The Mailbox is not happy at Jose Mourinho’s antics during and after Roma’s loss to Sevilla in the Europa League final. Plus, 3pm blackout views, women’s injuries, Erling Haaland and more.
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So, for some reason I watched the whole Europa League final. The whole flipping thing. I am not being deliberately hyperbolic when I say it was one of the worst football matches I have ever witnessed. There was no skill, barely any chances and each team seemed content with wasting as much time as possible. It was quite a classic Mourinho team performance from Roma. Get the goal and attempt to park the bus. When that failed they had nothing to offer.
The worst part though was the constant bench clearing from the Roma players and staff. Every single foul was met with Jose and his coaches running almost on to the pitch to scream at the ref and the 4th official. The thing is, I don’t recall too many contentious decisions. I have myself been frustrated with refs before and I know what its like when it seems like every decision goes against you. This time though I thought Taylor did fine given the constant barrage he was placed under. He gave yellows for yellow card tackles. He gave free kicks for obvious fouls; he overturned a penalty for a dive. Ok yes, probably should have booked Ocampo for diving as he did with Pellegrini but it’s hardly warranted the reaction it got.
What has irked me the most is Jose’s reaction after the game and calling him a disgrace. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at Jose’s audacity these days but it still seems a bit much even for him. I know people like this kind of drama in football and I am not normally a pearl clutcher, but I honestly hope Roma are given some hefty fines and suspensions because the only disgraceful behaviour came from Mourinho and his staff. It was genuinely a horrible watch and not just because of the terrible football. I for one am glad they wont be in the Champions League next season because they do not deserve it and maybe if he actually coached his team to try and put the ball in the net the result might have been different.
So I sat down to watch the Europa league final with the hope (more than expectation) of seeing a decent game of football – I lost 3 hours of my life to that hope.
As a neutral I defaulted to the ‘support the perceived underdog’, which in this case meant Roma – that feeling lasted for all of 10 minutes.
It became fairly obvious to any objective observer that Roma are a team built on the dark-arts of football – simulation, confrontation, feigning injury to try to get the opponent in trouble.
I’m glad you lost Jose .. I’m glad that your team’s approach that you helped to define is not rewarded with silverware this time.
So whose fault could it be Jose ? … could any of the blame rest at your door ? …. of course not …. it was the officials of course.
Well done Jose for lowering yourself even further by waiting an hour after the game to confront the officiating crew in the car park, knowing cameras were there and berating them – the only thing ‘F***ing scandalous’ is you Jose … always the victim, eh Jose ?! … never the perpetrator … what an awful example you are to the kids of today about how to approach sport .. you are the Trump of football .. you seek to divide rather than bring collective joy.
In the face depressing levels of poor behaviour from the players (Roma worse than Sevilla, who were in no way perfect) I though Anthony Taylor did very well in terms of keeping a relatively calm demeanour in the face of such provocation and did the best job he was allowed to do on the night. Michael Oliver must have had one of the least pleasant nights of his life, stuck as he was between those two benches.
If you didn’t see the game, don’t be fooled by the false narrative – the officials did relatively well.
(I feel it would be healthier for the game as a whole if we could be a little less wary of publicly praising officiating performances where due … just as it would be if officials were a little more open book about the thinking behind some of their decisions they have come to).
So how do we make sure that the cheats in the sport that we love don’t prosper ?
For the topic of simulation and flow of the game I would suggest something like the following:
If a player goes down after a challenge they are given roughly 10/15 seconds to get back up and re-engage with proceedings.
If they fail to do this they are then forced in all circumstances to spend 1 minute of game playing time on the side-lines before they are allowed to return to the field of play (controlled by the 4th official .. yellow card if not respected) – this 1 minute down-time is to be applied after the physio has been on the pitch (if at all) – ie clock starts once the player has exited the field of play.
What this would do is provide a meaningful disincentive to simulate and delay the game whilst the graze on your fingernail is looked at after you have done the obligatory ‘face in earth whilst hitting ground with open palm’ technique. Doing so would put your team at a disadvantage .. (and the penny would hopefully drop in terms of approach).
But would this not penalise the team with a genuine injury ?? … yes, it would have that downside but I would say the following – if you are genuinely injured then having an extra minute may be of medicinal benefit in some small way and I certainly don’t think it would lead to an increase in players setting out to injure opponents … we have VAR to police that after all.
