New manager, same old whiny Arsenal fans…

Fancy one last Mailbox of the decade? Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com…

Best 10 of the 10s
Right, now I’ve had my say on VAR, read all the emails, and would quite like to focus back on that thing we all actually love – good goals.

Since it’s the end of the decade, I’m sure the mailbox could bring some joy by people sending in their list of top 10 goals of the last decade.

Here are some of my (very Liverpool focused) favourites, in no particular order, the last of which brought me much heartache:

1) Suarez (Liverpool Vs Norwich Dec ‘13) I could probably do a whole top 10 of Suarez goals (someone already has). In fact, I could probably do a top 10 Suarez Vs Norwich goals, but I’ll just go for his thunderbastard from 40 yards, or whatever.

2) Suarez (Liverpool Vs West Brom, Oct 2013). A header from just inside the 18 yard box. I just remember thinking there was no goal he couldn’t score at that time.

3) Divock Origi (Liverpool Vs Everton Dec 2018). If there is a better way to beat your derby rivals, I’ve never seen it before. I don’t think you could make up a more bonkers script.

4) Agueroooo (Man City Vs QPR, May 2012). This may be Liverpool focused but no list of goals of the decade could be without this title decider. Will be remembered in history and unlikely to be repeated.

5) Sturridge (Liverpool Vs West Brom, Oct 2013). From the same goal as the ridiculous Suarez header, came this ridiculously deft lob from Sturridge. He was close to unplayable that year.

6) Salah (Liverpool Vs Roma, Apr 2018). The first, from the corner of the 18 yard box, into the top left hand corner, off the underside of the bar. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from the Liverpool attack that night. Chance after chance went by and then Salah popped up with a worldie. Screamer.

7) Salah (Liverpool Vs Chelsea, Apr 2019). Another worldie for Salah. This time in a super tense title race, against his old club, after suffering sectarian abuse from fans in the build up. The goal was one thing, it makes it on to my list for the yoga pose celebration, though. Memorable.

8) Coutinho (Man Utd Vs Liverpool, Apr 2017). He only scores belters. But this one, under the lights at Old Trafford, sealed the European tie. Cheeky. Killed the game dead from nowhere.

9) Origi (Liverpool Vs Barcelona, May 2019). It should really be credited to Trent Alexander-Arnold. The kid in the corner who made the mighty Barcelona look incredibly stupid.

10) Bale (Real Madrid Vs Liverpool, May 2018). Could probably make it to the top of list of all time great overhead kicks (or all time top CL final goals…). It brought me a lot of pain, but at least it wasn’t the keepers fault. Put the game out of reach, though. Did I mention the pain?
Sam(inho) Off the top of my head so no doubt left some beautiful goals out.

 

Get behind Arteta
I watched the Arsenal Chelsea game on Sunday. I was quite impressed by Arsenal. This wasn’t new manager bounce. Whisper it but I think Arsenal had a plan and a system. No laughing at the back.

Gary Neville kept wetting himself on co Comms at how compact Arsenal were. Lacazette and Auba were on the pitch at the same time and they had a new player Ozil. He looks quite good. Lots of pressing but that tackling will get him a few yellow cards.

In his first home game in a busy festive period, the manager looks to have been coaching his players. At Arsenal? When was the last time that happened. The players were working hard, despite a thin squad, a few injuries and another early in the game.

Chelsea blinked changed the system and were still second best. When Ozil came off after 70 minutes, the fans were singing, he got a well earned send off. Arsenal were not Arsenal anymore and Auba was everywhere, like a Firmino clone.

Then it all fell apart as it sometimes does in football. That’s why we love it. Hudson-Odoi came on and Chelsea found a second wind.

A system that the players buy into and work hard for That’s all any fan wants right? At Liverpool the fans are totally sold on the system and the club is one unified single massive entity.

Arsenal, not so much. At 2-1 down. Seven minutes of injury time and a chance to pull it back. And the fans were leaving in huge numbers. FFS! THIS WAS THE NEW MANAGER’S FIRST HOME GAME! All the usual Arsenal fan bullshit about playing the right way. They don’t care, George Graham was in the stands and his team was proper ugly but they won. Now I know the sort of fan it takes to appreciate that. Arsene Wenger changed nothing. Where was the unity, where was the appreciation? Arsenal fans are only interested in winning!

