All the explanations Liverpool can wait to complete off Fulham…

Fulham grudge
Can I just go on record to state that I would rather seen United win than Fulham and I genuinely hope we stuff ’em this weekend. I’ll be singing “going down” with gusto as I stand in the Putney End. Remember, this is a club and set of fans who supported a known paedophile – even erected a f*cking statue of him in their ground.

There’s plenty of things to dislike – Wetched Woy, Paul F*cking Konchesky, sh*t ground and more recently that stupid programme article which was as funny as syphilis.

I hope they never darken the Premier League again.
Gregory Whitehead, LFC

 

Pele good, Maradona better, George Best
The tedious argument who is the best player what with Ronaldo and Messi smashing all records I thought I would give you my input.
Rob from Bristol states that Pele was and still is the best, sorry to burst your bubble but Pele although great was over rated, played his entire career in Brazil for Santos (apart from his New York stint) and played in the finest International side of it’s time surrounded by fantastic players. Now the clue is in the question who is the Best? I give you the flawed genius of George Best the official best player to ever play this wonderful game, he may not have set the International world alight playing for Northern Ireland but El Beatle was without doubt the most gifted footballer ever to kick a ball. Has Pele ever necked 5 bottles of Bollinger copped off with Miss World then the next day score a hat trick on a pitch that looked like a potato patch? George has and more than once, fearless and two footed he scored and created goals for Matt Busby’s United including the decisive goal in the 1968 European Cup. After the untouchable Georgie I would put Maradona a player who took an unfashionable team of Italian cloggers single handedly to the Serie A title, again a flawed genius but a genius none the less.
Paul Murphy, Manchester (Never see George advertising a pill for a droopy cock)

…Wow, Sam, Liverpool really missed the irony in that post…

Also Pele is not the “GOAT” Half of his goals came in friendlies or made up games that no one can actually verify whereas Messi and Ronaldo are doing it on the biggest stage year in year out.

Top Ten:
1. Messi
2. Ronaldo
3. Best
4. Garrincha
5. Maradona
6. Ronaldo
7. Maldini
8. Cruff
9. Pele (grudgingly)
10. Zidane

Honourable mentions: Baresi, Beckenbaur, Eusebio, Charlton, Grealish, Abraham etc..
Josh (Keane is my personal favourite of all time) MUFC

 

Job done for Arsenal
A few thoughts from Arsenal v Rennes.

Arsenal did exactly what was needed, far too many times we’ve been slow starters, but in some of the big home games this season Arsenal have pressed early, played forward quickly and got an important early goal.

Arsenal also got that little bit of luck you sometimes need in a knock out tie. 2nd goal was offside, I think the linesman must have been distracted by the Arsenal player who was miles offside but didn’t go for the ball.

Aubameyang is a great goalscorer but he does miss some easy chances, since Xmas there must be at least 10 chances you’d expect him to score 8/10 times. Should have had a hat trick but had to settle for 2 goals and an assist.

Rennes would really have been better placed actually playing football rather than their one tactic seeming to be to get Arsenal down to 10 men. Rennes have some dangerous players but the level of play acting and gamesmanship took any rhythm out of the game and pretty much surpassed anything I’ve seen at the emirates including teams like Barcelona in their gamesmanship hey-day

The Latvian ref seemed slightly overawed by the whole thing. Both sets of players saw he wasn’t in total control and so it became a funny game where player pressure won too many decisions. Is it time to stop the ‘everyone gets a go’ system and just, you know, appoint the best refs irrespective of nationality for Europe’s premier and secondary club completions

Is there something in the rules that states a player must receive a yellow card for donning a mask after scoring? If this comes under the same rule of ‘excessive celebration’ for taking your shirt off then where does it stop? What about the annoying, elaborate and lengthy handshake/bump routines, or any other pre rehearsed celebration? Talk about sucking the fun out of the best moment in football. Time to change the rule

Emery once again got his subs right. Iwobi and Mkhitaryan added some additional drive and played a part in the important 3rd goal at just the right time.

6 English teams in the QF, today’s draws are going to need a mailbox of their own
Rich, AFC

 

Love for Giroud
A perfect hat trick for Giroud tonight putting him on 9 goals and top scorer in the Europa league. Not a bad nights work for a non scoring back up striker, criminally underrated as a player.
Aaron. CFC. Ireland

 

WTF, FAI
Can’t tell if Irish writers are p*ssed at Gareth for selecting Declan Rice for the England squad or their FAI? But DC, BAC’s email today saying that Southgate should get himself off to Donnybrook to see the ‘England’ stars of the future did p*ss me off.

Look, my parents are Irish and I have a ton of relatives from Ireland but was born in England and continuously see posts and emails from them as if England are stealing their players. Players that were born in England, play for English clubs and trained at English academies. Whose link to the country might only be one grandparent.

Ireland’s best years most recently have been when managed by Englishmen, Charlton and McCarthy and not pure Irishmen. Ireland have used 86 players born in England. But it doesn’t stop there, no, with 7 from Scotland, 5 from Northern Ireland and 1 from Wales. Ireland have done well out of poaching overseas talent, so much so that it beggars belief at all the whining over Declan Rice Southgate has been very professional and understanding in all this and doesn’t deserve the jibes.

