If you have anything to say on any subject, you know what to do – mail email@example.com
What one player would have made a difference?
Lots of doom and gloom in the mailbox (and everywhere) right now, so how about a bit of fun?
As a Spurs fan, I feel in simultaneous awe and regret at what a fantastic player Sadio Mane is, and that he could have joined Spurs. I did a bit of digging and there’s rumours of high wage demands, or the fact he wanted to work under Klopp. Regardless, Mane to Spurs could’ve been a thing prior to the 2016-17 season, but it never happened. Instead, two months later, Spurs signed Sissoko for £4m less than Liverpool signed Mane. C’est la vie, we say and move on… But what if…
What if Spurs had signed Mane that summer? Given that Spurs finished second that year, I’d argue Spurs would have won the league if they’d signed Mane instead of Sissoko. An away win at Chelsea and draw elsewhere would have swung it.
So my question is this: what one player, who your club was on the brink, or came close to signing, would have made a significant difference to one of your seasons?
I’m not talking Burnley signing Messi would win them the league, because Messi to Burnley was never a thing. But plenty of deals get pulled, or fail to be dragged over the line and to what effect? It could be a failed signing that would have avoided relegation, or got a Europa league spot, if it’d happened.
Rules are it has to be a proper rumour and close to happening. Not some guff from news aggregation sites click-baiting Bale/Modric back to Spurs for the umpteenth time…
Andy (Zidane to Spurs was nearly a thing years back, but Gerry Francis would’ve probably played him at left back), London
Joleon Lescott and his “punditry”
Ill be honest, I was triggered by Joleon Lescott’s statement this week that he doesn’t think a single Liverpool player would get into the Man City starting 11.
Van Dijk gets in, simple as that. It’s a matter of which City centre back plays along side him, and I would go with Laporte, who is fantastic.
Alisson definitely asks questions of Ederson, but Ederson just edges it.
Andy Robertson gets in over Benjamin Mendy, or whoever else they play as their make shift left back in his absence.
Fabinho vs Fernandinho is tough to call, i’m going to say 50/50 and rotate the two there.
Sadio Mane gets in over Leroy Sane on current form, although I appreciate that Leroy Sane brings the qualities of a more classic winger. You cannot ignore the goal scoring ability of Mane though and he gets in over Sane for that reason.
Salah vs Sterling on current form, you would have to say Sterling, but that is only counting form over the last 4/5 games. Over the course of this whole season they are literally neck and neck for goals and assists. However, I don’t think its too biased of me to say that due to Salah having shown his ability to score 40 goals in a season, he gets in over Sterling on reputation alone, since statistically they are neck and neck atm.
So my City/Liverpool combined XI:
Ederson; Robertson, Van Dijk, Laporte, Walker; Fernandinho/Fabinho, David Silva, De Bruyne; Mane, Aguero, Salah
All due respect to Bernardo Silva and the fantastic season he is having, but De Bruyne gets in.
Whenever Joleon Lescott says something moronic again, he should be reminded of how his piss poor back header put Cisse through on goal on the final day of the 11/12 season, that almost crushed their dreams of winning the Premier League. He is forever indebted to his teammates for his Premier League Medal.
Wickyleaks, Toronto, Liverpool fan
I initially dismissed Micki’s email as just another of those annoying fans that all clubs have but since it has continued to dominate the mailbox so let’s fact check his claims mainly who were City supposed to lose. Well let’s see.
– In the League Cup Ctty have so far gotten past Oxford United, Fulham, Leicester City, Burton Albion and Chelsea. There’s your answer right there. Chelsea and Leicester. Don’t get me started on the “a win on penalties is not a win”. That is actually how a knockout tournament works so there’s one more thing you don;t know much about. Also, in terms of difficulty, such a draw to the semi finals in the League Cup is about par for the course.
– In the FA Cup they are in the semi-final courtesy of an easy draw. Well, who did Liverpool lose to exactly? That’s right Wolves. If City were supposed to defeat Chelsea and Leicester then by your own logic, Liverpool was certainly supposed to defeat Wolves. But guess what? They lost. And not even on Penalties.
