Thanks for your mails on Steven Gerrard and more in what could be a slow week. Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rumour has it that the Champions’ League last 16 draw was actually attempted three times, but the first, unpublished, draw was immediately voided after Lewis Hamilton came out first.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
How good was Aguero to finish on 427 career goals eh?
Why Gerrard suits management
Aston Villa fans must be pleased at the progress their team has made with Steven Gerrard. Having conceded 3 goals to Watford, Chelsea, Wolves and 4 to West Ham, even losing 1-0 to a Liverpool penalty is progress.
I enjoyed watching him talking to Jamie Carragher in a long interview which gives us an insight into his approach there.
Like many others, I’ve been following his managerial career North of the border and have felt for a long time that he’s ideally suited to management.
1. As captain for many years, he was used to leading a team anyway, on the pitch and in the dressing room. That’s got to be more of a consideration than what position someone played in, because it shapes his character and treatment of others.
2. Like all elite players, he can cast a critical eye on other players. He used to know in the first training session whether someone would be more Fernando Torres or Djibril Cissé. This sounds obvious – but managers have a record of poor signings, possibly influenced by other things than football ability. I’ll be intrigued by what signings he makes in January.
3. He’s been critical of, and learnt from, very diverse figures in the game: Houllier, Benitez, Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Rodgers, not to mention the England managers. Gerrard says he learnt a lot from Rodgers about attacking football but has clearly retained some of the Benitez-era defensive solidity.
4. Gerrard talked about adapting to different personalities, which indicates he’s not always going to be Mr Nice Guy and I don’t think he’ll stand for any mucking about.
Basically, all the attributes you need for a top manager. And with Villa he’s avoided basket case clubs like Watford or Newcastle. I hope he’s given a good amount of time to build a project.
Paul in Brussels (not his agent, honest)
Gerrard v Henderson? Really?
I’m no Liverpool fan, I like the team, hate the fans. But how the actual f*** is Steven Gerrard being compared with Henderson? It’s almost like comparing Henry to Nketiah, Scholes to Fred, Drogba to Lukaku,. Ronaldo to hmmm, … well no writer is that dumb.
Can we remind everyone who Steven George Gerrard was. There was a time when the FA Cup actually mattered, and the period between 2003 and 2007, Steven Gerrard was simply, unplayable. It was a time when Thierry Henry run rugged, Jose and Frank Lampard, John Terry, bulldozed everyone, Rooney and Ronaldo were coming through, Arsenal went unbeaten, but for me the best player in the league, was Stephen Gerrard. That FA cup goal, against West Ham, ohh my god, glorious. He kept it up, keeping Liverpool relevant, when they had no business being relevant. The common saying was , “With Steven Gerrard”
Italian clubs aren’t viewed the same way anymore, but there was a time when AC Milan or Inter we’re the bizness,i t was almost an expected loss, and at half time Liverpool were losing by three goals. A Liverpool led by Gerrard level the game and go on to win it in one of the most dramatic finals ever.
And to add to the accolades, his goals, he scored remarkable goals, iconic goals. Just watch his highlights. So for someone to put Henderson next to Steven Gerrard’s name. It’s disrespectful. Mo Salah, I’ll give you that, Henderson? Get the f*ck out of here.
Not hating on Henderson, if he is reading this, but you nowhere close to Steven Gerrard, and it’s fine. Some of them are just special. Great at what you do, but when someone suggested you are like Gerrard, well, I drew a line.
Dave (Is it too difficult to respect the greats), Somewhere
The next Arsenal captain should be…
I was never convinced with Auba getting the nod for the captaincy.
To me, like Laca, he’s associated with the club’s recent past of never being held accountable for poor performances and his attitude reflects that.
I’m not sure what he did. I’m not sure we’ll ever know. But I’m fine with Arteta’s non negotiables – even his style of play does irk.
Picking a replacement is a tricky task.
Tierney was a shoe in a year ago but he’s been in and out of the team. Ramsdale would be a superb choice but he’s only months into his Arsenal career – as is Tomiyasu = who I absolutely love.
For me, the next captain has to be someone who reflects everything we are trying do and be as a club – so I would give the armband to Saka.
He’s young but Tony Adams was only 21 when he was given the armband and he remains our greatest captain ever.
Saka plays on the front foot, regularly plays for his country, links up well with his teammates, has a great attitude and wears the most revered number of all – that worn by the likes of Rosicky, Rocastle, Pires and Brady.
Come in number 7 – your time is now.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Sancho v Kane
I’m not one to usually pile on a player when it’s not going well, but a couple of seasons or so back a Man U fan wrote in saying he doesn’t understand the furore over Harry Kane, and that United to concentrate on signing Sancho over chasing Kane (a “lucky” player, apparently).
Now Harry isn’t having a good season, it has to be said, but if that is not a perfect example of someone basing their clubs transfer policy on what they hear, rather than what they see, I don’t know what is.
Now watch Sancho stick 3 in against PSG/Atletico now I’ve said it.
