Football used to be a lot more fun before Manchester City came and ruined it for everyone, while Curtis Jones gets a kicking and Manchester United have no hope of a top four finish.
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Man City ‘dragging football down’
I don’t know what it is like to be a City fan. “Proper” City fans (ie not those who have jumped on the bandwagon in the last ten years or so) have had a journey that is pretty much unique, I think. All clubs have their ups and downs, but City’s have been ridiculous. As a football fan (Liverpool), I have huge concerns about what the City machine is doing to the game, but most City fans would say (I think) that my main motivation here is jealousy. I don’t think that they are right, but I can’t be sure.
I do know that if the Premier league title goes to City every year, then the game loses something on a very basic level. If City kick on now and win it (which is where the smart money is), that will be four on the bounce, something utterly unprecedented in English football. There is even talk of the double treble, which would be ridiculous, when you bear in mind that a single treble has only happened twice.
City have obviously rolled out a very slick, very smart business plan here. It isn’t by chance that these 115 charges are from a few years ago – everything *appears* to be within the rules right now, but I think it’s very clear that the spirit of these rules has been ignored and that loopholes have been found. It’s clever, obviously, and their legal team will make sure they get away with it, I’m sure. Money talks, but billions fucking screams.
And this is perhaps ruining the game.
Most people seemed to rally against the ESL because it was perceived as being anti-competitive (often ignoring the fact that the Champion’s League is far from fair and equitable but that’s another rabbit hole altogether), but if we have a team that has found a way to operate within the rules whilst still gaining an unfair advantage from a “sporting” perspective then where is the difference, really?
If City’s business model means that the club has an advantage that cannot be made up by its competitors unless they become similarly financially juiced, then is this not removing something essential from the notion of competitive sport? And is using the rhetoric that they are simply being smart and therefore doing nothing wrong missing this point?
And where is the value in a trophy if it is a cakewalk year in, year out? Sport is usually cyclical (ask any United fan), but this feels different, and all the discussions of owners having a global network of clubs and finding a way to make the playing field even more unlevel means that the rules may have changed completely.
In order to really appreciate winning, you have to suffer the pain of losing. It is a basic tenet of sport. City have, of course, experienced this pain, more than most top level clubs in the past thirty years, but it needs to be topped up, or it all becomes meaningless.
So, I am jealous? I don’t think so. As a Liverpool fan, I am incredibly blessed to have experienced the ups and downs of nearly fifty years of supporting them. I have loved the highs under Klopp because of Roy Hodgson, the Texan Cowboys, El Hadj Diouff and Gerrard’s slip and so much more. And whilst I have been luckier there than many supporters in the last few years, all of us appreciate the highs because of the lows.
City fans won’t really enjoy the title this year (if it comes) like they did in previous years, and that means that everyone is losing on some level.
Fuck knows the game has lost a big part of its soul, and that isn’t City’s fault, but they are dragging it down further and further with each consecutive success.
Football is slicker, more professional, the players have never been so fit, the skill levels are unreal…but it used to be much, much more fun.
Matthew (the comments section…the horror)
OPINION: Savio to Man City exposes the absolute sham of the multi-club ownership model
Saying no to Man City
I know I’m at least a decade too late to be complaining about the commodification of players, but does anyone know how the players within the City (or any other) Group of clubs have their contracts structured?
Players are still humans. With theoretical free will. What if a blossoming prospect at a City feeder club really doesn’t want to play for Man City? Perhaps they look fat in light blue, or support United, or have unresolved childhood trauma relating to bald managers..can the player simply just say “No – I heard Spurs are in for me and I’d much prefer living in London thanks”. If they can…then the system is flawed to some extent. If they can’t then we get back into some element of moral doubt – which most will cheerfully ignore the same as all the other moral issues in football, but y’know, it’ll still be there all the same.
Rocastle7 gave me a giggle when, by contrasting NUFC victory photos with Arsenal players preening for fans after matches, he managed gut his point by asserting that one kind of over-celebration is okay, but another isn’t. For what it’s worth, Rocastle7, I absolutely love those victory photos. Perhaps they *do reveal a small-time mentality: when the team took the first one, losing had become a firm habit. But I think those photos helped remind the players themselves what winning felt like between games and helped build a new habit. I also think they’ve done a lot to build what I believe to be the highest level of squad unity in the league. By all means, Rocastle7, you should enjoy Arsenal’s so-called over-celebrating as well. Just try to remember that throwing stones is a bad look when your manager is an unbelivable c*nt like Mikel Arteta.
