Mails: Jack Wilshere as replacement for Coutinho?

Date published: Wednesday 10th January 2018 3:08

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Wilshere for Liverpool? Think about it…
Liverpool just lost a creative player who can dribble, find the player through a crowded defense and can track back. If his fitness passes a medical then why not make a cheeky offer for Jack Wilshere? I hear he might have to take a pay cut to stay at a club where he isn’t guaranteed CL football next year. And if Arsene loses him and S&M, Arsenal definitely won’t back the top four. Two good reasons to make an offer.
Miles Austin


Klopp’s transfer gambles are costing Liverpool
You have to respect Klopp. Even though he’s only been in Liverpool for a little over two years, he’s fully adopted the scouse mathematical system. The only thing I can figure is that Liverpool are hoping that the goals Van Dijk will prevent from going in will off set the goals scored by Coutinho, leaving Liverpool with more points gained. Scouse Maths.

No matter what Liverpool sourced news outlet you read one thing is for sure, selling Coutinho right now made absolutely no sense. Not from a football perspective and certainly not from a financial perspective. Not with it being a World Cup year.

Liverpool are now juggling whether to pay the January premium or wait until the summer and pay the World Cup premium. Not to have a replacement lined up was irresponsible, but as I wrote a couple weeks ago, is the “Liverpool way”.

I will be shocked if Liverpool bring in another first-team player this January and I think the only thing that will spare their blushes come May is the fact that they are a bit deeper in quality than Tottenham and Arsenal, but only just. The margin for error/injury is now a fraction.

Klopp’s transfer gambles have already cost Liverpool in two competitions this season. Hopefully this current gamble doesn’t cost us our end of season targets.
Brian (Trusting the process) LFC


Mail from a Mailbox convert
I never used to read the mailbox, I pretty much enjoyed all the other articles on show, Mediawatch being the best thing around. But then working life happened and to burn hours during the day, I started the mailbox. There are the odd frustrating views but many contributors are quality. Keep the mailbox alive.

Now to point at hand, that article ‘Barcelona covered in the same stench as PSG‘is one of the best articles I have read in a long time, plus most of Jonny Nicholson’s (will never understand the hate) but it touched that Football is no longer enjoyable. It is now a business depressingly enough, look at Arsenal. Football has been taken over with money and football is dying slowly enough. I don’t get that same kick and joy whenIi used to watch football. Maybe I am being dramatic a tad, but it just isn’t what it was.

And Portrait of an Icon is one of the best books read in a long time, definitely worth a buy and read.

Peace and love all!
Jimmy (Hopefully my manager don’t read the mailbox)


When were Barcelona holier than thou?
I feel obliged to write in response to Toby Sprigings’ diatribe upon how Barca too have now sold their souls. I like many was amazed by the beauty and the masses of success of peak Barca. It’s true after a while the style began to grate a little, but they still had so much wondrous talent on the pitch, they were always capable of something majestic, even if sadly it was when dumping out Arsenal each year. I do however have to take some umbrage with his general theses.

This first dawned upon me when I stoke myself a few solo hours away in Barcelona from Mrs Stu, to go on the Barca tour. They are of course an impressive club, with a great history and have had great successes and players in their time, with a very impressive stadium, but humility over this is not their strong point. Of course you can’t expect a stadium tour to be deferential and humble, but the collective love-in, about how they didn’t have sponsors for a long time, until they paid Unicef to sponsor them and now have an airline, is the first amongst many aspects of their hypocrisy and why I don’t agree that post 2012 they lost their privilege as some kind of bastion of decency.

They are a football club like any other. Many football clubs do positive things in their community. Many football clubs buy in their best players. It is of course true that their academy has produced some amazing players, on that their of course most potent example of their academy was brought in from Argentina at a young age and pedalled with growth hormones. I’ve no doubt La Masia helped developed Messi greatly as probably did the drugs, but he was a precious talent anyway and easily could have ended up at real or somewhere similar. As with every other club, especially those at the elite upper echelons, supplement this with bought in talent. Barca are no strangers to this. Looking from the turn of the century has seen the following players bought in for comparably high market rates of the time, or towards the very highest fees paid; Overmars, Petit, Gerard Lopez, Alfonso, Javier Saviola (me neither £32m in 2001 though), Geovanni, Juan Riquelme, Ronaldinho, Eto, Deco, Zambrotta, Henry, Milito, Abidal, Yaya, Dani Alves, Hleb, Zlatan (£62.55m in 2009 plus £22m on Chrygynsky), David Villa, Mascherano, Fabregas, Alexis, Alex Song, Jorda Alba, Neymar, Suarez (for £75m plus another £75m on their keeper plus many others), Arda Turan,Umittit, Alacaer, Gomes, Digne.

