Five mails about tackling and four about manager rankings

Send your thoughts even if they’re not about tackling or manager rankings to

Lots and lots and lots of emails about tackling
Hi Mel,

Yes, yes you have missed the point of the game for the last 40 years (or the last 20 at least) and your action man outlook for centre backs and centre mids might shine a light on one of the problems with your national team.

Tackling is the last course of action. I’m paraphrasing someone (Cannavaro / Maldini?) but if you make a tackle you’ve already made a mistake.

Admittedly though, I agree you shouldn’t be lauded for your tackling stats though. Tackling stats don’t take into account the actual important facets of play by defensively minded players, namely positioning, vision and anticipation. I’d rather my CB made zero tackles and made it difficult for the opposing team to find a pass to the striker / intercepted any attempts, than he made 15 tackles because the opposing striker was able to get the ball and turn at will.

Perhaps if this sort of thing was coached into young players, the home nations (and we (Scotland) are the worst culprit sadly) wouldn’t get shown up on the international stage quite so often.
Alex, (brackets inside brackets is a thing), Ayr

…Mel – in 2004/2005 Roy Keane – one of the best Central Midfielders ever and certainly not shy about tackling, played 43 games for Man Utd and made160 tackles.

Having played a lot of 11 a side over the years

( as well as plenty of GAA which let’s be honest is nowhere near as aggressive a game as a. fans like to pretend b. it used to be, but I digress)

I can tell you that making 4 tackles for a CM at sh1tty amateur level where the game is slow, people constantly try to dribble and the pitches aren’t great is a hell of a lot different to making tackles in a lightning fast game, where 1 touch passing is as natural as breathing, no player is in possession for more than half a second and the ball never stops moving.

Also, as a former CM now playing CB ( badly ), Idefinitely feel like I have to make less tackles now than I did higher up the pitch. CB is more about positioning, anticipation, interceptions, defensive organisation etc. If the defensive shape is right, you’d be surprised how few actual tackles you have to make.  Didn’t Maldini say if he had to make a tackle he’d already made a mistake?

Are you maybe conflating the stat on tackles with “ ball recoveries “ which includes interceptions, loose balls, winning the second ball, tackles etc?
Doug, AFC, Belfast.

…Mel, You ask if you have missed the point of football for the past 40 years.  Based on your letter, I think the answer is yes.
Adam Jones

…‘Tackling is not really a quality, it’s more something you are forced to resort to when you don’t have the ball,’

Frankly, that’s all that needs to be said. Anything less than double figures? Anything more than a couple and you’re doing it wrong.
Rob, Brum

…It’s always interesting to see how big the gap between perception and reality is when it comes to how much footballers get done during a game. Mel from Berlin feels let down by Winks only managing a tackle every 22.5 minutes and expects a central defender to manage 10 a game. And that sort of feels right, doesn’t it? We watch football and it feels like everybody is constantly touching the ball, passing, tackling. Isn’t a tackle every 20 minutes a bit rubbish?

But the stats tell you the reality. Four a game would make you the fourth most prolific tackler in the Premier League (behind Gueye, Wan Bissaka and Pereira). It would put you above literally every centre half in the division, none of whom are in the top 10 (Fulham’s Maxine Le Marchand is fifteenth). All of which reminds me of watching the documentary “Zidane”, where we mostly watch Zizou shuffle from one end of the pitch to the other for an hour and a half, boringly/gracefully (depending on your feelings) doing essentially very little.

Who knew that football was basically just jogging? And why do we have such a distorted idea of what it entails?
Jack Saunders

And more on Sterling
Just thought I’d weigh in on this latest Sterling ‘controversy’, because obviously more people really need to.

Firstly, whatever happened he may have genuinely believed he was touched or fouled. I personally have no experience of running at high speed toward goal in world football’s premier club competition, I don’t know how the body and mind reacts to certain forces at the elite level of sport.

Secondly, my interest was piqued by the comments of both a City fan and a City player. ‘Rusty Blue’ (I don’t know how to describe porn film music using text) declared, ‘how many footballers are you aware of that proactively seek to reverse an incorrect refereeing decision that has gone in their favour?…..It doesn’t happen, so drop the act’. Well actually it has happened once, in a high profile game in English football, in the Premier League era no less – so no pleading ignorance for most of the people who read this site.

(We’ve covered this – MC)

In the 1996/97 season Robert Bernard Fowler lost his footing when going round David Seaman in a match between Arsenal & Liverpool at Highbury, got up and told the ref who’d pointed to the spot that he hadn’t been fouled. Fowler took the pen, Seaman saved it, but the heartless, narrative ignorant Jason McAteer slapped in the rebound.

Now David Silva seems like a nice, humble chap and perhaps it’s the fact the Champions League is the only major trophy missing from his cabinet that made him feel the need to offer such a bizarre comparison to defend Sterling’s lack of a confession. Suggesting that Liverpool players should have been aware of (and insisted a goal be given against them) a centimetres in it offside decision in a European Cup quarter-final?! It doesn’t happen Senor Silva, drop the act.