Rosie Poppins, let’s get boring! I don’t think corporations focus on nurturing staff as they move them around the world, because that is, unlike with football, relatively rare. It hasn’t really been a thing in the US, at least, since pensions went away in the 80s (again, in the US; I suspect you’ll find these trends true across the globe, but more forward in the US, which I think started them).
In 2022, salaried workers in the US had been in their jobs an average of 4.3 years for men and 3.8 for women…which sounds an awful lot like the length of a football contract. These averages have been dropping since at least 2012, and I suspect that they dropped faster in the 80s and 90s. At any rate, they suggest that nurturing and retention aren’t priorities.
~25% of US salaried workers have been in their jobs for 10 years or more, by the way, and those workers tend (in a loose link also related to race) to be 55 or older. And you almost never get the best pay raise by staying in a job (I may get 5% in a good year by staying in my job; changing companies in the same role earned me raises of 50% and 33% the two times I’ve done it since 2002).
So the model you’re describing for City isn’t much like “normal” business at all. In fact, it sounds more like baseball in the US, in which Major League clubs have a “farm system” of associated clubs across at least three levels of competition (AAA-A, plus developmental leagues I’m not clear on). The NY Yankees might draft a decent high school prospect and send him to the single-A Tampa Tarpons to develop. A AAA player having a great season with the Gwinnett Strippers (lol) might be picked up by MLB’s Atlanta Braves for their playoff push (also lol). Or an injured player MLB for the San Francisco Giants might play for the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels until back to full fitness. But then again, the MLB club calls the shots, not a management company that owns the clubs as individual holdings. Transfer rules are a lot more lax in baseball, too. Not to mention that player-for-cash transfers haven’t been known in the US for like a century.
I see two main problems with multi-club ownership groups in football. First, the benefits to be had from enormous wealth never feel fair to those of us who don’t receive them. I would imagine this applies as much between the multi-millionaires who own teams in the Football League and between them and the global investment funds collecting clubs like beads for a necklace. Second OGs are fundamentally anti-competitive when lower prices can be negotiated amongst OG clubs. As Tickner notes, Troyes has never even been permitted to play their best player, who’s been loaned out at higher levels. When he’s “sold” to City, if the price is discounted, that hurts Troyes as well as all of the clubs who never had the chance to purchase at that price. Nothing about that suggests anything warm-and-fuzzy about ownership groups.
Chris C, Toon Army DC
Man Utd top four chances
I wanted to see if Man Utd stood a chance at getting the top four, and my conclusion was: Very unlikely.
I estimated fourth place will finish somewhere between 68-76 points. Each of Spurs, Villa and Utd have 15 games left to play. Spurs and Villa have 8 home games and 7 away. Utd have 7 home and 8 away.
Utd and Spurs both play against top 11 teams 7 times, but Villa come up against 9. Utd play 3 top eleven teams at home, and 4 away. Villa play 5 top eleven teams at home and 4 away, and Spurs just 2 top eleven teams at home and 5 away.
Villa are currently averaging 2 points per game, Spurs 1.91 ppg and Utd 1.65 ppg. For them to get to 68 and 76, Villa needs 1.46 ppg or 2ppg, Spurs need 1.6 ppg or 2.13 ppg, and Utd need 2 ppg or 2.53 ppg.
Why they will and why they won’t:
I reckon Spurs will clinch it as they have 8 home games, and just two of those against big eleven teams. Win those six games, and the 2 away, and that will get Spurs to the 1.6 ppg and 68 points with no top eleven points gained being factored in. At their current rate of return of 1.91 ppg, they would end up on 73 points.
That said, they would need Villa to take a slump if they dream of qualifying. Their style of play leaves them vulnerable in away games, and with 5/7 of those away against top eleven teams, they could see that 1.91 ppg lowered. Playing City(H), NUFC(A), Arsenal(H), and LFC(A) all consecutively and towards the end of the season could make or break their chances.
