Mails: Robinho worth every penny for City

Matt Stead

Keep those thoughts coming to…


Joe Hart and English players
Joey Barton has made my blood boil….. surprising?

Joe Hart – made several high-profile mistakes in the last year. Was very poor in the European Championships. Has a massive ego (apparently). But is English. Sells shampoo. We are told how good he is, despite our eyes telling us otherwise.

If a Manager comes in, looks at his options on the training pitch (not reading a CV or listening to the media ‘experts’) and decides he’s not good enough so what? Hold on, he’s English so you can’t treat him like that! Show some respect! Or drop a player that you believe would cost you points over the course of the season when you are targeted with winning major trophies?

Rooney is the same, a media darling that is told how good he is by the blinkered media and therefore gets away with producing really average performances. While a lot of people would be happy to see him dropped from Utd and England no doubt there will be a media uprising saying look what he’s done for club and country, a world class player. Yes, his record is impressive but he has rarely been in the world class bracket and hasn’t performed for several seasons to a standard to justify standing on the pedestal the media put him on.

I honestly think this is all linked to the performance of the national side, the players are given massive contracts and built up by the media so they don’t think they need to improve or produce performances to justify selection. They are already top top players. Urghhhh.

Hopefully Big Sam will watch a few games and pick on current performances not unjustified reputations and ego’s.

Dave (The first squad will tell us everything), Somerset


Isn’t it odd that after a dodgy euros and perceived unsuitability to his ‘new role,’ the English press are up in arms about the ‘treatment’ of Joe Hart? Players get dropped all the time, rightly or wrongly, but it is the manager’s decision.

Pep understands his footballing blueprint better than anyone and if Hart is a casualty then it’s a shame but it’s Pep’s call. Hart is not undroppable and nor should he be. Which brings me on to the topic of another English player who had a dodgy Euros. Rooney; a player in terminal decline, a player suddenly past his best or a player who has been heading that way for some time…it’s debatable. But frankly, he should not be near the Manchester United first team and it is being highlighted in the press. The press want English undroppables and then complain when there is one.

Who’d be a manager?
Jenade Sharma


I just want to weigh in on this whole ‘Pep’s getting rid of Hart’ thing. Put simply, I call bullshit. Pep’s statements on the matter have basically consisted of preferring Big Willy’s Style because he’s better with his feet and that Joe’s not had as much time with the squad in pre-season as Willy but can learn to play the way he wants. Hart is apparently depressed, distraught and a variety of other different flavours of indignant about it and is shortly to be off and away to play for Everton (and if he is off, he could do a lot worse).

I may have missed the interview he gave where he said he wasn’t happy and had had enough. Maybe I’m going to be proved spectacularly wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time) but my reading here is that Hart hasn’t had as long with the first team and still needs to adapt to Guardiola’s methods. Until he does, Caballero, who’s further along in the process, keeps nets. Why is Guardiola going to sell one of the few players we have that qualifies as home grown and replace him with a 33 year old just because he bought him at Barce? Didn’t we just pay over the odds for Stones because of his Englishy Englishness? Have Barce said they want rid of Bravo? Has Guardiola said he doesn’t rate Hart? For me, this is a media supposition, or maybe, Hart’s agent trying to put some pressure on Guardiola to back his client.

When I see Hart actually in talks with another club, or when Caballero gets the Head and Shoulders gig, then I’ll get on board with this but for now, it’s all just guesswork and sensationalism for me.
Steve Bradley (Not actually a Will Smith fan)

PS – I’ve just seen he’s considering a loan move in an article containing no quotes of any kind. Super.


Where shall I open this can of worms?
Papa C
ascertains that Joe Hart is protected because he is English. I disagree. Raheem Sterling was slaughtered. Ferdinand was rightly exposed when he was declining so was Ashley Cole.

The (ugly) truth is Joe Hart is protected because he is white. Wayne Rooney is benefitting from the same protection despite playing at a level where he couldn’t help any premier league team, much less one who’s manager has vocally claimed they are going for the title. Gary Neville even claimed united is stalling Rooney’s evolution- as if he is entitled to be a midfielder at the highest level – well just because. Superior players in similar positions such as like totti and del piero were not given such leeway because the culture in their countries does not outwardly favor them.

i don’t believe this is necessarily outright racism but rather the fact that, in the main, men of the same race are more likely to fraternize and the white majority in the media and amongst ex pros are looking out for their mates. It is the very foundation upon which the PFM culture is built, a culture unique to British football. It’s the same thing that gets people like Bruce, sherwood and Moyes a free pass for staggering acts of buffoonery in the dugout. The white and British profile is a criticism repelling forcefield in this country. A forcefield which eventually wears out, but offers protection for a long period nonetheless.