It’s sh*t supporting Everton
It’s only a matter of time before two things happen:
1: Ye add the tagline “even though it was only against Everton” to descriptions of good displays like Conor Gallagher’s.
2: Rafa doesn’t even appear in the Losers section because losing is just so routinely expected that its no longer noteworthy.
We are gonna at best just scrape survival. I actually can see us drop below Newcastle once they get a run going which they will eventually.
God I’m depressed.
Steve, Limerick, Ireland
In response to Darryl click-bait from Cape Town…
Like a statement from Trump or Johnson, it’s so wrong it’s difficult to know where to begin, but I’ll try. It seems you’re upset about something, and have come up with the ridiculous statement ‘what is the point of Burnley’, stated simply to get a reaction and/or give a channel for your anger. You may be a West Ham fan or someone who expects constant entertainment from your armchair (or both). I’m going to go with the latter as I’m sure most West Ham fans are very familiar with being the underdog and having to scrap for all you can get.
Burnley, like all Premier League teams, are there because they are one of the 20 best teams in England. They have earned the right to be there, and they play the game however they see fit, and like pretty much every team I’m sure they do it in the best possible way to get the most points. If that meant playing like Brazil, I’m sure they’d play like Brazil. But for many reasons that are obvious to all genuine football fans, they do not.
I’m a Palace fan and I always know that Burnley, especially away, is a tough game. You will be tested, you’d better be up for it. And while I don’t particularly enjoy some of the tactics employed, I know we’ve done the same at times, and again to try and be successful. Just look at us under Hodgson. So I love the fact that they are there and they are who they are, long may that continue. They are as much a part of a great football league as any team playing silky, flowing football and scoring amazing goals. You want to be champions? You have to beat everyone, and some of them aren’t going to try and outplay you, they’re just going to try and stop you.
PS. Kudos to Chris MU that made me laugh out loud.
On a roll now…
On a further note, I am absolutely baffled how it could be that Gallagher fears that he won’t get a fair crack when back at Chelsea. Are these fears unfounded? Or is this what usually happens?
Gallagher has to play against all the same players that the other Chelsea midfielders do in the Premier League, only they have better players around them, which I think most people would agree improves your game, so he actually has a disadvantage in comparison. He might stand out more at Palace, but that simply reinforces this point.
The only question/difference is ‘can he do it in the Champions League’? But then again surely the team picked for Champs League games is based on PL performances, and with the PL regularly touted as the best league in the world, how can that be any harder just because it has the sparkles of being a ‘Champions League’ match?
I’m genuinely baffled and would love to hear other opinions, especially from Chelsea fans.
He is bloody great though isn’t he?
More on Palace
“Fan tokens are the best way to show your team how much you care. It’s like this imaginary thing you can point to on your phone and say, “hey man, I support you this many pounds’ worth”” – Michael Scott.
*In a nice nostalgic echo of when they were a popular home for Manchester United cast-offs, Everton’s season has also been one of fan disgruntlement, underachievement on the field relative to the level of talent (or expense) in their team, and hints of in-fighting. However, a win over the Arsenal on Monday hinted that maybe the corner had been turned.
*As usual, Crystal Palace started the match taking the play to the opposition, creating chances without making a breakthrough. However, this is not a side that gets frustrated quickly. They stuck at their task and kept the Toffees, erm, stuck in their own penalty area. This brought the visiting forwards deeper and deeper in their efforts to provide an outlet, something that is ultimately counterproductive. And so it proved, when Demarai Gray dawdled on the edge of his box and his poor pass was intercepted by Jordan Ayew. Ayew held up play long enough for Conor Gallagher to make a late run and sweep his pass home. As a sidebar, I got into the pub, ordered a pint and looked round at the perfect time to see Ayew’s pass; I was the only Palace fan in.
*The main talking point from Patrick Vieira’s team selection was a first start for Will Hughes, the latest candidate to try to do a passable impression of James McArthur, and to give him credit, he played very well. It’s generally believed he was signed as a long-term replacement for the Scotsman, whose energy levels belie the fact he is 34 and has played over 600 games for club and country. While Cheikhou Kouyate is nominally the most defensive of the midfield trio, Hughes was the most frequent to drop deep and receive the ball from the defence. Hughes also proved himself a reliable corner taker.
*Toffees fans will probably feel aggrieved at the events surrounding the second goal. There was a foul in the approach play by Wilfried Zaha on Seamus Coleman, which was not seen by the officials. However, the advantage of defending a set piece over open play is that you have the opportunity to organise yourselves. That Everton failed to do that means it’s hard to have sympathy for them when they conceded to James Tomkins. The ex-West Ham United defender has struggled repeatedly with injuries and probably doesn’t fit the Palace of the future, but he is the dictionary definition of a senior professional, and it was great to see him on the scoresheet.
