Mails: Lukaku ‘has a sniff of the Girouds’

Date published: Friday 10th June 2016 1:48

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Here we go then. As a wise philosopher once wrote:

Don’t let me down gently; if you have to let me down at all.

Come on England
Neil Raines


It feels like Christmas Day, but where you have to wait until 8pm to open your presents.
Naz, Gooner.


F*** me im excited


How to watch England
Okay kids – it’s major tournament time. We’ve qualified, all the games are on proper telly, and it’s 50/50 if we’ll be any good/lose all gorm the second the anthems strike up.

I’ve been doing this since ’82, it’s horrible, but we can get through it. I’m here to help.

Tip 1: This is the headline tip. If you ignore everything else, at least pay attention to this one:- Do not watch the game in the pub. I repeat – do not watch the game in the pub.  It might seem like a good idea – it isn’t. Watching England in the pub, is basically watching England with 30-50 Ian Wrights. No one person can take that much manic-depressive emotional roller-coastering for 90 mins. Studies have proven that watching England tournament games in the boozer leads to a 9-11 year reduction in life expectancy.*

Tip 2: Balance your expectations between realism and optimism. Too much pessimism, and the whole thing is a waste of time. Go too ‘Sun prayer mat’ though, and the crushing despair when we do lose will cause you to do something stupid, like burn Beckham effigies or think Harry Rednapp is the answer.  If your are focussed on all the shiny, sparkly baubles up top, take a quick peek at the defence to restore order to your mind.  Practice this, by looking at Wayne Rooney’s England goalscoring record and actual performances for the early part of this season.

Tip 3: Listen to the 5-Live commentary.  However awful we are, Alan Green will make it sound worse, cleverly forcing your mind to start looking for silver linings.

Tip 4: If the worst comes to the worst, and we go to penalties, pray for Chris Waddle on co-comms. As we shank our 3rd pen in a row, his charming vocal tic on the word ‘penalties’ will give us all some small crumbs of comfort.

Good luck everyone – see you on the other side.
Jeremy Aves

*I can’t back that up to be honest.


F*** Norn Iron
I’ve been a regular reader of this website for a good few years now, and this is the first time I’ve felt truly compelled to write in. My question is: Why do F365’s trusty gang of lieutenants consistently overlook little Northern Ireland when it comes to these Euro 2016 features? The first one that took my eye was Matt Stead’s “Five worst Prem players heading to Euro 2016“, and the inclusion of Paddy McNair – which was ridiculous. As a man who came to United as an attacking midfielder, only to be shoehorned (F365’s buzz word) in at centre back when LVG desperately needed defenders, he certainly didn’t embarrass himself and generally looked assured. Fast forward to this year, and McNair’s performances in a defensive midfield position for his country have been nothing short of exceptional (given his lack of experience there), and his composure and tactical discipline have really made him stand out despite his relatively young years. After making his first-team debut in 2014-15, LVG proceeded to spend £250m-ish last summer, rendering young Patrick’s chances of another first-team place virtually impossible. But still, he has shone in a number of roles for Northern Ireland, including RB, CB and CDM – but still Matt Stead genuinely believes he’s one of the five worst Prem players at Euro 2016?

And then came Stead’s blatantly ignorant omission of David Healy in his “Five players far better for country than for club“. This, for me, was the most unforgivable. The omission of a man who scored a record 36 (36!!!) International goals for Northern Ireland, at a time when we didn’t qualify for any major tournaments, alongside smashing the previous record of 12, and subsequently trebling it. Mr Healy also had a very modest career in club football – his most fruitful season was in 2003-04 when he banged in 15 goals for Preston North End in the old First Division. Healy scored 13 goals in qualifying for Euro 2008, which was a record – and still is – having been equaled by none other than Robert Lewandowski in the qualifiers just past. But no, still no inclusion for Sir David. But still, an inclusion for Peter Crouch, a man often lauded for his International exploits (hat-trick against Jamaica (for crying out loud) aside, what else did he really do?). And furthermore, Crouch had a fairly decent club career, competing in the Champions League on numerous occasions and regularly performing to a decent standard for a collection of Premier League clubs. Allied with the fact that Healy scored more goals for his country than Crouch – 36 v 22 – and considering the importance of Healy’s goals and the record he set with such a low-quality set of team-mates – is it really fair that Crouch merited inclusion but Healy didnt? If you need any further evidence of Healy’s goalscoring prowess, have a look at these links – or for a hat-trick against a side slightly better than Jamaica –

