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Is selling your club captain a wise move?
Rational thinking or Paranoia? For the last 18 months or so I have said to many friends/people (mainly in the pub admittedly) that Rooney must leave United this summer (or even last summer ideally) in order to further his career and to play regularly and keep himself in (some sort of) shape/international reckoning.

I knew that he would not feasibly want to upfansitedbusr his young family to China so I fully expected him to join one of the MLS teams for a hefty wage. Rejoining Everton however, seemed the most likely outcome for all parties assuming he would lower his wage demands, however I do somewhat feel that United have let the cat out of the bag in some respects.

Please allow me to elaborate: When Jose Mourinho joined United I was fully expecting a siege mentality, a win at all costs style of football and even a ‘gentleman’s arm around the shoulder style of management’. Surely as captain Rooney must have been a focal point of many of the training sessions and the tactics meetings etc.

I have no doubt that Rooney will resurrect his career back in Merseyside but I can’t help wondering if Ronald(o) Koeman has indirectly bought some valuable inside information on the top 6 team he has most chance of leapfrogging next season.

Ever the pessimist…
Phil (Rooney returns to OT 5th game into the season, bound to score surely?) MUFC Salford

Where is the transfer window insight?
Is anyone else utterly bored by the transfer window? I mean, I know that journalists have to sell newspapers, but there is so little debate and discussion about what the transfers mean for clubs in comparison to “who will they sign next”.

I don’t find the business of “transfer gossip” interesting in any way, but I do find thinking through the questions such as “has Mourinho signed Lukaku to play tactically differently, or does he see him as a 1 for 1 swap for Zlatan?” interesting to consider.

I mean, it is all guess work until the season starts, but at least we’d be collectively thinking through something more meaningful than the player’s name, brand and haircut. Don’t get met started on “transfer rumours” that deserve every bit of lampooning they get from mediawatch.

Pre-season used to be about seeing tactical experimentation in semi competitive games and the embedding of new players to a squad. Now we seem to have slid towards seeing pre-season as a “commercial opportunity” where clubs launch and showcase new signings, hash tags and brand images – See #RedRom for exhibit A.

There are some really interesting questions about premier league taking shape, and there could be so much more meaningful discussion by clubs, the media and fans that goes beyond transfers news.

I am an optimist and tend to think that most (or at least many) football fans would be receptive to something approaching intelligent discussion on the game they love both during outside the season and while Football365 does a great job at facilitating that debate, it is too often a lone voice.

It says a lot about the state of the mainstream media that you often get more interesting discussions about what football means for clubs inside the Mailbox than you would ever do at any mainstream publication.
Lee M

Hey, we tried to do other things
Every summer (ones with no major cup competition) after the season ends, I make a mental plan to be productive and pursue a meaningful hobby given the fact I won’t be spending the best part of my weekends watching football. With more than half the summer over, as usual I can’t remember a single useful thing I’ve actually done with this extra time.

Just like all the summers before, I’ve given up my pursuit of productivity and have resorted to counting down the weeks to the new season while obsessively following all the transfer speculation.

Just out of curiosity, how many of you fellow F365 readers set out with convictions to make the most of the summer football vacuum and how many of you actually succeed?

Some of us football fans lead quite tragic lives don’t we? At least I do…
Gautham (Indianapolis)

Some questions for next season
Arsenal : What are the club aiming for this coming year? Surely, fans can’t be satisfied with an FA Cup to paper of the cracks and a front 3 of Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil looks exciting on paper, games are not won on paper. How does Wenger instil the mental strength needed to compete over a whole season?

Chelsea : With a small squad of core players and a bloated reserve / youth team, how do the club compete across 4 or 5 competitions successfully? Chelsea are also moving into unchartered territory without club stalwarts such as Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Cech and the likes, all of whom boasted not just experience, but experience of winning having left the club in the relatively recent past – how will the club adjust and cope with this?

Liverpool : Can a collection of very talented attacking midfielders make up for a lack of one good striker? Can you have a successful season in the league and champions league without a top class goalkeeper?

Manchester City : What now for City? They’ve got a talented squad and a “genius” manager, so what is missing? I’ve not heard much from City fans, but it is clear that the swagger of “we’ve got Pep” last year is gone and there is not the same level of confidence about the richest team with the best manager in the world ™ walking the league, so what is it that is missing? Players? Time?

Manchester United : Have they really improved their squad on last years team, which finished 5th? They’ve brought in an unproven, young defender and a swapped Zlatan for #RedRom – is this enough to make up 4 places? Also, Luke Shaw – he appears just to be a walking question.

Spurs : Can Spurs take the next step and win the damned league? They’ve got one of the league’s best goalkeepers, the best defence, one of the most balanced midfields and the league’s best striker. What can stop them? Is it consistency, lack of experience or just squad depth?
Lee M

Knowing when is the right time to stop
I have enjoyed reading the Premier League Hall of Shame series of articles, its been an interesting way to get to know more about the history of some the PL clubs.

But now since West Ham brings an end to this series I was wondering if I could rustle up support for similar articles for some of the teams across Europe.