*Rafa Benitez went to his bench shortly before the hour mark. One player removed was a forward who had failed to muster a single shot on target, had just ten touches of the ball and only found a teammate with a pass three times. But other than that, Richarlison can feel really annoyed about being taken off. His replacement, Salomon Rondon, opened his account for Everton, justifying the switch, and the change of approach did make Everton look a lot more likely to get something from the game.
*As part of their work in progress, Palace still struggle to confidently see out games. They left the door open for Everton and on another day could have been punished yet again. It’s not a huge problem when the results are still arriving, but it is noticeably different to the ruthlessness of some teams who are where the Eagles want to be. However, on occasion they are made of sterner stuff, and just like against Manchester City, they soaked up a lot of pressure and finally put the game to bed late on.
*Everton’s problems are myriad, but perhaps most embodied by senior players not leading through example. Coleman’s ability to make a sensible decision completely deserted him late on. He needed urgency to get the ball forward, with the Toffees chasing an equaliser, but his quick free kick was terrible and Gallagher picked it off, before uncorking a superb finish. It’s the sort of goal that should win goal of the month, but will ultimately lose out to a player from a bigger club whose fans conflate popularity with quality.
*Next up for Palace, they host Soton on Wednesday. Previously these fixtures have been a running battle between Zaha and James Ward-Prowse, though the Soton man will likely have his hands full with Gallagher this time.
*As we started with Michael Scott, let’s give him the last word too – after all, Everton fans seem currently the most likely to benefit from any kind of managerial Yankee Swap.
On Covid jabs and more
Reading Johnny Nicholson’s article on mandatory covid jabs and, of course, no matter what conclusion he made it was going to be polarising. And that’s just within what I think, let alone in the population. Generally, I am against mandatory medical procedures of any type even ones that keep you alive. If I ended up on life support with no quality of life I would like the option to pull the plug. I am against mandatory vaccinations but, if the vaccine rate isn’t high enough to provide the herd protection, I don’t believe that we should treat people who choose not be vaccinated the same as we treat people who have chosen to be vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated. This is all vaccines, not just covid.
A big reason for this is that we cannot individually see or feel vaccines working, we are just told that they are working. A denial of access say to an after school club until your child gets the mumps vaccine is a reasonable way of protecting people from the unvaccinated potential disease carriers whilst still enabling the individual to have their choice. It shows that it does matter whether you have a vaccine and creates a reason for that individual to do their research.
For football, players shouldn’t be made to have the vaccine but there is no reason why they should not be restricted from playing during a pandemic. We aren’t back in everyday life yet. If it was everyday then perhaps there is no need to suspend a player from playing because he hasn’t had the latest flu jab for example. The reason the Spurs Brighton game has been postponed is to protect the Brighton players and their families, rather than to give Spurs a chance to compete. Or at least should be, although I can hear the TV money being checked on first!
As vaccines aren’t 100% effective, there is a likelihood that a club could be 100% vaccinated and still have players get covid. Another option would be for the requirement of the club to have a target vaccination rate. If above that rate, then the club could request a postponement. If below that rate then the club would need to forfeit. You can bet that clubs would make sure that they hit that target. If the target is the 80-90% needed for herd immunity, then it leaves room for people who cannot have the jab as well as people who exercise their individual choice as a free but ignorant and selfish person. It reiterates to the public too that you can choose not have a vaccine but you bloody well should otherwise there will be consequences, if not for you then for someone else.
If people cannot be trusted to protect each other, then this is where the powers that be need to step in. This has been true for 100s of years. It why we have food standards and building regulations. Its why we have the fire brigade and the NHS.
On the same vein (pun intended), everyone should be choosing to give blood too. If you don’t, and you need some, where do you think it comes from? Seriously, can you book an appointment to give blood?
TL:DR against mandatory jabs, but no jabs no play. No herd immunity vax rate at a club, then forfeit not postponement. Give blood.
Alex, South London
In my attempt to be witty/contemporary/sardonic – the title of my email refers to a song written by the late much lamented Mike Nesmith( RIP) – and happens to be something that perhaps I need to find to beat, as I have bashed this one on this site several times ….but here we go with perhaps a ( slightly) different take on it. I think I am fairly safe in stating these opinions on matters that universally are frustrating for fans of the beautiful game – specifically:
Time wasting – ALL teams do it because they KNOW that not a single referee will add on the equivalent amount of time
Feigning injury – ALL teams do it because they know a referee must play safe in case it is a genuine injury
Injury time substitutes – ALL teams do it because they KNOW that not a single referee will add on the equivalent amount of time( where have I heard that before?)
Now hopefully you are all nodding along with me – after all if you are not are you telling me you like time wasting and injury feigning? REALLY?
Well what can we do about it I hear a million voices say. Believe me when i say this – I am NOT a genius but surely if we took time keeping away from the referee and determined EVERY game into a “ball in play”game – say 60 minutes? Surely those ugly blights on our beautiful game would disappear?
Here’s to getting a different drum for Christmas…..
Phil (apologies for SO many capitals) Liasides