The Mailbox urges Harry Kane to seize his opportunity to join Real Madrid, while a Rangers fan highlights why Ange Postecoglu is the real deal for Tottenham.
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Real sitter for Kane
As an outsider looking in, Harry Kane simply must go to Madrid. It really is now or never for him. He’s been a consistently excellent striker for so many seasons. Spurs have taken a(nother) step backwards and their potential new manager, though he might do an outstanding job, is what, 7th choice?
Sadly, I think we are about to see what we expect from Daniel Levy and that is he’s going to dig in. He’s going to demand £100m plus for a player who is 29 (30 by the time the season starts) and has one year left on his deal.
Now, Madrid might wait a year and take the free or they may just sign someone else, to stick with the F1 comparisons from Monday morning’s mailbox, there is a seat going at Madrid and it might not be there in year. Equally, City will still have Haaland, Newcastle might be an option, but that feels too soon to be the trophy guarantee, Chelsea and United could go one way or the other, but I’d expect City to still be ahead of them both in a year’s time. No one else can afford him in the Premier League. PSG might be the most likely then?
I think we’re about to reach peak Levy and I expect Spurs will start the 2024/25 season without Harry Kane or any money for him. Would it not be best to say ~£60m with some add-ons? Then the new manager can start to build something fresh – you can’t replace Kane like-for-like with that money, but it’s better than watching him ride off for free, no?
Honestly, at this point I think he needs releasing from his Spurs purgatory. Get to Spain, Harry, win a couple of titles before it’s too late.
As things stand, Ange Postecoglou is expected to become the next Tottenham manager. I am sure there are plenty Spurs fans that are sceptical, after all nothing good has ever come out of Scottish football (Henrick Larsson, Virgil Van Dijk, and Robertson and John McGinn’s buttocks never did anything outside of the farmers’ league, right?)
However, as someone who seen plenty of Ange’s Celtic side, I feel it is an exciting appointment. In years gone by, I would be able to describe myself as a fan of the ‘other’ Scottish team, back in the days when the league was still a duopoly, rather than the monopoly it has been for the best part of a decade. As such, I have a vested interest in seeing the back of the big Australian. Sadly, he has constructed the best side I have seen north of the border; a better team than the McCoist, Laudrup, Gascoigne Rangers squad; more impressive than the Larsson-propelled 2004 UEFA cup finalists, greater than the Advocaat-era Gers, I even feel they are superior to Brendan Rodgers’ Invincible Treble side. At this point, some smart arse will pipe up with: “What about the Lisbon Lions?” Well, I am too young to have seen them play, even if my knees tell a different story when I try to stand up from the sofa.
Given that Celtic have won five domestic trebles in the last seven seasons, it would be easy to assume that anyone could be successful at Hoops, at present. However, it is worth looking at the team Postecoglou inherited and the general state of disarray the club was in upon his arrival.
When Brendan Rodgers left to join Leicester, in February 2019, he had already won the League Cup that season and Celtic were eight points clear at the top of the table. Neil Lennon was then appointed as manager until the end of the season. The former Northern Ireland international lead Celtic to league and Scottish Cup success, securing the club’s third consecutive domestic treble. I’m not sure even the famously trigger-happy Mauricio Zamparini would have been able to justify not giving Lennon the job on a permanent basis. As such, the board appointed Lennon as club manager for a second stint. The fans were not happy. Lennon’s managerial reputation had diminished in the years since he was last in charge of The Hoops, following a disastrous spell at Bolton and an underwhelming period in charge of Hibs. The former Celtic captain was an uninspired choice and one which screamed of complacency – hardly surprising given their recent dominance. It is never a good sign when a managerial appointment is celebrated by opposition fans.
In his first full season back at the helm, Lennon took Celtic to 13 points clear at the top of the table, before Covid caused the season to be halted. Celtic were eventually declared champions, securing their ninth league title in-a-row, matching the feat previously achieved by Rangers. Despite the success, the signs of decline were evident. Lennon’s side played differently to that of Rodgers; they appeared more vulnerable.
