More self-indulgence at the bottom (of course), but how about a word on Romelu Lukaku. Mail: [email protected]

Chelsea not worthy of Rom?
With regard to the potential return of Lukaku to Chelsea (should it be returned). Leaving aside the harsh realities of football economics for a moment, is it just me or does anyone else have the nagging feeling that Chelsea simply do not deserve to get Lukaku back?

They originally signed him as an exciting young teenage striker chased by half the top clubs in Europe (including Arsenal, so yes he’s another one on Arsene’s nearly list) then proceeded to do absolutely b*gger all in terms of developing and improving him to the point when, to his credit, instead of just sitting there and taking the money Lukaku get himself loaned out to West Brom where he immediately did prove his quality. Then when he went back to Chelsea, and they still didn’t give him a fair crack (cough, Jose, cough…) he chose to move to Everton where he’s been brilliant ever since

Clearly he’s ready for a chance at one of the top Champion’s League sides, but not Chelsea. I repeat, they don’t deserve to reap the benefits of other people’s development work that they should have been doing themselves in the first place. The worst thing is you just know he’ll be brilliant for them – the unworthy, parasitical b4st4rds

He’s not the only one out there. United don’t deserve Pogba, Barca didn’t deserve Fabregas and they certainly won’t deserve Bellerin should that move happen.

I’ll be honest, it’s the Bellerin speculation that’s triggered this outburst. He’s one of my favourite Arsenal players and I’d hate to see him leave. And yes, Arsenal being the victims of this kind of thing on more than one occasion means there is more than a little bit of bitterness and bile in this from my side. I don’t pretend for one moment this is anything other than a non-sensible highly subjective reaction and I know the parasite clubs concerned will have paid through the nose to get these players back in, but this isn’t exactly about the money. It’s more of an observation really, I know full well you can’t change the rules to prevent this sort of thing

Nevertheless, good to get it off my chest etc etc…
Rob, Bristol Gooner
(Yes – bring back the lookalikes. The Bellerin/Egyptian pharoah one I sent you recently was pure bloody gold)

As an Everton fan I really now just want Lukaku to go. A lot of this is because of his big mouth but also, and I know this will have Daniel Storey defecating onto his swivel chair, he just isn’t as good as he thinks he is. Don’t get me wrong, he’s the best striker we’ve had in years (not exactly great competition… Marcus Bent anyone?) but the reason there are all the usual complaints about him being lazy, not contributing anything other than goals and having the first touch of a bag of cement is because, well, they’re pretty much true. His big reputation often seems to come from people that watch highlights rather than full games.

Appreciated, 25 goals in a season is not to be sniffed at and will be hard to replace. But equally, someone who scored say 15 goals but actually stretched other teams, could hold up or head a football and bring others in to play would probably help create more than 10 extra goals for his teammates. Its also not helpful to look purely at stats and number of goals. Lukaku will regularly score meaningless goals for example we were 2-0 up at home against Hull and he scores two in the last two minutes to make it a 4-0 win or scoring a hatrick against Sunderland when to be honest, you only need to score one goal to win that game. Obviously a goal is a goal and always welcome but when you miss a one-on-one in a 0-0 draw with Middlesborough for example, those are the chances if you want to be considered one of the best strikers in the world, you need to be putting away.

And as far wanting to win trophies which he always states, well we were in a cup semi-final a couple of years ago that we lost 2-1 to Utd in the last minute. He missed a penalty and about three sitters. You wouldn’t see Aguero/Ronaldo/Lewandowski do that. It may sound harsh but that’s the level he aspires to be at so that’s what he should be judged against.

There are also far too many games where he just has no impact. I do accept that we haven’t exactly given him fantastic service but again, if you want to be a world class striker there comes a point where you are responsible for raising your team and leading from the front rather than standing still (and normally offside) with your arms outstretched shouting at your teammates for not passing it exactly where you wanted. There’s been the odd game against the higher level teams but generally he doesn’t influence things in those games although again some of that will be down to the team as a whole. It seems like it’s the same story internationally where he’s never really had any great influence.

