Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s wrong with 1-0?
I realise as not being an England national fan I don’t really have a vested interest in how their team does, other than I’d be grand with them winning really, it doesn’t really bother me. I just wanted to say to do with your own recent articles, and mailbox entries (the Mount and Grealish as wing-back one this morning inspired me) and other media, what’s the story with wanting England to be the most ultimate attacking team ever?
It’s been well said and rightly said that a lot of recent big tournament winners do so being quite defensive and ‘boring’. Not only that but Chelsea this year could be similar in the way that they have 200 attacking options, but for the most part play with a back 7, so why would that be an awful option? Even City this year were relatively low scoring and more defensive by their standards. When Liverpool won the league it was with a lot of 1-0 victories and a solid defence. Surely, that’s the best option to go for in order to win the thing?
Managers like defensive in these things because it’s easy to teach and takes out variables; playing expansive could kick you out of the tournament rather than just losing 3 points in the league. Less time with the players and all that stuff too.
*Coincidentally, I get the feeling that Chelsea is the only ‘big’ club that would be alright with Tuchel’s rather boring football for the most part. I’m a big fan of it, I think it’s clever but just don’t think other teams would put up with it as easily. To me Chelsea have been the best defensively over the last two decades save for Lampard and Sarri; they always had good attackers but whenever United played them I was scared of how good they were defensively. They never really rolled over and I think their fans are used to be good for that.
Anyway, it seems to be different for the England team and Southgate, if he won the thing but didn’t squeeze Bellingham in as a left sided centre-back, it seems he’d still be judged a failure. Makes you wonder why he even does that job to be fair.
Also, on taking the knee – it’s a few seconds before a game to say that racism is a bad thing. That’s all it is. A lot of those players have been subjected to it and just want a few seconds to be able to say “I don’t like that I’ve had to put up with this my entire life”, and their own fans boo it and say “well your opinion on it doesn’t matter to me, because of X,Y AND Z”: that right there is the very problem, that for a long time, and now, black or people of colour have been told that their thoughts, opinions, feelings, wants and needs, don’t matter as much as white people’s. You’re a fool to stand against that, and England will be judged for standing against it by other nations who’ll be watching this summer (you sometimes don’t have the best reputation for this kind of stuff as is).
Too late for Southgate to change ‘unaccountable’ England
England haven’t had the handbrake on, it’s just that everybody’s trying to sit in the driver’s seat. There’s a stark difference between the England that played in the World Cup and the one that’s going to the Euros – a total lack of teamwork. Gareth Southgate was definitely the right man for 2018, he took a squad of not-quite-stars and got them playing pedestrian football but as a team. Now, in their own minds, those same players are world stars and need to win every game single handed and Southgate’s not the right man to stop that.
There’s no need for England to change to a false 9 because they don’t play with a centre forward. They play with an extra defender/midfielder depending on where Harry Kane thinks he can get on the ball. There’s no need for pivots or combos because nobody passes the ball, preferring to dribble around nobody and either fall over or wildly shoot into row Z.
Southgate needed to lay down the law with this group of players but it’s too late now, it’s too ingrained in the way his team plays. Not shackled. Unaccountable. Jordan Henderson should never play for England again. Regardless that it was a warm up friendly game the last thing a supposed captain should be thinking is anything that starts with “I”. As an England captain, what’s best for England? That your second striker gets a bit of confidence by scoring a goal or that your defensive midfielder who’s unlikely to play gets his first England goal? Kane should have been dropped until he learned what his role in the team is. Olivier Giroud got criticised left right and centre in the last World Cup but he has a winners medal because he sacrificed himself for his country. Time and time again it’s obvious that selfishness gets you nowhere in international football.
I genuinely hope England do well at this tournament and I’m glad that a lot of the defeatism that surrounded the team changed to optimism but that optimism has been used as a smokescreen for moving backwards. Roy Keane was right in everything that he said.
The problem with the Euros…
I’m very, very excited for the upcoming Euros. Not only is it my first chance to watch Scotland at a major tournament since I was 14 but summer tournaments are the best. Nice weather, exciting matchups, beer gardens, knockout stages. Yes please.
