Mails: Brexit to blame for Bradley reaction?

Joe Williams

You know what to do – mail


Man crush alert!
Having read the excellent Oliver Burke interview in the Guardian, I was delighted to see his reasons for not going to a top Premier League club, he stated that if he were to go to a City, Chelsea or United he would probably get put in the reserves or out on loan and see very little first team action, now of course while this isn’t the case at all Premier League clubs (and in fairness pep has a history of producing academy talent) it was refreshing to see a young player putting his football first in front of the lure of a glamorous move to a big premiership club and I only wish we’d see that replicated with some of our brightest youngsters, it easy to go to a chelsea or a united and be told your be in the first team in a few years, where in reality those clubs change their manager roughly every 18-24 months and the pressure they are under to succeed dictates that they will more likely bring in a proven international player rather than blood in a few youngsters who will be inconsistent and will require patience.

But as Vardy, Dele Alli & Adam Lallana and countless others have shown there are alternative routes to the top of their profession. Less and less players are coming out of the top academies in our country (which is a different subject entirely) and more are working their way through the lower leagues and gaining a far greater football education from it like Burke himself. Another thing that impressed me was his decision to go abroad, of course moving to a foreign country at a young age is difficult and it’s understandable why a young player would decide to stay in this country, but it will certainly help themselves and the future of the national side if our best young players follow Burke’s chosen path and go foreign. It was genuinely one if the best player interviews I’ve read in years and he comes across fantastically in it and I hope he fulfils all of his potential
David (watch him turn out of be a massive flop) burzio


Southgate seems a thoroughly decent fellow
For some reason this morning I was trying to find out if players boycotted any newspapers in particular (other than the S*n obviously) when I came across an article from Sept 1996. It is actually about players being paid by newspapers for exclusives and I found the whole thing rather quaint and endearing due to the journalist being aghast at the sums involved. Anyway it’s worth a read as it is a step back in time but the reason for this email is the following passage:

‘There are honourable exceptions to the greed factor. When the England defender Gareth Southgate missed a penalty against Germany during Euro 96 it became one of the images of the summer, and one he stoically learns to live with. Afterwards, he refused six-figure sums for his exclusive story, considering it wrong to profit.

‘Before this season began, I phoned and asked him if he would like to write a preview to the season from a player’s perspective for The Independent on Sunday. He readily agreed and wrote it himself, faxing the piece to me for my comments. He did not mention payment; I did. It was £200.’


I know we know this already but he does seem to be a thoroughly decent fellow who isn’t going to do anything daft (except play Rooney – guffaw). I don’t even find his beard annoying.

On another note, during this international break can we please not get stuck in a stinky hole of discussing which club is superior and using a trophy won in 1955 to justify it, it is really freaking boring. Lets raise the bar a little by discuss matters of importance such as:

Double Hard B****rd 11,

Favourite clips from Nick Hancock’s Football Nightmares,

Strips you have for some reason always liked despite them being awful.

Umbro went through a mid 90s ‘vomit over the shoulder’ phase which I have always appreciated, their Nottingham Forest yellow Labatt’s away top (not an attempt to curry favour with D Storey Esq) and the Aberdeen 94-96 home strip are standouts for me.


Liverpool-Spurs debate
I was reading through the mailbox and came across a quite optimistic email from Darragh Martin. He was responsing to the question “have Spurs overtaken Liverpool?” To which he snappily replied “no and they never will”. He then spouted off about Liverpool and Europe. My simple response is, I remember you lovely folks saying the same exact thing about a certain Manchester club and a red-nosed Scotsman some years ago. How’s that holding up for you?
Henry (MUFC), Virginia, Stateside


…So according to Darragh Martin Spurs will never be bigger than Liverpool. Yeah, you may have a better squad, with better players, and yeah maybe you do finish above us in the league consistently, and yes you did win a league cup but guess what – Liverpool reached a final last year. Yeah, we lost, but hey, we’re bigger, right.

Where is the logic behind that mail? “Oi, you. My da is bigger than your da. Sure, your da may actually be taller, and stronger, but you should have seen the size of my da when he was young”
Ryan, Dundalk FC


So that’s why everyone hates Liverpool and Fergie talked about knocking them off their perch.


I can tell you where it started: When Liverpool sold Suarez for a ton of cash, and Brendan decided to tell the world:-

“Look at Tottenham. If you spend more than £100million, you expect to be challenging for the league.”


