We did it. That’s the last mailbox before Xmas. Have a bloody great one. We love you. And be sure to read Peter G on statistics – he’s one of your own…

Henderson the best defensive midfielder in PL
Having watched closely Liverpool’s season so far, I’m finding it hard to believe how most fans and pundits have overlooked Jordan Henderson’s contribution to our season so far (ie. Carra and Neville who both omitted him from their Teams of the season so far. Henderson has become one of our most important players since his transition to a deep lying midfielder and is in my opinion, the best defensive midfielder in the league. The ground he covers and his ability to break up attacks are so important to our title challenge.

Maybe I’m wrong but the stats do give this claim some credence. Hendo has an 88% passing accuracy along with more passes per game than anyone else in the Premier League and on top of that he’s chipped in with a goal and four assists, not bad for a midfielder whose job is supposedly a primarily defensive one. If you compare some of the more pertinent stats for deep-lying midfield players of Henderson and say…N’Golo Kante, who’s pretty much the gold standard for defensive midfielders in the Premier League this season, you’ll find Hendo coming out on top in most areas, including tackles and key passes.

Maybe Carra and Neville should’ve had a look at these stats before both picking Kante in their teams of the season…or maybe I’m just another bitter Liverpool fan…
John S (Eire)

Two former players who can ‘save’ Arsenal’s season
I believe the season is not over yet for us, at least, should we win the next three games we will be in the mix and it will all be rosey and fluffy again, however as a Gunner I sincerely believe these roses wouldn’t last.

We need at least two players to save us or keep us in the mix. But save yourself the trouble! I have found two former players that can help us to achieve the lofty heights of fourth!

1. Samir Nasri.

Currently doing very, very well at Sevilla and very, very unwanted by City. We have a gaping hole in the left/right side of midfield, and Samir Nasri ticks all the boxes. He was good, and currently still is. At the age of 29 I believe the best years still ahead of him. But I doubt City would sell to a rival though. But everything is possible with money.

2. Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor

Look I know you hate him. Well I hate him too. F**k I ll have RvP over him, but to be honest, he was a different type of beast for us back then. I think those were the only time we feel that we have presence in the box (Please dont mention Baptista). Good in the air, can hold the ball, ok ish in counter attack, and still at only 32, and a free agent. We dont have to sing his name, but he once scored 30 goals in a season. That is more that Alexis Sanchez can boast at the moment. Note that this selection have nothing to do with me screaming Abebayooorrr each time I strike on goal.

Syfq Amr, a biased Gooner

Another collection of musings
Not like any of us are doing work today anyway.

1) Wilson Palacios, after hearing the terrible news about his brother, apparently waited until the morning when Harry Redknapp woke up to ask for permission to go home, as he thought waking him up in the middle of the night would be disrespectful. A very limited player, but added so much to Spurs when we signed him due to this exact attitude. Can’t say I’ve ever found myself dreaming about him though…

2) PFM or not (feels like he’s kinda in the middle), Pards is a pretty awful man and doesn’t deserve another PL job. The perma-tan, the self obsession, that godawful dance in the FA Cup…be gone with you.

3) Can’t think of any falls from grace but, to go in the other direction, Julien Faubert signed for Real Madrid after being fairly terrible for West Ham. That should be a Christmas boost for all of us.

4) Peter G: love Big Weekend’s Little Brother – always an interesting read, but please: disorientated. You orientate, and therefore are orientated. Other than that, top work.

5) My perfect striker:
a. Finishing: Harry Kane
b. Aerial ability: Harry Kane
c. Attitude: Harry Kane
d. 1940s haircut: Harry Kane
e. General wonderfulness: Harry Kane etc

Happy Christmas F365 and my esteemed mailbox buddies.
Alex G, THFC

More falls from grace
Manchester United legend Dong Fangzhuo is a peculiar fall from grace. As a teenager he had scored in the AFC Champions League, prior to being plucked from Dalian by Manchester United. A loan spell at Manchester United’s B Team (Royal Antwerp) saw him finish the season as top scorer in the second tier of Belgian football. He would go on to make appearances for Man Utd in the Premier League against Chelsea and against Roma in the Champions League group stage.

This is where the fairytale stopped. A move back to Dalian was a spectacular failure, with the once-promising talent demoted to the reserves. Various spells in Poland, Portugal and Armenia followed with no success, with his last professional appearance coming at the age of 29! Now retired, he has undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance in a bid to evade ridicule in his native China.
Owen, Limerick

…In response to KC’s letter regarding a footballers fall from grace surely none can eclipse that of Lee Hendrie.

