Mails: Pining for football’s lovely yesteryear

Date published: Thursday 5th November 2015 3:21

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Question for Arsenal fans
This is not a dig, but a genuine question; would you rather make it out of the Champs League group stage and go out in the round of 16/quarters/whenever, or go in to the Europa League and have a genuinely very good chance of winning it?
Rob <I remember being in Europe, briefly> Hull fan in Leeds


Arsenal’s squad is fine
I don’t feel the need to talk about the game last night, we were outclassed by a far superior side, injuries or no, that was evident for all to see.

Not too long ago there was a really interesting article on this site comparing the top teams squads to that of liverpool’s and their current injury crisis, it had arsenal sitting quite pretty. Now, unsurprisingly we’re deep in our typical Arsenal, everyone’s crocked, what are we gunna do! position, but compared to the squads of a couple of seasons ago we’re in pretty good shape all things considered.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rumors, and don’t get me wrong I’d be over the moon if we’d have signed Benzema and Carvalho, but this isn’t football manager and despite all the injuries this is clearly one of the best squads in the premier league.

Wenger’s refusal to sign a short term player can be infuriating… could a player like Schweinsteiger or Schneiderlin do a job for us? Almost certainly, but then again Man U haven’t set the world alight (ok, defensively maybe, at a push) but for all it cost them but we probably would have lost by no different of a margin tonight. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I genuinely think Wenger has the right of most of these calls, however much we are ‘one or two players away’, we are as close to the next premier league title as we’ve ever been.

He say’s he wont sign anyone that doesn’t bolster the squad we already have, which is fantastic and could genuinely go all the way season. Prior injury crises have been far more serious for us and weather a few less games in the UCL & COC is enough to put us ahead of City’s rather impressive squad I don’t know, but it’s certainly the closest we’ve been to be to wining the league in a long time so despite last night its a pretty good time to be an Arsenal fan.


Love for Mesut
Mesut Ozil strolls around offering nothing in precisely the same way Dennis Bergkamp used to.

And yet there’s a statue of Bergkamp outside the Emirates.

Either Mesut really is rubbish or Ozil is actually a good player and his detractors are numpties.

I know which side I stand on.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
I would like to politely suggest that Mezirim of Nigeria should start actually watching football matches.

Because I can’t believe that anyone who actually watched last night’s game would single out Özil for criticism when he was evidently Arsenal’s best outfield player on the night.

Jakey  (that wasn’t Peak Arsenal,  that was Trough Arsenal) South East London


Rose-tinted specs
I’m with ‘Jack (Mildly irritated by most things) Manchester’ from this morning’s mailbox. Having experienced the pleasure and pain of supporting United for 40-odd years, I think this view of flowing, attacking football come rain or shine from United is a bit of a fallacy, and we tend to look at the United/SAF legacy through rose-tinted specs.

When SAF took over I can remember uproar back then that we were becoming a dour team after the heady days of Big Ron and Tommy Doc. We were spending big, but buying proper defenders and strengthening the spine of the team. Into the nineties we had a flair players in the side (Giggs, Sharpe, Kanchelskis) but it wasn’t until we signed Cantona that the team became more expansive. The important thing was that  we were still hard to beat, and finally ended up wining the league for the first time in eons.

I can remember us grinding out 1-0 wins thanks to the brilliance of Cantona and Schmeichel for months at the end of the 1995/96 season, and plenty more times over the years. We have had our spectacular moments for sure, and the team has always played attack-minded football, but sometimes at a cost – what about the 90-odd minutes in 1999 before the ‘And Solksjaer has won it’ moment where we were taught a lesson by Bayern pretty much like last night’s Arsenal match, but without the goals? What about the schooling at the hands of Barca in the CL finals?

