Mails: What happened to Premier League captains?

Matt Stead

Hey, that was a damn fine Mailbox y’all. Sorry, I’ve got a disease where I talk like a cowboy. I think it’s Gaucher (Gaucho) disease. Aaanyway, send your emails to…


What happened to the Premier League captains?
Just a random thought that passed through my mind which I feel is a great talking point for the mailbox: Is the appointed team captain crucial to a team’s on-field success?

The reason I’m asking is this. Take a look at the top six teams in the Premier League and their captains:
Chelsea: John Terry (not starting)
Tottenham: Hugo Lloris
Liverpool: Henderson
Arsenal: Mertesacker (injured & unlikely to start even when fit)
Man City: Kompany (permacrock)
Man Utd: Rooney (perma-sh*t)

Half of the current top six English sides have captains that do not play week in week out. But if you take a look at the other big European sides like Bayern (Lahm), Real Madrid (Ramos), Atletico (Gabi), Barcelona (Iniesta) and Juventus (Buffon), their captains are key players in the team.

Given the relative lack of success of English sides in the continental competitions in recent years, it seems that a lack of leadership affects a team’s performance. I mean, when the appointed leader is seated on the bench/injury table, it is hardly inspirational is it? I personally feel that a team should have a captain that is one of the first names on the team sheets when available.


Thank you, Louis
Sad to hear some of the personal reasons behind it but if anyone deserves a happy retirement its Louis Van Gaal. Without doubt one of the great managers of the modern era or any era for that fact.

His Ajax team were decade defining, his trophies in every country he has managed speak for themselves but for me his greatest achievement is the sheer volume of great careers he kicked off in his time at Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. With the demands of the top teams in the modern game it is phenomenally difficult to give youngsters an opportunity but club after club Van Gaal gave that opportunity and delivered trophies doing it.

His time at United was disappointing for everyone involved without doubt but Moyes and subsequently him suffered a club being mismanaged right from the top of the leadership of the club, the firefighter role he was given was always going to be difficult to deliver any consistent success from him. Anyway life is bigger than Manchester United (sometimes) and LVG deserves every bit of respect that he is given.
Parmjeet, Gravesend


A fair point on the top ten
It’s all very well having a pop at Wenger for not inserting a recall clause for Jack but NOT inserting such a clause has meant Jack looks certain to play most of the season for the first time in years.

Let’s be honest – the moment we could have recalled Jack he would have got injured – it’s just the way Arsenal injuries work. England should be thanking Wenger.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Let’s talk about Stones
Now that everyone and their grandmother have had their say on the weekend events I feel this is a good a time as any to talk about John Stones. I have to confess, this email is a couple of months late because this is a view I have held since watching England vs Scotland.

Stones will one day cost England huge, whatever lessons Pep is teaching him at City just continue to make him look out of sync with the other defenders. Stones plays with this arrogance like he is the beat around, yet he ends up putting all the other defenders in danger. He passes to players under pressure, it looks good when all defenders are expecting it, it looks really bad when Henderson expects you to clear but you decide to pass to him. I believe the mistake will probably come from someone else, but it will all have originated from Stones doing his thing.

I get that most players would probably be full of themselves playing under Pep, but that defense looks shaky as hell, and Pep is not looking as defensively astute as we all hoped. My advice to Stones, he needs to drop the pompous act first, he then needs to go back to defending first and ensuring clean sheets, not trying to be Gerrard and acting like he can do it all, I believe their is a fine balance between being a ball-playing defender, and being an attacking midfielder, one makes safe passes the other makes risky ones.


Guardiola: Not a fraud, but…
The recent article from John Nicholson regarding Pep Guardiola has got me thinking about how, in this country, have we looked at Guardiola, his appointment and the subsequent results.

On his arrival the consensus was the man was the outstanding coach in European football. Medals and success at Bayern and Barcelona are nothing to be sniffed at. The production of one of the best club sides ever witnessed in his first crack at management is testament to his ability. Fear was the amongst the other sides in the top 6. Pep had arrived.

However, with his arrival in the pipeline 6 months prior to him taking the job with Man City should we really be expecting more from Pep? There are several areas to analyze and understand if he is currently falling short of our expectation.

