Sod Ronaldo, let’s start talking about the World Cup and who will play for England

John Stones and Harry Maguire to start for England in World Cup Credit: Alamy
John Stones and Harry Maguire to start for England in World Cup Credit: Alamy

Let’s stop talking about Ronaldo and start talking about a World Cup kicking off in just a few days. Who should England play?

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com

 

England need to play a back four
Looking at the England squad, I can’t see how we play anything other than a back four.

Firstly, we don’t have the depth of skilful defenders to make back five work. We only have one potential LWB in Shaw (Saka, who I think should start on the wing, was awful when he played wingback in the Nations League).

LCB requires a player who can progress the ball with their left foot, or make driving runs – Maguire is the only CB who can do this.

Plus, as a Spurs fan, there’s no way England can pick Dier at the moment, and if Coady is just there for team morale then that leaves you with just White, Stones and Maguire as CBs.

Secondly, there are too many attacking midfielders/wingers in the squad for the team to only have two spots for them in the 343 formation.

What’s the point of Conor Gallagher if we’re playing 343?

I think we’ll play 4231, with narrow, unambitious fullbacks, and sitting CMs. I’m guessing Southgate will give Maguire the group games to get some form and I’m hoping the large number of attackers mean we’ll press from the front and use our substitutions to retain energy.

What’s the point of having the first tournament mid-season if we can’t utilise the PL fitness and physicality? If we win the group, every subsequent game is at 10pm local time.
Will (THFC N. London)

 

Predictions time
Mike, LFC, London
… Now we’re talking. Just as every good horror movie has a certain set of rules (as explained in Scream), every World Cup tournament must have at least one Shock Result (eg, 1990’s Cameroon vs Argentina); Future Cult Favourites (eg. 1998’s Croatia); Surprise Package (2002’s Senegal); Refereeing Conspiracy (2002’s South Korean road to the semis); England Heartache (eg. 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018); and Over-Hyped No-Show (Colombia in 1994, England in 2010 and 2014, sadly); and Abiding Memory (eg. 2010’s Vuvuzelas).

So in the spirit of Mike, LFC, London, here are my 2022 World Cup predictions:

Shock Result: Senegal beat England in the R16.
Future Cult Favourites: Denmark, who’ll reach the semis
Surprise Package: Serbia, who’ll beat Croatia in a politically fraught quarterfinal
England Heartache: James Maddison, who’ll miss the deciding penalty in the shootout vs Senegal
Refereeing Conspiracy: Brazil’s strangely stress-free route to the semis
Over-Hyped No-Show: Belgium, outplayed by Croatia in the Group Stage and dumped out by Germany in the R16
Abiding Memory: Fifa’s massed ranks of Fans For Hire.
Mark, Cape Town

 

‘World Cup’ predictions
Interesting to read that Et’oo, Cahill, and Cafu all predict a deep run for Qatar in the coming abomination wearing the skin of a World Cup.

I have absolutely no doubt that they’re right. Does anyone really see Qatar spending £150 billion on it to go out in the group stage?

Sadly, I have no faith in Fifa’s integrity, so what are people’s predictions? I’m going for Qatar beating the Netherlands with a laughable penalty after a whirlwind of disallowed Dutch goals and questionable red cards.
Ben, London

 

You can watch the World Cup and protest
The Qatar administration is abhorrent and indefensible with no caveats to this statement. Their policies and doctrine is medieval at best and evil at worst. They are an affront to human dignity and decency. However the moral dilemma articulated by the Ordinary Fan as a struggle to justify watching the games is unnecessary.

To watch the World Cup matches in the comfort of your own home is by no means an endorsement of the Qatari regime. It’s not condoning or legitimatising backwards and evil policies by staying at home and watching a football match.

You can strongly disagree with all that is wrong with Qatar, as I passionately do, and still allow yourself the opportunity to watch the games.

However, to profit by promoting and participating in the event to boost your profile or bank balance, that’s an issue. To perform in the opening ceremony as a celebrity entertainer, that’s an issue. To act as a “brand ambassador” and permit your image to be used as a promotional tool, that’s a huge issue. Some saw the moral conundrum and took a stand, refusing to associate with the actual event on the ground and declining to offer any semblance of legitimacy to it. They have my respect, as would any professional willing to publicly donate any and all fees earned to charities relevant to the issues at hand. Refusing to profit from Qatari money but spending it to fight them is worthwhile.

