Mails: Spurs should maintain stance over salaries

Date published: Tuesday 2nd January 2018 2:41

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Spurs stance deserves credit
Does anybody else remember a time when football supporters, tabloid media and pundits were all in agreement that footballers wages were getting out of control and something needed to be done? When did it flip over to this rabid ‘you have to pay him the going rate or he’ll leave’, a comment often devoid of all context and reason?

I’m talking obviously, about Spurs. For years we were patronisingly told that teams needed to live within their means after what happened to Leeds United under Ridsdale and more recently, Bolton Wanderers. These are two examples of spectacular mismanagement. Leeds Utd were overreaching and heavily reliant on Champions League cash, and god only knows what Bolton were doing. When it comes to Spurs though, it does seem like a quite unsavoury attempt to upset the applecart and undermine what we’re trying to do as a club. I’m more than aware that it’s a bit of a running joke, particularly on these pages, that fans of every club believe that their team is picked on or ‘Journo X is biased’ etc etc but I’m not really talking about individuals. It seems at the moment, that every time we win a game, or an individual has a good game, the same rubbish gets trotted out, and it isn’t ‘Spurs need to win something’, which in my view is absolutely fair enough. It’s ‘Spurs need to start paying the going rate or their players will leave’.

This sweeping statement often overlooks several key points:

1) Tottenham as a squad have consistently punched above their weight, more than any other club over the past 4 or 5 years. Yes we’ve had the Leicester story but I’m talking continuous improvement as a team in terms of performance, over a number of years

2) Tottenham are a club which is comfortably in sixth place in terms of income/turnover, with a stadium that is probably around 9th or 10th biggest for the majority of that time. We don’t yet have the resources to pay six or seven players 100k a week, but the new stadium income will provide that opportunity as match day revenue will treble.

3) Tottenham probably extend and renew basic contract terms more often than any other club in the league. Harry Kane for example has had 4 or 5 basic term improvements in 2 years. Sitting and looking at a snapshot in time of Tottenham’s wages is a short sighted way of looking at things. The press, desperate to push the angle at every opportunity, snatched on Danny Rose’s comments as representative of the entire squad. Rose, when making these comments, had signed a new 5 year deal on improved terms in October 2016 and had then spent 9 of the next 12 months injured. He’s also renowned for being a bit of a moaner and his best pal had moved to Manchester City.

4) Tottenham have very few players in danger of running out of contract, which doesn’t really scream ‘the players are unhappy’ and would suggest that most have signed new deals recently. If they were unhappy, why would they sign? Surely they’d let the contracts run down to give them some more bargaining power further down the line? From what I can see, only Lamela, who has suffered long term injuries from which the club will be waiting to see how he recovers before extending, and Alderweireld, who wants a release clause, with basic terms not believed to be a problem, are outstanding issues, and even they both have over 2 years left on their deals.

5) When discussing ‘the going rate’, pundits often use statistical outliers to make a point. They’ll use players like Javier Hernandez or Christian Benteke as proof that Kane should be paid more. Both strikers were massively overpaid by previous clubs and have simply demanded their salary be matched at their new club. This isn’t Tottenham telling Kane that he isn’t worthy of their wages, and Kane himself seems happy with his lot, it’s Tottenham sensibly suggesting that these players are massively overpaid and are lucky to be drawing those salaries based on past glories. Others make spurious comparisons to Manchester United and Manchester City, as if either club represents sensible ‘going rate’ pay structures. In statistical terms, both are ‘outliers’ and pay hugely in excess of players worth, more often than not. Added to that, they can afford to. If a player really wants to, he can demand to go there. Only Walker has and with him, you could argue he’s entitled to a move after 9 years service, and he himself said he wanted the opportunity to work with Guardiola. Higher wages were a by product of his move, not a driving force behind it.

My main gripe with all of this is, when did public opinion flip? My hypothesis is that football has jumped the shark, and there has been a power shift from traditional football journalism to online ‘Footy Banter’ and clickbait content driving football narratives, but as a sport, is football in danger of sucking itself inside out? When you look at Tottenham’s current financial position objectively, with a stadium to finance, players seemingly highly motivated to improve, more so than their contemporaries for the most part if you’re comparing like for like quality, and perform beyond their perceived ability, it is completely at odds with the picture painted by this gross narrative that is sweeping everyone along, that Spurs must start paying more. My advice would be to watch the moving picture rather than comment on a snapshot in time, to ignore spurious anomalies like the wages of Hernandez, Lingard or Benteke, and maybe admit that in these days of madness in football, Spurs should actually be lauded for their sensible approach rather than what feels like a constant attempt to unsettle and pick fault.

What to other Mailboxers think? And is there a narrative with your club that annoys you beyond belief?