This doesn’t even speak of the fact that along with Real, they broker extremely unfair and disproportionate TV deals to maintain their financial monopoly and on the pitch in their heyday took the “dark arts” ™ to a whole new level. Barca have long been Football to use Steve’s term, football has long been Football, there is perhaps nothing we can do about that, but just wanted to point this out.
Stu, AFC, (glad I could write about something else, because if I wrote about Arsenal, I’d cry) Manchester


Did F365 miss out Lozano?
You forgot Hirving Lozano in your list of best young goalscorers. He is the joint-top goalscorer in the Eredivisie (11 goals) and he is a 22-year-old winger. He has been playing some great football. More impressively, this is only his first season in Europe, having just transferred from Pachuca, of the Mexican league for about 15 million euros. He has played around 16 games in a European league in his life and already he has been linked to Arsenal. Looks like the real deal. He will probably be a fixture in the national team as well, and if he has a good World Cup his value will sky rocket. In his last game for Mexico he scored twice against Belgium, he had one of those games where you could clearly see the defenders dreading each time he got on the ball.
RD Mexico

(As good as Lozano looks, that list was based on Europe’s top ten leagues, and UEFA rank the Eredivisie 12th – Ed)


Time to mic up the referees
After the Holgate-Firmino affair over what was allegedly said/wasn’t said isn’t it time the Premier League required referees and linesman to wear a small microphone on their chest (similar to a ‘wire’ in films) which can record everything that was said within a close vicinity of the officials for 90 minutes. This could surely provide some real hard evidence of what was actually said if TV replays prove inconclusive.

Rugby umpires have been wearing a microphone for years now and its even part of the live broadcast when the director feels it adds to a particular moment of the game. NFL umpires are broadcast to the crowd and TV when explaining a decision they have made although it only seems to be switched on for this purpose only. Tennis players have been indirectly recorded for decades by TV microphones and the umpires own microphone when arguing with the umpire. Cricket has the stump mic that has been used as evidence to charge players over language used during games.

It doesn’t have to be broadcast as part of the output by Sky/BT etc to keep the “won’t somebody think of the children” brigade happy if Rooney drops a F bomb when chatting to Mike Dean about a free-kick.

It could even be linked to the new VAR people sitting in their dark room at Heathrow to give them something else to do. Or the fourth official at the match to save him being hounded by an angry Wenger every week. And it just might deter players from mouthing off at the ref/and each other knowing anything they say that would get them in trouble with the FA would be on tape.

The ref’s going to end up looking more like Robocop by the day but I can’t see any downsides to this.
Simon Fitzwilliams, Cambridge


More black managers needed but Rooney Rule not the answer
I understand it’s a very important issue and clearly there is a problem in terms of black managers getting jobs at the top level. I personally am of the opinion that the Rooney rule is not the best way to solve this problem (yes I do have another idea). First of all, the reason I am against it is because in most cases (certainly not all but must), when a premier league club sacks it’s manager, they usually have a replacement lined up. And although that replacement doesn’t normally come in straight away, we all know that football negotiations are rarely straight forward. My point is, if they have someone lined up, and I hate to agree with anything Martin Samuel ever says, it would just be box ticking. Man City knew they wanted Pep, Utd knew they wanted Mourinho and Chelsea knew they wanted Conte.

To me the Rooney rule would feel like a band aid over a broken bone. To me, the way to mend the bone would be a lengthy process but ultimately worth it. Someone (the FA) needs to undertake a MASSIVE survey and interview every single player (whatever their ethnicity) that has retired from professional football in the English top two leagues in the last 5-10 years. Interview them to find out what they’re up to now, what were their plans pre-retirement, why didn’t these happen (eg was a black player denied a chance to coach at a club in favour of a white player?). There’s all manner of questions to ask to determine what is actually going on for ex players looking to get on the managerial ladder. I think of Sol Campbell who has claimed he believes race is a reason he hasn’t got a top job but we don’t know what he’s actually done to get himself a top job? Same too for Dwight Yorke. It’s no good saying they cant get a job because they’re black, we need to know how that has happened and punish people or clubs that may be doing this. Again, to the outside world these two ex players haven’t seemed to be doing much deserving of a top job, but the outside world doesn’t see the full picture. If Ryan Giggs was black would there be a campaign to get him a top job? As he’s white most of us just laugh it off when he links himself with Premier League clubs without dropping down a division or two. For all the talk of tiny percentages of black managers, how many actually want to be managers? Someone like Ian Wright never let on that he wanted to be a manager and has carved out a career in the media. Was this because he couldn’t get near a job or because he just didn’t want to? Only way to find out is to investigate.
Dave (Arsenal) Herts


Recommending non-league football
Last night I attended the big derby that everybody was talking about…

The Kent derby – Maidstone v Ebbsfleet in the national league. With both teams mired in mid-table, with shrinking aspirations of making the playoffs it was sure to be a humdinger.

I am from Gravesend (who changed their name to Ebbsfleet a few years ago when the high speed train station and garden city were built there) but now live and work in Maidstone, a few miles down the road in Kent. As a result myself and a few colleagues who were all supporting Maidstone decided to go and watch the game.