That sense of fragility surrounding the squad was confirmed the following season. Celtic were aiming for an unprecedented 10th title in-a-row, an achievement the fan base wetr desperate for. The rivalry between The Old Firm (Celtic supporters will tell you no such thing exists, but just ignore them) is like no other in sport; intertwined in religion, it dominates politics, independence referendums and life in general, north of the border. Arguably, 20/21 was the most important season in the club’s history. During the Rodgers years, the 10th consecutive title was deemed to be a certainty, spoken of as “when” not “if”. Yet, somehow, despite nine years of dominance, Rangers not only closed the gap, but won the title with ease, going unbeaten all season. Lennon parted company with the club in February, with his side 18 points off top spot.
The process to replace him was a protracted one. The board held talks with Eddie Howe, and the former Bournemouth manager was expected to be appointed. However, an agreement could not be reached. Rumour has it, the insurmountable hurdle was an extra £5,000 per week in wages. Howe would have been a popular choice, seen as a keen tactician with a reputation for making players better, he was the man the fans wanted. After discussions had failed, other candidates were mentioned, but none were inspiring.
The name that emerged was Ange Postecoglou. Scottish football Twitter was awash with the Conor McGregor “Who the f*ck is that guy” gifs. The fans were not happy. Once again, it appeared the board had gone for the cheapest option, rather than the best one. Those feelings grew as Postecoglou made his initial signings: and unknown Israeli winger and and a 5’7” Japanese striker who weighs approximately the same as an average 12 year old and looks like a member of a J-Pop band.
Early results confirmed the fears of the supporters; eliminated from the Champions League qualifiers by FC Midtjylland and defeated in the opening game of the season against Hearts. Things did not improve in the first Old Firm (No, it is not the Glasgow Derby) of the season, as Rangers won 1-0 at Ibrox. Rangers fans were starting to talk of their own 10-in-a-row. Yet, Postecoglou managed to stem the tide and won the league with a game to spare.
Since then, the Australian has fine-tuned his winning machine. Celtic now play a high-intensity, high pressing game, resulting in some of the most attack-minded football I have ever seen. If you were a fan or a neutral, it must be a joy to behold.
After four years of Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espírito Santo, Antonio Conte and Contenuity, Postecoglou is their antithesis. He has galvanised the playing squad, while building a strong bond with the Celtic fan base. Yes, both those things are straightforward when you are winning, playing attractive football, but it is remarkable given the discontent amongst the players and the anger of supporters when he was appointed. A crucial part in mending those relationships was Postecoglou’s communication skills. He understands the importance of his role as the public-facing representative of the club, he knows that football is the most important of the unimportant things in life. Articulate, intelligent, open and willing to hold his hands up, does that not sound like a pleasant change from what Spurs have endured as of late?
Of course, words mean little if the results are poor, but Postecoglou has been able to deliver on that front, too. Even beyond his work with Celtic, he lead Yokohama F. Marinos to their first J-League title in 15 years.
A key component of Postecoglou’s success at Celtic has been his recruitment from under appreciated Asian markets; with Reo Hatate and Kyogo Furuhashi being the standouts. At Spurs he is unlikely to be afforded such freedoms, but his track record of improving existing players is impressive. Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor were two of the most maligned members of the squad, but under Postecoglou they have developed into modern inverted wing backs. Given that, on paper, few of Tottenham squad look suited to Postecoglou’s brand of football, the ability to guide players through the required transition is a handy one to have.
In many ways, there are a lot of similarities between Mauricio Pochettino and Ange Postecoglou, although the Argentinian arrived with Premier League experience. However, Brendan Rodgers’ enjoyed success on his return down south having managed an impressive Celtic side, so there is some sort of form line (albeit tenuous) to work from. Spurs supporters will likely believe their squad is stronger than the Leicester squad which Rodgers guided to consecutive fifth place finishes and won an FA Cup with.
All appointments come with a degree of risk, but after years of Sufferball, I believe this is a gamble worth taking. The promise of attractive football, under a person that truly understands his responsibility as a manger, who will connect with the fan base, what’s not to like? It can’t be any worse than Nuno, right?
Sure, why wouldn’t success at one of Scotland’s “big two” translate to Premier League success?
Two words – Steven and Gerrard…
Good job, Daniel.
