Mails: Shawcross is the answer for Arsenal

Date published: Thursday 18th August 2016 2:33 - Matthew Stead

Keep those thoughts coming to…


Pep talk
I was reading an excerpt on the Guardian yesterday from Pep Confidential, a book regarding Guardiola’s 2013/14 season at Bayern Munich, which ends with the following quotes:

“During the dinner Pep […] says: “Patricia, I’ll give you some advice: always pick the good ones. Always!”

“Pep, who are the good ones? Is it the most famous players?”

“No. The really good players are the ones who never lose the ball. Those who know how to pass it and who never lose it. They are the good ones. And that’s who you must always use, even if they are lower profile than the rest.”

It’s relevant to the point that it’s like he was explaining why he would end up picking Caballero over Hart, 18 months in advance.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


Spend, spend, spend
The transfer window truly is the most demoralising time to be a Football fan. Particularly if you are, like me, still on the side of Arsene Wenger.

Transfer fees have been escalating for some time now. I remember when £35m for Andy Carroll made people sit up and wonder what was up with Football. Nowadays, that sort of fee for that sort of player is common place. Now, I don’t have a problem with big fees or even big wages. Football is something of an economic micro-climate. In many ways normal ideas about money and worth don’t really apply. The money is in the game (admittedly largely at the expense of fans) so it’s very difficult to objectively decide what someone is worth. You would, however, expect some kind of logic to apply. If we pay £40m+ for this player, even if we have the money, will it make us better? It’s a rough science but there must be some kind of cost vs benefit discussion to be had.

This is where I have a difficulty. The atmosphere during the transfer window is such that so many of us seem to want transfers at all costs – literally in some cases. It’s easy to see why. In this fallow period we have no actual Football to discuss. Being competitive creatures we want something to brag about, some kind of show of strength on our clubs behalf. That’s all well and good but what does that matter when you eventually realise that that 21 year old prospect you spent £30m on isn’t that good? Was it really any consolation that his signing made you feel good in the absence of any actual Football to shout about? I doubt it.

Let’s take a supposed Arsenal target, Alexandre Lacazette as an example. The talk is of something like £40m for that transfer. The atmosphere among fans at the moment is that we should do it. Bite the bullet and pay the price. Personally, I don’t see it. We’re talking £40m for a player who couldn’t get into the France squad for the Euro’s in place of Andre-Pierre Gignac. We should be able to look at a player at that price and have some degree of confidence that he would score more goals than Olivier Giroud does. I’m not convinced.

This is the problem Arsenal face, and Wenger – I believe to his credit – refuses to shy away from. This morning he was quoted as saying “to buy in itself is not a quality – to buy good players is.“ To be quite honest, it staggers me that people still think that’s a controversial viewpoint to hold. On this very website today the sneering headline suggested that this sort of thinking was typical of Wenger. This follows an article some weeks ago that compared us unfavourably to Manchester United, largely on the premise that they spend money and Arsenal don’t. The fact that we’ve finished above them and won more trophies in each of the last 3 seasons – the one and only true measure of the success of a Football team – was neatly pushed to one side.

By way of getting my defence in before I’m inevitably attacked, I’m not suggesting we sit on our hands and give up. There will be players out there with decent pedigree who will improve our squad. I would be the first to say we should go big for a top striker if one was available. I also think we should have acted much quicker to buy a defender. I’m not defending Arsenal’s transfer policy wholesale, I’m merely suggesting that buying for the sake of buying is not a good place for a Football club to be. A lot has been made of our huge cash reserves. That’s well and good but it’s fair to suggest if we do £100m on players this summer, that £100m will take time to build up. If those players are flops, we won’t immediately have the same sort of funds to replace them.

I want Arsenal to buy good players as much as anyone but that’s the point, I want them to be good. I don’t want “statements” who don’t make us better than we were last year.
Ben Smith.


Performance art
It’s now 2 days until our second match of the season, having been hideously embarrassed in the first by a Liverpool team with an awful defense, and we still haven’t signed a defender or a striker.

