Premier League ready to dominate Europe again

Date published: Tuesday 10th January 2017 2:02

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Sweet FA Cup memories
I was interested to know whether George, Birmingham overlooked his pretty high flyng WBA side´s loss to a second division side in the 1982 semis of the FA Cup. QPR fans packed the North Bank and created an Athletico Madrid style rush when the winning goal was scored at that end of the pitch. Sweet, sweet memories. Moving on, the spanish press are making somewhat more of Maurice Little Poch´s move to Barcelona when Luis Enrique leaves the post. I know the Spurs boss has recently highlighted his playing and coaching days at Español yet I had to smile at that  as some months before our Terry Venebles left Loftus Road to work at the Nou Camp he also said to the fans “Don´t worry, Barcelona can´t tempt me away from QPR ” We all smiled and said “sure Terry we believe you”. If and when it does happen I reckon Danny Rose will be top of the list for English players to join him, perhaps Deli Alli too. To finish, doesn´t anyone else rate the punditry team of Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux ? With Arlow White they are the football equivalent of the original Have I got news for you trio.
Peter. Andalucia.


Big clubs love the cup
I appreciate Mighty Mariner’s sentiment but it seems a bit mean to tar all fans of big clubs with the same brush.

I was born in Islington – I didn’t really have a choice in terms of team when I knew what football was really about.

And I love the FA Cup – that goalless draw against Palace in the ’98 cup when me and my mate got to make Andy Linighan feel like a superstar by loudly cheering whenever he warmed up by the Arsenal fans, Henry’s goal against Leeds in 2012 that made me cry, and the FA cup semi against Wigan in 2013 when I couldn’t watch any of the penalties and then celebrated like a madman hugging all of my fellow gooners in sight, are some of my countless reasons why.

I’ve had a change of heart though in that I don’t actually think you do have to support your local team. What matters is you feel the passion and love for your club from your head to the tips of your toes meaning you would happily go and watch your team if Zippy and George were the centre forward pairing and not complain because they’re your team and that’s all that matters so you actually welcome these trips to clubs you’ve never heard of in the cup.

I find fans of big clubs belittling the cup a tad strange – not least because of their propensity to actually go on and win the trophy. If you don’t class the cup as a real trophy you should rethink your life and stop following football. I’ve been spoilt as a gooner but this summer my other great love Middlesex became champions for the first time since the 90s and I celebrated like a loon just as I would if we the cup again come May despite the fact we won the cup back to back just a couple of years back.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


It seems that every time we arrive at FA Cup week there’s a familiar pattern that starts with people complaining that the competition has lost its value, and quickly turns towards blaming the big teams. Apparently those teams don’t care about the cup anymore. Always play weakened teams. Prioritise other competitions.

Its interesting then, to look at the list of recent winners . Lets go from 1992-93 which was the start of the Premier League era.

Arsenal 7
Chelsea 6
Man Utd 5
Liverpool 2
Man City 1
Everton 1
Portsmouth 1
Wigan 1

It sure looks to me like the big teams are taking it pretty seriously, because, you know, they seem to win it quite often. I personally think the true reason behind many fans losing interest is the exact opposite. The FA Cup is sold on its “magic”, but do fans outside the top 6 really believe that their team can win it? The big teams are dominating not just the league, but the cup as well.

Maybe a potential solution could be to seed teams so that whoever is highest in the league when the draw is made, plays away from home, which might lead to more upsets.
Daniel Foster (Arsenal fan)


Bad for the neutral, but…
One of the first things I did when seeing Tottenham were at home to Wycombe Wanderers in the 4th round was to see how fans of the opposition club were reacting to the fixture. It appeared to be near-universal approval, citing the quality of the opposition, the lucrative nature of it, the relative proximity, and that it was the last opportunity to visit the current White Hart Lane. On my own side, we’re happy to see if Janssen can get a couple past a good quality League 2 defence, another opportunity to blood the next generation and that we have a pretty good chance of progressing.

This was entirely at odds to the ‘As bad as last time’ headline on your draw article, It occurs that yes, for the neutral, there’s no eye-catching clash of the titans, but not too far off half the league, in addition to those non league clubs, still have a stake in this. That’s even before looking at all the giant-killing possibilities: If Brentford humble Chelsea or Wycombe get an upset on their first and last trip to the current White Hart Lane, we’ll hear about it every year for decades to come.

Besides which, seeing the Wycombe players go mental on half a dozen phone videos when they watched the draw should warm the heart of even the most curmudgeonly supporter.

