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The man for Arsenal
I know you had a few of these and will probably get emails on regarding last night’s results but after reading about what Arsenal need in a managers I made a check list and came up with one name.
So they need someone who plays attacking football, shows passion, has a clear tactical plan, but also isn’t afraid to change (i.e. go from 343 to 433) has experience but they also cant be taking a step down. Also after such a long time with one manager someone who will be there a brief but exciting time. The man they need is Marcelo Biesla.
He doesn’t get mentioned for English jobs possibly/probably because he doesn’t speak English and maybe I’m just being a football hipster but he seems perfect. The Bilbao team he sent to Old Trafford was fantastic to watch and if you listen to other Latin managers he’s hugely respected so unless someone can tell me why not I think he’s the one for Arsenal.
Bernard (I’d also love him at United but cant see that happening) MUFC
…I think Matt LFC almost hits the nail on the head with his analysis of ‘Emotionally, more than anything, it seems Arsenal fans need a very enjoyable, and potentially disastrous, fling. Once they’ve had their fun they can settle into another sensible, stable relationship’. For all you Gooners don’t make our mistake, we hired a putative lothario named Roy Hodgson for a fling and got well, Roy Hodgson (he’s on his umpteenth football marriage now… happily so we are told over and over again). Man Utd got David Moyes. Everton got Sam Allardyce. All capable of painstakingly grinding out a safe but disappointing season. Where Matt has gone wrong is Arsenal should get the safe but stable relationship out of the way (fling stage) and then settle into a very enjoyable, and potentially disastrous, long-term relationship with a fling worthy manager. Who knows where that could take you? Kiev or bust!
Three foreigner pedantry
A couple of people in this afternoon’s mailbox mentioned the three foreigner rule and how that meant many of Man Utd’s best players couldn’t all play together.
While the overall point is true, and led to one of Ferguson’s more questionable decisions in playing Gary Walsh over Peter Schmeichel in a 4-0 defeat at the Nou Camp, it was slightly overstated. The likes of Giggs, Hughes and McClair weren’t quite classed as foreign, but as ‘assimilated’ as they had played for long enough in England. You were allowed three foreign players plus two assimilated.
I know this doesn’t matter, I just enjoy being pedantic.
…Whilst I do agree with Jack Francis and Paul Murphy about the Three Foreigners rule being unfair when it considered Scottish and Welsh players as foreign to an English team, I do have to take issue with what they said regarding Keane and Irwin. I’ll try not to repeat myself as I’m keenly aware that this isn’t my first time writing in on this issue.
Firstly, I’m struggling to understand why Jack thinks it’s incongruous for both Irwin and Keane to be considered foreign? If the rule was based on passports rather than football nation eligibility like Jack alluded to, both players would still be considered foreign in the eyes of the rule. Is it because Irish people are generally the same skin colour as British people and that confuses you? Is it the whole Ireland being independent thing? Has that not quite sunk in yet? I know, it’s only been about 70 years since it happened, you’ll get there mate, I believe in you.
If I were to take Jack’s point about distance between the two countries being the reason at face value, then I must ask if he feels the same way about French people from Calais since it’s only just over 30 miles from England (btw, both Keane and Irwin are from Cork, which is 356 miles from Manchester, a whole 150 miles further away than London is).
I get that all of this is most likely coming across as somewhat pedantic, but if you’re going to admit that Ireland is a separate country, then why do you seemingly feel the need to then insist on going to silly lengths to try and claim this weird sense of ownership/association over people from a different country? All it does is make you seem a tad ignorant, which is a shame considering the rest of your points about Fergie’s European record were well reasoned.
Maybe one day I’ll get to write in about actual football and not have to correct basic geography.
John-Paul, Armagh (which is in Northern Ireland, not Britain like some smart alec tried to claim last time I wrote in about this)
Most people wondered what Carrick did or often berated him. As an United fan, seeing him on the team sheet gave me utmost comfort. He made the entire team instantly better.
Having Carrick meant that the team ahead of him could take risks. They could leave their positions knowing that Carrick would be there covering for them. Something only an intelligent footballer could do. Outrageous speed of thought married with skill married with footballing intelligence.
Thank you Michael for all the memories. It makes me sad that I wont be able to see you play again. You were a rolls royce of a footballer. You are a club legend.
I hope to see you become into a great coach.
Some memories for old time sake.
The chat yesterday about how incredibly difficult it is to win the CL highlights just how absurd an achievement it will be if Real Madrid win it for the fourth time in five years.
While I understand you do actually have journalistic integrity, despite all the accusations of being biased for whichever club the mailboxer dislikes today, I think you’re doing long-time readers a disservice by not giving us the Winterburn knee-slider article after Huddersfield surviving.