If anyone thought that we had taken the performance art as far as it could go last season, then they were greatly mistaken. I’m no longer upset, just looking on shock and amazement.
Adonis (Can’t wait to see all that unbelievable belief on Saturday at the home of the champions) Stevenson, AFC


Buy Shawcross
Wenger just doesn’t want to spend. Arsenal Do not want to spend. Surely,  how hard is it to get a defender? We’re not looking for Ronaldo or Messi, we’re looking for a defender who doesn’t have goal targets to achieve! Wenger keeps moaning lack of quality in the market – even for a defender!? What quality is in Per effing Mertesacker that Shawcross(Stoke), McAuley(WBA) James Collins(WHU) do not have?

Chambers will not become Garry Cahill overnight & neither will Holding grow bigger balls just because he played against Liverpool. These kids have potential but they cannot win you anything. And what the hell is wrong with Arsenal players & potential? Theo Walcott has had it for what,  10yrs now?

Please just buy Shawcross. He can’t cost more than 10M and he can at least fight Diego Costa unlike Per Mertesacker who will pocket his tail.
Joram Kioko, Nairobi,  Kenya


The Rooney narrative (FAO Guy S)
I have been meaning to write in the mailbox since United’s preseason started. I realise the ‘Rooney is sh*t’ mails take up half of the mailbox, but I think that this should be added to the chorus.

A few weeks / months ago, a mailboxer wrote in lamenting the unfair narrative surrounding Rooney generally being past it for the past few seasons. He / she suggested that we drop the narrative, and look at Rooney’s performances with a fresh perspective.

This suggestion was met with much defensiveness from the rest of the mailbox, and rightly so – we cannot simply forget how bad a player has been and use a blank slate as justification for his continued inclusion in a team aiming to be successful.

However, as a testament to just how far Rooney has fallen off, I invite that original mailboxer (and others) to take up their own challenge. Let’s say the past few seasons didn’t exist. Hell, let’s say Rooney just walked into the game today. I would like to hear from the fans (genuinely, I’m not trying to be an ass and point out that you are wrong). I’d like to hear on a game-by-game basis (say afew days after the United matches), how he contributed positively to the last match. Blank slate. Let’s get some impressions on how he has played.

I am not a fan of the man. Not for the longest time. The world’s top players, whether I rate them or not, generally remind you why they are classified that way every few games at least. Rooney hasn’t shown me that in a long time.

I feel the world / mailbox has caught onto the true nature of his abilities to contribute at the highest level. Thus this mail is directed only at those who still don’t see it. Even if they don’t write in, I’d imagine watching him with fresh eyes will change a few minds.

Plastic in South Africa (brackets)


Klopp is breaking my heart
I have never had the urge to write in before but Jurgen you have forced my fingers to type.

“Milly can play and everybody can say the Barcelona game showed he can do it. Clyney played it before.”

MILLY! CLYNEY! Tell me it isn’t true. Tell me Jurgen has not been seduced by the dark side and is turning into a PFM!
Imy Chand (It was said you would destroy the PFMs not join them)


Sexy Pards
A good piece on Alan Pardew
today, even if the headline did bring to mind a U2 song, and a variation on old jokes – God doesn’t think he’s Bono/Alan Pardew, etc and so on.  I think the reaction from Palace fans to Mile Jedinak being moved on will, in the future, be seen as the moment when the tide turned against him once and for all.

When you look at the bare details, getting £4m for a 32-year-old who is your fourth best passing midfielder, set to be a backup player this season, is a remarkable bit of business.  However, there is more to it than that.  Jedinak was not only our most effective midfielder at the defensive aspect of the job (even if James McArthur is the best all-rounder, as a defensive midfielder with passing upside), but he was a leader, making up for his playing deficiencies through hard work and strength of character.  Jedinak joined in 2011, just weeks after the Eagles had finished 20th in the Championship; the season before that, the club had survived on the final day whilst in administration.  Jedinak represents where the club used to be, and how far they’ve come.