AJ, Bishop’s Stortford, THFC


How to resurrect the FA Cup
I’m not sure that rewarding the winners with the Champions League would work, as that would only make it interesting for teams who don’t already regularly qualify for the Champions League and for those that are 100% safe from relegation; A one year bonus versus the potential  of years outside of the Prem would be a difficult sell to the bean counters on the boards of the bottom 10 Prem clubs, and it’s their – baring a few exceptions – effective rolling over each year that takes the shine off the tournament and limits the amount of upsets. So that proposed change would only be tempting for 6 teams, and to that end wouldn’t really create that much of a change in behaviour or attitude…?

So my change would be to effectively say, if you get to the final of a domestic cup, you’re safe from relegation that year. League Cup and FA Cup. Not sure whether that’d mean only two teams go down, or it’s 3 of the bottom four.

But if you say to Alan Pardew, Moyes, Billic et al they can secure safety (and their job) in 8 games rather than 38, and they’d try really hard – as would their players. And the fans would get a day at Wembley rather than the 17th placed trophy and Phil Brown with a microphone. The bean counters would get their guaranteed top flight football, plus either 2, or 8 european ties to add to the coffers.

Just seems more logical than a reward that wouldn’t be enticing – and would also, in all likelihood, reduce our Euro coefficient and potentially mean the loss of that fourth placed / Champs League position? Or would folks be happy with just Chelsea, City, and….. Bradford representing the Prem in 5 years?
Tom G


Reading all the e-mails about how to make the FA Cup more exciting (big fan by the way…) gave me this idea:

1. Split the teams involved in the draw in to 2 pots – lowest placed teams in the league in pot one, highest placed teams in the league in pot two

2. For the draw, pot one is always drawn from first meaning the lowest placed teams always get (potentially) home advantage

This, for me, would make the FA Cup draw instantly more exciting. I want to see a higher percentage of potential giant killings (and i know there’s still a chance that teams around each other would still be drawn against each other using this system).

Now for the twist…

3. The lowest placed team can then choose whether to play home or away:

Choose to play at home and use home advantage to potentially increase the possibility of a giant killing (would the big clubs still play weakened teams if they had to travel away to lower league opposition?)


Choose to play away and get a bigger pay day – still the chance to pull off a giant killing but may face a weakened big team

This could be just for the 3rd round draw but could be used for other rounds as well (depending on the number of drawn games.
Nick (MUFC)


How about this for a suggestion:

Any Prem team that makes the final is immune from relegation that season
Any lower division team that makes the final gets automatic promotion.

I’ve said makes the final rather than wins, because the ‘Big Six’ of Liverpool, Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea & Man City have won 25 of the last 28 Cups between them. And that’s with Spurs & City only managing 1 each.

Might not make Everton interested, but Fat Sam would start taking it seriously at least?
Stewart, LFC, Chicago


Does it even need rescuing?
Why all the FA Cup hate? Having seen off Everton I’m already dreaming of lifting another trophy we’ve never won before.

Sure the third round is a bit sh*t, but like any competition, things will hot up as the can’t be arsed and plain awful are weeded out.

There’s been a lot of talk on here before about stability vs winning stuff. For me it’s simple, I’d take the glory (and heartache) any day.
Jamie, LCFC


On Tottenham
Seeing Daisy’s wishes for Tottenham in yesterday’s mailbox had me thinking… Hold up, hold up. Why does your first wish starts with the typical “I like him, but” entry? Oh well, it’s exactly that. Ok fine, so you got a problem with Poch rotating the squad against perceived weaker opposition, yet understand the principle of keeping key players fit and fresh for bigger things… I won’t go with the argument that every top tier club rotates in cup matches, because they don’t all have to do it. Instead, I’ll go with my view on why they still do it. Financially, the FA cup is almost irrelevant to them. It’s much more interesting for lower league clubs who can get round-winning prize money + TV revenues off playing the big boys. The maximum money a club can get this FA Cup if they started from the extra preliminary and win the whole thing is a little less than £3.5 million. By comparison, you can get £14m in prize money from the Europa League if you win it. A Premier League club can get £3.7 million by finishing 3 places higher on average in the league if you compared last season’s prize money distribution between the clubs. Despite the exit from the Champions League, Tottenham already got around £14m from participation and performances in the group stage alone. None of the amounts above include TV money. (Source: totalsportek)

Your second wish… Who did Levy really want instead of Sissoko? Was one of our bids refused for someone else? Levy had mid-transfer-window deals done this summer for Janssen and NKoudou only dragged on because of the selling club changing their mind or personnel; and Wanyama was done super quickly and everyone’s happy about that. Keep in mind also that reportedly, Poch had a lot to do with signings, especially Sissoko’s. Poch basically said straightforwardly he wouldn’t buy anyone this January because it’s too hard to find the right player and have them adapt to the way the club plays. Also, more generally about Levy, why would he overpay for players when he can negotiate better deals? We’re actually lucky to have him keeping the club so financially solid. The modern game is all about money now, and Levynomics work. Glad we don’t have David Gold or Mike Ashley in his stead.