I’d like to remind Ved Sen that his view of the Pep v Fergie debate is skewed by his bias. Same with wider chat from United fans about why United’s treble has more meaning. City is full of stories this season – John Stones becoming the second best midfielder in the league, Gundo potentially leaving with his ridiculous record in clutch games, beating United in the first derby cup final, Rico Lewis emerging and transforming our season, Julian Alvarez potentially doing a world cup and treble in his first season, defeating b team from North London, two boyhood city fans getting hat tricks against our arch rivals and of course Haaland is a whole epic trilogy of stories by himself. We’ve also had the 115 charges, hard cup runs in the fa cup and champions league and the offside and handball rules changed during the middle of games. Also the small matter of the threepeat and again scoring over 150 goals in all comps.
That these things are more significant to City fans than United fans should be the most obvious thing in the world for the same reason that our most significant memories of 1999 involve Paul Dickov knee slides and Nicky Weaver somersaults and not whatever you guys had going on that year.
Pep himself would laud his players and be grateful for the funds he has had available at all his clubs. He also gives way more respect to Ferguson than most City fans are comfortable with so I expect he wouldn’t be that bothered about me defending him. If you look at Pep’s record at City you will see some big names bought for big money but I’d argue that with the possible exception of Grealish (although our rivals have approached that fee in the past – Grealish is just the stick we get beat with because he’s still in our team) most of the players in our squad were gettable by our rivals. The A Team of Ake, Akanji and Alvarez were all deals in reach of a lot of Premier League teams. Pep’s clutch player and first signing, Gundogan, cost less than Juan Sebastian Veron.
Pep has won titles with Delph and Zinchenko playing left back, without a centre forward and whilst managing some huge losses in the squad as players like Yaya, Silva, Aguero and Kompany have retired or moved on. He’s now on his third and a half distinct iteration of how Manchester City play. This has been achieved by his coaching as much as our owner illegally spending his own money on his own team and for some reason not cashing all those organic cheques the EPL and UEFA keep sending us.
And maybe it’ll be an oil tainted sports washed treble if it does actually come (Edin Dzeko who’s name is still sung at the Etihad may still supply an unhappy ending), and perhaps a team that has accrued 5 times more charges than Southampton got points shouldn’t be allowed to excel, and perhaps Ferguson did it better after discovering Andy Cole doing keepy ups in a dog poo filled alleyway in Stretford, and even if it doesn’t mean more well then it’ll have to just mean enough to the people who it matters to.
Alvarez winning it all
With regard to Stijn’s letter regarding Cancelo potentially winning the Quadruple, I give you Julian Alvarez who has already won the world cup, the league and FA Cup and, obviously, could also win the CL. As an aside, Alvarez has also won the Argentinian league title, the Copa Libedetores and the Copa America. He’s 23.
Put down the remote and run
I read John Nic’s article about the tremendous void that’ll exist in his life the moment the final final whistle blows on this season with interest. It goes without saying that this happens every year albeit it’s often only a few weeks before a major tournament. Last season I watched a lot of games and would plan my exercise around them to some degree by doing a session on the bike or treadmill at the same time. Then when the football stopped I started listening to podcasts on Youtube instead, mainly about health and wellness but also about running and cycling. And I’ve never gone back to football. Truth is I was growing tired of football at that time anyway for various reasons I won’t list now. But I’m learning lots of new things, I’ve somehow turned into a proper runner and I’m hopefully adding many healthy years to my life by adopting new habits and protocols. Last summer I hadn’t run for a couple of decades. I’ve just signed up for an ultramarathon in December.
It should go without saying that our health and wellness should be a top priority for all of us but from what I can observe it clearly isn’t. Around 65% of us are overweight or obese (although around a third of those are still metabolically healthy) and I think we believe that when something goes wrong the NHS (or whichever medical system) will fix us. Well it doesn’t work like that, the diseases most likely to end your life and incapacitate you for your final decade have been working away at you for 40+ years. The neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewi Body, etc..) have no treatment. The only option available to all of us is prevention through lifestyle.
It would need a 400 page book to go into detail but to list the things you can act on – improve your VO2 Max through zone 2 cardio and high intensity sessions, become stronger, sleep better, improve nutrition (particular focus on protein and fibre as well as microbiome diversity), be well hydrated, hot and cold therapy, social interactions (football could help here), monitor your glucose. And perhaps most importantly look at your emotional health. There’s no point living forever if you’re miserable.