– I’ll grant you City got an easy draw so far in the Champions League but that’s what happens when you win the league. What was stopping Liverpool from winning the league last year?
And let’s just ignore the Premier League shall we because Mick couldn’t find a way to spin that too.
And if that’s not enough to make a complete fool of himself, he has to go on about how it means more to be a Liverpool fan. Sure mate. I’m sure all of us United, Chelsea, City and Arsenal fans were burning with envy of the Liverpool team that hasn’t last won a league title over 30 years ago while our teams were actually winning the Premier League multiple times over.
I am so sorry
I would like to apologise, to everyone, for everything. By way of recompense can I offer the following gifts…
· If you haven’t already done so, go and register with the UEFA ticketing website for Euro 2020 tickets. They will send you updates (but not too many) around when you can apply for tickets. The application window will be open from 12 June to 12 July and all tickets will be allocated through a lottery. There are games in London, Glasgow and Dublin with the latter stages at Wembley. Imagine getting semi-final or final tickets!
· Sky Sports Mix are showing Holland v Germany in the Euro 2020 qualifiers on Sunday night. This is free-ish to air and bound to be a belter. They have also got Belgium v Russia tonight and Portugal v Ukraine tomorrow. Wales v Slovakia is on S4C which is free to air
· If you still haven’t read ‘Living on the Volcano’ by Michael Calvin do yourself a favour and do so. I am pretty sure it is in The Works for about £3
· If you are ever feeling annoyed by football and fan rivalry… go to YouTube and rewatch Michy Batshuayi pounding the ball into this own face off the post in the World Cup and all won’t seem so bad
Micki (I just didn’t think it would have such a response, I really didn’t) Attridge
Fans not from Liverpool
Ok Rosie Poppins, you got a bite, well done. I’ll leave other mailboxers to pick apart your whole email. What I will focus on is the part about the fans not being from Liverpool.
1. When has this ever mattered? I’m from Ireland and follow them because John Aldridge was my favourite player when I was a kid. Guess what country he played for? Go on, I’ll wait.
2. Have a look at whatever team you follow, I’m sure it’s the same since…
3. Football is a global game and the Premier League is a global game. It has a massive global reach thanks to the TV rights deals it’s top brass have negotiated. And for other reasons
4. Look at all the US/Asia tours teams now embark on. This isn’t to collect passport stamps. It’s to spread the “brand” (ugh) and reach for marketing purposes. The more fans you have globally the more money you can generate from those fans.
I’m sure there’s more I can list, but that was my knee jerk reaction. Looking forward to all the better responses than mine.
Culk The Younger (name changed because my older brother has been published now)
Nobody likes a blowhard
I broadly agree with what Will, LFC said in the morning Mailbox in that you shouldn’t judge all Liverpool, or all Manchester United, or all Manchester City fans or whoever based on a few idiots.
I’m a City fan and I know many very decent and down to earth Liverpool and United fans, and plenty of moronic City fans too.
But I think Will inadvertently hit the nail on the head when he said: “And I accept that some people have talked about supporting Liverpool as if it’s different. And it is – to them. Just like everyone thinks their club is special or their country is special or their friends are special. We have to understand and tolerate that in each other.”
I don’t think we do have to understand and tolerate that in each other because I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think Liverpool are anything special. I don’t think City are anything special either. I don’t think I’m special, I don’t think my kids are special, and I definitely don’t think your kids are special.
Nobody likes a blowhard and unfortunately, the so-called “big clubs” like Liverpool and United have too many fans who look down on other clubs and other supporters just because the team they chose to follow won a few cups a few years ago.
Enjoy football and love your club but for the love of God, try and be humble about it.
Hypocritical Liverpool fans
Loving Rosie Poppins’ email.
One eyedness – We are just optimistic. If Man City wins their FA Cup game, they will play more games, hopefully feel tired and lose focus of the league, which is good for us. If Man City loses their FA Cup game, hopefully they will go on a bad losing run which is also beneficial for us. Being optimistic is an undervalued commodity nowadays it seems. Perhaps it would be best to watch that game not hoping for a Man City win, not hoping for a Man City loss, and hoping that the game goes into a draw with penalties lasting well into the year 3046.
