Coutinho is 13% better than Morten Gamst Pedersen

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Coutinho: Really nowhere near De Bruyne
Philippe Coutinho being nominated for the Ballon d’or is Youtube politics at it’s finest. Coutinho is a really good player, capable of moments of magic that can win games. Simultaneously, he is also a player than is more than capable of being a passenger in a game. Comparing him with someone like De Bruyne, who can provide all the goals and assists as a ten, but equally drop deeper and run the entire game as a conduit, it’s absurd. It’s actually patronising to young Phillipe. I often think that this is part of the problem with the England national team – we’re a nation of ball watchers, ever eager to clap the occasional 30-yarder like a gaggle of gormless seals, but blind to the technicians that actually allow teams to be great. Coutinho exemplifies this; he’s about 13% better than Morten Gamst Pedersen.
Ben, London (Best player in the world over the last year? De Bruyne, no doubt)


Henderson is a sideways plodder
Jordan seems to be the hot topic of phone-ins, mailboxes and general football chat – seemingly polarising opinion on him and what he does.

He reminds me of the player we all probably played with on Sunday mornings from a young age, who once had trials, but got injured and neeeever quite made it (purely because of the injury, nothing to do with the lack of ability).

Not the most talented, but in his head was the best and demonstrated this by being busy. Demanded the ball from you constantly, snarling angrily if you opted to pass to another teammate (even if they were better placed). Through the age groups and teams, this one player constantly had an inflated opinion of his own self-worth. He should be captain, he should take penalties, free kicks and corners. All play should go through him because he is the best. He believed the hype, even if everyone else cynically looked on with a frown.

Jordan Henderson is this player. A solid 6 out of 10, a sideways plodder. Which actually suits some teams, and makes sense for them to have to play in CM. But not for England.

England should be a little more adventurous; play a diamond, Dier at the base, Lallana and Winks either side, Alli at the top and Rashford and Kane up front.

I would rather go out in a blaze of glory than a coma-inducing loss to a perceived lesser nation.

In short, don’t resent Jordan because he does what he does, resent the managers for picking him.
Will Brackley


…To the gentleman from Zimbabwe, the ‘massive Liverpool supporter’ who tells us we should be grateful for Jordan Henderson, I say this:


All he does is run.

I’m sick to death of seeing players who can only run or ‘press’.

He can’t tackle.

He blasts the ball at his teammates from 5-10 yards away.

Gareth Southgate is picking him due to injured or unavailable replacements at present.

The day I would be thankful for someone as dreadful as Jordan Henderson will be the day I’m on trial at the Hague for war crimes, when the idea of Henderson skittishly pegging it around like a dog in heat would seem like a welcome distraction from years in solitary confinement, and romantic evening dinners with General Ratko Mladec.

He is a dreadful ‘footballer’. He can’t pick a pass and seems to be a few seconds behind play at all times, always behind the thinking of his team mates. It’s as if he’s buffering.

Now, I know Jurgen Klopp rates him, but he’s not exactly pulling up trees himself is he, and as Jordan has been a sitting midfielder in a team that has conceded an average of 50 Premier League goals a season for the past four years or so, I don’t see him as a particularly good judge of a player.

Now I appreciate that you don’t get to watch your own country play international football, but that doesn’t mean that England are held back by their fans, fans who apparently need to accept mediocrity rather than the nothing you have. You’ll be surprised to hear that I disagree. I’d much rather trust a younger player to come in and play the holding role, or play three centre halves and two actual footballers in the centre of midfield to help us keep the ball. Perish the thought.


Let’s celebrate mediocrity
In celebration of all things mediocre (including my own life), I think it would be fun to come up with a just “okay” team of the season so far. I’ve picked 11 players whose performances haven’t been outstanding in any way but also haven’t been terrible for the most part.

It doesn’t mean I haven’t picked any really good players but just ones whose performances have solicited a general shoulder shrug because they’re just playing to expectations. I’m sure several players fit into this category, but i think this 11 is best of the lot.

Only constraint I had was that there could only be one player from each Premier League side.

Keeper: Hugo Lloris
Right Back: Cedric Soares
Center Back: Craig Dawson
Center Back: Ciaran Clark
Left Back: Leighton Baines
Central Midfield: Xhaka
Central Midfield: Tom Cleverley
Central Midfield: Gini Wijnaldum
Left Wing: Willian
Right Wing: Juan Mata
Striker: Jamie Vardy
Gautham (Indianapolis)


Actually, some people need some Roy Keane tough love
This may sound ridiculous from an Arsenal supporter, but I am a huge fan of Roy Keane. If only England had a player of his character. If your team mates are fearful of you, just imagine how the opposition must feel. Someone who is willing to get stuck in and impose them self on a game physically instead of thinking that a pass completion rate is the key to influencing a game. Categorise me as a PFM if you must but Keane wasn’t just an angry thug. He was a world-class midfielder who could hit a pass and run all day. In summation, who would you rather have in/leading your team, Keane or Henderson?