Jedinak isn’t the first popular figure to be on the receiving end of Pardew’s cold shoulder.  Fans have stood by and watched some frankly eccentric treatment of Julian Speroni, our longest serving player, frozen out of the side despite both Wayne Hennessey and Alex McCarthy struggling for form, brought in only as part of a reserve team sent out to fulfil a meaningless fixture on the last day of the season.  Much like our Australian former captain, few people are arguing for Speroni to start every week, merely for a player who has stayed with the club through thick and thin for over 10 years in an era when players are increasingly transient, to be treated with more respect.  Similarly, a lot was made in the run-up to the FA Cup Final about the number of former players working for the club, including John Salako, who was immensely popular in his playing days, among the first team coaches.  This summer, with little fanfare or explanation, Salako left the club.

While no one expects any football manager to be totally transparent in all their people management, the deafening silences do give people room to speculate that there may be something funny going on.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (which one is Alan Pardew?)


Up the Toon
Well that was a lovely evening to watch some football and for what it is worth, here is what I think about last night…

Sels-I don’t think he is a very good keeper. His distribution is awful (punt it up the pitch every time), I have not seen stop a shot and he appears to like to palm to ball out it the path of on rushing attackers. But we are only 3 games in.

‘Big’ Vern Anita-solid at right back, massive engine, even bigger arse. He’s becoming my favourite player.

Mbema-Solid display and likes a run up the pitch. Very calm in possession.

Clarke-Only made one real mistake in giving away the penalty. I didn’t think it was in real time but all the match reports seem think it was.

Captain Dummett-Nice solid display. He was helped by having a disciplined Goufran in front of him.

Goufran-I’ve always liked The Gouf. He had plenty of running, is quite intelligent with the ball and is willing to help out defending and covering.

Shelvey-My fellow match going mate thinks that if JonJo was asked directly ‘Do you like playing football’? The answer would be ‘no’. He looks disinterested and lost. I don’t know if it is because he is being asked to play a role he does not want to/is uncomfortable with or because he is struggling with form. He has some of the mannerisms of Stevie G and very little of the talent.

Hayden-Man of the match. He was here, he was there, he was every f***ing where! And boy is he fast even though he does not look like he is when going at full pelt. He could be Arsenal’s Pogba….

Ritchie-I love Matt. He is tenacious, skilful and fast. And he is only wee.

Perez-He has really regressed since last January. Where once he’d be chasing and harrying across the front line and pulling a little trick or turn, he now seems to shrug his shoulders and go looking for fouls. Seemed to sulk of when substituted. I think he needs a kick up the arse.

Gayle-Tireless runner of the front line. Deserved his tap in and scorer of a fabulous free kick. Naughty Maradonna hand ball early on is my only criticism. We don’t like to see that Geoff (or is it Jeff?).

Subs-Lascelles came on the sure up the back line and did that. Seemed to take being dropped (even though he is the captain) without much complaint. Colback come on and does what he does, running about (which I like) and Arrons for the last few minutes had a couple of runs at the tiring defence to keep them pegged back.

I was happy with performance overall. Reading were not utterly awful but I think Stam needs to try and cut out some of the simple mistakes they make, I counted 4 times that their players passed the ball out for a throw in the first half alone, it was just sloppy. It is physically harder in the Championship and it seems that you have to break a bone to get a yellow card, but this might be me being softy (ex) premier league fan and expecting free kicks for ‘robust’ tackles. Also, I am not sure what our penalty was given for.

Up next-Brisel City…Gurt Lursh!
Paul (Mitrovic is going to enjoy the ‘leniency’ of the champoinship refs…I hope), Newcastle.


Kick racism out of the Mailbox
Having read Mr F’s email around Hart, Rooney, et al, I disagree – it’s not because they’re white, but it’s because what’s happening to them is being done by a foreign.