At least the mailbox won’t disappoint…. Come on guys I know there are a few less one eyed gooners among you. But moaning about the jorginho incident? Even I thought that might be his game finished but it didn’t help both with that incident and a few earlier ones, the Arsenal players were waving imaginary cards at the ref. Forget all that crap and focus on your game. Luis was lucky not to see red either. If that studs first follow through had connected with Kante or he’d made a meal of it…..

I just hope the afternoon mailbox is a bit more reflective of the positives for Arsenal. I’d also like to know why if the tickets are the most expensive in the premier League, the fans leave early. It’s a McDonald’s ad, like getting your money’s worth, then you’re not an Arsenal fan. If Liverpool fans did this then they’d have missed an awful lot of the action.

Gooners, isn’t it time to get behind your team and stop bloody whining.
Rob (Arteta’s going to turn out to be shit now isn’t he) Gravesend

 

Birthday donations
Dear The Universe (or any benevolent readers out there),

This year Christmas was largely disappointing for me. Not a single bottle of gin was forthcoming and a dearth of chocolate in my stocking. However the post-Christmas period brings me nicely to my birthday (31st December).

One of the reasons I may not have received a great deal in terms of presents is that I am mostly content with what I have in my life, so I would love for donations to be made to a very good cause. Namely, Arsenal’s defence. This year I would like 2 things please. A central defender and a full back.

Thank you very much for your kindness, and here’s to a much improved 2020. Except for Man Utd, Sp*rs, racism and VAR (not in that order).
Mike, Leeds (In the absence of 100s of millions of Euros, I would accept F365’s publishing of this email as an acceptable present)

 

Removing the human element
Surely the real danger of VAR is that its machine learning algorithms will take the wrong lesson from all this “removing the human element” talk?

But would anybody be surprised if it was the FA’s implementation of VAR that suddenly renamed itself SkyNet and started the robot apocalypse, starting with any John Connor in registered as a footballer in England and blasting them with little coloured lasers.

My big fear is that it would start rounding us up, then make us wait interminably long periods of time for the sweet relief of our final decent into cold dark nothingness, but right before, we’d be told what offense we’d committed to deserve summary execution. And, it wouldn’t be the time we cheated on our significant other, or ran over the neighbour’s dog. Instead, SkyNet VAR will show us a montage of images from our lives where we parked our cars a little bit on the lines, so that our final thoughts before our own sweet doom, trying to muster some kind of plea, are only frustration and a sense of overwhelming, unsatisfied confusion and injustice, even if we all kinda believe, on balance, that we’re getting what we deserve.
Ian, LFC (Happy New Year! Optimistic about the decade ahead) Hartford, CT USA

 

Liverpool Invincibles
I think we all know why Rob Y (Stockholm) wants this season cancelled, he’s worried about the Invincibles record! ? You’ll probably be safe Rob, it’s really hard to go unbeaten as is proved every season.

His mail on Sunday about why the Invincibles are better than the current Liverpool team is fair enough in a way. Every Premier League winner is, in its way, currently better than every Liverpool side since 1990 because they beat the rest of the competition in that given year, something no Liverpool has (yet) done since the start of the PL. This Liverpool side is a great side, as shown by their CL victory and their amazingly consistent performance over the last 24 months but it’s only if and when they win the league that we can start to compare them properly with other title winning teams and judging their win against another team’s.

However, Rob damning of Liverpool for losing the title last season and using this as evidence that they aren’t as good as the Invincibles is unfair for two reasons. First, City won the title last season by winning 18 of their last 19 games, a sensational achievement which deserves much more credit than it is given by people who want to focus on Liverpool losing the league. That Liverpool took it so close (and simultaneously won the CL by knocking out the Spanish and German champions) when judged against that is a very impressive achievement.

Secondly, given Liverpool’s performance this season it might be better to compare Liverpool in 2018-19 with Arsenal in 2002-3, ie the season before the Invincible season. Then, this superb Arsenal side (champions in 01-02) were 8 points clear of Utd (having played a game more) in March but lost the league (while winning the FA Cup). This context makes their achievement in 03-04 even greater, and if Liverpool win the league this year by a distance then, and especially if they go unbeaten and r break City’s points record, then I hope Rob will recognise they deserve to be regarded as one of the truly great PL winners – even with VAR!
Andrew, Cambridge

 

Just accept the decisions
HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA
My God football fans make me laugh.

We’ve spent years having people complain about an assistant referee not being able to always see the exact moment a pass was played and the exact position of a potentially offside player at the same time and saying we need technology to get it right.

