
Brian, Wexford


Credit to Man United
As disappointing as United’s performances have been at times this season, City’s sustained excellence is disguising how much better United have been than in the past four seasons.

If City sustain their current form, they’ll finish the season with 108 points, having scored 123 goals and conceded 23. They’re also playing ridiculously good football. If they do that all season, fair play to Guardiola and City. They’ll deservedly be champions.

But it shouldn’t distract away from United’s being comfortably second in the league, having coasted a CL group and regularly scoring three or four goals a game. After four years of boring mediocrity, with a squad lacking in confidence and high turnover of players, this really isn’t that bad.
Chris MUFC


On the Not-So-Fantastic Four
Long time reader, first time mailbox-contributor (potentially last given how long this mail has become!! Apologies)

Been tempted to write in a few times in my many years of avidly refreshing Football365 in work, but today really drove me to offer up my thoughts.

So far this season we have seen eight managerial changes, only one of which made me think “Hmm that’s an interesting shout, fair play” – this was Marco Silva for Watford (didn’t have a clue who he was, but still interesting and nice to be surprised).

The majority of the other changes scream only one thing; the severe lack of imagination in replacing managers in the Premier League. We are seeing the triumphant returns of some of the league’s stalwart losers; Allardyce, Moyes, Pardew and Hodgson. I’m not saying for one second that these managers haven’t achieved things in their careers, but if Football365 compiled a list of ‘Premier League Managers: Winners & Losers’ these four would reside comfortably in the Losers column;

Allardyce with his England fiasco, Moyes just being Moyes, Pardew with his headbutt and “wind you nose in you etc etc”, and Hodgson with his..well everything about him really.

The fact that they all have their own dedicated meme/gif shows how successful the footballing public views them as being;

Allardyce deciding his order in the chippy, Moyes asking if everyone wants three points/has no idea what the hell he’s doing in the Manchester United manager’s office, Pardew dancing at the FA Cup Final and Hodgson watching something go past him with sheer delight before becoming immediately disappointed.

But how can football fans understand that these men are closer to being Mike Bassett than Guardiola, yet football boards/directors can’t?

We are constantly told how the Premier League is the best league in the world; unrivaled talent, unrivaled competition, unrivaled spending power. However, it seems its become unrivaled in its lack of imagination and ambition for appointing a new manager. I understand that clubs have to consider the financial aspects of survival now more than ever, but a new managerial appointment is intended to inspire players into point-gathering results, and to renew fans hopes of the season ahead. How can any of these men achieve that? Walking into a dressing room and seeing either of these four men would not inspire me, nor would it renew my hopes for the season (I spent a season supporting Hodgson at Liverpool and I still get the shivers when I remember those days).

These are undoubtedly short-term thinking appointments (“save us from relegation”) but what happens after that? If any of these teams survive, do they really think the clubs future lies with these men? What happens when they need to replace THEM? Who do they turn to?

I realise I’m not offering any alternatives to the four lads, but then again, I’m not paid to do so. Just saying a little imagination/ambition/risk-taking wouldn’t go a miss in the greatest soap opera on the planet (I hate calling it that)

Ross (Deluded LFC fan, married to a deluded Chelsea fan)


Relegate the unimaginative
If you want young British managers to get a chance like they do in Germany, given their lack of imagination in manager selection, I hope Everton, West Ham, and West Brom should get relegated for the betterment of English football.
Sandy (MUFC)


…So, once Big Sham struts into Everton with the biggest smug face since….well Pardew today I suppose. Is the dream relegation scenario the following?

18th Everton
19th West Brom
20th West Ham

Or in any order you like but this is probably most ‘realistic’.

To see these football ‘institutions’ get their comeuppance by giving out jobs for the boys would be simply glorious.
Bano (comeuppance is such a strange word to spell)

Pardew is uninspired choice for uninspired times

So here we are, another two points thrown away at home and Pardew about to be announced. Hooray! A quick trawl through the forums and the vast echo chamber that is Twitter throws up a few moans and even the off hardy soul who is excited by it, but the over-riding mood is one of apathy and resignation. Pardew will ride into The Hawthorns today on a wave of shrugs and “mehs” as a fanbase glumly reflects that there probably wasn’t anyone else available.

As my wife often says to me, I’m not angry, just disappointed. Disappointed at the sheer lack of imagination this appointment involves, we have a new board and owners and this was a chance to make a statement. Unfortunately the statement they have made is “We have no ambition or desire to further ourselves as a football club. We are happy to continue to do the bare minimum to function in the top flight so we can keep suckling at the sweet, sweet teat that is Premier League revenue.” Our football club is effectively a conduit for an unknown Chinese billionaire to make even more money, the actual football side of the business is very much an afterthought. I’m sure we aren’t the only fans to feel like this, but it doesn’t make it any less dispiriting. Pardew is symptomatic of a club taking the safe and easy route.

