We are doing pretty sodding well for the summer, guys. Mail us at [email protected]
Origi = Morata
When I saw Chelsea fans happy about the Morata news, I couldn’t help but think if a gun was put to my head to chose which player between Origi and Morata was better, I would find my picture in the Obituary section of a newspaper…just saying…They are the exact same type of player except one has a better hair stylist.
Kunle (No. 1 Nigerian LFC fan…..duh!!)
Has everyone forgotten that Moratta once had a 20-game goal drought while at Juventus? If you have, I’m not joking, Google it.
Adam, LFC, Belfast
He’s no Harry Kane
Whilst, as a Spurs fan, it’s generally fairly frustrating for the Summer to have dragged on without any inward movement (I’ll leave the pros and cons of this to be debated by others), I have to say I take a great deal of solace from the fact that three of our rivals have spent a reported £185m on strikers, and none of them are close to Harry Kane.
Feel free to @ me.
Alex G, THFC (but still…a new player or two would be nice)
One Man United fan’s view of the top six
For what it’s worth, here’s my analysis of the ‘Top 6’ for next season:
Chelsea: A solid and stable transfer window so far, improving the team with Rudiger and replacing Costa. It will be interesting to see if the very talented Morata can be as effective as his predecessor in the Premier League (few are). If Conte can keep motivation high then there’s no reason why Chelsea shouldn’t aim to win the league again in 2018.
Spurs: If I were Spurs I’d be getting a bit worried. No notable signings as yet, and one departure (Walker). If anyone else leaves it may start to look like their best side for many years is losing its spine. I’m not convinced that Barkley would add much to their squad. Having said that, if Alli, Kane and Eriksen can stay fit all season they will be hoping to challenge for the number 1 spot again next year.
City: Already the biggest spenders of the window (again) and likely to stay that way. I must admit my disappointment in seeing Pep go from ‘master tactician’ to ‘chequebook manager’ quite so quickly. It seems that City’s strategy to ensure victory over the over big clubs is to spend more money buying loads of really good players. It’s hardly rocket science, but it might just work. They certainly have the quality players to win the league but my worry for them would be that there will be a lot of changes in the squad and these things take time to bed in.
Liverpool: A very interesting case. Clearly Klopp is more suited to bringing together a highly motivated squad of athletic attacking players than he is building a solid defence. His squad looks distinctly weighted towards the former and one can’t help but worry about their back line. The VVD saga has not helped. To win the title next year they will have to become much more solid at the back, and maintain the trademark Klopp energy levels all season whilst balancing the Champions League. A big ask.
Arsenal: So much rests on Sanchez, who is by far their best player. Lacazette is a good signing (and will be a success, I think) but he is no Sanchez. If they lose the Chilean, they will struggle to make the top four again. If they keep him, who knows. Nothing much changes at Arsenal so I’d expect to see the same old pattern next season to be honest. I do not see a title challenge on the cards either way.
United: For the first time in four years they seem to have a plan in the transfer market. Mourinho knows what he needs to win a Premier League title and he seems to be gradually getting it. I’d expect a much better season to come, and a top-four finish. However, I’m not convinced they are quite ready for a title challenge. Not enough quality in midfield (see Fellaini and Carrick) and an unbalanced mish-mash of attacking players left over from Van Gaal and Moyes’ tinkering. Things are definitely taking shape but more work is needed.
Reasons to be cheerful at Man United
I wrote in (and got corrected) yesterday saying how pessimistic I was about Man Utd’s transfer business. But here I am today with what excites about the next season at United…
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: I wrote in last season about Mkhitaryan’s tendency to have a hard settling-in period (and Mourinho’s urr excellent management of him). And although he had a good season ultimately, I just can’t contain the excitement about what he’ll do next term!
Marcus Rashford: I, like every other premier league follower know what a massive season is waiting for our wonderkid, exciting times ahead…
Victor Lindelof: I don’t quite know his quality but it’s refreshing to know that Chris Smalling can no longer expect to be first choice at the back… It’s a real shame that he is one of our longest-serving current players. His failure to track opposition movement in the box, his tendency to fire clearances out of play at every opportunity (you know the pressure that can heap on the whole backline) etc etc… Phew! A welcome relief, Victor.