And the target of my final grumble is Mr Storey – a man usually so dependable in these situations. A man you’d trust with your grandmothers ashes. A man who I’d employ to run our fanzone at Windsor Park. We play our first ever game in the Euros against Poland on Sunday, but yet there is no mention of this in round one’s must-watch games. Instead we are treated to Turkey vs Croatia? Sure, there will be more talent on show, but will the passion and support really be the same? And will the game mean as much to their supporters? I sincerely doubt that
Michael, Belfast


Because Leicester
Having read your Euro ’16 predictions and previously the level of ambivalence towards moving from a 16- to 24-team tournament, I am surprised at the overall expectation that the big countries will run riot in France. Why? Well, because Leicester, obviously.

I know the other European leagues were won by the big teams but with the most nationalities in Europe’s top leagues and a more competitive league, surely the Premier League is a better indication of the power of a team over a group of talented players. The cliché of there being no easy games in international football has been getting less ridiculous every year. In qualifying, Germany could only manage 1 point from 6 from us, and we were very crap for at least half the qualifying; Norn Iron topped their group; Iceland finished ahead of Turkey and Netherlands to qualify 2 points behind Czech Republic.

Germany are a shell of their previous selves, they even brought Schweiny after the season and all the cakes he had. Italy are really poor (still think we won’t beat them though). Spain too have the poorest squad in 15 years. France, well yes, there’s them. Belgium are highly ranked but need to click far better as a team rather than a group of talent.

The thing that’s going to determine who does well is more the collective than the individual. Yes Ronaldo and Zlatan are excellent individual talents but they’re surrounded by poor players and are less likely to play as part of the team than Griezman, Rooney or Iniesta for example.

With Ronaldo, Bale, Zlatan, Hazard etc. these finals will probably produce one of the best highlight reels ever. I just favour a few plucky little upstarts to surprise people and a lot of the big boys to find it tougher than ever. France to win. Germany and Italy to cause a stink. Best player: Hazard, Pogba. Top scorer Lewandowski. England to do very well (Roy knows). Wales could go far (good collective), Norn Iron to do the home nations proud (a few scrappy wins, maybe even quarters), Ireland (3 draws in group stages).

Jesus I’m excited.
Bren, Dublin.


More Euro predictions
The welcome distraction that is the Euro’s starts tonight! Seeing that I’d correctly predicted Germany winning the last World Cup, let me share a few thoughts;

Flop of the Tournament: Spain (Tiki taka is dead)
Surprise Team: Belgium (might reach the final with Hazard, KDB & Lukaku)
Shock Performance: Germany won’t go past the QFs
Team to watch out for: Croatia (Rakitić, Modrić, Perišić)
Most Boring Team: Russia (They’ll enjoy the sun away from Siberia & miss Vodka)
Most Assists: Ozil (He has those compound eyes with 360° vision)
Golden Glove: Manuel Neuer (He can catch a flying grenade)
Golden Boot: Giroud (Arsenal allegiance making me blind)
Young Player of the Tournament: Paul Pogba (Most complete CM)
Player of the Tournament: Zlatan Ibrahimović (We’ll be wowed by a few World class goals)
Winner: France (Dynamic, at home & has Koscielny, Kante, Coman, Payet, Griezmann & Giroud)
David Njabia, Gooner in Nairobi Kenya


Alright, here are my Euro predictions.

Winner: Germany. Still too strong and consistent I think. The lack of a top striker will be placated somewhat by Müller’s knack of scoring lots of completely unmemorable goals.

Semi-Finalists: England v Spain, France v Germany.

Who is going to surprisingly achieve nice things: Austria or Wales – I’m predicting them to meet in the last 16, so whoever wins that will be in the quarters and by default be the ‘surprise’ quarter-finalist.

Which is the most likely ‘big’ nation to stink the place out: Obviously Italy have about their worst squad in living memory. They won’t make the quarters. I think Belgium are being overrated by some as well. Good first team, but no depth, and still potentially wasting Toby and Super Jan in the full back positions. Still tend to start Fellaini ahead of Dembele apparently, which is utterly mental. Like leaving your Ferrari at home and taking your a three-wheel van for a spin.

