Tragedy chanting the latest shame for supporters. It’s time to lock the doors again…

One Mailboxer urges football to get to grips with fans behaving like pr*cks. Also: Plenty on VAR; how to incentivise refs; City’s banners and boards; and Arsenal.

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Through gritted teeth

Gutted as a Leeds fan but for any doubters, man utd are back:

1. Outplayed for the bulk of the game but somehow stick in and take their chances.

2. Somehow get less cards than their opponents despite committing the same, if not more, number of fouls.

3. An exciting young and stable squad.

4. The right manager for the right time (he seems a decent bloke as well).

I want to hate them but I would love leeds to be that good/lucky.



Time to clamp down on fans

I was expecting to feel some elation at the hard won “War of the Roses” derby today, but instead I feel thoroughly disgusted with Football fans and Football in general. Over THIRTY THREE THOUSAND people have recently lost their lives in a series of devastating earthquakes and today we all heard the disgusting chants relating to loss of life. What is wrong with these people?

When is Football going to take it’s head out of the sand and deal with the serious issues instead of fixating on whether someone’s foot or arm was in front of someone elses? Racism, Bigotry, Misogyny, Homophobia are all actively discouraged and legislated against in society, yet at a football ground, not only do people turn a blind eye/ear to it, I even wonder if it is implicitly encouraged, as it leads to more revenue based on fan attendence. I’ll wager the attendence at the Leeds/MUFC game was Leeds largest this season.

What is Football’s response? Taking a knee, wearing multi-colored laces or, wait for it… a press release! Ask Sol Campbell how effective this has been. Apparently he is STILL being abused, and he retired decades ago. I’m not expecting everyone to make the same effort as Marcus Rashford but please show something a little more substantial than the “our thoughts and prayers…” approach that seems to be working so well in America when addressing the issue of gun violence.

Perhaps this esteemed site could take a lead and once in awhile, suspend the usual click bait about VAR or the pointless hand wringing about the latest Corporation trying to bend the rules (like this has never happened before!) and start a dialogue about how this issue could be fixed. The claim that “it’s society’s problem” or “it’s just banter” does not hold water as no other sport I am aware of has this problem. If one exhibited this type of vitriol at work or other social settings, you’d be fired or asked to leave.

So what can be done about it? I’ll give my 2 cents worth. Start with fining each club the equivalent of their gate receipts whenever it occurs, and then a subsequent ban of both clubs fans attending their next respective games. Too extreme you say, or why punish the majority for the acts of a small minority? Well I am sorry, we are all culpable. Tell me you’ve never once joined in yourself, or quietly chuckled at one of the dittys. At the very least, you have never stood up to these people and told them to shut up (don’t tell me you don’t know any of them). Every club have extensive CCTV camera set ups and could easily identify these individuals if there was sufficient motivation. Loss of revenue is the only thing that will get clubs to take this issue seriously.

Do others have different solutions or am I just being naive?

Adidasmufc (Could these rich, pampered footballers and clubs not even start a relief fund for the victims?)


Shaw thing

A week or so ago I wrote in to champion a certain Luke Shaw that had been written off more times than I can care to make a metaphor of.

I’d like to commend F365 for shining the spotlight on a man that has been much maligned and like a phoenix he has risen form the flames. And the club he plays for the embers have become a flicker of a flame that allows us to see some much needed light at the end of a tunnel that has been dark for far too long.

If none of the above makes sense, have a read here

Shaw does feel good when you Luke down on the teams we wish could be last season.


Read more: Keane and Mourinho are so very wrong about Ten Hag’s brilliant but unlikely Man Utd leader

Erik knows

The first half was very cagey from both Leeds and United. Luckily, United woke up today and didn’t concede early as we did on Wednesday. I was not crazy about the team selection. In this type of game, you need a Martinez at the back whos ready for the war which this game has been instead of using Shaw as the left centre back as Shaw works well as a centre back in a technical match like against a City or an Arsenal not against a team whos looking to drag you into the mud like Leeds. I feel bad for Weghorst as he is playing the role all our strikers have played which is a graveyard shift. Of course, I’m not saying he is fantastic but if he is starting these games we should at least put some crosses in or use his strengths to our advantage instead of just being there. Sabitzer continues to look good even in a position he is not meant to be playing in and I can’t wait until Casemiro’s back as that’s when I think we see a really good player in his preferred position.

The second half started poorly for United similar to the game on Wednesday but United were able to stop Leeds from taking the lead. The game then went back to being more United on the ball with Leeds countering until Martinez and Garnacho came on. Martinez instantly made our defence better as he matched the tone of the game and calmed the game down when Leeds were doing well. Ten Hag made a genius decision about 70 minutes into the game by making Weghorst move to the ten and Bruno move to the right with Rashford up top. Once that happened United were in control and it resulted in Rashford scoring soon after. The first goal was from a great switch of play from Sabitzer to Shaw who then plays a great cross for Rashford to add to his season’s tally and his second header this week. After that goal, Leeds seemed spent which made it all United for the last 10 minutes of the game. Garnacho got a good goal by making a run down the left-hand side where Weghorst finds him and Garnacho uses his pace to get passed Leeds and slot one in the near post.

