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TJ wins the first “Poch to United or Madrid” award for the season 2019-20.
He wins something massively boring and unoriginal to go with his boring and unoriginal mail.
Should this year be their year?
Here is a weird question for Liverpool fans; what would you deem acceptable this season?
Personally I’d be happy right now with 3rd place and an FA Cup win. I’d be over the moon with 4th place and a European Cup win, even if it were the Europa League I’d be delighted. Obviously I dream of winning the league but we need Man City to implode a little for that to be realistic. 2nd place with no other real cup runs would be fine for me.
This season is hard to predict for Liverpool. I think the success of the season will rest on the first two months; if Brewster/Shaqiri and Origi can keep us in the title hunt whilst Mane/Salah and Firmino get a bit of rest then anything might be possible.
Refusing to believe in the Arsenal
Arsenal have been causing me real mental and emotional pain for most of my life so forgive me for not getting too excited with the Pepe news. The thought of of Auba, Laca, Cabellos and Pepe in attack is a mouth watering prospect, but The Chambers, Mavropanos, Mustafi, Monreal issue is the stuff of nightmares. Jenkinson to start right back until Bellerin is fit? A traffic come placed in the position would offer more of a defensive presence.
Our only competent defender is 34 and refuses to play for the club he captains. The thought of Xhaka losing possession in front of his own backline 5 times a game is enough to bring me to the verge of a breakdown and all signs point to another very nervy, error riddled year for him. Armband or not.
Our inability to shift any underperforming dead weigh means the likes of an underperforming Iwobi, Ozil or Mick Taryan are the ones expected to inject some urgency into our play. As much as I like the young players coming through, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah are not going to drag us to the Champions League.
It will be business as usual for The Arse over the season ahead. Mental fragility, error riddled defending, uninspiring substitutions and a mad dash to secure Europa League football for the fourth year in a row.
David, Sydney (It will never get better)
At least there’s Man United optimism
I’ve seen a lot about how much United will struggle this year or how Solskjaer will be the first Manager fired but personally i see a lot of reasons to be optimistic going into the new season.
Many have painted our form last year after Christmas as a new manager bounce followed by being found out. The alternative view is the fast paced high press style was working well until a squad that hadn’t done much fitness work hit a wall. This summers pre season has focused heavily on fitness and stamina and the squad should be much better prepared for the new style now.
We still need some new signings especially a centre back and a midfielder but its a much better view to see the team targeting players that fit a particular style the manager wants to play and looking at players who will go into a specific gap in the team rather than recent years approach of just signing whatever big name could be brought in to sell a few more shirts.
We have some young talent in Tuanzebe, Greenwood, Gomes who can make an impact this year.
I dont for one minute expect to challenge for a title but i think we have a strong case for being favourites for a top four finish and for the first time in a few years we have a clear vision for the future.
Simon (hopefully not regretting the optimism come September)
Pre-season results mean nothing, but individual performances in pre-season do matter. There has been reports that Man Utd are lining up Milinkovic-savic as a replacement for Pogba should he leave. However based on the current state of Nemanja Matic I’d say he’s needed in addition to keeping Pogba.
Matic looks as sluggish and knackered as he did at the end of last season. Though his current stand in, McTominay, does look to be progressing well he cant be expected to carry the burden of the Serbian’s decline. Reinforcements are required if the team are to improve.
Otherwise in pre-season;
Greenwood and Chong have done enough to be part of the 1st team squad full time, both have produced consistently good performances and are worthy of stepping up.
James needs intensive work on his crossing if he’s going to be effective against teams that sit deep. He should also not be on corners.
Jones looks to be the first choice as Lindelof’s partner which will surely be short lived, ending with a gurning swan dive into injury.
Afterwards Tuanzebe should get a chance, his speed will come in handy if the high line is maintained and his confidence has obviously grown whilst away at Villa.
This is assuming Maguire doesn’t arrive, which is looking more likely at this point.
Wan-Bissaka has definitely impressed. I didn’t realise before just how well he can defend 1v1 situations and he displays a maturity well beyond his years.