Villa are in pole position who currently average 2 ppg. If they keep that up, they will get 76 points. If fourth place qualifies with 68 points, that can drop to 1.41 ppg. That would be an almighty drop off in form. However, 4/7 away games are against top eleven teams, and Villa – like Spurs – aren’t at their best away. I have a feeling they’ll struggle to take their 2023 form into 2024. If they only win against teams out of the top 11, they will end up on 64 points. Villa take on City(A), Chelsea(A), LFC(H) and Brighton(A) in their final eight games which will be their CL test of nerves.
Utd are currently averaging just 1.65, and at that rate will end with 63 points. To get to 68, they need to up that figure to 2 points ppg, and to get to 76 points, they need to get 2.53 ppg, and let’s face it, that won’t happen. Utd have struggled this year against top 6 teams. Their only hope is Villa and Spurs take dips in form, and that they can improve their form vs the top eleven teams. With this in mind, United would need to get two draws and one loss out of games vs City(A), LFC(H), and Arsenal(H), plus victories in every other game to get to 76 points. Ooft.
If United can beat Villa away this weekend, and Spurs draw or lose to Brighton, it will be game on for the Red Devils, but it will take the Villains and Spurs shooting themselves in the foot for the CL dream to become a reality. Luckily, both of their rivals are famous for doing so. Unluckily, United would somehow need to get more points per game than they achieved in their highest ever ppg gain, which was 2.39 in 99/00. This team certainly isn’t that team.
Hey, Curtis: Arsenal (they of the sole supporter chant) wouldn’t have had the chance to ‘steal’ our thing if you all hadn’t showed up and been utter shite on Sunday, mate.
Scott, LFC Toronto
I’ve always found it gauche that certain clubs feel that they are somehow more special and important than any other club. Like their songs are more meaningful, that their stadia are more special based solely on how much they have won.
I don’t believe this is true at all.
It doesn’t matter which club you support, the ground will be special to you. The club’s history will become entwined with your own personal history. This is why football is so special, you don’t need to win everything all the time to matter, you just have to win games and your fans will love you.
The reason I am writing this is because Curtis Jones has just somehow claimed ‘ a fist pump’ to be a Liverpool invention, as is celebrating. What absolute bunkum! He’s a young lad, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but seriously, it echoes what people have been saying about Arsenal in the mailbox. We had no atmosphere, we have manufactured it, our manager over celebrates etc. What tedious debates, I’m certain not a single Arsenal fan gives a solitary chuff what rival fans think of us. I hated it when we were ‘everyone’s favourite second team’ – second team is a disgusting phrase in itself, but that was because we were seen as no threat to those who won stuff. Not any more, and they hate us. GOOD! That is what football rivalry should be.
Do you know how songs/chants/atmosphere start? Someone has the bright idea to do it. We SHOULD be debating the outrageous knowledge that was leaked recently that shows that Football Manager (the game) only takes into account 9 of the player stats to calculate the outcome of games, the rest are just window dressing.
John (expecting Liverpool fans to claim they invented Music with the Beatles) Matrix AFC
Stats is stats
Well Gussy, the four non existent mistakes I mentioned came from FBref, via F365. I know some LFC fans aren’t fond of reality, as Weldoninhio, BAC mentioned this morning.
But let’s explain. Various companies such as Opta, FBref and the PL compile data, which they call stats(not States F365). This shows how players and teams perform. An error leading to goal means exactly what the sentence says.
I’ll use the Premier League data for reference as it will make you feel better.
Top of that list is Wes Foderingham with 5. Their list also has Trent on it, but with just 2 errors leading to goal. That’s equal with Allison and 1 ahead of Kelleher.
No Onana on the list though, strange. Maybe the stats guys will see your list and update the numbers ;).
I also had to google chocolate wrist as I’ve never heard of that before. I can conclude you’re either an elderly man, a person who tries to be efficient with his creative writing and extracurricular activities, or both.
Calvino (But please don’t be thinking of me when you chocolate wrist – thanks)
Eric from LA had some interesting things to say on the “saga” that is rival fans and pundits hypocritically criticising Arsenal celebrations. You would imagine a follower of American sports would be fully behind celebrating an important win in such a manner. American culture seems to celebrate celebrating. I’m not necessarily assuming Eric is American, nor dismissing an American perspective if he is. But, imagine describing Arsenal’s celebrations as “court-storming”, likening the post-match events to a pitch invasion. That’s a little too “moving the goalposts”. By the way, the game was, frankly, not inconsequential.