Coutinho chaos
It would be absolute madness to allow Coutinho to leave in the January transfer window.

With reports swirling around it’s hard to imagine that any Liverpool supporter believes that he is going to be in the team come next September but it makes no sense to allow him to leave now.

He is cup tied for the CL and Liverpool are in a strong position in the league. Even if Liverpool brought someone else in, the time it would take for a new signing to bed in could be catastrophic to the season.

While yesterdays hard fought win was great, it highlighted the dearth of creative ability past the starting eleven.

Take the money and allow him to sign a pre-contract agreement giving him the green light in the summer.
Brian (No doubt in my mind he’s off in January, it’s the Liverpool way) LFC


De Gea v Ederson
Hey Adeel, you’re playing a game of football with some mates and in a cool twist, actual real-life footballers are stood against the wall and at your disposal.

You play rock, paper, scissors to determine who picks first. You win.

You and your opposite captain take turns building your sides.

Messi. Ronaldo. Neymar. Kroos. Hazard. Phil Neville.

‘Ah, yeah, I need a goalkeeper…’ you remember, your eyes scanning the wall.

There stands Ederson and David De Gea.

By all means take Ederson. Two teams passed on Michael Jordan.

‘Is Ederson a better goalkeeper than David De Gea’? Don’t be daft. He plays in a side that dominates possession and territory by design, so he can, like Valdes, Neuer et al stand basically wherever he wants. He can pick passes and throws better because Pep’s set up encourages the opposition to press extremely high in the hopes of forcing an error coming out of defence; he tempts sides to commit bodies in search of creating a turnover and whether that happens or not he creates space between the lines. Thus, Ederson can fairly comfortably dink passes into pockets of space.
Sean Peter-Budge


…Not to start a fight about these things, cos the world doesn’t have the spare oxygen, but, one of the attributes Adeel missed off when praising the qualities of Ederson was ‘the ability to demonstrate them over a longer period than half a season.’ Which he demonstrably hasn’t shown, which de Gea really really has, which in a world where sanity matters and so does taking your time to evaluate something before calling it ‘better’ or ‘worse’, is the only attribute that really truly counts. Maybe Ederson will be better, if it really means anything to use these terms – but, right now he’s just half a jolly good season, so cool it.
Yours (trying always to cool it) Toby Sprigings


…Adeel this morning has never seen a Man United keeper who had a proactive and revolutionary playing style, a big presence and command of his area combined with fantastic distribution.

It’s a shame. A few years back City had another keeper with a style similar to Ederson’s. He played for Villa for a bit too. His son now plays for Leicester. If only United had signed him. He could have been a shining example of what calibre of keeper United fans expect.
Steve – Heilbronn.


Top 10 managers of the year
Just a quick response to your Top 10 managers of 2017: The list feels slightly skew-whiff to me. Sean Dyche has done a fantastic job with Burnley to keep them up and then improve upon that hugely in 2017/18.

In 2016/17, Burnley finished on 40 points in 16th, just six points clear of Hull in 17th. Just 22 game into 2017/18, they’re only six points away from surpassing that total. It’s an astounding improvement, built entirely on a solid defence.

But do the Clarets’ achievements really outstrip Manchester City’s 18-game winning streak, Chelsea’s Premier League title, Tottenham’s consistent brilliance or even Manchester United’s two trophies? In the early stages of this season, Watford were the surprise package before a fairly dramatic downturn in results. With Burnley’s low goal count (eight of the 13 teams below them have better scoring records), they could be prone to such a decline should they become any less solid at the back.

It’s all open for interpretation of course. Dyche has done great work to make Burnley a tricky outfit to play against and I don’t mean to undermine his fantastic work, but by the list’s own admission Mauricio Pochettino is no higher than seventh due to a lack of trophies, yet Dyche leads the way despite also being trophy-less. I understand the clubs have different ambitions but Tottenham are hardly perennial winners along the lines of Chelsea or Manchester United. Spurs’ consistently high standards deserve to be lauded as much (or more) than Dyche’s accomplishments at Burnley. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Roy Hodgson’s work at Palace is equally impressive to that of Dyche.

I must admit it would be tough to pick out a clear winner, but for me Dyche would be a solid fifth place behind any arrangement of Guardiola, Conte, Mourinho and Pochettino. It might be boring to list the big boys at the top, but sometimes that is just the way the cards fall.

Keep up the great work, loving the site, don’t mean to be a New Year’s grump.
Tom, Devon, NUFC


Lads, it’s Everton
I suspect that there will be teams that give Utd less room to manoeuvre than Everton did, I suspect that other teams will have some decent players to field against Utd, I suspect that other teams will try more than just “parking the bus” but I am certain that no other teams will attempt to play with as little ambition as we did yesterday. Hence, other than 3 points, there was nothing for Utd to gain yesterday from beating Everton.