Big Rom: We need goals, he can score loads of it…
Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera: Hopefully, with an additional ‘midfield shield’ this duo can go on to dominating the middle of the park… The ability to ping defence-splitting passas is my main excitement about this ‘ANDERPOG’ midfield.
Posova (Ah, Madrid are you mad about the ‘fax machine’ thing? Ok, we got Lukaku now) Andrew
Ex-Man United Premier League XIs
T, CFC – United can make a whole team:
A few points:
As it’s fantasy football that midfield is legit unless Zaha counts as a forward in which case I’m screwed.
I’ve seen Evans play left-back for United. He was terrible but still.
Interestingly they all count as homegrown players and only Zaha and Rooney didn’t spend any time with United’s academy.
Ashley (shame Sunderland went down or we’d have a bench too) Metcalfe
…Just to respond to T CFC’s mail, you can easily make a full XI of ex United players from their academy alone:
Tom Heaton, Danny Simpson, Johnny Evans, Michael Keane, Phil Bardsley, Tom Lawrence, Darren Fletcher, Danny Drinkwater, Robbie Brady, Josh King and Ashley Fletcher.
There are far more but I wanted to keep it in some sort of formation. I think this shows that while the United academy doesn’t always produce top level players, it gives a lot of players a very successful professional career and they should be applauded for that.
Can any other academy match that?
An ex-Spurs Premier League XI
T, CFC presented a team of ex-Chelsea plying their trade at the top level – well I say team, there wasn’t an 11th player (probably still out on loan).
Kings of youth and masters of player turnover that we are, Spurs can easily field an XI.
Gomes, Walker, Smith, Naughton, Yedlin, Carrick, Livermore, Townsend, Sigurdsson, Defoe, Crouch (Fat Chadli fills the whole bench by himself).
Not only is it an XI – it has all the bases covered – comedy Keeper, Tony Pulis inverted defence featuring only full backs, Beauty and the Beast in centre mid, a playmaker, a tricky winger, and a little and large combo up front.
Sher (Wouldn’t haven’t any of them back mind you) THFC
A clear-out is good for Arsenal
I know some Arsenal fans are bothered about a mooted clear-out of Arsenal favourites – namely Jenkinson, Wilshere, Sczcesny, Gibbs, Walcott, Chambers etc. But looking at it from an external point of view, this is the best thing Arsenal could have done for two reasons.
Firstly, Wenger has been notoriously poor at moving on players who patently aren’t good enough to play at the highest level – think how many years players like Diaby, Bendtner et al stayed on the books. It breeds a sense of entitlement, of players just getting a bit too comfortable – which is arguably reflected in output of said players. Jenkinson is terrlble, Gibbs has always been both average and injury prone, Wilshere is very talented but is perpetually injured and clearly has a touch of the ‘Rooneys’ about his lifestyle and Walcott literally hasn’t learned a single thing in 11 years – he’s the same brainless player he was then, that Capello used to shout at because he couldn’t follow basic instruction, that has zero bottle.
Secondly, it severs this really bizarre link that certain Arsenal players have with certain Arsenal fans (or ‘Arsenal Twitter’ as I think it’s known). I once read a glib tweet (but not without truth) that Arsenal’s biggest issue is the number of fans that call their players by their first name – and there’s some truth in that. All those lads mentioned, whether it’s by posing in their childhood bedroom (Jenkinson), telling everyone how much they hate Tottenham (very clever, the fans love this – “look, Jack’s one of us” or “haha, look at Chesney TROLLING the Spuds LOLOL”) and then the godawful selfie routines. It’s all super cringe and the players seem to really dine off their somewhat cynical attempts of showing what ‘true Gunners’ they all are. Like they’re all mates together because Gibbs likes an Instagram post of Dele Alli falling over or something.
I’m a United fan, so obviously I’m aware that certain players have suitably cringe Social Media accounts – but it’s pretty clear that the likes of Pogba and Lukaku more fall into the ‘shameless self-publicist’ bracket (which is another issue!). It just feels different with the Arsenal ‘ladz’.
I think players identifying with fans is important, of course it is – but I’m sure the thing more Arsenal fans want to see is winning, pure and simple. More players with a mentality like Sanchez, or players who come in fresh and want to do well (one assumes Lacazette etc) would be a better bet. I think the clear-out will do wonders for Arsenal, so long as they make at least half-decent replacements.
