Mails: Were Shearer, Wright, Fowler really all that?

Ian Watson

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Kyle’s no Cafu
In the past week on this site its been written that Kyle Walker is one of the top 5 (or 3) right backs in the world (not really much competition in this position is there?), approaching world class and now in the mailbox someone is saying he should be England captain.

Yes he’s played very well this season but this is in a team that is probably the most expensive ever assembled, they got a soft CL group (and even softer draw in the next round) and pretty much nobody in the league has really given them a game except for that one against Liverpool which they lost.

Acting like Walker suddenly has no flaws and is world class just because he’s spent almost a season under Guardiola is incredibly naive. I expect him to be cruelly exposed very soon in the CL and at the WC this summer. He’s only looking better as he’s playing for a club that have met very little resistance this season (so far) and is surrounded by better players that mask his flaws.

I’m not saying that he can’t become world class and I hope he does but right now despite appearances I just very much doubt he’s improved drastically in the last 8 months.

I miss Cafu, the true measure of a world class right back and nobody right now is anywhere near the lofty level he attained!

(For anybody too young to know who Cafu is just imagine a right back who was great at attacking but could also actually defend against world class players. Yes I know that is very hard to visualize in the modern ‘attacking’ full back age but players like this did used to exist I promise.)
William, Leicester


Vitamin R
Bloody hell, reading that French Ladder was depressing. Look at the quality on that compared to ours! Could someone do the same for Germany/Brazil/Spain too? Just to give us all a healthy dose of Vitamin reality heading into Easter?
Dan, London


Philippe Le Neville
Anyone else a little saddened not to see Phil Neville at 50 in Guillaume’s French Ladder?
Simon, London


Were the PL legends really all that?
I’ve recently had an interesting thought, bear with me on this one. But do we remember English players from Premier League years past too fondly? I make this point, and I know I am open to criticism here, as I believe that whenever we look at England now to the nineties, we say we are rubbish in comparison. But are we? Or has the league just moved on making it hard to compare generations?

Let me break it down. In the mid-nineties we talk, for example, about the striking talent we had at our disposal for England; Shearer, Sheringham, Fowler, Ferdinand, Cole, Wright. These names get banded around and people claim we were spoilt for choice. We say that right now we’d kill for options like this, asking why don’t we have several strikers who score 20+ in the Premier League to choose from? Well, I’m thinking it probably has something to do with the standard of our league. If we were to say, only use the nationalities in 2018 that were used in the league in 1995 (I don’t have the stats, but it would be very heavily British in the nineties compared to now), might we not see players like Glenn Murray playing for Spurs scoring 25 goals against centre halves way short of the standard that we would see now? Was maybe Ian Wright not international class, but just a very effective Premier League striker who would be playing for Crystal Palace his whole career? Was Robbie Fowler, who I adored growing up, be well below that of his European counterparts (Alessandro Del Piero, probably)?

There must’ve been a reason that English teams were far from dominating European competitions at times like these, when the nucleus of the side was heavily English. The Premier League has been diluted with the best of the best from around the world (which I love, I’m not one to complain about the influx of foreign talent), but this does mean that the best English talent isn’t necessarily at the top clubs. So yes, let’s not see us using players from Burnley and think we are shit. Or at least if we do, let’s remember we were just as shit in the nineties, we just didn’t realise it.
(This all being said, the England team of the 00s were much better than we are now and underachieved, we are definitely short of that generation.)
Mike (AVFC)


World Cup predictions
Is it too early to email about the World Cup? My three (published) complaints in the Mailbox after the 2014 Wold Cup were:

– Harry Kane should not be allowed to take corners or freekicks. Seems that this has been noted and Kane is no longer England’s exclusive set piece taker.

– Joe Hart saves his absolute worst performances for international tournaments. Again, this one was noted. Joe Hart now saves his worst performances for West Ham

– Raheem Sterling has a bad case of the yips. Thank you Pep, your hugs are clearly the sh!t.

Predictions on who will be the English villain of this World Cup? My money is on John Stones for a brain fart costing a goal in the quarter finals or Delli Alli for getting a red card in the QF.
Ismail Laher, Johannesburg (After a handball on the line in 2010 and biting in 2014, what will Suarez do this year?)


Tottenham’s English contingent
In the build up to the international break, and subsequently, there has been some conjecture about one or two Spurs players, namely Dele.

When you’ve had two seasons of such high quality, at such a young age, and completely unpredicted, any season which sees a drop in the tangibles will always be seen as a drop in form. The truth is that his drop in form would, and indeed should be met with the idea that 10 goals, plenty of assists and, in the past couple of months especially, a growing maturity to play to the teams strengths as opposed to his own, as still not to bad!

