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Welbeck is a worry because of Rooney…
After hearing of Welbeck’s injury I’m very worried about our chances at the Euros if he doesn’t recover before then, this not because we don’t have other industrious, hardworking versatile players who can score and create goals to take his place but because of one player Wayne Rooney. With Welbeck performing so well for England especially during qualifying, Kane and Alli being brilliant for Spurs this season there is only really the one wing position open mostly likely to Sterling with a pick from Milner, Vardy, Rooney, Sturridge and Barkley to come as attacking subs to either change or sure up a game which was perfect. After this injury because we all know Hodgson too well he’s more than likely going to shoehorn Rooney in as a number 10 shunting Alli further back or to the wing where he’ll be less effective. This will ruin the balance and fluidity of the team (If a modern England team can ever be described as having such qualities) which means we’ll be a huge disappointment not just to watch but in results too most likely.
Not saying that Rooney shouldn’t be in the squad, he can be brilliant on his day and offers something different, but on form for club and country he certainly shouldn’t be in the starting 11 or be captain. He hasn’t had a decent championship for England since the Euros in Portugal 12 years ago and to be honest plays like he’s just had a stroke or is having the worst hangover of his life when he turns up at an international competition these days. People can argue he has experience but for England at a major championship he’s only ever experienced frankly pathetic failure. Obviously it’s not all his fault but as our (former) star player he must shoulder a large chunk of the blame for being so ineffective, we don’t expect Messi but at least someone who appears to be able to control a football and score goals in important games.
Rooney pretty much embodies the England team in one player, lauded as one of the best when they clearly aren’t for far too long which has gone their heads and thus will always inevitably let us down when it matters. We are probably going out in the second round anyway but I’m sure most of us would rather see us bow out with the exciting attacking players we’ve enjoyed watching in the EPL this season trying to win rather than with Rooney doing his best impression of an extra from The Walking Dead.
Thank you Wayne for the exciting early days at Everton, Man Utd and England but your time passed please retire from international football after the Euro’s and f*** of to China on 500k a week. We promise we won’t begrudge you being ridiculously overpaid as long as we don’t have to see you play ever again.
Anyway I got sidetracked. Please Roy Hodgson prove me wrong and keep Rooney on the bench and only use him as a last resort (like when we are already 2-3 goals up in the 89th minute) it would make myself and many other fans very very happy!
Another stalling young player for you…
To go along with your article on young players whose careers are stalling, I thought Alex Pritchard was going to have a breakout season. According to wikipedia, the season before this while on loan at Bretford, here is what he accomplished:
‘Championship PFA Team of the Year, the Brentford Players’ and Social Media Player of the Year awards, a nomination for the London Football Awards Young Player of the Year award and separate awards for Player of the Year from the Irish and Italian Brentford supporters’ clubs. He was named eighth best Championship player at the 2015 Football League Awards and one of the top 20 players in the Football League and ‘FL Wonderkid’ by FourFourTwo and Match respectively.’
Well, it hasn’t really worked out. Early on in the season he got a knee injury (if I recall correctly), which ruled him out for quite a while. When he recovered, he was promptly sent out on loan to West Brom, which in all honesty was probably so that Saido Berahino would eventually come the other way, on a more permanent basis. So far I haven’t seen him play a minute in the league, although apparently he came on for the Baggies against Newcastle once. In total he has 66 minutes this season, but he is only a year younger than Christian Eriksen.
Love for Virgil van Dijk
As the end of the season draws near I was looking at Whoscored’s seasonal 11s and was happily unsurprised by one of the players who tops out currently in both the Premier League and Combined European teams with a pretty impressive rating of 7.6.
He plays in the Premier League, is at his first season with a new club, plays at center-back but most amazingly of all doesn’t have a name which could also be used to described a handled drinking vessel.
This man is Virgil Van Dijk.
Much has been made of the performance of Toby Alderweireld this season (and rightly so, he was colossus for us last year and has been very, very good for spurs this year) but I really haven’t seen much said about Virgil at all despite his consistently excellent performances for Saints.
For his first full season in English football his stats are simply incredible. 83% passing average, 7.8 clearances per game, 2.8 interceptions, 1.8 tackles, 0.8 fouls, 65% of duels won, only 2 yellow cards, a single error commited and three goals to boot and yet when I google his name there is barely a mention of this God casually walking amongst our heathen selves.
Shame on you planet earth.
