Mails on Man City, Everton and the ‘dark arts’…

Date published: Tuesday 22nd August 2017 10:38

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This week’s unofficial F365 weekly awards
1. PL Player of the Week – Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield)
Clean sheet number two of the season was achieved in no small part to Huddersfield’s commanding German centre-back Christopher Schindler. The 27 year old seemed to attach his head to every ball within a five-metre radius of him clearing everything that came his way. He then completed four aeriel duels while contested one more then the rest of his team combined. He also completed five tackles, and two blocks, and walked away with un-stained satin sheets. Not bad for game number two in the worlds top league.

2. League player of the Week- Connor Hourihane (Villa)

A hat-trick for the first win of the season? Yes please.

Three goals in five shots is also a conversion rate Sir Leo of Messi wouldn’t have been disappointed with.

3. European Player of The Week – Neymar (PSG)
How much do I really need to say about this guy?

After his eye-watering transfer fee, he scores on his debut, and in the eyes of the world, he needs 221.99 million more.
He then takes to his second match and decides it is going to be an exhibition. Two goals. Two assists. 13,000 dribbles. Well no, he completed 14 dribbles, which is totally Ludacris.

If he keeps on at this rate, the money is going to make a lot more sense. Given PSG will walk the league, Neymar has been bought to win the Champions League… But find me one PSG fan who isn’t currently buzzing their tits off at the idea of having the third best player and first best human on the planet wearing their jersey every week.

4. Save of the Week- Matt Gilks (Scunthorpe)
Just watch.

5. Tackle of the week – Javier Mascherano (Barca)
I have heard many a person write off Mascherano in the past month or so, saying he’s lost his legs.

Well considering he has spent most of his career running through jelly, I didn’t buy into this rhetoric. On Sunday night, Mascherano stuck two massive fingers up at all his doubters with this masterful tackle.

With a pacy forward breaking his line, it was literally down to Mascherano to stop Betis drawing level. Then within 15 seconds the ball is in the net at the other end.

Please do yourself the favour…

6. Dembele of the week – Mousa dDembele (Spurs)

Just for being a tank. 92 % passing rate, 5 Dribbles, 3 Tackles, 6 blocks, and 4 loose balls retrieved… And his team lost.

Believe me when I say an outfield 10 made up purely of Mousas would give any team a match.

Seemingly lost in the glamour of Eriksen, and behind the “He’s one of our own” Kane, I can’t think of player I’d have in my beloved United aside from Dembele. Amazing player.
Compiler of the week – Jake Turner


It’s not just you…
Is it just me or is anyone else confusing David Silva with Stephen Ireland?
Dave (Éire)


Fed up of the cheating…
Love football especially attacking football (who doesn’t)

I like Guardiola for his attacking approach to our sport.

Think they fully deserved their goal for their attacking efforts with ten men, they really could have won it and that wouldn’t have been less then they deserved.

It was refreshing to see such football with only ten men.

That being said I’m livid about the dark side of the game.

Totally disgusted about the blatant cheating time and time again as well as all the theatrics that his teams have consistently shown.

It happens a lot in football but no team can match the attempts Pep’s teams have always done every 90 minutes.

They push it to its absolute maximum and limit, every 2-3 minutes someone is rolling like they were shot.

Aguero should’ve been booked for simulation earlier in the game, instead he gets a player sent off.

Players are allowed to surround the ref again, thought only the captain was allowed…that rule lasted long.

I think post game bans for simulation should be introduced, it’s hard for refs to manage everything at that speed however use technology to stop blatant cheating.

Pep exploits this side to the game to the maximum however for me..(not going to do it!) it counteracts all the positive praise he gets for attacking football.

It not fun to watch, it’s extremely frustrating and enough is enough


This is already way too stressful
So to begin I may as well put it straight out there that I am a much aggrieved City fan.

I watched the City vs Everton game in a pub which I usually I hate doing because nowadays, on the whole, Londoners support everyone but City, and usually a rival team to boot. I’ll be honest and say the yelling and jeering tends to ruin it for me, I find it aggressive and antagonistic, but others love it so that’s life.