Firstly, what was our expectation of Pep coming here? Was he really coming to dominate the English game? Not sure we ever painted that picture. But given his reputation and his endless stream of success in Germany and Spain weren’t we right to believe that he should be delivering a slightly more convincing set of results? 5 defeats already this season and a philosophy that is not delivering goals for ‘the one world class player’ in the premier league and a set of players that are helpless in conceding them too.

So the fear has dissipated and the aura broken. Pep isn’t all conquering. Recent performances can certainly be considered well short of what we would expect of a manager capable of building beauty. So what are the problems undermining him. Can they all be his fault? Is he entirely culpable? The answer is obviously no. However, if you look at what he has done over the course of his tenure it’s hard to argue that he has helped himself.

Removing Joe Hart and exiling several senior players in his first few months certainly asserted his authority on the squad. As a manager has every right to do that at the start of his tenure. The majority of decisions Guardiola made you can justifiably agree with. Nasri and Mangala were surplus to requirements during Pellegrini’s tenure. The major acquisitions of Stones, Sane, Gabriel, Gundogan, Nolito and Bravo looked like sound business too. Hindsight is a wonderful gift in the case of Bravo and for that Guardiola deserves all the flak he gets. Regardless of nationality. It may have been his 3rd choice for the position, but to continue anyway reeks of arrogance. It was a gamble that has spectacularly fallen short. Yet with a deeper analysis of City’s roster it’s inconceivable that a manager of this level would neglect the need for quality youth in all areas of this squad. Every full back is 30+, defender Vincent Kompany is an unfortunate yet permanent injury doubt. Aguero has carried the city attack for several years and it shows. If you stunt his threat, city look toothless, the lack of alternatives is startling. Pep’s record in the transfer market with Barcelona was equally poor, just ask Dmytro Chygrynskiy.

Following the defeat to Tottenham, their first of the season, City have appeared ragged keeping only 4 clean sheets all season. What hasn’t helped is the continual change of system. Now while we’re right not to expect Guardiola to get it right straight away and most things take time. One would think when things are going well one would have a natural default position to return to. A stunt the opposition setting. Stem the tide and wait for results to turn. Build confidence from the ground up. Not that City had much to worry about in the opening stages of the season. Currently, you cannot succinctly determine city’s default shape. Much like Van Gaal, square pegs are being positioned in round holes. This has nothing to do with the nationality of a coach. This is to do with not accepting when one is wrong to implement a style not befitting of the tools you have at your disposal. To put it simply you can’t make Duck a l’orange with a Chicken. This in reality has been Pep’s major issue from day one. When you’re inflexible and regularly play Kolarov at centre back and Zabaleta in central midfield, again accept your critics. It’s hard to feel sympathy when the club outlayed over 150m on the 6 major signings that would help implement the managers style which has yet to find consistency.

On the current media attention apportioned to Pep, it’s easy to see why there might be an air of disdain toward him. The infamous interview following the victory against Burnley was foolish on his part. There may have been an air of frustration in his side’s display and that of the referee, but the public scrutiny he placed himself under only provides more pressure and ammunition for the army of keyboard warriors. There was also the assertion that we the English were wrong in our interpretation of the game and the rules. Which is fair enough stance given how hopeless the national side are on an international stage, but when you have to attempt to overcome a different style labeling it wrong seems pointless and shows an inflexibility to adapt to conditions that surround him.

So while it may be easy to claim our xenophobia and fear of Jonny Foreigner is manifesting itself in our media coverage it’s also plain to see, for those who care not one wit of the geographical location of Pep’s pre-existence, why we may feel that Pep’s current predicament is one that should be scrutinized with the judgment reserved for any other in his position and, in the cases of opposition fans, lauded with the same gusto.
Gary Lansley


AFCON update
So the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off this past Sunday with 10 goals in the opening 4 games, including goals from superstars Mahrez, Mane and Aubameyang. Three drawn matches and a 2-0 win for Senegal still provided a decent return for what threatened to be a boring opening weekend.