“It’s a different club and different vision we have here. At Liverpool there’s a strategy behind what we are doing,”

I mean, its ok to make comments like that *after* you’ve spent your money on some serious quality players… otherwise you sound like a right twonker.
Mike. Spurs. Forever.


…Easy one for me…

Mum was a Liverpool fan, Dad is a Spurs fan

First three words I was taught were ‘Mummy, ‘Liverpool’ and then ‘Daddy’, in that order

You can probably guess two things from this pointless little tale.

  1. Yes, I am a Liverpool fan
  2. Unsurprisingly. Yes, my parents got divorced.

Few things in life make me as happy as Liverpool stuffing Spurs, few things pi$$ my old man off more. It’s a 6-pointer in every sense of the word.

My mum passed away earlier in the year, but she managed to hold on long enough to see Liverpool effectively put pay to Spurs’ title chances. It might have even been the final thing to make her laugh…
Gareth, Glasgow


Yeah go on, I’ll bite; far more fun than doing work.

Have Spurs overtaken Liverpool? Darragh reckons no, because going from regularly finishing below them to regularly finishing above them is… erm… *gets Scouse calculator out*…

But WAIT! They won a European final last year, don’t you know. That’s right, isn’t it? What? They lost? Ah, but they contested, and we all know that just taking part is the real quiz.

And we will NEVER win the Champions League, let alone take part in Europa League finals. It’s disappointing that Darragh has decided that for us, and it almost makes you wonder why we compete. Oh right, for the taking part.

Now the dreary big club argument also rears its ugly head. Unfortunately for misty-eyed, nostalgic Darragh, there’s a way of telling exactly how “big” your club is: the Deloitte Football Money League. Liverpool are currently ahead of Tottenham of course, but it tends to only be the insecure among us who argue about being a bigger club, so good luck to them. Besides, we have shiny new stadium being built; you have what looks like a large corrugated iron hut. So nerrrr.

And finally Darragh, I have never come across a fellow Spurs fan who celebrates finishing above Liverpool. We celebrated improving to the extent that we became the fourth/fifth/fourth best team in England (and by proxy we celebrated being better than the teams we overtook), but it is incredibly narcissistic to assume this manifests itself in an obsession with finishing above Liverpool. Don’t think I’ve ever heard it mentioned in my ten-odd years of going to WHL, which is probably a fairly good way to gauge fan sentiment.

I actually like Liverpool as a team: pretty likeable as a whole, played some wonderful football in some recent seasons, and I was buzzing for them when they beat Milan in 05. But I celebrate Liverpool being a bit rubbish in recent years for the sole reason of so many of their fans seeming to be such insufferable, self-entitled tools with weird superiority-but-somehow-inferiority complexes.

Alex G, THFC


Bigger club? Who cares?
All this rivalry and bigger club business this week has got me thinking, why is it even important? You beat a team, you mock a team; your local rivals lose, you mock your local rivals; you win a trophy, you sing about that trophy until you no longer hold it, surely that’s about as complex as it needs to be right? Why go on about trophies you won 50 years ago unless you can build a time machine, go to the final, and rip the piss out of the losing fans? It shouldn’t matter right? Why can’t we just enjoy the present? I know Liverpool have a more illustrious history than Spurs, I don’t care, it’s like the “My Dad is bigger than your Dad” b*****ks from when you were seven, what I care about is current form, and at the moment we are above Liverpool in the table, and that is what should matter.

And also, can we stop beating Spurs with the ‘finished third in a two horse race’ stick? No-one goes on about Arsenal bottling it and making it a two horse race in the first place (as maybe it’s too commonplace now?), and we were never realistically going to catch Leicester once they figured out how to pull out the 1-0 grind outs were we? What was the smallest gap at any point, 5 points or something? It was a one horse race, end of.
Jerome Cross, THFC, Bristol


Can’t we all just get along?
Following on from Aaron, Drogheda’s letter. I actually entirely agree. It appears a lot of effort does go into fanning the flames an inciting a rivalry when on many occasions it is simply unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, a local derby match is exciting and I have taken great delight in seeing my club Southampton beat Portsmouth over the years but to hate them? A club that represents a city and its people simply because of geography or some alleged incident that may or may not have happened decades before I was born? Frankly, life is too short. When I was younger I did get swept up in it, but not anymore.

After our neighbour’s financial meltdown and eventual survival, it is unlikely that we will play them again for a while, so we have seemingly an ‘enforced’ new rivalry with Bournemouth. The same Bournemouth who I have enjoyed watching in the past, the same Bournemouth I loved seeing climb the leagues after overcoming potential extinction and establish in the Premier League. I do not buy into any furore over this, it’s great that both of our clubs are in the top flight and if anything, hopefully our combined presence can in some way make us stronger by highlighting the South Coast as a focal point for good football. That can only be positive for us both. I do not hate Bournemouth and never will.