The World Cup is one of the greatest sports event on the planet with only the Olympics able to rival it for scale and global reach. We know the event is an exercise in sports washing and thankfully it has backfired spectacularly before a ball has been kicked. If anything it has highlighted the antiquated theories and practices of Qatar and cast a light on all that is still wrong there.

Let the World Cup be the glorious medium with which to highlight all the unscrupulous profiteers, the corrupt, both financially and morally, and the ignorant and hope this global platform is used for protest by commentators, pundits, players and managers.

I hope fan groups, squads and team personalities use this chance to capitalise on their positions of fame and standing on a global stage to raise awareness of all that is disgracefully wrong with these tournament hosts.

Watch the games, use social media to highlight the social and moral problems there. Embarrass the Qataris and their sycophants. Don’t switch off and ignore it all. Otherwise nothing will ever change.
Eoin (clearly St David of Beckham doesn’t have enough money or a moral compass) Ireland

 

Some World Cup history
I don’t know what the rules on here are for promoting other media content, but I don’t think a podcast called ‘The Rest is History’ really competes with F365 and if a few people listen to it, I do think it will improve the quality of the takes were are going to be subjected to about this World Cup. Their pods on the history of the World Cup are a pure education and sit Qatar 2022 in its true context.

Not only is it very informative – I am both a football and a history geek so I long for the day the Dutch East Indies make their long-awaited second appearance at a finals and consider George Raynor to be one of the great English managers, but there’s stuff I didn’t know on it. I was yesterday years old when I discovered where the victorious German team of 1954 decided to hold their celebratory piss-up. I don’t have the words to describe their choice.

But it also makes clear that while Qatar has many questions to answer, it’s only the fourth most morally dubious host of the event. The medals are surely fought out by Mussolini, Putin and the Argentinian Junta – I am personally backing the latter for the gold for putting the torture chambers next door to the main stadium. We’ve been down this road before.

What’s changed is the time of year (not a human rights issue and arguably a very Eurocentric complaint) and the lack of a football culture (a fair point but not a moral one). But above all, our attitude to FIFA has changed. The scales have fallen from our eyes. Until the early 1970s it was racist, imperialist and incredibly small-time but financially honest. It is arguably still racist but maybe in a different way now but is also a desperately corrupt behemoth that it was not in the days of Sir Stanley Rous. At times I am unsure whether FIFA is a lightning rod for Qatar or Qatar is a lightning rod for FIFA. Whatever, we have no patience with one and are asking serious questions of the other.

It’s true that there’s a very low bar here, that it’s possible to have a World Cup in a liberal democracy and that must be preferable. Maybe us English can give ourselves half a cheer for achieving that in 1966. There are other examples and Spain and South Africa are hosts that showed off their cities, their culture and their country to the planet in the years after deeply unpleasant governments were replaced with something better.

But this isn’t new and we shouldn’t be thinking we are crossing some sort of Rubicon. We are not. And if you still can’t reconcile yourself to it then maybe, after all consideration, it is because you do think that black and brown people are welcome to play in a World Cup but we don’t want it being played in their back yard. In that case, you are the one with the questions to answer.
Mark Meadowcroft

 

Ronaldo: Not wrong though
The Ronaldo interview in itself was interesting, but what I have found more interesting is the reaction to the said interview. I have often read and heard journalists and fans feeling sick and tired of players who give mundane , politically correct interviews. Where answers feel rehearsed and opinions feel robotic. We crave for honest opinions from the players. When the question is asked of what is wrong at the club, instead of the cringe response of, “it’s on us to play better, to improve, bla bla bla. When CR7 hi es a candid interview about the state of Man U, the world absolutely goes bananas.

