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An anti-English conspiracy?
I’m pretty sure Yeabsra A Ali’s anti-Premier League conspiracy is all in his head. Every club in Europe wants a taste of that money, hence Real trying to get £70m each for their unwanted substitutes.

The reason Rodriguez went to Bayern on loan is because nobody would actually pay that sort of money for him. He has been useless for Real, and they failed to get any of England’s nouveau riche to commit to a permanent transfer. Bayern can’t pay that sort of transfer fee but at least they can take care of the player’s salary and are more prestigious than pretty much every English club, thereby boosting his ego until such time as Real take him back or sell him on.

If the other players mentioned are evidence of some sort of anti-English agenda then how about Angel Di Maria? Man Utd had him for one year then shipped him out to PSG at a loss. Evidence of English and French leagues conspiring against the Spanish, perhaps.
Martin, BRFC

I’m in full agreement with Yeabsra A. Ali mail, there is more then a little bit of circling of the wagons throughout Europe when it comes to player transfers and the PL. They look at the money flooding in with envy and they feel threatened. This would explain the reluctance to trade and if they must trade offer the tried and trusted Fcuk Off fee, so that is they must sell they take the PL club to the cleaners for the privilege. I believe this is why Jose head hunted the Inter head scout because he understands the need to find the top talent earlier as once they make it in Europe they will be off limits to Man U and the rest of the PL.

There is also the issue of these millionaire footballers and the climate the want to live and play in, lets face it the weather is much better in Spain. Dare I say it but the uncertainty around Brexit may also be a factor.

To sum up when European Clubs see the PL clubs as a very wealthy pariah and the Millionaire Footballers make decisions for climate and Geopolitical reasons it means the PL clubs had better invest heavily in their Academy’s and scouting networks!

Best Wishes,
Joe ManUnited 

Admittedly the James Rodriguez loan to Bayern Munich is a little left field but perhaps people are over thinking the reasoning why. Carlo Ancelotti signed James to Madrid in 2014 and it’s likely the player himself wanted to link up with Carlo Ancelotti once again.

It’s quite likely Madrid are happy with this as they retain a very talented young player on their books.

It’s not that wild leap of the imagination and conspiracies as to the PL losing it’s lustre are a little premature.

Rob ( John Terry deserves a Knighthood) Dublin

More on Milan
I noticed Leonardo Bonucci’s potential move to Milan was mentioned in this morning’s mailbox, but thought it would be worth writing in a bit more detail about what’s going on at Milan in case anybody has missed it and saw their loan signing of Fabio Borini as indicative of their current status…

After years of stalling, Berlusconi finally sold up earlier this year, and it seems that he was true to his pledge only to sell to a buyer who would invest heavily in the club. If the Bonucci deal happens, Milan will have to be regarded as a genuine title contender, and at very least should be back in the Champions’ League in 2018-19 (Italy will have four places again from that season).

So far this summer, they have bought a centre-half (Mateo Musacchio), two full-/wing-backs (Andrea Conti and Ricardo Rodriguez), two midfielders (Franck Kessié and Hakan Calhanoglu), and a striker (Andre Silva). Gigi Donnarumma has signed a new contract, young Italians Alessandro Romagnoli and Manuel Locatelli are already important squad members, and there’s experience in Riccardo Montolivo and potentially Bonucci. Aubameyang is apparently still a genuine target. It looks like one of the most hipster-friendly starting 11s in a 3-5-2 ever assembled.

This all feels a bit harsh on Napoli, who have patiently been trying to build a squad to rival Juve for the scudetto for years, but it can’t just be Italophiles like me who are excited at the prospect of Milan being back?
RH, Birmingham

Liverpool’s defence is fine
While I appreciate Storey’s assessment about the defensive woes of Liverpool I think there is some context that should be given.

First, Lovren and Matip only played 20 league games together last season because of injury, ACoN, etc.  Lovren, in the past, has always played best when he is partnered with a consistent partner.  Last year was Matip’s first in England, and he came with an ankle injury that took time to heal.

In those 20 games LFC won 11, drew 7 and lost 2.  Two of those draws were nil-nil affairs the other team seemed completely fine with doing absolutely nothing offensively (United & Southampton).

The two losses were that freak blown game to Bournemouth (4-3) & a tough loss to a resurgent Swansea (3-2).

