The story of the man who went from Man Utd to ‘Dog Poo Utd’

Julian Dowe was at … The post The story of the man who went from Man Utd to ‘Dog Poo Utd’ appeared first on Football365.

The story of the man who went from Man Utd to ‘Dog Poo Utd’

Julian Dowe spent time at Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City as a youngster, but it was his youth career rather than his pro career which was truly remarkable, albeit not in the way he might have hoped.

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Southgate and Klopp got lucky, and Ronaldo is a flat-track bully…

The Mailbox wasn’t finished … The post Southgate and Klopp got lucky, and Ronaldo is a flat-track bully… appeared first on Football365.

Southgate and Klopp got lucky, and Ronaldo is a flat-track bully…

Keep those mails coming to…


Giddy Gooner
Is it just me or are the transfer workings of Arsenal remaining quietly under the radar? I mean Arteta has made some key signings already which could well prove to be the difference. However, what is lovely to see is that no one is getting over-excited. Hope fills my veins every year but this year we feel, just, grounded. Lovely stuff.

The other point I wanted to make is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a campaign around to get Auba to ‘sign da ting’. Again, I wonder why this is? This sense of calmness is so alien and I can’t decide what it all means. I mean, what does it all mean?

Damn, even just writing this is getting me all excited again. If we have Auba signed up and get Partey whilst getting rid of some unwanted stock, it may be a little embarrassing.
JazGooner (in no way to I believe that this is our year. Not one bit)


Liverpool’s lucky timing
Lot of doom and gloom in lads and ladies.

England are shit again, boohoo.
Football kits, waaaaaa.
Foden and Greenwood, *angry frowning*

Something that has caught my attention in the recent discussions relating to everybody else closing the gap on Liverpool, was people lauding Klopp and/or John Henry for how well they are running the club.

Where are all their youth products? I’ll give you TAA (exceptional player). Gomez moved down from Charlton having already played in the league for them. Same for Harvey Elliott (exchange Charlton for Fulham). Who else is there? I’m not a Liverpool fan so I accept im not going to know the young scousers coming through.

But, is it a well run club? Or is it a group of players and a manager who all hit their peaks at the same time?

Because that doesn’t seem all that sustainable to me.
Jim, Manchester, (Probably just wishful thinking)


England expects
Mediocre side? Not in attack we aren’t

We have one of the most consistent goal scorers in the most competitive league in the world, we have Sancho with 20 goals and assists last season, we have Sterling with 31 goals and 10 assists. We have AAA who is one of if not the best attacking right backs in the world, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish as some of the more exciting young attacking midfielders in the Premier League. With all that talent, 1 goal should be expected per game minimum.

Sure the defence isn’t great but if you have the personnel who have that much attacking capabilities, you should be scaring the opposition into their own box not sitting with 5 at the back and 2 DMs…

The only reason this system works with Arsenal is we used it against teams that are better than us, have forwards who will chase balls and CBs who can play an effective long ball game. If you don’t have that, its time to go back to the drawing board
Rob A (International football might be different, but the need for creative players is still there) AFC


…I’m quite perplexed by the enraged fans clamouring for Southgate to be removed from the job on the basis of the previous two games. At this point, I should state that I watched neither game; why? Because I knew full well they’d be awful matches! In case it has escaped your attention, there is a global pandemic going on, and amongst all the other things that it has impacted, football has had its own challenges. As a result, the champions league final took place in an August mini-tournament and the new season has not yet kicked off despite it being mid-September.

Given the context laid out above, what exactly did anyone expect of teams playing in a competition of lesser importance prior to the season proper commencing? They’re essentially pre-season friendlies and players will be doing their damndest to not got injured. That’s it. I wouldn’t be calling for my club manager’s head if we drew an awful game in a pre-season tour, because that would be daft.

Get a grip.
Lewis, Busby Way


…Ok, I’m going to preface this by admitting I didn’t watch the game (I was watching Tenet – excellent film, go and watch John David Washington smash it out of the park while wearing the hell out of a range of suits.) But my points aren’t really about the way we played; I would like to respond to Tom Reed’s defence of what was apparently a poor performance.