Brexit will likely ensure the problem becomes worse before it becomes better. It’s the truth. We all know it. Admitting it would require addressing some home truths which most aren’t ready to address.
– Mr. F (MUFC)


Fixing Arsenal
Ok…so we’re enjoying this way too much…but the best thing about Arsenal, is how easy it would be to fix, and how potent they could be.

Firstly, like ManU, Man City, and Liverpool this year, you need to have a spring clean and clear out the dead wood. This gives energy to the place, keeps players on their toes, etc. It also, in Arsenals case would bring in some decent cash (Gibbs, Ox, Walcott, Wilshire, Coq, Gnabry, Campbell, Ramsey, etc, etc – easily get 100 mill for that lot – particularly if you include Wilshire and Ramsey).

Next, you identify the weaknesses in the squad – we’ll just go with the obvious – centre back, defensive midfield (anyone else spotted that Xhaka isn’t a DM and is just another in a long line of pretty central midfielders), an attacking right midfield, and striker.

Now, if we were back in June, it would have been a relatively easy process to identify targets; a job lot for Kante and Mahrez fills two of the spaces (we’ll ignore the Vardy debacle), Stones has the pretty boy/plays well out of the back/looks like he could get bullied centre back spot covered, and Higuain is a shoe in (pies and all) for the world class striker spot. You move early and hard to avoid the Pogba inflation – 150-175 mill all in…net spend 50-75m – easily doable, and you have a front line of Sanchez, Ozil, and Mahhrez, supporting Higuain, with Kante covering. We’ll call that an upgrade.

However, we are where we are, and like the desperate kid at the disco, we have to take what’s on offer, not what might have been.

So, who’s available, and what’s the minimum required to keep the Arse in the hunt?

I’d suggest any price for Mahrez is now worth it – giving a Sanchez, Ozil, Mahrez attack that would scare most teams, and even Giroud might hit 20 goals with that service.

In defence, it’s cast off’s only at this point; ManU have Blind, Rojo, and a half fit Jones available – all of whom fit the Arsenal mould of lightweight and/or perma crocked. Man City have Mangala available cheaply, I’d have thought. Chelsea have about 300 young centre backs on loan – I’m not sure of the rules, but at least 3 of them looked pretty tasty. Saints are always a ready source of decent players – Fonte and Virgil spring to mind. And outside of the Premier League, if Arsenal want to put their big boy pants on and fish in the big boy pool, Varane would seem like an awesome target.

But to achieve this, they’d have to do the one thing that they’re seemingly incapable of doing – stop fannying around looking for a bargain that doesn’t exist and JFDI !!

Whilst we wait for pigs to fly, I’m looking forward to my pre-season bet on Wenger leaving before Xmas coming true and paying out, yeah baby…
Matthew (ITFC)


Stop breaking the backs of camels, guys
I’m trying to answer this question “statistically” and I just need a few more hours. Please don’t let this die by the lunch mailbox.

I’m building a spreadsheet with 25 years of transfer data for the following clubs:
– Top 6 in England (ARS, MU, MC, CHE, Spurs, LIV)
– Top 2 in Spain (RM, BAR)
– Top 3 in Italy (JUV, ACM, INT)
– Top 2 in Germany (Bayern, Dortmund)
– PSG from France

The idea is to see if the amount spent by these clubs on inbound transfers has seen any sudden movement over the years. If yes, what were the outlying transfer amounts in the preceding years.

Oh, and I’m using transfermarkt(dot)co(dot)uk as my source.

Gaurav (Excel 365) B, India



In agreement with Jack’s shout out at Robinho as the transfer which broke the camel’s back.

I clearly remember City paying out mad sums on random footballers right from the start of the Shinawatra days. And it was not just him, as I remember the likes of Santa Cruz(£18m), Jo(£19m), Adebayor (£25m), Lescott (£22m), Elano etc also moving for stupid sums and wages. If I recollect correctly, they spent close to £300m in 2 seasons, thereby inflating the transfer market and player wages to unprecedented levels. I understand why they did it, as there is no other alternative to fast track your way to the big boys’ club. But this frenzy had a massive part to play in the football economics thereafter.

My biggest gripe however is not about City causing the prices for world class players to skyrocket, as back then they hardly bought in any of the top top names to start with (they wouldn’t come anyway), but with the fact that they hyper inflated the market for the second or third rate premiership level players. Think about the sheer number of decent, but hardly world-beating players City sighed during the Mark Hughes and (early) Mancini eras. Players who would have previous moved around for £8-12m and about £40-50k a week were suddenly trading for double or more in both the fees and the wages. Even Roman’s Chelsea at the outset didn’t pay out such mad wages and they also generally bought a better class of player for all the money they spent.

It was like Woodstock for mercenaries!! Clearly the transfer market was not the same anymore thereafter. Therefore, in a way City are directly to blame for Carroll costing £35m and Rooney now earning £300,000 per week.

