Mails: Isn’t it time football fans were trusted? Well, no…

Date published: Friday 16th March 2018 3:09

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Football fans haven’t changed that much since 1984
Sachin Nakrani is absolutely spot on. All of us luvverly, cuddly, footie fans should not only be allowed to have a glass of chardonnay when watching Fulchester Rovers, we should do away with segregation as well. That way, we’d be able to have a smashing chat with supporters of Melchester United whilst comparing our half and half scarves and swapping ideas around next years holiday or the latest trends in interior design.

Yeah right. Has Sachin completely ignored Steven Chicken’s article from yesterday? It certainly isn’t 1984 but football just isn’t family friendly and turns lots of ‘normal’ blokes into absolute morons, something I’ve written on here about before.

Alcohol: He’s right that the drinking on coaches legislation is out of date (and rarely enforced). However, his suggestion that drinking in sight of the pitch etc would prevent problem drinking is the same argument used to relax the old licensing laws in England & Wales i.e. if people can drink all day they won’t binge. And how did that work out folks? Also, whilst Sachin may be perfectly able to moderate his alcohol intake on a matchday, I would refer him to the large group of men, at any ground, who love to sing such heartwarming and hilarious songs as (my current favourite) “You’re f*cking sh*****t, you’re f*cking sh*****t, you’re f*cking sh*t, you’re f*cking sh*t, you’re f*cking sh*****t”. See those chaps there? They’re the reason we have plastic bottles and glasses. So, if you can’t distinguish between a moron and a nice person, then it’s no booze for everyone in the seats I’m afraid.

Lock-ins. Absolute pain in the backside for all concerned but I’ve never known it used ‘just in case’ that is to say, there ‘might’ be trouble. Got to be more in it for a senior Police Officer to authorise this action, something they have to justify in writing each time and they don’t get to be Senior Coppers by detaining thousands of hard working honest folk because they felt like it. It’s the minority of Stone Island clad idiots within the rest that this is aimed at. Oh, and yes, they are perfectly well aware that the vast majority of decent supporters will get the right raving hump very quickly indeed with OB, especially when nobody will tell them what the f*ck is going on (See also, plane cancellations, train delays, really bad traffic jams). Another reason why they don’t do it lightly.

Hooliganism. IT. HASN’T. GONE. AWAY. Any idiot who refers to any disorder as “A return to the dark days of the 1980s” etc would be the Neil Custis of a football violence 365 Mediawatch. Don’t take my word for it. Google ‘Football trouble 2017’ and read about organised football violence at Cardiff, Middlesborough, Burnley, Birmingham and Chester last year. And that’s just on the first page. You will also be directed to the FB page for hooligans where you can study footage of like-minded knuckle draggers kicking ten bells out of each other both here and abroad. In a ground in the 1980s, football violence was right in front of you with ‘away’ firms storming the ‘home’ end or vice versa. CCTV and the sweeping football legislation brought in to deal with it put paid to that. Now, the vast majority of disorder takes place in Town/City centres elsewhere. So, just because Sachin may enjoy a thoroughly enjoyable pre, during and post match day without encountering violent oiks doesn’t mean they no longer exist. Quite the contrary.

Football clubs, especially those outside of the PL, would give their eye teeth not to have to pay for stewards and Police on matchdays. OB likewise if they had the luxury of freeing up thousands upon thousands of Police Officers to deal with other pesky issues like answering 999 calls and particularly after having been cut to the bone by the current Govt. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Football has come on leaps & bounds since the 1980s and has much to be very proud of. Kick It Out, community programmes and the investment/promotion of the Women’s game are great examples. But we still have a really, really long way to go to make football an intimidation/abuse/violence free event. Not convinced? Then why do we still have no openly gay footballers?
Mark (It had to Liverpool didn’t it? Sigh). MCFC


…Ask a simple question…

“Football fans are locked in and stopped from drinking during the games. Isn’t it time we were trusted?”

Doug, London


All-English draw
Citizens in the quarters then? Oi Vey…

Still, if you wish to prevail in Europe’s premier competition then you have to do it the hard way. No cakewalk to the final a la United in the EL last year!