(Well, we had him sixth in our list of top ten defenders this season – Ed)
I don’t really have much more to say that I am absof**kinglutely delighted he has just signed a six-year deal and looks like he’s going to be getting me as dripping moist as Michael Svensson did before his knees decided to go holiday for a long time indeed.
Martin ‘been so long it feels like my first time’ Ansell
Chelsea’s season less worse than Leicester chasers…
So, I am feeling in a particularly contrary mood today and wanted to offer what will undoubtedly be a controversial viewpoint. First of all, Leicester are absolutely deserving champions and credit to them and Ranieri, I am delighted for them. However, taken en masse, this season has to go down as a massive opportunity lost for those teams occupying the four teams behind them.
Chelsea have had a disaster – plain and simple. The team’s form dropped off, the manager took his frustrations out on a respected member of the backroom staff, the teams form got worse and we sacked a much loved (at the club) manager considering the team were closer to the relegation zone than the top four. This happens in football every now and then – Chelsea have had no hope of winning the league since October due to a perfect storm at the club. The fans new that this and even when Hiddink came in, the expectations have been salvaging a bit of pride, bringing some young players through and identifying a new manager. Given where we were in October, Chelsea have hit (albeit low) expectations. Chalk this one up to experience and move on.
However, shift the perspective slightly and you realise that Spurs, Man U, Arsenal and City have had at the very least more frustrating seasons and potentially ‘worse’ ones than Chelsea. Take Spurs for example. They have had their finest manager in years, an exciting young team and straight run at Leicester in the league (who at the time had their main striker suspended). They had a genuine chance at pressuring the leaders and totally blew it. This was as fantastic an opportunity as they’re going get – but they missed it. Given the new manager at City and the likely investment at Chelsea, they may not have the same chance again. Arsenal had it all in their hands – they were top of the league in Jan, had an in-form team and a real opportunity to win the league for the first time in 10 years. They even had the chance to be the first team to win the FA Cups three times in a row. They even beat Leicester in Feb and a relentless team would have closed the league out. Opportunity missed.
Man U and City? Well, one blew their chance at even getting out of the Champions League group by somehow failing to beat an average Wolfsburg team at home and the other a) is struggling to make top gout and b) put in a pathetic performance in the semi-final of the Champions League. The former, Man U, with all their investment had a great chance to win the league given their resources and struggles at Chelsea and Arsenal being Arsenal, yet somehow became less than the sum of their parts and will probably just about scrape into fourth. As for City, well, a team that looked so strong at the start of the season has grown disinterested and now looks like they’re going to miss the chance of a top-four place.
And there you have it – Since the third month of the season, Chelsea have basically had no opportunity but to salvage the season. The other four clubs below Leicester all had significant opportunities for success but have blown them. Other than Leicester, the only team in the league that looks to have seized the opportunities that have come its way are Liverpool, with a Carling Cup final and a Europa League final to come. Sure, they may not win either, but they’ve really pushed on and developed.
By this measure, Chelsea’s season has been a disastrous start + half decent finish = below par overall, but because the start was so bad we never had the chance to compete. The other teams have and, except for Leicester and Liverpool have blown it and that is why their seasons are worse than Chelsea’s.
Arsenal fans don’t get thick or thin
Daniel Storey’s piece on loyalty working both ways makes some poor distinctions. For disclosure, I used to go to far more games 20 years ago than today due to rising prices, but I still get to 7/8 a season.
He talks about long-term fans being in it through thick and thin. But the problem with Arsenal is that is has just been middling for the past ten years and no one seems to want to do anything about it. Us ‘long term, loyal’ fans are happy to take the thin (indeed, it makes the thick even better) if we know the thick is coming.
What we are in is a boring stasis, where making money through CL qualification seems to be the goal, so there is no desire to do what’s needed to go further than that. Our position might look good to some other club supporters but this sameness is not what anyone gets into football for.
‘You won’t know what you got til it’s gone’ people say. But CL qualification every year means nothing. We get out the group stages and that’s it. There’s no romance to this club right now.
Charlton under Curbishley, Newcastle under Pardew and Everton under Moyes have all had disgruntled fans for this same reason and you could say they may all regret changing now. But without any attempt or desire to do better, supporting a club becomes dull – no matter how long you’ve been following your team.
It’s not to do with modern society’s need for instant gratification. It is a desire to not follow the same script every season.