He is still young and clearly has great potential but that is also part of the frustration. You see games where he will tear someone to pieces and think yes, the penny’s dropped but then he will do nothing for the next few games. Knowing how good he can be brings more frustration when he doesn’t hit those levels. Maybe consistency will come with more experience but for me he will have a good career but he’s never going to get into that elite level of striker. If someone is willing to pay us £80-100 million we should take the money and run, bring in a more rounded striker and use the rest to restructure our whole attack. And get a ‘keeper. And a centre back. And a left back. Oh dear, maybe we need £200 million.

Bye Romelu, your goals will be missed but your all round play and attitude will not. And your agent can f**k right off as well.
Sam, London

“Pointless, petty, pathetic” Saints
Is there a more pointless, petty, pathetic football club than Southampton?

Gossip: “Lots of clubs want Van Dijk”

Southampton: *silence*

Gossip: “Chelsea, City and Liverpool lead race for Van Dijk”

Southampton: *silence*

Gossip: “Arsenal have entered the race for Van Dijk and made an offer to the player”

Southampton: *silence*

Gossip: “Man City have won the race for Van Dijk and have offered him a £200k per week deal”

Southampton: *silence*

Gossip: “Van Dijk has decided he actually wants to move to Liverpool”


On the day that Evertons Romelu Lakaku says he “has an agreement” with his new club for example, and in these times of contiunal football gossip (“such and such a club has agreed a deal with such and such a player”), are we really going to pretend that clubs and players dont talk?

In everything Southampton do they are the absolute epitome of classic small club mentality. Genuinely pathetic. A club that in recent years has become a regular PL team, has moved to a new stadium, has made literally hundreds and hudreds of millions of pounds from tv deals, sponsership and transfer fees….yet still acts like little old Southampton.

What they and their sad little fans fail to realise is that its a self fulfulling prophecy. Just look at the players they’ve lost over the years. Bale, Shaw, Clyne, Walcott, Lallana, Mane to name but a few. They’ve had Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino in charge. Yet because of their small time mentality, they’ve lost them all. If the club had actually behaved correctly and more fitting of a PL club, theres a decent chance they’d have kept a lot of them. But if you’re a player or manager there seeing the club constantly moaning and complaining, and acting like a competition winner who actually belongs in League 1, then you’re naturally going to think “why am I wasting my time here?”.

Maybe with a different mindset they might have actually won more than the one paltry FA Cup they have (in 131 years of existence!). But then again, their club legend is a player who was too lazy, too comfortable, and too scared to ever bother testing himself at the highest level and stayed there for his entire career (albeit scoring a couple of decent goals along the way), so I guess that small time mentaility is ingrained in the club.
Smiddy (in before the “if we’re so average, how come Liverpool couldnt beat us last season” crowd….another example of their small club mentality!) 

A fatally flawed XI
Dear Editor,

Football’s done for the year, and I’m bored, so here’s an XI of players who were stopped from achieving greatness by a fatal flaw in their personality or talent. I’ve excluded those whose flaw was being injured all the time (except for one), and the likes of Scholes (tackling) and Pepe (sh*thousery), whose flaws didn’t really stop them from achieving as much as their talents would allow them. It’s a 3-5-2, because virtually everyone’s got one of those now.

GK-Gabor Kiraly (Trousers)

Once considered a highly promising keeper, he never really made it big anywhere. A spate of fallings out with managers can’t have helped, but I’m pretty sure the fansitedbusr cause is that nobody can take a keeper in track bottoms seriously.

RWB-Micah Richards (Lapses in concentration)

Famous examples include letting Michael Owen walk criminally free for the 4-3 derby winner in 2009; and his unfathomable appeal for offside while challenging for the ball against Croatia, allowing the second of the three goals that denied England a trip to Euro 2008.

CB-John O’Shea (Selflessness)

Famously (and fittingly) mistaken for a bouncer in a photo of United arriving at a stadium, Big John was the ultimate jack of all trades in the service of a manager who loved a good utility/squad man. He’s been a fullback, a centre back, a midfielder, even a goalkeeper; performing all roles with a thorough and selfless commitment. But he was never a solid fixture on United’s teamsheet under Fergie, and perhaps would have achieved more had he specialised in a position elsewhere.

CB-Ledley King (Injuries)

My one concession to the ‘no injuries’ rule, as in King’s case both the talent and the proneness to injuries were so enormous that it’s hard not to see the latter as a fatal flaw. Spectacularly quick, spectacularly clever, spectacularly crocked.

