Mails: England have had loads of world-class players

Date published: Monday 29th January 2018 3:03

We have Mails. If you have anything to add, you know where we are:


England have had world-class players
The mail from Matthew (ITFC) was pretty puzzling.

It’s pretty unclear what your criteria for ‘world class’ is? If Owen or Keegan winning European Footballer of the year doesn’t cut it on an individual level, then surely Lineker winning the Golden Boot and scoring 48 international goals does? Or at club level, the likes of Beckham/Scholes/Rooney, who were integral parts of European/World champions? Also lumping Ashley Cole, who much as I didn’t like was probably Europe’s best left back for 7-8 years, in with Tony Adams and Sol Campbell (who were good but not world class) is also pretty harsh.

The other thing to bear in mind is that having 7-8 world class players is no guarantee of international success (see also; Brazil at the 2006 World Cup), the trick is making them work as a team. You could make a case that as many of nine of the England 2006 World Cup squad were world class, but never once looked it playing altogether.

As it currently stands, Harry Kane is world class, and I expect Sterling, Rashford, Stones and Alli to join him at that level. If England are to win anything, they’ll need Shaw, Walker and Pickford to join them on that higher plan, and they’ll need a manager to blend those players together. Probably a better one than Southgate.
JD, MUFC (goes without saying that Jesse Lingard is technically Galactic Class…)


…You don’t think Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and Glenn Hoddle were world class players?

Cole was the best full back on the planet.

Hoddle could do things with the ball that no English player has been able to do since.

Campbell was easily one of the top CBs in the world (although here I’ll acknowledge partnerships are important – look how he performed alongside Kolo Toure though)

Speaking of World Class – Remember in 1998/1999 when Arsenal conceded 17 goals in the league with an all English back five (six if you count Steve Bould) but Dixon and Winterburn couldn’t get into the England team?
Doug, AFC, Belfast


…I think Matthew (ITFC) was being a bit harsh in his accusation that England have questionably had no world-class players in the last 30-40 years. His assumption seems to be based on the England team being not very good for most of it and no English players winning a Balon D’Or.

Firstly does your national team being perennially rubbish mean none of your players can be considered world-class? Does this mean (President) George Weah wasn’t world class because Liberia never qualified for the World Cup? Or that he was just because he won a Balon D’Or? As you mentioned Keegan won European Footballer of Year awards (78 and 79) which I’m sure were pretty hardly contested and he won it two years in a row but by your logic seems to be that he wasn’t world class as England didn’t qualify for the World Cup in 78. Bottom line is Weah and Keegan were both world-class regardless of how many awards they won or how well their national teams performed during their careers because they were exception players. To add the Balon D’Or is notoriously snobby towards British based players (regardless of nationality) so they have very little chance of ever winning it (just like Kane wont win the next one no matter how he performs this year as it will be given to Messi or Ronaldo regardless).

To take a look at the English players evaluated you weren’t always wrong but here are my views:

Shilton – World-Class

Seaman – World-Class

Terry – Great player but terribly slow and needed his excellent tackling and bravery to cover up this and his not great positional sense.

Ferdinand – Definitely yes, probably only second to Cannavaro in their era (to avoid people calling foul I’m counting Maldini as the era before).

Cole – No, most overrated England player I can think of and his reputation was only so high due to a lack of quality players in his position worldwide. He was a very good defender and had pace but was woefully indecisive and ineffective going forward, he couldn’t beat his man and created very little in an attacking sense even though he was bizarrely lauded for it. My main memories of him literally every game I saw are receiving the ball on the left wing, standing there for a few seconds then passing it back to guy who gave him the ball (plus the odd hilarious brainfart at the back).

Lampard – Great goal-scorer and model professional but fell just short of the best so still no.

Gerrard – More variety to his game than Lampard and could take a game by the scruff of it’s neck for Liverpool at times but still falls just short as he was too flawed so a no.

Scholes – Yes and Xavi who I think knows more than us agrees.

Beckham – Yes, we’ll never see a better set-piece taker and his passing was also up there with the best. Was never going to dribble past five players like Messi nor score goals in the dozens which is what critics usually hold against him but world-class players come in many different form and he certainly was one.

Owen – Yes for a few years until the injuries and the game change rendering him pretty much obsolete.

Rooney – No and I’ll leave it at that.

Gazza – Most resounding yes on this list.

Robson – No, great player and leader but nothing particularly special about him.

Hoddle – No, talented and often called a ‘luxury player’ however isn’t that just code for nice skills but inconsistent and unreliable?

Keegan – Yes.

Shearer – Nobody non world-class could score that many goals in the EPL for Newcastle United (no disrespect to the Toon intended).

Lineker – Yes, won the Golden Boot at the 86′ World Cup, was also integral to the last England team to get to a World Cup Semi-Final. Scored bucket loads for England and at club level. Amazing off the ball and not to devalue him but I don’t think we’ll see a better goal poacher ever play for England.

So I expect many to disagree with my views but England have had quite a few world-class players over the years despite their lack of success on the international stage and awards to recognise their talents.
William, Leicester


…Matt makes a very interesting point about England’s lack of genuine world-class players.

