Mails: Will next season be the most competitive ever?

Date published: Friday 19th May 2017 2:45

Send your thoughts to

Also, you know what to do…


What “Best…….. ” trophy are we going to bestow upon spurs after trashing Leicester?


Imagine the hate Spurs will garner when they actually win a trophy.
Tom Good, Surbiton


Ask a simple question…
In answer to your title headline ‘are any non-Man United fans supporting them in final?‘ – no. No they are not.



As a West Ham fan I have no dog in this fight, but I shamefully must admit that I will be supporting Utd in the Europa Final. I know it will be painful for everyone on the planet having to listen to Utd fans try talk up the achievement of winning Europe’s second trophy (that’s nothing but a paper trophy if won by any other team), but surely it’s better for the league as a whole. Any fan of a premier league team who dosn’t want to see 5 EPL teams in the champions league is an idiot and short sighted. Added to the fact that utd in the CL means they can bring in a better quality of player which is only better for us fans. Maybe the rumours and numerous ITK twitter accounts might catch a break and James and the Greizer might be tempted to leave Madrid.

On a similar note, the water cooler discussion in work today was which of the 3 teams aiming for 3rd and 4th place do want to see progress. Personally I would want city and Liverpool to get 3rd and 4th. Purely for the same reasons as above, and that these two teams will buy top players and improve. I’m getting sick of another season of Arsenal malaise,  scraping fourth and buying another 2-3 players under 23 who are only known to Football Manager advocates and are promised by Wenger to be the “next big thing” before being loaned out to a championship club or to West Brom to polish up Pulis trainers so are that glorious sparkling white on a Saturday. Interesting to hear other neutrals view on the race for ECL places
Doctopus “Brackets” McHammerface


Will next season be the most competitive ever
How crazy will next year be?

Manager loyalty ain’t a subject point especially when the Watford story makes the headlines 9 in 5 years….

However manager loyalty has possibly set up the hardest season ever!

Your have the top 6, the money 3 of them will spend and improve whilst enjoying 2nd season managers.

The other three will be enjoying to a degree (ok Arsenal may not) continued management.

Everton despite being slightly forgot about have comfortable finished 7th after a nightmare summer and will enjoy and surely be better in a second year under a well established manager, despite the loses that will come in the summer.

The you have teams managed by Pulis, Alladyce, Benitez all having had time to molde their team, complete nightmare away from home especially before they achieve 40 points.

Thats 10 clubs and a disservice to Southampton without Europe (also should be 2nd season manager), Leicester (surely not again, no Europe, they’ve sort of got their sh*t back together, Chelsea went champions to cr@p to champions – crazier things happened like Leicester winning the premier le… oh!), West Ham (2nd year at their stadium, will they perform like they did against Tottenham or perform like the my did against Liverpool).

13 teams this is looking interesting

Then there is Burnley at home (again before 40 points or a visit by Spurs), Stoke… can’t do it, they’ll be fine but they only play against 13 teams in a year and completely roll over for the other 7 these days, not worth a mention, however their football ascetics have improved

Then there is the surprise packages. Who will it be….

Bournemouth (how have I put u in this section as u almost finish in the top half playing good footy), Swansea (established in Clements ways with a pre season to go), Watford (New manager who knows after all Raneiri went into Leices…. point already covered), Brighton (Houghton is this the year a club doesn’t push the panic button on him).

On that note Huddersfield and Reading good luck to you both!!!

The victor will be walking into the most ready to compete premier league that I can think of.

(This is why we ignore cups these days, that and sky advertising/brainwashing)


End of term grades
Feel free to add your own grades and comments

Arsenal B – Doddering headmaster lurching into Alzeihmer’s…time to retire?
Everton B+ Strong semester…if head boys stay on for Upper 6th form expected to do better next term

Burnley A – Exceeded expectations but gets travel sick on school outings
West Ham C – Struggled to maintain standards at new school

Chelsea A+ Valedictorian and still going for extra curricula marks
Sunderland F – Sullen attitude of headmaster permeates entire school

Hull Sadly an F – New foreign language teacher raised failing grades but not enough to maintain government subsidy for the school
Spurs A+ Splendid effort all round…just missed out on top scholarship honours

Leicester C – Once they dropped the too difficult Italian Calculus course that affected confidence in abilities they improved dramatically in the final semester
Bournemouth A – Remarkable achievement for Special Ed case

Liverpool B – Might have been A but for baffling inability to score high in pop quizzes but earn top marks in serious exams
Middlesborough F – Consistent low test scores results in repeating grade once passed.