Klopp took six and a half years to win “the lot” after that 2-2 draw with WBA. Obviously, that’s perfectly respectable. But, will the Arsenal detractors come out and admit wrong should Arteta win a trophy this season, or even next? Will they all suddenly hold their hands up and say “you know what, they’ve really turned things around here with the atmosphere and connection with the fans”? Of course they bloody won’t. It would just be healthier to say you just don’t like Arsenal (which is fine) and hate any joyous celebrations if they’re not coming from your own exuberant manager or fans, especially when it’s against your team. It’s not “banter”, it’s bitterness.
You become the celebration police yourself when you call the celebrations over-celebrations as well. This isn’t college basketball. This is the biggest league in the world, and we beat you to stay in the title race. Even if we don’t win anything this season it won’t be embarrassing for Arsenal players or fans if rivals bring up images of Ødegaard celebrating with club photographer Stuart MacFarlane, a lifelong Arsenal fan, after a massive win in our season. It was a proud day for us, and we move forward.
Simon, Norf London Gooner
Positive news today to read about the long overdue introduction of “blue cards” that would result in a 10 minute sin-bin. Not mad about the colour (should have been orange) but the principle is the right one.
Football is the only sport I can think of where a deliberate, cynical foul that breaks up a good attacking opportunity is barely punished. In rugby it’s a penalty (with points or territory available) at the minimum, with a sin bin, or even a penalty try, possible. In ice hockey, it’s a sin bin or a penalty shot. In basketball it’s a free throw. All offer the other team an opportunity to score, or result in a sin bin for the player.
In football, unless it’s a clear goalscoring opportunity, the cynical foul is barely punished. A potentially useless free kick (as these often take place around the halfway line) and a yellow card. If the player manages to avoid another yellow for the rest of the game, the punishment is effectively meaningless.
Football’s relationship with the cynical foul is so perverse that it’s actively encouraged by commentators. “That’s a good foul to make” or “You’ve got to bring him down there” are regularly heard directed to what amounts to blatant cheating. It’s absolutely no better than diving, even if the perceived wisdom around these fouls would have you believe that it is.
So the trial is welcomed and hopefully successful. The sooner we see sin-bins at the top level, the better.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
I’m not sure why they need over complicate things with a 3rd card when yellows could just mean sin bin, but I can’t wait for the chaos.
Normally if a defender gets a red you’d sub an attacker, is it worth it for 10 mins?
What if a goalie goes in the bin? Outfield player for 10 mins or sub on a goalie and then sub a different attacker back on, costing you 2 subs?
We’ll have to track all sorts of 10 v 9 then back to 11 v 9 then back to 11 v 11 nonsense too.
Going to be absolute madness.
After having to drive my wifes car to work this morning and not having the 1st idea how to use the stereo in it… I was listening to the best of The Scorpions (not the worst morning I have ever had) but it did remind me of a song I hadnt hears for ages and it made me wonder if anyone can tell me
Are Bayerns fans singing Rock me Like a Hurricane to England Captain – Its perfect isnt it?
Here I am!
Rock me like a Harry Kane (Hurricane)
Surely too good to miss? Or a version of?
Score a goal
Score a goal like Harry Kane.. or sumat?
Manutd never managed to get ‘Hunt you down with van Persie’ (Hunt you down without mercy) All Nightmare long by Metallica if you care, which was a big miss for me..
Any other perfect songs that never took off?
Or just a yes no answer to my question coz its Friday randomness
Al – LFC – Bored and trying to learn drums to 8 Allman brothers songs, for a mate, in a week.. never happening..)
Top piss boiling
I’ll probably be only one of 427 mails you get on this subject but your feature on Top 5 reverse ranking on Premier League winners….
Having no skin in the game I completely agree with the ranking and applaud the amount of piss it will boil!
F365 assuming the Maupay role👏🏻
Also a welcome distraction from the shower of sh1t my team’s current predicament is – we’ll be Reading in 12 month’s time.
Some football clubs have bigger issues than big dickery and VbloodyAR