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Why does the EFL get to have all the fun?
As it’s the end of the season, and I am already missing that glorious sexy mistress, known to many as the premier league, I have had a crazy idea to extend the season for a week or two.
Now before you start shouting at me about the table not lying and the best team have won it over the course of the season, I am not talking about the top of the table. I am talking about the other end. This season has seen several teams survive with a derisory number of points, playing to reduce goal difference against the top teams and playing some pretty rubbish football. What if we changed it around. Bottom two are automatically relegated, but from 15th down to 18th, we can have a proper scrap.
How many teams would play for a win against the top six knowing that the higher up the table they finish, the less likely they will be sucked in? Think you can cruise to the end of the season on 30 points? Think you can rest players over Christmas and pick up points at the end of the season? Maybe it would push teams in the bottom half of the table to try a bit more, scare complacent owners (Mike Ashley, I’m looking at you) in investing in the club.
An end of season playoffs, the final would be the real nail biter of a season.
I am aware that this idea is nuts, and will never be picked up, but why only have playoffs for teams going up? It seems a lot more fun watching those desperate to survive, and you know it’s exactly what a winter break was made for.
Stephen (what’s the point of 5 live with no Saturday football for two and a half months and no Danny Baker at all) Green, Shropshire
Bundesliga relegation/promotion play-off
A quick heads up for those in search of meaningful football in the lull before the CL final. By virtue of finishing third in Germany’s second division (on goal difference after stumbling to a draw on the final day), FC Union Berlin are about to take on Stuttgart in the relegation/promotion play-off for a shot at the Bundesliga.
Without wishing to sound too patronising, Union are a cracking little club with awesome fans and a real community vibe. Like Berlin itself, they’ve had an incredibly fraught history and have literally never played in the top league.
The first leg is up tonight, followed by the reverse fixture on Monday at Berlin’s Stadion an der Alten Försterei. Wonderful matchday experience.
If you love an underdog, do yourself a favour. Keep an eye out for Felix Kroos (Toni’s brother) in the Union lineup too.
Charlie (come on you Irons!), Sydney
Okay so I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan and have been for 35 years. Hell of a long wait for another league title goes on. This year was an almost but nothing you can do when you have Peps City dominating like they do. I’m not gonna cry foul. I’m not gonna bitch about the fact they are run by tyrants etc etc. In fact I’m tired of hearing stupid bitter fans, Liverpool et al, about all this and more, including if they are the best ever or not. Fact is they are the best right now. End of. United fans, do you really believe the Glazers don’t have shit on their shoes? Liverpool fans, do you believe our owners are goody two shoes in their business transactions? Arsenal fans? Just please shut up. Yes something should be done about who can run a club but stop picking on City just because they are dominating the league.
Funny thing is people actually question Pep and his influence on that team and their dominance. They think anyone could do it with that money. Really? Seriously, REALLY??! As far as I remember Mancini and Pellegrini both had the same owners and neither dominated like this. Yes Pellegrini got as far as a CL semi but do you think for one second they struck fear in every team like this City does? You think those City teams dominated like this City team? Hell no! It is not a coincidence that Barca and Bayern carried that same aura about them. Accept it, Pep is the best manager in world football. Anyone who thinks he can only do It because of money then I call bullsh*t on that. It might take him longer to find the talent and type of player he needs and wants for his style but he’d get it done. That’s why his first season was a struggle. City had a lot of average players (inherited from aforementioned managers) He doesn’t accept average in his team. No chance in hell a Henderson or Milner or Xhaka or Matic would make it in to his teams. And the people that bang on about how dirty they are breaking up play when they lose the ball stop it! EVERY fucking team does it! Nobody dominates and scares the opposition so much as a Pep team does. Accept it.
In a way I’m happy for Pep even though I was gutted we didn’t win it. All these ‘expert’ writers and pundits doubted he could do what he did with Barca and Bayern in the premier league because it’s so much harder and there are a lot more better teams. 198 points in 2 seasons is all I’ll say to that.
And to the ones that claim the Invincibles are better and cite City not winning a CL as a reason for that, well your Invincibles never won a Champions League so what do we say to that? Each team from different times deserves their credit. Stop trying to diminish their achievements. I will diminish United’s treble though. Could not have been a luckier win against Bayern and Arsenal in the semis of the cup. Thoroughly outplayed in both games. That’s my envy talking though.