You’ll never walk alone – No excuses. We should have walked up to him and made him feel loved.
Best fans in the world – Nah, we are far from that. We aren’t the best, but we are fully behind our team.
Pretend to be reasonable – We are unreasonable because our team probably isn’t even the best and yet we want them to win it. One can’t be too reasonable either if observing a few Liverpool fans can lead to stereotyping all of them as pretenders.
It means more – It probably means nothing. Just have friendlies every week. Don’t bother about competing and being the best. That’s overhyped apparently.
Pundits / journos – Throw away those letters to your partner telling them they are the most charming, most lovely, most whatever. Freaking subjective and one-eyed. You can’t do that. It’s not objective.
Most of them not from Liverpool – Again, don’t express your love for mountains, oceans, forests, etc. if you are born in a hospital. You can’t love something that has no connection with you. Hypocrites.
Different from normal football fans – I am not educated enough to understand what’s the definition of a normal football fan. But anyway, from this season onwards, any team with fans from elsewhere that have yet to visit their stadium will not be able to win the league.
But it doesn’t matter, because we are supposed to sit stone-faced watching the Man City FA Cup game still. Until 3046. No. No cheering. No cheering for either a loss or a win, you hypocrite.
From a hypocritical Liverpool fan
thayden v Gregory
Well thayden, in recent years I’ve enjoyed some of your well-reasoned and well-written messages. Didn’t agree with most of the points in your recent anti-Liverpool one though, but fair enough that’s both our rights. But, wow. You really don’t like Gregory Whitehead. Again, fair enough you have your reasons.
It’s just interesting that you chose to ‘defend’ (well, ‘attack’) yourself against one person, but conveniently chose to ignore the restrained and what I thought were well-reasoned responses from at least 9 other mailboxers. But hey ho, selective block-out, you are obviously right, everyone else is wrong or misinformed. And that will now include me, oh well, let the anger come.
By the way I’m a season ticket holder from Liverpool, attended matches since the 70s so seen plenty of good times, plenty of disappointments. On the Kop I haven’t heard any songs about Thatcher (and have no interest in her, indeed politics, though I’m well aware she was certainly not popular in many places, never mind just Liverpool!), and indeed 99% of the songs are about us, not other teams.
Final general point. I have friends who support other clubs, including Man U, Everton, Spurs, City, Arsenal. And guess what, we all have disagreements over many things, naturally mainly coming from defending our own clubs, but no hatred, vitriol, anger towards each other. We just can’t understand what sort of people can’t do without such feelings. Are we the minority? Sure we are not, but there is a worrying increase in recent F365 communications. Oh well.
Mike Woolrich, LFC ‘Also, don’t think you calling him Gregory/Gregster/Greggy would be appreciated by him. Or anyone else in similar circumstances. But guess you need to pat yourself on the back’
Football Manager stories
In the midst of all the Liverpool chat (which is a real bore) I realised the only way to ensure the mailbox is diverse and fun is by actually contributing! I realised I can’t have been the only person who has been influenced by your brilliant Diamond Geezers feature to revisit Championship Manager/Football Manager so I thought I’d give an update on my progress as Barnet on Football Manager 2018 (mobile edition).
Quite a fairly standard League 2 team at the start of the game, it’s clear that being able to avoid relegation will be seen as a successful season (with Barnet actually getting relegated in real life that season). With a few gaps in the team (namely a mad dog DM and a striker to partner John Akinde) I set about ensuring I can complete my summer transfer business ahead of our friendlies. Leadership and discipline is a clear issue so any midfielder bought has to have high leadership stats.
After a pretty standard first 2/3rds of a season, we suddenly hit a ridiculous run of form that sees us finish 5th and into the play-offs! Amazingly we dispatch of Exeter and Notts County to get promoted into League 1, which both excites me and worries me as I’m expecting a season of thrashings.