I keep telling myself it could be worse but I am not sure I am convincing even myself. I reckon it’ll be a goalfest!
Gregory Whitehead, LFC


…In anticipation of some of the possibilities of a big European night away from home – the Bernabeu, Camp Nou, Stadio Olimpico – the wrong end of the M62 was not what I had in mind. Nor is playing a close rival who already has the league in the bag while we’re battling for top 4.

But we’ve beaten them once, we can do it again. Game on!
ShaneO’ (LFC, eternally optimistic)


What United need
I think too much emphasis is placed on the effect of Ferguson and David Gill leaving the club; people are far too eager to write off the failings of the club as a sort of natural reaction to a long-serving manager and chief executive leaving. People are also keen to point out that success can’t be sustained indefinitely and you’ll hit a natural downturn in form. Well, to both of those issues I say: hogwash. Just look at Real Madrid and Barcelona, for example. Both clubs have a high turnover of both players and managers, yet they repeatedly challenge for and claim the highest honours, regardless of who is in the teams or the dugouts. They do this by astute investments in talent and by making the right decisions at the right times. United could easily have followed their model and made the right appointments and signings after Ferguson. They were just afraid to say “no” to Fergie, and too eager to hand money-maker in chief Woodward, assuming that everything was hunky-dory.

Accepting that a period of mediocrity was inevitable after the aforementioned employees left is a convenient but wholly incorrect crutch, and one upon which the club has been leaning ever since. Success breeds success and – no matter how poor you think the United squad Ferguson left was – it was still a title-winning side that could have still competed with the Premier League’s best for at least another season, with a few amendments made here and there. The squad that Ferguson left was not so far from being good enough that it should have taken four years and three managers to sort out (or not, as the case may be); the problem was the men that United chose to perform that task. They hired an accountant to run the entire football operation, and a succession of questionable managerial appointments: one hired on sentiment, one off the back of an impressive World Cup campaign, and one as a reaction to the appointment made by our local rivals. Now, I’m not saying that it’s all the fault of Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho (though it’s true that they’ve all played a role in the decline of the club, to varying degrees); it’s the fault of the board for picking them.

“Who else could they have got though?” is the trope often rolled out – “anyone” is the answer that they refuse to acknowledge. United were, and are still one of the most financially powerful clubs in the world; we could then and can still now offer financial terms that can match or better even the highest spenders. The problem is really poor decision making at all levels. There was no real period of introspection to honestly evaluate where the club was in comparison to the rest of the world’s elite, which resulted in some hugely naive appointments, one of which is still causing us problems to this day.

Whatever you say about Woodward’s abilities as a CEO – and he clearly knows how to make money – he is patently not a “football man”, as much as I hate that term. Where other clubs are currently thriving, they invariably employ the right people to make decisions for which they are qualified and experienced enough. Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano at City are both exceptional in their respective roles, Robert Fernandez and Josep Segura at Barcelona have the right backgrounds for their roles at Barcelona, and you can take your pick at Real Madrid! Yet we have nowhere near enough footballing presence in the senior executive positions, making day-to-day and future planning decisions – it’s all accountants and Glazers, the only footballing presence being Charlton, Gill and Ferguson, who are ambassadors. I’m sure they get to stick their oar in at some point, but they aren’t actually running anything or making any decisions.

Instead of trying to run the club like Busby or Ferguson-era Manchester United, we should be trying to run the club with respect to the state of the modern game. We need someone at the helm who has significant footballing knowledge and experience working in the industry, not a money-maker. We need to stop making sentimental appointments in key positions (does anyone really think that Nicky Butt was the best candidate to be head of the youth academy, simply because he came from it?) and start bringing in appropriately qualified and experienced personnel to do these jobs. After all is said and done, becoming a mediocre club is a far greater a risk to the financial stability of the club than trying to do things a little differently. Plenty of businesses have gone under by playing it safe and leaving it too late to adapt – look at Kodak, who (among other mistakes) decided to stay with print photography instead of pushing the digital camera (which they developed in the mid-70s). Despite having at least a 15-20 year head start on today’s technology, they stuck to what they’d done in the past and the rest of the industry moved on without them. United can and will go the same way if they keep trying to recreate the past.
Ted, Manchester


England omissions
After yesterday’s England squad was announced I can’t help but feel that a few players have been hard done too. Some of these featured in F365s list pre-annoucement.