While I think the personnel could be improved, the defensive frailty comes from a shift in focus.  For example, the 1-1 City game Liverpool did the high press and gave City all kinds of problems, they simply could not get a lot going.  Liverpool threw on, with a 1-0 lead, a defender and they sat deep abandoning the high press.  Almost instantly City looked lethal, their passes were pin point and eventually they equalized.  It happened in almost every game like that, Liverpool look much more vulnerable when the high press is traded for sitting deeper.

If Liverpool are to finish in the top four next season, they need to beat the teams that put 10 behind the ball and maintain the high press all match.  Klopp may have addressed this by moving Coutinho from the wing into the #10 slot behind Firmino.
Jay from Hoboken

I usually have a lot of time for Daniel Storey’s work, but the piece asking whether Jurgen Klopp is “gambling” on an “all or nothing plan” seemed to be uncharacteristically lazy. There are a few very important reasons why:

1. The transfer window has only officially been open two weeks. 14 days! Yes, we all know that the wheels are moving all year round and moves start being completed before this, but it’s hardly last-minute panic stations is it. This is close to Sky Sports levels of hysteria in my opinion.

2. Liverpool have very specific needs this summer, and have identified specific players who meet these needs. This is the same as pretty much every other sensible club and is not the same thing as putting all your eggs in one basket.

3. Given that there is absolutely zero evidence that there are no backup targets, to suggest otherwise is at best naive. There is plenty of time to move on to other targets, if it’s needed. This assumes that ground work has not already been done on alternative targets, which you would expect of any competent top level football club.

4. Most importantly, I for one welcome a move away from the scattergun folly of pre-Klopp FSG transfer windows. Having defined targets to meet defined needs and focusing on developing the squad in a careful, strategic manner is something to be applauded not derided. If it gets to 1st September and we only have 1 of our three man targets with no evidence of a backup plan then this article might have a point. Until then, I am reassured by our transfer policy.

Admittedly the VVD saga has not gone well so far, but I have faith that we will get these key deals over the line and we will be in a much stronger position come the first game at Watford. However, for a journalist I respect to be writing reactionary opinion pieces about transfer policy on the 14th July felt like it needed a response.
Gaz, LFC

Spurs standing still?
Whilst it is early days in the Transfer window, I am surprised that Spurs seemingly feel that they do not need to strengthen the squad in advance of next season.

We are about to lose our first choice right back to one of our title rivals and that is the sum of all transfer activity so far, with the season less than a month away, and with pre-season tours kicking off.

If standing still is moving backwards in this league, then surely spurs are moving backwards. All of the other “top 6” have strengthened their squads, and I am not confident that a bench of Janssen, Okonmah, Winks, Wimmer and Nkoudou will be enough to maintain our position in the Top 6, let alone the top 4, particularly with Everton signing anyone and everyone. A 19 year old Argentinan defender and Ross Barkley isn’t going to change that.

Had we won the league at a canter last season, I could understand it but we didn’t and this season we will again have Champions League football and a more expansive pitch to deal with. What is going on at the Lane?

Av, Spurs, London

Chelsea fan feeling blue
Another summer and another transfer window of disappointment. I believed (hoped?) we were unto a winning formula with Antonio using the youth academy products more frequently than any manager in my recent memory but it once again seems like one step forward and two steps back. Ake was to be a core member of the defence for years to come and played amazingly in that semi-final against Spurs (what a game though!) but has now been sold. What was the point of recalling him from his loan only to play him once and sell him back 5 months later?

Chalobah as well was finally getting a chance to shine and would’ve been needed for all the cup games but has also been shipped off. Not to mention losing Solanke to rival. It really just makes you lose hope in the entire youth system and of any academy player ever making it through the ranks. We just train them up, play with the fans’ heartstrings/players’ hopes and give them a couple scattered appearances and then sell them for a profit. I’ll come back to this mail when Zouma/Christensen get sold next summer. I pray we at least learnt from previous mistakes and inserted buyback clauses…
Kris (never fancied Lukaku anyway…), CFC, London 


Pre-season games are debuts
Firstly, can I just say….Debut debut debut.

Debut. Ahem.

Now that I have that out of my system, I would disagree that these players have not played their…….first game for their respective new clubs. These games weren’t kickabouts with the other half of their own teams; they didn’t wear different coloured bibs. These games were not played behind closed doors, they weren’t played while members of the public were denied access.

Sure, these games are increasingly played abroad as part of a very transparent marketing/profile-raising exercise, and yes, they are mostly about getting fitness up and familiarising new team mates with each other, but they ARE still competitive games, to a point. They are played against other proper teams who will also want to win, keep clean sheets and generally look good. Players are also trying to impress their manager to ensure they have the best possible chance to start their league matches in the first team.