Overall, This was as expected from an away game at Elland Road but United showed their quality with the goals and decision-making from Ten Hag. It was a much better performance than against Leeds at Old Trafford which is good to see we sorted out the errors from Wednesday. Even though I was not a fan of the team selection at the start it goes to show you can not doubt Ten Hag as he continues to prove he knows what he is doing. Hopefully going into a big game against Barcelona on Thursday we are confident and can do well at Camp Nou.

Max Of Whitegate


Incentivise refs

Given the most recent ref controversies (like a bad Spurs result, you never have to wait too long), I think I’ve realized what’s causing such seeming ineptitude.

They’ve got nothing to play for!

Think about it – what drives every top level manager, player and everyone else associated with any club to do the best of their ability? It’s the possibility of that shiny trophy at the end of the season. OK, it’s not quite that simple because of course most of the silverware is only ever handed out to a small number of top clubs. But even on those teams, the players and the manager are driven by the prospect of making a name for themselves, getting noticed by that ever so shrinking pool of competitive clubs so that they can then compete for the aforementioned shiny trophy.

The refs have got no such aspirations. They come to work to do their job – which is obviously very hard and you have to admit 95% of the time they make it look very easy – only to get constantly berated by coaches, players and fans alike. And what’s it all for? Nothing, absolutely nothing – just a decent paycheck. No hope for glory – only through infamy will you ever go down in history.

Why not have an equivalent of the FWA/PFA Player of the Year award for referees? We could even take this further, creating set teams of officials who, according to some objective statistic that measures their season long performance, can lift the coveted Premier League Officiating title! I’m thinking of a giant, shiny Sterling silver whistle.

Also, just like in the players’ league, the top officiating teams would then qualify in the Champions League. After the group stages, their performances are assessed with the top 8 officiating teams advancing to handle the knockouts. The officiating teams also have their own bracket through which the best officiating teams go head-to-head to determine who will eventually (after the semis) lift the coveted UEFA Officiating Champions League title (thinking a giant shiny whistle with big handles either side that look like ears) and earn the right to referee the final – surely the pinnacle of any officials career would be to work the Champions League final, no? Actually, that might be the World Cup final – speaking of which…nevermind. I should probably just stop now.

MAW, LA Gooner (That joint really hit me as I was writing this…)


Bring in refs from abroad

After the shambles we’ve just witnessed this weekend, it’s hard not to conclude that perhaps VAR isn’t the problem, it’s actually those implementing it.

Therefore, surely the logical next step is how to improve the standard of officiating and to that, I would ask why there isn’t a market for referees.

In a game where broadly, you can buy anything (managers, players, coaches, you name it), why isn’t the Premier League scouring the continent and recruiting the best referees to officiate the “best league in the world”?

Surely by creating a free movement of referees, you create a market, which improves pay, which makes it more attractive, which incentivises more to join, which creates more competition, which increases standards and so on and so forth…

Consider Szymon Marciniak. Who? That would be the referee of the World Cup final. The man who was widely praised for the exceptional job that he did on the biggest stage in world football. Where does he referee day to day? The Polish Ekstraklasa… why on earth is the man referred to as the worlds best referee, refereeing (UEFA coefficients) the 28th best league in Europe…

If you want to improve standards, you improve competition. History has taught us that much. We actively recruit from abroad for coaches and players, perhaps it’s time to look abroad for referees too. Can’t be any worse than what we are producing here.

Charlie B, Tunbridge Wells (Mason not good enough to referee, but good enough to video referee? Sorry what…)


VAR shambles

After the collective ‘human errors’ concerning VAR decisions at the weekend one has to ask (yet again) what will it take to correct this flawed and damaging system?

To be clear I support VAR 100%. I believe anyone who has witnessed the eccentricities of Premier League referees over the years welcomed VAR. Anything to diminish the over-officiousness, the blatant bias and plain old glory hound placing themselves at the center of attention. There is an ‘off’ culture at the heart of English refereeing – an ‘us against the world’ attitude where refs feel they were on parity with players, that games swing (justifiably in their opinion) on their decisions. An egotistical and inflated value of their role woven into the fabric of the referees association.

This results in knee jerk decisions due to the perception everything is antagonistic. The players, managers and fans are going to to give them grief so they’ll preempt it. A wrong decision often followed by few more which in other areas would be called gas lighting, referees blind to the idea they are responsible for much of the animus.