I would make a case for Paul Scholes being the last real world-class player England produced.

But herein lies the dilemma. Most of the rest of the world recognised Scholes for the obvious talent he was, but not the England management set up.

Who, instead of building a side round the best player pushed him out wide left because he could play there better than Lampard or Gerrard.

Funnily enough this is not a new phenomenon. Matthew Le Tissier was never trusted at international level. Glenn Hoddle didn’t play enough international football. Tony Currie, Frank Worthington, Stan Bowles – all largely ignored by the England management set up of the day.

In summary, and to respond to Matt’s point – I don’t think it matters whether England produce word class players or not. Chances are the really talented flair players will be ignored, or have that flair and class “coached” out of them because they’re not working hard enough, or chasing back enough.
Paul Watson, exiled Shrimper living in Surrey


Thierry Henry not world-class
For the love of all things can we PLEASE stop the mantra of Henry being called ‘World Class’?

He played in three World Cups and scored six goals, two against the might Saudi Arabia. He was part of the France team that went out with a wimper without troubling the net in 2002, and in over 40 semi finals and finals for club and Country he weighed in with a massive total of three goals.

Heck, even his Champions League winners medal was won from off the bench without a worthwhile contribution.

Yes, Arsenal fans love him and yes he played some sublime stuff at times but remember that he was one of those who failed when facing ten man Galatasaray and ending up losing on penalties. He never dragged them to a win in any final.
Israel, (nothing pithy to add) MUFC Since 1977


Done with Liverpool until they change keeper
In Liverpool’s last four matches they have restricted the opposition to 10 shots on target and four of these came in the match against Man City (the greatest team ever). People are moan about Moreno, TAA, say Gomez is prone to errors or that VVD has made no difference but the fact is that the Liverpool defence restricts the opposition to a pretty low number of chances.

As I say, just 10 shots on target in 4 matches (6 in 3 without the City game). However, those 10 shots have resulted in 8 goals (5 goals from 6 shots on target without the City game). Between them Mignolet and Karius have conceded from 80% of the shots they are supposed to save. Whoever is responsible for not signing a keeper should not be at the club any more, whoever is responsible. It is a severe dereliction of duty. Karius would not get into a single other Premier League team. Mignolet might (might) get a game at Palace.

Liverpool got £142m for Coutinho (or £104m up front) and spent £75m on VVD. This means they have £67m (or £29m) to spend before it would cost them a penny. Any goalkeeper in the world (except Joe Hart) would be better than what Liverpool have.

I can accept defeat, I genuinely can. Liverpool probably lose around 10-12 games a season. That’s OK, I accept that. What I cannot accept is going into a game knowing exactly what is going to happen. What will happen every game is that Liverpool will concede from the first shot on target. In every game the opposition know that if they can muster a shot on target at any point in the match they will score. Liverpool goalkeepers average making a save every 180 minutes at the moment.

I am done. I am genuinely done. I have heard people say in the past that they cannot support a team until they sack the manager. I cannot go on while Liverpool refuse to sign a keeper. We would be in exactly the same position with an outfield player in goal but at least they might have decent distribution. I am so angry.
Micki (Freddie Woodman… sign him) Attridge (or Lee Grant… or put Ward in for a game against his old team on Tuesday)


Blame Moreno
45mins in Moreno’s return. Three goals conceeded!

I rest my case Your Honour!

Poor Andy Robertson is gonna be knackered! (Hopefully) as that means Alberto wont get of the bench again this season – He best stay home with his animal band and drink lemon milkshakes! (yep thats the demographic you are after….)
Al – Worried more about Huddersfield tomorrow than Spurs on Sunday – LFC


Dear Vatsyayan…
I’m pretty certain that you will receive lots of letters in response to Vatsyayan (MUFC).

Apart from his frothing at the mouth, near orgasmic joy at Liverpool being dumped from the FA Cup and his swivel eyed outrage at the injustice of Jurgen Klopp not being crucified following Saturday’s result, what always puzzles me about these sort of creatures is why they take such a keen interest and almost benevolent concern about how Liverpool should be run and managed. Klopp certainly has his flaws but he fits the club and he is building something and most Liverpool fans know this. I think Vatsyayan knows this too.

The one thing Vatsyayan got right is that Moreno and Mingolet were absolutely useless and Klopp can sometimes be a victim of his lack of ruthlessness. But I’m sure Klopp is taking note of your points Vatsyayan.
Dave H, Toxteth


…I was waiting for it. As another mailbox contributor highlighted, it’s January, that means trouble as a Liverpool fan. It’s amazing how you can go from optimism to pessimism in two weeks but nonetheless we are a club that does so in aplomb.

I’m not going to write in and criticise the team and Klopp’s errors. Plenty have done so and will in the future. My objection is to ‘comedians’ like Vatsyayan. Standard MUFC fan writing in to use cliches like next year is our year toward Liverpool fans. That’s akin to me jumping on a bandwagon and throwing out park the bus jibes. It’s pointless and stupid. It’s tarring all fans with the same brush. I’ve long held criticism on Klopp’s loyalty of inferior players and his coaching of defending. I believe I’m a realistic fan, I firmly believed that a top four spot and a domestic trophy would have represented a successful year. One of those targets is gone (again) and I’m majorly disappointed. I’m realistic to know that this isn’t good enough and don’t hold any water with the extra games scenario. Yet this aspect of criticising one team’s lack of success, when they haven’t won a trophy yet themselves this season is ridiculous.

