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£40m for Matic is an awful deal
So now the news has actually broke and it’s confirmed, I want to say that after being called hysterical for saying that a rumoured signing was not good enough at that price, all the points are made are still valid. For the speculated £40 million, 29-year-old Matic is a crap deal and Chelsea are laughing all the way to the bank. £40 million for a player that is no better than Schneiderlin (27, £24 million) or Schweinsteiger (who we let go for nothing…).
Let this sink in, aspiring champions buy player not deemed good enough by current champions for £40 million. With no resale value. And we’re apparently still keeping Fellaini.
Daniel (FML) Cambridge
No, it’s a bargain…
So the news filtered through yesterday to confirm what we knew a couple of days ago, United have signed Matic. Whilst we probably paid a premium given we bought off a rival, £40m for a quality DM, who is also a multiple league and cup winner, looks a bargain when our noisy neighbours are hoovering up full-backs for £50m, Chelsea are buying Madrid squad players for £60m and Liverpool are reportedly willing to pay £70m for Van Dijk (for that money I’d be asking for Virgil and Dick).
Before the season started Mourinho indicated the four positions he needed to strengthen and most people agreed with him; we now have three out of four and hopefully the fourth (a winger who can cross) will arrive soon. This is a lifetime away from LVG’s seemingly scattergun approach to transfers; don’t forget he recognised the need for physicality in the Premier League, yet did not bring it in as required. It is two lifetimes away from the Moyesiah’s approach, which appeared to be creeping around the dance floor after the biggest names in football whispering “I love you” before settling for whatever was left at the end of the night (possibly being slapped in between for overaggressive twerking).
Now the league has a number of great managers and teams are accumulating top players, even the smaller teams have decent squads and managers who know how to set their teams out to frustrate, so this is not the time for a bold statement of intent. I still think we have a couple of issues which could cause us problems during the season (that left-back spot is troubling me) but I am quite content that this is the strongest we have looked in years. Furthermore, when some opposition fans start throwing arbitrary insults about rather than debate actual football, that’s when you know you have them rattled and are heading in the right direction.
Garey (sticks and stones) Vance, MUFC
Why aren’t Man United in for Neymar?
If rumours are to be believed and Neymar is up for grabs then why aren’t United at least in the running? They have the biggest revenue of any club in the world so therefore financial fair play would not be a factor if the fee is paid over the duration of the contract. They can afford his wages and he is the game changer that we are crying out for.
I know factors outside of United’s control, such as Neymar wanting to play for United which is highly unlikely given his relatively recent comments comparing Man Utd to Granada (or someone of that ilk), but I can’t see why you wouldn’t at least throw your hat into the ring for one of the three best players in the world. Those comments could have been in jest when he probably thought he was going to get what he wants from Barcelona.
Would you rather have two Lukakus and a Lindelof or Neymar? I know what I would choose.
End of an era for Barcelona?
Excellent mail by Andre (London) explaining why Messi’s astronomical wages are hurting Barça’s power in other areas. Maybe it’s time they sacrificed today to bring in a new era. If PSG are genuinely mulling over £200m for Neymar, why not suggest they could have Messi at that price? The short-lived Ronaldo saga earlier this summer showed a willingness of super-rich clubs to spend world record fees on ageing players (even if it didn’t go through in the end), and Messi probably has 3/4 good years left in him.
By freeing up his wages, there would be room to satisfy Neymar, assuring him of being a focal point for the next 5-8 years, and pretty much guaranteeing him a Balon D’Or. Long term, both Suarez and Neymar are better assets with Suarez having much smaller wages, and being unlikely to need a big pay rise with him being less marketable, whilst Neymar’s age means he absolutely shouldn’t be sold. The wage issue would also help them to reduce the overall budget with anomalies like Matieu less likely as agents lose the power of saying “we want half what Messi gets” or whatever way it links to him.
Furthermore, the transfer fee could be directly reinvested in the next potential star, current flavour of the months being Dybala or Mbappe (I’d suggest Dybala).
If the prospect of selling Messi for £200m sounds ridiculous then just think of Barça’s situation when Messi, aged 34 gets his free transfer back to Newell’s and there’s no money to replace the game’s greatest ever player. It could lead Barça into a couple of United-esque seasons similar to the lack of plan post Fergie. I know it’s all a bit Football Manager, but genuinely letting him go could be a great move for the long-term future of the club.
KC (take Veratti and Dybala for the same price)
No tears shed here
I saw this in the BBC gossip:
‘Several Barcelona players are “completely sick” of the uncertainty surrounding Neymar’s future at the club.’
Well, good I say. Now they know how other clubs feel every time they themselves tap up players.
Andreas (Is Neymar going to PSG for the money better than going to China?) Hasle
Let’s talk about kits…
Who has the best kits this year in the Premier League? I think it’s Man United, the grey kit is just awesome but maybe I’m biased. So mailbox…err, over to you.
Hope (brackets are for the weak) Nigeria
Explaining East African support
Read the mail about Arsenal’s popularity in Africa and I thought there would be more responses to that particular oddity but I guess even mailbox contributors are in pre-season. Anyway, it is true that Arsenal is by far the most popular football club in sub-Saharan Africa. From Kenya in the East and Liberia in the West, it just seems that 3 in every 5 fans is an Arsenal fan. Too bad Arsenal fans over here are always grumpy as hell because you just cannot have a rational football discussion with an Arsenal fan, especially when alcohol is involved. The theory that Arsenal fans are glory-hunters is also correct in my opinion because of the average age of fans here in Kenya.