Obviously the Kyle Walker sending-off, compounded by Aguero not shooting, Sane’s foul throws, hitting the post and bloody sodding Wayne effing Rooney wound me up no end but I simmered and quietly shook as my hot little face glowered. 10 minutes into the 2nd half an Icelandic couple came in to the pub. They were huge. Immense. That is their life choice but in a large empty pub with multiple screens they sat at my table and this did my nut a bit all things considered. They were Everton fans and so excited by the introduction of Sigurdsson which sounds lovely and great and charming which is why I’m even more annoyed that I really wanted their heads to pop. They booed and shrieked whenever City had the ball and I let it get to me.

My point was going to be that I am interested in the new ruling which covers players deliberately feigning injury to influence decisions (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Kyle Walker’s second yellow was given when he gently walked backwards into another player making slight contact with his torso. Said player allows this and falls to the ground motionless holding his face which has not been touched, even gently.

Is this not exactly why this ruling was introduced? In my pessimistic view I don’t believe they’ll even debate it. The only reason I want the guy to serve a ban is bitter retribution but we won’t get another chance to play with 11 men and a chance to secure three points; I’ll still be stressed and aggrieved; I’ll still be p#seed at Everton and the Icelandic couple; so what’s the point?

It’s the second game and I’m exhausted and frustrated already. Can someone tell me what my point is and respond please?
David Watson (in need of a paper bag and 36 more games worth of perspective)

Ref was right on Walker

You’ll get a lot on this, some from both sides but most saying it was harsh, but the ref absolutely made the correct call with Kyle Walker.

He looks, changes his own path, clearly shoulders the player illegally and impedes him and nowhere near the flight of the ball. It’s all covered by Rule 12.

It was a completely braindead foul by Walker and the vitriol should be at him.
Pete F, Eire


Welcome to City, Kyle
Kyle Walker is probably confused today.

The last time he played at the Etihad, in the colours of media darlings Tottenham, he pushed Sterling as he was about to shoot, in a clear professional foul, denying Sterling the opportunity to score and a sending off. City draw the game.

Then, in his home debut for Man City and 200th Premier league appearance, he makes an ‘honest’ challenge (where he makes marginal contact with Baines) and is booked. He then gets booked again for the softest of touches on Calvert-Lewin, and for the first time in 200 Premier League games gets a red card. City draw the game.

Yep, it’s confusing Kyle.

He’ll also be confused at the punditry about turn. You see last year, the pundits were congratulating him on him getting away with it. This year, the pundits were criticising him for looking at Calvert-Lewin before bumping into him. Apparently, looking at someone before not actually fouling them is worthy of criticism when you play for City, whereas looking at someone before professionally fouling them in order to avoid a goal, if playing against City, is worthy of praise.

Welcome to Man City Kyle. I’d like to tell you these things even themselves out, but not at City mate, better get used to it.

As a side note, clearly the diving review panel will view Calvert-Lewin’s flailing actions having been bumped into and ‘influencing’ the referee (not sure much influence was needed)…and sanction him for getting a fellow player sent off. I wait with baited breath.
Wayne Cannon


Koeman is Moyes with more money
Watching the match last night, I couldn’t help thinking that koeman is simply Moyes with more money.

Yes we had a gameplan of sit back and hoof to Calvert-Lewin, who played really well, but is that what we have to expect after spunking all that cash? Our best players are a bargain kid from Sheffield and a 7mill dynamo from a relegated Villa?

Koeman put Sigurdsson and Klaassen on and they did absolutely nothing against 10 men except look worse than players they replaced. A combined 70 million quid.

At least we all now know how Koeman;s teams will play…turgid defensive sh*te.
Fat Man Scouse (still unbeaten but so would Moyes be)


Not the right message from Tottenham
A bit concerned about the post-match spin from Spurs after Sunday’s game. Some choice quotes: Eriksen saying “Chelsea at Wembley, we never get any luck”, Lloris saying “What more can we do?” Vertonghen, Pochettino and others saying we deserved more from the game, it was clear we were the better team, etc.