I for one am happy to see United possibly develop into a team that can hold its own in Europe. Use genuine tactics in games and leave the EPL naivety behind. If this comes at a bit of a cost in entertainment terms while we get it right, and it takes a while to get the balance sorted out, well I’d rather aspire to be the next Bayern, than Wenger’s current Arsenal or Rodgers’ 2014 version of Liverpool.

p.s. The new website sucks. Can we have our old, mobile-unfriendly steam-driven reader-friendly site back please?
E.T. King (MUFC)
(Yeah, we’ll change it back for tomorrow just for you – Editor)


More on Man United
Views on some issues at Man United –

  1. Memphis Depay – At the start of the season, he seemed to be struggling physically yet doing enough to get into the starting XI. He kept showing glimpses of brilliance, then came the goals in the Champions League, the sexy Ronaldo-esque goal at PSV, and then he talks to the press. Says that he’s struggling physically and some random Dutch coach criticizes his attitude and out of nowhere he’s dropped, Blind is talking smack about him, and the lifeless display at Arsenal seemed to shut him down more than anyone else. What’s wrong Memphis?
  2. Wayne Rooney – He’s 30. I don’t expect him to be running rings around midfielders and defenders. I expect him to do what Henrik Larsson did on his loan spell with us. Take your chances, make an impact. From next season, he will I think start to be dropped often. But for now, he needs to run less, take up smarter positions. He has the ability, but everything suggests that players with intelligence flourish under Van Gaal.
  3. Michael Carrick and the center of midfield – the display against CSKA was a welcome one. I would always play Carrick with Schniederlin / Basti. Carrick’s passing and positioning is superior to them both. I don’t think there is a best combo here. Van Gaal will have to keep switching. Carrick and Basti were murdered against Arsenal for lack of pace, where Morgan would have been excellent.
  4. Jesse Lingard – I hope he flourishes into the next Juan Mata under Van Gaal. With him, Martial, Memphis and Wilson, we look OK when injuries come calling.
  5. Antony Martial – I promise I’m going to pretend to be surprised when Madrid come knocking for him over the summer.
  6. Angel di Maria – That’s right folks. I’m still not over him. When we were laboring to a 1-0 win over CSKA, PSG were all over Madrid in a game of such high quality. And tell you what – Di Maria was brilliant – cut throat acceleration, top notch work rate, no errors in short passes, pressing defenders, making chances. All this against one of the best teams in Europe. Why didn’t it work out? Tell me!

Akshat Pande, Man United fan, India


Chelsea fan praises Chelsea fans
Wenger out# Rodgers out# LVG out# Mourinho in#

Chelsea fans (although many are accused of being plastic) are actually quite classy, should any other club in the league bar a few have such a bad run of results through poor performances they would be booing their players off the field and in the coming days they would be celebrating the managers walk towards the guillotine. Chelsea fans cheer for the manager, they clap and support the underperforming players. Can anyone remember the 4 seasons of Torres?

Yes we have been turgid, yes we shown to an extent as club that we do not respect our staff, but my word, what a performance from the fans at Stamford Bridge! Irrespective of performance, outside circumstances and results, the fans have been absolutely fantastic!

I do thoroughly agree that we have been “found out”, what a fantastic article by Bobby Gardiner.
M4RCU5X15, CFC (Do I need to make a statement and provide evidence to prove that I am a real fan?)


Good win, but still problems
Nothing on Chelsea’s game against Kiev so thought I’d give it a pop. We looked better, actually quite threatening and I felt it had been coming when our briefly joint top scorer again “own goal” popped up.

Still plenty to worry about though, Costa is just massively ineffective at the moment. Last season he surely would have put his foot through the ball instead of going down with minimal if any contact. Get to 70 minutes without a buffer goal and you can sense the team and fans start collectively defecating bricks. When Kiev equalised from a nervy corner there was a sense of inevitable “here we go again”. The only one not resigned to their fate was Willian, where would we be without him?

It was very pleasing to see the ovation for Jose at Stamford Bridge, whatever you think of him and our fans most people surely wouldn’t begrudge supporters doing that supporting thing.

By no means a corner turned against a pretty poor Kiev side but an important win nonetheless, tougher test to follow at Stoke.
Jimmy (and then things got worse) Sham


Last word on Baggio
Dear Football365,

Reading the enjoyable Roberto Baggio profile, something sounded familiar, about a player admired by many for his all-round ability but whose career is overshadowed by a rare but high profile moment of failure.  It reminded me of the late cyclist Laurent Fignon.