VAR is becoming ever more farcical, the officials who felt entitled to place their thumb on the scale in the before times now doing so in front of us all regardless of the evidence.

Lee Mason is rightly in the cross hairs today. A referee who retained a top flight position for decades in spite of being regarded as a poor referee, now ruling as a VAR. Earlier in the season, he ruled out a Martinelli opening goal for Arsenal at Man United. Months passed before the PGMOL apologized, admitting the decision (among others) had been wrong. How and why did he retain his position under the circumstances? Today he was responsible making a second game changing decision in one season against Arsenal, where the excuse given being he forgot to implement off-side lines during the VAR review.

Like the decisions against Brighton and Chelsea this could cost a club millions in revenue when striving for European football or the Premier League title itself, let alone relegation. What do we get? Chris Foy rolled into the studio to admit the mistakes and then pose the resolution is to accept the human foibles and move on with a ‘can do better’ attitude, which is beyond a joke. How about firing the individuals who have rendered the wrong decisions to start with?

The Premier League clubs need to join together and demand wholesale changes. I believe they should call for replays, which would of course throw some real spanners in the works with scheduling as well as costs to fans etc. or threaten legal action for the financial losses.

All Premier League clubs and fans have now faced several years of English VAR consistently throwing up contentious decisions, yet rulings within Europe do not appear so error strewn. Something is rotten with the English system and it needs an immediate overhaul.


Arsenal’s ‘kind’ fixture list

Congratulations Bucky on writing the silliest sentence in mailbox history.

To say the MAIN reason Arsenal are top of the table is a kind fixture list is quite silly. A few games past the 19 game mark means we’ve (just about) played everyone once (same as everyone else, it’s how fixture lists work where you play a team once in the first 19 games, and then again in the second 19 – one home/one away). Yes, the notable exception is we are yet to play City (see below) but our kind list has meant we have played Tottenham (shoe-ins for the Champions League and 5th), Man Utd (3rd) and Brentford (8th) twice.

And we play City this week. Regardless of the result we will either be top or joint top of the league (with a game in hand) after playing everyone once and 2 of the top 5 twice. I do agree with you that we are not peak Liverpool/City (in my circle of gooners no one thinks we are), but its not because we have had a kind fixture list (see above on how fixture lists work).

Time will tell if this Arsenal team can become champions or sustain this title challenge (which I believe is a 3-way race), but the point is that at this moment, about 60% of the way thru the season, we are challenging. The narrative of a kind fixture list is one you can employ after 5 games (which people did), and even perhaps after 30-odd games (if all your remaining fixtures are against top sides, and Arsenal do have a tough spell games of City(A), Chelsea (H), Newcastle (A) at the run-in of the season), but definitely not one to use right around the mid-way mark of a season – plain silly.

As I enjoy the ride I remind myself that they are still the youngest team in the Prem so the future looks bright!

Stephen Scott (Gooner – Adelaide)


…Let’s just debunk a few ridiculous statements in Sunday mornings mailbox. The reason Arsenal are top is a ‘kind fixture list’ at the half way point in the season when everyone has played everyone, haha there shouldn’t be any explanation required on that one….although if you want the nuance Arsenal are the only team not able to face a Frank Lampard managed Everton, how’s that for luck?! The next one is that City haven’t been firing, something Gary Neville also said. After 19 games Arsenal had 50 points. City’s best ever season is 100 points, so Arsenal we’re at the same level at half way that the best ever City team played at. There are plenty of reasons to think Arsenal won’t win the title, you’ll find Arsenal fans are probably the ones with the longest list in this regard, but these two above are simply not them!

Arsenal fans are excited, why shouldn’t they be, but the straw man style arguments to say we’re already celebrating winning the league are bizarre and simply not true. This is created by other teams fans as a way to bash Arsenal now and in the hope that they can really rub it in if we don’t win it. Remember barely a single pundit on non-Arsenal fan had Arsenal even in the top 4 at the start of the season!

Now on to var, opposition fans will say any time Arsenal drop points they blame the ref…it’s true because there have been at best some 50/50 decisions in those few games we’ve dropped points at at worst the decisions have been so incompetent that the less rational fan would be excused to talk about unconscious/conscious bias. I can let fans of Brighton, Chelsea and Wolves talk about the horrific mistakes in their games but how can a var official whose only real job on that goal is to check for offside just ‘forget’ to check it? It is like a postman forgetting to put the letters through the door. It wasn’t some obscure rebound, or players blocking the view, or having to go back multiple phases of play, it was as clear and easy an offside decision as you can wish for as a var official. The guy providing the assist was visibly offside before you even drew the lines.

So it is Lee Mason yet again, this guy was a terrible ref and he’s proven to be terrible at var as well. Earlier in the season the PGMOL apologised for 6 var related errors at that point in the season, 3 of these 6 were Lee Mason errors. One of these he was responsible for was the Martinelli opening goal wrongly (according to the PGMOL) chalked off v Man U at Old Trafford.