That being said, there is a problem with the Euros. The format. 24 teams does not make sense. There are multiple reasons for this, but I’ll give you four. Firstly, its baggy. There will be 36 games played to eliminate 8 teams from the tournament. That links into the second point, lack of jeopardy. 3 points can be enough to qualify, so you know that even if your team loses, it’s not necessarily a disaster. A point becomes very valuable and even a 1-0 loss could be a good result. This encourages negative play, which is problem number 3.
The fourth issue that arises is fairness. The current format is not equal for every team. As an example, in 2016 Albania and Northern Ireland both finished on 3 points. NI had a better goal difference and qualified. However, because they played their final game 2 days after Albania, NI knew what they had to do to qualify. A 1-0 loss was enough to get them through. If NI played first, they may well have gone looking for a draw and conceded again.
So what to do? Well there’s no denying 16 teams was perfect. But money talks and we have to be realistic. We’re never going back. The answer therefore is a 32 team Euros.
Before you stop reading and write in to tell me I’m an idiot, hear me out. Firstly, it’s not really a longer tournament. Euro 2020 will be only 1 day shorter than the 32 team 2018 World Cup. So expanding the Euros might add a day, but no more than that. You’d have 12 extra group stage matches, but no change to the knockout stages, and no additional matches for any team.
The quality would drop slightly but not hugely and it would only impact the group stage. An average group based on European rankings would be something like: Spain (5th), Sweden (14th), Russia (21st) and Greece (28th). To me, that’s still very watchable. More importantly there would be jeopardy. I’d much rather watch matches of a slightly lower quality, where teams have to try and win, than watch games where teams can qualify on 3 or 4 points, as long as they don’t lose too heavily. Once you get to the last 16, the quality would be exactly as it is now.
You would also open up the tournament to the many many fans who seldom get to see their team on their biggest stage. Fans of Scotland, Norway, Ireland, Romania, Montenegro etc. would have more chances of regular tournaments. Fans of teams like Luxembourg or Georgia could dream of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time.
Speaking of qualifying, before you comment on how tedious the qualifying would be, I’ve thought of that. The top 16 teams in the Nations League (The top division) qualify automatically. That would also add extra drama to the Nations League. The rest of the teams of Europe would qualify in the normal fashion for the remaining 16 places.
There’s nothing not to like here. More games, more football, more fans, more money (UEFA love money), more drama. Come on UEFA. Make it happen.
Mike, LFC, London
— Planet Sport (@PlanetSportcom) June 9, 2021
Lage linguist help
So now we know that Wolves fans will be shouting ‘Lage, Lage, Lage’ next season, but have no confirmation as to how that actually sounds, especially in a Black Country accent.
Perhaps there are some linguists or Portuguese speakers in the mailbox that can help.
That’s not the only bit of deciphering needed. We know from the eternal prick of the week that the ‘J’ in Jose sounds like a ‘J’ in English, not similar to an ‘H’, as it would in Spanish. So far, so good.
But the Portuguese ‘S’ is sometimes interpreted by commentators like a ‘SHH’ (think Raul Meireles), hence the quip that Portuguese radio often sounds like a someone repeating the word ‘dishwasher’ in a Russian accent. Although I’ve also heard him called ‘Mirellis’.
And it gets more complicated. In Portuguese-speaking Brazil, the ‘R’ sometimes sounds like an ‘H’, which would surely mean that instead of Ronaldo and Romario, we get Honaldo and Homario, which just sounds like they couldn’t get the rights.
Can anyone shed some light on this?
Quarantino, Chairman of the Bored, ITFC.
The Stockport Kavanagh
I keep reading how Foden is being referred to as the ‘The Stockport Gazza’ because he’s dyed his hair. I’d understand it if he’d dyed it blonde, but he hasn’t. He’s dyed it grey.
He looks more like the Stockport Kavanagh.
Seems like we’re all tying ourselves up in knots to avoid the obvious conclusion here:
– Booing an anti-racist gesture is itself a racist gesture
– We already have an established answer to fans that make racist gestures – they are identified and banned from the stadium. Countries that fail to stop this are fined, made to play behind closed doors and ultimately banned from international football
Done. If there really is no place for racism in football (as the vast majority of football fans agree), then there’s also no place for anti-anti-racism. England will still have enough fans without racists, and football will be a better place without these people. There’s absolutely no need to take at all seriously a view that states something like (if I have it right) “I am anti-racist. But I am also anti-BLM because they appear to have other views I disagree with, and I do not believe that any gesture they support can be separated from those political views, even if those doing so have explained in great detail that for them the only meaning is about giving an anti-racist message. And I believe that the most appropriate way of making this subtle point is to boo anyone who follows that gesture. And everyone should accept that whilst elements of the BLM message are inseparable, it’s obvious that my boo relates only to one part.”