But to be fair to Silva I understand his annoyance. The league title is the one trophy I am lacking in seeing LFC lift as an adult supporter and I remember watching a crucial match in the 2013/14 season where a linesman gave to this day the worst offside decision i’ve seen in Premier League football, described in the BBC report as ‘desperately poor’……it was in a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester City, where David Silva was playing (there’s no footage of him or his team mates telling the linesman he was wrong) and the incorrectly ruled out goal was scored by a young fella called Raheem Sterling.


A genuinely nice email about Callum Wilson
Callum Wilson’s inclusion in the England squad is a real boost for any young lads playing at grassroots level who think their dreams of playing professional football are fading because they are not in an academy by the time they are 9 years old.

I coach a team in Coventry, that are part of the Junior section of the club that Callum Wilson once played his grassroots football for.

Callum was still playing football at the club at U16 age, having been overlooked by professional club scouts to that point. He was eventually offered the opportunity to join the Coventry City academy at quite a late age.

The message to all young lads out there, who have a dream we all had, is to keep going even if you’re not in an academy at an early age. Callum Wilson must have worked extraordinarily hard to get where he is, and obviously never gave up.

That attitude has also seen him fight back from two very serious injuries to now make the national team.

A great inspiration to all young footballers.
Liam  AFC 

Several emails on manager rankings
Ok, fine, I’ll bite, it is friday after all.. I didn’t even get to Dave, Somewhere’s third manager because the first two verdicts are already flawed.

So Liverpool; ”In my opinion, not only should he be challenging’’

You mean undefeated Liverpool who are currently two points off of a rampant City? Sure, compared to their own lofty standards of last year they seem more sluggish but the general feeling is that they haven’t even gotten into gear yet.. and despite that they are in fact.. challenging.

Then on Arsenal there’s this; ‘‘the team has to be the most exciting in the EPL in terms of player freedom while maintaining defensive discipline.’’

Sure, I can agree to that to some degree, Arsenal have greatly improved. But that wasn’t really hard now was it… I work in fitness and I love training newbies, because of something called the law of diminishing returns. It’s so much easier to have a beginner drop 10 pounds then chisel of the remaining 1% body-fat on a seasoned athlete.

Sure sure, opinion.. but the facts are that while Arsenal scored 25 goals with their ‘exciting player freedom’ they also let in 14 goals with their so-called ‘defensive discipline’. Now compare that to City (33F-4A) or Liverpool who haven’t scored as many (21) but have let in about a third of Arsenal (5).

*cups ear*

Side note: Mou complaining about that Chelsea guy being provocative then being a total d*ck in Turin after a lucky ball falls his way.. i don’t know if it’s funny or sad.
Stijn (One more win vs AEK and we qualify from our group!) Amsterdam

…Dave clearly went fishing, and he’s caught one.

Yeah, Pep spends money. As does every other manager. Didn’t Fulham spend over 100 million this summer? The difference (or one of the differences) is that Pep can actually coach and improve players too. Stones, Walker, Delph, Stering, D Silva to name but a few (at this club) have all improved under him. The style City play, the total domination, is all down to him, not just because he bought a few choice players, but because he’s a bloody good coach. Anybody who questions that notion is a blinkered gobshite!

And yeah, hate to break it to you, but the PL has more than six teams, and the manager of the year so far – as pointless as the award is – is clearly Eddie Howe.
Néill, (not picking on Fulham, first team team that came to mind) Ireland

… I’m still laughing at Dave’s “Grading The Managers” this morning. If only I had him as a lecturer in my university when I was younger, I might have got first class honours.

A team that did not add to it’s talent in the summer (Tottenham) and is one point ahead of Arsenal gets graded as a B- (70-75%), but Emery’s Arsenal get an A (85%+). Despite investing over €70m worth of talent, they still lie a point behind Tottenham and four behind Liverpool & Chelsea, and have conceded the same amount of goals as Newcastle. Also, considering Arsenal are playing in the European pub league and racking up wins isn’t exactly something that should guarantee you an A either for my liking.

All the same, it did give me a right chuckling with it chucking down outside here in Dublin.
Byrner, Dublin

… Besides Dave from somewhere claiming several teams have “neutered” City when they’ve had one bad night in the CL, drawn due to a hand of god goal, and drawn with one of two “title rivals;” I’m confused by his statement that City are buying league titles. I thought DeBruyne was a Chelsea reject City spent too much money on, Raheem was a 50 million pound bench warmer, John Stones was too soft to ever be a true defender, etc. Now that Pep has taken all of those players and turned them into a side who most teams believe have already beaten them at kick off, they’re buying the best players and buying league titles? Man United, Chelsea, and Liverpool have all spent far more money on individual players than City have in recent windows. Why hasn’t success followed their cash outlays?

TV times
Nice article by Mr. Goldstein, it reminded me of the Arsenal – Spurs game a few years ago. We were being shown the replay of the first goal as the teams kicked off. Cesc Fabregas picks it up from halfway, runs through the team and scores. You could hear the fans shouting louder during the replay and the camera just cut back in time to see the strike. Naturally, we had more replays after that.
Jack no brackets

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