Oh woe is Gareth, having to pick from such limited resources, such as his first choice ‘keeper, arguably 3 out of his four first choice defenders, and arguably all of his first choice attack. Yes, there were some compromises in midfield but this was hardly a “B” team. From the players in the matchday squad, there was definitely more than enough to do better than struggle to (by all accounts) an uninspiring 0-0.

If a manager can’t get a tune out of those players then there definitely should be questions raised about his capability. How much stronger was that line-up really going to get? Maguire in for Coady, Henderson in for Phillips? Maybe Rashford in there somewhere? Alright, he had a right-back playing at left-back but he doesn’t get a pass for that when he specifically, deliberately chose not to select one from the many available options. You don’t get sympathy for hobbling yourself.

No, this wasn’t a manager having been failed by the FA; this was a manager who did not have a clear and/or effective attacking game plan. Was anyone really talking about him losing his job if he’d lost this match? I certainly haven’t seen anything even close to that. The stage was set for him to try some new things and new players, given that literally nobody but the winners care about this pointless “competition”, but he seems to have bottled it and played uber safe.

The point is: there was more than enough in that squad to get a positive performance and result, if it wasn’t for possibly the blandest manager I’ve ever seen in charge of England failing to take even the slightest of risks in an attacking sense. If he doesn’t learn to take the shackles off that team once in a while then he bloody well should lose his job and, from my point of view, last night’s apparent snooze fest has only strengthened that notion.
Ted, Manchester


…Mikey CFC asked in today’s mailbox, “was the World Cup Semi Final a mixture of good luck and good timing?”.

This made me laugh but it’s comforting to know that at least one English fan has finally come to the realisation, albeit 2 years late, what the rest of the world already knew, England’s run to the semi final was outrageously easy.

It’s great to see the doom and gloom returning!


…Generally, I try to be positive about England, partly because I understand what a frankly ridiculous job Gareth Southgate has. In the space of two weeks our manager has had to field questions on the merits of the Greek justice system, what he thought about Kyle Walker and Grealish being involved in lockdown scrapes and had to deal with two of his brightest young players treating an international away fixture during a pandemic as sex tourism. He does it all with dignity and intelligence and clearly has worked hard and restoring team spirit and a connection with the fans.

Southgate is obviously no Diego Simeone when it comes to tactical thought but in a way this criticism of him is a red herring, as other aspects of management seem to matter more at international level. Just ask master tactician Fabio Capello, driven to quit in despair at the constant John Terry issues. Nevertheless, after the world cup he had worked out that 4-3-3 suited us best. It led to two of the finest England performances for years, winning in Seville and at home to Croatia, and meant that we battered lesser teams in qualification in a way in which England sides, no matter how talented, seldom do. The perennial problem of breaking down teams with no ambition to attack seemed to have been solved, especially with so many creative midfielders being developed in the top flight.

So why, after all that, do you field a side like that against Denmark? This was far far worse than struggling with a very disciplined Iceland. Five at the back (not three), protected by two defensive midfielders. Even against France, Germany etc that would be overkill. It was almost the plan to be dull and safe, and surely it was the worse XI Southgate has picked. When the team was announced, every England fan would’ve wondered how on earth the ball was going to travel forward – this wasn’t hindsight. Perhaps you could argue he wanted to look at different systems having gone two years without playing anything but 4-3-3, but that was the most galling part. Southgate knew how 5 at the back had worked before, but in a much more attacking way. During the world cup one of the centre-backs was Kyle Walker, and the 5 ‘forward’ players who weren’t in the defence included no true defensive midfielder (Henderson, Alli, Lingard, Kane and Sterling for those who had forgotten). Compare that side to this one, which you could say lined up 7-0-3.

There are mitigating circumstances with all the absences, and a desire to integrate new players, with 6 players being capped over the two games. But is Conor Coady so talented that he needs the entire system to change to accommodate him and his switches to the right-wing back, balls that Eric Dier also played, rendering the Wolves man redundant? Was it fair on Kalvin Phillips to pick him alongside Rice, making him responsible for more forward play than he does do at Leeds? Did 20 goal Danny Ings deserve more than 20 odd minutes over the week?

