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jayden oosterwolde
at 13:55 21 Jun 2024

The news report seems to view him more as a left back. I doubt we'd be paying this sort of money for a Leif understudy however. However, if your impression of him is correct, maybe he's viewed (if there's truth in the rumour) as a left sided CB who could fill in as LB.

Or maybe we've had silly silly bids for Leif...
Does Southgate have the balls to do a Bobby Robson?
at 12:53 21 Jun 2024

If that's right, then Southgate is being truly negligent. Those players would of course be on most people's team sheet if everyone is fit, but they also play in an area of the pitch in which we are not struggling for an alternative option. Especially Bellingham and Saka. Foden goes to the middle, and play two from Eze, Palmer, Gordon (and even include Grealish in the squad if Saka really is unfit).

But I don't think they're as badly unfit as all that. Not one of the pundits mentioned anything, and (a) they are closer to the squad than any of us, (b) they are experts, and (c) they were just as annoyed as average punters and looking for reasons as to why England sucked. Shearer was talking about Kane in terms of an age-related decline in pace, rather than basic unfitness.
Random tweet rumour alert
at 12:33 21 Jun 2024

Reasonable age, big lad, double figure goal tally in premier league campaign for struggling side. Interesting.

And his full name is a thing to behold...
Before a ball was kicked...
at 07:47 21 Jun 2024

Gallagher did come on in both matches. Everyone seems to agree that we sat too deep once we'd gone ahead in both games. So if we're too deep, Bellingham included, in what sense have we /not/ got a Rice-Bellingham-Gallagher midfield? I certainly didn't think that Bellingham was sitting too far ahead of the other two. I really don't see how putting coloured dots in a different formation solves the problem given how deep we were sitting. We had the ball less than half of the time. When you don't have the ball, analysing a formation is just like drawing a line of best fit through scatter points on a graph. I'm not sure that drawing those lines in the way you suggest really does anything.

As the BBC pundits were unanimously saying, we need Stones to bring the ball forward like he does for his club, we need the midfield then to push forward (having an imaginary 8 or 10 over Bellingham's head is not really a substitute for giving him proper instructions), and we need runners in behind to make space for the Bellinghams of this world.

There seems to be a malaise of negativity in the way we play. I don't think TAA is working right in the midfield, and I think Southgate needs to use his finishers as liberally as Kieran does (like he was kind of forced to last night). It might be a detail, but I don't see how Palmer and Gordon can have seasons like they've had, and not deserved a minute yet.
He's gaslighting us now surely?
at 07:40 21 Jun 2024

Yes that was a stand out line! I reckon he's got posters of Kalvin on his wall...

On a slightly different note - there was a lot of talk here recently about certain female pundits. I'm really sorry for not knowing the name of the female interviewer who questioned Southgate after the game, but I just wanted to say that I thought she did an excellent job.

At that moment the whole country was very frustrated and really wanted answers, and even the BBC pundits (the English ones at least) were unanimous and equally frustrated. So it was a really important post-match interview.

The questions put to Southgate pulled no punches and were admirably specific. Not just "talk us through X...?", or "how important is Y...?" (where Y is something blindingly obvious that needs to happen). First, setting him up with a general question that allows him to accept that the performance wasn't tip top, then asking whether it's HIM that's making them defend too deep, then implying that one of his specific team selection issues isn't working (TAA), then repeating that last question when he batted it off. Then dealing with another specific issue in Kane, and Southgate's failure to get the attack firing. Then asking what he needs to do now. So that we either know he gets it or has his head in the clouds, and can hold him to account later.

Not rocket science, but serious, to the point, SPECIFIC, and respectful enough.

And I suppose, well done to Southgate for not throwing toys when it got personal. We've all seen enough youtube videos of managers storming out of press conferences when their role is criticised.

On the Kalvin Phillips point, although it's a hilarious line, England do have an embarrassment of riches further up the park, but don't have an obvious partner for Rice who has experience. I'd be tempted to try Mainoo. Whilst I, like many, just shoved all of our best attacking players into a pre-tournament 'what I'd do' XI, we wouldn't seriously expect Kieran to take Morsy or Luongo out of the starting XI and replace him with a Sarmiento or a Jackson. England's midfield is looking all wrong at the moment, but I don't think the Keegan approach is necessarily the answer. Would be more entertaining than last night, mind...
Aston Villa approach to PSR
at 10:26 20 Jun 2024

So what rules to you bring in to stop an owner walking away and leaving the club in debt?