Jaimie Kaffash, AFC, North London
Arsenal has deliberately wooed ‘new’ supporters
Daniel Storey’s excellent article about fan loyalty being a two-way street is right to focus on Arsenal. In the same way that airlines devote more of their attention to the smaller number of passengers paying the big bucks to fly First or Business Class, so Arsenal set out to woo those seeking middle-class entertainment.
When the club moved to the Emirates debentures were sold to help fund the stadium build which came with a guaranteed season ticket. These debentures cost thousands but provided an opportunity for anyone with the dosh and desire to leapfrog the waiting lists at Highbury and become a bona fide match-going supporter.
The Emirates stadium was built with a middle tier, Club Level, which offers what is effectively Business Class football. These seats offer some of the best views in the stadium and cost even more than the £2,013 you quote as the priciest season ticket. There are separate entrances and on Club Level a variety of bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as the usual shops and concessions. Beer and wine is free at half-time and there are various other goodies to satisfy those able to spend that much on their match day out.
Then there is the piece-de-resistance: Diamond Club. An even more exclusive VIP area adjacent to the Directors Box, this offers private lounge, Michelin-starred chef dining, bar, valet parking and a concierge service (yes, at a football game). I think I am right in saying that to enjoy this First Class footie costs £25,000 membership fee PLUS an annual fee of £25,000. And I believe, like Club Level, there is a waiting list for this.
So in many ways, the fact that the Arsenal fanbase is more visible, more extreme and more demanding than many others, is not surprising. The club has possibly done more than any other to appeal to an entertainment-seeking, return-on-investment-demanding, spoilt-for-choice London ‘customer base’. It’s also worth remembering that many of those who went for the Upper Class upgrade, had only recently seen the team go an entire season unbeaten, so their expectations were raised to begin with. You can’t really blame them for feeling let down, can you?
Carolyn, (recovering ex-season ticket holder) South London Gooner
Come on Man United…
Make no mistake about it, tonight’s match will be very difficult for United (of the Manchester variety). West Ham have a fantastic record this season against the top teams, especially at home, and to say I am not confident is an understatement. They drew with Leicester away, beat Spurs at home, drew with Arsenal at home and beat them away, drew with Man City at home and beat them away, beat Southampton at home, beat Liverpool at home and drew away, beat Chelsea at home and drew away, and they drew with Stoke at home. Furthermore, the have drawn twice against us already this season.
So the only team in the Top 10 to have beaten them at the Boleyn Ground in the league has been Leicester. Coupled with the occasion, they are going to fight like dogs of war. I am quite concerned that we don’t have it in us to be up for the fight, but I hope the boys prove me wrong. The only thing alleviating my concerns at the moment is the knowledge that LVG’s record against the top teams is excellent this season in the league. Say what you want about him, but he generally seems to be able to set his teams up for the big matches (one or two bad results aside).
I love being able to look forward to a match that means something at this stage of the season. Even if it is likely that we will witness 90 mins of frustration and end up with a soul-crushing result. At least I can enjoy the build-up with anticipation and excitement.
Come on United – we can do this!
Garey Vance, MUFC
Wanting United to fail to get Jose…
As a self-proclaimed plastic fan (MUFC of course) I am consistently bewildered by the LVG in group and/or even more scary the Giggs camp. Why would you want either of them in the team, Mourinho has shown with an open chequebook he will win the league, he beat ‘the greatest Barcelona’ team with a group of players who he didn’t necessarily want…remember how good he made Diarra look. Now to LVG why in God’s green earth would you want the most unimpressive manager in the league to continue this ridiculous story?
I have been backing all our rivals (remember plastic) Liverpool should win the Europa league and City should finish fourth. If this is what it takes for the club to go with the most experienced winning candidate, then so be it. I’d lick my wounds now and watch as we dominate for three more years and then fall back to the mediocrity of appointing Martinez or Giggs.
Now my question is simple, why is the Leicester bandwagon calling it the ‘biggest sporting event?’ For us outsiders/hipsters of the game, I can state a better story Boavista FC…google it. You’re welcome.
Nelson MUFC (£250 million to reach the FA cup final in his second year, brilliant stuff!)
Please, no Mourinho
I was reading the mailbox (I think it’s not the last one) and couldn’t agree with people, that Mourinho should be next at United. Then I got to Dave, Manchester and he claims that the majority of United fans want Mourinho. Why? Please, someone explain. He is cancer. And the most annoying one of them all in football. I would prefer to get relegated with Carragher. The crazy thing is that I am barely even exaggerating.