This was my first foray into non-league football (excluding a trip to watch Ebbsfleet at Wembley in the FA Trophy a few years back which surely doesn’t count). I am a lifelong Chelsea fan and I am also 30. So not only did my love of football coincide with the invention of football in 1992, but it also coincided with Chelsea progressing from mid table also rans, through to nearly rans and then front runners. As a result I am not ashamed to admit that I have always viewed lower league football (particularly non league) as generally not being very good. Perhaps this is in due to Sky and Jamie Redknapp et al constantly throwing the “best league in the world” guff at me.

I am happy to admit that I was completely wrong.

It was an amazing experience. The atmosphere was incredible despite the attendance being around 2,500, it had a better atmosphere than most Premier League games, where let’s be honest, excluding away fans and big games, the atmospheres at 90% of games is generally pretty tame. This was obviously helped in no small part by the fact almost 500 away fans had made the short trip up the M2 from Gravesend and that these away fans, including the most vocal ones were sat in the same stand as the vocal home support. For the entire 90 minutes both fans sang and traded friendly insults towards each other (“1-0 to the train station” when Ebbsfleet took the lead, being my favourite song from the away fans)

Firstly the ticket was only £15 which we all bought on the door. If it hadn’t been a school night I could have taken my son for just £2! The train to Chelsea alone costs me more than this on a Saturday! Then I have the privilege of paying a further £80 for two tickets for me and my son.

Their stadium is brand new with good facilities meaning small queues to purchase a burger or a beer on your way into the ground. Even the police and stewards (which were minimal in numbers) were friendly and talkative. Compare this to the treatment at Premier League games (particularly away games) where it often feels like you are treated as a criminal by the police and stewards for simply being a football fan.

And even though I was stood in the home end, but blatantly supporting the away team, none of the home fans were anything but friendly. Again, I have tried this once at a Premier League game and my experience was completely different.

It just felt like proper football. The players and fans were truly appreciative of the support from the fans because the fans through the turnstiles pay their wages, whereas we all know the fans in the Premier League pale in insignificance when compared to the millions of “global television fans” that every Premier League club has. There wasn’t a plastic flag or fan in sight, no day trippers out for the day to watch the game. Just local people supporting their local clubs.

Ebbsfleet eventually won 2-1 to keep alive their faint hopes of the playoff and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. I even felt a connection with the club due to it being “my town” and “my area” which you don’t necessarily get if you support a team from a part of the country you’re not from, as is quite common these days. Yes the quality isn’t up to Premier League standard but it was better than I expected and still enjoyable despite being a tad direct at times. The main difference I would say is the decision making was lacking at times and the final ball or cross often went astray.

I even managed to have a bit of “bantz” with the Ebbsfleet right back, when retrieving a ball for him… I can’t imagine doing that with a player at Stamford Bridge any time soon.

All in all, I have decided that I am going to start attending Ebbsfleet matches more and perhaps instead of paying £50 for a ticket to watch Chelsea v Stoke at 12.30 on a Saturday, I’d rather go and watch Ebbsfleet v Macclesfield or Leyton Orient. It’s probably going to be more enjoyable, definitely less expensive and let’s face it clubs like Ebbsfleet appreciate your support and need the money. Do Premier League clubs truly “appreciate your support” at the ground??? Sadly we all know the answer to that because if you don’t attend a Premier League game, there will always be somebody else willing to buy that ticket but sadly the same cannot be said of non-league football.

In conclusion.

Non-league football give it a go. It’s pretty damn good.
James Sargeant


Robins are antidote to top-flight football
I’m writing in to not only congratulate Bristol City for not only allowing a city to dream and keeping that dream alive, but doing it in the right way.

This isn’t the first time I have written about them on this magnificent cup run, but it’s the first time I am willing to take aim at some top-flight clubs.

What is Stoke’s, West Ham’s, West Brom’s, Swansea’s and many others philosophy in their attempt to play football. Bristol City are a side not in the top division since 1980 and have plumbed the depths of the Football League ever since.

But what they have done, is stick to a principle and a guide especially over the last 5-6 years. It is baffling to me that the established Premier League elite mentioned above are 1, incapable of producing top level players, 2 struggle to have a defined playing philosophy/style and are 3, consistently producing performances that stifle the premier leagues quality. Not to mention their collective work in the transfer market has been borderline abysmal barring 5/6 success stories.

Does the money influence these clubs so much that they step away from what made them successful upon their re-entrance to the Premier League? When they came up as fans did they have the same opinion as I do now of those clubs struggling in the division? Has their club become all about surviving in the top league to the detriment of everything else about it? Can you only survive in the Premier League by following this route?

So many questions here, but one thing is clear. I admire Bristol City for their courage to give youth a chance, to play football on the front foot. To make people fall in love with game all over again. What a magnificent job the club is doing. And I hope this gives clubs already established in the Premier League a bit of a kick up the arse. Because they do have capable footballers, they just need to be given the platform to go and play and go and entertain.
Gary, Bristol


He-Man writes
Sorry – everyone knows Skeletor starts every sentence with nyahhhh!!!!
Graham Simons, Gooner, (I have the power!), Norf London

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