So my advice would be to find something healthy and beneficial in the absence of football and when the new season comes around stick to it. Football really is a lot less rewarding than you think and there’s better ways to spend your time. When you celebrate a goal going in or a trophy being won it’s not actually you that’s achieved anything. Don’t live vicariously through a business. If you can achieve a healthy balance then go for it but it appears most people aren’t and the summer is an opportunity to change.
Read more: There are two games left before football’s ocean leaves us stranded and thirsty over the summer
Matter of taste
Hi William, no tantrum here, just a quick point.
For me, the ‘most entertaining manager ever’ title would go to a manager who put out an incredibly exciting team to watch. If you define it as doing something ‘entertaining’ on the sidelines (like poking someone in the eye, abusing a physio for doing their job, screaming abuse at the officials, etc), then good for you. I can’t help but think you’re in the minority though and that most football fans are there to, you know, enjoy the actual game being played.
…Well, well, apparently quite a few contributors to the mailbox think certain managers and their antics on the touchline make football matches more interesting. Surely, that’s a bit weird?
G Thomas, Breda
‘Nice guy’ Klopp
Kevin, Dublin seems confused why Jurgen Klopp gets less criticism than Jose Mourinho when he does similar things. This is not the first time someone has expressed this confusion in the Mailbox.
The question being asked is, essentially, “is it fair for a nice-guy-who-occasionally-behaves-like-an-asshole, to be judged less harshly than an asshole-who-occasionally-behaves-like-a-nice-guy?”
Isn’t the answer simply “Yes”?
On the matter of replica shirts: Garrett wrote in bemoaning the money in football and cites Liverpool selling their shirt for 115 GBP as a concrete example, before asking to “bring back the old honest days!”
Curious to note that Liverpool adult replica kids are selling at 75 GBP from the club shop, with kids’ replica shirts selling at 55 GBP. There is indeed an option available at 115 GBP for those who want to pay 40 GBP to receive “Nike Dri-FIT technology informed by athlete testing [with] moisture-wicking, open-hole fabric in high-heat zones”. I’ve been paying similar prices for replica kits for my entire adult life, this is not a new development. I’m not certain that cherry-picking misleading data fits well with bringing back the old hoenst days, Garett!
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Areas for Arsenal to address
So the season is over, bring on silly season. And with it, here are my thoughts on what Arsenal (of course), should and could do in the transfer market.
GK – to remain the same. Much as I love Rambo for his character and love of the club, he isn’t the best actual keeper. But he’s clearly a good egg and does enough good stuff. Back up keepers seem fine too
LB – I think we will be saying goodbye to Tierney, which is a real shae but understandable. The thing is I’m not convinced by Zinchenko as an out and out defender and so we may need cover here. Cancelo? Woah man that would be sick.
CB – The team has to be built around Saliba and Kiwior. I think Gabriel has been good but made to look better because of Saliba. Could do with another CB I suppose, even though Benjamin White could play well there if called upon. End of the road for Rob Holding?
RB – Well Benjamin White I suppose. Sell Tommy, which I think is a shame but get a more solid back up would be good.
Midfield – this is where there will be a massive overhaul. Which seems insane based on the wonderful season we’ve just had (shut up Stewie). Partey to go, and I think there are other reasons other than just form and the fact that we can get money for him. I think a change feels best for all parties(!) here. Declan Rice please, obvs. Zhaka is going and that is probably the best for all concerned – what a way to go out. Caicedo in as a replacement. Jorginho is here too. Further up remains fine with Odegard and the hope that Vieira will come good (I think he will). Also, Smith Rowe. Now that is certainly shaping up to be a strong midfield. No matter what the haterz say.
Wingers – remain the same I’d say. Martinelli and Saka nailed on with Nelson and Trossard as back up for either. Could be a surprise addition to come maybe?
Strikers – Jesus with Nketiah and Trossard deputising I suppose. Or maybe not? My view would be to sell Nketiah and either loan or sell Balogun, who we can’t guarantee enough playtime. The real deal could then be to bring in Vlahovic from Juve. He looks like a real player ready for what we need. Sad that Balogun doesn’t seem to be right as I had high hopes, but we’ll see I guess.
Anyway, those are my thoughts which may or may not be agreed with. Wonder what all your transfer hopes might be and how they compare.
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