So the football under LVG has been sh*t for about half of this season (probably a bit more). Have you people never watched a Mourinho team? It’s about ten times worse. What about when he was at Real you say? What about it? When you have attackers like theirs, you’d be crazy not to play attacking football. What about every other club he has managed? Boring, defensive football is the answer. And LVG can claim to have played good football as well, at least at Ajax and Barca.
Mourinho can win us the title, that much is true. But we don’t need to win one title and then be sh*t for another three years. It doesn’t make sense from a United fan’s perspective (definitely not to me), and I don’t think it makes financial sense either, as we make a ton, and will keep doin so as long as we keep Champions League football and keep improving (even slightly), which we are clearly doing.
But we had a poor game against Norwich you say. Who cares? They are fighting for survival, and we have played good football throughout the last 10 games. That’s consistency. Yes, we still need to improve, but it’s happening. Oh, and we also won yet another must win game. Without our two best strikers.
But they are so young, why are they our two main and best strikers? So, people are complaining that we have the best young player in England (I think so) and another good prospect from the academy who has come in and played well above expectation, and United fans are complaining about that? You must be joking.
All of this is without me talking about Mourinho’s inability or denial (don’t really care which one) to play youngsters, of which I think we have a few who can make it, and that would be a huge mail on its own. I think it would be crazy to sack LVG for Mourinho and Giggs as well. Especially considering the youngsters he is bringing through. He only has year left. Perfect timing to see how many, of them can make it. And then next year we can get someone who is a little less Mourinho.
The romance of Giggs please...
I would like Ryan Giggs to be the next Utd manager. I’m a complete sucker for the romance of it all and I have a lovely, fantastical image of years and years of success. I get why people don’t think he’s “earned it”, but I’m really surprised at the Man Utd fans on here who think it’s the worst idea ever.
Jose Mourinho has won millions of trophies and is probably a sensible option. The thing is, I hate the sight of him and the thought of him managing my team makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t know if I could get behind the manager 100% next year if he’s in charge and this makes me wonder if all the fans who really really don’t want Giggs as manager would have a similar reaction if he was appointed. Could Giggs, with all his appearances and medal and goals and memories, actually be starting off without the full support of the fans? It’d be a shame.
Desperately wanting Leicester to fail
Because I have loved what Leicester have done this year I really hope they are terrible next season. I simply don’t want the joy of 2015/16 to be diluted by them becoming successful in the future…like an Atletico Madrid on steroids.
I just want it to be a bonkers story we can all remember with fondness.
Or, I guess they can win the Champions League and then be rubbish. That’d be fine too.
Well done Johnny…
Short and sweet mail but that was a lovely bit of writing from John Nicholson.
When you have fans like that it’s hard to not be happy for Middlesbrough.
Cormac, (LVG is the grim reaper), Galway
Loving the play-offs
It used to be that a letter to The Times about cuckoos heralded the start of spring, now there are two clearer indicators – a Dwight Gayle brace, and someone moaning about the play-offs being unfair.
Michael AFC argues that the current system is unfair on Brighton, who have to play a team they finished 15 points ahead of – if Albion are truly that superior, they should have little trouble beating the Owls. On the other hand, Sheffield Wednesday are a team that Albion drew with twice, two of seven points Albion took against the other play-off sides, out of a possible 18 (Derby took 9). Wednesday actually drew all six games against their play-off rivals, while Hull City, who finished fourth, also failed to beat the Rams, Seagulls and Owls.
In League One, Barnsley took an impressive 13 points against the other play-off sides, yet finished 6th, six points behind 5th-placed Bradford City and 10 behind Walsall, who missed out on automatic promotion by a solitary point. You could argue that Barnsley have earned the right to a shot at promotion via the play-offs, while at the same time stacking the odds against them by making them play a team who should, on paper, be a lot better.
In League Two, Accrington also missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, yet won only one game against the other play-off sides.
I would prefer to see a promotion/relegation play-off, where the team in third plays the team who finished 18th (or 22nd) in the league above over two legs, but that isn’t on offer. The play-offs aren’t perfect, but usually, the right team goes up – by right team, I either mean a team whose superiority over most other teams throughout the course of a season extends to three further games, or a team who defies the odds through the controversial method of playing better than their opposition.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
…This talk of play-offs has compelled me to write in with two points.