I’m halfway into my first season in League One and happy to report that we sit in 2nd having gone the first 13 games unbeaten! However injuries to my two main players John Akinde and Anton Rodgers has caused a dip in form that has me slightly worried, but having expected to spend a season in a relegation battle I’m excited to see how my boys keep the pace up!
It’d be great to see if there are any other mailboxers who have started games in the last few months and have any stories to share as well?
Ronson (Up the Bees!)
Inspired by the success of Mike Paul and his Diamond Geezers, I am strongly considering re-entering the world of Football Manager simulators. This comes after a lengthy sabbatical, and after intense rehabilitation to get myself off these games in the first place.
As I’ve been out of the loop for so long, does anyone have any suggestions on which game to go for? I always enjoyed the simplistic nature of CM 01/02, and how quick you could get through a season, but I’m thinking a more modern game would be a better place to rejoin the game. I’m not necessarily looking for the latest game, more of a modern classic!
Thanks in advance,
Bored with the pro/anti-scouse debate. How about this instead?
Worst away ground and why.
Best away ground and why.
For me (Clive), Millwall for the worst. A ground where you have your very own metal cage/tunnel to the train station for your own protection. ‘Nuff said..
Leyton Orient for the second. A mixture of one really old stand and three new ones. Great atmosphere, welcoming fans and reasonable prices for your beer and food. What football should be like everywhere.
Mark (Am I really contemplating watching Kazakhstan v Scotland?) MCFC
City’s away form
Is it only me that thinks Man City have issues away from home? Because I have seen no one else mention it, I think it must only be me.
The narrative is that they are this all conquering , unstoppable machine, with many people claiming they are going to win the rest of their premier league games, but why?
Yes, they’ve won 6 league games in a row, but that has included just 2 away games, a win at Everton and a 1 nil win at Bournemouth, we all know what happened in the away game before that.
Fact is, they’ve lost 3 of their last 7 away games in the league. They’ve failed to win 6 of their last 15 away games in all competitions in 90 minutes. Not terrible, but by City’s lofty standards, not that great. Most of the 9 wins in that time were by 1 goal, and only 2 were by more than 2 goals: Newport and Huddersfield.
They rode their luck to earn draws against Lyon, Leicester in the Caraboa and Chelsea in the final. They could have dropped points to Watford in the last minute, scraped a win against Shalke and should have lost to Swansea.
Disclaimer here, yes, I’m a Liverpool fan, but this isn’t just a case of wishful thinking or confirmation bias. I do think City should be slight favourites, because we have Spurs and Chelsea and we haven’t always been convincing against the big teams this season.
However, the fact that City have 5 away games left, and not particularly easy ones, leads me to believe they shouldn’t be quite as big favourites as they are. They have been almost unstoppable at home, no denying that, I just don’t see any evidence of their invincibility away from home.
Few of us ‘choose’ the clubs we support
Long-time reader – since the early days, with my favourite piece still the lookalike of Abel Xavier and Peter Sutcliffe!
There has been a lot of vitriol on these pages about fandom, especially Liverpool fans, and I have always taken exception to being talked about as a ‘plastic’ or ‘glory hunter’. My dad was Scottish, played for Scotland at schoolboys level and supported Aberdeen and Arsenal. my mum, English, has been a lifelong Chelsea supporter, and as the only boy born (and final child) into this family, was expected to take up one (or more) of these passions. However, at the age of 6, my best friend at the time was a Liverpool supporter, which meant that my destiny lay down a different path. Now, you will recall that in Ghostbusters, Gozer the Gozerian commands the Ghostbusters to “choose the form of the destructor” and, unwittingly, Dan Aykroyd chooses the Stay Puft marshmallow man, who lays siege to New York. My point, borrowing from that film, is the line that follows: “Once the form is chosen, it is chosen”. Surely, being ‘plastic’, would have meant switching to someone else, but you can’t, can you? That’s why Moneysupermarket doesn’t have a tab for it!
