Mails: Your most memorable opening day

Date published: Wednesday 10th August 2016 2:08

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An important update
I work for a kitchenware company and we have just released a “Cap-collecting Bottle Opener”.

So basically, James Milner.
Gertrude Perkins


Your most memorable opening day
Seeing as the opening day of the season is just around the corner, I thought I’d write in about my most memorable opening day.

It’s not an Arsenal victory – it was also the actual day the Premier League started and the day we were stuffed 3-0 by a Fat Mickey Quinn-led Coventry City.

The scars of that opening day have never really left me – particularly as I’d been wowed by Jurassic Park that day and was looking forward to see how we had done.

Fat Mickey Quinn running riot against arguably the greatest defence in our history was soul destroying.

This was the August after winning the cup double but we would add the cup winners cup that season – our last European trophy.

Anyone else have an opening day memory they can’t dislodge?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


New league, new rules
Premier League Football is almost back (hurrah) and I am looking forward to many, many things. However, I have got to be honest, one thing really stands out and it is nothing to do with putting-the-ball-in-the-old-onion-bag. I am looking forward to players, managers and (especially) commentators getting to grips with the new rules.

– One man kick offs will excite commentators for a good few months
– The end of the triple punishment for denial of goal scoring opportunities will vex managers for the entire season
– The enforcement of red cards for swearing at refs will test players to the extreme

It is the third one I am most looking forward to and I am pleased that my club doesn’t kick off on Saturday. I think I am right in thinking that Jamie Vardy will be playing in the opening game of the Premier League season. If he manages to make it through 90 minutes without swearing at the ref I am a Dutchman (I realise none of you actually know me so just for the record I am not a Dutchman). It is also Wayne Rooney I want to see trying to hold his tongue. Nothing against the fellow but he has spent 10+ years able to shout and swear with impunity and to try and change now will be extremely difficult. I have a fear this is all PR and, when push comes to shove, the refs will not enforce it (or will enforce will terrible inconsistency). The sight of players swearing at refs is a terrible one and one you don’t see in any other sport. Cricket umpires don’t get the abuse, but it is no less passionate a sport.

One final point while I am on. I would love to see automatic bookings for players who run to stop short/ quick corners being taken by standing within 10 yards. This happens every match, especially towards the end when one side is winning. The pitch has markers and the players know exactly what they are doing. I have never seen a player booked for this but it is one of the most blatant forms of time wasting in the game.

Also, sorry one more, can fans please refrain from using nicknames before a player has even set foot on the pitch in a single match for your club? It used to be a player had to earn a nickname or a chant, now they arrive fully formed. Stop it. That said, I did like the Pogba/ Stormzy video…
Micki Attridge


Great Paul Pogba performances
Was reading Mr.Goldenballs’ email and pondered over his question as to whether anybody has seen Pogba put in a real man of the match performance.

I’m sure plenty will write in about his goal at the 2014 World Cup or his one great performance (among all the slightly less good performances) at the Euros. There would also be a few mentions of the game against Udinese where Juventus won 4-0.

For me, the stand-out performance of Pogba over the years was the Europa league semi-final second leg against Benfica a couple of years back. I remember that they drew 0-0 and Juventus were eliminated on aggregate, but don’t really recall much else about either team’s performances.

At the time, everybody (even in the mailbox) was in awe at Pogba’s control of the midfield and how it looked like he really could will his way (and Juventus) into the final. My lasting memory of that game was how he simply looked indestructible – It felt like Pogba was made of bricks and mortar and he simply would not be bullied off the ball (he was up against Garay playing in midfield I think, in which case it seems much more of an accomplishment).

At that point, I really wanted him to join Arsenal because he would’ve been a big presence in midfield, not just in size, but in grit (and also because it looked like we were gonna lose Ramsey to Barcelona). Now, I would rather we buy 3 players for the money he cost.

However, for what it’s worth, I think it’s a fantastic value for money signing for Manchester United. Value for money because, this is the sort of deal that keeps United from fading away into irrelevance. No Pogba means no more 70m a year kit deals. That simple.
Girish, AFC, Chennai


‘Dominating a midfield’ is overrated
There’s a phrase that’s ubiquitous in all discussions involving midfielders: “the ability to dominate midfield” or in other words, a midfielder needs to run the game, be an engine, be the fulcrum for every move, set the tempo, grab a game by the scruff of the neck etc.

I agree that those characteristics make for a great midfielder. This is the criticism thrown at Pogba. He doesn’t control games enough and tends to disappear in games. But is that really so bad for united?

One of the issues united had last season was players doing a lot of work, with disciplined passing and possession and seemingly controlling a game, but not really doing enough to win (then losing due to a mistake or a counter attack or a set piece). We don’t need more players to run more or pass more. We need players to score goals or make critical passes.

I loved Zlatan’s performance on Sunday. He was invisible for most of the game, but he got one chance and he scored and we won. That’s what United have been lacking for a while. Someone to make critical contributions in the form of goals and assists.