Firstly, as someone who grew up supporting my local team, Gillingham, play-off games are the ones I remember most vividly. The play-offs have given the Gills three trips to Wembley and the pair in 1999 and 2000 stick out. The former still has me wondering “what if?” (and I suspect a fair few Man City fans might wonder the same). The Gills faced their first ever Wembley appearance against a massive club. Such was the David and Goliath nature of this final that City even complained that a 50-50 ticket allocation for the final was “unfair” because they were so much more massively massive than us. The script was for Man City to end their brief stay in the lower leagues and for lowly Gillingham to enjoy a nice day out. But we scored. Then we scored again and the clock ticked on to 90 minutes. A board at the side of the pitch displayed a 5, but that couldn’t have meant five minutes of injury time because there hadn’t been more than three minutes’ worth. Then Man City scored, but it didn’t matter, the whistle was imminent and we’d be in the (now) Championship for the first time…Then that (for no other reason really than this game) b**tard Paul Dickov put one past (his actual best man) Vince Bartram in the Gills goal and it kind of went a bit dark from there onwards. We ended up losing on penalties. To this day it remains the most emotional football match I’ve attended.
Would I rather not have experienced it? Hell no. Despite the silent train journey home and the fears that we’d missed our best shot at hitherto unreached heights, it was still an unforgettably epic match in an incredible atmosphere. (OK, it may have taken me some years to reach that perspective.) And it made the following year even sweeter when Gillingham took about 46,000 fans to their second trip to the twin towers. We nearly screwed that one up as well, but happily secured promotion and stayed four years longer than expected in the Championship.
Yes, the play-offs are a touch artificial. But do they keep the season more exciting, for longer, for more teams? Absolutely. And they give more teams a chance to experience the extreme highs and lows that would usually otherwise remain the preserve of about five clubs in England.
As for relegation play-offs, am I the only reader old enough to remember that we have had them in England before? At least in as much as the play-offs used to include 3rd, 4th and 5th from the division below along with third bottom from the division above. It didn’t last long though and settled into the current format after the first or second year, IIRC. It wasn’t that long ago. We had colour TV with four channels and teletext and everything…
What could have been for Villa…
A former Villa XI:
Is there a bigger difference in what could have been compared to the current team anywhere in world football?
Adam (you have to remember how desperate the current lot are as well!!)
Hope I wasn’t the only one to witness some classic PFM’ing last night (Monday) on Sky Sports News. Tony Cottee and Alan Curbishley on the touch line at Upton Park being interviewed and discussing the old ‘chicken run’. TC is reminiscing about how fans would be tapping players on the shoulder or pulling their hair, all in good fun (honest Clive) before Alan pipes up that it’d usually be someone from school shouting out ‘Curbo’!
Curbo. Jeez. All we needed was Reidy to pop up with his latest mixer of nail varnish, absinthe and sweat rung from Psycho’s Italia ’90 socks.
Glen / Northern Spur \
Seriously, stop talking about Vardy, Mailbox
Football365, I suspect, have noted it’s a very divisive topic and so have toned down their abuse of Vardy. I switched off the site for a week when it all got a bit nasty about a month ago and John Nicholson wrote that bizarre article on being biased.
I like Football365 a lot. Sometimes I find their bias amusing (Daniel Storey’s squirming half praise of Allardyce yesterday being a good example) but other times it gets annoying. I have however appreciated that they attempted (I think) to draw a line under Vardy abuse. Even though I’m sure they don’t agree with me I think there are major differences between Vardy and Suarez/Terry who they compare him to (drunk, apology, going out of his way to meet victim (not once commented on here but seriously look it up), first offence, not biting). But I appreciate some people will now hate him forever more and cry Satan when he cheekily wags his finger at a goalie.
Anyway – back to my point. This website as far as I can tell is quite good natured. It’s funny, it gives opinions to get you thinking and primarily it’s all about football and you don’t have to sift through rugby or any other s***. I also like that I have witnessed in the last three years, three Fountains of Wayne puns while talking about Wayne Tooney. They are my favourite band and all publicity for them should be welcomed.
Anyway, what this site should not be (I think) is a vindictive site that gives a platform to hate campaigning particularly for someone they know nothing about. And at times the site and particularly the mailbox crossed a line. The site, which is generally fun to read and how I like to spend my relaxing moments at work, seems to have realised this. Please Mailbox, catch up.