Thanks for all your mails. Keep them coming for the afternoon mailbox:


Nice guys finish last
Great question by Mike LFC London. Southgate is a nice man. As saying goes nice man always finish last. In Southgate s case, semi final and runner. But let’s not kid ourselves. Southgate is not cut out for manager at international level let alone club level. I can see Southgate as a England manager a la Oliver Bieroff in the Germany set up. Southgate would be excellent for that role. He would leis-a between club and country. The bridge between club and country. But also the media.

If I were FA president, I would change Southgate’s role. Give him a promotion by creating a new position. Then hire the best manager who will work with Gareth. There is only one manager who I think will best suited to play fluid attacking football the all England fans are clamouring for—— his name is ROBERTO MARTINEZ. I understand he is not English but look at his cv. Played in premier league. Coached in premier league. Success in winning trophy at club level. He would be excellent for this version of England team. He works great with kids by bringing in Doku. He is great with media. I love his pundit work for CBS sports here in US. Never bad mouths his player. England can’t go wrong by hiring Martinez. As he has said many Time , he is attacking minded coach. He would be and excellent coach for England.

Thoughts on my suggestion for Martinez as England coach?
JP Music City


What gives over Gareth?
Kudos to Nitin on his well-written perspective. England ought to take a deep breath, shun all that is ugly and hateful, celebrate the recent footballing heights it has reached and, to add to Nitin’s list, give Gareth Southgate the credit he so well deserves. Instead, quite a few appear to be weighing the merits of #SouthgateOut when he has taken England leaps and bounds ahead of anything seen since five years before the country switched to a metric currency.
Ebrahim (Kane’s inconsistency makes him the weakest link), MUFC, Seattle


Emma for England
So a fair bit now being discussed about how to get more out of the England squad. Quite a bit seem to miss the point. There are many ways to set up a tram to play as we see week in week out in the PL and if you watch any of the other European leagues or completions.

Liverpool, for example, won the PL, CL and World Club competition without a regista or trequartista. They play a 4-3-3 where Liverpool’s high line, pressing and full backs provide much of the attacking impetus, coupled with 3 lively forwards. Man City, well, who knows some weeks how they are setting up, but are generally playing two attacking midfielders but not necessarily number 10s and have their left back come into midfield, so are really playing 3 at the back but not a traditional back 3 with 3 CBS, but using Walkers pace to cover across when needed. Some teams play a 4-4-2 but with a diamond so really 4-1-2-1-2, etc.

The point is that teams play different formations to suit the managers desired style or to better use the players at their disposal. Look at how much Chelsea have changed over the last few years between Conte, Sarri, Lampard and now Tuchel. Conte loves a 3-5-2 but even the way he played to win Serie A is different than at Chelsea with only one pivot not two (partly based on available resources.)

So to England. We did well with what we had. Before the tournament we would have killed for a final. The team had been inconsistent, we had players in European finals turning up later and several key players coming off injuries. The two DMs was to overcome the paucity of central midfield talent snd concerns at CB. The latter proving not to be an issue in the end but the two DMs did an okay job. But playing 2 DMs does limit England where the real talent lies. But that doesn’t mean we need a Jorginho or regista to get the most out of this tram either.

Phillips has the engine to cover a lot of ground, can bring the ball out and has a decent range of passing. He can be the DM on the same way Liverpool use Fabhino, for example. This would free up space for another more attacking player.

Also, with so many decent attacking full backs at our disposal, we could provide width through the full backs. We used Shaw well, but other than the first minute of the final, seem to keep back on the right side. It’s okay to play Sterling on the left and a left footer on the right, if you have a full back that can overlap to provide the width. This keeps the opposition pinned back and having to think harder about position.

With Bellingham and Foden maturing, Sancho likely to get more exposure at Utd, Greenwood coming on strong and players like Elliott, Eze, Lamptey, DaSilva and Skipp likely to get more game time before Qatar, this squad could change as much as from the last WC with some exciting talent.

Finally, when Southgate does go, how about a real left field shout out for Emma Hayes. She offered more insight than all the male ex-pros. She showed she knows her stuff. It would be huge exposure for her.
Paul McDevitt


Emma Hayes is setting standards on the touchline and in the media


Regista redux
I am glad that there is so much discussion of the regista role following my mail yesterday. Josh may have brought up another solution, but we might need to change the way we play first.