The point of this is that few of us ‘choose’ the clubs we support. Some of us come to it because of parents, some through friends, some from gifts or a chance meeting, so it isn’t a case of being ‘plastic’, or seeking glory. My friend could have supported anyone, and that is how I would have ended up, but I have had highs and lows and enjoy the process – I really don’t care about other clubs’ fans and hope they feel the same. Don’t knock people for the team they support, enjoy the ride. Most of what annoys you is actually the marketing BS that comes from the clubs, not from fans. For each ‘This Means More’, you can read, ‘The Theatre of Dreams’, or other such barf-inducing nonsense.
Love football, enjoy a rivalry, but don’t buy into the tribalism.
Nick in Woking
World Poetry Day
As it’s World Poetry Day, here’s a short poem about football:
Does Danny Drinkwater?
Because Emre Can
A night at the opera
I went to see Hans Zimmer’s film scores with a Symphonic Orchestra at the Manchester Arena last night, with around 5,000 other people, where the average age was somewhere between 30 and 40 years old from all classes, and alcohol was being served. Despite all the recent events and political turmoil, there was no crowd trouble despite there being plenty of opportunities to do so:
There were several breaks in play between scores, and no one felt like they had to run on stage and punch the cello player in the back of the head.
The fans were allowed to drink alcohol in the stands, and were even given bottles, and yet none of the bottles of Smirnoff Ice were thrown on stage in anger at a missed note, or because of who the saxophonist used to play for.
Despite the fact the composer played Kung Fu Panda instead of the far superior Pirates of the Caribbean, there was a distant lack of booing or ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ chants at the composer.
I am sure people may argue that Symphony is a less emotive pass time than football (although I almost cried when the music from The Lion King played from when Mufasa dies), but the audience knew the appropriate way to behave, did so in exactly that fashion, and made it a better experience to everyone. It would take a massive effort from all stakeholders in the game, but there is no reason why the same people, could behave the same way at football, or at least one where hatred is virtually eliminated from the stadium.
I have read a lot of over the last couple of weeks where people have said that is a society problem more than a football problem, and while there may be some overlap in the venn diagram, my experience last night makes me believe that this is largely a football issue, as it has become acceptable for to act unpleasant at football matches, whether that be abuse towards the referees, players, managers, other fans, religions or races, so people do. It wasn’t last night so people didn’t, hopefully one day we can get to same stage with football.
Mark in Manchester.
As a break from the interminable back and forth we’ve had going on all week, I was going to write in on the plight of Coventry City’s impending homelessness (again) and possible expulsion from the league (while we’re actually doing tremendously well on the pitch, heartbreakingly), but it’s been covered far better elsewhere. Have a look at Ben Fisher’s piece in the Graun. Mediawatch pointed to it yesterday.
So, instead, a couple of topic suggestions in anticipation of a light and buzzy couple of Friday mailboxes if you fancy.
Do you have an overseas team you follow (or at least keep an eye on) and if so, why? I was taken to see Schalke play Duisburg at their old Parkstadion on a German exchange trip when I was 17, so from then on they were my German side, for example.
Have any of you ever had a trial at a professional club? Which? Why didn’t you make it?
What’s one fixture you’ve always wanted to attend, or one stadium you’ve always fancied seeing a game at? Why?
What’s the strangest piece of football memorabilia you – or someone you know – is in possession of?
What’s one sight, sound, smell or feeling, one sensation, that absolutely and totally screams “football” to you? You know, something that transports you straight into a football frame of mind? For me, here, it’s the smell of grilling sausages (those being the terrace food of choice). Instant powerful sense memory.
Looking forward to reading some replies!
David (shameless Zbrojovkast podcast plug) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.
In the spirit of CHANGING THE SUBJECT which seems to be the through thread of today’s mailbox, I noted with interest that Germany’s match last night was very much reported as a changing of the guard, with Muller, Hummels etc. being shuffled out to be replaced by younger, rawer players. This prompted a couple of thoughts in my mind:
1. Does this mean England are ahead of the curve and setting the trend now, with the whole cultivation (and success) of the youth teams and the refreshing of the 1st team personnel (seem to remember we had the youngest average age in the WC by some margin, though may be misremembering)? If so, that makes a nice change.