Eric Dier is, as many will know, a player who fluctuates between having excellent matches (United at home for example) but can be horribly exposed when he plays against the best teams (Liverpool and City – few can say they are capable of handling either team). That said, he’s certainly England’s best option in that position. In Dier’s case that means the bellyaching should be directed at the lack of competition as opposed to the player.

Trippier divides opinion. He is, at worst a jobbing football player but at his best, which he wasn’t in the past couple of matches, capable of dissecting the defence with utter precision, putting the ball onto the toe of Kane. Is he capable of delivering the consistently accurate passes that De Bruyne can? No. But is he better than Clyne – if he were fit or TAA? I think right now he is.

Kane is by far and away better than any other striker in the squad, and is, rightly, lauded as one of the world’s best. Vardy has talent but it’s limited. To even discuss his exclusion of Kane – even against teams who will sit higher is madness. Those teams who sit high can deal with Lingard and Sterling making runs from deep but Kane is undroppable.

The England team and squad is not great. That’s patently obvious there are gaping holes in talent not least at centre half and quite probably in midfield when we are talking about Henderson and Dier competing for the holding role.
Dan M


Lallana list
Hi F365 – long term reader, first time writer. In response to Rob S, who asks why Adam Lallana should be called up for the world cup as someone who “has been there, done it, and failed against Iceland,” in place of a younger player, I thought I would offer the following reasons in favour of taking Lallana to the World Cup. I find the list format pleasing.

– Arguably, Lallana is England’s most technically gifted player. He can work in tight spaces without panicking better than pretty much anyone else we have.

– He is used to playing in a high-pressing type set up.

– He has great hair.

– Factually, he didn’t fail against Iceland. He wasn’t on the pitch at any point during the Iceland match.

If he gets some games for Liverpool between now and the end of the season, and is fit enough to play a tournament football schedule, I’d absolutely have him on the plane.
Jeremy Aves


Be more Palace
David LFC in this morning’s mailbox urged England to “get better at being Peak-Palace”. I’m presuming that “Peak Palace” is along the same lines as “Peak Arsenal”, in which case we can expect the England team to:

*Register the highest points total by a team failing to qualify.

*Beat Spain away and lose to Gibraltar at home.

*Produce plenty of promising youngsters only to see them move for less than their true value to the reserve squads of another country.

*Be followed by “ultras” who look the part and let off flares but are, in the grand scheme of things, mostly harmless. Actually this could be an improvement.

*Suffer a massive personnel crisis that leads to them playing a full-back up front. The full-back then scores a perfect hat-trick.
Ed Quoththeraven


Nigeria ladder
Here’s an abridged version follow up to the last version based on the Poland and Serbia Matches

1 to 18 So who is definitely going the two keepers we’ve used so far are shoe in although i’m not sure which one is going to start.Of the top 18 with (a few people climbing and some dropping a bit) last time I would say Hull’s Ola Aina and John Ogu have dropped out while Joel Obi and Brian idowu have sky rocketed.

You’ll see all of them when we play England.

Idowu may actually have climbed from obscurity (didn’t debut till November after we qualified) to potentially being first-team left back as well as interpreter; Joel Obi is a great story of redemption, as he has spent most of the last five years out of the side injured (kinda like a Nigerian Anderton).

19-22 So who’s kinda of in at a stretch i’m going to say Awaziem (a reserve center back), Ogu (a midfield option), one more keeper and Ebuehi although the last name didn’t exactly justify the manager’s love for him on his first start then again no one ever plays their reserve right back ……. right?

23 Mike Agu Because the coach keeps picking him

24 Etebo At this point i’m just hoping the manager picks on sentiment /Someone cough No 23 on this list /Echeijele (our reserve left back) cough is indisposed.

25-28 No one new asides from Joel Obi got a chance to impress for now I’ll just say Ola Aina Kenneth Omeruo and Henry Onyekuu of Everton and if you had a gun to my head for the next name I would have to ask you to shoot.

29-48 If your this far down this list at this point does it really matter if I put your name? Poor Tammy Abraham is probably at the same spot, on both this and England’s list.

49 Literally Anyone. We took Efe Sodje in 2002. All he did was show off his head gear collection.

50 Shola Ameobi ….. Cos who else.
Timi, Super Eagles Fan


Trivia gems
I have just seen that Ipswich aren’t renewing Mick McCarthy’s contract. Whilst the fans have grown frustrated at the lack of play-off pushes I can’t help but think that he has done a remarkable job given the budget and ambition of the owner and I think they will be in trouble next year.

After reading that McCarthy is the longest serving manager in the Championship it reminded me of one of my most pieces of football trivia. In 82 years of existence Ipswich have only had 15 managers. 15! Given my team, Palace, have had 11 managers this decade – including Neil Warnack twice! – it seems remarkable that a team that has been managed by both Roy Keane and Paul Jewell could have so few managers.

In the spirit of random trivia, what other factoids can the mailboxers provide?