Wait and see on TAA, Foden, Bellingham:  TAA seemed to be my least popular suggestion. Rob, Leicester reminds us that TAA does not currently play that role; I was advocating for him to be converted into it as Pirlo and Guardiola (+ Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Kimmich?) were. Bernard provided the most compelling reason why it would not work: he is not great in tight spaces. But the idea is clearly on Southgate’s radar.

On Foden, glad that Bernard agrees that Foden’s technique makes him a candidate for conversion to the regista role. With KDB ageing, I hope that we see it earlier at City than Rob thinks.

By far my most popular suggestion was for Southgate to have the same faith in Bellingham as Mourinho plus the bods at BVB seem to. How will he develop?

Let’s see what happens.

Not buying the running stats: Any support for the incumbents Rice and Phillips should not be based on the running and tackling stats that my counterpart JP across the Delaware River in New Jersey brings up. Well as those things reflect on the attitude of the two players, it is easy to argue that they are symptomatic of a team that cannot keep hold of the ball well enough when it has it. There is no need to recover possession if you do not lose it in the first place. The balance of the qualities and weaknesses in the team’s ball retention – against the top side in the tournament at any rate – is all encapsulated in that one stat: 34% possession.

But could it be Phillips all along? But after reading the afternoon mailbox, I am wondering whether Phillips could still be the answer, but with a tweak.

Leeds fan Josh suggested, in offering Phillips without Rice, that England is not using Phillips correctly. “He really is the Yorkshire Pirlo”.

You could easily argue that we do not have enough data to test this theory: because England did not attempt to play out from the back enough, and because Phillips was too high or Rice was in the way, we have no idea how good a progressor Phillips can be.

Going long too much: There is evidence for this: see the on-pitch debates between Stones, who wants to play out, and Pickford, who wants to go long. Of course, Stones playing out when he does not have Rodri, Fernandinho, or KDB to pass to, can go horribly wrong. But did we try it enough with the Yorkshire Pirlo? Look how often Pickford went long compared to Donnarumma.

It starts from the back: I was assuming that we were not playing out because we had no faith in our midfield: hence the long balls hence the low possession %. But does Pickford secretly worry that, as any keeper can pass the ball 10 yards to Stones, if his unique ability to locate Harry Kane’s solar plexus from 50 yards becomes redundant, then he will lose his place to a keeper whose beans are chilled when it comes to keeping the ball out of the net?

If Pickford keeps the ball out of the net too, maybe all we need is a change of tactics rather than personnel. But let’s tell Pickford that we are playing out and that, because Dean Henderson can keep the ball out of the net too, Pickford is not playing the next game if he goes long too much. At least try it against Albania and then in a friendly against top opponents.

If that does not work with Phillips, then we will be justified in looking for other options. But if we do solve the regista problem, Harry Kane will not be “disappearing” (= not getting the service) in big matches anymore.
Martin, Englishman in Pennsylvania, Damned sure we can solve this somehow


Johnny Nic: Attackers win matches, Chiellini wins titles


Red or yellow?
There was a post on the F365 Facebook page earlier today with a picture of Giorgio Chiellini firmly grasping the collar of Bukayo Saka’s jersey, and pulling him off his feet. The caption asks what colour card you would have given for this. The general consensus is that it’s a yellow, so let’s just get over it and move on. But the more I think about it, the less I’m convinced that’s the right answer.

When it happened my comment (by which I mean what I jumped up and shouted) was “That’s a horse collar tackle!”. A horse-collar tackle is a term used in the NFL to describe a manoeuvre where a defender grabs the collar of a ball carrier and yanks him back in order to pull his feet out from underneath him. That sounds a lot like what Chiellini did to Saka. A horse collar tackle results in a 15 yard penalty in the NFL. The tackle is penalized because it is considered dangerous, and there is the potential for knee and ankle injuries or broken legs. This is particularly the case since the players legs can be trapped under them, as almost happened to Saka.
If Saka ends up with a broken leg or a torn up knee does Chiellini just get a yellow card? Maybe he does, I’m way past trying to understand how logic is applied in football.