What they should be p*ssed at are their own FAI. They are an unbelievably incompetent bunch. If they are going to steal back English talent it should be somebody to run their FAI.
Paul McDevitt

 

Chicken and egg
Has Steven Chicken managed to alienate everyone in the mailbox with his article on Writers v Analysts? This was about the mails right? Steven captured the ultimate futility of many of the debates between the scientific Stattos and the artistic Emos. No one changes their opinion and why would or should they? We back our teams through whatever means. Some people go to stats as first choice others go to prose. We never change our team allegiance and bias and therefore opinion.

Loved the article mainly because of the link to terrible sea lions. I’m less Statto than Emo. Generally skip mails when hit by numbers (Xg???). This article has moved Steven up my F365 contributor’s ladder. Only Sarah Winterburn and Phil Neville (vicariously) stand in his way. More please.
David lfc

 

Show your working
I felt I had to write a quick(ish) response to Cole’s “Poch’s performing as he should” mail earlier as it was based on a totally ridiculous premise. I would guess it was probably an attempt at trolling Spurs fans but more and more in life it becomes difficult to know. Anyway I will bite…..

Cole doesn’t mention where he gets the MVs from other than to say “this is done with realistic lineups and current MVs”. The first thing to say on that is that it is incredibly vague and subjective and without any detail of the data to support it, it is pretty much worthless. The second thing to note is that it appears to be analysing only the first eleven “lineup” which is a nonsense. He mentions in fact that “if” Bernardo Silva was “slid in” it would increase City’s squad value by 40m. What?! He is arguably their player of the year yet he isn’t included in their “realistic” squad? There are other flaws in that the MV of the player will also largely be determined by how long he has left on his contract and how old he is, neither of which has a huge effect on how good that player is at the point of measurement.

However the main problem with the whole concept is that the player’s market values (wherever he is taking them from) are derived from the performances of the player and their team on the pitch which in turn are largely a result of the manager’s performance. Cole seems to entirely miss this point and says “in fact Liverpool oddly would have a much lower valued squad if it weren’t for the favourable increases in TAA, Robertson, Firmino, Salah and Mane values: (260 million in total)”. There is nothing odd about it. When the MV of the players in a squad increase then the value of the squad increases. Klopp took TAA and Robertson and improved them massively and thus their market values increased massively. Firmino was being ridiculed as a waste of money under Rodgers and used by one journo as a stick to beat Edwards and his laptop and is now lauded under Klopp. Mane and Salah cost a combined £70m and are now both in the elite band of attackers in world football. It would be insane to suggest that all of these things were not primarily a result of the work Klopp has done in his role. Would you look at Robertson for example and say Klopp is getting exactly what he should be from Robertson because he is the highest valued left back in the league? No you would say it was brilliant work on behalf of the manager and his recruitment team to spot the talent when nobody else did, get the player for such a pittance (in modern football terms of course) and get him to the level he is currently performing at.

So in response to the opening question which was “does Pochettino constantly get praised by Media because we evaluate spurs players on prices purchased” the answer is “yes because that is a much better way to evaluate the performance of a manager than the one you have proposed”.
Gherkin (lol @ “since I am an accountant”), Belfast

 

…I’m afraid the only thing we learn from Cole’s email is that once again stats and figures, without context, can be used to “prove” anything.
The biggest glaring hole in his workings is how the manager actually affected these values. Using his Robertson example, there’s no doubt that his current value owes significantly to his natural ability along with his well documented work ethic and determination. However, I don’t think you’ll find even Klopp’s biggest detractors deny that he has played a part in Robertson’s rise to his current valuation.

To highlight the problem with Cole’s findings, lets take a fictional lower-table team with a starting XI bought for a grand total of 30M. A fictional manager takes over, and over the course of a couple of season, the players transform and are playing like scientists found a way for Messi and Ronaldo to have children together. Now all of a sudden this 30mil team has a total expected sale value of 680M. But as amazing as they play, they are pipped to the PL post by Pep’s 679M team. By Cole’s logic Pep is the manager that is over-performing and this fictional manager is the under-performing one.

There are many ways to judge whether a manager is over or under performing, but this certainly isn’t one of them. In fact, Cole’s own table belies the point it’s trying to make. Poch performing “doing apparently exactly as he should be” is only relative to those around him. Just like the article a week or two back stating that Liverpool finishing second would by nothing close to failure, Cole’s logic ignores a scenario where Poch could actually be indisputably over-performing, yet be classed as “under performing” simply because other managers are over-performing more than he is.

So in answer to his question; No, Poch doesn’t get praised by the media because we evaluate players on prices purchased. He gets praised because he’s doing a great job.
Big D, Luxembourg.

 

CL reaction
Regarding Ferg, Cork’s missive in the afternoon mailbox: Agreed, I don’t hear German and Spanish fans complaining about how their leagues are more difficult and put them at a disadvantage… probably because they are (mainly) in Germany and Spain or (mainly) complain in German/Spanish on fußball365 or fútbol365* respectively.