We’ve had years of offhand remarks in larger works about the love for Andy Booth and the like, but now it’s the moment of relief, joy or what have you, and what do we get? A measured article from Mr Storey. Which is grand and all, but I’d love to see the other one. The continual neutral finally getting let her fan flag fly.
So, come on now: forget about editorial professionalism for a moment, Sarah, and shout about Huddersfield for us.
Andrew M, Joburg
Town are staying up
Just watching the scenes at the end of the Chelsea – Huddersfield game. Its a real shame for the Terriers; I’m sure they’ll be massively disappointed not to have been relegated to the Championship. They really do look devestated with how things have panned out for them…
…Huddersfield’s been my second team this year because I always root for the small clubs who come up. It’s a bonus that they’re managed by Klopp’s best friend, future USA manager David Wagner. Honestly, I had to watch that last 45 minutes through my fingers like a horror movie.
Also, it probably wasn’t a coincidence that Professor X was in attendance for either the goal or that Lossl save.
And, as a Liverpool fan, I’ve experienced a delightful bit of the stereotypical delusion we’re famous for: I’ve been busy convincing myself now that Huddersfield staying up will inspire Klopp, who will now inspire our threadbare squad to secure the Top 4 trophy, followed, gloriously, by glorious Champions League glory.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
…If memory serves correctly I believe this is just the third time in Premier League history that all three promoted teams stayed up and I find it quite refreshing and think it’s good for the game. In my mind, all three teams going down at this point (and I think Swansea will stay in the bottom three) are victims of stagnation and failure to make meaningful addition to their squads and have found that the further they go the way they have been, the harder it is to do “just enough” to stay up.
As a Liverpool supporter with no real rooting interest in the teams in the bottom half, the triumph of team spirit over stagnation is great for the game, especially when you consider that all three of the promoted clubs still very much have retained Championship squads which have no business succeeding in the top flight, which is where the jobs their managers have done really shine through. Rafa has down what I think is a pretty amazing job with absolutely no support from ownership, he’s organized the team and, like Wagner and Hughton, have made them far greater than the sum of their parts, whereas all three teams that look to be going down have played in exactly the opposite way.
In a time where everything is about the massive transfer fees and we’re waiting to hear of the next dressing room revolt, the story of the season in the bottom half has to be the triumph of team spirit and players playing for each other.
Paul S., LFC, Baltimore, MD, USA
So. We’re relegated. I know, I know, not over til it’s over blah blah but let’s be real. The swans aren’t going to put 4 or 5 or 6 past stoke, so unless man city go nuts and put 9 past Southampton – we’re down.
And that’s assuming we can scrape a win over stoke at all.
I’m weirdly peaceful, angry, but not at being relegated. I like the lower leagues. I enjoyed it more down there, the football is worse, sure, but more fun to watch. I don’t even care that Cardiff have gone up in the same year. I don’t care about the derby, I haven’t even thought about the derby for years. I suppose that’s the joy of being on top in a rivalry. I wonder if it’ll change now. You can’t even be mad at the players. They aren’t good enough. That’s genuinely not their fault.
The reason I’m angry is… Well. It’s been coming. For years, it’s been coming.
If we could see it, I know the board could. I know the new owners could.
We’ve sold high and bought low, consistently reducing the quality of the squad year after year. Our best players went, makeweights came in. Managers chopped and changed and taken punts on.
Well I wonder how that American consortium is feeling about their ‘investment’ now.
The thing is, I think this might be the first of many years like this.
I dunno. Football eh?
Geraint. Swansea til I die.
Final day dirge
I don’t know if you’re going to do a midweek Winners and Losers but if so a big loser has to be The Premier League’.
There wasn’t going to be too much excitement on the final day but it was looking like 4th spot and the final relegation spot could at least be interesting.
But no the midweek results have meant that there is absolutely nothing interesting about the final day. Liverpool pretty much nailed on for 4th and Swansea relegated.
Still it’s Wenger and Carrick’s final match. That’s something right?
Third consecutive season of CL qualification, in spite of playing an entire season away from home and regularly having to play Moussa Sissoko. Pochettino really is magic, you know.
Alex G, THFC
Following on from yesterday’s Luton Review I’d like to review Crystal Palace’s season. Whilst a premier league team a lot of the coverage in the mailbox – and wider sports media – is top 6 centric.
The season began with the appointment of Frank De Boer. Hindsight has proven that fan and board preference of FDB over Dyche was mad but after Pulis, Warnack, Pards and Big Sam, Palace wanted to change direction and style. However, said direction was not backed financially and FDB was meagrely given two loaned youngsters – Fosu-Mensah and Loftus-Cheek –together with the promising Jairo Riedewald, a £7m acquisition from Ajax, in the summer window.