Wilshere What Ifs
Reading Matt Stead’s piece on Jack Wilshere, it got me thinking. My opinion at the time was that Bournemouth was the wrong move for him.
I’m pretty sure he did have offers from abroad (if memory serves me right) and I firmly believed (and still do) that he should have looked for one to the French, Spanish or Italian leagues.
A warmer climate would mean less muscle fatigue, quicker recovery times and as a knock on effect – less time injured. The pace of the game in a less physically demanding league, would be slower and less time being injured, he would have more playing time. This then would lead into Wilshere developing his game further and also learning a different style of play which would make him a better and maybe more resilient player.
Then once his time was up, he would come back to the Premier League better off than when he left.
I know this is all ‘what ifs’ and ‘Sliding doors’ scenarios that doesn’t take in considerations of family, money etc but as a purely footballing decision I feel it was a missed opportunity.
I’m not an Arsenal fan but the reason I felt compelled to write/type in was because as much as I think Wilshere is a dick, as a young footballer (I’m nearly 40 so he is young) I really want him to be able to hit his peak as a player – the same goes for young guns like Origi, Solanke, Rashford, Lukaku, Alli, Kane etc.
I feel young players have the world at their feet and don’t always make the most of the opportunities they are presented with. They’re thinking of the short term rather than the long term and how to improve themselves not only as footballers but also as people.
There is no real point to this mail and maybe it’s just my age and that I’ve got two young kids, but if a young player breaks through into a team, I really want them to make the best of their talents and take all the opportunities that come their way, not get injured (I know it’s not up to them) and achieve their personal goals – even if i’ts for a team I have no love for and that player may go onto become my team’s greatest nemesis.
Amo ‘Old Man’ Singh, LFC
Wilshere likes a tackle too much…
Another great article by Matt Stead, this time on Jack Wilshere.
I admit to being an admirer of Jack’s for years, like many others, but if you’re made of glass, there’s not much hope for you. Normally injury prone players are just unlucky or they have a bone/ligament disorder which causes them to break easily. Jack’s issues, I believe, are self-inflicted. Hear me out.
Many years ago, Vieira said he didn’t understand the English psyche as he had asked Jack Wilshere what his fave part of the game was. Jacks answer wasn’t passing, scoring, tricks etc, it was tackling.
Now, years on, I have seen Jack try and ‘tackle’ and all he’s done is injure himself. Every time I see him lunge in I shake my head and say “will he ever learn”. Chances are that he hasn’t learned and he will never learn because he has that old English thug in him. Some people can’t help it, they just love a ruck and Jack is one of those.
He will never change therefore no-one wants to sign him. Such a shame, so much potential, so little achieved.
Fat Man Scouse (Barkley gets told to get stuck in more, who is right?) EFC
My Wilshere blind spot
I am colour blind, not drastically, only slightly, but it does make for some laughs with my friends with those colour blindness tests. It is difficult for me to see a red golf tee on green grass, and I confuse some shades or orange for green, it is what it is. Jack Wilshere is a red tee on a green footballing landscape to me.
I have had countless arguments with my Arsenal supporting mates about this lad. I was convinced it was home club bias, they just believed the hype, what is it this kid can actually do. I don’t just judge him by injuries, that happens, some people are made of glass, but when he is fit, is he actually any good? My answer was always no. Now I don’t ever want to see a guy fail at his job, but I can’t help but feel Jack’s failure at Bournemouth and subsequent lack of appeal to any Premiership club since has vindicated me.
If this lad was so good, how did he firstly end up at Bournemouth on loan, when Wenger finally decided this kid was a waste of space, even on his bench. Only the smallest league outfit would take a punt, and it was a loan job. And once there, in a system designed for him, and even when fit, he laboured around the pitch, bereft of anything meaningful. Matt Stead made a comparison with Mr. Cork, stating that Jack was capable of absolute magic. WHEN? When did all this magic happen? All Premiership footballers (even the one’s we consider sh*te) are excellent footballers by any layman’s standards, but I’ve never got the Wilshere thing. While I wish the lad luck for the rest of his career, can we please put to bed that Wilshere was anything other than an ordinary Premiership player who was over-hyped because he was English and played for Arsenal.