Finally, where would NKoudou fit in the starting XI? Especially if Lamela stays injured, the best front 3 behind Kane is Son, Dele and Eriksen. Despite being so one-dimensional in his dribbling and general play, Son is providing goals since the beginning of the season. Sissoko, on the other hand, is a decent second-option and has a better knowledge of the English game than NKoudou and more physicality. But we should probably see GK start against Wycombe next round of the FA Cup, where he’ll be given a chance from the starting whistle. So which of your first wish or third has priority?

PS: Woah, almost didn’t notice the jab at Winksy. The man is already better than Mason ever was for us. Both of them showed great determination and desire to work for the badge in front, and both played as midfielders. There stops all comparisons. Winks is a better passer by miles, and he can defend. He also doesn’t lose possession after committing himself in the opposition’s half, leaving his midfield partner doing the work for two like Mason did. He is calm and collected with the ball: a 20 year old already better at this stage in his development than Mason currently is at 25. Winks is currently succeeding where Mason, Bentaleb and Carroll all failed.
John Blakeway (sorry for sounding so patronizing)


Why I love Olivier Giroud
When I was a young boy I was a pretty talented tennis player, but I had an obvious ceiling: I could never take the step up from a boy with talent to a serious adolescent player.  One day, choking back tears after a humiliating defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory capitulation, my Dad stopped the car, looked over at me and said, “Listen son, here’s the truth. You are slow. Forget everything else, you are just too slow to play at a higher level. There’s no shame in that, that’s simply how it is and it’s not going to change.” Dad was right of course, my chronic lack of pace and acceleration meant that I was always physically a step behind the better players, and moving efficiently took a lot of physical and mental energy. There’s something rather cruel about this truth — you can improve a huge amount about your game through training, but (a few technique changes aside), speed is ultimately about your personal physiology.

That’s why, despite the flak he always cops, I will always have a soft spot for Olivier Giroud and his slow-motion interpretation of the centre forward role. Giroud has a wealth of attributes that should make for an excellent centre forward, but like me, he’s just too slow to take his game to the next level. When I see Giroud run, I can see him TRYING to run. He puts so much conscious effort into moving fast, whereas other players just move. That effort needs concentration and attention, taking away from the myriad of other things a he can be paying attention to. Giroud could do something audacious like a scorpion kick sandwiched between two players, but it only comes about because the team has to slow the ball down for him to get up the field and he rarely ever find himself in space.

Giroud, by all rights, should be too slow to be a top flight centre forward in the modern game, but he’s somehow managed to overcome chronic slowness to still succeed. He will always be a level below the best or even the more effective.  But for all his issues, he makes a lead-footed trier like me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Andre E


Pundits to blame
I’m very much enjoying the way Football365, and in particular Mediawatch and Johnny Nicholson, are taking the assorted arse-headed media old boys to task over their ill-informed, bigoted views on who should be a premier league manager and who shouldn’t.

However, deep down I do believe they have something of a point in thinking there aren’t enough British managers in the Premier League. After all, variety is the spice of life, but you can’t make a dish with just spices – you need to throw in some meat and potatoes to add substance and character.

In my view, though, this is not so much a ‘demand’ problem as a ‘supply’ problem. It’s not that the club owners (whether foreign or not) are prejudiced against hiring Englishman. On the contrary, I say most would prefer Allardyce or a Pulis to an unknown import when it’s November and you’re 6 points clear at the bottom. No, the issue is that there simply aren’t enough established British managers to go around, nor are they coming up through the lower leagues or the backroom staff of major clubs. And, in a roundabout way, I think these pundits are to blame for it.