A little bit of tough love wouldn’t go astray on this current England crop, there is no grunt. It’s all well and good trying to outplay and out pass a team and play ticka tacka, but it would be nice to have a player who would also hurt the opposition and break up their game plan.
John – AFC fan now down under


Even if Messi does not win the World Cup, it’s fine…
It’s fine for Johniec@m to rate Maradona above Messi, but to dismiss his achievements so readily is surely just him fishing?

The use of ‘Jules Rimet’ and ‘Premiership’ smacks of someone living in the past because frankly, international football is no longer the pinnacle. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve love to see Messi tear up the World Cup next year but if he doesn’t, at least he has Champions League medals to fall back on.

That said, anyone who watched Messi in his two games this week know he’s the outstanding star of the Argentina team still. Not just the hat-trick, but totally bossing the game against Peru too. Unfortunately it’s a team game and his colleagues badly let him down, spurning chances he created at will. By the way, John also asks for international consistency (61 goals in 122 games – exactly one every two matches) from the now joint highest (with Suarez) South American WC qualifying top scorer ever. Messi also won the Golden Ball at the last World Cup?!

Finally, the bloody Stoke thing. Some people really need to get over this. Considering Messi has slayed a number of English teams superior to Stoke in the Champions League for the last 10 years, I think he’d be ok. And yes, that includes goals in finals against United. Nolito, Nathan Ake and Olivier Giroud have all scored goals in wins at mighty Stoke within the last year, so I’d imagine Messi would be alright.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


…I sent a tongue-in-cheek email earlier – published, cheers! – about Lionel Messi and the nonsense that continues to circulate about his not ‘doing it’ for Argentina… Just wanted to send another one. It’s a bit longer.

It amazes me that there continues to even be a debate about this. The man is Argentina’s all-time top scorer; 61 goals in 122 appearances, a goal every other game. He has been instrumental in Argentina getting to the final in the last three international competitions they were eligible for. Sure, he did not win but Argentina lost one via an injury time wonder goal and two on penalties.

Furthermore, it baffles me that Maradona continues to be used as a stick with which to beat Messi. Maradona was obviously a genius and dragged his Argentina side to the ’86 World Cup; an amazing, stupefying achievement. As were his heroics with Napoli. However, such were the magnificence of these wins that they often serve to dull the collective memory of mediocre seasons like the one at Sevilla and his ‘performance’ at the ’94 World Cup.

Messi has endured no such troughs for either club or country. Instead, the amazing has become routine. We expect ludicrous things from him because he treats us to them so regularly. As a result, some quickly mock him when he dares to show even the slightest hint of mortality or fallibility. More use Ronaldo’s success at the Euros as another stick to beat him with; even though Cristiano had a largely unimpressive tournament and missed pretty much the entirety of the final itself… It’s almost like there’s a team around these guys who possess talents and flaws of their own.

I obviously get why Maradona endures and how his legacy could outlast Messi’s, even if Messi does manage to win a World Cup. We all love a flawed genius and genius and flaws rarely come in a more intricately entwined package than in old Diego.

However, in the meantime, can we stop using the achievements of one genius to ridicule the almost superhuman efforts of another? We really will miss Lionel Messi when he’s gone… Regardless of how many World Cup winners medals he has.

After all, Best and Cruyff never got one.

Yes, he’s up there.
John (No other Argentinian has scored a goal in qualification in eleven months and they’re at the World Cup. I mean, seriously, what does he have to do?), Ennis


And Maradona did not singlehandedly win the World Cup
If there is one issue that grates me in football it is this myth that Maradona single-handedly won Argentina the World Cup. Any time people say Messi is the greatest of all time people like Johniec@m throw up this argument re the ’86 World Cup like a player has to win a World Cup to be considered great. Forget Messi’s Champions Leagues, Ballon d’ors, World Club Ch’ships, domestic leagues, cups, countless individual awards and phenomenal scoring records as well as his incredible talent – it is this once every four years tournament that is the real test (rubbish, Dirk Kuyt nearly won one in 2010)

In the 1986 World Cup Argentina played seven games. Maradona scored in three of the seven games and in total he scored five goals (one of which was a handball). Argentina scored three goals in the final and Maradona didn’t score any.They also beat a very good Uruguay team 1-0 in the last 16 & he didn’t score in that game. This is hardly single handedly winning a tournament for gods sake.

