Not a bad Mailbox, actually. Keep them coming to [email protected]

Everton are winning this transfer window
I can’t help but admire how efficiently Everton have been in this transfer window. Pickford, Klaassen, Keane, Ramirez, and Onyekuru seem like solid signings, at least on paper; although they may still have to potentially replace both Lukaku and Barkley.

Farhad Moshiri & Koeman seem to be changing things at Everton and this is their best transfer window I can remember for a long time (or since the Fellaini-United windfall.. that one still hurts) although this still may not be enough to improve them from their current status as Best of the Rest.
Anuj, MUFC

Football nuance makes VAR difficult
The bottom line (for me, Clive) in the VAR debate is that very few refereeing decisions in football are black and white, and therefore cannot be conclusively called by a video referee, or any referee for that matter. Goal line technology I can put up with (though I’d rather not have to) as it’s a black and white issue and the correct decision is clear on camera. But how many times do we watch several replays of an incident from multiple angles and still could not be sure if the player got a toe to the ball first/moved his hand towards the ball/tackle was from behind or slightly to the side/exaggerated contact/whatever, there’s loads.

The rules in football leave so much to judgement, as the excellent Peter G rules articles point out. Hands in an unnatural position – no definition of unnatural position. Excessive force in a tackle – no definition of excessive force…the list goes on. What’s the point of passing these decisions on to a video referee at quite a cost (time spent, game disrupted, flow of the game ruined etc), when it’s very possible he/she will be no more able to make the correct call than the game referee? Just leave it to the main ref to make their call and get on with it.

If we absolutely MUST have video refereeing save it for yes/no decisions only; goal line calls, offsides (99% of the time)…I’m sure there’s a few more. If it’s coming then let’s at least get it right.

My view is that if an incorrect decision goes against your team it’s only your fans that are p*ssed off, every other fan in the world gets a good laugh and has something to talk about for days’ months, maybe years. Next week it’s someone else, and that’s a huge part of the game we all love; discussion, debate, outright arguments, schadenfreude. Otherwise let’s just simulate all matches and get a computerised league table at the end of every August and not bother with the actual football. To me VAR is one step in that direction.
Ryan, Coillte

The point is this: VAR increases football’s entertainment
It seems to me there is something being missed in the discussion about VAR. Forget the boring ideals about reducing refereeing mistakes, it should be implemented in a way that can’t help to add to the entertainment and drama of football.

Here’s how: use it like cricket and tennis, a set number of reviews per side, with correct reviews retained but incorrect reviews lost. Let’s say 3 per half, but this would be tweaked through trials. Any player can ask for a review of any decision but only have 3 seconds to make the request (to minimise the chance for a more level headed team mate/manager to influence the decision).

Alternatively more time but make it so only the captains can ask for a review, which will make the role of captain more meaningful and introduce some interesting team dynamics (the team ‘ego’ falling out on the pitch with his less glamorous but sensible captain…). Also the request must state what they specifically want reviewed, i.e. ‘that wasn’t a goal because there was a push on our keeper’, not because ‘there was bound to have been an infringement by someone before the goal’.

The ref can still call for extra reviews if he suspects possible dangerous play but wants to be sure before giving a red, but otherwise leave it entirely to the teams.

Who wouldn’t love to see Man Utd refused a last minute penalty to salvage a glorious 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield, but be unable to call for a review because Wayne Rooney wasted the last one arguing over a throw in on the half way line earlier in the game? Then to see Mourinho absolutely steaming about the decision but knowing his team blew the opportunity to have done something about it.

Or a player wasting a review by claiming a penalty that is then shown to have been a dive. I think this would be much more effective in reducing diving than the small risk of a booking, as the player would know that the wasted review could hurt them later in the same game rather than at some future time. Conversely the defender in that situation, if the pen was given, would be happy to call for the review if they know there was no contact or that they definitely won the ball. You could even have counter reviews! The attacker claims and gets a pen after the review, but then the defender asks for another review pointing out the attacker had first pulled his shirt stopping him clearing the ball first, decision reversed. Great entertainment!

It could also take on a tactical dimension. For example Pulis may instruct his teams to only call for reviews that could result in an attacking free kick near the penalty box. Or teams that play a high defensive line could save their reviews for last ditch offside shouts. Or more cynically a team can focus on trying to wind up a known volatile player, knowing that as soon as that player reacts off the ball they can immediately call for a review to get the player punished.

Of course their will still be flaws, mistakes and arguments but I genuinely think this would add a lot to the game.
Tom, Spurs, Melbourne

A Chelsea fan has lost respect for Terry
John Terry has had a great football career
. Unquestionably a great centre-half. Great captain. None of that is in dispute. But I’ve lost some respect for him in light of his move to villa. No disrespect to Villa. Great club and all that. But for Terry’s main motivation in dropping into the championship to be because he would struggle mentally to play against Chelsea.

Get a grip man! Some people might see it as admirable. He’s so Chelsea through and through that he cant fathom being in an opposing side. Personally i think its pretty pathetic though. To suggest that perhaps he could have a hand in Chelsea not getting a result against a West Brom side for example with him in it suggests a bit more than just a little arrogance. They wouldn’t be that bothered trust me!

Chelsea fans wouldn’t care. They d give him a warm reception and move on. Its two league games. And what happens if Chelsea draw villa in a cup competition? Is he going to ask Steve Bruce if he can sit it out? Be a pro. Grow up. It looks to me like hes partaking in more attention seeking.