Hart is being replaced by a foreign, Caballero, and the decision is being made by a foreign, Pep. Rooney, if he’s dropped, will be replaced by a foreign, Mata Herrera Zlatan etc, and the decision will be made by a foreign, Jose. This is the kind of thing that makes writers for the Daily Mail/Mirror/Sun etc wet themselves with glee. They can spin a nothing story into something about foreigners coming over ere takin our jerbs, and watch as their readers froth at the mouth. And give them more money.

Personally I don’t even see the issue. Hart doesn’t fit in to Pep’s plans, so he’s out. To me this reads “manager makes managerial decision”. I guess that doesn’t have the same ring to it?

Finally, on to Joey Barton. He says this wouldn’t have happened when he was at City. Tell me, Joey, what did City win then? It’s almost as if tough decisions have to be made in the pursuit of success. He’s probably right though, I’m sure City fans would rather Joe Hart be kept in the team, everyone to dance holding hands in a field full of flowers and sunshine, and their team win nothing. Joey, stick to your talents – surely Rangers have some youth players you can assault?
Rob (that last line in unnecessary, I just hate the man and how he thinks he’s so special and his opinion is actually relevant) Leeds

Ps my opinion definitely is relevant, my mum says I’m special all the time.


In response to Mr. F in this morning’s mailbox, if it is true then it is quite frightening. I have maintained that although overt racism was frowned upon in society until very recently, unconscious racism always existed. It manifests itself, like Mr F pointed out, in social leanings, common associations and cultural comfortableness. A white middle class employer raised in an isolated environment will claim not be racist and have no issue with “asians” or the “blacks” but if he was interviewing two people that can offer the same skills and one of them shares some cultural similarities he is more likely to “like” that person than one he’s less familiar with. It’s not conscious and despite not being intentionally evil, leads to a certain level of unfairness. Some industries are worse than others and I have experienced a lot of this unconscious attitude both directly to myself and as an observer when imbedded into other companies. Football suffers in this as much as any industry. However, football at an elite level can’t afford to be like this. The financial stakes are too high and thus even clubs from countries that have a worse record of racism than the UK will feature players of all colours and nationalities. The surrounding elements of football don’t seem to have caught up. Fans, perhaps less so in the UK, are sometimes overtly racist and the media are unconsciously racist.

At least that’s what I used to think. I now find it difficult to believe that with the constant barrage of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim narrative on the front pages. What? Do you expect people to read the front, get pumped up, bang their fists against their tattoos of the Queen, make some life changing comments on the daily mail website and then read the back pages having calmed down? I would be highly suspicious if a narrative wasn’t being driven down our throats and frankly it’s easier to be outraged that Raheem Sterling has lavishly bought a house for his mum (something he should be praised for!) after playing badly than any of the other players on the England team. Did anyone see any reports of lavish spending by the other England Players? I can assure you that young people with more money than sense are more than likely to spend ridiculous amounts of money to make themselves feel better after a bad tournament, but nothing else was reported, only Raheem.

Am I reading too much into this? I pray I am wrong and that these are isolated incidents but I don’t think football reporting is isolated from the rest of journalism and the F365 media watch consistently demonstrates that football reporters in the biggest institutions aren’t exactly professors of journalism.


I really don’t have time for this today but Mr F, you have really got my goat.

Players of all colour, nationality, religion, universe are slaughtered by our glorious media. Picking and choosing a couple of examples does not bolster your argument. And how does this have any bearing on whether Joe Hart is crap or not?

“The white and British profile is a criticism repelling forcefield in this country”.. I would hazard a guess that this line has been plagiarised and quite frankly it is utter nonsense. If you genuinely believe this I feel I little sorry for you.

Can’t we concentrate on football for once? This is football365 after all. Racism is deplorable, clearly so don’t shoe-horn it into any given argument or disagreement.

And yes, Brexit is the reason. Moron.
Dave, London.


In response to Mr. F (MUFC), Joe Hart is not being protected because he is racist. It’s an absurd statement. He’s being defended in the media because it came as such a shock. Everyone just assumed Joe Hart would be Man City’s keeper this season. There was no hint otherwise until last week. Which means either Pep was a d*ck and didn’t tell him that he woulnd’t be first team GK until the season started, or it’s just a temporary thing.

