Mails: Does El Nev know he’s got it wrong?

Date published: Thursday 4th February 2016 2:58

Gary Phil Neville Valencia

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An interesting mail on viewing figures
I was looking for some information on viewership for football matches and TV programmes, but there doesn’t really seem to be much available, so decided to do some research myself and the statistics I have found are for W/E 24/01/2015 (source

The most popular channel to watch football is unsurprisingly BBC 1 with Match of the Day on Sat 23rd Jan the most watched football program with 4.73m viewers, and the most viewed live game was the FA Cup replay between Leicester and Spurs on Wed 21st with 3.9 million viewers. In comparison the replays on BT Sport 2 got 276,000 viewers for the Bristol City-West Brom match on Tuesday 19th, and 385,000 viewers for Liverpool-Exeter on Wed 20th.

For Premier League matches Sky is the leading broadcaster with the 3 most popular matches of the week, with 1.4 million people turning into Arsenal-Chelsea on Super Sunday, 923,000 viewers for West Ham-Man City for the Saturday Night Football, and 760,000 for the slightly less Super Sunday game between Everton and Swansea. The least watched Premier League game of the week was the Monday Night Football match between Swansea and Watford on Mon 18th with 447,000 viewers, as 668,000 tuned into BT Sport on Saturday lunchtime to watch the 5-4 classic between Norwich and Liverpool.

In the Saturday Morning TV battle Soccer AM (147,000 viewers) got over triple the viewers of Fletch and Sav (47,000), while on Saturday afternoon over 1 million people (1,046,000 to be exact) tuned into watch Jeff Stelling and the boys keep up to date with the scores on Soccer Saturday (15:00 onwards), 226,000 were watching the build up to the matches from midday. This figure is almost identical to the 221,000 who were watching QPR-Wolves over on Sky Sports 1 at the same time. This was the 9th most watched live football match of the week, with Betis vs Real Madrid rounding off the top 10 with 149,000 viewers and the full list is below:

The top 10 most watched live Football Matches for Week 18th-24th Jan 2016:
Leicester vs. Spurs – FA Cup – Wed 20th – BBC 1 – 3,900,000
Arsenal vs. Chelsea – Premier League – Sun 24th – Sky Sports 1 – 1,630,000
West Ham vs. Man City– Premier League – Sat 23rd – Sky Sports 1 – 923,000
Everton vs. Swansea – Premier League – Sun 24th – Sky Sports 1 – 760,000
Norwich vs. Liverpool – Premier League – Sat 23rd – BT Sport 1 – 668,000
Swansea vs. Norwich – Premier League – Mon 18th – Sky Sports 1 – 760,000
Liverpool vs. Exeter – FA Cup – Wed 20th – BT Sport 2 – 385,000
Bristol City vs. West Brom – FA Cup – Tue 19th – BT Sport 2 – 276,000
QPR vs Wolves – Championship – Sky Sports 1 – Sat 23rd – 221,000
Betis vs. Real Madrid – La Liga – Sun 24th – Sky Sports 2 – 149,000

I am a little surprised that this type of information doesn’t get much coverage, as it is something that really interests me, and surely I can’t be the only one.
Mark in Manchester


Praise for Winners, Leicester and joy
Really enjoyed the ‘Midweek Winners and Losers’ piece today. But one paragraph totally captured how I feel.

“Only our disbelief stops Leicester from being title favourites. Change and difference is difficult to comprehend, and so English football’s most remarkable achievement since Nottingham Forest’s consecutive European Cups still feels like a fanciful pipe dream.”

Nail on head. As a West Ham fan, this has been a good season, but it has also been the most consistently entertaining one, too. Spurs are gelling, Watford are making a fist of it, West Ham are entertaining: but Leicester, rightly, are the stars of the show. My football obsession as a kid coincided with the rise of Forest and, West Ham loyalties aside, it was just brilliant to watch an unfenced team confound expectations.

Leicester have given the Premier League a fantastic kick up the arse. Yes, Chelsea and Man Utd’s respective implosions have helped, but it is Leicester that has seized that opportunity. The press and Sky do not know how to handle it, and that just makes it so good for the game and contributes to the brilliance of this season. This is the unpredictable event that football has lacked for years. The Big Four have been nutmegged by a comparatively small budget side, as has the media. It probably won’t last, but Leicester have made football interesting again. How could anyone begrudge them the League having done that!
Barnet Steve


…I just want to say how much I enjoyed the Arsenal and Wenger sections in W&L this week. Sharp, uncompromising stuff and reminded me of the Pete Gill days, in a good way.
Stu, London


England squad by WhoScored’s ratings
After I read the part in the Winners section today about how Uncle Roy must be licking his lips *shudder* at the idea of all of those English players scoring over the last few days, I decided to go to and see who – over the course of the season – have been the most in form English players, and thus make a squad from that list for the Euros.