A promising pre-season where academy youngsters were blooded and Palace played a possession orientated 3-at-the-back system had hopes high. Unfortunately, all that promise was undone on the opening day after a 3-0 home loss to Huddersfield who basically did what we had prided ourselves on the seasons before – hard work and snappy counter-attacks. During this time our talisman, Zaha, was injured as was our only fit centre forward, Benteke. In typical Palace fashion most transfer dealings were left until the last minute but deals for Cenk Tosun, Elaquim Managla, Oumar Niasse and Fredrik Ronnow were unable to be completed because the club left it too late. However, previous popular loan-player, Mamadou Sako – whom we had been bickering with Liverpool about over the fee all summer– arrived for the exact sum Liverpool wanted to sell for.
FDB alienated many senior players and decided to play others woefully out of position – Joel Ward will never be wingback. Rumours circulated he had been fired during the first international break and after 4 league defeats and 0 goals he was gone. The club was a laughing stock and in a further act of hindsight-lacking self-flagellation we appointed Roy Hodgson, a 70 year old who had most recently decided to put Harry Kane on corners in a defeat to Iceland.
After a few more hammerings to Manchesters City & Utd, which left us bottom without scoring after 7 games and -17 goal difference. Hodgson had more bus passes than victories or points. Zaha returned and we beat Chelsea. A plucky draw with last-minute equaliser followed at West Ham and the mood was beginning to lift. Despite our dreadful start other teams had kindly not left us behind so we were still within touching distance of safety.
A run of just two defeats in 12 games – including a 0-3 demolition of Leicester away and obligatory shithousing of Watford and Stoke – and Palace looked to be out of the woods. During this run Palace draw a game with Bournemouth after woefully off-form and notorious penalty choker, Christian Benteke, steals a last minute penalty from Mr Reliable Milivojevic. A miss ensued and Luka followed this up by missing his own last minute penalty in a plucky 0-0 draw with City.
Unfortunately Predictably, our lack of transfer dealings exposed our thin squad. 13 senior players – including Bakary and Mamadou Sako, Scott Dann, Joel Ward, Jeff Schlupp, Yohan Cabeye, Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Wayne Hennessey – were ruled out injured for most of Dec/Jan/Feb. This coincided with playing 5 of the top 7 and defeats inevitably followed as Palace lost games due to late goals conceded after no subs were made.
Thankfully Palace strengthened in the transfer window and Jaroslav Jach, Erdal Rakip, Alexander Sorloth and Diego Cavilieri all arrived to contribute 4 appearances and 0 goals (all Sorloth) to the battle to stay up. Further unsuccessful deadline bids were made for Ronnow (Again), Ibrahim Amadou (who even took a train over from Lille) and Dendoncker. Once again their boards told us to put a bid in earlier as they had no time to find replacements. A theme that dates back to the Ian Holloway years.
In more positive news the loathsome Jordan Mutch finally left to some place faraway and will hopefully never return or collect 30k p/w for doing sweet FA. The injury crises means Aaron Wan-Bissaka is given a baptism of fire against Man Utd, Spurs and Liverpool. He does well in all of these games, particularly against Sanchez and Rashford. His performances spawn the best new chant of the season: “Their wingers don’t like him. Wan-Bissaka, Wan-Bissaka.” To the tune of Rock the Casbah. Hodgson innovated our traditional 4-3-3 system in true Mike Bassett style to play 4-4-fucking-2 with four centre midfielders playing in the 4 and two wingers playing up front. The system works and Palace go on to beat Huddersfield, Leicester, Brighton and Stoke meaning we can somehow still finish in the top half despite two woeful runs of form.
To give the season a rating it would be an A+ for Hodgson, but a C- minus for the board. Like West Brom & Stoke, a lack of planning, transfer strategy and management infrastructure h caused an unbalanced squad to nearly implode. The only thing that has saved us is an inspired managerial appointment and incredibly talented winger. Going forward it would be nice to see the club be built around local players and staff like Zaha, and Wan-Bissaka to fully commit to the cROYdon vibe Hodgson has started.
If the board could have a coherent transfer window where deadwood -Mutch, Lee, Delaney – is jettisoned and players are signed before the last minute then the club has a real chance of kicking on the way most other Roy teams have. Unfortunately, Mr Parish sees himself as some sort of South-London-Levy and ends up sweating the small stuff on transfers that could be the difference between staying in the 200m a year premier league! Fully expect Ronnow to be bid for on deadline day and be told to piss off.
As a side note the club’s u23s and u18s won their respective leagues and it would be nice to see the more promising players such as Levi Lumeka, Niya Kirby, Jason Lokilo, Luke Dreher, James Daly, Joseph Hungbo and Reece Flanagan given the opportunity to progress in the same way Zaha, Clyne, Moses, Routledge, Watson, Soares and Joniesta were. Really interested to hear other fans season reviews, easpecially outside the top 6.
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