Do red cards only get given out for kicks or headbutts? Do you just get a yellow for a clothesline tackle? When David Beckham kicked out at Diego Simeone it was petulant and stupid, but there was virtually no chance of any injury. How is intentionally dragging someone back with an action that could have potentially caused serious injury only worthy of a yellow?
It’s very likely that the referee made entirely the right call in this case. Maybe Jose Mourinho is correct, and Chiellini is a genius. It’s very possible that he was entirely aware of what type of dangerous and potentially career threatening move he could make, and only receive minimal punishment.

And if that’s the case it really should change.
Andrew, Canada


Kane’s record
Lee from Hornsey asks a perfectly valid question about Harry Kane and his lack of goals in the very biggest of matches. The truth Lee, is that there is no one single reason for his lack of goals – they are varied for each circumstance:

League Cup 2015: Young lad at 21/22, first ever Final; as with a lot of the team, only really just bursting onto the scene and not the prolific striker he’s now become

World Cup 2018 – yes he shot rather than passing, but that’s what a goal obsessed player does in that position the majority of the time. It’s why we specifically lavish praise about being unselfish on those who fight that instinct. Had he passed, it wouldn’t have changed his current stats.

CL Final: He was rushed back from one of his ankle injuries and simply asked to play when not fully fit. The better decision that day (with full 20/20 hindsight applied) was to have him on the bench and throw him on if we were chasing the game with 30 mins to go as a fox in the box working off Llorente knockdowns

League Cup Final: Spurs obviously sacrificed all hope in the game by sacking the boss 6 days out; and left the caretaker with minimal option but to play an ultra defensive approach against a City side that were absolutely flying at the time.

Euros Final: Had a good to very good first half, doing what he does so well for Spurs, dropping deep and then spreading the ball wide so that pacy wingers and wing-backs can run at the opposition defence. But then England retreated further and further into their low block (whether that was intentional or simply human nature for the players doesn’t really matter at the end of the day) and thus service to his feet dried up and outlets to pass the ball too when he did get it were too deep to have an impact and force the Italians into retreat.

So the TL;DR is: 1. young, 2. did what I expected, 3. injured, 4. tactically hobbled x2
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells


Why is Kane always anonymous when it really matters?


Harry holding us back
I couldn’t sleep last night, so I re-watched the final on iplayer, and thought I’d give some conclusions with a clearer head.

Firstly, it struck me how often Pickford went long from goal kicks/kicks from hand. In terms of playing out, Pickford is the one who needs to be setting the tempo, but instead he kept giving his best Peter Kay impersonation. However, as soon as Rice went off and we went to 433, Pickford immediately started going shorter, trying to play through (albeit with little success as the pattern of the game had long been set).

This had to be according to tactical instruction: Our Gareth isn’t silly. Southgate knows that Rice/our midfield in general is the weak link – Rices passing is average and his upper body is as rigid as Mourinho’s opinion on Luke Shaw. So, the team was set up to go long; the midfield geared to pick up the second balls – a tactic that’s made for Rice to make interceptions and drive forward. The final showcased Rice’s strengths and protected his flaws. He wasn’t asked to play on the half-turn or pick an intricate pass. For him to look excellent, England needed to play “low risk” (Route 1) football; so while Rice had a good game, Bonucci and Chiellini chewed up our long balls for breakfast.

These tactics also need Kane to be both target man and number 10: in the final he fell a long way short, embattled and exhausted. This may be an unpopular take, but in order to dominate the ball and take the team to the next level, this England team needs to outgrow Harry Kane. Against lesser CB pairings Kane has dominated them physically, and we have been able to progress up the pitch playing this way. Against the better sides we are pressed into a corner and reduced to turgid football.

More bodies in the midfield are needed. More energy in the press. More subtlety and flair with the likes of Foden or Smith Rowe pulling the strings. Swap Kane out for Foden, and Rice out for Bellingham and we would have a side that can dominate the ball and play through the lines. Mount, who failed to make a single positive contribution to the final, is replaced by a pacy winger in this system – take your pick from the long queue forming down Wembley Way.

