You’re back at work, so send those mails in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
I can’t sleep, eat or work properly. I’m nervous and excited for Liverpool vs Manchester City.
Football, what the f**k have you done to me?
What ruined Wilshere’s career: Wenger, Wilshere or bad luck?
So it looks like Jack Wilshere will be leaving Arsenal by the end of the season. There are many, many sticks to beat Arsene Wenger with, but his inability to develop the young talent at his disposal during the last decade is one of the biggest ones for me. It seems incredible that the otherworldly talent we once saw taking charge of games aged 17, or destroying Bayern Munich for fun, has ended up in this sort of position.
Naturally, there are a few caveats you can make to suggest this is not wholly Wenger’s fault. Injuries have certainly played their part, with Wilshere spending the majority of his career on the sidelines with some problem or other. I would make the counterpoint that Arsenal’s legendarily horrendous injury record is such a structural problem that I’m wholly unconvinced of it all being down to bad luck. I’d say one or both of the training or treatment methods were either not helping, or actively making things worse. Thus, for me at least, Wilshere’s fitness issues circle back to some extent to Wenger’s ambit, due to his apparent total control of all footballing matters at the club.
Players should, of course, take some responsibility for their own careers, and Wilshere has not always been an angel off the pitch. The tabloids have enjoyed endlessly pointing out, through pap snaps and tell-alls, that Jack enjoys a cheeky cigarette and a pint on occasion. However, seeing as how almost all professional footballers grow up, from about age 16, in a bubble of endless riches and temptation, it is every manager’s responsibility to either make sure they straighten up and fly right, or to cut them loose when they fail to do so. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who as far as I can tell, has always been a pretty model pro, talked about lacking an occasional kick up the backside at Arsenal when he joined Liverpool, and his half season there suggests he was on to something.
It seems crazy how many players have initially shown huge flashes of promise at Arsenal before getting stuck in the club’s Groundhog Day Syndrome of perennially being just-short-of-good-enough. From Wilshere’s generation, the Ox, Walcott and Aaron Ramsey (remember that incredible scoring run?) have all gone from promising to worthy to meh. In more recent times, you will find hugely glowing reports online on the early games of Coquelin and Rob Holding, who have since become little more than joke figures. Hector Bellerin has been perhaps the most glaring recent example of the trope, with even Barcelona’s famously tap-up happy players suddenly becoming very quiet indeed on his Barca credentials during a very middling 17-18 for him.
Can the mailbox think of any other managers who are wholly or partly responsible for ruining a potentially world-class player’s career?
Joe (Thinking Wilshere could do well in Italy) FFC
Get ready for the week of derbies
So this week we have the UCL quarter finals (still bummed by the negligence we showed). But it’s also DERBY WEEK:
The Milan Derby
What’s with all the M’s?? I’m pumped though.
Did the bottom three forget about hard work?
Looking at the table at the moment you see West Brom, Stoke and Southampton at the bottom of the table. Aren’t these the teams who have shows the most resilience for the past decade or so. They got promoted and showed sensible tactics for their standing in the game. For the most part they did the best they could with the resources available to them.
Over time they were managed by some coaches such as Pulis or Puel or Pochettino who instilled a hard working mentality. Those teams were hard to beat and even the best teams struggled against them. Fast forward a few years and their coaches got poached (Like Poch the Great) or run out of the club because the football wasn’t pleasing enough (Pulis). Reminds me of the good Charlton side that imploded after Curbishley left. Or Wigan, or Fulham.
It seems these clubs have become overly ambitious and in the process thrown caution to the wind. As a result they have appointed a series of coaches who spiced things up yet made them less resilient. The players they bought weren’t meant for that hard-working style they developed, too much money was spent on players who were pretty much equal to what they already had. About a year ago it seemed impossible that a club like West Brom or Southampton would ne anywhere near the relegation scrap.
I hope clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley don’t go that way. Perhaps it’s the way of the league though. Many teams come and go, but the big boys tend to stay at or near the top and everyone else is only entitled to a short stay. But it seems to be getting worse, the TV money has evened up the scrap around mid table and our league is starting to resemble La Liga or Serie A where the bottom 14 are almost identical to each other.
That being the case, every year i look forward to seeing a brand new team joining the Premier League. Or at least a team that’s not been up and down numerous times over the past decade. I was glad to see Brighton and Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Burnley get in. There are 3 teams that I’d really love to see back in the PL – Leeds, Wednesday and Forest. Those are legitimately big teams that could change the dynamic of the mid-table if they get their tactics right and stick around for a while. And it would be nice to see Wimbledon make it one day. But that’s perhaps my early memories of football were from the late 80s to early 90s.
Are there any teams that other would like to see in the PL? Who would make it sexier?
Benteke one of *the* most frustrating players
*Once again Crystal Palace acquit themselves well enough against a Champions League chasing side to give fans hope, but still come up short.
*Both teams had a promising if inexperienced right-back up in the line-up; however, while the Eagles lined their best attacker (Wilfried Zaha) up against Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool didn’t follow suit and instead played Mo Salah on the right where Zaha and Patrick van Aanholt combined to keep him quiet for most of the game. He still scored, because he’s a tremendous player, but he had to work very hard for his goal.
*From early on it became obvious that Palace’s tactic would be to have Zaha start wide and then run in between the full-back and centre-back. This almost worked about ten minutes in, but for a save from Loris Karius. Had the ball gone in, after Zaha had involuntarily controlled it with his hand, it would have clearly been the biggest refereeing injustice of the afternoon.