Liverpool fans are usually either quite old or are young people without a particularly deep interest in football alone. Arsenal and Man Utd fans are usually between 20-35 as they primarily began supporting their clubs in the late 90s and early 2000s. Chelsea fans are either almost exclusively in their early 20s or late 40s, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with them for some reason. Man City fans in Kenya are basically all teens for the obvious reason that they started supporting the club in the last 6-8 years. There are very few fans of teams from other leagues, even Real, Barca and Bayern.
The rare few like myself whose primary team isn’t an English club (am a Milan supporter) still have to align themselves with an English team because it is just plain crazy not to support one EPL club. Hence I chose Arsenal because of Bergkamp, Suker (yes really), Kanu and Adams. Milan still remains my favourite club but good luck finding a Serie A fan in Kenya, let alone a dedicated Milan fan. In addition, television stations that offer sports packages heavily focus on EPL and La Liga and the few channels that do show Serie A and Bundesliga matches are either too highly priced or present their analysis and actual game in a poor way. Here in Kenya we get one Bundesliga match on Saturdays and one Serie A match on Sunday on free-to-air channels. This isn’t a bad deal but the analysis is absolutely terrible. The only option is to pay for the full DSTV package, which totals to about 80 Euros for 122 channels. That gives you all EPL matches live every weekend, about 4 Serie A matches every weekend, and close to 20 games every weekend from Portugal, France, Germany and various African leagues.
I have diverted way too far from my original point but I hope more people now get a better picture of what it is like to be a football fan in Kenya and East Africa in general.
Greg Tric, Nairobi
Man United’s female failure
United’s refusal to reinstate the women’s team dropped in 2005 leaves an increasingly sour taste. It’s a footnote in the overall nastiness of the Glazer takeover, but dropping the women’s team weeks after the takeover on the basis that wasn’t part of United’s core business (presumably hawking the club to every noodle, watch and gaming partner they can find) illustrates the extent to which the Glazers have always seen United as an investment whose sporting activities are an irrelevance.
As with so many other areas, City have shown United up terribly in the past decade. They fund their academy better, their community work is remarkable, and the investment they’ve made in women’s football puts United to shame.
Bluntly, if you can afford to pay Ashley Young over £100,000 a week and celebrate having an Isotonic Drink Partner for Indonesia, you can afford to fund a women’s team, and there’s no reason not to other than prioritising cupidity over football.
Does it have to be about gender?
The England women’s team are doing well at the Euros and I hope they go on and win it. Can’t we just leave it at that instead of using them to have a pop at the men?
It’s not as good…but that’s not the point
Yesterday afternoon’s mailbox represented the arguments that have been running through the summer regarding women’s football. On one end, we have those that think women’s football is an abomination. A worthless pursuit to be neither seen not heard, to be cast into the abyss to save any of us being offended be what is on show. At the other end we have those who have found the football, exciting, engaging and impressive.
I will start with a disclaimer. I have not watched one minute of Euro 2017. I’ve been making the most of the my ludicrous teacher holidays and been on the other side of the world, where the time difference just wouldn’t allow it. However, in that time I’ve been following the mailbox discourse and wanted to put some thoughts down regarding women’s football and women’s sport in general.
It was the email from Richard, Manchester that really promoted my writing this. He claims to not be sexist and he is correct that it is not sexist to say that the men’s game is technically and physically superior to the women’s. Euro 2017 is not the highest quality football in the world. That is fact. Where I do detect a fair whiff of chauvinism though is in his sheer outrage that the tournament is getting any coverage at all.
Richard’s biggest bugbear seems to be that this isn’t ‘top class’ sport. It’s a common argument and my answer would be quite simple. Yes it is. It’s top class women’s sport. These are the best women in Europe at what they do. Is there a gap between men and women? Yes. Does that matter? No. You are drawing from different groups of people, so of course the quality is not the same. I hope Richard was similarly outraged by the coverage the men’s under-20 England team got. Big gap in quality between them and the seniors. Pointless watching them surely?
Here’s the thing Richard, no one is making you watch it. No one is taking away the Premier League. F365 have not made the mailbox exclusively for mails on women’s football. Indeed the front page currently has 19 articles about men’s football and 0 about women’s football. Pick up a newspaper during Euro 2017 and I reckon the football coverage is still at least 90:10 in favour of the men. Maybe 80:20 if England have played. No one is “ramming it down your throat”. It is completely acceptable for you not to watch it but you don’t need to insult it either.
Listen carefully Richard because this is the important part. Do you who might watch it? Girls. All over the country, young girls will watch the tournament, ignoring voices like yours saying it’s not any good and they will say. “Wow. That could be me”. They will have new heroes, new inspirations and be encouraged to take up football for themselves. The game will grow and as it does the quality will get better and better.
Surely that is what we want? More and more people involved in the game we love? Girls ignoring the judgement and stigma that comes with playing sport and getting out there and embracing it. As a primary teacher I know how difficult it can be to get girls to play sport. Maybe this tournament will give some of them a nudge towards doing that? I know for sure that if I have a daughter in the future I will be sitting down with her, watching a tournament and saying look at these brilliant athletes. I really hope Richard doesn’t sit his daughter down, compare it to minor counties cricket and tell her to watch the men instead. I’d hate to think how she’d turn out.
Mike, LFC, Dubai (but Yorkshire right now)
Does Fat Man Scouse think that describing a man’s ass as big or small makes you gay? Everyone has an ass, and they are all different sizes. What a truly odd line of reasoning. It may be objectifying, in that it reduces a person to their description, but there is no hint of anything sexual there. Strange, strange mail.
Paraic (Irish), Birmingham