When Southgate first took the job, he made the big call of unceremoniously easing Rooney out of the picture. Now he needs to do the same with a prematurely ageing Kane.
Rob S


Penalty pressure
In the Wednesday Afternoon Mailbox Harry, THFC bought up about penalties, now he states that “I’ve always found it absolutely maddening that anyone ever misses a penalty” and that they should practise them, instantly i would bring up the point about the pressure, which fair play to Harry he does bring that up when he said ” I appreciate the pressure changes the dynamics a bit, but that’s why you practice it until it’s just muscle memory.”

But you truly cannot underestimate pressure, you can never simulate pressure not truly, in a football sense when you practise you want to score, you want to improve and refine your penalty taking skill, but if you miss you get another go, however when taking a penalty in a shootout you do not get that second chance, you miss and the consequences are obvious and laid out, you mentally doubt yourself, the goalkeeper adding their own ways to put you off, the crowd cheering, booing or whatever, it all adds up, you can never simulate that on the training ground.

It is probably a very poor comparison but a fair amount of us here will know and have experienced stress within the workplace, deadlines that must be met, no excuses, the job we do day in and day out is probably muscle memory to us all, but add that bit of pressure and it does change how you perform, not sure if others would agree or disagree with my view on that.

Overall when it comes down to a Penalty Shootout you can practise as much as you like, but it will never be the same as the real high pressure situation.
Mikey, CFC


Selective breeding
There seems to be a lot of mails recently about what England should do to get over the final hurdle and actually win something this century so here’s a sustainable, long-term idea of how to achieve it: selective breeding.

Since humans progressed from hunter gatherers to farmers we’ve been doing it with livestock. Want a bigger cow? Breed the biggest bull with the biggest cow and increase your meat yield. Want a world-class striker for the England football team? Breed the England men’s team with the England women’s team and win the world cup.

What’s more, as the number of generations increases the footballers would become more refined and England would be unstoppable in about a hundred years’ time.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying let’s make GM footballers, that would be weird.


Johnny Nic: Should we try to ‘get’ England tw*ts or just batter them?


Can’t handle the booze
In response to Fatman’s mail yesterday, I have to disagree that’s the behaviour of English fans is down to alcoholism culture.

Alcoholism is certainly a blight on society in many ways, and what happened in and around Wembley was certainly alcohol fuelled (and cocaine assisted by many accounts) it doesn’t explain the descent into violent disorder and racist abuse.

Irish football supporters love our drink, but we are welcomed wherever we go and cause almost zero trouble in any stadia or city we visit.

And it doesn’t appear to be inherent in being English either. English rugby fans generally conduct themselves with dignity and respect of the opposition. English fans at Wimbledon, motorsport or the Olympics seem fine also.

Time and again there is evidence of a sickness at the heart of English football. Charleroi, Marseille, Landsdowne Road, Heysel. Naked aggression and tribalistic hatred of the opposition is not just tolerated among English football fans, but worn as a badge of honour, as evidence of having “passion”, whatever that means.

To the outside observer the steps that have to be taken in England in terms of policing and stewarding, even at ordinary premier league games, just to keep fans of opposing teams separated is mind boggling. That such heavy measures are required as a matter of course is simply taken for granted because the English footballing culture expects fans to want to tear into each other at the slightest provocation.

And while I admire Gary Neville in many respects, his defence of those fans booing during anthems on the basis they aren’t causing real harm, leaves a bad taste. Why is it so hard to be respectful Gary? And if your fans won’t do so, don’t act surprised that the FA are unable to convince other countries to vote for England to host an international football tournament.

When harnessed and directed positively, the atmosphere that English fans are capable of generating is truly extraordinary, but too often this loyalty/devotion is expressed in ways that are reprehensible, mired in hate and violence.

The UK & Ireland 2030 World Cup bid is likely dead in the water at this point and many may find that terribly disappointing. However, if those involved in governing English football refuse to confront the deep seated culture of aggression that corrupts a significant portion of its fanbase and instead simply write it off a few bad apples, then perhaps it is better for all concerned that football never comes home.
Robert Vard


…Irish fans were sh*tfaced from sunrise to sunset at Euro 2016 and not only did they not disgrace themselves, assault people or break into stadiums, the helped clean up, they sang songs to locals(even a lullaby to a baby), they stopped other fans from being overly rowdy, they brought the party and earned awards for it all.