And now people are complaining that the technology, put in to spot what the human could not reasonably be expected to spot, is unable to spot exactly what frame the ball was passed in and exactly how far the player has moved between frames.

Sweet baby Jesus!

I know this probably won’t get published, primarily because everyone is probably sick of the VAR debate already but I’m ploughing on regardless with a previously shared view. The real problem is that football fans simply cannot accept a referee’s decision. That’s where VAR came from and that’s why VAR is not making things better, it does not fix the root cause of the problem because people will still complain about the decision – case in point yesterday where VAR got it right (twice, twice, twiiiiccce) and yet everyone is still up in arms! Here’s a couple of key observations.

1 – Marginal decision will not disappear if you move where or when you place the line/freeze the frame. There will always be marginal decisions and you won’t like it when they go against you. That’s why Liverpool fans and Sadio Mane still painfully remember 11mm as being the difference between potentially winning the title last year and not winning it.

2 – Sky sports after the Liverpool game shouting about 22 goals having been ruled out for marginal offsides by VAR this year and inferring that the league has been “robbed” of 22 goals. a) After 20 games last year there had been 569 goals. After 20 games this year (with 2 teams only on 19 games) there have been 559 so the difference is a maximum of 10. b) No reference to goals which would have been ruled out last year but have been awarded by VAR – if only there had been an example of such a goal to be able to show that it works both ways, you know, like a goal that was originally ruled out for handball but was then proven not to be. Something like that. Oh well.

3 – IF we have to keep VAR then it will work best for binary decisions like offsides. If VAR means we never get an offside decision wrong then it is a good thing as long as you can learn to accept that sometimes the call will be tight! As someone who did not want it, I actually think it’s better for offsides and that from a fan whose team have had a goal ruled out for an armpit being offside. Has anyone EVER scored with their armpit?!

4 – In my view the FA are screwing up the implementation of it because they are too scared of the backlash and who can blame them?! For subjective decisions, VAR can either overturn it when it’s clear (a la Lallana) or state that they have a different view but that it’s subjective and so the on field ref should be able to see all angles on the pitch side screen so that he can change his mind on reflection (a la Man City vs Sheff Utd – I think if he watched it played back he might have realised the impact it had and might have overturned his original decision to play on).

5 – Virtually the entire post-match punditry was AGAIN all about VAR, barely anything about tactics, individual performances, mistakes, skilful moves, etc. If the TV companies/media could just take the lead and rise above it then we might be able to set a new tone for discussions. Just accept the decision and move on! It’s made and it’s not going to change so don’t bother debating it. Wolves had plenty of time to score a goal after the one they had (correctly) ruled out. Whinging about the one that got away won’t change anything.

Anyway, happy New Year all.
Adam LFC. (fingers crossed)

 

VAR isn’t the problem
I want to open this up for debate. All this annoyance over VAR specifically in relation to the marginal offside decisions. It may be frustrating but at the end of the day the correct decisions are being made. So, the problem is not VAR, at the end of the day it is applying the offside law to the book. So, is it the offside rule that needs to be changed?
Nizam Dorasat (When I see LFC with the trophy in their hands that’s when I’ll believe!)

 

…You know this goal line technology thing we’ve got. Well I don’t like it.

I think it’s unfair that the ball has to be over or behind the line to such a degree of accuracy. It’s really spoiling the game for me.

It would be much better if we took a look at the pictures and then just decided if it was close enough for a goal. That’s a lot fairer because we all know whether something is close enough or not.

If that’s not quite right though we could say that if maybe a ‘bit’ of the ball was over the line it’s a goal.
The definition of a ‘bit’ is of course an internationally agreed standard.

Failing that though we could take my mate Graeme’s advice. He says that instead of having all these arguments about whether a ball is over some silly line, or a foot or nostril is slightly in front of some other bloke’s todger, what we need is just to move the line slightly instead. That way we won’t need to argue because it’ll be a different line in a different place and that’ll work much much better.

I’m surprised no one else has thought of this genius idea.
Andrew in Huddersfield

 

…I’m a bit late to the VAR party. So this is a quick one that i dont think I’ve seen mentioned anywhere.

Get rid of the line

That’s it, simple

The ref in the VAR room can only make the decision based on a couple of freeze frames. If they aren’t sure then the attacker is onside.

That way all they’re doing is getting a freeze frame view of what the assistant ref should have/could have seen.