So yes, Manchester City not only broke the camel’s back, they then skewered the camel and made shawarmas out of it.
Rahber, India


I think everything went south when Chelsea signed Laudrup, Deshamps, and Weah (oh, and Bogarde). Couple of those were on frees but just signing big name player willy-nilly on big wages for a handful of matches really took the romance out of the Premier League for me.

For large fee nowhere near worth it, you don’t have to look much further than Sutton and Torres.
Adam Corbett


Robinho was worth it
The Robinho shout was spot on – his price was inflated. But the City owners did that on purpose. Simply put, spending that much money made the footballing world stand up. Although the likes of Aguero, Clichy, Nasri and others were accused of moving for the money, what was obvious is that City were putting a team together capable of competing for titles.

Over time, Robinho has been worth more than the price paid. Much more.
Liam EFC


An alternative to penalties
I know that replacing penalty kicks is an oft-discussed topic, but I believe I have stumbled upon an idea that could actually work, and be a lot of fun to watch as well, so bear with me…

Basically, we replace penalties with corner kicks, and the first team to score wins. Half field becomes out of bounds, and the play ends when the ball goes out of play in any area. You could even flip a coin to see which side picks which corner, as that team may have a left or right-footed specialist who would prefer a certain corner, but once picked that team’s corner remains the same (it would take too much time going back and forth on the same corner).

I think this is much superior to penalties for several reasons. First, it’s just more fun. Second, corner kicks are an extension of actual play and would induce teams to become better at something which occurs much more frequently than PK’s. This could also mean a team saves certain “trick” or special routines on corners, which could potentially win them the game (I’m thinking of Pirlo’s dummy against England in the World Cup). This is I think more in keeping with the team-oriented mentality of football than one-on-one PK’s.

The only downside I could see is if both teams refuse to score – but as the players get tired, people will eventually make mistakes, especially if you are whipping balls into the penalty area over and over, so I don’t really see this as a problem. Interested to see what you guys make of it, because everyone I’ve told my idea to seemed pretty excited.
Citizen (an idea’s man) Shmike


Still thanking Daniel Storey
Can I just say to Daniel Storey, *hand clap emoji*, or whatever people say these days.

I imagine other readers have felt similar things when reading about their heroes in this bloody amazing series, but the piece on Cantona actually moved me.

It awoke memories of my four year old self I thought were long buried. My dad (a Liverpool fan) telling me he’d never cut it at United, citing the ball at the referee incident. Lols.

All that had faded in a glorious haze of upturned collars and karate kicks. Although even I’ll admit that “off-kilter” is a pretty soft way of describing a flying hoof to the chest with studs on.

Still, Daniel you’ve brought back some of my happiest memories, which was falling in love with football in the first place. Thanks man.

Although technically Christ departed twice. Once when he got done on the cross and again when he ascended into heaven. Sorry. Catholic hangover.
Jim, Dublin


When the “Portrait of an icon” series began, there was one player and one player only whose portrait I was waiting for, and that was Eric Cantona.

“The collars of school shirts were turned up in playgrounds across the land” says the piece. I was one of the kids who turned his collar up. Cantona quite literally changed my life, and made it better in the process.

In 1993, I was 9 years old and my family and I moved from France to a small town called Nailsea near Bristol, due to my dad’s job. Before moving to England, I wasn’t really into football at all, and at that age the first question kids in England ask you is “What’s your name?” followed by “What team do you support?” Because I didn’t want to sound like a complete muppet, I would mutter “Manchester United” because they were the only English team I had heard of back in France, due to Eric.

As you can imagine, there weren’t any other French kids in that school, and at that age, it was only expected that I would get the piss royally taken out of me on a regular basis, if only because I could barely speak any English for the first few months after moving. Cantona is by far the biggest reason I managed to navigate that period without too much trouble.

Most Monday mornings I would come to school to be greeted by other kids with howls of “Did you see what Cantona did this weekend?” In a perverse way, even the Kung-Fu kick brought with it a measure of respect from the other kids.

In the process, Manchester United became an absolute obsession for me, to the point where I chose to go to university in Manchester mainly because I’d always wanted to live close to Old Trafford.

I’m 32 years old now, and I know it sounds stupid, but if only for these reasons I will forever be grateful to the man. I’ve always imagined I would tell him all of this if I ever met him. I’ve never been one for nerves when meeting famous people. Like everyone, I’ve met a fair few in my lifetime – Zidane, Ronaldo, Bill Clinton – and not once did I feel intimidated. I genuinely think I wouldn’t be able to utter a single word if I ever met Eric.

Daniel Storey does a wonderful job of expressing exactly what it was that made him so endearing: his simple humanity. “I am not a role model. I think the more you see, the more you realise life is a circus.” He was just so larger than life and yet eminently relatable and simple.

I’m not really sure what to say, other than I’m bloody glad he exists. What a player. What a man.
Alex Khadivi, New York