Two more days; we can do it. Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org, and domestic football will be back soon…
Hey, you can’t say Arsenal aren’t interesting
When all the crap went down with Arsenal last week, I decided I had enough stress in my life right now and as such I would keep my football following quota to a minimum this season. My initial attempt has been aided by the international break and my anger has somewhat subsided.
Unexpectedly a new feeling has come to the fore – intrigue. Seriously. Our season has the potential to be a clusterf*ck of epic proportions given the on and off field issues we’re dealing with. Rifts within the playing group, obvious player discontent and a severe lack of motivation for some key players, inadequate squad size, new players wondering what the hell they got themselves in to and finally a board and manager who frankly seem delusional and whose ambition does not marry up with their actions (has it ever?). It’s just inviting more pressure than anyone could possibly handle. Like F365, I’m even curious to see how our former players are going to go in apparently greener pastures.
It’s a car crash in slow motion and I can’t avert my eyes. This season my ultimately be disappointing (again) but it’ll at least be entertaining, if not for the right reasons.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus
How’s that statement of intent going?
Rough 10 days for Alexis Sanchez:
– thumped 4-0 by Liverpool
– doesn’t get his move to Man City
– lose 3-0 at home to Paraguay
– coach says he’s fat
– loses 1-0 at Bolivia and now sit 6th in South American qualifying.
I’m sure he’ll be raring to go versus Bournemouth!
Nick C. (Serbia with one foot in Russia), Burlington, ON
Vincent Janssen, and the two-way street of loyalty
Just a quick note to highlight how Spurs have reportedly treated Vincent Janssen over the past week, leading up to the end of the transfer window and reportedly trying to force him out. Just highlights how ‘player loyalty’ works both ways – something to remember when Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Dier and Alli start angling for a move or an improved contract.
A lot has been written about van Dijk, Coutinho, Costa and their behaviour during the window – it must not be forgotten that if they were not good enough, the clubs would be doing their best to get rid.
Tim Harrington (QPR), London
A great mail on kids and physical attributes
In response to Cortez and Aravind about physical attributes and positions. I am a coach of youth football with FA accreditation in inner-city London and it does happen. Every year, a new crop of kids come to play and learn the game, kids of all shapes and sizes and ability usually coupled with a male parent who has formed their own view of their child’s ability and most of all position.
Even though before a game is played we do drills about technique, fitness and positioning/awareness but a group of coaches still make assumptions for the first few games based on physical attributes. It’s shorthand.
Sadly, the child who is bigger than the rest is placed at centre-half or striker, the smaller, faster kid with a left foot on the wing. Normally, those initial mistakes can be exceptionally quickly rectified… such as instinct, intelligence or even fear of a challenge. The kids who are clearly in the wrong place regardless of parental interference or the child’s preference can be changed and moulded into their more natural position for their talent and not size. That doesn’t keep me awake at night thinking I’m a terrible coach. It’s the kids who are good that scare the hell out of me.
If you have a kid who is a natural footballer, they can be effective in multiple positions and they tend to want to be central midfield, number 10 or up-top. They may be your best player, they may win you close games and they will be very happy. But, I may have robbed that child of a career as a full-back. I don’t mean international stardom, but I mean a child who could have had a happy life playing in League 1.
My blind-spot is full-backs and in some instances I have had neither the vision to move a gifted player there nor the bravery to tell that child (and their parent) that they should play there. I take the 7/10 central midfielder and miss the 10/10 right back. By the time the scout from Fulham or QPR or AFC Wimbledon comes to view the game….
They see my 7/10 (but not good enough) central midfielder and don’t have the time nor vision themselves to see that the kid is great and his coach is the problem. I have coached kids who are gifted, work hard and love the game but don’t make it and stop playing and I blame myself and it hurts way more than the joy I get out of teaching kids how to get better at a game they love.
There is a list of extremely successful players who swapped positions much later in their youth career at clubs due to an injury to another player and luck does play an exceptional part but biases about sizes and shapes happens at Day One of football and it’s the naturally good players who suffer the most.
I don’t know if there is any wisdom or insight in this long mail, genuinely don’t know but if anyone has a kid and the coach says they should change position – give them the benefit of your and your child’s doubt.
Not really a surprise
I’m Irish and supporter Villa. I’ve gone off football.
Just wanted to share that.
Why we’re laughing at Barcelona
We are laughing at Barcelona’s relative decline because they have betrayed their principles in favour of the almighty dollar/pound/euro. They have shown themselves not to be some paragon of virtue, but just the same as everyone else if not a bit slower to catch on. La Masia and all that nonsense were shown to be what they are — a nice marketing tool to get you money for Suarez and Neymar until they get bored.
As a Liverpool fan, I imagine it’s how lots of folks felt about us when the Premier League era began and we didn’t really figure it out until the early 2000’s. Adapt or die, or look a bit silly as you climb out of the grave to get your bearings.
A massive World Cup round-up
The beauty of being one of us foreigns is we can sit back and enjoy international week. I’ve had a blast. I did a recap of the first round of games and would like to finish it off:
Oceania – No surprise the first game ended 5 0 and S0lomon Islands at least made it a game this time by scoring a late equaliser. They’ve got a breather now before the big one the playoff against 5th in…
S America/Conmebol – Uruguay and Colombia improved their chances by getting points but this was a disastrous international week for Chile who lost both games including yesterday’s gimme against Bolivia. We could blame this on the loss of their two-time Copa America winner Sampaoli, but he hasn’t yet worked his magic with Argentina who failed to take advantage of the other South America’s version of a gimme a home game against Venezuela. So, both teams are out of the automatic spots wondering where Peru came from. Argentina will need to pull their finger out against said Peru in the next round or Messi might as well retire from International football.