After enjoying the Brighton/Bournemouth game, you have to say that both these teams are better equipped to stay in the league than Everton.

Hopefully with the game being last night and a few more to go tomorrow, we won’t have to put up with 16 x F365 and 5000 x readers erroneous conclusions.

There is only one conclusion, Everton are utterly, utterly sh*t after spending 150 million and employing 3 managers in 1 year.

Yesterday’s game was simply two teams who have spaffed a huge wad of cash on a bunch of carthorses, playing out a sludge-fest. As City prove, it is not about spending on quantity, it’s about spending on quality. Jesse Lingard was probably the best player on the pitch yesterday and he cost nowt. No mentions of “the greatest goalie the premiership has ever seen TM”‘s woeful distribution yesterday either

Big Sam is just doing what he can with the crap at his disposal but if you take Lukaku, Barry and Barkley out of anyone’s team, it’s going to suffer.
Fat Man Scouse (new year, new failures)


Media bias in City’s favour
Are sure that William, Leicester isn’t actually Martin Samuel trying to get into the Mailbox. Classic straw man guff. If any team won 18 games on the bounce and then drew against a resurgent side battling relegation – often very tricky games – then all reasonable folk would nod and say, shame, that was a great run.
Alan, Córdoba.


…William from Leicester is not quite as crazy as he sounds. City get a remarkably easy ride from the press and always have done despite their shoddy business practices and failures on the pitch since the takeover. Whilst the likes of Jose, Klopp and Wenger don’t help themselves sometimes with their comments, the media, Football 365 included (especially with regards to Mourinho) are always ready to stick the boot in.

I would urge all fellow mailbox readers to have a look at this stunning article by Nicholas McGeehan.

If you don’t believe there is nothing to worry about City and indeed the way football is going in general with abhorrent people like this behind our clubs then there is something seriously wrong with you.

We should all be standing against organisations such as this regardless of tribal alliances.
Chris (Local clubs for local people)


Prediction reaction
Happy New Year to all, here’s to hoping 2018 will only be half as terrible as 2017 was on a general level. I was reading through the top ten predictions article and thought I would present a few thoughts so please bear with me.

On the issue of Mendes and his Wolves relationship, I think it is truly indicative of the direction that top level football is headed. We are heading towards dark and gloomy days where super agents will have more influence over the squad than the manager. Agents will be tied down to specific clubs through shady contracts and backroom agreements with the club owners. Owners will seek the security of certain top players and the best talents always being made available to their clubs, in a sort of First Refusal arrangement while the agents will have the security of a steady revenue stream since they will charge exorbitant agent fees to these clubs. Case in point being how Raiola handled the Pogba transfer back to Man United.

Related to the agent power thing, I think it is time for UEFA to establish a strict wage cap on their associations relative to spending power and income generating abilities. A player like Van Dijk earning close to 200,000 Pounds a week and attracting a transfer fee of 75 m Pounds is just nuts. He is a good defender and Celtic get a substantial share of the fee but come on, the money being thrown around is obscene. The last thing I want to do is imitate American sports but an NBA-style wage cap would level the transfer field significantly. There would be both a maximum and minimum wage level, with clubs only being allowed something like 4 players above 100,000 Pounds a week in any one season. Clubs would also not be allowed to spend more than 50m on transfers for any player. Obviously difficult to implement in this money-driven world of the 21st century but if the Swiss Ramble guys are reading this, maybe you can enlighten us on possible financial approaches to achieve this.

On Conte, heading back to Italy seems the most obvious next step but the question is which club he will head to. Storey predicts a return to the Azzurri but I do not think it is a viable option for either Conte or the Italian FA. Juventus seems to have supreme confidence in Allegri so that would be tricky. Napoli like Sarri and their playing style is pretty much the direct opposite to Conte’s style. Roma and Lazio are honestly not big enough for Conte unless his plan is to take charge of a lesser club and take it to the top. Inter only hired Spalletti this season and he has done pretty well so unless the rest of their season becomes a disaster, he will remain at Inter next season. Milan is the viable option at this point but would Conte want such a toxic job? Squad is mentally weak and though motivation is a Conte strength, the potential failure could impact his managerial career over the long-term. Also, Milan have gotten themselves in a precarious financial situation with Champions League qualification being the only thing that can save them from being taken over by Elliott group.

