The Mailbox condemns anyone using the Lionesses to have a pop at Gareth Southgate’s squad. Also: what United can learn from Pep’s early days.
Get your views in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Lionesses and Lions
I wrote in at the start of the tournament to say how proud I was of Leah Williamson leading England out in their first game of the Euros.
And on Sunday she will lead England out under the Wembley arches. Arsenal fans are already familiar with the photos of little Leah leading the Arsenal Men’s team out as an Arsenal mascot. Our Leah has really developed into a Rolls-Royce of a player – spraying balls over the place. But it’s hard not to fall in love with this whole England team.
Leah’s fellow gooner Beth Mead terrifying defences because you know, well, she’s on fire. Earps in goal making world class saves. Fran Kirby coming back from injury and playing out of her skin and then there’s Russo.
Sometimes there are players you just love watching and Russo is one of them – that finish was exquisite and through the keeper’s legs as well – just fantastic.
I totally get why Alex Scott was emotional – it’s hard not to be. These lionesses are spreading joy throughout the land and inspiring generations to come – and all led by our Leah – made in Milton Keynes but one of Arsenal’s own and on her way to becoming an Arsenal and England legend.
Can we stop using the Women’s team success as a stick to beat the Men’s team with? Their success is England’s success and I guarantee you won’t find a player in the Men’s squad who won’t be ecstatic about how the Women’s team has performed.
Roll on the final.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…I see having gone through “picking players for a system,” “trying to defend against good attacking teams” “losing a friendly” and “having an invented vendetta against Trent” we’ve finally reached the nadir of Gareth Southgate criticism in the latest mailbox.
The Swedish women’s team’s goalkeeper has a mare, ergo Gareth Southgate out.
Andy in Salford
…Rob, Gravesend letter, and those like it, was as predictable as it was depressing. Is it utterly impossible to praise women’s football without denigrating the men’s game? When Serena Williams wins a grand slam, no one turns to Andy Murray and Rafal Nadal and says “See? That’s how you do it boys!”, yet this appears to be the current default response to the Lionesses’ success. It’s especially ludicrous given what the current England men’s team have achieved so far, and the recent furore over discrimination.
…We all know Gareth Southgate is useless (don’t we?) but let’s not use the Lionesses as a stick to beat him with. Comparisons with the men’s game are irrelevant and unhelpful. Just let the women’s game be.
…The need of some people to take something as great as last night and use it to make a negative point about the men’s team, Gareth Southgate, Phil Neville etc, is as tedious as it is predictable. Yes, I understand the need to push back against the people that take joy in criticising the women’s game and see it as yet another front in the culture war, but you’re just lowering yourselves to that level.
In short, just enjoy the football and try not to be a d*ck about it.
…I have really enjoyed the Women’s Euros and thought most people were past the ‘OMG Women play football too’ moment. As a football fan I have just enjoyed the matches and intensity.
Then I see the first mail and headline on Football365 ‘ Men’s game could never do this’ from Rob in Gravesend. Instantly changing the focus to the men’s game rather than the women just winning a semi-final
I hope next women’s tournament we can just enjoy the football for its own sake. That will be the moment we know women’s football is accepted for real and not a novelty.
…Long-time reader first-time writer etc. with a couple of points to make, and I don’t know why I all of a sudden feel the urge to express these opinions but maybe they are worth a quick read:
I live and work in London, was not born in the UK and am very much European. I support a Championship team and have no real affiliation to a Premier League team so I often enjoy watching a variety of games as a neutral. I have no skin in the game, as it were, but still tend to have a good time at matches. My country have a terrible national team so I find myself rooting for Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England whenever they are playing. The recent turnaround in the English national team has been very interesting to watch – the narrative is compelling (fallen England penalty villain leads team of likeable guys to victory for the first time since 1966 etc.), and I have totally fallen for the Lionesses. Lucy Bronze is my favourite player.
I read a lot on football, purely for pleasure and don’t see myself as an expert. I also listen to a lot of football podcasts and was recently interested to hear Barry Glendenning on Football Weekly comment on how he just couldn’t live with the idea of England winning anything in his lifetime. I thought this was a little extreme and representative of the by-gone Irish idea of ABE (anybody but England). I cheered on each goal last night and felt a little sorry for the Swedes who I thought played a wonderful match but were just outclassed by a very good England team who were exceptionally well supported by their fans. Then this morning, driving into work, I hear on TalkSport a snippet from Jason Cundy “celebrating” England’s win. My dear Ed, if you ever need an example of why everyone in Europe would prefer Russia to win the next Euros rather than England it is because of morons like Jason Cundy. Maybe he has been discussed in the Mailbox before, and if so excuse my ignorance, but I don’t understand how someone hasn’t shut this guy up before. Please do seek out his little verbal explosion – it should make your skin crawl. And now I find myself in a weird situation, do I want the Lionesses to win now? Will I have to listen to a thousand Jason Cundy-style idiots blathering on about ‘Has anyone seen Ikea?’ – f*cking moron, excuse my language. It saddens me that someone so idiotic can affect my feelings about a sport I love in such a way, but maybe the curtain has been pulled back, maybe I’ve been ignorant for so long and I needed a buffoon like Cundy to highlight it for me. And for those of you reading this (presuming it gets published) who are thinking “oh man up, it’s football, it’s supposed to be a bit of bantahh”, well it’s not.