Alex (looking forward to next week’s final. C’mon the Pool!)
City versus previous champions
Culk The Younger, whilst rationally trying to quantify the achievements of City this season versus the likes of Leicester, the Arsenal Invincibles and the Man Utd 99 Treble team, suggests that City play the best football out of the lot of them and that had me wondering, do they? Honestly do they really?
I personally think the Ferguson-led 99 team would beat this City side. With great difficulty I must add, as City are a brilliant side, but yeah I think that Keane, Scholes, Beckham, Stam, Cole & Yorke up front and Giggs in his prime could and probably would beat this City team.
Incidentally, I think the Man Utd side of Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo up front would beat them too.
That Leicester side shouldn’t beat this City side, but remember Leicester was only a few seasons ago and, granted Guardiola wasn’t in charge then, but they DID beat City. City’s tactical fouling would have to be “on fleek” otherwise Leicester would sucker punch them.
Mourinho’s first Chelsea side would be a colossal opponent for City as well. That ends a draw I think. A boring draw too.
And as for the Invincibles, honestly I think they blow this City side off the park, I really do.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite
…There’ve been a number of emails proclaiming the greatest Premier League season ever. As a Liverpool fan I’d like to nominate City 2019.
Had Arsenal repeated their “invincible “ season, they’d have finished third, Leicester and United ‘99 would be nowhere to be seen. Moreover (and it pains me to say this), City have triumphed with 98 points in a season where four of their competitors have reached European finals. Unprecedented.
And they also did the domestic treble. QED.
…The dictionary defines invincible as ‘too powerful to be defeated or overcome’. While Arsenal may have been ‘invincible’ in the league, they were defeated in the Charity Shield and FA Cup by Manchester Utd and overcome by Middlesborough in the League Cup.
City may have lost four league games over the course of the season, but ended up as winners in all three competitions (plus the Charity Shield). You could say that domestically over the season they have been too powerful to defeat or overcome, but they got beat four times in the league and lost in the Champions League so are just err, vincible.
Both are great achievements, but City’s is arguably greater in that it is unique and across multiple fronts- Arsenal won the top tier of English football undefeated, but this had been done before. The only team in England to have won every competition they entered undefeated, and therefore truly meriting the term are Preston North End, in the 1888-89 season.
I know outrage culture is now a thing, but seriously, let’s calm down. There’s no outrage because there’s nothing to be outraged about. First, nothing’s even happened yet. Second, why assume he’s not capable of acting professional? Plenty of players have played against their future clubs, former clubs, and favourite clubs without issue. Why would this be any different?
Ok, if it was John Terry, you might have a point. Still, no outrage needed.
Has he signed yet?
The year is 2041, and Manchester United are linked with Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman.
Given the amount of mails regarding City’s ownership, and the fact that I wasn’t aware of the Mailbox until 2011, can someone tell me what it was like after Chelsea’s first trophy after Abramovich’s takeover? God it must have been tedious. Congrats City, they really are an incredible team.
Fully expecting Lacazette and Aubameyang to tear Chelsea a new one next week, and if Higauin starts, well… I think someone else mentioned previously that the only thing worse than the transfer ban is the transfer ban but being allowed to sign Higuain and Kovacic, I couldn’t agree more!
I feel the need to preface this mail with my opinion of FFP. I’ve not yet decided if I’m for or against it, this may largely be down to a lack of education on the matter.
On the one hand, it stops clubs from being run irresponsibly. You can’t get a rich owner who will financially dope you by pumping in his own cash, to then only get bored and decide he wants to let the club rot, causing a huge deficit in the clubs finances. Not such a problem at the top end of the premier league where cash seems to be aplenty, but could be a problem lower down the Premier League and Football League. Also top end Premier league clubs values are so high now that letting a 1-2 billion pound investment rot isn’t a great idea.
On the other hand, if I were a super-rich person and wanted to buy a football club, I’d find it extremely frustrating that I couldn’t invest in my investment and make it more valuable. It’s their money and I feel that they should be able to squander or invest it any way they choose.