2. As someone who’s been watching football for since it began (1992), the prevailing wisdom has always been that young players need gradually blooding in, be it league or int’l, and if they are rushed in they can be overawed and/or lose confidence if things go badly. It seems to me that nowadays the younger players are just miles more confident and resilient, at least when it comes to their footballing ability, so you may as well put them straight in and benefit from their speed, energy and enthusiasm.
Some might even say: children are the future; treat them well and let them lead the way.
Nick, RFC (just killin’ time and spitballin’ here)
So there seems to be a detach between footballer and fan now more than ever, the mutual hatred and animosity for each other always gives rise to the well-trodden conversation of “reconnecting with the fans”.
Therefore I have a suggestion that will resolve this issue……….a giant Tombola.
Before every game a giant tombola is wheeled out onto the pitch containing each seat number in the ground. A number is drawn out of it for each team, no doubt by an ex-pro or preferably Rod Stewart and whoever is in that seat gets to pick any position in the team including goalkeeper and they have to start.
The benefits of this are 3 fold:
It would highlight how hard it actually is to play at the highest level and breed an empathy rather than apathy towards players.
It would reduce obesity within society as fans would want to keep in shape should they get the big call.
It would kickstart a resurgence within the Tombola construction industry possibly staving off a recession.
You may say that the Tombola industry has no significant effect on the economy but I’ve not yet seen a study to prove it doesn’t.
Anthony (Football, completed it), Kilburn
No more, no more…
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading about my team as much as I can, seeing the last game from loads of different angles, hearing other people pick out things I’ve missed, all that, but I really did reach saturation with the ‘Liverpool fans are Actually Bad / Actually Good’ bunfight and wind up sort of ill, what with all the one-eyed self-defences that kind of proved our detractors’ points.
Like, I stopped watching us for the two years after after Kenny’s racist t-shirt stunt, and whenever I hear that Michael Nyman piece written after Heysel I get that same guilty weight in the pit of my stomach.
Ours is a problematic club — there’s no way around it, however much we try to drown it out with the ‘City are a reputation laundry for a bad regime’ or the like. Yeah, there’s a glorious history, but there’s a lot of concerning baggage in there, too — John Barnes getting racist sh¡te from our bad lads in the early days (don’t pretend it didn’t happen), the people in Stanley Park, Suárez acting the bigot.
What I’d love is for us to be able to grapple more honestly with that history, apologise for the bad, acknowledge the mistakes, try to do better, rather than drown out the criticism with ‘this means more’ chants and fake anecdotes about the One Good United Fan (that was mental, proper ‘Hilary in the Woods’ stuff).
It seems to me like that’s why people don’t like Liverpool fans — a dishonest selectivity about what we mean when we say ‘we mean more’. How you can go about that mending of reputations, I have no idea, but I do feel like our present ‘brand’ laminates over the dirt rather than hosing it off.
Tim, LFC, Mexico
Refs can’t always be so transparent
Excellent article by Steven Chicken on refereeing transparency, but I might just counter with an argument from the ref’s perspective. (I am a level four referee)
There are times when we need to be, shall we say, adaptable to the rules and how we apply them. This doesn’t mean ignoring things or bottling decisions, but refereeing is also an act of self-preservation at times. We may also say things to the players that might not be deemed acceptable to the viewing public, but which nonetheless are part and parcel of reffing.
As an example, last week I reffed a game with a foul (careless, nothing more) which had one team baying for action against the offender. I assured that team I would have a word and warn him. In reality that ‘word’ was me telling him it wasn’t a bad challenge and I was talking to him to keep the other team happy. Cue a content player and the opposition captain giving it the ‘nice one ref’ as we got ready to retstart.
There are times I might swear (yes, we do it too!), I might tell a player he should have scored, or have a joke with a captain about what a nightmare his team-mate is (‘already written your name number 2’). All little things that get us through the 90 minutes, which might, out of context, cause fans to get irate.
It’s fine to encourage transparency and openness but some things are better left on the pitch, IMHO.