It’s a bumper Mailbox that takes in Arsenal’s bottling, Spurs fans not relaxing yet, Newcastle sportswashing, Jake Daniels and more…
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My favourite desert – Arsenal crumble.
(My favourite desert is the Kalahari – Ed)
To all those who are writing off Arsenal’s CL hopes after last night. Can you just take a moment to remember who the other team involved in the 4th place “battle” is (4th place, Jesus can we just go back to when the European Cup was for teams that had actually won something the previous season). Do people not remember, already relegated Newcastle 5, Spurs 1, it was only six years ago.
Aidan Boyce (if you’re not shitting it over the Norwich game you’re not Spurs), Wexford (Spurs fan, obviously)
Arteta ran Arsenal like a school sports day
Firstly I’d like to congratulate Spurs on achieving Champions League football during a season in which we started with Nuno and have never looked so far from a team able to compete for those places.
In the aftermath of Ar*enal’s utter collapse to the Toon massive, I’d like to point out a few home truths for the blinkered supporters of the Woolwich wanderers.
You bottled it under the pressure and you’ve only got your inept manager to blame. A manager who is bereft of any sort of tactical acumen or who is capable of getting the best out of the players that his clueless board have acquired whilst spending a massive amount of money.
His blinkered support will sit around their burning tyres trying to convince us that Arteta has assembled a young squad full of talent and future promise whilst at the same time ejecting troublesome players and those that are incapable of feeding the dreams of a manager who has fell upwards into the seat he now occupies after playing second fiddle to one of the games elite and somehow learning the square root of nothing during that tenure.
And this brings me to my main point about Arteta, lets put aside the money he’s spent, the players he’s hounded out, his or his squads average age, the trophy less season, the same finish as the previous manager or any talk of improvement and lets focus on his qualities, or in this case the obvious lack of.
I myself have had managerial positions during my career like most who frequent this site and apart from not ever having managed a football side, the qualities and attributes that a decent manager brings to any managerial position or team are more or less the same. Arteta has had 3 years within his role and hasn’t managed to improve the teams position during that time, he’s also been given a new contract on the back of that which compounds his failure further but the biggest and most glaring issue here is the fact that he was incapable of getting the most out of certain members of his playing staff, notably Aubameyang, Ozil and Willian, whilst ignoring the more than obvious talents of players like Saliba who were left out on loan and would have undoubtedly improved that squad and their predicament.
To be a successful manager requires an individual to be competent in man management, something that can’t really be taught but ultimately can mean the difference between success or failure and any decent manager would have been able to recognise the approach needed with certain individuals and nurture their respective talent and attitudes accordingly. Instead, here is a man that can only instruct younger players, presumably because they won’t kick up a fuss whilst falling out with older, more experienced players who then leave to flourish at their next clubs. Now at the business end of the season when that experience is needed, Arteta can be found on the side-lines wearing that clueless look across his face whilst assuming the pose of a dejected, outclassed wannabe.
I’m not buying into the views of Ar*enal supporters apparently trusting the ‘process’ and saying that he’s achieved exactly what he needed to do this season….bullsh*t. You all know where you expected to end up and its not happened, you bottled it and if things had turned out in your favour there’s not one of you that wouldn’t have been milking that cow until it was a husk.
I wish today’s society wouldn’t keep rewarding failure because contrary to this new belief, everyone is not a winner.
Tony The Shelfside Yid
The Arteta process has still brought progress
I imagine there’ll be a lot of mocking, vitriol and revisionism aimed at Arsenal so I thought I’d write in with a bit more of an optimistic outlook.
I’ll start by saying considering where we got to it’s disappointing that we almost certainly won’t qualify for the Champions League but just that that was on the table shows its been a very progressive season for Arsenal. We knew when we hired Arteta and embarked on a rebuild there would be ups, downs and marching boy frowns. We knew with a young team that results could vary wildly, we knew with a young inexperienced manager, like the players, there would be mistakes and considering all summer and for a large part of this season we weren’t even in the conversation for a top-four place it’s impressive we ended up pushing for it by the end of the season.