Of course it’s easy for me to sit here and say we should be more adventurous, it’s not my money at stake. I can wax lyrical about the need for excitement and suggest young upcoming coaches from the lower leagues and abroad, or former club captain Derek McInnes or even trying to break the bank for someone like Tuchel, I don’t stand to lose out financially if it fails, but West Bromwich Albion is a club in decline right now. A club that has stagnated over the last few years whilst bits of its soul have been chipped away by moody players – Odemwingie’s road trip, Anelka’s quenelle and Saido’s Tweets, terrible managerial coaches from the baffling Pepe Mel to the frankly incompetent Alan Irvine and of course Pulisball and everything that entails (it would be disingenuous to say TP was all bad, but the last six months have been truly rotten). We’re going backwards, sleepwalking towards relegation as so many bigger clubs have done before, whilst our dear near neighbours seem to be on the march again (it’s not to imagine at least one of them back in the PL next season). Morale is low in all areas of the club and on the terraces, what was needed was an appointment that could excite and unify everyone. Instead we get Alan Pardew.

That all said, he’s here now. Nothing left to do but get behind him, come on Chunky! Give us a dance!


The Unofficial Weekly Awards are here. Don’t take them seriously.
Premier League Player of the Week – Marvin Zeegelaar
His first act in English football was to get smashed in the face by Andy Carroll, but somehow this didn’t put him off. He was Man of the Match for Watford against Newcastle United with an assist, but had an all-round good performance, being near the top of his team’s passing stats chart and also their defensive work chart. Also, his manager looks like Allan Hawco, writer and star of enjoyable Canadian TV series Republic of Doyle, something I believe more people should be aware of.

Football League Player of the Week – Josh Morris
The Iron man wasn’t even picked to start the game, but came off the bench to score two stunning goals, both curling shots from distance. If a Brazilian had done that, we’d be raving about it and calling him the new Josh Morris.

European Player of the Week – Yann Sommer
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s goalkeeper made six saves as his side beat Bayern Munich 2-1, facing a second-half onslaught of 26 attempts on goal.

Best Goal – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Any goal that goes in having hit the unspecified resistant material three times is something special.

Best Tackle – Christopher Schindler
On Sergio Aguero to prevent what most likely would have been a goal.

Best Tactical Move – Pep Guardiola
As Kenny Rodgers once said, you have to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. Guardiola ignored all of this and withdrew Vincent Kompany for Gabriel Jesus, gambling on trying to win the game against Huddersfield with Nicolas Otamendi as their one remaining centre-back. As Chelsea and Liverpool showed, games between the top six sides are tense, close affairs, so by extension it places great importance on those sides to maximise their points haul against the other 14 teams.

Worst Tactical Move – Mauricio Pochettino
I didn’t agree with ‘the power shift’, and I don’t think the backlash against ‘the power shift’ is entirely merited, but Tottenham Hotspur are floundering due to an over-reliance on several key players and inadequate backup options.

Commitment of the Week – Gary Deegan
The Cambridge United man and near-namesake of a Masterchef Australia judge revealed this week that he played three matches with a broken foot.

Dick Move – Farhad Moshiri
David Unsworth’s tenure in charge of Everton has not been a runaway success. While few would argue he deserves the job on a permanent basis, many would argue that he deserves better than to discover via the radio that he will be replaced.

Commentary of the Week – Daniel Mann
During the highlights of Barnsley v Leeds United, Mann described Harvey Barnes as “not in the Wide Awake Club”, which was one of Big Ron’s classic lines.

Statistic of the Week – Crystal Palace
The last time Crystal Palace won a Premier League home game with a goal scored in the 90th minute was a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, with Clinton Morrison bagging the winner. It was 10 May 1998, the final day of a season in which they finished bottom of the league.

Official of the Week – David Thornhill
Stepping in as the fourth official at Carrow Road following an injury to an assistant referee. Described by Norwich City’s official Twitter feed as “a local qualified referee”, which prompted one wag to ask if there was “a local qualified midfielder” who could come on in place of one of the Canaries’ players. A lot of people seemed to find amusement in Thornhill carrying out his role while wearing jeans – wouldn’t it have been weirder if he’d been sat at the game in full refereeing kit, on the off-chance?

Inevitable Managerial Decision of the Week – Alan Pardew
Expect WBA to start brightly before the wheels come off, they slide down the table and narrowly avoid relegation in 2018-19, before the club’s appreciation of his efforts are placed on record and he is wished well for the future in November 2019, and then the cycle begins again at 2020, probably at Stoke City.

Mailboxer of the Week – Paul Murphy
On Tuesday afternoon, he failed to understand that Mediawatch is a reflection of the main stories in the newspapers or on sports-based television and radio stations, and not, as he suggests, an opportunity for its compilers to have a ‘spaff fest over Pep and the boys’.

Dembele of the Week – Siriki Dembele
A menace for Grimsby Town against Barnet, causing one Bee to get himself sent off, before he assisted the second goal in a 2-0 win for Town.
Compiler of the Week – Ed Quoththeraven

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