Fignon’s autobiography begins with him being recognised by a member of the public as “the guy who lost the Tour de France by 8 seconds” (to Greg LeMond in 1989), and replying through gritted teeth, “no, I’m the guy who won it twice”.  Fignon was an immensely talented cyclist who was admired by the purists – while being competent in all disciplines of cycling, his forte was the mountain stages, beating his rivals on the road.  Chris Froome is a similar sort of cyclist, for a current example.  On the other hand, LeMond’s success was down to his ability to hold his own and limit his losses on the climbs, then playing to his own strength, the individual time trial.  As such, Fignon lost out by the tiniest of margins – like Baggio, the fact that his failure to win with the world watching has twisted the perception of him to the wider media from all-time great to plucky loser.

One of the best things about the World Cup last year was the BBC screening all the official World Cup films.  The context of the 1970 tournament, as the first one to be beamed around the world in colour, led to Brazil adopting their yellow and blue kit.  However, the 1994 World Cup sticks in my mind as a multi-coloured jamboree.  This is either because England’s absence led to broadcasters taking a less monochrome view, or because of Jorge Campos’s self-designed jersey.  In reality, it’s probably early/mid-90s fashions combined with the (re-)emergence of countries from the Eastern Bloc – Romania’s all-yellow kit with red and blue trim, and Bulgaria’s white, red and green, matched the boldness of their star men, Gheorgi Hagi and Hristo Stoichkov respectively.

While Roberto Baggio will forever be the man most associated with the 1994 World Cup final, the other striking image from that game is of the two goalkeepers (I want to say Pagliuca and Taffarel) walking to the shootout with their arms round each other’s shoulders.  A tremendous act of sportsmanship that has rarely been seen before or since.

The literary Ed Quoththeraven


The very last word on Baggio
Baggio? Pffft, he’s just a poor man’s Davide Fontalan
Drew Peacock, MUFC – Manchester


Yearning for football’s yesteryear
There have been some mails about whether or not Cantona was as good as is reputed. There have also been some brilliant f365 articles about 90s legends like Baggio and Batistuta. While every day an article is written about the all time greatness of a Messi, Ronaldo or Neuer. It made me think about the generational differences around greatness.

Today, quality or success is defined by stats, figures and attention. Every game is a series of numbers. We’ve also got players like Messi and Ronaldo who are ripping up the stats books which makes them greats. Whoscored proves they are great.

People like Cantona and Baggio existed in a time where TV coverage was just enough to broadcast their brilliance (unlike say Pele, or Garrincha), but before the total overexposure. There wasn’t a lot of statistical analysis, or 24hr scrutiny of their lives, with 4+ games a week. You would see them a couple of times a week, and European games were representative of cultural clashes. I genuinely can’t remember knowing how much a player earned, or caring about how many assists they got in a season.

When I used to watch Cantona, or Baggio, or Weah,, or Bergkamp, or Romario (list goes on) it wasn’t just about statistics. When you watched Roy Keane, the sheer lunacy of his commitment made you understand what a leader was, and sometimes Cantonas sheer self belief made the hairs on your scrotum stand on endl. Statistically Le Tissier and Gascoigne weren’t the best, but to watch them you got a sense of a kind of passion, ingenuity and commitment that you can’t measure. Even Vinnie Jones wasn’t a great player but he was terrifying and inspirational and I’d argue he was a star. Plus we never really knew how much they all earns or whether they had 1 year on their contract left. We talked a lot more about intangible qualities such as leadership and commitment which are oddly referred to more infrequently today.

Point is, you can’t apply current assessment against the past; and the obsession with stats has dampened some of the fun you get from today’s footballing leaders, Mavericks or madmen. I can’t prove Cantona was a genius, but in his day you didn’t need to. And I f@@king felt inspired by him.


Don’t encourage him
The funf-air (can’t find the umlaut) is possibly the greatest headline ever written. To pun in another language is truly remarkable.
Stu, Southampton

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