I feel that negative aspect is a price that’s potentially worth paying in order the address this simulation / time wasting abscess that we have festering in our game at the moment.
We need to point the finger at simulators (cheats) more.
We need to do more to penalise those that were believe to be cheating and call them out as such.
Commentators / media play a vital role in this – they are at the front line of how we package up and present the game to the adoring public … recognise the importance of that role a little more ..call it out more … make it clear that we look down on those that wallow in the dark arts.
I look down on you Jose.
I guess the only downside for Sevilla having won the Europa League is that’ll have to waste four months in the Champions league before they can get back to it.
While I’m not sure that the 3pm blackout is still sustainable, given that football, particularly Premier League football, is now much more a televised sport than in “in-person” one, Simon does not appear to understand the rationale for it.
Of course Premier League clubs would continue to fill their stadiums if their games were televised, but would smaller clubs fill their stadiums if there was a Premier League match on television? I occasionally go to Haringey Borough games; it’s a decent enough standard with a convivial atmosphere, my boys can get in for free, and you get a surprisingly decent pint, but a number of their fans are also supporters of Spurs or Arsenal, and when one of them are also playing at home on a Saturday, there’s a noticeable impact on attendance. How does Simon think their attendances would be affected if Spurs or Arsenal matches were on TV at the same time as their games?
The two big selling-points of English football are the quality of the Premier League, and the incredible depth of the league pyramid. You can get half-decent matches, with half-decent attendances, all the way down to the seventh or eighth tier of the football pyramid. No other country in the world can boast that, and it would be (WILL BE, because it’s almost inevitable) a shame when TV destroys that, like a child ripping a hole in his drum to find out what makes it bang.
Dara O’Reilly, London
I think Simon’s missed the point of the 3pm blackout which I’m all in favour of keeping.
It’s not there to help out Premier League teams who ‘can’t fill a shixxy 20,000 stadium’, it’s there to help keep attendances up at lower league games. We get a lot of people in the mailbox complaining about it but they usually seem to be supporters of Premier League teams. I often hear people saying that it wouldn’t have any effect on lower league attendances as people will go to the team they support but that’s not the case. I support Everton but also follow a couple of lower league ones and go to those games much more but if Everton were on every 3pm then its quite likely I’d end up watching them instead a lot of the time. And I know plenty of other people like me as well. Lower league teams rely on income from casual fans that want to see some football on a Saturday afternoon and there are quite a few who would watch the Premier League if it was instead.
I also hear that people will just watch on illegal streams anyway and obviously some will but again, the majority of people in this country have no idea how to access these streams. Go and ask your average 40/50 year old (of which I’m one) whether they know how to get hold of these and most won’t.
People need to take a wider look at life outside the Premier League bubble and maybe go and watch their local team on a Saturday afternoon, I promise you it’s a lot more affordable and while the quality obviously isn’t as high, most teams try and play football now and as long as they’re evenly matched you get a good game right in front of your eyes instead of on a screen.
The View from Abroad
I have been reading this site for several years now and as someone who does not live in the UK (I live in South Africa) I have always been taken aback by the fact that actual citizens of the host country of the Premier League have such a hard time viewing their team’s matches if they can’t make it to the stadium.
Here in SA we have full, comprehensive coverage of every Premier League game broadcast live along with almost all of La Liga, Serie A the Campionship etc too. Not to mention all international cricket, T20 leagues, rugby etc. we get it all! Admittedly, to get the full package is fairly expensive for the average South African (about 40 pounds a month) but if you have one account in the family, it can be shared and streamed via consoles, laptops and so on and the extent of the coverage is unrivaled.
And of course for those who cannot afford their own subscription, almost all self respecting local pubs and restaurants should have a subscription and it should be easy enough to find a venue to watch your game.
As long as I have watched the Premier League, one of the most fun days of the year has been the last day. Regardless of whether or not my own team (Arsenal- so close!) has anything to play for or not, it’s always a vibe to flip between the title race/ relegation battle /sunny goalfests and family strolls at the end. The fact that this is denied to the populace of the host nation is egregious! Let alone the fact that some poor sod has now been jailed for 11 years for essentially providing a public service!
I’m not quite sure what more to say… write your local MPs, sort it out!
To add an anecdote to Joe, AFC, East Sussex and his praise for G. Jesus. At the start of the season a buddy said Jesus would be prove to be a good signing and I said nah he won’t even get near to 15 goals. Both statements have ended up being true!