Stop right there guys. Eriksen on luck: how about Morata heading wide when unmarked five yards out, Dier getting a yellow card for a red-card tackle, or Batshuayi heading in an own goal for us? Lloris on what more can we do: how about not throw the ball to an under-pressure Wanyama in the 88th minute, having got ourselves back into a game we never really looked like getting back into? As for the whole line on deserving more than we got: maybe, but it’s not the right signal to send. If we want to win leagues or even cups we have to get what this site called Mourinho’s murderous will to win. It’s great that we’re competitive, but at the real crunch moments there’s still a collective mental frailty when compared to some other teams.

The game itself: a bit stodgy. Without Walker and Rose, and with Son on the bench, we basically have no pace in the team at all. No complaints about Alonso’s first, it was a brilliant free kick and more or less unsaveable. But the second…Spurs players need to front up a bit more about mistakes, rather than patting themselves on the back for a great performance and bemoaning an apparent lack of luck. It won’t help in similar future situations.
Alex, Edinburgh

Rafa has to take some blame

As a Newcastle United fan the start to this season has not been enjoyable in the slightest. Off the field, the good mood has evaporated and on it we’ve been woeful, devoid of any attacking threat.

And while Rafa can only be applauded for the work he’s done since he’s been at the club, notably in terms of playing a role in sorting out the links between the club and the city, the youth academy, training facilities and so on, as well as bringing back a sense of pride to a club rattled by a series of awful managers.

However, if you watched Newcastle last season, the two abject performances of this season aren’t surprising. We played much of the season quite defensively, relying on two routes go get up the pitch: Shelvey’s range of passing and teams sitting back and letting us move up the pitch. We played with two deep fullbacks at time (Dummett and Anita) and without Yedlin we don’t have any attacking impetus pushing us up.

So far this season we’ve had Shelvey sent off (but was hitting balls aimlessly before that) and full backs scared of crossing the half way line due to injuries. Neither tactic would work at this level anyway.

Against the better teams who got at us last season we fell apart. The two best attacking teams in the Championship did deserved doubles over us (Fulham and Sheffield Weds) and even Huddersfield completely outplayed us over 90 mins in both our games (the 3-1 at theirs was complete smash-and-grab). We were better against the teams who respected us and let us get on top of them.

We’ve played Dwight Gayle up front by himself, which works when you dominate possession against inferior teams but offers nothing when you need to link an attack. We don’t have a number 10 as Mo Diame can’t control a football, Ayoze Perez has regressed and Siem de Jong has gone missing again.

Rafa clearly doesn’t fancy Mitrovic (even though he’s a clearly better option at this level than Gayle as he can hold it up) and we have Jacob Murphy and Rolando Aarons who may offer some more attacking flair sat on the bench.

So, I have two issues with Rafa – one is the player selections that mean we’re playing on the back foot in a league where we’re inferior and get pinned back, and the other is refusing to change system. People criticise Wenger for playing one formation but we’re playing 4-4-1-1 without the players for it. Surely a 3-5-2 would make more sense in getting us up the pitch but I can’t see it.

This is compounded by poor transfer business that means we have a bloated squad of underperforming players (not all rafas problem) and those brought in aren’t starters even!

We have a long season ahead of us unless something gives – either we play more attacking or we’re going to do a boro and go down losing 1-0 and 2-1 every week. Please Rafa!

We have four HUGE games coming up, and if we’re in the bottom three after the Brighton game at the end of September I think we’re gone already. It feels like we’ve sleep walked into it, like Daniel Storey said, and the manager doesn’t appear to want to wake up.
James (NUFC), London


Some early Brighton thoughts
Just wanted to have a look at Brighton’s start to the season so far and some early thoughts.