Man United B – Shines in exams but doesn’t finish regular schoolwork enough. For instance, writes good compositions but usually misses off conclusions
Crystal Palace C – On the brink of being expelled from school but new headmaster provided the discipline needed for behaviours to improve

Southampton C+ New French teacher maintained standards despite star pupils leaving for better schools
Stoke C – Underachievement for the high IQ students within school. Headmaster must be worried about forthcoming school board meeting

Swansea C+ Regular headmaster changes confused students until the latest one could speak both Icelandic and Spanish
West Brom C – Infuriatingly doing just the minimum as usual to achieve passing grade. Worrying reports of bullying in the playground

Watford D – Directionless curriculum could mean head boy will change schools
Man City B – New expensive school arts lab made a valiant school-wide attempt at remaking the famous Sidney Poitier film “To Sir With Love”, but critics agreed it just didn’t have Hart
Gary (I’m an ex-pat United fan living in Pennsylvania who who is going to watch the Europa Final with an Ajax fan next Wednesday) B


New TV customers can continue to enjoy great entertainment with award-winning dramas, must-see series and comedies when they Join Sky TV and get 33% off selected Sky TV Bundles for 18 months. This offer is live until midnight 5th June. Click here.


A Southampton fan’s perspective on losing so much talent
In response to Tom of West Hampstead’s mail. Wondering if Southampton fans feel the pangs of ‘what if’s’ in relation to all our recent player sales, I of course cannot speak for everyone but I can provide a single perspective.

It has got to the point where I am accepting of our sales, we appear to work with a business model that embraces the constant turnover. Players with ability potentially greater than our standing join us knowing they can showcase their ability against high profile opposition. In return for their service it appears, despite our chairman’s fighting words, that we do not stand in their way when the big guns come calling.

This is frustrating when you see Sadio Mane, our record sale, operate at a level more than the high price tag he commanded. But, without our pragmatic approach we wouldn’t have enjoyed him performing in our colours in the first place. The same can be said for Victor Wanyama, Virgil Van Dijk, Manolo Gabbiadini etc.

Once sold, we re-invest. Look for the next group of players with potential, filling the gaps left by departures while also expanding and adding greater depth to our first team squad. This approach has allowed us to stabilise in the premier league quite quietly, but very effectively since we came back up in 2012. Reflecting on the depths we fell to in league 1 and seeing clubs of a similar size such as Derby Country, Coventry City, Forest and Ipswich fail to get beyond Championship level, let alone qualifying for Europe and reaching a league cup final, make it seem clear to me that we must be doing something very right.

For me, the signs of progress are in who we sell to, not that we sell. I look forward to the days when our best players join Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona….. Not Liverpool and Spurs. The only thing that sticks in the back of my throat is the seemingly lazy behaviour of the Liverpool scouting network…. Seriously guys, there is a world outside of Hampshire!! I would dance a merry jig if we sold to anyone but Liverpool over the next few summers.

There will be a glass ceiling for our methods, we may have even met it already, but the stability they have provided seems easily worth it. Our future is safe, and with our sound foundations we will be resilient enough to cope if there are any bumps in the road. A far more preferable approach to the ‘spend big, forget the infrastructure’ approach taken by clubs like QPR, Leeds United and of course…… Portsmouth. Something we seemed to be at risk with under former Chief Executive Nicola Cortese. He may not have intended to sell so many players, but the model was kick started by his speculation.

It is enjoyable watching players of the calibre we have had come in and develop. The same goes for our academy players pushing through. Without their turnover, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We wouldn’t have been playing the good football our fan-base has come to expect.

Better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all. Here’s to the new talent to come.
Colin (I could share my best 11 since 2012 team, but I think that would undermine everything I’ve so far written…..) Brown


On that note…
After reading Daniel Storey’s article on “Seven teams who were plundered“, it occurred to me that the Southampton departures would actually make quite an effective current team if we put Artur Boruc, who left on a free at the end of 2014/15, in between the sticks. Playing 442 the team would be:

Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw
Mané, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Lallana
Pelle, Lambert

The only real anomaly to a properly balanced team, being two centre forwards.