Mr Hendrie was a product of Aston Villa’s youth set-up and was even named their young player of the year in 1998. He earned one England cap the same year.
He stayed at Aston Villa until 2007 making over 300 appearances.

From there, he gradually dropped down the divisions with various clubs before ending up at Daventry Town via Indonesia in 2011. From there he bounced around various non-league sides the rest of his career.

So that’s a former England international who went from the Premier League to becoming a non-league journeyman in four years.

Now there is a fall from grace.
Andy CFC, Basingstoke

…Great topic from KC (add Depay to the list when he falls out of favour at FC Groningen in 2019) in the morning mailbag. I was going to go for Freddie Adu but I am not sure he reached ‘grace’, he was always hype and potential (great grime act by the way).

I am going to say Franny Jeffers, the fox-in-the-box to complete the jigsaw at Arsenal. He is joint top scorer (with Alan Shearer) for England u21s, made his full England debut on the same night as Wayne Rooney and has a record of a goal a game for the national side. He moved for £8m to Arsenal when £8m was a decent whack. It might be difficult for people to recall now but he was genuinely put alongside the likes of Robbie Fowler in the guise of England’s most natural finisher.

It is fair to say it didn’t go well. He was sent off in his last game for the Gunners and then took a tour which took in Scotland, Australia and Malta before ending up at Accrington Stanley as any fall from grace should.

He had scored 18 league goals at the age of 20 but remarkably then only scored another 23 over the next 14 seasons. Somehow he managed to play 54 league matches over three seasons for Sheffield Wednesday and score only five goals.

Amazingly, Jeffers is younger than Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Micki Attridge

…Talking about falls from grace, do you remember one Florent Malouda during the free-scoring Ancelotti years? The Frenchman even came on for Chelsea in the second half of the 2012 European Cup final. Well, he is still playing football…in …(wait for it)…India (for Roberto Carlos’ Delhi Dynamoes). Though admittedly an aged veteran so shouldn’t be a fall from grace per se, I can’t seem to come up with any other suggestion for now. In recent weeks he even managed to put himself back on the news by absolutely smashing his kick in a penalty-out into the moon (maybe not that far but the nearest it could have landed is Nepal).
Ighalo, Nigeria

Falls from grace humbug spoilsports…
A bit harsh on Michu I feel, his ankle fell to pieces if I recall correctly.

Merry Christmas to F365 and all who skive and sail in her!
Plato, MUFC

…Former Man Utd ace Djemba-Djemba is 35! That’s why he is playing anywhere that will give his ageing body a contract. I wouldn’t really call it a fall from grace. Three years ago (aged 32) he was playing in the top tier of Serbian football, it’s not Serie A, but a good level of football.

Alberto Aquilani is 32 so coming to the end of his career anyway….

So there. I’ve sucked the joy out of everything. Bah humbug.
Allen (My contribution would be better if I suggested alternatives)

Treatment of Bradley is xenophobia
Really British journalists? This is what you think is important now, how a man describes a penalty, or a game away from home as opposed to how his team are performing? Are we that bereft of other news that you are willing to belittle a man just because he uses certain sporting vocabulary you feel is not in keeping with the standard football terminology (or more precise, clichés) you are used to?

This really shouldn’t rile me up (I’m not sure it riles Bob Bradley to be fair), but it really does. Why is our press being given a free pass to ridicule a man for the way he speaks? At best they are bullying him, at worst it is xenophobic. I have no problem with him using the terms ‘PK’ or ‘Road Games’ to describe a penalty or an away fixture, and I’d hazard a guess that the majority of football fans, particularly those at Swansea, could not give an utter toss how he describes things, just that he gets them to start winning games again.

I would really like to know where it all stems from. Is this simply a way of getting back at Swansea and Bradley for ‘Stealing’ the job of a British manager? Or does this stem from a place more sinister and in fact encompasses the wider rhetoric experienced since Brexit? I don’t remember the language used to probe managers not of these shores ever being this pointed and blatantly xenophobic in the recent past (and if it has, please excuse my naivety). I would like to think we would have been intolerant of journalists ostensibly playing the part of wind-up merchants. Is it possibly because Bradley is a white man that they don’t see any issue with the way they are treating him? Because no matter the victim of your bullying it doesn’t make it right. Period (oh, I’m sorry, full stop).

Allardyce is Mr Right Now
I’m in a little quandary, as a Palace fan, I’m fairly relieved that SuperAlPardew has left. but feel slightly disappointed that it hasn’t worked out for him. After all, his desire to play attacking football is admirable. But it’s been tried before at Palace and failed miserably before too – all with a similar group of players (Okay, okay, without Cabaye + Benteke – but the rest of the squad looks remarkable similar – this was the year of Holloway’s admission of Uselessness).