First things first being in Australia I’ve never really been able to watch Brighton except for highlights of the odd cup game here and there so has been amazing to finally be able to watch them play and first thing I have noticed is how solid and calm Bruno looks. From the outside seeing a 36-year-old fullback stepping up to the Premier League looked a concern but he looks more than comfortable at this level for a team like Brighton and really enjoying his link up with Solly March down the right, the guy can dribble and was our only real shining light against City beating multiple players dribbling out from the back, relatively young and full of confidence, great to watch.

So that the right side sorted but the left side is going to be a massive weak point I fear. I don’t have access to stats to back this up but my eyes tell me that both City and Leicester targeted our left and avoided our right side for the most part when they were attacking and I can see why…Suttner looks a long way off the pace. Izzy Brown sad to see him injured in his first game but he was not exactly solid defensively and lost his man multiple times when he was on the pitch.

I think Duffy and Dunk will be more than good enough pairing in defence but only so much they can do against constant attacks. Biggest issue is all of our new signings are looking very underwhelming at the moment, we badly need some of them come good as so far Ryan in goals looks very shaky, Suttner and Brown as mentioned above, Gross has been average at best and Davy Propper wow I can’t ever remember seeing a midfielder so unable to make a pass, obviously hoping just nerves and new league are effecting him and he will show some class but for a guy with 2 Dutch caps you expect a lot better than this. Never seen him play before but reports say he is midfielder who like to make runs into the box and score, 16 goals for PSV over the last 2 seasons, I fear he is a guy that is suited to a team that is on most days better than the opposition as a whole and takes advantage of that allowing him to get in good positions offensively to score but completely unsuited to a team that will struggle overall.

We desperately need Knockaert back fit enough to start and run out 90 minutes, by far and away our best player and we need him up and running if we have any chance of survival.

Will be interesting to see what Hughton will do now as well with Knockaert coming back and new signing Izquierdo, hoping Knockaert moves into the hole with Izquierdo out on the left and March on the right. This should give us some counter attacking threat moving forwards and should hopefully give us some excitement on the attack.

Our strikers still scream relegation fodder and our midfield is pedestrian looking at the moment and would have thought a defensive midfielder rather than the two more offensive minded midfield signings would have had a much more positive impact and allowed us to win some possession back to start counters in decent positions.

All in all just happy to be here and be able to watch them play every week. Can’t expect too much and most people had us favourites for the drop, just want to see us remain competitive throughout and hope some of the new signings improve and show why we signed them.
Alex B (Really wanted Huddersfield to stay down so we might have had a chance at signing Aaron Mooy) Australia


Man United’s VIP: Sir Matt Busby
Re: Terry Newton’s email – I’d argue Sir Matt Busby is as important as Sir Alex Ferguson in Manchester United history.

Without him you don’t get the Busby Babes and, as a result, United’s reputation for/legacy of bringing through young talent. Furthermore prior to his reign United weren’t one of English football’s elite, but it was his legacy of success that put them amongst the biggest names in European football and as such attracted Sir Alex to the job in spite a patchy 17 years between their reigns

Ferguson was undoubtedly the more successful, and his success came at the right time as football went from being a sport and passion for the masses to a huge global industry but he couldn’t have done it without Busby’s blue print
Mike Coxon


West Brom’s VIP: Gary Megson
I’d like to think that I speak for the majority of Albion fans when I say that our most important figure, certainly in my 35 years supporting them, is ‘Sir’ Gary Megson.

Picture the scene, it’s March 2000 and Albion are languishing in the second tier relegation zone, skint and with little hope of salvation. Our best players Kevin Kilbane and Enzo Maresca have been sold to clear debts and Brian Little has just been sacked after a disastrous tenure which included amongst other highlights, a 6-0 thumping at Sheffield United and a comical 1-5 reverse at home to Crewe. The club was in dire straits and staring down the barrel of relegation to the third tier. We needed a saviour…enter an unfashionable ginger haired manager with a reputation for being difficult.