Problem solved, happy new year.
Joe (saving football for everyone) bristol

 

…Last season I was an advocate of VAR. I wanted it to come in to prevent the really obvious mistakes such as Liverpool’s first goal against West Ham at (I think) the London Stadium last season where Milner was about 5 yards offside, directly in front of the linesman. I called for it for a long time.

But now…now I’m not so sure. These marginal offside calls have got more and more ridiculous and came to a head this weekend. Even with the lines drawn, Wolves and Norwich’s goals both looked onside to me.

The big problem that was raised in the comments of yesterday’s mailbox by Duncan Barr is the margin of error that VAR seems to not have. At 50 frames per second, and generously let’s say a resolution of 4K, VAR is being used to make decisions that seem to be coming down to millimeters. Even the best scientific experiments in the world always have a margin of error, yet VAR doesn’t appear to have any, and using data without a correct margin of error leads to incorrect and infuriating results. VAR simply cannot measure millimeters given the resolution and frame rate.

Is there a solution? How about we determine the margin for error in cm, make the lines that thick (relative to the pitch size of course). Then if the attacker and defender lines overlap in any way then we stick with the on-field decision, whatever it was, as VAR cannot objectively/rigorously make a correct decision either way. That means offside would only occur if there was zero overlap between the lines (daylight), which would make for a better viewer experience as well as making it much easier to determine for the ref in Stockley Park.

There needs to be a positive change to the rules/interpretation at the end of the season, or a change in the remit (removing offsides from VAR), but if nothing changes then I think VAR should be scrapped entirely.
Calum, MUFC, Wokingham

 

…Ed Ern asked “ Can some of the people who complain about these marginal offside calls tell me why a ball being 1mm over or not over the line is different to a player being 1mm offside?”

The answer is simple – because the ball crossing the line is an absolute rule, whereas the offside rule is a mechanism to prevent attackers getting an unfair advantage. The current application of VAR in relation to offsides runs contrary to this purpose. It rules out goals even in instances where it is clear the attacker has not gained any significant advantage whatsoever and makes a mockery of the rule.

The problem is that no common sense is applied. They could easily add in a bit of flex to allow VAR to make a judgement as to whether any significant advantage is gained. A bit like the last man red card rule. When common sense is added, it is generally more accepted. The technology can still be used for perspective but armpits and toenails become less important as attacker advantage.

Anyways. That’s my tuppence. I’ve seen a lot of people say over the weekend that ‘VAR is dead’ but actually it’s here and it’s not going anywhere. It just needs fixed and having read the amount of mails about VAR over the course of this season, there are certainly plenty of ideas out there on how to fix it. In fact, maybe f365 could make a selfless contribution to football and collate the mails and send them all to the relevant authorities. A season long consultation. I certainly don’t want to be reading or writing them all again next season.

It can’t be denied, it ain’t working, but it’s here to stay. VAR is dead, long live VAR.
Sam(inho)

 

…Is Football365 the last bastion of footballing sanity? I read the afternoon mailbox – on VAR – and yes, finally a lot of reasoned arguments regarding VAR.

Yes, the current implementation of VAR may not be ideal, but it isn’t wrong. Sure, we will still have to endure arch-luddite Nich’s rants against anything that doesn’t see us standing in the rain, with shite pies and watery beer to think we are in heaven. Everything new is terrible!

Listening to the pundits talk about VAR was just so frustrating and like listening to nails scraping across a blackboard. Its not surprising – they are all Bantosaurus Rexs. Most don’t even know the Laws (or rules as they often call them.) They have no ability to rationalize the discussion as Steve G and Ferg did. Its interesting that the overall quality has increased a bit – some are even decent at using the video tech to show some of the tactical components of the game. But once outside of their comfort zone they go to pot. Listening to Nuno Santos and Coady was excruciating. Yes, I could feel their pain but at the same time…

Both cricket and rugby have done a good job of applying reason to how the technology is used. Cricket uses it for run outs, catches, stumpings and limits the number of decisions that can be reviewed in some cases – but no one – ever, says it is wrong. Rugby created a protocol as to how and when brought into play. Rodeos, Basketball, Ice-Hockey, Tennis, American Football and more, all use video technology.

The reality is that there will be improvements. No one complains about the technology used to show the ball has or has not crossed the line. It is fast and accurate. And, in cricket, Hawkeye can determine the exact direction a ball will take and whether or not it is lbw. Applying artificial intelligence plus better camera technology will accurately determine offside without needing to wait so long.