In our time in the Championship and League One similar rivalries have tried to be thrust upon us, Reading being a notable example. They beat us to the Championship a few years ok, shame we didn’t win but they deserved it. Promotion was still a stunning achievement, and, with respect to Reading and not in any malicious way, I have not really paid much attention to them since.

Now, I may be odd in this respect. Everyone is different, but the need to inflict this type of venom into proceedings. It just feels churlish.
Colin (Awaits the criticism…) Winchester


Lots of hate
Before I start, I will like you all to know that I am a Liverpool supporting Nigerian. Obviously, I don’t have any affiliation to the city or the people but I can say I feel as good as any Liverpool fan when we win and equally terrible when we lose. Thanks to cable and recently, the internet many Nigerians now follow the EPL and other leagues as closely as their English counterparts. Now I started loving and following Liverpool in the early 2000s (I am quite young) due to my love for one player and that is Michael Owen. Even when he left, I flirted with Real Madrid for a while but couldn’t get my self to really love a team with a bunch of expensive superstars. In Nigeria here, Arsenal has a huge following and all these can be contributed to one player and that is Kanu Nwankwo. There were also some few Bolton fans (Okocha) until they got relegated. I have a friend who was a Liverpool supporter like me but switched to Chelsea (Tumi, if you are reading this, I still hate you) simply because of Drogba.

Now obviously, we are not all that connected to the teams in terms of geography but I still wonder why fans here in Nigeria just hate each other as much as you lot in the UK? Becoming a Liverpool fan, i instinctively knew I was supposed to hate United, mind I didn’t have access to the internet to have known the historical rivalry between these two. Always hated Rooney and Scholes and that gum chewing manager of theirs. We watch football in viewing centres with a crowd of football fans and many times, arguments between Chelsea and United fans become open brawls. Arsenal supporters here hate spurs (there are very few spurs fans in Nigeria) as much as every other supporter and always wants to see them lose. I hate Everton. I don’t know why. I have never been to England, I don’t even know any Evertonian fan but I just hate them and always want them to lose even though they haven’t been our rivals in the short time I have followed the English league.
So how do you explain hate for a fellow club that neither stems from rivalry for trophies or geography? Any psychologist here?
Ily (My girl would always say “don’t kill yourself for Liverpool. These people don’t even know you exist” after getting into another fight with a United fan) Nigeria.


Impact of Brexit
I’ve been reading with keen interest the articles and mails about the appointment of Bob Bradley, and I began wondering if this response by PFM to his appointment is a symptom of the way we, as a society, discussed Brexit. Even for a league that likes to brand itself as the world’s best, with players from all over the world, we cannot deny that there is an element of Xenophobia that has and continues to, run through our game.  For the record, this is not me discussing racism. As much as Brexit has emboldened racists to feel they can shout at people to go back to where they come from, I don’t believe the position of those commenting on Bob’s appointment are racist. Merely xenophobic (having and showing a dislike of people from other countries), and they feel comfortable voicing this view because the wider public, if the referendum is any indicator, agree with him. Not for one moment do I believe every Brexit voter was racist or even xenophobic, but what it has enabled is those people to feel there are 17 million of them. Which there aren’t.

A PFM will tell you that football is a meritocracy, that you are rewarded for your ability (which is why their insistence on Giggs getting the job ahead of Bob was crazily contradictory). However that doesn’t take for the fact that Rooney still lumbers around the midfield of United when there are probably better alternatives. Sure there is a marketing or contractual pressure, but there is also the ‘he’s England’s Wayne Rooney’ so must play.  Or that we are repeatedly told that both our league, and players in our national team are world class, when they are patently not. This rose tinted view of our boys, becomes poo tainted when we look at others. They don’t get how we do things over here etc etc.

A PFM will tell you diving was brought to these shores by Jurgen Klinsmann, handballs by Henry and flat out cheating by Pires. Whereas it was ‘smart play’ by Michael Owen when he dived against Argentina, ‘clever’ to foul as the last man, ‘tactical’ and ‘the dark arts’ etc. Language is vital in how arguments are positioned, and the words make us think that foreigners are dirty and don’t play the sport in the spirit of the game while no British lad would behave in such a way. Yet it was Kanu and Arsene who offered to replay a game with a ‘dubious’ goal against Sheffield. I don’t recall any other club offering to do this ever. No Alex Ferguson team, or Bruce or Sutton or anyone else. This idea that PFM are protecting the league from a corrupting foreign influence is another narrative fallacy they like to  propagate.