Megson worked his magic quickly, bringing in five players including a young full-back from Chelsea by the name of Neil Clement and bringing bona fide Albion legend Super Bob Taylor back to The Hawthorns. The team was galvanised and survival assured. The following season began the revival of the club in earnest, Megson bought shrewdly in the summer – Jason Roberts, Derek McInnes and Ruel Fox all arriving and something special started to happen. A mixture of defensive organisation and the strike partnership of Roberts and Lee Hughes saw Albion power up the table ending the season in an unlikely play-off spot, it ended in defeat at Bolton but we were richer for the experience.

The 2001-02 season will go down in folklore at The Hawthorns, possibly the greatest season we have ever known. Nothing was expected of Megson’s side, the play-off season previously was seen as a fluke and teams like Man City, Birmingham and Wolves were spending huge amounts for the First Division at the time and were expected to run away with the league. We started the season well, and then just kept winning 1-0. Every week. 1-0. Megson had created a team that was impossible to score against and could take the odd chance that came our way. Man City were running away with the league but we were still clinging on the coat-tails of Wolves, with seven games to go we were eleven points behind our dear and beloved neighbours. Then the magic really happened. A mixture of them choking a huge lead and us relentlessly chasing them down led to us overtaking them and securing a return to the Premier League. In two short years Sir Gary had picked up a club on its knees and dragged it back into the top flight. The PL campaign ended predictably in relegation, but Megson brought us back up again the following season with the minimum of fuss. The template was set – go up, take the cash, come down, go up again. His reign finally ended after falling out with Jeremy Peace, it wouldn’t be the first time.

It’s not unreasonable to think that had it not been for Megson we wouldn’t be where we are today, an established (if unglamorous) Premier League club. He picked the club up at its lowest ebb and drove it to a place many of us never thought we would see – that glorious 2002 season, the yo-yo years, establishment in the Premier League. It all started with Megson’s appointment in March 2000.

Thank you Sir Gary, and good to see you back.
DM, WBA (obviously)


Why are English pundits largely stupid?
I’ve noticed a lot of mails in recent weeks about the laziness and general incompetence most television pundits in English football. Complaints have ranged from the lack of research and thought put into analysis, over simplification of team problems and scapegoating certain individuals.

I’ve got few thoughts on why this is the case. To do so I’d like to compare media analysis in England and the United States. I’m from India but attended college in the United states and now am working in the US as well. One thing I noticed and was surprised that the way to get into every major league (NFL, NBA, MLB) was through a college program of the corresponding sport (unless you’re Lebron freaking James).

The focus of the student athlete in college in obviously loaded towards the sports program but they still have to attend classes, maintain a certain level of GPA (you can lose your scholarship if you don’t), and maintain eligibility until they declare for the draft. This leads them to develop quality research skills, ability to speak eloquently on a particular subject, analyze statistics and convert them into a coherent argument for or against a player/team/performance etc. Thus, when they eventually finish their career and transition into media they have a much more solid base on which to frame and explain their arguments and thoughts.

I’ve noticed this in two major debate shows on television. ESPN First Take and Undisputed on Fox Sports. While first take is hosted by two journalists they regularly have football/basketball and baseball players (retired and current) come on and give their views. I’ve definitely noticed that a lot of them have obviously done deep research on the topic and can easily argue their point with professional media analysts and are rarely caught off guard. And unlike in England where Dave Jones and Jake Humphrey are all too willing to go along with whatever nonsense Jamie Redknapp or Graeme Souness are spouting, the views of the ex players are challenged, scrutinized and debated ferociously.

Now obviously it’s two different countries and way different sports. And I’m not even lambasting players for there repetitive and often simplistic analysis. It’s what they grew up on and have ingrained over years of being in football themselves. Surely though, the multi billion dollar behemoths that are Sky and BT, they can do a lot more media/research training for their pundits. It’ll only improve the quality of their programming. While some do improve on the job (Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas), some are forever destined to espouse old school, ill thought out shite (Paul Merson, Charlie Nicholls, Jamie Redknapp).

The two exceptions to this are Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville. This is surely because as Gary noted when Sky followed him for a day, he thinks MNF is a serious football show. See what a bit of thought and research into your analysis can do, Phil Thompson?
Div, Los Angeles

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