Back when Maradona was at his peak none of his Napoli games were on live TV in the UK or Ireland and any coverage was a basic highlights show late on a Monday night in the late 80’s so I do not know what people are basing their Maradona love-in on. These days every single game Messi plays is on live so everyone can scrutinise and over analyse. In two years at Napoli he scored 32 goals and he never won a European Cup.

All any Maradona fan points to is the World Cup but this is a tournament on once every four years and players/teams may be out of form when it comes around. Messi has a better goals/games ratio for Argentina then Maradona so if Argentina aren’t winning Messi cannot be blamed. If all else can we put to bed this myth that Argentina were a one-man team in 1986, it is absolute rubbish.
Ferg, Cork


Look at those missing the World Cup altogether…
That missing WC11 team is frighteningly good. Surely a shoo-in for a semi final berth?

The midfielders on the bench are incredible too!

Trying to think of other players that may warrant a place in that team is difficult, came up with these:…..

Great work!
Rob, NWale


The problem with US football
I have been reading the mailbox since my brother introduced me to it when I was 14. I have never felt the need to rant about the teams I supported, let alone about International Soccer. What happened last night was the tipping point for a lot of fans that love the game here. Most are calling for the heads of the players, some for the coach and the head of the federation which is to be expected. That’s not going to change much, it starts from the youth set-up. Their is a reason Christian Pulisic is the best player in the National team, he was not developed in the US youth setups, but in Europe. Here were the pay for play is still dominant, which is basically were you have to pay if you want to play. This is flat out absurd, this cuts of the dreams of all the kids that don’t have the extra money to play soccer, and this has mostly affected the inner city kids who don’t have the finances to go out and get the highest level of coaching. Until the pay for play is completely taken out of US Soccer the future does not look so bright, and we will probably still be having this conversation by the time the next World Cup comes around. Till then ama keep supporting the real national team, the Women’s national team.
Ermias (FOX sports regretting paying 400 million for the World Cup) Ripon, WI


Selected fan mail for Sean, CFC
What a nice chap that Sean is.

1 in 10 nurses are male, why? Societal expectations, that’s why. When kids play doctors and nurses, who is normally a doctor and who is normally a nurse? When did you last see a sexy doctor outfit for Halloween?

As for your comment on Black Grime and R’n’B music. Grime and Rap are a reaction to circumstance. Why do you think a lot of rap and grime comes from estates and not well-heeled white kids, or black kids for that matter? Look at the lyrical content of the music, and you’ll soon get an idea. As for R’n’B, I can’t. even. begin. to. explain. Just look up Robert Johnson.

More men work in construction than women? Why is that? When was the last time you saw a girls babygrow with a JCB on? When was the last time you saw a girl being encouraged to get muddy and build stuff?

You are paid what you’re worth, and if the world’s best female football player earns half of what someone like Paul McShane earns, I think they’re absolutely more entitled to be paid a fair wage.

Sean, hopefully one day you’ll be fully aware of your surroundings and have some iota of awareness.
Matiss Dale


…Humanity collectively agrees and understands the concept that some people are better at things than others. But like the Mediawatch compiler was pointing out, not everyone starts off on an equal footing and that is an undeniable fact.

The argument that ‘you are paid what your worth’ is the flimsiest statement anyone can make because what universally accepted metric is this based off of? The idea of ‘worth’ is purely subjective and based off of the opinions of those who hold power. The English FA banned women from playing football for 50 years for what? Was it because they were not worth a watch? Who determines that? Does that seem like it was a decision based on objectivity or subjectivity?

I highly commend Norway for taking on this stance that the men and women that represent their nation in their respective sports should be paid equally as they’re doing the same job! Are the conditions different? Absolutely! But the metric that the Norwegian FA has pinned the idea of worth is sound and fair and undeniable. Both the men and women are both expected to operate and abide by the same laws and rules on and off the field so what justifiable, objective reason does Matthew Syed actually present?

The danger with journalism throughout history is not the author themselves, but the audience’s inability to discern fact from opinion. Or worse yet, the audience of opinion pieces use the opinions of journalist to double down on their own biases and pass that off as fact. Sean, the article may share some facts, but it is mostly an opinion piece; if you agree with Matthew’s article, fine, but it’s not a fact.
J.D, Nairobi


…Apparently yesterday was National Coming Out day and I was happily reflecting on how far we’ve come as a society in the last 20 or so years when Sean, CFC happened.