Pragmatism is fine; overall, It’s fair enough to prefer a muscular creative player like Ox and Barkley to the more mercurial gifts of Grealish or Maddison. But picking Rice and Phillips when you already have 5 defenders is something even Allardyce wouldn’t have done. Thank god that match was behind closed doors.
Adam, MUFC (Ronaldo’s eventual international goal tally will never be broken)


…; What Southgate can do with this supposedly mediocre set of England players is not pick 7 defenders, none of which are a left back, against a most definitely mediocre Denmark in a glorified friendly.

Foden sent home for indiscretion? How about choosing one of the most creative midfielders in the Premier League last season in Grealish?

Harry Kane in his post-lay-off poor form phase that we’ve seen time and time again? Maybe pick the guy who was second in the sodding golden boot last season, how about that?

There was nothing riding on the Denmark game. It was perfect for experimentation. Win and it’s a step in the right direction and experience for a new crop of players. Lose and shrug while saying “it’s the Nation’s League”.

Southgate did indeed do very well at the world cup. He’s had two years to work on bringing in an exciting set of young players who are gaining more and more top level experience. Instead we get Eric Dier still in the starting XI, an extra defensive midfielder next to Declan “not quite enough defensive midfielder on his own apparently” Rice, and Jordan Pickford playing regardless of form.

I get that everyone thinks they can do a better job than the England manager. It goes with the terretory unfortunately. However, one of the people who could be doing a better job is Southgate himself, and he needs to buck his ideas up before the Euros.
Pierre (This is how Carlton Palmer ended up with 18 caps), Bristol


…As someone who had written in just two days prior about the absolute abject nature of the Scottish national football team, I had to laugh when I saw Tom Reed’s assertion that this collection of England players were completely dreadful and poor Gareth Southgate is making the best of a bad situation. I know Scotland and England operate in different leagues (literally) but still, we’d give our collective right testicles for a collection of players half as good as England have to choose from.

Up front, were Sterling, Kane and Sancho. That’s Raheem Sterling who scored 20 goals last season and was one of the best players in the league. And Jadon Sancho, one of the brightest stars of the Bundesliga. Then, Harry Kane, who never seems to stop scoring. Now perhaps Kane wasn’t fully fit. Are there any options on the bench? Well, there’s Tammy Abraham (15 goals last season) and Danny Ings who scored 22. If they play well for their clubs, but badly for England, is it that the players aren’t good, or is there another reason?

I’ll admit midfield was not so well stocked, but surely there’s a combination of Grealish, Mount, Rice, Ward-Prowse, Dier and Philips that could play as a cohesive midfield? These are almost all established Premier League players. I would accept that they might struggle against Spain, but you’re seriously arguing that the Dainish midfield, man for man is better than those players?

The defence has two of the Liverpool team that won the league in record style. But if you play TAA as a wingback instead of a fullback, he’s going to struggle because he’s not used to it. In the same way that Robertson struggles as wingback for Scotland. If you don’t pick a left back, and play a right back in that position, they’re also going to struggle.

Tom writes: ‘Be more expansive and Denmark could have easily won.’ Why? Why is this true? Well the only reason they would is if they were better drilled and better coached because they certainly aren’t better players.

Southgate isn’t a terrible manager, he may even be reasonably good. But he isn’t a great one. It’s his job to get the best out of the players he has available. I don’t think you could realistically argue that he is doing that.
Mike, LFC, London


Read: What more can Southgate do with most mediocre England side since ’92? 


…Well that was a bit sh*t wasn’t it!

But for me Clive, the biggest problem and the clearest indication of why a change is needed, is the Managers re-action and comments after the game.

OK, he can’t come out and slate people publicly but what he can do is NOT treat us as idiots who, if we take his comments as accurate, must question our own understanding of football and how it should be played.

Yes, he had selection problems with injuries to a number of probable starters but his solutions and tactics were just dreadful.

““We could’ve probably been a bit higher in terms of our attacking threat in the first half” NSSherlock, better still, we could have had an attacking threat, “but we were in control”, no we weren’t, Denmark were the better team for the first 45 minutes, “and that’s unsurprising given where the players are at.”, er what?