Finally, though still sceptical I’d be pretty happy if this Dybala deal is pulled off. From the half dozen times I’ve seen him play over the years he’s always looked threatening, could have a massive impact.
Dave, Manchester (Can we please include Fred in one of these swap deals? He might like it in Rome)
There’s been several mentions in the mailbox of United’s inability to shift the deadwood from the squad, expressing frustration that several players are still cluttering up the halls of Carrington. Whilst I understand the frustration, can people not see that it’s the same situation as Bale at Real but on a smaller scale? Do you think the club hasn’t tried to get shot of these players?
Look at Marcos Rojo. He’s 29, been crocked a lot in the last few seasons and is on over £100kpw. How do you shift that? Where’s the queue of clubs lining up to pay a fee and match those wages?
I’ve written in before about this, but it’s an interesting development in the rise of the superclubs; the inability to shift unwanted players from their books due to the exorbitant contracts that have been given out. United are suffering more than most due to their poor transfer dealings in the last few years.
I fully expect some to go, Darmian and Rojo especially, but it’ll probably be towards the end of August when the European windows shut and it’ll be a loan or otherwise subsidised transfer. When you’ve got a very willing seller, it is in the interest of the buyer to wait for the deadline to drive the price as low as it can go. As for the players, just as with Bale, they and their representatives aren’t going to happily take a pay cut. Truth is, we may be stuck with some of this dreck until their contracts expire or we bite the bullet and buy out their remaining years. The days of flogging your crap to Sunderland are over.
Lewis, Busby Way
I have to say I fully disagree with Thom, Newport’s assertions.
I double down on the claim the sales of RVP and Fabregas were poor decisions. Look at Lverpool last year. Coutinho wanted to go, Barca wanted him, yet they sold him for his actual market value. You can look at Suarez in 2014 and Bale in 2013. Or more accurately, look at Torres to chelsea six months prior to Fabregas’ sale. Torres had spent the last three years battling injuries. Yet he still went for a fee equal to his market value. There is no reason Arsenal couldn’t have negotiated for higher fees.
As for the idea that we got Podolski and Giroud to compensate the sale of RVP, that is simply not true. The Podolski fee was negotiated months before RVP decided to leave, and Giroud was mainly brought in as a much needed plan B. It doesn’t matter if they all left footed, they didnt really play the same positions and the team really had to adapt to playing with a less mobile and more physical striker . At the end of the day, we sold our best player to a rival and he led them to a league title. That is a bad decision.
Finally in regards to letting players leave. Pires was getting old and was often injured, it was the right call to let him leave. Edu was a squad player and wanted more playing time, even with Vieira gone he was not going to be a starter. Bar Henry and Cole, and maybe Vieira, look at the players who left and their careers, They didn’t do much. Wenger was right to let them go, his mistake was not replacing them with experience.
I am hearing a lot about the idea of capping footballer’s wages. This is a patently absurd answer to a serious question.
Football, like many other corporate businesses, relies on the speculation of commodities. If a club thinks a player is worth a certain amount, it is because they believe it will recoup the money for the business. Some will, some won’t. The rise in receipts from television revenue and sponsorship has lead to a vulgar rise in what this entails. And yes, the money involved is obscene.
However, this is the one industry in the country which leads to by far the greatest amount of working class and black millionaires. Ed Sheeran earned 110 million pounds last year, providing a service of entertainment, just as footballers do. Where’s the outrage?
If we are to tackle an exploitative system that targets the public whilst enabling the wealth of the commodity, let’s surely start elsewhere. Cap the bankers; cap the politicians’ expenses; cap pharmaceutical bonuses. Don’t cap the wages of our entertainers who have managed to beat the system designed to leave them behind.
Racism in football
If not now, then when will football combat racism? I would say that this is an interesting question that Mr Storey asks, but it truly isn’t. Why, simply because football, and society at large will not take adequate steps to promote a fairer and more equal society. Footballs governing bodies have proven time and time again that they have no desire to combat racism beyond token gestures. There is no imperative for them to change.