CB-Per Mertesacker (Pace)

Of course, the BFG hasn’t had a bad career by any means, but he (and Arsenal) probably would have achieved even more if he didn’t run like a solar-powered car in Scotland.

LWB-Urby Emanuelson (No fixed position)

A huge talent when coming through the ranks at Ajax, but even then nobody really knew what he was supposed to be. A left back? A left winger? A left sided midfielder? Sadly, the era of the 3-5-2 wingback came about five years too late for poor little Urby. Now he’s just Marcos Alonso avant la lettre.

CDM-Joey Barton (Being Joey Barton)

I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Let’s not forget that behind all the thuggishness, gambling and copy-pasting from lies a decently talented footballer. Otherwise, clubs would long ago have stopped offering him employment. Just ask El-Hadj Diouf.

CAM-Jack Wilshere/Aaron Ramsey/Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain/Theo Walcott (Arsenalishness)

I can’t pick a stand-out among these, and I can’t really define the problem better than ‘Arsenalishness’, which means ‘to be supremely talented, but have that talent squandered through a combination of complacency, poor coaching, terrible medical care and being used as a defensive midfielder when Francis Coquelin inevitably fails’.

CAM-Matt Le Tissier (Lack of ambition)

Of course, it’s more than a little unfair of me to blame Matt Le Tissier for being loyal to the club that made him, and for being happy with his place in life as a big fish in a small(ish) pond. And yet, it’s hard not to wonder what had happened if the most talented English footballer of the Premier League era (possible exception of Gazza) had gone to Chelsea or United. More than 8 caps at the very least, you would think.

ST-Dimitar Berbatov (Laziness)

So excited were we when he graced Craven Cottage with his regal, louche presence. So frustrated were we when chance after chance was spurned because Dimi couldn’t be bothered to make runs into the box.

ST-Mario Balotelli (Weirdness)

We all know the rap sheet: setting off fireworks in his bathroom, driving his Ferrari down a go-kart track, struggling publicly to put on a bib… The thing is, in periods where Balotelli just focuses on football, he’s almost unstoppable. If only he could keep it up for longer than a month.
Joe Jay De Haas

The art of tapping up
Can someone please explain how “tapping up” a player actually works.

It seems, according to the mainstream media, that Barcelona have agreed personal terms with Hector Bellerin. They have also chosen the price they wish to pay Arsenal for the player and now just need the minor detail of informing Arsenal and Wenger of their intentions to complete the deal.

How is this not tapping up? There’s been no formal approach mentioned anywhere. Would Arsenal not have to have given permission for Barcelona to speak to the player? How is this different from Liverpool being cited over Van Dijk?

If someone could enlighten me on this I’d be much obliged.
Morgan Emmett

Transfer window reform
Seeing as we’re talking about reform here’s my two penneth:

  1. Manager transfer window: I very much like the NFL idea that if you sack your manager you can only hire a manager that is not in work or promote from within. The idea that one failing team gets to destabilise another because – erm money, is not a sensible way to run a league. A manager transfer window running between May and July would be a very good idea.
  2. Transfer Window should open on the Monday after the UEFA Champions League final and close the Friday before the UEFA Super Cup as both events signify the end and beginning of the European football seasons.
  3. More transparency please: there is no reason the fee, salary and agents fees should not all be published.

Aside from my top 3 above. I quite like the idea of “exclusive periods” to seal the deal – so club x agrees with club y to transfer Fernando kickaball. I think club x should have an exclusive period of say 5 days from the clubs agreeing a fee to conclude the transfer (to stop the never ending transfer). I also like the idea of salary ranges by position (again in the NFL quarterbacks all get paid between $17m and $20m per annum) – to combat the insane wage inflation.

None of this will ever happen, but if Carlsberg ran the Premier League.

Fashion crimes (continued)
Jay Tea, Crowmarsh asked this morning about bizarre fashion in the dugout
. I see your gillet and cashmere coat and raise you;

One Alan Ball in a full City tracksuit complete with football boots and a flat cap.

Yep a proper northern man style flat cap. I remember being at Maine Rd for one of my first games.