If you go down the road of saying that they can do whatever they want with their money, that means that they can fund expensive transfers with expensive wages, and then just stop with the funding. Either because they get bored, or because they run out of money. If the club is sitting on £1bn of debt when the music stops (far from impossible if you scrap PSR), then the club is wound up. That would be a tragedy.

I think the PSR need tightening (and properly enforcing), and not scrapping. Player swaps at artificial values need curbing (like sponsoring your own team at an artificial value already has been), and spreading the cost of a transfer over numerous years for accounting purposes also needs looking at. Not sure whether the latter is easy to outlaw, given that they might genuinely be paying a fee over a number of years.
Even paying big money
at 10:13 20 Jun 2024

I get that, and I would be delighted with those signings given our budget and realistic position in the pecking order. Genuinely positive on all of them, so I think we're agreeing on the essential quality of the players. Although I can't say I've seen Rodon in most teams of the year. Minor point.

The main point is that I really don't think it's possible to say with such certainty that they would create an eleven that pi55es on any team in championship history. We've all heard predictions along the lines of pi55ing the league so many times and it just never happens. If neither Leicester nor Leeds did last season with all the money their sides cost (Vardy from the bench, a goal every 98 minutes), it's not an easy thing to predict in a single season, let alone some "all time" mega-league.

I suppose the more important question is how would these players do in the premier league, and I think that even if we only sign the five players you mention (including Hutch), we will stay up. A tough ask, but I am confident we will. Because the most important signing has already been made, and without him there's no way we'd even have a crack at the premier league by now.

Even paying big money
at 09:33 20 Jun 2024

I think there's very often hyperbole about teams hypothetically pi55ing the league. I'm sure fans of Leeds or Leicester could have made a similar case for their first XIs doing similar last year, but it didn't happen.

If one chooses the "Hirst" option from your XI, that's only three changes from the team we actually had last year (we had Hutch of course). It's a new CB pairing and a replacement for Luongo. The three added players played for teams that were 3rd, 7th and 9th in the Championship.

Given that we didn't win the league last season, I'm not sure that we could be confident that this side would have definitely won the division last year, let alone pi55ed it, let alone done the same to any team in championship history.

Having said that, I would love Hutch back, and all of these additions have excellent potential and would make really good signings. In Kieran we trust.
Am i being thick here!!
at 18:32 19 Jun 2024

It's so silly, isn't it? It's fine if all TV companies have access to all games, then each can price it up in competition with the others, and the viewer benefits from competition. But if they don't, it's not competition at all! It's just multiple monopolies!

It's like if Vodafone had the rights to calling phone numbers beginning with a 1 (after the code), EE had the rights to 2, etc. To call everyone, you need a whole bunch of contracts and phones. Silly silly silly.

Competition works reasonably in some industries, but in many it's just not true competition at the end user level.
Al-Hamadi to Oxford
at 12:21 19 Jun 2024

Wouldn't be a surprise given (a) his age, (b) his lack of experience in the top few divisions, (c) the fact that we're bidding tens of millions for full internationals, and (d) we have a habit of sending decent players to Oxford when we regrettably can't make room for them.

Many of us had earmarked him as a likely season long loanee. I'd love to see him bang in 20+ for Oxford next season. I shall convince myself that they wear gold, not yellow...
Fotis Ioannidis - another offer rejected
at 12:14 19 Jun 2024

Who knows what the true details are?

Even if the total value of the bid was 25m Euros, and even if it was rejected, that doesn't mean that a different bid whose total value is 25m Euros would fail. It has been claimed before that our previous bid was too reliant on add-ons. It may very well be that whoever gets him will get him for 25m Euros, with more of the total amount being payable immediately, and more (or all) of the final amount being payable without conditions to be satisfied (such as number of goals, European qualification, etc).

We need to trust that the club management know what they're upto. The fact that they appear to be fishing in this pool at all I think is a good sign. And the (apparent) fact that we have put in a second bid is likely to mean that we have not been told that our club is of no interest to the player on any terms. Which in itself is good.
Memberships & ballots
at 10:07 19 Jun 2024

I accept that I will miss out an awful lot, and I accept that there is no perfect way to organise ticket sales or to please anyone.