Who wouldn’t like to know what rival fans think of Juventus, or the worst thing about Atletico’s new ground, or Real Madrid’s worst signing (Kaka maybe cause of all the hype, expectations and price-tag he couldn’t live up to?), or Barcelona’s worst kit, or how many different beer mugs are Bayern Munich selling in their gift shops.

Another series of Hall of Shame articles please.
Yash, MUFC

Sol Campbell and obfuscation of the point
I too don’t want to appear as if I am attempting to legitimise one side of the story over the other, but I have to agree with Jonny, MUFC on this Sol Campbell issue but I don’t think Jonny went far enough.

Like him, I am not for one second arguing that there is a glaring inequality in football in management and coaching, but holding Sol Campbell up as the poster child for this inequality does it a disservice, simply because whenever Sol doesn’t get what he wants, he calls racism.

He’s the boy who cried wolf, from stating that if he was white he would’ve captained England for 10 years to this beauty “I’ve got no OBE, MBE, nothing. And no one says anything… How can I have this career? And be who I am? And no one’s said anything? To get an MBE, just three people have got to write in. Three people have never written in about Sol!” Jeez, I wonder why.

If you look at other quotes from him that have nothing to do with the issue of race, you get the full context and can better appreciate of the type of person he is – conceited and arrogant, someone who can’t imagine that he has any shortcomings, and therefore the only reason he could be overlooked or dismissed is because of racism, not because he is a complete berk.

This is all to say, if anything Sol de-legitimises and discredits the very real issue of racism in football. If you call everything and everyone racist, people’s eyes glaze over and its very much a case of “here we go again”, and instead of focussing on the actual problem it’s ‘oh do shut up Sol’.
Ben, Oz

Not all Tottenham fans hate Sol, y’know
Can I please just object to the nonsense that passes for “accepted fact” these days that ALL Spurs fans hate Sol Campbell. (mailbox 10/07: email titled “Or maybe nobody trusts Sol Campbell” – Japstarr, THFC Hackney).

I have been a Spurs fan for just about 45 years now, and I for one will always regard Sol as a Spurs hero. Why? Because those of us who used to attend matches at the WHL of the mid to late 90’s will know what a dreadful desert of football that was. Painfully watching the Jason Dozzells and Jose Dominguezes (?) of this world trot onto the pitch. However, what was even more worrying at the time was the fact that Spurs were genuine RELEGATION candidates for 2 or 3 seasons in that period.

And as far as I am concerned, only one man saved us from that fate at that time, and that was Sol Campbell. It was almost always last man standing in those days and it was always Sol. Without his uncountable last ditch tackles – and crucial set piece and non-set piece goals – Spurs could well have gone down and history would have been very different. A game that sums this up was a 1998 home game against Leeds with Spurs desperate for points, the score was 3-1 to Leeds and the clock running down. We got to the 90th minute and the score was 3-2 to Leeds.

And then what happened…Sol went up the pitch and out of no where engineered a goal for himself – final score 3-3 and a crucial point. That goal was all down to Sol’s determination and commitment to the cause. And that game is just one example.

Of course I was gutted when Sol went over to the other side, but he had done his bit. So when this current Spurs team runs out onto the pitch in front of 90000 fans, at Wembley, on a Champions League night this coming season – I for one will remember Sol Campbell’s huge contributions all those years ago, and without which Spurs may well have been where Aston Villa and Leeds United are now. The fine margins of success and failure.

Sol Campbell: may be not a Spurs legend unfortunately, but certainly a Spurs hero when he was needed the most.
Kirit – NW London COYS!

Calm down the Everton love
I just thought I’d write in and express how much I’m loving the Everton circle jerk at the moment. With the signing of Rooney it seems like the mighty blues have already sealed their place in the top four… Oh, wait.

Stop me if I’m being daft here but in my mind selling a 24 year old striker who just scored 25 league goals to your top 4 rivals, and replacing him with their 31 year old striker who just scored 5 league goals does not seem like the best move if you want to challenge for the top spots. The fact that it even happened shows that; how often do the rest of the top teams in the country sell to each other? Never. That’s how often.

Keane and Pickford have potential, yes. But they only have one decent season each under their belts and was anybody else fighting over them? No, at least not seriously.

Sandro Ramírez is the most interesting of all of the Everton signings, having come in off the back of a great season in La Liga… where he was still outscored by Iago Aspas, mind. If they go ahead and sign Sigurdsson and Giroud and you’ve got, well, a couple more top four cast offs at dubious ages.

Klaassen, in fairness, is a good signing in isolation. But he’s slow. Which leads me to the real clincher with Everton this coming season: Let’s assume they line-up with Rooney, Giroud, Sigurdsson, & Klaassen, who will all expect to be starting. That’s a quartet of attacking players who will struggle to match Lukaku’s goal tally because there’s only so many set pieces they can take and, more importantly, there’s not a flash of pace among them. There’s no use Klaassen feeding incisive through balls to Rooney or Giroud because they’re simply too slow for them.

Basically, negate the wings and you’ll negate the team. That leaves a lot of pressure resting on Ramirez’ and forgotten man Bolasie’s shoulders, even assuming those two match the level of the fast wide players the top 6 have assembled (they don’t).

Keep jerking it fellas, it feels good.
Jimmy the lad (Leicester will finish above Everton)