Top Scorer: Thomas Müller. Nailed on. In the absence of a proper striker, he will be their main goal outlet, and he loves an international tournament.

Player of the Tournament: Rooney – haha! Just kidding. Sod it, Dele Alli. Why not?

Country To Fail: I think Spain are overrated right now and look a bit shaky these days. They have a piss-easy run to the semi but could meet England there and I fancy us to upset them. No strikers, and some risky centre backs, I think they could be undone. And I hate tiki taka.

Headline: Woy’s Boys Throw Their Toys after we have a Spurs-Chelsea style blow-out upon elimination and end the game having received 13 cards.
Olly Cole, THFC (England to lose the final on penalties to Germany, a new level of heartbreak even for us)


After ‘is Pogba really better than Sissoko‘, we bring you…
In response to Matt (just me then) AFC in Essex, I feel that Romelu Lukaku has a sniff of the Giroud’s about him. Clearly he is a very good player, his record speaks for itself, but would Giroud not be able to score 20+ a season for Everton or West Brom? When you’re the focal point for every attack? When teams don’t just sit back and defend but actually come out to play, giving you space to exploit?

I felt similarly to all the fuss over Jermain Defoe this season. Sure, he played well and finished well, but so would any good finisher playing in that team.

As an Arsenal fan if we signed Lukaku I’d be pleased but I can’t help feeling it wouldn’t be a significant upgrade for now. 5 years’ time sure, but do we really want to have another few years of ‘nearly but not quite’? (sorry Storey).
Jimmy, Reading


Should he stay or should he go?
Let me start off by mentioning that I support Arsenal.

With the recent news that Jamie Vardy may not be joining us I would like to mention that I am quietly pleased. Not for the same reason I see on many forums, about him being a nasty human being or not suiting our system but for another reason.

Each season, there are always players from smaller teams (especially Southampton) that perform to exceptional levels. We’ve constantly been told that these players have to move on as there is no way they’ll achieve their goals by staying at their original clubs. I’ve always balked at this argument, as we never know how a team would have progressed if they’d been able to keep the core of their team.

So, although it is to the detriment of my team, I am glad that Vardy is considering staying at Leicester. I also hope they can keep hold of Mahrez and Kante too.

In my eyes, it is more admirable for the players to achieve something they have had to work for (against all odds) than those who have been thrown together as a collection of superstars.
Jovan, London


But he is Sol Campbell
Thanks for the article on England favourites. I always liked Sol Cambell (the centre-half, the less said about his politics the better, torie ****), but it was when he pulled on an England shirt that I really really loved him. He was always a top class player but for England he used to turn almost super-human.

One of my favourite World Cup moments was just after he had that header disallowed against Argentina in 1998. Our lot were all celebrating thinking we’d taken the lead when the Argentinians tried to take advantage and blitzed up the field on the counter. It’s about 6 against 2 (in my memory) in their favour and a goal looks certain but then, at the bottom of the screen, Big Sol emerges, horsing back to save the day. He’s like a man possessed, the only thing missing is his cape. I’m sure he gets a block or a tackle in as Argentina fail to score.

He seemed to love playing for England. Hats off to Big Sol.
John Lawless (I maybe should have checked out the footage before sending this, hope my memory’s not playing tricks on me)


Interesting that Hargreaves was named 2006 fans’ player of the year for England as it seems most people have forgotten. He was one of only a few pointless answers on ‘Pointless’ a few weeks back under the category “2006 England World Cup players”!
Rich (file that under ‘mildly interesting’) CCFC


Lack of female pundits
John Nicholson laments the lack of female pundits on television but the simple fact is the game itself is segregated. There is a men’s game and there is a women’s game. While I’m sure there is a plethora of women available to pass comment I would wager it pales in comparison to the number of men available. You only need to glance at a football crowd at a men’s game to see that proportionally more men watch it and vice versa for the women’s game.
As such, one female pundit across the stations seems about right and Gabby Logan has also been a staple in presenting.

Secondly, the current choice for TV big wigs also seems to be ex-players. Again, this is the men’s version of football we are watching, therefore every ex-player we get will obviously be a man! This isn’t a gender equality issue, it’s an issue with the current strategy of hiring pundits. 99% of the time it’s an ex-pro, regardless of his broadcasting ability.

What’s ludicrous is that people are being hired to be pundits based on whether they played the game professionally rather than on their ability to analyse a game.

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