We already have loads of players who can run a game and set the tempo. I think we bought Pogba for exactly his ability to do outrageous things on the pitch to help his team win. And that’s why I also adored Berbatov. Not everyone needs to work hard.
Monty, MUFC


Has everyone forgotten about Yaya?
Is the player flying most under the radar this summer Yaya Toure?

1. He was not involved in any of the international tournaments,
2. His conflict with Pep given their history at Barca has been non-existent according to all the reports.
3. He does not feature in any website’s projected starting line-up for City
4. No rumours about his birthday celebrations this year

The guy is still one of the highest wage earners at the club, and two seasons removed from being an absolute dominant force in the Premier League.


Don’t worry about ‘Boro…
There is pessimism and then there is thinking Boro will be like QPR. That QPR team was made up of players that were only there for the money – had no interest in playing for the shirt and had as much respect for the manager and chairman that kids have for supply teachers…

Aitor Karanka looks scarier than Fernandes or Redknapp. I guarantee you will be better than
Smuggler McSmugglerson


…And don’t worry about Juventus either
Having read Andrew M’s email regarding Juventus this morning I felt compelled to write in because there are two glaring issues with the point being made. Now as a lover of Italian football I am no Juventus fan, but I think the line of reasoning here completely underrates the club and their plans.

Firstly, Juventus have long had the unofficial motto that stars don’t make Juventus; Juventus make stars. Pogba and Vidal became world-class in Turin, Pirlo was considered finished before Juve signed him, likewise Tevez wasn’t inundated with offers from big clubs. It has always happened like this; Juventus try to sign players who are young, or who have been written off at the top level, or generally have something to prove, and improve them. Higuain is possibly an outlier here (though he has been criticised at the highest levels himself, e.g. underperformed in World Cup final / in the Champions’ League at Real Madrid) but it’s a general pattern.

Secondly, to list all the players who have left since the 2015 final but only mention three arrivals (Higuain, Alves, Pjanic) doesn’t exactly make this a fair comparison. In that time Juventus have signed Khedira, Pjaca, Lemina, Dybala, Mandzukic, and Benatia on loan. Dybala, Lemina and Pjaca in particular look like the future of the club, and they still have a buy-back option on Domenico Berardi.

All in all, I think it’s premature to talk about Juventus being “dismantled” and I sadly can’t imagine much competition in Serie A again this season.
RH, Birmingham


Origi for the Golden Boot
If you got some spare change under couch I suggest you put it on Divock Origi for top scorer.

By the end of last season Origi was being picked ahead of Sturridge to lead the line for Liverpool and if not for injury ridiculous tackle from Everton blue shite Funes Mori Liverpool’s season may have ended differently. Origi has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League and he seems to have sponged up the tactics Klopp likes from his strikers. He definitely has a bit of Aubameyang about him.

Sturridge’s health issues and Danny Ings not being 100% means Origi should get the bulk of the early work load. Liverpool are only paying 38 games this season (not counting cup games). If he continues where he left off last season, and he has done very well in preseason, I think he could have a real breakout season.


Is five-a-side the answer for the Olympics?
Someone mentioned in the mailbox the other day about having 3v3 football in the Olympics and although I don’t quite agree with the format, I think a rethink about football at the Olympics would be worthwhile. On the whole I love international football enough to say let’s keep football in there, but clearly it’s not taken that seriously by a lot of nations, especially as it comes straight after the Euros (and the Copa in this year). I would suggest keeping the women’s football in the Olympics though as this gives it much needed international exposure.

Going along the lines of the previous mailer I mentioned, I would introduce 5-a-side football into the games. It isn’t a sport that is widely followed or has a strong international presence but it is a sport which many people play on a weekly basis. It is also an easy pick-up-and-play sport or even tune-in-and-watch sport for spectators who are new to football or find the 11-a-side version too boring (much like the effect rugby sevens is having on me!).

Rules could be made to limit the players to those who haven’t played 11-a-side for their country to give it more of an “amateur” feel but with players who we still have heard of or recognise. And maybe even the FAs of these Isles can sort themselves out and Team GB could enter a team…
Kevin G (Mourinho fatigue already setting in…)


Welcome to the new season: And that means refereeing conspiracy theories
I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that, but I find that the secrecy in the running of the PGMOL is doing more harm than good.

What I mean is that if referee selection was transparent and backed with reasons then most fans wouldn’t complain as much regarding referees who officiate their matches. For example, how would the PGMOL justify Mike Dean officiating Arsenal games when he always makes mistakes in those games?

The fact that referees don’t justify their decisions also does more harm than good in the game, I’d like to see referees held accountable as well by making public statements to enlighten us as to how they committed certain errors in a match.


More answers to easy questions, with F365
Further to Kester’s question about why players high five each other when being substituted – what I don’t understand is why players cross themselves when entering the field of play.

It’s not like God can stop them losing or getting injured, so why do they do it?
Matt AFC Essex
(MC – It’s because they’re religious)

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