Now, I’m not a fan of Big Sam, but as after the Holloway experiment we went in for Pulis, now after Pards inevitably comes the next best ship-steadier. So it makes a certain amount of sense. I also hold some hope that he isn’t the one-dimensional borefest manager that the [written] media make him out to be.

The other problem is that there are better alternatives: Mancini, Rowett, (I’d like to see Warburton sounded out), but these aren’t managers for this situation. Any one of those managers I’d prefer to have over Allardyce, but going into a new season NOT staring down the barrel of relegation. For that situation, Allardyce rules supreme.
This is because the priority for a club such as ours needs to be avoid relegation above all else year in year out. Whatever more happens is a bonus.

Palace has had two years of admirable 10th and 11th-place finishes, doing what we did best, and using our players’ best qualities to the most effect. To take that squad of (ageing) players, and to change the way they play AND make them better, is a very hard thing to do.

The old adage of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is one that seems to apply here. Changing a team in this manner needs to be done through youth, with the older players sticking to the roles that they have learnt and honed. I think you can see these issues at Man City to a lesser extent. but it’s not such a big change in style for them – they were pretty fluid beforehand under Pelligrini – and they have a lot of very talented players, who have the ability to change playing styles easier. This just isn’t the case at Palace.

Chelsea, conversely, changed their style and became immediately more effective, due largely to the manager looking at the players he had available to him and selecting the formation and playing style that suits them best.

So back to Pardew – I like what he was trying to do, but just wish he was better at doing it – and realised that in order to achieve this takes time, and more personnel than just a couple of attacking stars. If it is Big Sam that comes in, I wish him all the best, and hope that he manages to keep us up and also surprises a few people in doing it
Andrew CPFC

Just in time for Sky…
So Palace have changed their manager and are likely to have a new one in charge just in time for the live Sky game.

This happens all the time, new manager’s first game is live on Sky, why is this? Ever feel that some chairmen are more fame hungry than some of the players?

I suppose there needs to be some added interest as Watford vs Palace is hardly a Boxing Day fixture to look forward to.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year too all of the wonderfully different mailboxers. It’s our diversity that makes this column work so well.
Fat Man Scouse, EFC

Why did Oscar lose his passion?
I think we as fans sometimes take for granted the hard work that footballers have to go through to get become a ‘top level’ footballer. At some point in their youth they had to prove that they are the best of the lot, they had to show a work ethic that no other player in their team or league could show. Once you’ve made your mark you then you have to maintain that level, if not keep proving yourself. Reading about how Jody Morris was by far the best player in the Chelsea youth team and look how his career panned out…he didn’t maintain that level and things went on a gradual downhill slide.

Oscar must have gone through this at maybe even greater lengths to get himself noticed and to the level to make a dream move to the Premier League and a European giant in CFC. Now, at 25, after 3.5 seasons, he is making a move to Shanghai International Port Group Football Club in the Chinese Super League. Forget money for a second…but I look at this as a huge disappointment for a player who make his way to the top from the streets of Brazil. At what point did his passion and willingness to be the best and play with the best players completely leave him that he now wants to go play such a poor level of football?

It’s embarrassing for him, and all these other players that are in their pre-30s at top teams in top leagues making this move. Rant over.

Some Wilson Palacios stories
The mention of Wilson Palacios in this morning’s mailbox reminded me that he was part of two of my favourite off-the-field football stories ever. The first being when his native Honduras qualified for the 2014 World Cup, the political party running the country at the time forced the team to party with the nation in celebration. Meaning at some point in time Palacios would’ve had to phone his boss Harry Redknapp with the best sick note call in the history of all time as he didn’t make it back in time for the next Spurs fixture. The second also rather oddly involving a phone call to ‘Arry, this time though not form Wilson Palacios but from his mother who declared that his son wasn’t getting enough game time and demanded that he’s played in the next game. Lord only knows what that woman said but sure enough he started the next game for Spurs…clearly you’re never to old let your mum fight your battles for you!

Now I’m going entirely off memory here and haven’t bothered Googling to confirm any details here. Does anyone else have any favourite off the field football stories?
Simon P (writing emails to look busy at work)

Merry Christmas one and all
Just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone who writes for or reads F365. There’s a reason so many of us come here every day for our online football fixes, and that’s because the writing is so good. The mailbox, with its correspondents from all over the world, from Colchester to Kanazawa and everywhere in between, always has a place for rubbish teams as well as the good ones.

So, basically, thanks everyone. Enjoy yourselves.
Ed Quoththeraven

Source: http://www.football365.com/news/your-christmas-mails-henderson-kante