The Tory party is already telling immigrant doctors that they will be able to stay until we’ve trained enough native doctors, after which they will be asked to leave. These are people who have come here and literally saved our lives, and we as a society are looking to boot them out at the earliest opportunity. This kind of dialogue, and this kind of initiative will start to bleed further into other aspects of society, like football. The money behind football means I can’t see the clubs kowtowing to any government initiative to prioritise country of birth for selection, but if the new fan base feels embolden, they may bow to that pressure.  I was unable to find any evidence to suggest that such xenophobic behaviour is on the rise at football ground, which is a blessed relief, but I am wary that it could because of the divisive nature of our conversation, both prior to the Brexit referendum where remainers painted all leavers as racist which was massively insulting, and post when the triumphant tub thumping of a minority of racists within the 17 million crowed about their victory.
John Matrix AFC


A Chinese perspective
I’m a relatively new reader of this site, and I love your content. It’s refreshingly different to the drivel churned out by mainstream media. I’m also a busy guy so don’t watch many matches (despite what my wife says… more on her later) and I’ve never really cared enough about anything to contribute before.

However, the Sun’s portrayal of China has got me incensed. As a student I spent four years analysing and criticising China, it’s language, people, politics  and culture. I’m also married to a lovely Chinese Singaporean girl. So as far as lazy stereotypes go, believe me I’ve heard them all. There’s a lot wrong with Chinese culture (not only Shanghai and PRC), but laziness is the most absurd thing I’ve heard. I’m writing this on my lunch break in Leeds, something that would never be allowed in China. A friend of mine was given five (5!) days off a year, and worked two of them.

All I ask is that if you’re going to stereotype, do it better, and do at least 10 seconds of research first. Chinese culture puts us to shame with their work ethic, deeply rooted in Confucian values. To claim the Chinese are lazy only goes to show that the writer has failed to grasp the basics of a culture he is supposedly ‘revealing to the Sun’s readers. It’s almost as if the paper’s political views get in the way of good journalism.

Regarding the Chinese league, it is being developed slowly and is slowly starting to gain a following. Compare this to Singapore, my wife’s home country where I have also lived: football fans there define the ‘plastic fan’ tag. I thought that as an Arsenal fan I’d find more like me, but the place is almost exclusively Man Utd and Liverpool. The S League is barely attended by locals, and despite the country being a massive Chinese majority, it is mostly Malays who turn up to watch their local team. In this respect, Singapore is failing to address the cultural challenges of entertainment football in a work-first culture. On the other hand, China is doing brilliantly.

Final point to my rant: The Camel. I watched England lose on penalties to Italy in this hole of a pub at about 3am. I know this pub well. It is the most disgustingly expat pub I’ve been to in my life. At the heart of the expat zone (named the French Concession) in a French styled building, there is nothing Chinese about The Camel. I would like to offer my services to take the Sun to see the real China, and the real Chinese (who are all in crowded noodle shops, not pubs), only I’d worry about the company.
Mike (Trying to set the record straight on an ancient country and culture that deserves more respect than that), AFC


F365 is my personal life-support machine
If only mails had ‘Like’ options (hint hint), I would have hit that button even before I finished reading Stig’s mail. I would also have gone back a few weeks to like that Senderos play-by-play mail that is still the best one I’ve read so far this season. Anyway, I wrote in to show solidarity with Stig during this tough period. I went through the same gutter-like life a few years ago when I was both homeless and jobless for a few weeks. I lived in a city far from the city that my parents lived in and therefore couldn’t simply ran back home for shelter. I was forced to seek shelter and money for food from the few friends who had not shunned me because of my predicament. One of them (Dennis) is an avid reader of this site and was one of the few who helped me through that difficult period by hosting me for a while. F365 helped me in a big way as the only possessions I had were my phone and charger. I would go to places with open WiFi and while away the time during the days I was too exhausted to continue looking for work.