“In the second half we started to accelerate the game with the changes we made when we felt in control. Mason [Mount] and Jack [Grealish] in midfield made us more forward thinking.” So Southgate thought that once in control of the game (he said we had that in the first half!) he would change the £120m rated attacker, Jadon Sancho, for someone who had never played that role before and would give Grealish just 15 minutes to make an impact on his debut, again in a position he doesn’t normally play. Or better still Gareth, put a fu**in forward on to play a forwards role!

“I think [Kieran] Trippier has had two excellent games for us”, you and Mrs. Trippier, no one else does, probably not even Kieran himself.

Southgate has now had as many 0-0 draws as Roy Hodgson, in 13 less games, his teams reflect his personality, uninspiring, boring, “safe”, cautious, rigid or put simply, beige!

This was Denmark and with possible arguments for Schmeichel and Eriksen, none of their players would make it into a combined Xl, yet we wanted “stability”, “control” and “a platform”, no, what we wanted was a team to attack.
Howard (Belgium will destroy us) Jones


…Can we have some nuance about Gareth Southgate?
Somewhere between ‘he’s rubbish he’s got to go’ and the whole ‘blood from a stone, England’s most mediocre bunch since 1992’ (personally I think Roy Hodgson had to attempt this).
Southgate has done some things right and some wrong. The shift in culture around the squad has been great, he’s articulate and considered, we did well in the last Nations League, we’ve won on penalties and World Cup 2018 was such a fun ride. Albeit chickens came home to roost when we collapsed against a decent but not brilliant Croatia.
However, Southgate has been lucky in some ways. Obviously with the draw in 2018 and also being the man to follow the 2016 Iceland debacle (apart from one-win Alladyce), which even by previous England tournament standards was an aberration.
Iceland aside look at England’s recent-ish Euro and WC results. Even in 2016 we beat a decent Welsh side, were unlucky to only draw with Russia and got the very laboured point we needed against Slovakia.
In 2014 we were out after losing to Italy and Uruguay – both better sides than any we beat in 2018.
2012 was a draw with France, victory against Ukraine in Ukraine and another Sweden victory. Then a quarter loss on penalties to a decent Italy side.
Laboured points in 2010 got us into the knockouts before being blown away by resurgent Germany.
None of this is great and 2018 was an improvement, but is the difference really very much when you take into account the quality of the opposition?
Particularly given Southgate’s seeming distrust of creative players and love of runners and workhorses.
This meant we couldn’t keep hold of the ball to relieve the pressure from Croatia, so lost as winnable semi final as you’re likely to get.
And I think it was this addiction to defensive/creatively limited midfielders that was also responsible for the two insipid displays this week.
It’s not like we don’t have potential options. Fair enough Foden played in Iceland and was correctly sent home for his idiocy.
But Grealish not being selected ahead of Phillips? An excellent season in the Championship was enough to get the Leeds player the nod. So why not for Grealish 12 months ago? And certainly now when he’s backed that up with a decent season in the Premier League.
And if you do want to try Phillips no problem, but perhaps instead of Rice. Maddison, although fading/injured as last season progressed is another who has been previously ignored despite form.
We are crying out for ball players as even our perceived creative outlets seem more reliant on pace and movement than touch and craft.
After all this I guess what I’m saying is I’m not confident Southgate will fix this problem but he has the credit in the bank to be given time to find the right balance.
Protecting a shaky defence is all well and good but extra defensive midfielders can be a false economy if they can’t retain decent possession.
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester (I know I go on when it comes to England)


…I didn’t watch the England games. It’s probably a blessing, judging a team is rarely helped by the recency bias afflicted by watching them. We could have been reigning World Champions and the apparent dirge served up would have people moaning and stating we are going backwards. Obviously, that term is meaningless, anything that isn’t a victory following on from a win is, ultimately, a backwards step. The reality; this is pre-season friendly fare against middling opponents, offering little and low-value data for ascertaining relative performance means we should generally ignore the games and look back at the last 2-3 years for insight into England’s relative performance. Right now, judging the potential player pool would offer as much insight as anything regarding England’s prospective chances in the upcoming Euro’s.

And here I would strongly disagree with Tom Reed’s assessment on the quality, or lack thereof, at England’s disposal. If we are to take a look at a possible starting 11 for the coming summer, and a few options around that, the picture has rarely been rosier.