I am aware of the following: Some of these players have not made as many appearances, some players will come back from injury who haven’t really played yet (Sturridge, Wilshere), some players on the list are injured (in the case of Luke Shaw, I do hear that he may well be back in time to get fit so as the highest rated defender, he’s in), some players (looking at you Wayne) have not made the cut despite recent performances, as their overall average rating wasn’t high enough. I know this is a flawed system, but it was interesting to me so deal with it.

Here goes (In order of average rating, obvs):

GK – Forster, Butland, McCarthy
D – Shaw, Smalling, Richards, Dann, Walker, Dier*, Targett, Francis,
M – Barkley, Alli, Drinkwater, Stanislas, Antonio, Albrighton, Milner, Henderson, Dier*
FW – Vardy, Kane, Deeney, Afobe

*Eric Dier is the Phil Jones of the squad, both a midfielder and a defender so he fills that position nicely.

I know this would never happen, but there are a number of players in there who I don’t think will get close (Drinkwater, Francis, Deeney etc) who over the course of the season have been much better than their peers. Also Joe Hart, John Stones and Raheem Sterling were waaaaaay down the list. Like a long way. Awkward…
Rob, Kingswinford


A great Mail on Watford
Thought I would write in about Watford, having been to the majority of our games this season, and feeling rather proud of our achievements so far. I personally only really know about some of the other lesser-known clubs through infrequent highlights and match reports, so thought I would add a fuller picture. The consensus seems to me amongst fans of other clubs that Watford are performing well, largely due to the performance of our top two; Ighalo and Deeney.

I don’t wish to take away from these two, they have a genuine partnership. Deeney in particular seems to take equal satisfaction from setting up his strike partner as scoring himself, whilst Ighalo has a selfish streak and a more obvious talent which has seen him work his way to the higher echelons of the top scorers chart.

However, concentrating solely on these two doesn’t do justice to the shifts being put in by everyone else in the team to enable them to excel, and I wish to highlight a few (ok, essentially the rest of the team) in particular:

Capoue – A spark in the team, energetic and strong. Has a languid style which belies his work-rate. Many players link defence and attack with a well-placed pass, Capoue removes the middle-man and just runs it himself.
Gomes – Save one or two rare cock-ups, mostly centred around his insistence on punching/terror at catching the ball, has been spectacular. He makes wonderful saves look straightforward due to his great positioning ( see Costa and Ivanovic last night)
Cathcart – A forgotten man in defence. Solid and assured. You need some players like this.
Watson – So calm. So cultured. A great foil to Capoue’s energy. He is also our set-piece taker and puts in great deliveries consistently.
Jurado – The small-man to our big top two. Sneaks into the gaps left behind and moves the ball about the top. Does not to add goals to his game though.

Sanchez Flores – A wonderful manager. We have seen what I believe to be some good managers over the last few years pass through our hallways, particularly Brendan Rodgers and Malky Mackay. Both had their strengths but neither have the tactical nous and fluidity of Flores. He changes tactics regularly and genuinely adopts appropriate strategies against different teams. This actually seems quite rare to me, with many clubs obstinately sticking to a ‘way of playing’. At times we have played with genuine wingers, with a top-two, a top-three, a sole striker and packed the centre of the field and with our full-backs providing all the width.

As this has just seemed like a man with a Watford hard-on so far, it is fair to say that we have inadequate back-up to the top two, Deeney rarely scores from open play like he did in the championship and every now and again we seem to have games in which we just happily surrender the vast majority of possession to the opposition and tire badly. A more efficient attacking midfield could also release the burden on the top two when they have off days.

However, it is a good time to be a Watford fan. If only our international multi-club ownership structure wasn’t so downright murky.
John Marchant


And equally brilliant on a Dutch fairytale
I thought I’d let you know of a fairy-tale amongst the windmills. Dutch football consists of just two professional leagues the Eredivise (the one people have heard of and home to the likes of Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord) and the second division, Eerste Divisie . You don’t need to speak Steve Mclaren Dutch to see that it translates as first division, but is actually the second. It makes sense in the same way that League One is actually division three.

