Mails: Who is the Premier League’s most improved player?

Date published: Wednesday 18th April 2018 8:32

A bloody great Mailbox, variation and no sniping. Keep them coming to…


Who is the Premier League’s most improved player?
Just thought I would provide an idea or two on the end of season awards since I think the PFA could maybe take a couple cues from the NBA in this regards. Although my first point is just a point I think we have all made in some way

The YPOTY should be restricted to players under 21 and/or less than 50 appearances or maybe something like 3000 minutes before the beginning of the season. This would limit your Harry Kanes, Sterling’s and Allis from all being once again in the lot, previous winners should also be excluded because I get it would be great to be young player of the year 6 times in a row but also gets a tad bland and boring, limiting recognition of the other up and coming players who deserve some congratulations on a breakthrough season.

An award from the NBA that I would like brought across is the Rookie of the year, in the NBA this isn’t Age specific it’s just for the best player in their first season, so we could have Pascal Gross, Mo Salah, Tarkowski, and etc all battling it out ( Mo Salah makes this seasons one a bit unexciting but generally might be a cool idea )

And my last award would be most improved player, it sounds silly in an age of everyone complaining that we celebrate progress or attendance too much but sometimes most improved player is genuinely a lovey award, whether it’s to celebrate a player finally reaching his potential or just a young player going from infrequent match starter to first XI it would be quite interesting to see the list people would provide.

Mine would be:
Jack Cork

But that’s just me.
Cole, LFC, SA


On spending money well…
In response to Daniel Storey’s article “Spending money well is damn hard; just ask Man United…” my view is that the reason that Man City’s success in buying players that perform well in Guardiola’s system is that he is actually good in getting the best out of them.

He is actually good in having players embrace his preferred style of play, understand his tactics and improve their positional play and awareness. In addition his team is super fit which shows not in the total distance covered but in the total distance sprinted (is this stat measured somehow?). This can be also be seen on the improvement that the existing Man City players have shown under his guidance over the last two years (Fernandinho, KDB, even Silva).

I have no doubt that if players such as Luke Shaw, Martial, Zappacosta, Pogba, Mikhtarian, BAtshuayi were working with Guardiola then they would have been performing much better rather than at their current clubs and the reason is that he is actually better than most (TOP) managers in getting the best out of them.
Makis (have to give it to him) Antoniou


Newsflash: Lots of football club owners are bad
Following on from the recent emails raising concerns about the ownership structure of Manchester City, I’ve noticed a worrying trend that I feel should be highlighted.

Firstly, yes there are genuine questions to be asked about the Abu Dhabi United Group, and their links to how the country is run, the oppression of workers and the way in which some women are treated. Their ideals and beliefs do not align with how most of us feel society should operate, and in an era where we strive for equal rights and opportunities, that grates.

Their contribution to the regeneration of east Manchester should not be ignored however. Obviously, as businessmen, they will expect to see returns for their investment, yet this shouldn’t detract from them seeking to improve the area surrounding the football club and improving the quality of life of local residents by providing educational institutions, leisure facilities etc, rather than just concentrating on what brings in the mega bucks – the football.

However, the impression I gain from some of the emails which criticise the Abu Dhabi United Group is that this is sometimes an attempt to try to diminish Manchester City’s achievements this season, rather than raising a genuine debate about football ownership in general.

How many have questioned how the likes of Kronke, Abramovich, the Glazers et al aquired their money to fund their respective football clubs? Are we to believe these individuals are champions of human rights, have provided all workers with fair pay, benefits and equal opportunities through their entire life?

At what point do we say that we accept certain countries social standards but not others? Is it ok that hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer with little or no healthcare coverage, yet the United and Liverpool owners spend so much money on their teams, given that their system doesn’t fit in with our ideals of free healthcare for all?

What about the British owners? The likes of Mike Ashley and Dave Whelan made their money off the backs of chains of shops where zero hours contracts were/are rife.

Going further back, how many questioned the achievements of Keegan’s Newcastle (for just one example) when it was clear that the clubs were profiting from club merchandise being manufactured in sweat shops?

Or how about the practices of the Burnley and Blackburn owners in the late 1800s, whose money, and ability to attract players from the south, was based upon their ability to offer jobs in the cotton mills at a time when there was no such thing as workers rights.

What about other brands of entertainment? How many of us look at who has financed movies, television programmes, theatre productions etc before we have watched them?

