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A table of excitement
I would like to take a moment of people’s time to discuss which teams I will most be looking forward to observing in the new season. I’m a Premier League neutral (Norwich fan) with no rival teams in the division so my judgement is completely fair and most definitely right. I’ve compiled a league table of who will be the most exciting team to see how things pan out this year.
The algorithm is based on whether the team has a new approach (i.e. new manager or new signings), style of football, unpredictability and capacity for something big to happen in terms of relegation or a challenge for the title. Here it is with commentary:
20. West Brom – Has there been a more pointless team in recent memory? Predictable style of Pulis football (although slightly better than usual last year), no interesting signings of note. Small Premier League club but with little danger of relegation or European qualification.
19. Stoke – See above although their style of football may be a little easier on the eye.
18. Watford – No players to make you get excited but they do have a new manager and could well be in a relegation scrap.
17. Swansea – More than likely to sell their best player and will therefore struggle with goals. Relegation dog fight looms though and Tammy Abraham will be interesting to watch.
16. Leicester – Back to their mid-table mediocrity with few new and exciting signings to make them any better than last year. They’ll most likely sack Shakespeare after realising he’s not actually a proper manager and relied heavily on new manager syndrome last season.
15. Southampton – Lose van Dijk and this year, THIS year could be the one where they have sold too many of their stars to make a good go of things in the league. A new manager and an inherently positive style of football sees them fairly higher up than others.
14. Burnley – More of the same from last year. An interesting prospect at home with an open door policy in defence which will make for some interesting games. I fully expect them to be in the relegation places for most of the season.
13. Newcastle – A new team to the league but their team remains a bunch of good Championship/poor Premier League players who are hardly going to set the league alight. Interesting to see if Rafa remains for long and I’m sure they’ll do reasonably well playing a not so great style of football.
12. Brighton – Although a new team in the league, they’ve not particularly signed anyone of note and may well be the Middlesbrough of last year – tight defensively but will struggle to score many and will ultimately be relegated.
11. Bournemouth – A team who have the ability to score plenty of goals whilst shipping just as many. A couple of signings but nothing much added to last year’s squad to get you excited.
10. West Ham – Some new and exciting players with a manger who can make them tick. Plus, this is West Ham and drama on and off the pitch is never too far away.
9. Arsenal – As things stand, they’ve signed one player who may make something extra happen for them but, otherwise, they’re still the same team they’ve been for the past 3-4 seasons. They won’t challenge for the title and will be hovering around 4-6th all season frustrating everyone with great football one week then drawing 0-0 at home to Burnley the next.
8. Crystal Palace – There is real quality in that Palace team especially with the potential of Sakho signing. A new, competent manager who could make Palace a good team to watch with the ability to be ‘The Best of the Rest’.
7. Chelsea – It will be interesting to see how they take to the league alongside Champions League football and injuries. A couple of signings but none to really make them a different prospect to last season.
6. Huddersfield Town – They’re this high up because they’re a brand new team in the league, an exciting prospect of a manger with a whole host of new signings. Therefore, they are massively unpredictable – although you’d suspect they’re more likely to be closer to the foot of the table than the top.
5. Man United – They’ve signed some new players but this is Jose Mourinho and they will play the same negative football against the bigger sides and will be frustrating to watch. However, I see them mounting a very realistic title challenge.
4. Liverpool – As things stand the squad hasn’t really been improved upon from last year but Klopp’s manic persona always makes them exciting to watch and can play some dazzling counter attacking football at times. Plus, they could well fall way down the league as they juggle Champions League football.
3. Everton – I’m very excited to see how Everton pan out. They’ve made lots of signings who – under the tutelage of a very good manager – could click to mount a top 4 challenge or they could take time to bed in and will be 7th again. They’ve still got lots of cash to spend and who knows who else will come in.
2. Tottenham Hotspur – OK, they’ve made no signings but they are a very exciting team to watch over the past two years and some of their players who can only get better. Plus I’m really eager to see how a season in a 90,000 seat stadium will affect their league performance. It has the potential to completely ruin their home advantage they enjoyed last season. So, they could either continue their upward trajectory and be in with a shot of the title or they could be 7/8th with the negative impact of their home ground.