Raheem Sterling was criticised because he cost £50m and was 20 years old, and wasn’t that great in his first season. Ferdinand and Cole were on the decline, and everyone knew it. Joe Hart is 29 years old- for a GK, that’s his prime.

Stop blaming everything on racism it’s just dumb.
Mario (COYS)


A statistical view on transfer trends
After cleaning (to a working extent only) a large amount of badly formatted data, below are some observations for wasting 3.5 hours of my life (from the 91/92 season to 16/17):

– During this period, the 3 clubs with the lowest number of players bought for a fee are PSG, Bayern Munich (90 each) and Manchester United (92)

– Inter Milan have signed the maximum (153), followed by Tottenham (143) and Manchester City (141)

– The correlation of the maximum transfer price in the previous season to the median transfer price in the following season shows a very weak correlation (.71).

– Surprisingly, each recent expensive player has led to a visible decrease the average transfer fees being paid out over the following seasons. For example, Gareth Bale was signed in 13/14 for nearly GBP 85 million. The average transfer fees in 14/15 fell by 6%, the 75th percentile fell by 20% and the bottom quartile fell by 11%. Also, when Ronaldo went to Real for GBP 79.9 million in 09/10, the average transfer fell by 20% and 17% in the following two years.

– When Zinedine Zidane went to Real in 01/02 it was the first time since ’92 that a player went for nearly 10 times the median value of all transfers for that year (by comparison, Pogba is ‘only’ 6 times the median value). Still the average transfer prices fell the following two years.

– However, if really insist on a name, I give you three – Vieri (to Inter), Ronaldo (the fat one) and Zidane (both to Real). The 5 year moving average showed the maximum increase during 99/00 to 02/03 period (23-26%). By comparison, upto the 15/16 season, last 5 years show a less than 10% increase in the 5 year moving average.

– If we observe the years with the highest increases in year on year median and average transfer values, we see the following:
1) 92/93: This season had the highest YoY increase, and the reason is an increase in money flowing in
2) 16/17: This year has been the 2nd highest YoY increase, and again a new TV deal is behind this increase

To conclude, the reason for increase in transfer prices may not be paying over the odds for individual players. The underlying reason could potentially be the increase in revenues which leads to overall increase in spending to maintain those revenues. This is something I’d test some time over the weekend or next week.


Dear 365ers,

I love your site and do not plan to stop visiting it any time soon. I’ll be back on later today and again tomorrow, at least a couple of times over the weekend and numerous times next week. I find it informative and witty and think the writers on a whole are excellent.

I do have one tiny gripe and that is the name as I don’t think it matches your mandate. A more suitable name would be PremierLeague365 or maybe PremierLeague9to5, I wouldn’t quibble with either.

You see there was a big football match taking place in Britain last night and it really was a quite remarkable game. It had the lot; goals, penalty appeals, a capacity (over 50,000) crowd, a scintillating first half display from the home team, a spirited comeback from the visitors, nerves (lots of nerves) and in the end more goals from the home team which had the crowd rocking as the possibility of qualifying for the Champions League Group stages for the first time in three seasons looks a possibility.

Yeah that’s right, the game was a qualifier for the biggest club football tournament the continent has to offer. Currently it is the top story on the football page of the BBC football website. It also features prominently on the Guardian, ESPN, and Sky Sports websites. It was also live on BT Sport.

I appreciate that the Premier League will generate the most traffic and subsequently most income for your site and there is nothing wrong with primarily targeting that. However for site which often bemoans big club bias perhaps it would be an idea to once in a while take a look at what else is going on in this country, especially when you do so from your living room.

All the best and keep up the good work (just expand it a tiny bit please).
Chris M (It definitely was not grim up north last night – except for the first 12 minutes of the second half)

PS Well done Celtic!


(MC – If you want to pull us up on technicalities, consider the fact that we don’t work on Christmas Day. ‘’ sounds a bit, y’know, sh*t, though.)

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