Jamaal Lascelles – Having an excellent season, a proper leader who isn’t afraid of a challenge and a threat from set pieces to boot.
Ben Mee – What to Tarkowski and Keane have common? They both look world class playing next to Ben Mee. What happened to Keane after he stopped playing with him? Very useful player if we wish to play 3 at the back and use Vardy to hit teams on the break. If we do play 3 at the back then 6 CBs might be taken – 5 if you include Dier. Stones and Maguire are nailed on but the other spots could include: Jones, Cahill, Mawson, Tarkowski, Lascelles, Mee, Keane, Gomez or Stephens.
Marc Albrighton – Given our dearth of wide options the fact Albrighton hasn’t even had a call-up is ridiculous. When you add in that he is a wide player who can actually cross then it looks even more silly.
Callum Wilson – Whilst his injury (and scoring) record isn’t great, we have so few strikers that Wilson is probably a Vardy injury away from being on the plane. Worth bedding in over these friendlies even if he doesn’t get a cap.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Same as Wilson
Glenn Murray – Same as Wilson and DCL but unlike those two he offers something very different and has that Kevin Davies-esque ability to get under anyone’s skin and grab a scruffy goal. If he keeps scoring given Brighton’s run-in he surely warrants a place if we are planning on playing 3-5-2 then four strikers must go. After Kane, Vardy and Rashford the last spot is anyone’s.

The fact Hart made it in is criminal.
Joe, Midlands


If your auntie had balls…
Thom, Newport says ”Milan could and possibly should have scored three last night, had they possessed a striker worthy of the name.”

I’m so tired of these ifs and buts.

Arsenal played with their third tier striker in front of goal and scored three. Had they had both Lacazette and Aubamayeng, they probably would have been able to outscore the three Milan could have scored.

What’s your point?
Malcolm, AFC


‘English’ progress
Does anyone with the time or inclination have the stats for how many minutes English players (who are likely to go to the World Cup) got in the Champions League knockout phases? I think there’s an illusion/delusion about the progress of English clubs correlating with improvement and experience of some England internationals who probably aren’t that trusted by their managers in this phase of the competition.

I’d write a mail about Mourinho but I told you all this was gonna happen 2 years ago.
Eddie ‘Strangeways Here We Come’ MUFC


What hope in Russia?
How are people feeling about our chances in this years World cup? Usually about now, everyone and his dog (well the Media) are clamoring over how good our chances are, and how we will easily brush all the aging nations aside on our way to revitalising English football.

Since the last (2) weak exits from major competitions, Mood has been one of lower expectations, but I must admit to expecting it all to revert to type and the media to begin to ramp it all up again.
But it seems that hasn’t happened. No positive angle has been pushed. Everyone seems underwhelmed by Southgate and his squad for the upcoming friendlies.

Personally, I think southgate has done a good job thus far and gone some way to disprove many of his critics who were expecting some grey more-of-the-same football. He has had to deal with the aftermath of a poor Euros (and WorldCup before that), and a squad with more issues than a magazine stand.

I like his current squad – there’s not a huge amount more he could have done. It’s a squad focusing on youngsters with a splattering of experience – which is the correct way round. There are still controversies, but there are always going to be – and should be. There are still people waiting for him to fail, and wanting him gone.

The thing is, I see this world cup as a free shot for Southgate. Even with the deficiencies of the squad, the current political climate in Russia is going to make things…er…….difficult(whether we should even be going is another argument for another email!). For the same reason, I wouldn’t expect our fanbase to be at the same level this time round either. So fail, and it’s what people are expecting, but get this squad to perform in a difficult and potentially hostile environment and he could be pronounced a hero!