There are two types of people that become football managers. First, we have the ‘enthusiasts’: men who were never (successful) professional players themselves, but do have the desire and skills set to become managers. Ex-translator Mourinho and ex-banker Mark Warburton are good examples. It’s fairly easy to see why not enough of these enthusiasts are becoming coaches: the cost. It costs £5,820 to obtain your UEFA A-license in the UK, whereas in  Spain this is only €1,200 and in Germany just €530. Most people would be able to scrounge the latter together with a couple of months of not going out to dinner and drinking only Tesco Value beer, but the former involves a serious financial commitment that many potential coaches would simply be unable to make.

The second type of coach is the at least moderately successful ex-pro, who has the financial clout and contacts within the game to roll into coaching jobs without being massively out of pocket. Here too English managers are fewer in numbers than their European counterparts. Look at the great Holland side of the mid to late 90’s: Koeman, De Boer, Cocu, Van Bronckhorst, Blind, Kluivert, Seedorf and Stam are all or have all been head coaches at club or country.  Overmars is technical director at Ajax, Bergkamp a valued assistant coach there.

Now look at the also-pretty-great England side of around the same time: only Paul Ince, Tony Adams and Gary Neville have had (fairly half-hearted, it must be said) stabs at management, only Gareth Southgate is currently a head coach in a major job. So, what are all the others doing? Well, due to the insane amount of football on television in this country, they have almost all managed to wrangle cushy-sit-on-the-nice-sofa-and-blather-inane-views jobs at one of the broadcasters. Seriously, the amount of active pundits among that lot is staggering: Owen, Ferdinand, Shearer, Merse, Scholes, Keown, McMannaman, Neville… All of them have chosen a seemingly easy and lucrative life on the TV circuit over donning a windbreaker and standing around a rainy pitch all day. Gary Neville failed at Valencia and decided coaching wasn’t for him, Koeman failed at the same bonkers club ten years back and it only strengthened his resolve. Which is understandable in a sense, but it’s a bit rich if they then start to criticise club owners for actually seeking out those (foreign) coaches who could be bothered to put in the hours and become good at their jobs.


Foreign managers not just a Premier League thing
So the recent spate of emails and media attention on foreign coaches got me thinking. Is this only an English thing? What is happening in the other top leagues?

So I did a quick check of the four top leagues after the EPL (bestest league in the whole wide world TM) and found some interesting stats.

La Liga
Real Madrid: Zidane, French
Sevilla: Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina
Barcelona: Luis Enrique, Spain
Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone, Argentina

Bayern Munich: Carlo Ancelotti, Italy
RB Leipzig: Ralph Hasenhuttl, Austria
Hertha Berlin: Pal Dardai, Hungary
Eintracht: Niko Kovac, Germany (but played for Croatia)

Ligue Un
Nice: Lucien Favre, Switzerland
Monaco: Leonardo Jardim, Venezuela
PSG: Unai Emery, Spain
Lyon: Bruno Genesio, France

So only one of the managers of the top 4 in Spain is managed by a Spaniard, one of the top 4 German teams (and it seems he has strong Croatian heritage having played for Croatia), only one of the top four in Ligue Un are French. All four of Serie A are Italian.

Puts the whole conversation into greater context. Its not just happening in England, all the top teams in the top leagues will reach out to find the best managers period. And if the EPL just happens to have 6 or 7 top teams, then likely they will look to the best, especially when the rewards are so much higher and the financial challenges of not making the top 4, are so much greater.

And even happens in smaller leagues. Take Scotland and Celtic, the most successful Scottish club in the last 20 years, of the last 9 Celtic managers only one has been from Scotland. And Olympiakos, touted by Merse? Well, of the last 16 managers, 2 were Greek.
Paul McDevitt


Assorted thoughts
* OK the draw wasn’t the greatest but there are only six really outstanding premiership teams and most of the dark horses got eliminated (stoke and west brom despite having full squads) so big games where by the laws of probability going to be sparse the upside is that if the big six all go through then the 5th round or quarter finals will be much more exciting.

*That being said there are some potential games of interest such as southampton vs Arsenal if southampton win the replay let’s not forget southampton have already eliminated the gunners from the league cup, there is a midlands derby between reigning champs liecester and well Derby. There is a potential meeting between two managers with tactics on different ends of the spectrum (pep vs fat sam) and Man U are welcoming back another manager who has influenced our history Warren Joyce (if he is still in the wigan job by then) who in the past was responsible for nurturing Pogba, lingard Rashford and most of the other youngsters LVg gave debuts in the reserves.

* Ronaldo won as expected and we got his usual antics but personally I thought there were some freat moments and some really clasy awards (I know not something you’d expect from fifa) like all the nominees for the fifa fan award the ado den haag story (giving out toys to rival fans I thought was interestiing so was vindication for Ranieri and recognition for the kind gesture of Altetico National aas well as the catalog of skills of Falcao (the futsal version).