People can hark back to ‘oh it’s just a shame to see how far the club has fallen’ or how Arteta should be sacked but it’s all just external noise. The club fell hard during Wenger’s last years and are only recovering now. The chaos behind the scenes (the power vacuum after Wenger left stalled any sort of bounce back with dodgy deals, power grabs and a rotating door of men in suits out for themselves) has stabilised to a certain extent and this season for the first time in a long time feels like the club is moving forward together.
If you look at what Arteta had when he joined and what we have now I feel he’s deserving of starting next season as Arsenal manager, he’s not without faults but another smart summer and adding more quality to compliment Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Ødegaard and an actual real life striker and there’s no reason not to assume this team will kick on again next season.
Again, it is disappointing, made even worse that it’s Spurs who will take fourth spot but it’s not the end of the world and talk to any reasonable fan (not those who shout loudest in a vain attempt to go viral) and I believe they will agree there’s more positives than negatives. Although the two main worries for me are our inability to keep players fit and the weak pressure mentality (mainly of the senior players) at the club. It’ll be interesting to read and reply to other fans’ opinions about it and aside from fans of other clubs who get raging hard-ons for diminishing others lights to make theirs shine brighter when the dust settles there’s a lot of grey to talk about. Ultimately we weren’t good enough thus year but it’s not all death or glory all the time.
Lee AFC Bristol
…If you can’t beat Newcastle or Palace away then you’ve no business playing in the Champions League.
Yes, Europa League football isn’t what we wanted but it’s what we’ve got so suck it up.
There are a number of reasons why we failed to land Champions League football – Arteta’s non existent man management skills, gambling on Eddie Nketiah to get the requisite goals, thinning out your squad so much that you’re filling out your bench with youngsters who will never get on the pitch.
But the goal wasn’t Champions League football – it was to get back into the Europa League.
So we go again in August but let’s not use the Everton game to allow the likes of Lacazette or Leno to bid their farewells to the Arsenal faithful – let’s rest everyone who needs resting and give Patino and Nuno another go and perhaps experiment with the formation this time.
Congratulations to Spurs – they deserve it but they’re a team on the turn while we’re only getting started.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
This fella does not agree
In football we often see managers who are the victims of their own success. They take over at a team that’s struggling, get them punching above their weight, and once the expectations of the fans and the clubs owners rise they’re sacked for not living up to them. With Mikel Arteta he’s the only manager I can think of who has had the opposite happen. He’s been in charge for 2 and a half seasons, spent £250 million and will very likely finish the season in 5th, on 69 points (provided we actually beat Everton), which is the same league position and 1 point less than the much derided Emery achieved in his only full season with the club.
His supporters will say ‘but he won the FA Cup’. No he didn’t, Aubameyang and Martinez won Arsenal the FA Cup, 2 players he got rid of. His supporters will also say ‘well before the season began you wouldn’t expect top 4’ or ‘well he’s done well to come that close after that the start they had’. And this gets to the very heart of the matter. He’s created these low expectations and belief among some fans that this is the best that could be hoped for. Some of his supporters will say ‘well look how long it took for Klopp to sort Liverpool out’. They finished 4th in his first full season and he was an experienced and proven winner already with Dortmund. This was now or never for Arsenal to get back in the Champions League. No European football to tire out our players, United have been awful and Spurs inconsistent.
United will no doubt improve under Ten Hag, Spurs will improve under Conte and Newcastle will break the Bank to compete this summer. We’ll be lucky to get Top Six under Arteta. But no doubt he’ll still be in charge in three years’ time, as we battle to a ninth-place finish and his supporters say ‘well a top half finish is the best we could hope for really’.
This has not been a terrible top-four chase
There has been an overriding opinion that the current top 4 race is the worst but a look at statistics shows that it has basically been the norm. Last season Chelsea finished 4th with 67 points, the season before they had 66, in 2018/19 Tottenham had 71, 2017/18 Liverpool had 75 so basically the current team in 4th could have been 4th in any of the last 3 seasons and the team finishing 5th has always been a point or 3 behind.
Actually the race for Champions league sports has always been the most competitive in the past few seasons with various challengers falling short at the last hurdle. Whilst the current big two and especially Man City have been far ahead of everyone the teams that occupy the 4 places below the top 2 are not at a much higher level than the rest of the league hence their results see saw between games. This has not been the worst top 4 chase it just has been the norm.