How about other businesses (as that is what football clubs are)? How many have boycotted Apple, Google, Starbucks etc for their tax practices?

Going back to my original point, the Manchester City ownership structure should have questions asked about it. But so should the ownership structure of every club if we are to hold them all to the same social standard.
Mikey D, Godley


Dear Rafa, I think you’re the one
Dear Rafa,

I’ve just turned 29 and when I blew out my birthday candles I wished for good health, world peace and some enduring stability at our club.

I’ve been a fan of Newcastle United since the age of 5; the point I first realised football existed outside of a back garden.

This has been a decision I’ve questioned on many occasions. Almost, almost slipping into supporting the easier option of the family team Arsenal. Where siblings have enjoyed, I have endured the game. But for the first time in what is close to 11 years of Ashley clouded nightmares, I feel that our club (my heart) is in the hands of someone that cares.

Sure we’ve had some great runs on occasion and people may call out the 2011/2012 season as a recent highlight but Pardew’s success always felt self-serving.

I don’t quite know how it’s happened but I feel the club, the city but mostly us fans have struck a chord with you and it’s meant the results, the performances are for our benefit, not the chairman, nor the executives targets.

The sad thing is, all us fans have been through so many manager break-ups, so much pain and hurt in recent years we can’t commit and let ourselves get fully comfortable with you just yet. With survival achieved we hope this is first and big step towards the blossoming of an incredible relationship.

I don’t want to scare you either but i think this might be “the one”..

Eagerly awaiting your reply,


And love for Hughton
So, I’ve just watched my beloved Spurs draw to Brighton. I’m supposed to be gutted. I’m not. We were a bit unlucky on the night. That happens.

But Brighton also deserve full credit. They played smart, organized football, worked their socks off and earned their point. Yes, they struggled to attack, but given their total squad cost as much as Spues have spent on a centre back, they worked with what they had.

They didn’t play anti-football, didn’t foul everything in sight, and showed more good passing than the last time we played Manchester United. Frankly, they were also more fun to watch, as an opponent, than United. Or Arsenal. Or Chelsea.

I realize Sean Dyche is getting well-earned plaudits for getting Burnley into the European places, and Benitez is working miracles at Newcastle. But Chris Hughton has done the same quality of work at Brighton, and with a quiet dignity other “British” managers seem to lack. He deserves far more credit than he’s received.
Duncan, Ottawa


Managers are better when they’re not afraid of the sack
Pulling an all nighter at work, luckily had the Brighton Spurs game on in the background which proved a welcome distraction. I left it on and what followed was the misleadingly titled ‘The Debate’. On the panel were Stuart Pearce and Ian Wright, which promised to be the greatest clash of intellect since Frost/Nixon.

Naturally the first topic was the game, and more specifically the only battle left in the table, the one at the bottom of the table. Unsurprisingly they had glowing words for Chris Hughton (has anyone ever said a bad word about him? Mrs. Hughton?). What was surprising however was a very interesting observation made by Stuart Pearce, which was; of the promoted teams, were any of them to be relegated would the clubs look to get rid of their managers?

The answer is a resounding no, and it did make me think what sort of impact that alleviated pressure has had on those club’s success this season. It coincides well with the article published recently on this site about the safety(cowardice)-first approach made by Mark Hughes, Carlos Carvalhal and Paul Lambert. I would extend that to Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Roy Hodgson and David Moyes. These managers are under no illusions and are fully aware that they weren’t hired for their long-term visions. despite their claims, but purely to secure safety until the summer transfer window at which point the owners will review their options.

However on the flipside, for the managers who have never been at risk of the sack; Chris Hughton, David Wagner, Rafa Benitez, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, have they been able to create teams greater than the sum of their parts, because they have had the freedom to be more adventurous and to implement a playing style that compliments their players? Are they able to stick to their guns knowing that a run of bad results won’t lead to them heading for the exit? What effect does that have on the players? Knowing that the system and philosophy comes first makes you more dispensable than the manager would surely make you buck your ideas up.

Whereas the managers judged on immediate results have to deal with bombastic stories stating X has Y number of games to save his job. Of course he is going to sacrifice playing football for keeping clean sheets. Let’s sit at the edge of our box and hope Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Rondon, Sigurdsson pull something out their arse against the run of play. Your article however seemed to lay the blame on the manager, but I have to say the club’s are equally responsible for creating that environment. Honestly, how on earth do you give someone like De Boer the mandate to change the club’s playing style, and sack him after 4 games?