So what is the behind the current malaise ? Do people just not like the Players available? or Not like Southgate? or just had one too many disappointments, and nothing would have changed the mood? perhaps the environement will be too difficult to succeed in?

I’m all up for reduced expectations, as in the past it’s gone to far but we’ve gone the other way. Is there no hope at all for this tournament?
Andrew CPFC


Why go to Russia?
Kirk MUFC…. Why are England still sending a team?

$$$$ and f**ktons of it.

The sponsorship, advertising and tourism that goes with England attending a world cup is worth so much money (to the FA, Fifa and TV companies, among thousands of others), there’s no way corruption, fan safety, espionage, chemical attacks or war will interrupt that gravy train.

The only way is to vote with feet and not watch, buy or get involved in anyway.

It won’t happen though, it never has, it never will. Money rules. Greed succeeds.

Rob, London

I have to say I agree with Kirk MUFC. Gents, a lot from rather gentle ends, do not underestimate the chances of both co-ordinated and random attacks on English fans.

Russian chaps already feel like they scored multiple times on England men at the Euros unanswered, and I think that we should remember what culture we are encountering here…when we deal with hooligan supporters…

In other words, perceptions of weakness or a lack-of-response does not invite peace and harmony at all, only further victimisation.

There is surely no other conclusion to the question of toxic masculinity when it is presented with an opponent (real, imagined or forced into the role) with a declining rate of retaliation or prospect of retaliation.

No English known-fighters will be allowed to travel as per normal right?

That is well known, it was well known, and it will be used against you guys by Russian crews looking for clout I fear.

Unless the Russian government decides for the sake of appearance before the eyes of the world to proactively handle the matter, which in Russia merely means to make it known publicly that Putin would not approve, and therefore nor would the serious Russian State Security organs, then English fans are likely to be subject to any number of potential clashes.

And that could be fatal for supporters who are not there to brawl at all, but get subjected to an attack by a group of hooligans who are only there to brawl, with the experience and willingness to do it to fatal effect.
Manc in SA (Not a good situation here, you can’t take a citizen army and promote your own violence, so do you either not go, or go and hope for a normal World Cup?)


It’s Friday
Afternoon all.

I finally get to use “Reasons to be Cheerful, part 3”, which is one of the reasons I’m still doing this to be perfectly honest. Here we go…

1. Petr Čech’s drum covers on YouTube.

2. The first weekend of the season when each game on the TV looks amazing. Perfect pitches, glossy new shirts, bright sunshine.

3. Football grounds with interesting or unusual architecture. Craven Cottage and Villa Park, sure, but also places like Liberec’s U Nisy stadium with its weird quarry wall bit, Rijeka’s Kantrida perched on a clifftop, those weird corrugated triangles on the Warwick Road end of Brunton Park, or the East Stand at the Memorial Ground in Bristol that looks like something you’d buy for your Subbuteo.

4. Subbuteo. Is that still being made? It must be, surely?

5. The fact that in the UK companies are not allowed to buy the naming rights for teams. Happens quite a bit here. In fact, a few years ago, Pardubice had the name of their ice hockey team changed from simply HK Pardubice to HK ČSOB Česká Pojištovna Pardubice. Pray that never happens in the UK.

6. Discovering that people you’d really not expect to like the game love it. Case in point: the beautiful, velvet-enshrouded Divine Comedy songsmith Neil Hannon (as interviewed by F365 some years back, I think).

7. This tumblr:

8. Cultural Leonesa’s 2014 third kit.

9. Your own particular match-going routine. For me? Scarf off hook on back of door, 15 minute walk to pub. Meet Sam (and any other people daft enough to join us). A few jars, maybe catch the lunchtime kickoff. Tram. Stadium. Stand where we do, hang up the Big Banner. Game. It’s a wonderful constant in my life. I’m sure you have something similar.

10. Robbie Simpson attempting to celebrate.

Happy Friday, everyone.
David (Plzeň were unlucky last night) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.


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