If the criteria are slightly bent to also include Alderweireld, who Saints had on loan in 2014/15, the team becomes really quite tasty in the trendy new 343 formation.

Fonte, Alderweireld, Lovren
Clyne, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Shaw
Mané, Pelle, Lallana

A decent choice of manager as well: Pochettino or Koeman.

The fantasy element comes from wondering how this team, which is likely to get stronger this summer (van Dijk + some good subs), would fair against the current first XI. It would certainly score some/more goals.
Rob, London


The problem with the diving directive
I see the FA have decided to hand out retrospective punishment to people who dive. At face value, this seems like a great idea. Less diving = better, fairer action. Whoopee.

For whatever reason(s) we hate diving in this country, far more than we hate tackles that can injure opponents, but there we go. In other countries, it is the complete opposite. Johnny Foreigners, particular in Latin culture accept “simulation” as one of the dark arts and is part of the game, but on the flip side, their game is far less physical and they abhor the kind of full bloodied, bruising tackles you see week in, week out in the PL, that here are whole heartedly cheered from the stands.

So herein lies the problem.

This is a premier league directive only. Not FIFA or UEFA, just localised in England. So whilst our league hopefully becomes cleaner of acts of cheating, which is clearly a good thing, what happens when our brave lads go out to play CL football or indeed play for England? We are going to hinder ourselves massively when our teams play the likes of Barca (think Suarez dive v PSG) and all of our players are, because of the new laws, accustomed to staying on their feet all the time, whilst other European sides’ players throw themselves to the ground, winning free kicks, penalties etc. We are being far too British about this, and are more worried about fair play than we are about progressing in tournaments.

The other problem is the announcement that retrospective action will only be taken if a dive leads to penalties, or red cards for the opponent. What happens if a dive leads to a free kick, no yellow card, and the ball is curled into the top corner from 25 yards? That’s ok is it? Talk about a half @rsed plan.

I am all for promoting less diving, but let’s get it right and not leave ourselves hamstrung by the new laws.
Paul, London.


The play-offs
Interesting article from Daniel Storey
(as ever) on the playoffs. Hard to argue with the suggestion. But it also suggests that there could be a place for additional play-offs in the premier league. I have a suggestion, which could kill two birds with one stone:

– Create a Europa League playoff

– Teams from 5th to 8th qualify automatically, but can opt-out if they decide that the disadvantage of Thursday-Sunday isn’t worth it. At which point the place is offered to the next team down

– Teams play semis and final a la the lower league playoffs

– The kicker is that in the following campaign, the teams are required to play their strongest team in the Europa League. Any team found to be fielding a weakened team that then leads to elimination suffers a 3 point penalty and is barred from qualifying for any European competition (including Champions League) for the next 3 years. In the very unlikely event that it’s required, teams that finished in the bottom half of the league in the preceding year (which would require 3 teams to pass on the Europa league and then the team in 11th to come through the play-offs) are exempted from this rule

This would both add excitement to the end of the season for a few teams currently with nothing to play with, and add a bit more interest back to the poor old Europa League. As a Chelsea fan, the winning Cup Winners Cup campaign under Luca Vialli remains my 2nd favourite of any competition campaign in my 20+ years of support (after the outrageous 2012 Champions League campaign, obviously) and it makes me feel sad to see the disdain it’s been given in recent years (one of Harry Redknapp’s greatest sins on a long charge sheet).
Tim Colyer, Singapore, Chelsea fan


21 years and counting. I hate the playoffs…
Neale LTFC


Agree with the call to POGSTOP, until someone in Manchester opens PogBar, then I am all aboard.
Chris (or releases a limited edition set of POGs with just Paul, Florentin and Mathias), Stretford


Sissoko to Real
Moussa Sissoko to Real makes sense. Real  always throw in a weird transfer every now and again to keep us all guessing.  Sissoko can join the star-studded list of Adebayor, Chicharito, Woodgate and the main event Julien Faubert.

Cant wait to see him score two against Alcorcon in the Copa Del Rey during his one and only start.
Dave, Ireland

More Related Articles