The initial response was the disgust about who he gave the interview to. It appears like people were more disgusted that Piers Morgan got the exclusive and not someone in the guardian or Sarah Winterburn. The “woke” media could ‘t stomach the fact that Piers, the devil incarnate, had one of the biggest football exclusive in over a decade. I can und stand hating Piers Morgan, but he is still a journalist. Some of you may not like some of his opinions , but he asked questions and reported on a blockbuster interview. I sense some sort of hate toward him bordering on jealousy .

On the interview, Ronaldo says the club hasn’t changed since Alex Ferguson was in charge. Now, I have no evidence to counter this, he was there with Ferguson and is there now. If he says there is no growth or change , I believe he is probably the most likely to tell the truth. Why, he is probably the only one left at the club from that era and so knows what he is talking about. With reports on the Old Trafford delapidation, it’s not hard to believe things have stagnated since Ferguson left.

The only thing I have against Ronaldo is him saying he doesn’t respect the manager. When Ole sat him down for 1 game, I recall the chaos and outrage people had towards Ole. Ole was forced to play Ronaldo despite the minimum return he got. So much so, I believe his inclusion of Ronaldo led to him loosing his job. The chemistry was no longer there. Ten Hag seemed to have chosen to ignore the clamour to play Ronaldo early on and built his team around players that suited his style, until Ronaldo had a meltdown, refused to play and walked away from the team. Someone must have said something to Ten Hag so much so that he made Ronaldo captain. But whoever laid the rules on Ronaldo now has nowhere to hide. Ten Hag can now confidently respond with, it’s either him or me, but he isn’t playing in this team if I’m manager.

A few years ago, I did feel like Ronaldo and Messi had gained that global fandom worship, where fans some fans supporting Real or Barca , weren’t really Real or Barca fans, they were Ronaldo or Messi fans. Skinny to what you see in the NBA with LeBron, Curry and Durant. The fans follow the player not the team. I believe the reason this lost momentum was the aging and loss of athletics by Ronaldo and Messi.

Most people can clearly see Man U don’t perform well when he starts, so his criticism of the team, which might be accurate and some form of feedback to Man U will now be used as a tool, not to change things that have been pointed out, but as a weapon to bring Ronaldo to his knees. And depending on how severe his punishment is, I wonder if other players will be willing to open up. The thought being, if that could happen to Ronaldo, what could happen to a McTominay or Foden when they decide to open up
Dave (If you mask the names of Ronaldo and Piers Morgan, you would see that Man U need to work on a few things), Somewhere

 

…So my take on Ronaldo and the hypocrites out there.

Go on guys and girls, slam him for what he’s said, say it’s disrespectful, wrong. Say you’ve lost all respect for him, you want him gone etc.
What did he actually say that was so bad? that 99% of you haven’t already been saying?

The only thing I can hear that’s a bit off/possibly off, is the respect for the manager. However, we’re not at training, we’re not privy to what really goes on behind the scenes. ETH possibly did disrespect him, asking him to come off the bench against spurs with a few minutes left with game won is a bit disrespectful to a 37 year old who has won everything. Maybe he said at the start of the season, that he won’t be playing as much? Therefore resulting in him wanting to leave, but the club wouldn’t let him.

However we’re not talking about Pep or Klopp, Anchelotti or Maurinho here, we’re talking about ETH, sometimes you have to earn respect. Ronaldo already had Ole and Rangnick, what’s he supposed to think? People quoting Fergie on the no player bigger than the club, but that’s Fergie fgs, he earned the right to say that.

He slates the Glazers, something you’ve all been doing.

Says things about Gary Neville, fully deserved, the man is a prick. He’d slate his gran for a headline.

Talks about Rooney, again, this is the journalistic bs we now have to suffer. Sky Sports ask Rooney things about Ronaldo wanting to get a juicy headline. Why? It’s baiting for media clicks. Talk about Ronaldo to keep you relevant.

Says he feels betrayed by the club over his family, children and tragic loss, feels the club officials didn’t believe him. Which is kinda sick on behalf of the club. Did he even want to play some 2 days after the loss of his child or was he forced?

Says the club has stood still since he first left, even having the same Chefs, same training equipment. Do we not agree here? The club has gone backwards in every aspect despite being one of the richest.