The most entertaining match was the Zimbabwe (World Ranking 103) vs Algeria (39) match in Group B. On one hand, it was entertaining because it happened at the same time as the ManU/Liv game, which happened to be the same time as the missus’ favourite reality TV show. But on the other hand, it was entertaining because The Desert Foxes featuring Mahrez, Slimani, Brahimi and Bentaleb were held to a 2-2 draw by a team featuring players with names such as Hardlife and Knowledge.

After spurning two good early chances, Zimbabwe lost a key striker through injury with just 10 minutes played, before conceding a typical Mahrez goal (run down the wing, cut back and curled round the goalie at the far post). But the response was quick and sudden as we equalised five minutes later and took the lead just before the half hour. Should have been 4-1 for the Warriors by the time Mahrez equalised with only eight minutes left, robbing us of a famous win. But we’ll take the point and live to fight another day as the underdogs in the Group of Death.

Yet, as usual, the real story comes from outside the field of play with Zimbabwe’s circus football executive. A month before the tournament, they cut ties with their kit manufacturer and were lucky to get a random Asian company to provide a last minute kit for them. But it was too late, the kit did not arrive in time for the match kick-off. This left ZIFA (Zimbabwe’s FA equivalent) having to negotiate with CAF to use an unbranded kit for their opening game, so the Warriors played with what resembled a training kit. As I said, we are happy to take the point.
Voice from Africa


On Chelsea loans
Top work from the Stead. I would give a partially essential body part to get a chance at a Prem team and I am sure most of your readers would feel the same.

Players who turn up and expect all the riches and none of the effort really let themselves down. It would be interesting to hear from some of the failed former ‘stars’ and find out whether they regret their decisions or attitude while they were on loan.

On the loan system I don’t see why it should be treated with such disdain. Many new starters or trainees in other professions get the opportunity to go on a secondment to learn their trade or get practical experience. This is not seen as a negative and in many cases the employee will come back with new skills or a better idea of what they want to do with their future. Applications for secondments are often over subscribed.

Most trainees are enthusiastic about the opportunity and want to go out to prove their worth to the world. So if Chelsea want to loan you out and test you at a lower level before risking you in a Chelsea squad that makes sense. If you can’t do it on a midweek match in the Championship then why should you get a chance in the Prem?

A professional footballers career is a precious commodity and a player should do everything in their ability to make it work.
H, (nothing to add)


Getting really angry about a F365 Says piece
Is this Toby Sprigings article a wind up?

Firstly, in terms of war crimes, try having an inward look before spouting off. Secondly, “So sit it out. Check the news on Football365, obviously”, so I assume you’ll happily do write ups if required, which would involve, you know…. watching the games. Plus football365 would then be complicit by making money from the advertising revenue associated with our clicking on all the lovely shiny things.

If you want a boycott, boycott. But either actually attempt and organise something, including an F365 blackout, or else just keep your absolute nonsense to yourself.

A truly pathetic, pathetic attempt at journalism. Are you auditioning for a job with the BBC? Football365, seriously I expect more from you.
Adam, LFC, Belfast
(MC – In fairness, not sure it was an attempt at ‘journalism’, merely offering an opinion on an issue)


…Everyone of us knows that a World Cup is a political ploy and a display of strength. But boycotting events doesn’t really have the desired response. In your argument ,which basically served as a means of insulting Russia… You kind of became what you stand to fight against.

Football is a sport. If you boycott it, YOU are involving politics. And that is a bullshit argument. Firstly, you’re not punishing Russia. If India ever qualifies for a world cup (not going to happen), I would go in a heartbeat. Because you go to watch the footy and support your country- you are patriotic.

Secondly, it is the pinnacle of sport for an entire generation of athletes. Would Dele Alli or Harry Kane or (god forbid) Wayne Rooney want to miss a world cup? HELL NO. And we are all fans. If fan zones and the stadia are empty, you may “humiliate” Russia. But this is still football and you can’t fight a glorified political war by boycotts.

I wouldn’t go to a world cup to send a political message that I love my country. I would go because I love football and I’m passionate. So no Toby, we don’t need to boycott Russia. Mainly because it won’t make a difference AT ALL. C’mon mate, you can do better. Don’t be desperate for clicks.
Sood CFC India