Below the professional level there is a nationwide amateur competition, with the Topklasse at the top of this. It translates easily as Top Class, but it is actually the third division. There is no automatic promotion and relegation between the Topklasse and the Eerste Divisie. The winners of the Topklasse have the opportunity to go up to the Eerste Divise but most turn it down as the commitment and change is too great. The Eerste Divisie requires matches throughout the week and a huge increase in financial commitment which most clubs just don’t have the resources to meet. So if you get too good for the Topklasse you just basically live the life of Celtic only without the annual European embarrassment. And if you are too bad for the Eerste Divisie you just get beat every week and then probably come back next season and do it all again.

However in the KNVB Beker or Dutch FA cup both the professional and amateur teams are entered and games are decided by the traditional balls in a bag draw. Last night was the first of the quarter final stages and two semi-pro teams had got through. This in itself was not that incredible. However no semi-pro team had got into the semi-finals for 41 years. AZ Alkmaar (Van Gaal won the league with them a few years ago, Sunderland watched Jozy Altidore there and crazily thought he was worth €13m ) saw off HHC Hardenburg. And after 81 minutes of FC Den Bosch (Eerste Divisie professional side) against VVSB (amateurs) it looked like it would become 42 years as FC Den Bosch were leading comfortably 2-0 at home.

However, 6 crazy minutes and one horrendous goalkeeping error later it was 2-3 and the group of cheesemakers, tulip growers and clog salesmen* were cycling their way to the semi-final. To complete the FA Cup style fairy-tale the assistant manager could not hang around long for the celebrations as he had to be back to start his shift as a bus driver.

VVSB will now face one of Feyenoord, AZ, PSV or Utrecht in the semi-finals so they are highly unlikely to reach the final. But the dream and the chance to collect the trophy in dressing gowns** is for now still alive.

*probably not their real jobs


A scary view of the future
Is it not just a matter of time before Sky make it a condition of their payments to the Premier League that all clubs must spend a proportion of the money they receive from Sky on transfers in every transfer window and that a significant proportion of that must be spent on Transfer Deadline Day?

As an Arsenal fan, I really would have no objection to that.


Leicester can do it y’know…
A quick look at Leicester City’s fixtures for the rest of the season throws up some interesting possibilities. If they manage to come out of the away games against Man City and Arsenal unscathed, they have nine (NINE!) winnable matches in a row before they end the season with Man United away, Everton home and Chelsea away in their last three games. I know there’s more than a third of the season left and that the Premier League is all about teams not winning their “winnable” matches but what a story it would be if Leicester went to Stamford Bridge needing a result to win the league/qualify for Europe!
Sasank (And Chelsea needing a result to stay up) MUFC


…But it’s all just fate
Ranieiri is a more than decent manager, undoubtedly, and Leicester have bought and developed players extremely well. But their season right now brings to mind monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare.

Repeat the same experiment (a season of football) sufficient times and any statistically possible result will happen, and Leicester are currently the one monkey in the room who’s moved beyond “When shall we three meet again…” and is now happily ploughing through the final scenes of Macbeth before starting on King Lear while the Chelsea monkey runs amok and smears faeces on the wall.
Chris MUFC


Neville’s made a huge mistake
Has Gary Neville made a huge mistake taking on the Valencia job, its beginning to look like he’s not only good to muck it up but may do so badly a return to punditry might be difficult. He’s in no longer going to confer the same level of authority in his weekly tactics sermons while the nation thinks “didn’t seem that easy at Valencia did it Gary?”

When Klopp eventually spontaneously combusts in rage at Moreno’s poor positioning, stay where you are Carra lad.
Jon, Liverpool


They’re back, for one Mailbox only
*Gary walks into the room, Phil is sat quietly on the floor.

Gary: What’s that?

Silly Billy Philly: It’s my new thing Gary, it’s called Valencia. I am learning about football training from it. It’s really fun, I like it a lot. I’m not doing anything wrong and it keeps me quiet, and I’m not bothering you Gary, you have your new talking on TV thing with the big computer you can play with. This is my thing, please don’t take it. Please don’t take it and break it Gary. Please!

Gary: Give it here.

Chris ITFC, Liverpool


Oh wow
If Leicester go into the final day with a lead of three or more points then they get a guard of honour.

From Chelsea.

At Stamford Bridge.
Oli, West Yorkshire

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