So where do you get this nonsense notion that all the whining English fans complain about their lot where literally every fan of every other team in every other nation is the image of reasonable and well thought out conduct?

It’s patently untrue – for example, I can point you to at least one Football enthusiast in Ireland who deals in hyperbole and nonsense…

As for your comments regarding the English pundits getting carried away on British TV, directed at a British audience, the night an English team handily beats the German champions, meaning that for the first time in competition history half of all of the quarter finalists come from a single country, said country being England… you’re right, they’re monsters and must be stopped. Everybody knows you’re only allowed to get exited following three back-to-back Champions league wins nowadays.
Andy (MUFC)
*I assume F365 has monetised their winning formula by rolling it out world wide…but I don’t know for a fact because (presumably unlike Ferg) I don’t read all of the foreign language football press in order to form a definitive view of how the population of each country behaves.

 

Top draw
I’m not going to predict the Champions League draw, but I will predict the reaction on the internet if the following draws occur:

If we get two all English ties: “SEE! It’s a fix! UEFA have ensured that two English teams are eliminated!”
If the English teams avoid each other: “SEE. It’s a fix! UEFA are trying to make sure all the English sides are eliminated!”
If we get one all English tie: “SEE! It’s a fix! UEFA are trying to make sure that some English teams are eliminated, apart from the one team they favour for some reason!”

Every year. And god help us if Barcelona draw Porto. The tin foil hat brigade will go into meltdown.
Mike, LFC, Dubai

 

…Re: the topic of ideal draws, and specifically the idea of United v Liverpool. While this, on paper, sounds class, I think it would follow the vain of the recent PL games and be a snore-fest, possibly even more so. Both clubs would hate to lose this game so much, that I’d be afraid they’d forget how to win.

My ideal draw is as follows;

Man City v Juventus: The rock meeting the hard place. World class players, managers and styles coming up against each other, with the winner more than likely winning the tournament, the loser ultimately failing. Mouth-watering.

Barcelona v Man Utd: Another classic, and how would Barcelona deal with United on the counter – if they are fully fit? How would a rejuvenated United deal with Messi et al? Plus, all the extras, a Pogba audition, United back in a European heavyweight knockout game, OGS back in Barcelona. Tasty.

Liverpool v Spurs: Despite the rise in expectations, another QF appearance from Liverpool along with a close fought title challenge, possibly even the title, is a great season for Liverpool. Spurs would definitely be over-achieving in the semis, if they aren’t already (spoiler: they are). Plus, based on recent league games, a built up internet rivalry and both managers styles, it has the potential to be a classic two-legged fixture, like the English ties of the early noughties. Delish.

Porto v Ajax: Like someone else said, both not expected to be here, and both are left by default of the other draws. But hey, two underdogs and past winners in the QF, one of them has to make the semis, where anything can happen, and we all love the plucky underdog. Plus, all new Ajax fans would say they’ll spit roast Porto, and subsequently watch them crash and burn. Unpredictable.
Néill, Ireland

 

…Just a couple of draw predictions before this morning’s pre-determined – ahem, I mean perfectly legitimate, not at all arranged draw:

Barcelona vs Ajax
City vs Porto
Spurs vs Juventus
United vs Liverpool

Then (and I don’t know if they draw this today too but…):

Barca vs City
Juventus vs Liverpool

It would be really great if all the English clubs could avoid each other, but I think the odds are against that. It would just be nice if it wasn’t all building up to be Barca vs Juventus in the final, which I wouldn’t be surprised about in the least. I definitely think that an English team can win it, but it does rather depend on the draw, and which version of each team turns up. If Juve keep playing the way they did in the second leg this week then they could well go on to win it. Both Liverpool and City have shown good enough form regularly this season, whereas Spurs and United would both need a combination of favourable draws and a bit of luck to end up in the final. Ajax and Porto seem like the obvious underdogs but you never know – Ajax have played brilliantly at times in this campaign, so they could well spring a surprise.

If I could pick anyone for United then it probably have to be Porto but I don’t really mind as long as we don’t get another English team. Barca or Juve would be difficult matches for sure, but it’s easier to stomach going out to one of those two rather than one of your domestic rivals.
Ted, Manchester

Hurt or not
Carrying on from Gav, Ireland’s mail yesterday, I’ve thought the same thing but how to know if it’s a legitimate injury or not? The worst culprit I’ve seen is Didier Drogba, he was the master of needing treatment to then miraculously be 100% fit as soon as he’s over the touchline and is asking to come back on.

I’ve always thought that if a player is so badly injured that he needs treatment then he should be off the field for a minimum 2/3 minutes ‘for his safety’. If he’s so badly hurt that he needs treatment then it’s in his best interest to have the medical staff check him properly, if he’s not then get up and get on with the game.

I wonder how many incidents we’d see of players legitimately staying down in the 89th min onwards if they knew it meant they would be off the field for a minimum amount of time.
Sunny, Wolverhampton

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