* It was agood win for Leeds there improved form continues . If they realise there goal of reaching the premiership it will be possibly the redemption stoty of the year for the club and manager Garry Monk.

* I’m very worried about Valencia beyond the rants of ex presidents this is a once great team that’s sinking fast it’s hard to believe they played champions league football last year they are currently only a point ahead of the relegation places and should have had three points yesterday but some how contrived to miss a penalty that would have taken them 4- 2 up and then conceded a third goal in injury time and this has been a recurring theme of there last two years. this is a team which in the last 20 years have reached two champions league finals won two championships at the time that Real Madrid ad the galaticos and havehad players like david villa david silva and juan Mata the current squad has internationals like Nani,ezequeil garay santi mina and mangala for crying out loud they need an upturn in results fast otherswise a second relegation in their history and possible oblivion await.


I’ve never written in before but as I’m too tired to work and enjoyed the weekend football I thought I would give it a try. Apologies if all of this is a rambling nonsense but maybe I have some interesting points. Please feel free to cut whatever you like if there is anything publishable in here.

Firstly – The FA Cup – I love it, I love watching the youth players from big teams, I love watching lower league teams who I am usually not interested in (because they are not in the same competition as my team). I love the fact that you can find some fantastic “hidden gem” players, there are managers that are clearly terrified of being interviewed on TV, even random sponsoring on the boards at the lower league teams are a change from seeing “Emirates” on everything.
To this end why isn’t there more of it televised? I had to settle for MOTD to simply see highlights. In this day and age of ITV BBC SKY BT HD +one Red button with a million channels available why has no one tried to televise a much larger proportion of the games? If I could go to a channel and select which of the matches I wanted to watch I would spend hours flicking through all of them… I appreciate that I most certainly am an arm chair fan, only going to live games 2/3 times a year, but surely this extra televisual coverage would provide more interest and revenue? Then when you consider all “Big Teams” are already televised, this would mean the rest get some TV funds and this helps with extra funding of the lower leagues.

Second – The point someone made about the winner of the FA Cup taking the 4th place on the Champions League, this is a great idea. This idea could be extended, and say the winner of the league cup gets the last Europa League place. Then if a team in the final is already in these competitions (or a better one Europa Vs CL), their desire to win could be less than that of an opposition. This could mean a greater spread of winners.

Third – new topic – I watched a lot of European league football this weekend, it is not something I do often, so my knowledge is far from complete on this, but from what I saw most PL teams appear to play better, more attractive, more tactically astute and faster flowing football. The only thing I found that the Europeans were better at was cheating (Diving) and passing quickly in close proximity. I got the feeling that the dawn of the PL teams again becoming true European leaders is in the not too distant future. Anyone else feel this way? (Note – I think cheating is done just as much in all leagues, the Europeans are just better at it)

Fourth – Travel to away games – I read an article somewhere recently that away games are scheduled without thinking of the travelling fans and ability to get to and from games is greatly hampered by train times Vs Kick off times. Now I know in the lower leagues this is dealt with by using coach travel, but for the clubs with a greater fan base this is not possible due to limited numbers of busses…etc. Why has no one thought of working with the train companies to get dedicated services for matches, if the match is rescheduled so is the train (scheduling and forward planning issues solved in one hit). This has many benefits – non football train travellers aren’t stuck with football fans and football fans have guaranteed travel. I’m sure in the modern game there is also money to be made in this somewhere too.
Simon – Manchester (I had more points but got bored of typing)


Long words
Hi Kiwi, Nz. Long words are ace, let me help you out:

Prosaic: commonplace; unromantic.
Discourse: written or spoken communication or debate.
Defenestration: the action or process of dismissing someone from a position of power or authority.
Obfuscate: make obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
Promulgate: promote or make widely known.

On a more serious note, Johnny used these words because he felt threatened by a trend of idiocy, of whoever shouts loudest is best, of contempt towards contrasting opinions, which brings down all that we love in the game and reduces it to tribalism, ignorance, hostility and hatred. I stand with Johnny on this one.
John of Norwich


Sexy Ray
Was I the only person to giggle when I read Ray Wilkins said he “wasn’t a great lover of Marcos Alonso” when talking about the return of Nathan Ake?

Don’t be so hard on yourself Ray, I’m sure he feels very satisfied.
Dave C, BWFC
Frozen Lithuania

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