1. Man City – It has to be City given the amount of new signings (Jesus will also feel like a new signing too) and a manager who wants to relentlessly attack. Pre-season can often count for nothing but they have looked bloody impressive. The only thing predictable is that they’ll be up there for the title without doubt but their team and style of play makes them the most exciting team to watch since Rodgers 13/14 Liverpool team.
Anonymous (Can’t wait any longer)
Putting F365 straight on Brighton
It was great to open your website up today and see the preview of Brighton’s first season in the Premier League, having read your site for the past 17 years. It has been a long time coming and I think you’ve got it mostly right. The one thing I would question is the team you’ve put out, where the midfield looks far too offensive for how we are likely to set up. Within the current squad I think Beram Kayal or Steve Sidwell are the likely partner for Dale Stephens in the middle, with either Pascal Gross or Izzy Brown in the number 10 role.
In terms of expectations, I think the crux of the season will boil down to how well Maty Ryan settles in goal. If he lets in a hatful on the opening day of the season against Man City his confidence could be shot from the start and that doesn’t bode well. On the other hand if he starts well then we may have a good chance of staying up.
The front four are likely to be interchangeable and break with pace and are likely to cause a few problems even for Premier League defenders. It was an awesome sight seeing them break forward last season and watching backpeddling Championship defenders struggling to cope with the pace and movement. That pace and movement should still be evident this season, but the number of chances are likely to diminish against better quality opposition.
In general I think almost all Brighton fans are happy and trust that Chris Hughton will do a good job in the Premier League. It won’t be as enjoyable as the past two seasons where we’ve been winning most weeks, but this is what we’ve been chasing for a long time, so I think we are all determined to enjoy it.
Keep up the good work and hopefully a few of the Brighton players will surprise you this season.
Barca have a wage problem
In response to William in Leicester, the main problem Barcelona have is wages. It’s the Kevin Bacon of all of their other issues (do people play the six degrees of K.Bacon game in the UK??). The ones you stated are also issues, but they are smaller veins stemming from the KB artery: wages.
In Spain, clubs have to have their wages aligned to their revenue, spending no more than 70% on them. I believe Uefa have a similar guideline, but I am unsure if it is enforced. Barcelona have been teetering on the edge of this precipice for the last 4 or 5 years. It all starts with Messi. He’s the best in the world, no doubt, and has been duly paid as such. Barcelona have been terrified of losing him, as their history is littered with big stars leaving: Cruyff, Maradona, (Fat) Ronaldo, even Figo (though to a lesser extent). As such, Messi has seen his contract renewed every year since he was 17, bar 2. That’s a lot of contracts! Obviously, every time getting a raise. In recent years this has become a significant problem for the club, as the outward perception that the club wishes to give is that he is the best, and hence must be the highest earner globally. When Madrid down south are paying CR a load of money (and briefly Ibra popping up at PSG), Barcelona’s board couldn’t renew him fast enough – petrified of how history would judge them if he left. The second to last renewal didn’t even involve extending his contract (it was, and remained until 2018). That one was already paying him 23 million euros – after tax. Plus all the bonuses he has. Whilst it is difficult to dispute he is not worth the money, it does leave Barcelona in a tough position. The last renewal takes this problem into overdrive – over 30 million net/year, plus another 50 million net to be divided over the 4 year deal (expires in 2021). We know all of this, as they are forced to publish their accounts to their ‘socios’, which in turn put this info online.
Now, let’s follow the shoestrings on ‘Bacon’ to see how this applies to Neymar.
Neymar earns 15 million net, Messi now practically trebling his wage. Is Neymar worth three times less than Messi? No. He knows it, and Barsa knows it. Is Neymar willing to compromise a lower wage to play with Messi? No, not at his age, and not with his dad. Suarez does, Ney won’t. Can Barca pay him more? No – they currently stand at over 69% of revenue in wages. Can Neymar earn more in a different team? Clearly, he can.
So, your money and marketability points already have a link to the wages, and both point to him having to leave. The fact that Messi is the one ‘hogging’ the wages Barcelona can afford, then your Messi point pretty much explains itself. It’s not the limelight (who wouldn’t want to play with Messi, and he is 30, sooner rather than later his time in the spotlight will go), it’s the compensation he gets for being outside of the limelight.