At some point the talk will move away from VAR as it becomes more accepted and better implemented. Given that it removes the banter around bad ref calls, what will the pundits talk about?
Paul McDevitt

 

What’s in an acronym?
It is clear to me we need a new acronym for the Video Assistant Referee. How about Vigorously Anally Retentive? Veritably Aggravating Ratifier? Vexatious. Antagonising. Reviled? Choose your favourite, or invent your own.

On a (slightly) more serious note, I think the Veritably Aggravating Ratifier riles so many people up because it works too well, if anything, Clive. In years gone by, the disallowed goals scored at the weekend by Wolves, Sheffield United, Norwich and Crystal Palace would’ve been allowed to stand because the linesman would’ve adjudged the attacker to be level with the last defender, and the spectators would’ve been – by and large – cool with that. As it is, fans of those teams are right to feel aggrieved.

Unfortunately, the Vigorous Anal Retentive identified that attacking players in the buildup to those goals were offside by a gnat’s pube and therefore, technically, in infringement of the rules. Bah humbug. I say trust the lino to do his/her job and leave the Verily Annoying Review out of such offside calls unless there’s a really, really blatantly fucking obvious mistake at play, somehow missed by the lino. If the lino didn’t detect Jonny’s little toe, (or Firmino’s clavicle v. Villa, in the interest of balance) being a millimeter ahead of the last defender, then the attackers are level with play and let that be that.

I grant that this may cause an issue if a linesman wrongly flags, the defending team stops playing and the attacking team carries on and scores, so there will still be a need for a VAR review anyway! Sometimes you just can’t win for losing.

What a can of worms has been opened here. The wankwits at FIFA have a lot to answer for…
Lee, generally pro-VAR until it dicks over my team

 

Best and worst mails
Bloody hell, the 20’s. Anyone who doesn’t feel a bit old thinking about that is probably young.

Given the tradition for reflection around our arbitrary calendar, I’ve been thinking about my best and worst published mails.

Worst: Easy, I once said Liverpool should take £40mill for Sterling due to his contract situation. What an eejit – could scarcely have been more wrong. Developed into one of the most effective and electric players in the world. If Real Madrid came knocking next summer, they could expect to pay at least five times that, perhaps even more.

Best: Reply to Matt (I depressed myself) April 2015.
Not sure even I believed how well this one would turn out, however I offered up an optimistic alternative to Matt’s rather bleak LFC outlook.
The Reds were in a bit of a shambles four and a half years ago. Outside the top four, humiliated in Europe and with Rodgers unknowingly already in his death throes as manager (though he limped into the next season).
Reply name-checked Klopp as a potential upgrade, mentioned the inadequacies of the 2015 transfer committee & highlighted the positive improvements to both the stadium and commercial interests of our owners.

What mails are other contributors embarrassed/happy with…
Spoons (Happy New Year!) LFC

 

And finally
To all, a Happy New Year.

And to all, please refrain from the cheap shots, the clichés and the nastiness in the mailbox in the new 2020. Please, no more “Citeh”, no more “Chel$ki”, no more “Maureen” nor “Fraudiola”. No more snide “queen” remarks, no more “it’s only bantz”. No more hair-trigger “<insert name> Out” after two games, or two weeks or two months. Hell, even two years. Do you know how long it takes to build a winning program? Go ask Alex Ferguson. No more “Klippety-Klopp”, do you know how juvenile that sounds?

I could also plead for some spell-check and grammar parsing, but let’s get the basics under control first, so I’ll let that one go for now.

The comments section is there for the uncouth, you have already figured out a way to get past the Vuukle filter with your guff, so carry on. I won’t read it anyway.

Couth, Happy New Year. Uncouth, have at it in the comments.
Steve, Los Angeles.

 

…Thank you Football365, your brilliant writers, and all your wonderful readers and contributors to the mailbox. Whether I’m having a great day or a bit down in the dumps like today, it’s always a joy to come to your site and read the opinions of fans whether they are serious or funny, curious or trolling, informed or ignorant, and all else in between. I love how you all share your passion for the game I’ve loved since I was five years old and my grandmother gave me my first Liverpool jersey so I could pretend to be Craig Johnstone with a mop on my head. It’s a strange thing, but I consider you all my friends even though I’ll never meet any of you. It’s a great game that connects us and I wish all of you a happy and healthy new year.
Niall, Denver

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