Our weakest position is GK and Pickford, though we have Henderson at Man U, who might improve that position should he manage to oust De Gea this season.

Right back we have TAA, recently crowned young player of the year, 21 yrs old, rated the best, most valuable full back in the world. Centre backs are Maguire, the most expensive defender in the world, alongside 23 year old, prem and European cup winning Joe Gomez. Left back £50m 23 year old Chilwell. Our backups include 22 year old £50m Aaron Win Bassaka, a defensive orientated back up to the more attacking TAA, also the set piece specialist, European based, Simeone trained Trippier, young and talented Reece James and versatile Kyle Walker. In the centre we have Stones, Mings, Tarkowski, Coady, Tomori or even Smalling as additional options, its not super strong, but its more than adequate. Left back there are some weaknesses past Chilwell, with Sessegnon too young and inexperienced, and also playing farther forward and Luke Shaw looking fairly indifferent despite the early hype. Perhaps someone like Jamal Lewis, wanted by Liverpool and just bought for £20m by Newcastle, could develop this year into a viable alternative?

Our midfield comprises Liverpool captain, FWA player of the season, Jordan Henderson who will almost certainly play in a defensive role (which he has played superbly for Liverpool over the last few years), and 2 from a quite incredible list of technically gifted, creative playmakers and/or box-to-box midfielders: The list starts with 20 year old sensation Phil Foden playing an increasingly important role for one of the best teams in the world under the guidance of renowned manager Pep Guardiola, 23 yr old outstanding talent James Maddison, 21 year old Mason Mount, 24 year old Jack Graelish whose return of 8 goals and 6 assists last season for relegation threatened Villa is depressingly undervalued. They complement the established, proven options like Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Harry Winks, Dele Alli, Barkley and Loftus Cheek. These are players that have either played in finals, been involved in chasing league titles or won major European and domestic honours. The defensive players like 21 year old Declan Rice, Ward-Prowse, Delph and Kalvin Phillips should reasonably need only cover for Henderson. Then there is the even younger prospects coming through, and there are many, like Cantwell, Gibbs-White, Curtis Jones, Choudhury and Jude Bellingham, who in the latter’s case already showed enough promise for a major European club (and one renowned for spotting top talent) to come in and spend tens of millions on a 17 year old Championship player.

Up front things have arguably never been better. Kane will start. He is a internationally proven goal scorer in his prime years. He is the most valuable No. 9 in the world, and his consistent return over 4-5 years is more evidential than 2 Nations League’s games. Either side you will likely have Sterling, playing under Pep at City. He has a goals and assists record over the last 2 years to compete with the best players across Europe. He is 25 years old and would likely start for any team in the world. The other side is his protégé. Sancho is 20 and wants to win multiple Ballon d’Or’s. That is his ceiling. The fact he was the subject of 9 figure transfer bids, in Coronavirus times, that his club rejected, shows 2 things. Firstly, his club (who know his talent better than anyone) believe his value will not be undermined by decreasing performance. And that his value is at least the £100m quoted. That constitutes a pretty sensational forward line. The fact some of the backup could go on to be better is truly remarkable. Greenwood has all the hallmarks of a generational talent to match that of Foden and Sancho. Supremely technically gifted, the smitten Southgate gave only bits away before he was booted out the squad, but as a Liverpool fan I was aghast at his purring. The boy is going to be a star. That he casts shade on his 22 yr old teammate Rashford, despite the return of 17 goals league goals says a lot. But Rashford is increasingly showing his all-round talent. Now injury free, Danny Ings has proven that he is exactly of the quality Liverpool thought, 22 league goals is extraordinary for a team that was fearing relegation at Christmas. Bukayo Saka is my tip for a top addition. He reminds me a lot of a young Sterling with his low centre of gravity and tight dribbling allied with remarkable strength. 22 year old Tammy Abraham and 19 year old Hudson-Odoi have struggled of late but have shown their talent, while Eddie Nketiah and Brewster are showing with the U21’s they should be watched.

If you compare our front 3 to top international teams it adds some important context. Brazil’s current front 3 of Jesus, Richarlison and Firmino or Spain who have used 6 different players across the front 3 in the last 2 games. These were Rodrigo, Torres, Navas, Moreno, Olmo and Fati. I would argue none of those 9 players would displace the current England 3, though Spain’s is very youth orientated with, in particular, Fati and Torres no doubt having lots of potential.