About those Man City ‘facts’
I have been perennially just a reader of the F365 mailbox and I generally do see a lot of outcry and lot of illogical responses in here. Also, I don’t feel the need to respond as usually someone or the other does a good job of rebuttal.
However, Zaccheus Edward takes the cake in terms of his ‘factual’ email about City and Pep. He starts of by saying that he is only talking about facts and then vehemently puts in that Pep is a loser and then, hilariously so, even puts in an opinion in a factual email. I’m an United fan and even I couldn’t stop myself from responding to this. Pep has built a generational City team but I guess he still has failed always, if you believed the mailbox. If you can’t really appreciate good football, then I feel you do lose the joy of following the sport – this is just my opinion and I am not dishing out a fact here!
Subhro (fingers crossed that Ten Hag doesn’t leave the United shit show within a year)
Liverpool are proof that the ceiling can be broken
One thing which is said pretty often is just how much of a one pony show the Premier League is.
That pony being the one whose owners inject (questionably or not) massive amounts of cash into their team.
While this is largely true it’s not as if it guarantees victory (see; Barcelona, psg, juventus). It also doesn’t mean nobody else can compete even without that fat long one sliding in the club accounts back door.
Case in point, Liverpool. When Klopp arrived the club had been in Champs League once in six years. Had just finished 8th. Had sold our best striker. Our best young player had refused to join the team tour to push through a move to City and we were not a very good team. Miles and miles behind the top dogs. Almost a mid table struggler.
They appointed the right manager who embraced not just the job but the fans and history as well and had a focus on rebuilding fan confidence and support. Those early calls for celebration and support after a draw were laughed at back then but I think most would agree now they were the building blocks to a very solid relationship between team and fans – which had turned very sour prior to his appointment.
Klopp was told champs league qualification was the minimum and despite having almost no budget whatever profit the club made he could spend. He finished fourth.
The money he won via the Champions League was then reinvested into the team and the club started to operate a little smoother in the transfer market bringing in Mane and Wijnaldum who would be key players. The following year was another 4th place finish and a trip to the Champions League final and the sale of Coutinho and Sakho for a combined 140m or so gave the club more room to manoeuvre bringing in Van Dijk, Robertson and Salah. Again all key players.
The following year we finished second and won the Champions League after bringing Keita, Alisson and Fabinho.
After that we won the league.
While a lot of money was spent, none of it required a rich sugar daddy. It was just good player recruitment and sales from a very capable DoF, superb management on the pitch from a very capable manager who squeezed everything he could from the tools he was given.
Any small club who makes a big sale could do the same. When Klopp took over our squad was about as good as any team placed 5th – 10th. Villa could have done the same after selling Grealish for example. It’s not luck that Liverpool did this, just good planning. You don’t need a rich middle Eastern owner (though I imagine it’s significantly easier if you have one) you just need to be shrewd.
Any club can do it.
(Hmmm. When Liverpool were ‘mid-table strugglers’, they were still placing ninth on the Deloitte Rich List, above Juventus, Milan, Borussia Dortmund and more. So no, Aston Villa could not do this – Ed)
Liverpool were far from nailed on as contenders
J is engaging in STARTLING revisionism, when he says that ‘It seemed to be the case that at the start of the season that it was a toss up between City and Liverpool for the title which it’s turned out to be.’ Given that Liverpool had only scraped into the Champions League after their worst season in five years, Chelsea had won the Champions League and signed the “missing piece of the jigsaw” in Lukaku, Manchester United had finished second and pulled off the transfer “coups” of Sancho, Varane and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Manchester City were Manchester City plus Jack Grealish, this was absolutely not the prevailing mood among the punditry class.
This poll of BBC pundits showed that NONE of them had Liverpool to win the league and only three had them to finish second. This predictions article by F365 showed that none of THEM predicted Liverpool to win the League either, and one didn’t even think they’d make top four.