I remember looking forward to the Friday Quiz (bring it back) because by late afternoon I would have either walked miles searching for a job to do or would have done a menial job to get a little money for something to eat over the weekend. Things got better just when I had started getting depressed and tired with the challenges of life. My elder sister, who had kicked off my troubles by telling me to help myself when I asked her for shelter, had gotten saved within the few weeks I was living on the streets. She found me in a very bad state and took me in, even pressuring a friend of hers to give me a job. Through all that time, the only site I regularly visited was F365 and it has become my default destination on my phone and computer when at work. Sorry for the long mail but I just wanted to encourage Stig to keep thinking positively and life will smile right back at you. Don’t ever give up in your efforts to improve your life. For some people, football is just a sport they are interested in. For others like myself, football is life and F365 is my personal life-support machine.
Greg Tric, (seriously though bring back the Friday Quiz or at least something similar), Nairobi.


All the best, Stig
I just wanted to wish Stig, MUFC all the best for the future. I too have had ups and downs over the last few years both personally and professionally and I know it’s none of my business, but I hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you.
Darren, LFC


Stig seems a good lad despite being a Man Utd fan

Hope things turn around for you mate and if you ever fancy a beer to put the world to rights then I am sure I along with several other mailboxers will gladly raise a jar with you.

Ross (Football Family El Presidente) Jenkins


Self-indulgent praise
Read your gossip column this morning (as always), and discovered that West Ham are keen to ship Simone Zaza back off to Italy already. In a piece of self-indulgent gratuitous praise, I’m going to refer back to a mail I sent in on the eve of his signing.

I called that he’d be a total failure, and shipped of to Italy (to a worse club) at the end of the season. Now granted I was 6 months off, but if I could see this without even watching training why did the club fail to see that he’d adapt? Say what you want about the standard of defending in Italy vs England, but Zaza finds it easier to score against Frosinone defenders than he does against Craig Cathcart & Co.
The only caveat to this is English clubs do seem to be learning: he came with a “mandatory purchase clause,” whereby they’d only pay full whack if he made a certain number of appearances – presumably why they’re trying to cancel their current loan agreement.
Even still, he looks a stinker for the €5m loan fee and can join Cuardrado, Aquilani, & Jovetic amongst other big money signings who found the league too hard and jacked it in to go back to Italy.

KC (don’t tell me Italy has better defenders)


<No Brits abroad

A few good points made this morning about fast tracking managers to the top. Another thought occurred while thinking about the apparent gap between the PFM view of British managers and the reality. And that is money. It’s true that there’s less chance for British managers in the English leagues than domestic managers in other leagues, mainly because English clubs are rich enough to poach proven winners from other countries rather than gambling on unproven coaches on these shores. But that money allows managers in England to earn far more than their talents deserve, the most famous example being Sam Allardyce becoming the 13th highest paid manager in world football back in 2013 (bearing in mind at that point he had a couple of top half finishes, zero European experience and one cup final defeat to his name).

These managers then lament the “sexier” names our top clubs go for, with their multiple domestic and European titles, looking to sell their accomplishments short. I hope I’m not making a strawman case here but look at how many in the media deride the achievements of Vilas Boas for instance, saying anybody could win the double with Porto. Or the view people have of winning the league with PSG or Juventus; because it’s happened a lot in the past apparently it’s easy. Yet, despite recognising that accomplishments at these clubs leads to the jobs they crave how often does a British manager chose to test himself abroad, away from the fat paycheques of the Premier League? The only high profile examples I can think of from the last ten years is when a coach is so stained by failure on these shores they have to go abroad to escape the limelight eg. Moyes at Sociedad, McLeish at Genk & McClaren at Twente. It seems that many of these managers don’t want to abandon the wages and home comforts of England but still want the top jobs without proving they can meet their lofty expectations.

Also another point on the Villa/Newcastle rivalry from a black and white perspective, if we’re still talking about that. As far as I’m aware the only needle between the clubs is during direct matches between us. From conversations with Villa fans there seems to be a deep empathy between the clubs given the similarities between our owners over the last few years, trying to do just enough to stay up, uninspiring managerial choices. Mainly though I just wanted us to get our own back. The relegation 2009 hurt, and the mockery from Villa fans rubbed some salt into the wounds. May just gone was our best opportunity to “get our own back” so to speak, however our draw with Villa (on something like 173 straight defeats at that point) coupled with Sunderland’s win over Chelsea just meant our relegation was basically confirmed and more mockery. It’s basically about pride and having the last laugh.

Anyway lunchtime and rant over, back to work….
Kevin (no more Spurs/Liverpool “my Dad’s bigger than yours” rants please), Nottingham


How did we miss that?!
I had the pleasure of listening to the Monday night podcast following your piece on Mediawatch yesterday and I think there has been one question which everyone else seems to have missed in this morning’s mailbox:-

Anyone else think that Chris Sutton sounds like a young Michael Caine?
Tom (just me then), London