He wanted to go in the summer, guessing he was told he wouldn’t be the main man, to which it looks like he said, ok then let me go. What’s the point in having a guy on 500k+ a week who isn’t going to play. But no, not at Utd, they like to keep players who don’t or won’t play and reward bang average players with new contracts.

Bringing in Rangnick, most of you were praising this, it was a disaster and you made it all Ronaldo’s fault for the cluster f””k of a season..

Is he not right to call all that out? I think he’s earned the right to for what he’s done over the years.

Saying that a few players didn’t want him there, oh I wonder why? The players had it so easy for years, going through the motions, and someone comes in who has been the ultimate pro and probably calls them out on their underachieving ridiculous performances and attitude.

Maybe he felt that doing this interview was his only remaining option, maybe he tried everything else and it fell on deaf ears. At least we know it’s what he said rather than relying on The Sun to make up a story that you’ll all believe.

Yes, he isn’t the threat of years gone by, but I guarantee that if he knew the sheer state of the club, knew that he’d be blamed by players, managers and fans, knew that he’d be bumped off to a bit part player. He’d have told Rio, Fergie and the rest to do one, and signed for City, won the league and possibly another CL to boot last season.

Maybe he’s the only one to have the balls to come out and say it. He’s only said what you lot have been saying for years.
So next time you want to moan about the owners, the team, the players, the performance… don’t. Utd fans get exactly what the deserve.

I still find it incredible that Liverpool gave him a standing ovation, maybe he should have signed for them. At least he’d have won something there as well.

That’s all cheers.
Heather Grimshaw

 

Nah, he’s a knob
After all that has transpired over the last few days I would love to see United sacking Ronaldo and tearing up his contract and making him leave with no pay off and then his agent, despite no lack of effort from his side cant find him a replacement club to go to, and a few interested clubs are put off by this unprofessional nonsense thinking “hang on, this fool can do this to us too and make us into a laughing stock” so Ronaldo becomes a free agent sitting at home for the next two years or more

I would laugh like a drain, because this arse deserves that, and so does his agent, a man who is fast becoming as odious as (if not worse than) that rattlesnake ….. the late Mino Raiola.
Nitin

 

Ronaldo: Not actually that good
One thing seems to have been lost in the histrionics over Ronaldo’s interview. Mailboxers have quite rightly pointed out the fellow’s narcissism, petulance and spite. But what no-one has mentioned is something I have long contended and which is now becoming ever more obvious. Ronaldo isn’t actually that great a footballer.

I cede to nobody in my admiration of him as a goalscorer but I’ve never much rated the other aspects of his game. His touch is fine but not extraordinary; he frequently gives the ball away; you seldom see him outskill a player; his tackling is non-existent; and as for his famed dead ball prowess, well, the least said the better.

Back in the day, he was an okay winger but his crossing was hardly Beckhamesque. That he gets so much as a mention in the GOAT conversation is something I’ve never understood. In terms of pure footballing ability, he is outclassed by literally hundreds of players past and present. De Bruyne, Zola, Bergkamp, Berbatov, Modric, Zidane, Henry, Iniesta, Xavi, Ronaldinho…and also, very obviously, those two little Argentinian geniuses.

Throw in Ronaldo’s complete lack of anything approaching team spirit and you have one of the most overrated sportsmen who has ever lived.
Matt Pitt

 

Ronaldo and respect
Thinking about Ronaldo’s “respect” quotes I can’t help but be reminded of an old Tumblr meme:

“Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”

And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like person”

And they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.”

Now, I don’t believe for a minute that ETH or anyone at Utd isn’t treating him like a person.

But Ronaldo *has* lost the authority of an elite player. He’s old, slow, and his attitude stinks. As a result he’s become 3rd choice in a team where he’s the only out-and-out striker.

He can’t handle that. And he thinks it’s disrespect. But it isn’t. It’s football.
Geraint (I’ll never get over Rob page selecting Rubin Colwill), Swansea

 

Messi: Always the goat
Just a small note to say that at the age of 18, in the 2005/06 season, Messi played 17 games in La Liga and six in the champions league, with Barca winning both competitions. He would have played more, but for a season ending injury at the start of March. No one was as good as Messi was at 18, or at any age afterwards.
Kev (rampant revisionism)

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