What the actually f**k?! Can Sean please back up just a little bit before he (I’m assuming “he” from the misogynistic tone) bumps into Marty and Doc Brown and we suddenly all find ourselves in 1977? Let’s take this slow.

Firstly, what did you mean by “essence”? Are you referring to spelling, punctuation and grammar? Or did you just mean that the right date was on the article? Otherwise, you’re 100% wrong. And that’s not just your essence.

Your next sentence – “You’re paid what you’re worth…” etc, etc, is demonstrably wrong in the UK. Successful and talented people don’t “just get paid more money for what they do” (my emphasis). Men are far more likely to get promotion or pay rises than women. Would you really like to suggest that’s because men are generally better than women at the majority of jobs? Also, people schooled at private schools are far more likely to take higher paid jobs, proof that the class system is anything but fabricated. White middle-classed men just get paid more.

There are more female nurses than male nurses and more men in construction? Well, firstly nurses aren’t brilliantly paid and so men have been traditionally less likely to view it as a career. There’s also social conditioning to consider here. It’s very simplistic but, for instance, boys are given trucks and girls are given dolls despite there being zero reason why they shouldn’t play with both toys. There’s also the stereotypical images of construction workers as burley men with hard hats on. And women as nurses is often seen as a sexy thing.

Do white people really need equality when it comes to R’n’B and grime? There’s already country, classical, pop and metal. Not to mention blues, jazz and good old rhythm and blues which were effectively stolen from black people in the first place. No, I think you were being deliberately obtuse on that one.

Why on earth would we want our kids to be guilty about being better than their classmates at stuff? Surely we just teach our kids to try their best, be sportsmanlike, help the kids who aren’t at their level and learn from the kids above? There’s clearly no need for guilt, just a little humility.

This isn’t about some people being better at certain things than other people. No ones saying that everyone should be paid the same amount of money. This is about individuals and groups of people being discriminated against due to a shared characteristic. It’s about people not getting paid what they’re worth or not getting opportunities based on that characteristic.

I’m seriously struggling to see how viewpoints such as Sean’s continue to be pervasive in the 21st Century, fully 40 years on from when my mum was told she could join the Navy but she couldn’t go on the ships. Funny that a National governing body in a smallish country (albeit one that kicks our ass on plenty of metrics, including inequality) deciding to give equal pay to its staff could cause so many people in the mighty United Kingdom so much unease. Our equivalent governing body has just totally botched the handling of an affair which has seen allegations of racism swept under the carpet and the manager of the national team investigated due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour with his staff who happened to be female.

Its a shame that tackling inequality makes Sean feel queasy. It’s hard not to think that things could be different for him if he just opened his mind and looked at some facts instead of saying stupid things like ‘the essence of Matthew Syed’s column was 100% correct’. Next thing, he’ll be telling us that Trickle Down works and rich people shouldn’t pay more tax.
Ashley (MCWB) Metcalfe


…Obviously Sean, CFC doesn’t speak for all men/people out there. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s quite a few tho – all led by the Bigot in Chief Mr. “I grab pussies because I want to” Trump.

“Can’t we just accept that some people are better at some things than others”. Yes, Sean. Let’s fu** aspiration. Let’s just tell an entire group not to do something because they’re rubbish at it. Hell, I was crap at DIY, but why should I try and improve when there are other people who are better than me? I shouldn’t shame their skills by attempting to get better myself should I? And don’t get me started on my cooking abilities. I’m not as good as Gordon Ramsey, so why should I try harder than making toast?

I really hope that Sean never has to experience being oppressed and told he can’t do something because of his hair colour or something else equally arbitrary.

Women’s football is considered inferior by many to men’s football in a number of ways. However, the oppression which it suffered while men were given pure privilege may just have something to do with that.

And there was no reason for women to be told they could not officially play football other than giving men a pure advantage. After all, by all accounts women were pretty good at it once upon a time and were then told to “get in the kitchen and know their place” a la the Harry Enfield sketch.

Presumably this self-imposed advantage that men had for many years can be ignored? I mean if we’re talking equality, white middle class men are the epitomy of the underprivileged in this country these days, ignoring centuries where they received *all* the advantages life could bestow at the expense of anybody and everybody else.

If all things were equal throughout history, there is nothing to say that women would not be considered by all to be as good if not better at football than men.

That is what needs to be corrected. It wasn’t right and the FA owe it to give previously oppressed groups the same opportunities as men received for decades/centuries. That means investment, facilities and priorities.

Sean, I have no idea if you have dreams or aspirations, but in the off chance that you do imagine you were told you can’t follow them, and there was a punishment if you did?
Rob, London

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