Finally, you can factor in the rest of the points in the wages argument as well, in the ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘new manager’ categories. Valverde is a good manager, but underwhelming on the global scale. Why is he there? Same reason Tata Martino was there, or Luis Enrique. They are cheaper compared to the Mous, Guardiolas of this world (in fact, it is rumoured Guardiola partly left due to the wage issues). The team itself, as you said, has been filled with useful, but non-world beater players. Why? Can’t pay for more world beaters. The Masia has actually produced a few great talents, Thiago, Sandro, stand out, with a few other younsters also standing out (Grimaldo, for one, I really like). But they leave, or get sold for cheap… why? Wages. When they come through, they earn peanuts, and then when they play well you have the wages issue. Obviously, it’s not all Messi’s wage, but with the genius earning as much as he does, you have Iniesta, Pique, Busquets and a list of others earning more than they would elsewhere. For example, due to their wage buckets starting so high up, Mathieu (who was on one of the lowest ranks) still earned more than Marcelo at madrid. I’ll let that sink in for a second. Alcacer earns more than Morata did there too, and so on and so forth.
In the end, it all comes down to wages. Harry Redknapp surely must be laughing somewhere…. Neymar knows this, his dad certainly knows this, and they also know that the Barcelona cow has been milked dry. Money bags O’Toole PSG however, are looking rather tempting.
The women are spoiling football
It’s taken a while, but I’ve now worked out – with the help of England’s women – what the problem with football is.
I’ve been falling out of love with the game for quite a while. I used to be the stereotypical footy obsessed school boy; then I went to Uni, and got a 2:1 in Pro Evo & Hangover studies, all the while watching as much football as I could. Recently (in the last five years or so) this has changed, and my interest has been on a dramatically downward spiral. I’m just not as into it as I used to be, and tend to frequent this site as my only way of really keeping in touch with what’s going in in the world of over-paid hair models.
And that is the point, now, really. For me, (Jeff) I still love the game of football, but I can’t abide everything that goes with it. I don’t care who drove what car, whose girlfriend or wife wore what, where or when. I am bored of watching prima donnas diving, rolling around like they’ve been shot or having a tantrum because a throw it that should never have been awarded to them, wasn’t. And so, last night, I stumbled upon the England vs France Womens Euro quarter final, and it was bloody brilliant. It was open, energetic, end to end, committed, with goal mouth/six-yard box scrambles and precious little play acting. There were more mistakes than I would expect from professional or semi-pro footballers (missed kicks, missed passes, and poor ‘keeping for the goal), but that was excusable because it added to the enjoyment, flavour and flow of the game. It was marvellous.
Until I’d watched the women play, I’d got stuck in a bit of a rut with the men’s game, and not really known what to do about it. It’s a bit like Formula 1 (go with me on this). It was great when I was a kid; Senna, a young Schumacher, Damon Hill; overtaking on every other corner and wheel to wheel racing. Now, it’s a procession punctuated with a pit stop or two, that more often than not dictates the results. But it’s apparently the pinnacle of car racing, so how can I find it boring? Then, suddenly, I watched a Touring Car race. OK, it wasn’t as technically impressive, the cars don’t go as quickly and the drivers aren’t paid as much, but my god it was far more exciting and engaging to watch! And suddenly watching pampered millionaires go round in circles is much less appealing. Remind you of anything…?
So to those who are falling out of love with an over-inflated, cash obsessed ‘sport’ that is more about money than the game, and drags everything in its path inexorably into the same morass, there IS another way.
The women are spoiling football, by showing the men up, and playing it exactly as it should be played. Bloody well done!
Ed The Grouch
Credit City for England success
Great result last night. England in a semi final is always a welcome buzz.
The thing I like most about the women’s game is how tough they are. They will get clattered and for the most part just get up and carry on.
Yes they will try to win free-kicks but that ain’t no thing. When they are actually fouled they don’t roll about or grind their foreheads into the grass. They stand up, dust themselves down and go again. Usually making sure they crop the b*tch who did them earlier.