As for Southgate, international management has always suited him. Man management is heightened in importance during stressful and intense tournaments, while tactical sorcery is reduced thanks to the reduced time available for managers to coach players, correspondingly, the ultimate quality of the players becomes increasingly the differential. Southgate was a decent club coach, but could be a very good international manager. Ideally, you want simple tactics that are well drilled, some set-piece routines and hopefully a little positional variation for different opponents. Other from that, keep the squad happy, focused and relaxed as much as possible. Importantly, he seems a good man, honest and intelligent, attributes which will earn respect amongst the squad while keeping him out of the papers for dodgy deals with fake sheikh’s.

None of this means we will win, but pragmatically, and with some of the international baggage off the players shoulders after a semi final and penalty shootout win, we are in a pretty decent place 9-10 months before a major tournament.
Ed Ern


…I didn’t watch last night’s England game because I don’t have Sky sports and, for reasons that are now beyond me, I consented to get our first family dog, which my wife collected yesterday so I spent the evening following it around the house to avoid it pooping on my carpet* rather than head to the pub.

I digress. While I’m sure the performance was pretty much as stodgy as all the reports suggested, I do think the reaction from both sides of the aisle is a bit overblown. “Worst set of England players since 1992”, Tom Reed? Really? We were clearly understrength last night, so try not to get carried away with the underlying quality in English football. And I don’t doubt there were some poor performances, but to those calling for Southgate’s head let’s please not pretend that this was anything other than a friendly and therefore a chance to blood some new players and play around a bit with systems.

Should England have done a bit better? Probably. Southgate was still able to call upon one of the best full-backs in the world, three of the best attacking players in world football a centre half currently in the starting eleven for the reigning, record-breaking Premier League champions. That they all had muted performances is surely just as likely to be a function of either the complete insignificance of the game or that they’re not match fit, as it is a sign of the manager’s inability to organise and motivate them. And he did have to start with a right back at left wing-back. And field Eric Dier.

Is this the death knell of English football, though? Has the manager been spinning straw into gold for the last few years? For a variety of reasons, last night we were missing two of the preferred members of a back three (Maguire and Walker), first choice left back (whoever that is at the moment… Chilwell?), Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson shouting and pointing a lot in midfield, Marcus Rashford’s pace and trickery. We’ve also got a lot of really good players not in the starting XI who could be absolutely firing after a few domestic games under their belts – Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Grealish, Barclay, Maddison, Winks, Oxlade Chamberlain, even Dele Alli or John Stones (probably requiring a move in the latter case) might rediscover some magic. Might not quite be a Golden Generation, but there were some ropey players given caps in friendlies under Sven, too. Michael Ricketts, anyone?

And maybe lay of Jordan Pickford a bit. I know the stats don’t lie and he has had a slightly shonky season for the Toffees, but he was on course for a knighthood after Russia 2018 and I think he’s earned the right to be judged on his England performances, which continue to yield clean sheets. Is he in the top 2 or 3 keepers in international football currently? No. By definition, most aren’t. We arguably haven’t had a keeper in that bracket since Spunky. He’s not Manuel Neuer, but neither are Henderson or Pope. Let’s wait until he has made an actual mistake before we give him a kicking.

I’m not actually sure what my point is. I don’t want Southgate fired or any of the current squad to have effigies burned in the street. I also wouldn’t want to dampen down the expectations coming off of the back of a solid WC2018, where a well-organised and united group of individuals, peppered with some really high quality performers, gave a better account of themselves in a major tournament than any England team in a generation. Neither the manager, nor the players have become useless overnight. In all, I think 0-0 against any team currently in FIFA’s top 20 ranked teams, in a pre-season friendly behind closed doors, with a handful of missing key players, is about par for the course so let’s try to have a little perspective.

* I failed. It did. Twice.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames


…I was expecting the “Southgate out” emails today (after picking up four points in two away games and shipping zero goals) and when I logged in, I wasn’t disappointed. As most contributors use pen names I’m unable to confirm which big teams they work with, but it must be one of the top sides as they are all expert coaches and have an insight into the whys and wherefores of the national side.