Now, J him/herself MAY have thought that a Liverpool team that had managed to qualify for the Champions League on fumes with a goal from their keeper, and only strengthened with a young central defender, were excellent candidates for the Premier League, but that makes him/her much more perceptive than all these people who talk about and write about football for a living, and they should consider a career change.
Dara O’Reilly, London
Nice one, Jake
So I read a headline that says someone called Jake Daniels is the first English league football player to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu about thirty years ago. Brave is my first thought. As I don’t follow lower league football I then wondered, who is he? And then I immediately made an assumption, that Jake Daniels was going to be some player in his early to mid-thirties, close to the end of his footballing career who was ready to take the still courageous decision to come out (unfortunate that it even has to be the case in the so-called modern world). So I click on the headline to read more about Jake Daniels.
Wow! He is seventeen years old, and really only beginning his professional football career. How brave is that young man! He makes clear his motives and I hope that all who read what he has to say will understand how stressful and traumatic it must be being ‘in the closet’, pro footballer or not. I also read of the support he has received from various figures in the football world as well as his own club Blackpool. I hope that is maintained across all the grounds that Jake will play in over the course of his career! While there are bound to be a few numpties (cowards!) in amongst any crowd, I would also hope that the vast majority will just see Jake as a professional football player…for that is what he is!
Good luck to you Jake Daniels! You are already an inspiration!
…I wish to salute Jake Daniels. Discrimination on errant value-based judgements is wrong in my opinion. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s and I have been beaten up simply for the colour of my skin so I understand discrimination. So I wish to salute Jake Daniels because he is a hero. Stand up and be proud.
Lloyd (Jozi) SA
You made your bed, Newcastle fans
Newcastle fans don’t get to be upset at being told what to do by their Saudi owners, they sold themselves already.
“The soul of the club! We didn’t sell that!”
Get in the sea.
You wear whatever lingerie the client tells you to, the money on the nightstand isn’t free.
Tim Sutton (Mitrovic will score 20 next season)
Can we choose not to be sportswashed?
Interesting take by Dr Oyvind on the issue, but I can’t believe that simply cheering on Newcastle Utd (and solely to see another club benefit from the result) is now the equivalent of supporting human rights violations. One of the best takes I’ve seen on the issue is that sportswashing only works if you allow it to. While all sorts of questions can be asked about the structure of the Magpies’ ownership, the club itself can (and should) still be viewed as a separate entity. Oyvind’s use of words like “Saudi goals” only serves to conflate these issues and assists in any sportswashing agenda that may exist.
You can still support Newcastle and understand that something is horribly wrong with the regime in Saudi Arabia. Supporters of the club should be encouraged to support their club in a way that ensures that these issues remain separate, that the ownership is questioned and challenged if and when necessary and that any victory Newcastle may have in years to come is viewed solely as a victory for the club and its personnel and not a victory or PR stunt for a foreign regime. By constantly separating these two entities, any idea of “accepting” the Saudi regime or overlooking the atrocities committed there can be defeated. The NUFC fans branding Saudi flags at the time of the takeover were appalling. Thankfully that appears to have died down and we can possibly ascribe those actions more to the joy of getting rid of Ashley as opposed to any actual support of being owned by the Saudi state (the league’s views of separation notwithstanding).
No fan of the club is going to now turn their back on it due to its new ownership structure. The club has also been easy to watch since the takeover and doesn’t feel like it has sold out in any way: a few new signings intermingled with the existing squad that are much improved due to a manager who you’d be hard pressed to not like or admire. FFP and other regulations imposed means that next season probably won’t be a giant leap forward by an unrecognisable squad towards the top of the table, but another gradual step taken by most of the existing personnel. Newcastle United will still look and feel like Newcastle United to its supporters for some years to come, although hopefully a happier one than Mike Ashley’s giant billboard.
Yet twitter is loaded with fans of other clubs (and the occasional journo) trying to encourage Magpies fans to accept that their club no longer exists, that they cannot continue to support the club without also supporting human rights violations and that any success they may now have is not theirs, but that of the Saudi regime. This approach won’t succeed, because it doesn’t align with the reality of those that fill St James Park. A different approach is needed. This is a nuanced issue and requires football fans to apply their minds to what is happening, and question individual events as they arise, rather than just taking the “tribal” stand on matters as a whole. A spurs supporter can enjoy last night’s game and be happy for their own team’s benefit without any guilt, the trick is knowing where to draw the line on that support after the final whistle is blown.