I can write at length about race, that the truth of the matter is racism is largely, far from exclusively but largely a WHITE problem. It was born from Caucasian minds, promoted, instilled and ingrained in society manifesting itself in racist policies such as the hostile environment, and stop and search. That The U.K Prime Minister has a long itinerary of offensive, xenophobic, sexist and racist comments as does Donald Trump, and this does not stir indignation among many people due to the fact that racism has been normalised at all levels from grassroots football, to the premier league to Downing Street. Genuine racist comments now get downplayed and trivialised as banter.
However this is something we all know, and what we require are solutions. Essentially we require more allies to combat racism, we don’t need tolerance which only breeds indifference, we need people to take the harder route, we need everyone, irrespective of race and footballing allegiance to examine and question their beliefs, ask why the media often describe black players using animalistic terms, and push the narrative that such and such a black player lacks a footballing brain, aka lacks intelligence.
We need allies to challenge their fans when singing racist songs, we need to be outraged when the governing bodies fail to act appropriately. We need indignation not intolerance, we need action not apathy. We have a collective responsibility to eradicate all forms of discrimination from the sport we hold dear, and the solution starts with you.
Wilf of Wall Street
Since Darragh, Spurs, Ireland was so directly calling a few people out in Sunday’s mailbox I just wanted to point out this new thing – Palace do in fact set the price for Zaha’s services. It is totally up to Palace what they sell for, and it doesn’t matter a jot what the market says. Those two numbers don’t have to match up, two clubs just need to agree a price – on the flipside if a selling club internally values a player less than the market, do you really expect them to hold out for a *lower* fee?
Zaha is a Palace player, so they are the ones who decide if they want to sell or not. Short of a release clause (which attempts to predict the market price of a player, and then tack on a premium), they are under no obligation to sell Zaha for anything less than the price that they decide having him at the club is worth. So if the market collectively values his services at £70m and Palace agree, but decide to hold out for £85m (a 20% premium to make up for the sell-on clause) to get their money, that is their decision. Cheers for acknowledging that a potential buyer not being forced to pay a price, that’s how the transfer market works. But even more important is that the selling clubs are not forced to accept a bid below their internally set valuation, regardless of what the “market value” for that player may be.
Danny (agree with him on Toby>>Slabhead though), LFC NY
Bale’s dumb decision
If, as it has been reported that Gareth Bale, after 4 years at Real Madrid only knows pigeon Spanish, then that is a dereliction of duty, I’ll allow others to pontificate on the cultural elitism, if that is indeed the case.
Not learnng the language is really dumb. If he was only on loan you could forgive him that at least, but it was his dream move (at the time) and he would’ve known or at least wished to have spent at least a few years there.
Learning Spanish would have benefited his career SO much more. He would have been able to be more social with his teammates, understand tactical nous, not to mention eavesdrop on the opponents on corners and inplay etc. At the very least it would have given him a small reprieve off of the Spanish media.
Whoever was advising Bale, should have insisted on this. His form, work ethic – despite injuries has been commendable. There’s no shame in being in Ronaldo’s shadow, now it’s Zidane who wants to put Bale behind him.
It’s worse than the Ozil situation, as the wages are a similar sticking point, but Gareth’s injury record raises some major red flags – not the Welsh ones.
Bale is one of a handful of players who put their Country other the club, and for his sake as well as Wales, his next month is paramount to any relative success our team gets in the future.
I won’t lie to you, it’s not exactly a side laden with oodles of trophies. There’s also a finite time I can spend at work trawling through Google and Wiki. But it’s a mixture of local lads done good, all time-greats, cult-heroes and what might have beens. Which sums up neatly my club pre 2008.
An ambitious 4-2-4 fluid formation….
GK-Joe Corrigan (Manchester)
Shook off early flaws to become Mr Dependable and a respected goal-keeping coach. Would have won 50+ caps if not for Messrs Shilton and Clemence.