*Genuinely don’t know how Sadio Mane wasn’t shown a red card. The first yellow card was the dictionary definition of “just because there’s contact doesn’t mean it’s a foul”. Watching the replays, it looked like James McArthur slid in, did make contact but pulled out of the tackle a bit so as to avoid bring Mane down. What didn’t help the Liverpool man’s case was that he went down clutching his shin when it was his heel that was touched.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of that incident, he received a yellow card, which makes it completely inconceivable that the referee did not show a second yellow card for the cynical handball that halted a Palace attack. It was absolutely ridiculous firstly that Mane did it, and then secondly that this didn’t end his participation. I don’t think a red card would have changed the result, as the home side would still have been vulnerable to a counterattack from Salah and co.
*Christian Benteke continues to be one of the most frustrating players in the world. He gets into good positions, and can hold the ball up well, but he is completely lacking in confidence and composure when a shot is on. He missed two chances in about a minute, and having squandered the first, it was obvious he was going to shoot again, instead of making one more pass to Zaha.
*According to one stat I saw this weekend, since Roy Hodgson took over the Eagles have only lost twice to teams outside the top six. Given that between now and the end of the season their highest-placed opponent is Leicester City (8) in four games’ time, this has to be a positive sign. They are currently two points above the relegation zone, with the caveat that Southampton have a game in hand. The fate of their season is still in their own hands.
On narrowing the Premier League/Championship gap
Rob (spurs) I’m not entirely sure what you are suggesting. Do you want the PL to expand, and for the TV money to be spread out more thinly? That is a fantasy that current PL clubs will never vote for. Or do you want Sky to pay more for the “PL 2” rights, for games they already pay a pittance for under the Football League banner…
The problem with trying to get more TV money for Championship clubs or for a new League is that there is little value for the broadcaster unless the games are on an entirely separate channel, and then the cost goes on to the consumer.
Are people really willing to shell out an extra ~£20p/m for an extra subscription? That’s the only way I can see model for PL 2 is viable.
Here are some other solutions to narrowing the money gap between the PL and Championship:
– Abolish parachute payments and spread that money evenly through all Championship clubs.
– Separate the EFL TV rights packages out more attractively; for example a package solely for the playoffs etc. The Football League have done a terrible job of selling the rights recently.
– Abolish the League Cup and the EFL trophy, and replace with a Champions League type competition for the top 32 EFL clubs. The winner gets a Playoff place at the end of the season at the expanse of the 6th place Championship team. Spread the TV money evenly to those 32 clubs. Profit.
The above competition would be fresh, exciting, and attractive to fans and invests, with the extra cash from TV, attendances and sponsors enabling the Championship to be reduced to 22 teams.
Alan Ball, relegated with Portsmouth (1988)
Alan Ball, relegated with Man City (1996)
Alan Smith, relegated with Crystal Palace (1993)
Alan Curbishley, relegated with Charlton Athletic (1999)
Alan Shearer, relegated with Newcastle (2016)
Alan Pardew, relegated with Charlton Athletic (2007)
Alan Pardew, relegated with West Brom (2018)
Never hire an English Football manager first name Alan….
Keg Baridi, Nairobi, Kenya
Don’t worry about Chinese boycotts just yet
Patrick (THFC) says ” China (who is likely going to get a WC in 26), the US (who’ll probably get it in 30)”.
There are two bids in place for the 2026 World Cup: Morocco, and a combined USA-Canada-Mexico bid. Not China, as I’m sure you’ll notice. China won’t be bidding for 2030 either, as under FIFA rules, the 2030 World Cup cannot be held in Asia as it is already being held in Asia in 2022 (Qatar). No need to worry about boycotts just yet.
Proof that people really can disagree on anything
Is Pochettino an overrated manager? Don’t really understand how he’s getting praised for benching Danny Rose and Alderweireld. Poch is basically making sure Tottenham stay at Arsenal level by doing such things.
When you have the best left back and center back in the league it is one thing to not play them because their effort is lacking (a la Pogba) but to bench them because they want to paid within the top bracket of players (of which they are clearly in) is damaging to the whole club. Just ask yourself two questions:
1. Will any great, big name players ever want to go to Tottenham if they have a choice between them and any other top five club? Probably not. Tottenham has young great players that are developing but even if they develop they probably won’t end up the quality of player City or United is buying without having to develop anyone (plus city and united arguably have better academies). Not to mention anyone that goes to Tottenham will make less than they would at any other big club.
2. If you’re a young developing player is Tottenham better to go to than Everton, Southampton and other middle of the road teams?
(MC – Oh sure, why would you rather be at Tottenham than Southampton? Do you want a bloody list?)
This depends more on player and what the team needs but if they are really betting on themselves I doubt they would go to Tottenham. Why go to a club where even if you become the best in the league they won’t reward you for it? As a player you’d never get paid like you would at City, United, Liverpool or Chelsea and if you get sick of your pay or lack of trophies you basically can either just take it or you can complain and get benched for the rest of the season just out of spite. Not to mention if you feel it’s time for a step up chances are Tottenham just won’t sell you.
It’s one thing when you’re a manager that has won trophies so ultimately you can point to your trophies as proof your coaching style works but when you’ve never won a trophy to take such hard lines on your best players is damaging.
Poch can’t point at anything to prove his results are working because in the league he’s gone backwards despite being a year further on in the project. FA cup and league cup aren’t priorities and champions league is just not realistic without more additions of Rose, Toby-level players.. In no way is he a bad coach (he’s clearly great) but maybe just one of those good coaches not meant for the big teams.
And we’ll leave you with this…
Alan Pardew actually rang Tony Mowbray to tell him he had ruined his “New Manager Bounce”.
As this site often states: “It’s Never Alan’s fault”.
Paul Murphy, Manchester