Concacaf – Costa Rica missed out on the opportunity to seal it but should wrap everything up in the next round. The US are trying to make it as difficult as possible and are currently in 4th place normally they should make it in the last two games. If they fail they may meet a team with whom they have a few political differences in the playoffs…
Asia/AFC – Two teams were guaranteed to qualify in the last batch of matches. In one group the games were staggered and Australia went out and secured themselves at least a playoff spot but didn’t score the goals they expected. They then watched UAE capitulate and looked fine until Saudi Arabia snuck in a goal with 30 minutes to go to qualify for the first time in 12 years.
The other group was even more dramatic. Everyone started at the same time and China won away and were just a point away from a playoff spot but still finished 5th. Uzbekistan failed to use home advantage against South Korea but still looked like they had done enough until Syria had an Aguero moment and equalised deep in injury time to set up a playoff with Australia.
CAF – This was just another bunch of crazy results. Group B has become a straight fight between Nigeria and surprise team Zambia after both teams have taken 17 points between so far and the next match between them both will be crucial. Algeria and Cameroon, who were supposed to challenge, have been dreadful and have now officially been put out of their misery.
Gabon got over the loss of their star man Aubameyang to win in Cote D’Ivoire to leave their group open. Egypt took revenge against Uganda to create a situation where the ticket in the group will likely go to one of them.
But surely Group D is the most madcap going into the break. South Africa were top and looked odds on to make it but they have lost both parts of a double header to previously pointless Cape Verde, who are now second in the group only on goal difference. They are behind Burkina Faso who had to score in the dying minutes of their game to deny Senegal. Top to bottom are only separated by two points with two games to go.
Europe – Congrats to Belgium. A lot of the other races are becoming clearer, with Spain, Germany and England surely qualifying at some stage in the next round of games. Portugal vs Switzerland and Netherlands vs Sweden will have serious implications. France should be able to get the one win they need but aren’t inspiring confidence losing points to the likes of Luxembourg.
Overall a lot of excitement this week and still a lot to come. Apparently it’s the friendlies that suck
And some international thoughts
Bit of a random email today on a couple of things I’ve been thinking about. Firstly, the excellence of the South American qualification for the World Cup. With only two match days remaining, only Brazil have qualified with seven teams still in with a shout of making it into the remaining 3 automatic spots and one playoff spot. the quality of the football may not be great when Brazil aren’t involved but there is a lot on the line.
Secondly, Europe’s own version has been a shambles. The ridiculousness of their system is further exposed when you compare them to Africa who have one less team with 53 but have still managed to create a coherent system. In short, the 26 lowest ranked teams (28-53) play a two-legged tie against another. 13 move on and join the highest ranked 27 teams. Those teams then play two-legged ties against another leaving a tidy 20 which are divided into 5 groups of 4 of which the winners qualify. This leads to the top 28 teams only playing 6 teams and groups as quality as Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria. Most of the games matter and are actual qualifiers in which you need to prove you deserve to go to the World Cup rather than a formality on your way there. UEFA could easily copy CAF by simply having the two worst teams play each other at the beginning to bring it down to 53.
Thirdly, I wanted to point out that Messi has had almost 100 if not more, superior performances to that of Isco against Italy even before the age of 25. These comparisons need to stop. That nutmeg was brutal and what he did to Verratti in that game was criminal but people are already saying it was one of the greatest nutmegs ever. It wasn’t even Isco’s best of 2017. In my opinion, that match up is also proof of why PSG will fail in the Champions League this year. Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot are not defensive midfielders and Thiago Motta is 35. They may be able to blow away incompetent teams like Barcelona but I don’t see them getting past Juventus. Bayern Munich and either Madrid side.
Lastly, it may be tough to be an Arsenal fan now, but I hope they can find some consolation in the fact that sitting in 6th place and still having to play Brazil, Alexis Sanchez is likely to miss out on the World Cup after hitting a penalty down the middle in the last one and being partly to blame for defeat. He’s going to feel just as bad as you lot.
Perhaps Mourinho was slamming Fergie
F365 has chosen to interpret Jose’s comments about managers who stay at clubs for years and leave a club ‘ready for failure’ as applying to Wenger.
If you look at his comments again, they might equally apply to Ferguson, I think, even though Alex left a Premiership-winning team behind him. That team was doomed to be a one-season wonder and was very fragile around the edges.
Indeed, there were some included mails that believed Alex planned it that way so as to make himself and his legacy so much more memorable and important as the team rapidly declined. Me? No, I don’t believe the conspiracy theorists for one moment. If I had to (reluctantly) offer an opinion as to how a Premiership-winning team became so inept, I would say it was because the teams below us were even crappier.
To get back to Jose’s comments again, I do think they apply more to Ferguson than Wenger, even if that was not Mourinho’s intention. Simply because Ferguson actively, and determinedly campaigned for Moyes to be his replacement.
And, if that’s not setting-up a team for failure, I don’t know what is.
The saddest thing of all
You know England are struggling when you check the “Football365’s Famous World Cup Ladder” ©, see P Neville at his customary number 50 spot and think.. ”yup, that’s about right”
Bryn (run out of brackets.. Belfast