LB-Terry Phelan (Manchester)
One of my early City heroes, mainly because he was erm…quick. Best known for that FA Cup solo goal vs Spurs in between the Maine Road faithful kicking off, much to Barry Davies’ disgust.
CB-Mike Doyle (Ashton Under Lyne)
Mr Manchester City before Vinny came along. Kicked anything Red that moved (Lou Macari), before the demon drink came along. His grandson Tommy now one to watch in the Academy.
CB-Kenny Clements (Middleton)
Deserves a place for his perm and for being a stalwart during the dark days of the late 70s-mid 80s. And for being a driving instructing, chauffering painter.
RB-Paul Power (Openshaw)
That free kick in the 81 FA Cup semi final. That tache. And inevitably scoring against us the season after he left, popularising the non-celebration.
CM-Phil Foden (Stockport)
Still likes a kick-about in the back streets of Stockport. One of our own etc…..
CM-Paul Lake (Denton)
What could have been. Injury prevented him from featuring in Italia 90, widely touted as a FEC. But produced one of the best autobiographies going and also a respected and intelligent pundit.
Forward-Peter Barnes (Manchester)
Gets in for being one of my mum’s favourites. Tricky winger who scored the other goal in the 76 League Cup Final. Played a season for United near the end of his careers before becoming one of Fergie’s early cast-offs.
Forward-Neil Young (Fallowfield)
Legendary forward and a great foil for Lee, Summerbee and Bell. Hugely under-rated (uncapped),much missed and a fine Canadian singer-songwriter to boot.
Forward-Francis Lee (Bolton)
Better striker and toilet roll salesman than he was chairman.
Forward-Joe Hayes (Kearsley)
Scored in the 56 Cup final, but largely unnoticed due to a certain German’s biscuit neck.
In response to Graham’s request for rival teams’ songs that are worthy of admiration, as a Spurs fan I’ve been a little disappointed with our recent offerings.
Make no mistake, I’ve no issue with our enthusiasm. And ‘Go Marching in’ never ceases to give me goosebumps. Only from the chant side there’s been a paucity of originality. ‘One of our Own’ will never stop working, but when we repeat the mediocre ‘We’ve got Alli’ song for umpteenth time we’re clearly short of ideas.
What I’d love is a bit more of a proper sing-song at the Lane. There’s something wonderful about a real tune, and I love Stoke’s Delilah, for all its issues, and Hibs’ Sunshine on Leith is the best of the genre. You’ll Never Walk Alone is annoyingly good, hence at least 3 clubs adopting it. At Spurs ‘Go Marching In’ is rousing, but hardly tuneful.
We’ve got a corker in ‘Can’t Smile Without You’, but seem to reserve it for special occasions. The rendition at the Lane finale bought me to tears, I’d love to hear it more often.
Re Graham Simons Gooner on Ireland’s WC song, it is indeed a classic, but the guitar riff if most definitely not 90’s but Horslips, Dearg Doom from 1973
Hairy Irish greatness!!!
Mel – Berlin, Brussels, Athlone Town, HaHoHe
My favourite football related song probably has to be any song that is off a FIFA soundtrack, to be precise the entire FIFA 2010 World Cup soundtrack, I loved the game, the World Cup itself and the entire soundtrack, just thinking about the opening lines to Wavin’ Flag brings a smile to my face.
But if we are not on about soundtracks and are going based on one song alone, it has to be Thiago Thome’s Brazil track that was used by ITV for their World Cup 2014 opening titles, easily one of the best World Cup songs I have heard.
Mikey, CFC (Lampard is not going to be sacked in 2019 TJ, Zidane maybe)
Not quite what you were asking for Graham, but I’ve always had a fondness for Arsenal’s Flamini chant, sung to the theme from The Sweeney. It’s so delightfully easy to figure out with just his name and a passing knowledge of the theme tune.
Now it’s stuck in your head too, mailbox.
Jon, COYS, Lincoln
The real quiz
My eyesights going. I saw the headline: What is the point in Southampton FC anymore? And thought it said What is the point in Stan Collymore?