Let’s just talk about Newcastle’s football
Wow, what a performance. It felt like from the first minute Newcastle stepped up and matched the intensity of the crowd, putting out a real statement performance that lays down a marker for next season. I’d be shocked if Newcastle weren’t in the top 3 of your incoming “supporter satisfaction” table given not the atmosphere at the club.
Other than the obvious enjoyment of the effort and performance I feel the match was an appropriate landmark at which to take stock of the change Eddie Howe has made since coming in. At the time of appointment he had a side low on fitness with shattered confidence, so the focus was on getting the squad fit enough to compete; if you can keep running for 95 minutes you don’t need to drop back into your own area the second you take a lead and therefore can stop inviting unbearable pressure. As the winning streak came into play he’s slowly started to implement some of his preferred front foot play, with the possession figures (bar outliers against Liverpool and City) slowly increasing throughout his tenure. I’m excited to see the greater attacking cohesion that should come from a full pre-season together; moments such as the indecisiveness between Murphy and Ritchie in the late counter attack are still fairly common and greater cohesion in the final third can really help this team kick on next season and hopefully make a push for conference league football.
Given all the above it’s hard not to draw comparison between the managers present last night. Where Howe has shown flexibility by changing tactics and coaching style to suit both the circumstances and his squad Arteta has shown rigidity, refusing to compromise on his style and falling out with several senior players. Where Howe sought to work with the players he had, bringing about staggering improvements in off form players like Shelvey, Krath, Fraser and (most notably) Joelinton, Arteta has binned anybody who didn’t match his vision (often paying them to leave).
Where Howe has built mental fortitude in his squad to brush off setbacks like poor refereeing decisions or 5 goal humpings by Man City, Arteta’s side still appear to be soft; as pointed out of Sky Arsenal’s defeats seem to come in streaks as the squad can’t seem to let go of setbacks. Finally and most crucially, Howe has came in and made an immediate impact; 46 points is Newcastle’s highest points total since promotion in 2017, a win against Burnley on the final day will see them reach their highest total since coming 5th in 2012, all from a base of coming into a side with 0 wins in 11 games.
Arteta meanwhile came into a side who’d finished 5th with 70 points the previous year and finished 8th , 8th and soon to be 5th . Despite hundreds of millions, full control of transfers, 2.5 years of coaching and a year with zero other distractions and he still has been unable to surpass the achievements of his much-maligned predecessor. I can’t help but feel this is an enormous missed opportunity for Arsenal, there was a perfect storm in their favour to reach Europe this season and next year they’ll have to contend with revitalised Spurs and Man Utd sides who both have proper managers, while also greatly increasing their own workload.
Jon uses the example of an (unamed) academy team beating a women’s international team as evidence that there is a difference between the top of the men’s game and top of the women’s… well yes, yes there is.
But no-one is saying that City should bin Pep Guardiola because Hayes has a better track record, are they? I believe the specific example is that it might be worth Blackburn giving her a go in the Championship.
Also, yes, elite men are better than elite women at footaball. The game is probably more intense, physical, played at a higher intensity, etc – but to my knowledge, that doesn’t actually mean that all the evident skill she has in training a side, fixing tactics, motivation and all the other attributes she has demonstrated couldn’t be deployed to perfectly good effect in the men’s game, using male players who have the physical attributes necessary to play at the correct level…
Mikel Arteta was handed a job at Arsenal with zero management experience. Wayne Rooney was handed a job at Derby with zero management experience. Frank Lampard was handed a job at Derby with zero management experience, and then a job at Chelsea with a body of evidence that he was a middling manager, and then a job at Everton with a body of evidence that he was a less-than-good manager…
Emma Hayes, if she wants to, has a body of evidence to suggest she’d do a good job in men’s football. No-one is saying she’d be a nailed on success, but she has a good CV that a Championship club would do well to consider.
That is unless her coaching style and tactics lean heavily into the fact that her players have uteruses, which seems implausible.