You can’t argue the same isn’t applicable to the top end, Klopp and Pochettino are completely safe in the knowledge that missing out on the top 4, or not winning a trophy one year won’t derail their projects, but Conte and Mourinho?

I need pressure to succeed in my job, I’m in sales, also a results-based business, which is why I’m still here in the office. However you could say the opposite is true for football managers.
Tariq, LFC (How many questions can I fit into one mail?)


An old school conspiracy theory
What the hell was going on with the pitch at Brighton last night? I wasn’t sure if I was watching the football or reruns of Todd Carty on Dancing On Ice. There were a good 20-odd examples of players losing their footing and slipping over, it was an absolute farce.

Brighton groundsmen need to take a long hard look at themselves. What did they do, water the pitch with grease??
Olly Cole, THFC


On the ten-yard rule
Whilst I can only agree with Colin M’s email about using the dissent rule from rugby in football, his email misses one key point. It has already been tried and scrapped.

In the early 2000s, this rule was experimented with in English football. Overall it was a success and the punishment was not actually used that often, which meant either just the threat of it was enough to decrease the levels of dissent, or ref’s had a very high bar on what they deemed worthy of punishment and moving the free kick forward. The trial had one major flaw for me, the movement of 10 yards was the only punishment and if the free kick was within in 10 yards of the penalty box, it could only be moved to the edge of the box and not be converted to a penalty. This meant that dissent could be used as a professional foul.

Give away a free kick in a dangerous spot just outside the area, dissent enough and get it moved right to the edge of the box making it harder for their specialist to get a shot on target. Not a major flaw though and one that could have been tweaked over time.

Then in 2005, FIFA called an end to the experiment and scrapped the rule entirely. The reason given was that after consultation, non-rugby playing nations did not understand the logic behind the rule and this caused confusion. Why not playing rugby made it impossible to grasp the process: Swear at ref, he moves the free kick forward, I’ll never understand but that was the reason given.

I’d be all for another trial of this but unfortunately, I don’t think it will get traction any time soon.
Paul, Frankfurt


And your favourite Brits abroad
I saw two football articles this week that made me think of a good mailbox question. A piece in the Guardian the other day about Jay Bothroyd currently being the J-Leagues top scoring Englishman, ahead of Lineker, and a piece on Tifo about Joe Cole providing creativity to allow Gervinho and Hazard to thrive at Lille and also convincing Hazard to join Chelsea. These two articles got me thinking: what are the most random brits abroad transfers mailboxers can think of/F365 could do a top ten on?

The mid-00s/early-10s is littered with examples of random players making random moves to random teams which seems to have been replaced by talented youngsters – Collinge, Egbo, Oxford, Willock, McGuane, Hinds, Sancho, Lookman – making genuine career moves abroad. Some of the best examples I could think of were:

David Bentley to FC Rostov – In 2012 Bentley had fallen out of love with football, so much so he decided to move to a remote area of Russia in what can only be assumed as an act of self-flagellation. He went on to make 8 appearances in an injury-hit spell becoming the only Englishman to play in Russia.

Tyrone Mears to Marseille – A lot of people know that Chris Waddle and Joey Barton played for Marseille but Tyrone Mears has got to be the most random. Off the back of 25 Prem appearances for the worst Premier League of all time, the right back, – who wore the name TYE on the back of his shirt – had a 7 game spell at Marseille which convinced Burnley he was could enough to be a regular in the maiden Premier league season.

Michael Ball to PSV – A one-cap-wonder, one for the pub quiz. 12 appearances in 2 years but managed to pick up a league title and move to pre-petrodollar City.

Ian Harte to Levante – Signed by Chris Coleman – he did things between Fulham and Wales apparently? – and stayed after a relegation to Segunda. Scored 10 goals in 66 games including 9 in a Segunda promotion campaign to be the most successful obscure footballer abroad on this list.

Michael Turner to Inter Milan – When a 15 year old centre back moves from Charlton to Inter for a loan in the late 90s you’d think he must be kind of wonderkid. Perhaps the next Ferdinand, King or Woodgate learned their trade at Internazionale. No, it was Michael Turner of Hull, Norwich and Sunderland mediocrity! Wonder if Richard Rufus and Jonathan Fortune did the same thing when he was coming through?
Joe, Midlands

More Related Articles