Finally, the Sanchez and Ozil sagas. First worrying thing is that they may not even bring in a combined 100m in transfer fees. Sanchez has been touted as a 40-50 million transfer target for Man City while Ozil may attract roughly the same amount from Man United or whoever buys him. For the alternatives out there, the 80-100 million can maybe get you a Griezmann (if lucky), a striker like Aubameyang, Draxler + Pastore, Di Maria and Mertens, or one Lemar. Other than Griezmann, am not sure if any of these alternatives would adapt well enough to the Premier League. Signing Griezmann would also mean that Arsenal would need to consider a 2-striker formation even though he sometimes plays wide at Atleti. Silver lining is that he would finally get to play with his best friend after UEFA messed up their plans in 2016.
Greg Tric, Nairobi.


Refereeing standards
I am constantly amazed by the vitriol poured on referees by players, coaches, and fans(even on this reasonable site).

“The worst refereeing I’ve ever seen”, “terrible decision”, “biased”, etc, etc. every single game.

Blaming the ref is as old as the sport, but surely in the professional arena (for coaches and players), the balance needs to be put back.

In reality, for all the talk of video referees and 4th officials, it wouldn’t be too hard to restore some order:

Knowing the basic rules – for example, handball has to be deliberate. The player needs to deliberately put his hand in the way of the ball. There is no such thing as accidental handball. As another example, football is a contact sport. It is expected. Fouls are only given for foul play. On its own, making contact with another player is not a foul. Feeling contact and going down in the area is cheating, not a penalty.

The referee’s decision is final. The ref makes a decision. The players have to accept it – end of story. If they don’t, and they argue or show dissent, they should be booked. Some decisions will be wrong, and others will be terrible (see below). There is no provision for players to argue with the referee – it is a tough role, and the ref has to make split-second judgement calls, sometimes from difficult angles or when partially blocked.

Coaches who constantly blame the referee – we’re looking at you, Mark Hughes – need to be taken to task. Dead silent when something goes their way, all over it when it goes against them. They should be fined (and laughed at by the interviewer). As a side point, has anyone collected stats on who the most “blamingest” manager is?

Now to where it can be improved. Goalline technology and magic spray have both been great – allowing goals to be given and putting fairness around free kicks. There is now no argument about either issue.

For most decisions, a professional referee/linesmen is usually right. Where they’re wrong, it’s either marginal (a judgement call), or they’re unsighted.

One marginal call that can be corrected by technology is offside – a simple review when a debatable goal is scored (yes/no).

Penalty area fouls is another area where a video review could help. There is a lot of action in a confined space, and the referee and his assistants are often unsighted. Other sports get the referee to make a decision in real time, and then if challenged, only overturn it if there is a clear mistake. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work in football.

I would restrict video replays to penalty area incidents only. For the rest of the pitch, two linesmen and a referee should be able to see most things. The only exception (where the game is likely to be stopped anyway) is for red cards. I would suggest that there would be a mandatory review of any red card by the video referee prior to the player being sent off.

Just some thoughts…and wouldn’t it be great if the next time Mark Hughes blames the ref for being splatted by Man City, the interviewer just laughs in his face, Big Sam style.
Matthew (ITFC)


Reds rocking
That last minute winner against Burnley was just so satisfying. Burnley are a hard team to play against and I’m delighted we don’t have to meet them in the league again this season.
They are so good at shutting down space. They are brilliant at changing their game up. They can play it short and move up the pitch they can go a little longer if needed and they work tirelessly so to make 7 changes and not have Coutinho or Salah in the squad and win at Turf Moor is a beautiful thing.

Liverpool had a tough fixture list over the festive season. Arsenal, Leicester & Burnley as 3 out of the 4 games are really tough ones. We started by capitulating against Arsenal but the response after that game has been brilliant. Swansea ended up being a stroll but we had to fight and dog it out against Leicester & Burnley. You feel Liverpool either win at a canter or struggle but against these two sides we dug in and battled for the points and to come away with 6 points from those two games is really good going. Absolutely thrilled.

Having Lallana back is a huge plus for us. He drifted in and out of the game as he tired yesterday but when he was involved he was our best player. He is so good at pressing. It’s been so long I almost forgot how important he is for us. Great to have him back.

Let us now see if Klopp’s rotation thus far has had the desired effect. Are Liverpool now in better shape to contest the top 4 than our rivals? I hope so.
Gough, LFC, Dublin (Waiting on news on Salah’s injury though)


Lighten up, Jose
So let’s get this right. When his team plays poorly José has a go at the team. So what does he do when they play well? Praise them of course. Er ….no. He has a go at Paul Scholes and rock and roll!
John – Swindon Fan


Cut Hughes some slack
Bash Mark Hughes all you like – and his record over the past two years certainly warrants it – but I will not look down on anyone who gets angry at inanimate objects now and again. Can Bano honestly tell us he displays Zen-like levels of calm and peace when he walks in to a door or catches his jumper on the handle?
BlueLuke – CFC – At the very least you should expect a vigourous fist-shaking

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