But what if they are not professional football managers and are just guessing? What if Southgate is using the nations league to blood youngsters in a less important competition? What if, as he hinted, he’s trying a new formation he might need against a top team, but using it against a more limited opponent when getting a pants down thrashing and the loss of confidence that goes with it is far less likely? Would you really want to use a new defence oriented formation for the first time against Holland in the Euro quarter finals for instance? Or would you give it a shot against, let’s say Denmark away, to see what works and what doesn’t? While loading the team with all the attackers he can squeeze in then winning 4-2 might please the Sky Sports subscribers, in what way does it advance the England cause?

For ref England’s last 15 competitive games – W10, D3, L2, F47-A8. Not even a sackable offence at Barca.
Al McBoro


…Not defending anyone but BadWolf kicking off because England only played 3 attackers out of 11 should take a look at how Liverpool lined up to beat pretty much everyone!
Paul, Wirral


Ronaldo’s record – is it all that?
Cristiano Ronaldo has now a quite impressive record for the Portugal national team (101 international goals!). Here’s the list by country:
Goals by opponent
Lithuania 7, Sweden 7, Luxembourg 5, Andorra 5, Armenia 5, Latvia 5, Estonia 4, Faroe Islands 4, Hungary 4, Netherlands 4, Belgium 3, Denmark 3, Northern Ireland 3, Russia 3, Spain 3, Switzerland 3, Azerbaijan 2, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2, Cameroon 2, Cyprus 2, Czech Republic 2, Egypt 2, Kazakhstan 2, Saudi Arabia 2, Argentina 1, Croatia 1, Ecuador 1, Finland 1, Ghana 1, Greece 1, Iceland 1, Iran 1, Morocco 1, New Zealand 1, North Korea 1, Panama 1, Poland 1, Serbia 1, Slovakia 1, Ukraine 1, Wales 1.

Total 101

Crazy stuff! … However, I can’t see any goals scored against the super-powers of Brazil, Germany, Italy, France, Uruguay … and England – winners of 18 WCs between them!
What was the name for this?!
Radoa (just joking), Sofia


Crap kits
Just to follow up on the discussion of football kits – maybe I’m just getting old but some of this season’s Premier League kits are truly repulsive. If I’m going to spend 40 or 50 quid on a shirt, it’s got to look good, or at least not objectively unpleasant. The Arsenal raspberry ripple away shirt looks like a close-up of an old person’s leg.

City’s crazy paving home shirt is horrible (bizarrely the Paisley-effect away one looks kind of cool, in a pyjama-y way), United’s bus-seat-pattern home shirt is naff and although I’ll need to see it on the pitch, I suspect the zebra-hide away shirt is terrible too. The Wolves blue away shirt is baffling and looks like it was put together by committee, and West Brom’s away shirts take a bad idea (the OCD-triggering barcode home shirts) and make it worse. Liverpool’s blue away shirt channels the abstract, psychedelic design of some classic 90s kits, but without the necessary geometric discipline (says this observer who’s never designed anything in his life).

Kudos to West Ham though, who have produced three bangers (the black and gold away top is a cracker) and to Everton for their home shirt. Given that I don’t really care if people know who I support or not, I’ve put in for the Loch Ness FC away shirt (black and gold with mini Nessies knocking about) for my birthday next month. The FC Isle of Man home kit is on the shopping list too, once the five-a-side pitches have re-opened so I can justify buying more football shirts.

Dan, Hassocks


At least one article a day worth reading…
As someone who used to be a mailbox regular who barely writes in any more (I don’t have the energy to argue about who the best tier 2 manager is any more!), I just wanted to let you all know that I still love your work and visit the site every day.

The mailbox is usually fantastic (enjoying the current discussion about politics in football with both sides making good points) and there is usually always at least one article a day worth reading.

The England player ratings had me laughing out loud today with the description of Declan Rice and there was even a chess reference. Where else can you get that in one article?

Even Johnny Nic has been far more hit than miss recently. The England kit one was something that needed saying for a long time but more articles where he watches football with his wife would also be most appreciated. That one was pure gold!

Anyway, I know complaining seems to be the way to go these days but I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.
Adonis (bring back the brackets) Stevenson, AFC



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