The English enjoy a reputation for being comedic geniuses throughout the world and it’s not undeserved. It’s just a shame that your loudest voices in the football sphere are often lager-fuelled-man-children who lack any kind of actual understanding of foreign culture deriding and insulting the efforts of a few for some cheap laughs. God forbid Alex Morgan pretend to sip a cup of tea as a goal celebration – that’s not banter, is it?
In closing I’d like to say that Ian Wright and Alex Scott have been great to watch on comms.
Embrace the differences
A creeping thing has been growing in the back of my mind, not a tumour thought the following letter might make you believe so. Does it matter if the women’s game ISNT as good as the mens?
The constant argument has been it’s a worse product so should be given less thought.
If you ask a lot of UK fans they will likely say the premier League is the best in the world. This makes all the other leagues inferior by definition. Do we care less about the Spanish, German, Italian leagues because they’re supposedly inferior?
Not really they still command respect in many ways.
To go further the lower leagues are supposedly inferior to the premier League so do we dismiss those too? We certainly don’t when its a cup match up, we all love to believe the ‘crapper’ teams will score a big victory.
So why can’t we treat the women’s game the same? Not as a replacement to the men’s game but as a product which stands alongside it with its own respect due?
If you can’t consider the women’s game in the same way you do the aforementioned leagues then you might want to ask yourself what it is that is preventing you from giving it any respect?
It is a good standalone product. Is it for me? Not really. It’s failed to catch my attention but then so do many leagues and sports but I don’t dismiss them as garbage, I still accept a lot of skill and talent goes into them.
I think it’s probably time we all accept women’s football as a game in its own right and stop comparing it. It has talent. It should have respect so let’s give it.
Reasons to be cheerful
Do you remember that scene in Trainspotting; the one where Ewen McGregor’s character proclaims: “It’s shite being Scottish”? Well, when it comes to international football tournaments, it is.
Scotland rarely qualify and when we do, any optimism is crushed in the opening group game. To compound the misery, certain sections of the media become unbearable; hyping up England’s chances, while refusing to shut up about ‘66.
Last summer, it felt different. Yes, the coverage was extreme, but the England squad was likeable, were managed by a thoroughly inoffensive man and played some nice football. For once, most of us north of the border would not have grudged England winning the Euros. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a universal feeling, but it was a significant improvement. Historically, the England football team have been as popular as Margaret Thatcher in Scotland!
Somehow, the mood has shifted once more. Last year, it was a case of “I won’t mind if they win,” an opinion you certainly did not want to express in a pub for fear of someone going full Begbie, to: “I hope England win.” Now, this may be because for many years, few Scots cared about the England women’s team, hence the lack of any long-term resentment. Or maybe, watching a team that averages five goals a game, concedes infrequently and score ridiculous backheel nutmegs is easy to root for.
It feels like a turning point for women’s sport in the United Kingdom. If England win the Euros, it will be the catalyst for changed and growth that has been lacking for a long time.
If England are successful it will be a monumental milestone, one which other sports can use as a launch pad to stimulate their own growth. In September, Savannah Marshal and Claressa Shields will fight for all the world titles at middleweight, in boxing. Their fight tops an all-female card which will feature a unification between unbeaten Americans as chief support and Olympians on the undercard. The fact that the event is taking place at the O2 Arena and will be broadcast on Sky Sports is testament to the growing intrigue in women’s boxing. Imagine how much more interest that bill will receive on the back of the England team’s success.
These are exciting times.
Of course, it is not going to be to everyone’s taste, and that’s ok. There are differences between the men and women’s game and it is fine to prefer men’s football. Hell, no one minds if you have no interest in women’s football. However, some people will take offence if you seek out coverage of it for the sole purpose to leave negative comments. No one is “forcing it down your throat,” the sport is just receiving coverage. That is allowed.
Unless you support Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea, chances are, your club has not won an awful lot lately. Why not embrace a side consisting of decent human beings, playing good football?
If all but the most ardent SNP voters in Scotland can, at least, not grudge England’s success, surely the English can embrace it?