Of course, the real master of the enabling striker false 9 and a half Bobby Firmino role is of course Bobby Firmino. There is definitely an ode to Bobby article in F365s future.
In fact it was one of F365s finest moment in my eyes. Before he signed F365 published two conflicting opinion pieces. One says he buzzes and doesn’t score enough so will be a flop. The other says his pressing and interception stats will more than make up for goals. Different writers holding different options for the reader to allow to inform them. A concept that some readers appear to struggle with these days, preferring a tell me what you think so that I can tell you that you are wrong.
In many clubs, he’d be statue worthy. With those pearly whites maybe he’d be better as a lighthouse! Barca is getting a cracker of a player.
Alex, South London
Just seen the list of injured stars not likely to make the world cup and was astonished to learn that there is a school of thought that says these injuries are contributed to by the lack of a female boot design. WTF? I do a bit of running and cycling and in both of these sports there are plenty of options specifically designed for women – so why not in football? Seriously Adidas, Nike and the rest where are you? We’re told more and more girls are taking up the sport – why not get a boot out there designed for them? When I was younger (ok, a lot younger) I remember the excitement when Adidas brought out the Beckenbauer – suddenly boots with lime green stripes were everywhere as this was, as far as I know, the first time you could really get hold of a decent boot at prices parents would tolerate – no more Stylo matchmakers, or boots from Woolworths (Winfield somethings?) Imagine the take up if the winner in the World Cup final is scored with the Nike Putellas.
Steve, Leeds Hoping for Iraola, expecting Allerdyce
Has Haaland improved Man City or not?
Well, thanks James Outram, Wirral.
I did not expect an answer, crucially not simply about comparing points totals, in the same mailbox as I posed the question.
Great points thank you.
Look, I still think he has made them a better team personally.
I am also happy to concede that I am not sure whether your pointed highlighting of how the team, and not Haaland alone, carried the 12-match winning streak for City just proves that the team is better than ever, or worse than before his arrival, because once he isn’t involved nothing changes points wise, on the surface at least.
Not sure how much more space and time Haaland engenders for his team mates than the previous incumbent could , especially after the start he has made to the Premier league, I cannot help but think many eyes on the field are obsessively cast towards him and his movements, where normally perhaps only one set would be distracted, as opponents nervously focus on him safe in the knowledge that if you let him in, he is scoring.
I do wonder if that just creates even more time and space for wizards like De Bruyne to run things, indeed even without Haaland directly involved.
More time and space than the system already creates for its players, which at times makes it look too easy as it is.
But then again, I am not a professional football player, so what do I know about the on-field dynamics, not much indeed.
It will be interesting to see what his peers say, this post-season, and over a longer period of time.
For example, where will KDB rate him as a team mate etc, that will be interesting to see.
Manc from SA( Let’s go United! FA Cup time…what a grand old competition this is!)
In response to James Outram, i’m glad you added some context in your response. Manc from SA already provided a retort to your email in his email above yours in the last mailbox. But i’ll add a few more bits for good measure.
I’d say the adaptation period was completed just before the last international break. So from the Crystal Palace game onwards (11th March). Then Stones had come into the team following his return from injury in a hybrid CB & MF role, which then allowed the 3 – Box – 3 formation to be implemented correctly.
Since then the results and performances have been both excellent, winning some huge games against Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Real Madrid, and consistent, winning some potential banana skins against Fulham, Everton and Leeds in between those big Premier League and Champions League games.
And I note the double standard you have for Haaland. If he scores lots of goals, then it’s about how many points City haven’t got compared to previous seasons. If City go on a winning run, then you focus on how many goals he hasn’t scored compared to another part of the season. The simple answer is whether he has contributed to City winning and the answer for me is a categorical yes. If he isn’t scoring then he contributes by taking two defenders out of play, as they are so scared of him, which opens up opportunities and space for others to score. And they did. Or he gets assists, which you didn’t mention. Haaland got 8 in the PL this season, with is 9th best in the league. Over the season Haaland has also improved his hold up play and a new feature of him in the second half of the season was him coming deep to win and hold up a long pass and lay it off. Example 1 being KDB’s first goal against Arsenal at the Etihad. And I think Haaland will carry on improving and i predict an even better version of him next season.
So no, it’s not at all safe to say Haaland hasn’t improved City. Haaland has scored 52 goals in 51 games as part of City defending and winning the PL and getting to two finals for a chance for City to win their first ever (big) Treble.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC.
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