Kudos females for making male footballers look like mardy bums. Never can anyone say “oooh he’s gone down like a big girl there” as it’s just not true.
I understand that many people don’t rate the women’s game that highly as they aren’t as powerful or as fast as the men.
I appreciate that there are differences. My main bug bear is some of the decision making at times. I feel that sometimes they take too long to play a pass or play the wrong pass. However that can all be overlooked when you see Jill Scott smash through an opposing midfielder and get a counter-attack going.
I’m also pretty proud that five players who started the game last night came from City. There were three on the bench as well. Technically two now Duggan has gone to Barcelona.
City get a lot of stick for chucking the money around, but one positive of this is that money was also chucked at the women’s teams. City’s women have become the dominant force in England.
This has had a huge impact on the national team and the standard of the WSL. All of a sudden it wasn’t a walk in the park for Arsenal Women anymore, it has made the league more competitive and also made the national team take that next step up. We all saw with Barcelona how having a core of players from one team is a massive advantage.
I hope they can do it, and if they do they get all the fuss that any England team gets when successful.
DANNY B (I have developed a huge crush on Fran Kirby)
No, it’s sh*t
I trust John Nicholson waxes lyrical over Division 3 Rugby, minor counties cricket, ATP satellite events, class 6 racing handicaps and the PGA seniors tour because they represent a similar gap in quality from the top level in that particular sport as does women’s football.
By all means follow it if you want but please stop trying to ram it down our throats as top class sport because it clearly isn’t. That not sexist John, Its quality-ist. And there are more people in my local pub on a Friday night than actually in the stadium watching the games.
…I watched the England – France game last night and have to say my first thought was how happy Guy S. must have been if he was able to tune in – not one, or even two, but 22 players in the ilk of Wayne Rooney!
It is good to see Wayne influencing the sport in this way; terrible passing, awful first touch and (presumably) the goalkeeping was straight out of the Rooney School of Foot too!
Football365 is homophobic
In this day and age of F365 high moral standing and associated outrage, is it not hypocritical to call a man a large-assed player or a small-assed player?
You certainly wouldn’t allow it for a female player so why a male player? John Nicholson said this type of ‘banter’ is abhorrent and has no place in modern society. So please, why do you think it is OK to make a comment about a bloke’s arse, but not a female one?
You are objectifying a man based on his physical appearance.
Is this more institutionalized homophobia on display at F365? I think so, even if it is sub-conscious, then it still has to be called out and made an example of. The same way you talk about all the other ‘horros’ of modern life.
Seriously, if I worked for a newspaper, I’d be doing a ‘Mediawatch’ on F365 every day to show the double-standards and blatant hypocrisy on show.
A f***ing disgrace and absolute proof why no footballers will ever come out.
Fat Gay Scouse Man, EFC (am allowed to have an extreme opinion now because I am gay?)
Possibly the first of many but sorry to see James Richardson leave Football Weekly – how the man hasn’t made it back onto TV is up there with Man City transfer fees
However after Andy Gray left Sky we were left with Gary Neville so im sure Iain Macintosh will do a fine job taking over (you heard it here first). Jimbo is very much the ringmaster but it is the pundits who make the show IMHO
James and Ben you will be missed
Seven minutes later
Further to my first email this proves I am very much a Sun reader – see the headline but don’t read the rest of the story!
Cant believe it’s Macintosh who lured them away!
Let’s all pray Max Rushden’s phone is off!
The article on Bobby Robson makes me lament football as it is today. The diminishing enjoyment replaced by bickering, childish nonsense. The petty nature of rivalry (not that rivalry is petty in itself), and the absolutes of every single result, perhaps encapsulated in the way in which friendly results have suddenly become important.
Robson was someone you felt understood that football is vital but isn’t the be all and end all, certainly when considering his illness would surely have provided gravitas to the media’s attacks on him….football is an important thing but it’s not the most important thing.
This might well be another sepia-tinted retrospective but I don’t recall Robson ever getting embroiled in negativity, nor feuds with fellow managers. He really did have something about him that seemed to rise above that element of the game.
There are few for whom football seems to have a collective love for, Robson was certainly one of them.