Alcohol can unleash the devil- but you have to have a devil first.
Calvino (Less fear, more Love- that’s my cure)


Fat man is absolutely right that alcohol is a major contribution to antisocial behaviour at football matches. Pity then that the latest multi million pound football stadium built in the U.K. has an in-house brewery that boasts it can serve 1000 pints per minute. That’ll help !!!
Thin boy


Prem advantage
Now the Euros are over attention will shift to club football. Watching the players from the Premier league’s top six teams toil and run themselves to the ground for the best part of a month after a grueling and compacted season, I wonder if some teams might be at an advantage in terms of player fitness.

In about a month’s time the league will resume and Man Utd could start the season without up to 7 key players in Maguire, Shaw, Rashford, Sancho, Fred and De Gea due to being involved in the latter stages of the Euros and Copa America as well as injuries.
Same with Man City missing Sterling, Foden, Walker, Jesus, Ferran Torres and Rodri.

Chelsea are also affected but Liverpool are largely unaffected with Mane, Sallah, Van Dijk, and Gomez turning up on the first day of pre-season. They are poised to lead the league in the early stages of the season. Arsenal also had Aubameyang and Pepe in their first game of pre-season.

Perhaps Liverpool might be caught by the chasing pack in mid season when the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon on 6th January. Considering that players have to be released by their clubs at least 2 weeks to the tournament, Liverpool could potentially be without key players such as Mane, Sallah and Naby Keita for up to 6 weeks stretching into February 2022.

Maybe it is better to have players returning late from the Euros and having a crappy start than losing players and momentum mid season.
Kwame William, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.


Another myth
As we all know, football is full of myths. The most recent one appears to be that Jorginho should have been sent off in the final on Sunday. This has been mentioned in several mails to the mailbox and in the comments section below, and even Football365 included it in their 16 conclusions. For years to come, we may hear how England lost the final, because the referee bottled it, when he should have red carded the Italian player. It is quickly being viewed as an established fact by many fans.

Meanwhile, if we look at the incident: There was no malice, no intent, no excessive force and he didn’t leave the ground. He trapped the ball, and his foot then slipped and hit Grealish’ thigh. Certainly not a red card offence. I wouldn’t even have given a yellow card, although I think the referee could be justified in doing so. Oh, and before you attack me for the above view, those are not my words, but the words of Mark Clattenburg, who was ESPN’s refereeing expert during the entire tournament here in the US. As one of the best referees of this generation, having seen the incident several times before making his comments, I do think his words carry some weight on the matter.
Let’s face it – football DID come home. It just dropped off its laundry, raided the fridge, pocketed all your cash and spare change before leaving again…
Tom K


The piece on England’s players needing “elite transfers” for the national team to succeed is the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever read on your site. Absolute garbage.

Italy just won the Euros using players from Sassuolo, Torino, Roma and Lazio – hardly what you’d call elite clubs under so-called elite coaches right now. Emerson made the squad – and played well – despite making just 2 Premier League appearances for Chelsea last season.

You know who clearly believed England players needed “elite transfers” to succeed? Guys like Sven-Goran Eriksson and Roy Hodgson, who would seemingly only pick players from supposedly top clubs. Didn’t get England far did it?

Have you not considered the idea that the current squad is better for the presence of players like Grealish, Kane, Rice and Phillips who haven’t got to try to compete in a squad that’s been bloated up beyond belief due to financial doping?

Your Mediawatch section constantly rails against the tabloids trying to sell players to these so called top clubs with so called top coaches (and yet I’d like to see Pep do a job where he can’t spend whatever he wants….). And now you’re doing the same. It’s a real letdown.
Scott, COYS


High-fives with Nathan Blake in ‘Spoons
Now that we’ve had the whole Euro thing done and dusted, there was kinda a tradition on Football 365 for ordinary non professional people like us to share some stories of a famous, or sometimes not so famous, footballers that we had met.

The thing is, and it is the preseason so let’s change tack on the current topic, has anyone ever met a famous football player? Just for the stories, can be anything. Any experience in reality with a player?

I’ll start if I have to. Nathan Blake said “What’s happening man” to me when I passed him in a Lloyds/Wetherspoons.I even got a high five.

That’s a high bar admittedly. Come on. There were some great stories before about F365ers meeting past or current players. This might be fun.

Anyone? Can you beat my Nathan Blake?
Johnny Ironballs

Source link