It was a look that said both “I’m ready to play if they need me” while at the same time “I’m the man in charge just in case you couldn’t tell me apart from these young lads.”

During the game I looked to sideline at one point and saw a man gesticulating at his players in the attire mentioned above.

It was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen at the age of 11.

Looking back I know it wasn’t funny really, but typing this, I’m having to stifle a silly giggle.

In keeping with the whole self indulgent F365 brown nosing. I first discovered this oracle of football news, opinion and jolly japery in 2009/2010.

A colleague was doing a mystery men quiz on lunch and asked me for help with an answer. (It was a City team). I took note of the website and checked it out.

Pretty much been back everyday since. Had a few mails published over the years. Only started sending them after reading mails about the lack of mails from City fans.

I agree totally with those who say it feels like a big moment when you get printed. Why? I don’t know. Maybe we all have such sad lives and are easy to please.

Or maybe its because we all think F365 is awesome, so to get on the site in just a little way is a good feeling.

The whole site is great in my humble opinion. I particularly love the mailbox as outside of a few friends, it is the only decent place for a conversation on football.

Keep on doing what you do, don’t sell out. EVER!
Danny B

More self-indulgence
The current topic of conversation regarding how we came to discover F365 (recommended to me by a former colleague and I shall be eternally grateful) got my mind wandering down memory lane, back to when times were simpler, when I was closer to my teenage years than my thirties, and before grey hairs started appearing on my head, and I had to tell people my hair discolouration is due to the fact I’m such a mature, sophisticated young man and not genetics….anyway I digress!

Whilst travelling down memory lane, into my head popped one former prominent mailbox contributor, an Aston Villa fan who went by the name of Conor Byrne (if I remember correctly). Conor would often be published in the mailbox, however once Alex McLeish was appointed Villa manager, Conor vowed to stop supporting his team and so would stop contributing to the mailbox. Unless he posts under a different alias, he kept to his word.

This got me wondering what happened to Conor. Is he alive? Does he still follow football? Did Villa destroy his soul so much he now supports another team, maybe in another sport?

Are there any other former mailbox contributors who seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth?

I realise this isn’t the most enthralling topic, but I’m bored at work and it’s the closed season, so I thought I’d ask.
SmokeyJoe (legalise it. Team Corbyn) Leeds

Been hanging around this site since the late 90’s, when my mate Richard recommended it to me, and I’ve been stinking up the mailbox for around the same amount of time.  Pretty sure my first mail was an impassioned defence of the FA cup after someone wrote in to say it was rubbish now.  I’ve probably written a variation on that mail every year for around 18 years (I’ll stop when you stop, naysayers).

Whatever else has changed over the years, I’ve always felt that F365 employs nice people who love football, and is mostly read by nice people who love football. This is not to be underestimated, and I suspect your influence reaches further than people give you credit for. I discovered this year, that Colchester United’s media manager, who seems like a lovely chap who loves football used to work for you in the early days.  If you can get Stead a job at BBC Sport, you’ll have 100% of my football media consumption covered…
Jeremy Aves

I thought I’d missed the boat on the “discovery of F365”  mails but I’ll take a punt. I’m fairly recent, been reading for the last  couple of years. I started a new job with a bunch of other United fans and one of the lads at work kept sending me quotes. Love most of the content, mailbox is always worth a read and the portrait of an icon pieces are a great way of understanding my dad’s nostalgia when he’s talking about footballer I’ve never watched, but I think the recommended reading in Mediawatch is a stroke of genius. It’s introduced me to a lot of the better sports writers (and God knows it’s tough to plough through the shit ones to find the gems) and I think that’s how I got to “The Set Pieces” (my other regular lunchtime haunt, highly recommended).

I’d never noticed how much the mailbox slows down when the football goes off though. I never thought I’d say it but roll on the international fixtures!

The fact that this mail has been published just proves my point.
Dave, MUFC, Manchester
P. S. That last paragraph is going to look very silly when it’s just sat, unpublished, in your inbox. 

I busted my f365 cherry after seeing a 100 websites to look out for feature in some god awful lads mag like front or loaded.

When I first dipped my toe Andy Gray had a column there were lookalikes and everyone else said Frank Lampard.

Love and cock sucks.
Martin “inventor of this bit” Ansell