I would love to see him in the Championship next year, to put him a whole level lower than people believe he is, and see if he excels. Even if he stayed fit, I would bet my boll*x he wouldn’t!
As an aside, I always thought the same about Fabregas, a far better player than Jack, granted, but over-hyped, eventually got his dream move to Barca after years of flirtation, he got the boot after a couple of seasons when found out, and then lost his place at Chelsea. Maybe that is why Arsenal always finished fourth, rode their luck too long with average/over hyped players. And even with Sanchez (In world’s top five in my opinion) finished 5th.
Rowan, Red Devil Dub
(It’s just coincidence they are both Arsenal players, I don’t hate Arsenal…anymore…not since Keown left).
Captain, leader, legend of handball
Loved Peter G’s article on handball and how it’s taken him many articles to get to his rant – made be laugh out loud as I’m with him on this one – absolutely maddening to see players get off time and time again.
The absolute master of shot blocking with his arms accidentally on purpose was (is!) none other than the ever likeable John Terry, who would spread himself better than Peter Schmeichel in his prime.
He’s a classic example – I’ll let you guess whether it was given or not… 😉
Dave, Winchester Spurs
Reminiscences of 90s Austrian football
I suspect that the Mailbox doesn’t receive many emails about Austrian football. Let alone about 1990’s Austrian football.
While there’s not much exciting football for the moment, it seems like a good time to pop the Mailbox’s Austrian cherry and share some of my reminiscences. I lived in Vienna for a year in 1994-5, adopted Rapid Vienna as my team, and started going to some matches over there.
They played at the Gerhard-Hanappi Stadion, which was easy to get to, at the end of the U4 line. So, buoyed by a nice day and the prospect of having a few beers in the sun while watching the match, off we trundled. The ground only held 18,500, and was not always full, though the local ultras (for want of a better term) provided a decent atmosphere. As an aside, the ground was demolished in 2014 to make way for a new 28,000-seater stadium (that only cost €53m to build), which is yet another ‘Allianz Stadion’. Seemingly it’s EU law that there has to be one Allianz branded football arena in every country.
The standard of play was pretty decent, probably lower half-mid PL level. And as Rapid were fighting near the top of the table, the matches mattered.
I got to see the greatest opening to a match I’ve ever seen, against FC Linz, when within the first five minutes Rapid were 3-0 up, and had already also had a fourth disallowed. That ended up 4-1.
The local derby v Austria Vienna late in the season was a cracking match, even though the oppo won 3-1. However, that result mattered, as Rapid ended up finishing 3rd in the table, one point behind eventual winners Salzburg (before Red Bull got hold of them).
Fortunately, Rapid also had a good cup run that year and got to the final, beating Salzburg 2-0 in the semis, both goals being scored late on by a 21-year old lad called Markus Pűrk, one a 25 yard screamer. At the time, I thought he might move on to big things, and he did sign for Real Sociedad that summer, but ended up back at Rapid before moving on to 1860 Munich (then mid-table in the Bundesliga), but didn’t play much.
The cup final was against a second division team, DSV Leoben, at the Ernst Happel Stadium (where that season’s CL final was held, as well as the final of Euro 2008). Given the relatively low levels of support for the teams, it was easy to get a ticket. Rapid won 1-0 in what was a crap game, followed by a much more entertaining mass pitch invasion by the Rapid fans to celebrate their win. When in Vienna and all that…so I joined in, and had a swing on the crossbar.
I missed out on the season after, when Rapid won the league the year after, after signing a young Carsten Jancker (Fussballgott) on loan, who pitched in with 16 goals; and also reached the final of the Cup-Winners’ Cup, only losing 1-0 to PSG.
A highly enjoyable experience following a continental team, and I still watch out for their results to this day.
Chris LFC, SKRW (I have also spent 3-4 years living in Munich and saw a fair few games there as well, but that’s for another day)
Thank you F365
You’ll probably get a few of these, but kudos to F365 for your piece on the Women’s Euros. It’s great to see you take on board the criticism that not enough actual analysis of the women’s game is on your otherwise excellent site and provide some yourselves.
It’s one thing highlighting the issues, as you correctly do, but another to follow through and give the game the attention and analysis it deserves.
More of the same please.