Just ban them
Tim Colyer, England fan
Just my two cents worth, but i was suprised earlier this evening by just how angry i felt when the Hungarian crowd booed the Irish team for taking the knee, This was no vocal minority in the crowd…it was the whole crowd expressing their opposition to an anti racism gesture, ( i very much doubt they were expressing their displeaure at calls to defund the police in the US)
My thoughts as the boos grew throughout the arena were with Gavin Bazunu, the young Irishman from Firhouse who lit up Shamrock Rovers academy until Man City came calling, Chiedozie Ogbene from Cork who once scored 1.2 for Nemo in the Cork U21 gaelic football final, Adam Idah, another Cork man who runs himself into the ground every time he puts on a green shirt, young Omobamidele who has starred from an early age for leixlip, just 20 minutes away from where i sit typing right now..
This boys are my countrymen, young Irish men who are the future of the Irish team, and the hungarian “fans” believe they have a right to veto an expression of respect and solidarity aimed at raising awareness of what these young guys and millions of others experience everyday…. Shame,, absolute shame on you Hungary…
I have huge respect for how all these guys just got on with the game with such dignity, just another depressing day at the office i guess..but it shouldnt be like this, it doesnt have to be like this,
As long as racists and bigots and haters exist we need to continue to call them out and show them up, for sure things wont change by timidly pointing at your respect badge like an embarrassed Hungarian Captain.
Con from Ireland – hit the f*cking nail on the fuc*ing head mate – with you on that Brother, every word! Shut the booing up it’s childish and if you say you’re not a racist then stop doing it dummy!
Joe, AFC (how would you feel if it was happening to you and not just viewing it from your lofty moral high ground observing and then defending the racists!)
So let me get this straight.
For 30+ years at every single England game a certain-fairly sizeable- minority of fans has consistently sung about World War 1,World War 2,German bombers in the air,not surrendering to the IRA & various other “hilarious” racist ditties.
Neither the FA or the media have ever really called them out on this.
Now,this same set of fans have reverted to type upon their return to grounds by booing people standing up to racism and people are shocked?
Alot of people have already written in with far more eloquence than I can manage, however for all those against taking the knee or suggesting a new form of protest, it’s important to realise that any form of anti-racism protest will always be unacceptable to a racist.
Chris Stockdale, NUFC
Any chance UEFA could start the Euro’s a few days early? The mailbox is becoming remarkably easy to skip through given the mighty political arguments it is now hosting.
With a large slice of irony…….my view for what it is worth.
People should be allowed to take the knee if they want. People should be allowed to boo the people taking the knee if they want. People should be allowed to wear a poppy if they want, or not if they don’t want to.
Marcus Rashford MBE is an example to all of us. He is a very fine, very aware and very active young man who is using his public position to create a lasting legacy and improve the lives of thousands (maybe millions) of people.
I am a white male so I haven’t been racially abused and therefore have no point of reference about the hurt of the individual. What I do feel is that Marcus has been able to achieve all of this in the UK and in a society which surely cannot be fundamentally racist (I think we are very different to the US). There are morons in every walk of life and when he receives racist tweets after missing an open goal, is this not a reflection of the moronic individual rather than society as a whole? The problem with social media is that now every moron with an opinion has a public platform whereas in the past the moron may rant at the end of the bar and most people would ignore him……..or fill him in (simpler times!).
In conclusion…I am not sure what taking the knee is trying to achieve these days. If it is to change the opinion of morons it will not be successful.
Plato – MUFC
You can support the kneeling, you can oppose the kneeling and you can boo the kneeling, all fine as far as I’m concerned. What I don’t understand though, is why continue to do something that has become a meaningless, pointless and empty gesture? If the England players kneel before the Croatia game, will that have a positive effect on racism in England? Of course not. However, booing the kneeling can have a negative effect on the England players, so why continue to put yourselves in this position?
Guy Thomas, Breda
Euro 2020 is finally here – and what better way to celebrate than with a preview show to mark the launch of our new multi-sport website Planet Sport?