What I do find a little galling is to have paid for a membership which turns out to have got me precisely nothing.

Oh well, I guess we're all a little more aware how the land lies this season and can make decisions accordingly.

Cameron Carter-Vickers…
at 21:01 17 Jun 2024

Quite possibly. Contracted until 2029 and only 10 months older than Woolfie, Champions League experience, and named in the Scottish Prem team of the season a couple of times. Doubt he'd be the most obvious bargain, let's say.

Quite liked the look of him when he was here before at a very young age for a CB. Certainly wouldn't complain if Kieran wants him and he's available on reasonable terms.
Rio Ferdinand said Bellingham is intimating to other players.
at 14:38 17 Jun 2024

Yes I agree. The scary/exciting thing is that Zidane didn't play for the senior France team until he was 22. He then went on to make 108 appearances for France over 12 years.

Whereas Bellingham is still only 20 and has made 30 appearances for England. He's already a leader, both by example and in other ways, and seems mature beyond his years. Even Finidi George's years!

I mean there are certain artistic things that Zidane could do, and chose to do, with the ball that maybe Bellingham won't have in his locker, but the fact that he's already being mentioned in that category at his age is incredible. Technique, strength, intelligence, leadership, enough pace. And having learned from top coaches in more than one European league, he will have a broad base to his football education that will surely help in the major tournaments against a variety of different footballing nations.
Update on that Greek fella…
at 19:25 16 Jun 2024

I don't know how true this all is. I want it to be true, from what we know and have seen of this guy.

But the thing that strikes me is this: it is now at least credible that we are in a transfer race with Sporting Lisbon. Not so long ago we were playing against the green of Forest Green. This sort of feeling will hit us again and again over the coming 12 months and we must enjoy it. I'd love it to continue for 12 years, but one step at a time...
Not wanting this to go into Joey Barton territory but Emi Aluko is a poor pundit
at 19:01 16 Jun 2024

It is such a shame. It would just be fantastic to have more female pundits, referees and coaches in the men's game. I really do think it would shake complacency away and drive standards. But sadly, I couldn't agree more about Aluko. It's a real shame because she would seem to be much more intelligent than your average footballer on paper, but she's yet to show it at all as a pundit imho.

Cricket has some wonderful female pundits in a game which excluded women from the establishment for far too long. I really hope that the same happens for football, because at the moment you can see why the TV channels are anxious to appoint a good number of them, but I'm not sure many of them are great.

Barton of course is a complete kn*b. There is no reason why a woman should not talk with intelligence and insight on the men's game, obviously. Top female players in tennis have often accepted that men's and women's tennis are very different sports, and in different ways the same is true of football. But plainly Navratilova speaks with insight that the vast majority of men's players could only dream of.

Maybe the best route will be to have female coaches be pundits for a while - something has to put them in the shop window in order for professional men's sides to give them a go...
Euros or World Cup
at 20:26 15 Jun 2024

Harder to get out of the group? Even though (a) there are supposedly no Mickey Mouse teams, and (b) only 8 teams out of 24 fail to make it through?

No. The group stages are a time consuming joke for me, allowing two thirds of the teams through, and then it's just like a World Cup knockout stage except without fantastic teams like Brazil and Argentina.

Then you consider the history - I recall Euros with only 8 teams, which were just rubbish, and I also recall both Greece and Denmark winning the thing. Denmark won it having failed to even qualify, but were allowed to take part because Yugoslavia were banned for having a war. I don't think I've ever heard anything more Mickey Mouse.

I can't see how the Euros can possibly be preferred. I shall enjoy it, mind, and want England to win very much. But it ain't the World Cup.
Euros golden boot
at 16:58 14 Jun 2024

You can have £20 on G.Ramos at 229/1 right now on Betfair Exchange if you're interested!
The current squad
at 14:18 14 Jun 2024

Well if we finish second like last year, I'll be happy with the approach taken, vacuum or no vacuum.
Joe Rodon?
at 13:18 14 Jun 2024

Good age, good size, good pedigree, some experience in the top flight in biggish teams in two countries. Has always looked handy when I've seen him play, which is probably only half a dozen times to be fair.

I think he'd be an upgrade. Would cost a fair chunk of change, but I think we'll need to pay out three or four such fees in order to compete.
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