And while scoring in pre season games is no clear indicator as to how that player will perform in their own league, its surely better to find the back of the net than not in these games?! And, since we’ve established that these were in fact their debuts, then we can say that they have scored their debut goals for their club…..

So I think I WILL keep calling these appearances debuts, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

That is all.

One last point – debut.
Ger, Ireland


Last week I sent in a mail (unpublished) about the consequences of Gary Cahill being dropped from the Chelsea team. It included the line:

“With Cahill dropped, Chelsea will no longer have any English players in their first-choice team (and no, I don’t believe for a minute that the likes of Loftus-Cheek or Chalobah will suddenly become regulars next season, sorry).”

And now, less than ten days later, Loftus-Cheek has been farmed out on loan, and Chalobah has left on a permanent deal.

I don’t normally play the lottery, but perhaps I should buy a couple of tickets for this weekend…
Lauro, KFC

Wolves hall of shame
I do have something serious to say, see my last paragraph, but first, how about a Wolves Hall of Shame?

Worst thing that other fans think about them.

Wolves have a habit of annoying fans of other teams, and it’s fair to say we have a section of our support that does create a degree of ill feeling. But at the moment, thanks to the astonishing amounts of money our Chinese owners are putting into the club, and the fantastic signing of Reuben Neves from Porto, there’s an awful lot of ‘why would he sign for Wolves’ and ‘they’re just being used by Mendes’. Believe me, after the alienation of the fans by our previous ownership, and some of the god awful football we saw under Kenny Jackett and Paul Lambert, compared to the chance to see players like  Neves and Helder Costa playing for us, you can say what you like.

Worst thing about the ground.
Molineux used get a great press after its redevelopment in the 90s, but the botched and unfinished redevelopment in 2012 has genuinely spoiled things. A section of the seats in the new stand, originally intended as the new away section, can’t be used, which means away fans are still seated underneath the home fans in the Steve Bull stand, which, to say the least, is not ideal.

Worst signing
A lot of people would say Robert Taylor, the somewhat ‘hefty’ forward from Manchester City, who scored a ton of goals for Gillingham, but very few anywhere else. But I would opt for Steve Claridge. Again, scored goals everywhere else he played, but failed completely at Wolves. At the end he didn’t look bothered, barely broke into a run, and obviously was counting the days and his money until he could leave. A waste of everybody’s time and the transfer fee.

Worst kit
It can only be the infamous ‘skid mark’ kit

How creepy is the mascot?
Wolfie infamously got into a fight with three other mascots at Bristol City and has form with several others, including the ridiculous Baggie Bird at our beloved neighbours from Sandwell, and once provoked a Liverpool player to storm off the pitch after he tried to join in a half time warm up. But I wouldn’t say he was creepy, especially since the club got him a partner, Wendy. On the other hand, having been hugged by him at a birthday dinner, that costume absolutely reeked.

Worst celebrity fan
I genuinely don’t think we do embarrassing celebrity fans at Wolves. Not on the scale of Piers Moron or Tim Lovejoy anyway. We do cool ones, though, definitely. Led Zep singer Robert Plant, Beverley Knight, TV presenters Suzi Perry and Jacqui Oatley, among others. If anyone knows of an embarrassing celeb who follows Wolves, let us know.

Worst own goal
Under current circumstances, it seems wrong to nominate Carl Ikeme’s ‘moment’ against Bristol City, but it is the one that stands out from recent years.

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Weirdest club shop item
Despite the presence of a Wolves toothbrush, a Wolves tape measure and the Wolves crop circle car sticker (It’s a nice design, but the name and the idea are definitely a bit weird), I will opt for the Wolves TV remote control cushion. A cushion. For your TV remote. Just let that sink in.

On a more serious note, some of you may know that Wolves’ starting keeper from last season, Carl Ikeme, has recently been diagnosed with acute leukaemia, and has already started treatment.  Obviously all our thoughts go with him, and, in a gesture that I think all Wolves fans heartily applaud, no keeper will wear Carl’s No. 1 shirt for the foreseeable future, and all the proceeds from sales of his replica shirt will be donated to Leukaemia Care. And especial thanks to all the players and fans of other clubs, including Iker Casillas, no less, who’ve already sent him their own messages, via Twitter or in other ways. If you’re visiting the Molineux this season, and there’s a show of support for Carl or a fund raising event connected with this, any way you can show your own support will be much appreciated.

Thanks for listening
Paul Quinton, Wolves.