So now that I’ve cleared up my (lack of) stance on FFP onto my point. FA/UEFA/FIFA have brought this FFP rules in, they’re rules and laws that every club has signed up to. So they can’t really argue. If the FA and UEFA want them to be taken seriously they need to get serious with them when it comes to giving out punishments.
If the club is breaching FFP by miss-management and genuine cash flow issues for any reason, the FA or UEFA should be allowed to put the club into a pretend (want a better word) administration. Where they bring in accountants and management to bring the club back into order, and under extreme circumstances sell the club. Think how Liverpool was sold by the board despite the owner (Hicks) not wanted to sell because of the price. These accountants and managers have the right to sell players and offer contracts in the best interests of the club. I’m sure there are plenty of laws that would prohibit this, but clubs could have to sign up to this as part of the competition rules like they have to sign up to transfer windows and FFP.
If the club is breaching FFP by a flagrant disregard for it the punishment should be deemed as any other form of cheating, because that is what it is. The club broke the rules on purpose and gained an advantage. For this instance a fine is a joke, I actually bet the owners laughed ‘haha they know we have unlimited money right? Pay the fine and carry on’. If FA and UEFA want these rules to be taken seriously they need to get serious with the punishments. They should remove any prizes that were gained since the start of the cheating. Any league titles, cups and European coefficient advantage they gained. I also think they should be relegated to a league below where they currently are.
Harsh, very harsh punishments, but if FA and UEFA want to be taken seriously and consider breaching FFP cheating, they need to treat it like cheating and grow a pair. Make the punishment actually hurt the offending club, or make it actually help the struggling club.
Like I said at the top of the mail, I’ve not actually decided if I like FFP or not, I don’t believe the argument that it’s intended to keep the super-rich clubs at the top. I like to think it was put in in good faith to stop clubs being miss-managed. I think I’d be equally happy if FFP wasn’t a thing and owners could do what they want.
Mark (Nothing to see here, move along)
Graeme (hoping for a 6th for Liverpool)’s idea of a Celebrity Fans league briefly had me excited. After a long, tough season, finally it seemed like something Notts County could do reasonably well at, with filmmaker Shane Meadows and popular musician Jake Bugg enabling a club with a golbal fanbase of about 20 to punch well above their weight.
Then I asked a few people whether I’d missed anyone else, and they all gave the same name… Harold Shipman. I guess this is another league we’ll be finishing 91st in, then.
Steve (92nd is whoever Tim Lovejoy is claiming to support these days, obviously), Nottingham
…Celebrity fans Graeme? Well I certainly have a few for Chelsea, some you may know about already others you may not.
Mark Hoppus (Blink 182 Bassist, has a house in the area according to his tweets)
Charlize Theron (Started supporting the club in 2012 during their tour of the USA)
Steve McQueen (Apparently would enter the dressing room after the games he attended)
Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsey.
Mikey, CFC (Still surprises me when I read some of those names)
After reading the incessant sniping between Liverpool and city fans(with others weighing in of course) over FFP, I would like to insert some positivity into the mailbox again, and talk about the positives of a few clubs.
Leicester city- having read Matt Stead’s fantastic article on Leicester City, it is terrifying as a united fan to see how good they are and could be if they kept their key players(them and wolves scare me the most, they both might finish above us next season).
Man city- as much as I hate saying this, you guys are probably the best team in the world right now. Nuff said.
Liverpool- 1 point off of the best team in the world, and favorites to win your 6th CL crown(which would put you 3 ahead of any other English team), plus a young, dynamic side with one of the best attacks in Europe.
Spurs- Somehow, you are in the CL final and have one of the best managers around with one of the most talented starting XIs in the league(please please please beat Liverpool).
Wolves-What’s not to like about your club? Great manager, interesting football, and one of the best young mids around in Neves(Wolves-Leicester will be a higher-quality match than Utd- Arsenal next year).
Watford- ignore the FA cup final. City are on a different plane of existence. 11th place is misleading, as you probably had a better season than Everton and West Ham(and maybe even Leicester).
Southampton- Ralph Hasenhuttl is one of the most underrated managers in Europe, and if he can bring in the right players, you will be back in the top half in no time.
Anyone else have any teams I missed that have a bright future?
Seb, Berkeley, MUFC(For any utd fans getting down on themselves, I only started following football in 2016, so my good old days consist of winning the league cup/Europa league/community shield “treble” with Jose)