What United can learn from City
I’ve seen a lot of United and other club’s fans talking about how they see their first season going under ETH going with lots of over giddiness and over pessimism. So I thought I would offer my own perspective from a City fan. By all accounts ETH wants to play a similar style of football to Pep, and I saw first hand the transitional first season under Pep in 2016-17.
City got 4th place on goal difference in Pellegrini’s last season and even though we were a passing team there was a huge tactical shift to learn Pep’s style. What became evident is that some players didn’t have the physicality to press as Pep wants, and some players didn’t have the ability to play Pep’s style of passing and positional play, which is quite cerebral. And we couldn’t wholesale change the team in one transfer window, so we ended up with some square pegs in round holes, with ageing fullbacks unable to press or bomb forward, and Kolorov at Centre Back as we needed some one who could play out from the back with Kompany injured. And you can’t switch playing out from the back on and off depending on the opposition when trying to embed a new style of play.
So although we started promisingly, we also got hammered 4-2 by Leicester and 4-0 by Everton, when lots of internet pundits declared Pep’s football won’t work in the Premier League. And what happens next you already know.
United, in my opinion, will go through similar growing pains, with better passing and positional play leading to goals and wins. And comedic defending as the high line is exposed, the full backs and centre backs are caught out of position and the ball is given away cheaply when playing out from the back. United will also get hammered by teams who expose this naivety during this transitional period. So if ETH is the right man (there are still some doubts) don’t get over giddy when you beat Fulham or demand to kick it long when facing a Liverpool or City press. And expect to need a few transfer windows to sort out the team and squad to play this type of football as some players just cant’t play it (cough De Gea, cough Ronaldo, cough Maguire, etc).
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC. (p.s. I hope it all goes horribly wrong)
For full disclosure, I am an Arsenal fan and an Arteta fan. I believe in the vibes and trust the process! However, I will admit that I can understand the skepticism as we bottled it badly at the end of last season when it really mattered and other than the solitary FA Cup win (which was sorely needed) he will need a few more tangible successes to cement his credibility.
I would just like to take issue with one of the main reasons that opposition fans and pundits are pointing to as to why Arsenal will struggle this coming season, namely the increased number of games. The logic seems to be that if we couldn’t make top 4 with no European football, it will be impossible to do so with that added commitment.
There is, however, a flipside to that. Followers of Arsenal will know that we suffered from serious losses of momentum at crucial stages of the season last time around. Galvanising, momentum building results were often followed by excruciatingly long waits for the next game. At one point, early this year, I believe we went a full 30 days without playing a fixture while other teams played 3 or 4 league games. In addition to that, when the backup fringe players were brought in from the cold, they had very little competitive game time under their belts which led to some costly rust-induced errors.
The Europa League is a competition that we have a realistic chance of winning, which means that players fighting for a place in the league starting 11 (ESR, Pepe, Vieira etc) will get regular competitive football that matters and squad competition and momentum should be a lot more robust this year.
Of course, it could all go up in smoke but isn’t that the beauty of pre-season optimism?
Transfers and turnover
I’m sure most fans are still lapping up all the transfer rumours they can consume. Despite all our better knowledge there is something giddy about the prospect of new players and new promise. Hell, as a Forest fan it seems like we are getting in a new player every day. But it all comes at a bit of a price, doesn’t it? I remember following football in the 90s and it was common to see clubs only bring in maybe two players. The year Arsenal brought in 5 players (2001 I believe) it was considered something of a splurge. Nowadays it seems that if a top club hasn’t brought in at least four new, expensive signings then it’s been a quiet, ineffective window. I watched highlights of a few FA Cup finals recently and I was staggered by the Arsenal team of 2020, of which 7 of the 11 starters have either left or are leaving, and only two would be considered starters today. That’s an incredible turnover for such a short period of time.
I don’t know how others feel, but I will always remember squads from the 90s and early 2000s because they didn’t have such wholesale change. They’d alter and add a little but the core would roughly remain. I know that the huge sums, agents fees and brand building all all contributing to this, but when Forest celebrated at Wembley I did catch myself wondering how many of those players would actually get a chance in the Premier League, as opposed to being replaced. It’s little wonder that players have no ‘loyalty’ to clubs when fans don’t return the favour. We demand new players, clearing of dead wood (players under contract, whose family may be settled and happy). I respect players who reject transfers more and more, to be honest. De Jong signed on to play for Barca for 4 years, why shouldn’t he stay and honour his deal?
Just an observation of how quickly the game is moving. I know it’s ‘working’ in terms of fan engagement and interest, but I don’t know if it’s better.
The article Why are we using Lionesses’ Euros success as a stick to beat England’s men? appeared first on Football365.com.