In short, grow up Vatsyayan and stop using ‘banter’.
Miguel Sanchez, LFC, Eire (Remember when nobody considered the Community Shield a trophy….)


…Whilst I agree that the fans saying ‘Oh I didn’t fancy her anyway’ are absolutely delusional, I have to disagree with your claim that Klopp is a fraud because he clearly can’t coach a defence and gets away with it because of his powerful hugs.

Ask any rational Liverpool fan (believe me, we do exist) and they will tell you about the numerous improvements at the club since Klopp took over. He managed to get his players to perform well enough to reach two finals in his first season with Center Forward Steven Caulker as his only signing! Liverpool were Alberto Moreno’d in one of those finals and Willy Caballero’d in the other.

His first full season led to a fourth place trophy. Granted there were periods of absolutely woeful performances in the middle and it could have and should have been better but he led us back into the UCL. That was also the first transfer window in a while which had some sort of coherent strategy behind it.

His second full season at the club began with a good summer window (quality over quantity) and post the capitulation at Wembley, Liverpool went on an 18-game unbeaten run scoring 55 goals. Great run for a fraud manager don’t you think?

To add to this, players want to play for him, we actually beat Barcelona and Manchester City, Chelsea to the transfer of two good players.

It’s quite simple really, Liverpool are a work in progress and they may continue to be one under Klopp. But he is the best that we can get right now (name me an upgrade who is attainable).

He has ‘coached’ championship-winning teams and I am quite confident that in the time he is here, we will hopefully be an established top four side. If we win a few cups along the way that would be great!

After a long time, there is a sense of realism around the club. There is a vision and I for one am really excited for the next few years.
MV, India (There ARE two frauds at the club – Moreno and Mignolet)


…So, this the point we’ve reached. In 2018, Jurgen Klopp is a fraud. Not a manager with flaws, but a fraud.

Is this what football supporters have become? Is it hatred? bitterness? Or the world we live in now where everything is one extreme or another? You’re a Brexiteer or a Remoaner. You think Trump will Make America Great or he’s the Devil. And in football, you love your club and you hate everyone else’s. Of course, it’s fuelled by newspapers, who need to write at extremes to sell papers and get clicks but its now absolutely entrenched in football supporting culture.

Let’s objectively look at the ‘fraud’ Jurgen Klopp.

At Mainz, he took the club to it’s first Bundesliga appearance and took them into Europe for the first time.

At Borussia Dortmund, he won the Bundesliga twice and the German Cup once. He did this against a team with far superior resources. He also took the club to the Champions League final, where they lost to a team with far superior resources.

In 2 and a half years at Liverpool he has taken the club to two cup finals (losing both times to the bookies favourite) and quite clearly improved the team significantly. He has done this while spending less money than he received in player sales. He has taken the club back into the Champions League, despite having the 5th highest wage bill in the Premier League and taken the club to the last 16 for the first time in 9 years.

In short, he is doing a very good job and is clearly an excellent manager. Is he perfect? No. Does he have issues with defending? Yes. But surely as football fans we can be better than throwing around a word like ‘fraud’.

Not everything has to be one extreme or the other and we don’t have to spit bile at people just because they play for or represent another club. Loving your team shouldn’t have to mean hating another. Or has the idea of treating people with respect disappeared from football altogether?
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Gutted if Giroud goes
If Giroud goes to Chelsea, I will be a lot more upset than I was about Sanchez leaving. Sanchez is a journeyman footballer (albeit a fantastic one) so you never really get that attached to him.

Giroud is an Arsenal man, and even if it means Aubameyang coming the other way, it would be hard to see him play for that lot without doing a little sick in my mouth.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Calm down, Johnny
Good grief could John Nicholson stop being so melodramatic when signing off his articles. It’s getting worse than Eastenders.

VAR is new, it’ll take time to perfect, why don’t you calm down put on your Boys from the Blackstuff DVD, have a Bovril and relax.
Mark (specalist in eye rolling at John Nicholson and his constant working-class hero ways)


The best single moment of skill?
The Masuaku spitting incident reminded me of something I meant to send to the mailbox a few weeks ago, of a more positive flavour.

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the incredible Masuaku skill he whipped out against Spurs the other week – if not you have to check it out:

For me, this is the currently the best single piece of skill I’ve seen in a match that I remember. Maybe there were others, but I can’t think of any right now. For shades-and-cigarette-cool I perhaps prefer the creamy Berbatov touch from his Fulham days

but given that it didn’t actually serve an attacking purpose I can’t place it ahead of Masuaku’s.

My question, therefore, is what is the greatest single moment of in-game skill you’ve ever seen? The more obscure the better, naturally.

This is basically a shameless attempt to see some cool clips shared, so hopefully the MC will play ball…

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