It’s akin to his substitution in his final league game. On the same spectrum. Like hes made this move not to show a commitment to villa, but more so to show he loves Chelsea that much. The football world moves on pretty quickly. Terry seems to think somehow that when Villa are playing Brentford that Chelsea fans will be looking on and saying ‘isn’t he so great, degrading himself like that to save us from the pain of being on the end of his super powers’. (no disrespect to Brentford. Another fine club).

Your career is relatively short in football. Stay at the highest level for as long as you can. Because come October, chelsea fans will be far too interested in what their side is doing on the pitch to care about what you’re up to at villa. And by then you’re still there, stuck with your decision. I think Terry ultimately made his decision to milk a last drop of Chelsea fan admiration and respect. But it comes across as desperate.

You’re a club legend there. Relax. You don’t need to prove your loyalty or passion for the club anymore. Terry would have received more respect from Chelsea fans if he had respected himself a bit more. If you don’t respect yourself then nobody else will either.
Edwin Ambrose

So, Keane back to Manchester United then?
So p*ssed off that Jose has spent £50,000,000 on Michael Keane! Can’t believe we’ve done another Pogba and stuffed up on a young kids potential again. We look like complete idiots. Typical shortsighted United. Can’t believe I support this shit.

What’s that? Oh right…Keane was sold to Everton? But that’s not what the transfer rumours told me for the last 15 months. But no. That can’t be. It’s almost as if these transfer rumours are actually – wait for it – RUMOURS. Wow, can’t believe all those “sources” would lie to me like that. What bastards. Maybe I was wrong on Jose. Maybe I was wrong on United.

Ah well all good, we’re gonna sign Bartra, Rodriguez, Lukaku and about 13 other first team footballers. All for an exact fee of £345,637,900.

What a time to be alive.
PM Perth (obvs sarcastic)

Answering Sky Sports’ questions
To answer the stupid clickbait questions Skysports poses (I really hate these, especially the ‘When is the XYZ Cup Final?’ articles):

Bale set for PL return? – No. According to ANY reputable source, agent/player/his own club, he’s not ‘set’.

What next for the Ox? – A club befitting his station? Staying put at Arsenal? Grazing in a field? OR simply: DON’T KNOW.

Is Lacazette the answer? –Yes, if the question is specifically: ‘Can you name a striker who Arsenal may wish to purchase, AND has a proven goalscoring record?’ BUT, also NO because The Answer is Allen Iverson.

VAR: Has it worked so far? – that depends on who you ask: YES, in that the technology itself functions properly as it is designed to do. NO, if you think ‘works’ translates to ‘suits’. The question really ought to be VAR: do people like it? Journalist asks developer of VAR: ‘I know it has worked, but has it ya know, worked?’

Who’s back from loan? – A shitload of players. And probably some players you forgot existed or were still at the club. Bloody hell, Joe Hart is still at City? That flew under the radar.
Jon (Rafa, stay with me….Please.) NUFC, Guangzhou

Changes to the penalty rules
I might have missed this in the mailbox (or on the F365 website?) and maybe it has been lost under the whole VAR hullabaloo but I have just found out UEFA have introduced a new penalty shootout system and I for one think it is a brilliant change.

The new change follows the same format seen in a Tennis Tie break; Team A go first, then team B take 2 consecutive pens then Team A take 2 consecutive pens and so on until there is a winner. The first penalty taker is still decided by the old flip of a coin, no fairer way than that.

The reason for this change? Well, according to statistics (back me up here Peter Goldstein…) the team who takes the first penalty wins the shootout 60% of the time. Not so much the lottery it’s been forever heralded as but more the early bird catches the worm. It also counteracts the idea of the team going second always playing catch-up. Personally, I also think it has the potential to change the dynamic more dramatically in the shootout, hence making it more fun for everyone. Well, the neutral really.

So, what does the mailbox think of the idea? Does the penalty order need a change? Is anyone against it? Will it matter one iota for England?

Incidentally, the first instance of the new shootout format happened last month in the Euro Women’s U-17 tournament semi-final where Germany played Norway ( You’ll never guess what happened – Germany took the first penalty and won….Forget all that b*llshit I said before about the stats and dynamic.
Cillian M

A Southampton fan on their transfer hopes
A little, unserious, game for a midweek of limited football.

For your club, outline three transfer scenarios: Hopeful, Realistic and *Classic Arsenal. We’ll then come back and visit responses in September.

Hopeful – We keep Van Dijk and Bertrand before strengthening with Icheancho and an exciting CAM to help unpick those pesky packed defences that undid us last season. Some competition for Forster would be appreciated as he seemed to forget that his job was to ‘save shots’ last year.

Realistic – Bertrand (and probably Van Dijk grrr) sold now Jan Bednareka has been signed along with 1 or 2 other new players with potential that you’ve never heard of brought in to some scepticism but turn out to look like decent prospects because we seem to have this transfer lark pretty sorted.

Arsenal – Les Reed promises that ‘no saints player is for sale’ and the club is ready to invest in the squad to chase Europe. We make an early signing of a young player with player followed by a competent Keeper to compete with Forster (filling a useful, but not vital hole in the squad) before being linked with a host of exciting players through August.

One arrives giving the impression of a great summer, before on transfer day Van Dijk is pictured at Anfield and sold without time for replacement while an unexpected CM is signed despite having about 5 players who can already fulfil that role.
Tom Saints