So yes, Arsenal fans are blaming officials for points dropped because the officials are downright incompetent and are having a massive say in this title race at the moment. There will be the same brigade who say ‘these things even themselves out over the season’ or ‘Arsenal should have beaten X team without the relying on the ref’ very tiresome comments not based on any rational logic. I’m also aware some opposition fans will point to decisions they feel have gone in Arsenal’s favour this year, Liverpool fans in the match at the Emirates for example – that’s fine. But given Arsenal have dropped more points to Lee Mason himself than any prem team and we’re denied some clear to 50/50 penalties in games v Southampton, Newcastle and Everton I’d say we’re still well under where we should be.

City fans may point to Rashford’s goal and then Fulham fans can point to probably the softest pen all season in the 95th minute for a ‘foul’ on De Bruyne. All of these decisions have an element of subjectivity to them. Drawing some lines to prove an offside is a matter of fact, black or white, and failing to do so has cost Arsenal yesterday and who knows how much it costs in May.

Final rant, there needs to be something done about fake head injuries. Here I do have sympathy for refs, they have to stop the game, who wants to be the ref who didn’t stop it for a serious head injury because they thought the player was faking. Any head injury that requires treatment should equal 3 minutes off the pitch for a proper assessment by an independent doctor, you can bring on a concussion sub so as not to penalise genuine cases but I’m sure it would cut down the fake head injuries.

Rich, AFC


…I agree with Bucky Dent that Arsenal are barely considerable as title challengers. Except for the fact that they are top and have been for 5 months. Weirdly.

Where I want to really push back is on the “kind fixture list”. The only team we have yet to play is city. And even if we lose we are second on GD with a game in hand. Pretty good and well In it. You play everyone twice. Therefore you should play everyone once in the first half of the season. Basically we did. Who would we have to play for the fixture list to be a “true test” for Ol’ Bucky ? 1950s Real Madrid ? Capello’s Milan ? 1979 Liverpool ?

You only play the teams that face you and we’ve beaten 16 of them in 20 games. End of. Including spurs Brighton Brentford and Chelsea away and spurs united and Liverpool at home. So that’s away wins at fifth (and the derby) 6th and 7th. And home wins against fifth (derby again ) 3rd, 8th and 9th. (Home draws against 7th and 4th in games we got shafted from winning by VAR btw also). Perhaps we should play everyone in top half away first and have lee Mason on VAR for all of them ? Fair now ?

And as for the idea that Arsenal “don’t give off that city or Liverpool vibe”. Well – those teams got 95 points or more. They were great sides in a league that stopped being competitive. Not sure how old Bucky is – but I remember a time when you won the league with 80 points. The invincibles got 90. It was a better league and a better time. Arsenal look like an 83- 88 points side. And that should be good enough for top 2 in proper league. And is an amazing achievement.

And that’s good enough for me on all levels.



…Did I read that right?

Arsenal, the team 6 points clear at the top of the table, over halfway through the season, is not seriously competing for the title?

This conclusion is reached after we drew to Brentford at home, the same team that beat City at the Etihad, and dismantled Man United 4-0 at the start of the season?

I’ll do what you say and call a spade a spade: we’re leading the title race, we’re on pace for 90 points, we’ve had two very poor games, and there is a long way to go.

Shaun, Berlin


Viva the lawyers

Pannick on the streets of London banner.

‘We’re Man City, we’ll cheat when we want’

Stay classy City fans.

Will in London (Humans had to take time out of thier lives to make that banner, come on now.)


Massive advertising boards

Does anyone else find Man City’s huge full colour with moving images double billboards on the side of the pitch extremely annoying?

The way they are stacked, one behind the other, making them look six foot high on screen.

What next, stack them three high?

Someone have a word.



The little guys

The weekend’s fixtures aren’t over yet but already I’d like to note how refreshing it is that so many non big clubs are and have been ‘mixing it with the big boys ‘ .

An obvious example is the almost perfect away performance by ‘little’ Brentford, who along with their west London minnows Fulham and ‘teeny‘ Brighton and Hove Albion , have been making life annoyingly complicated and a bit embarrassing for many a big team since the summer.

On top of that , Leicester and Wolves have recovered from awful starts , Villa have a very capable manager and for the first time in two decades Newcastle United are ‘ pulling up trees’ .

Of course , the shouty headlines and one of my favourite new words – knee-jerkery are all about the big teams’ crises of the week , though in truth what we have is a very exciting league with 18 of the 20 teams able to beat all of each other . Heck even Bournemouth went on a run after that 9-0 drubbing.

I’m finding it dead difficult to predict a league winner right now but there are four clubs in with a shout right ?

Then there is a tantalising possibility that Brentford, Fulham or Brighton can nab a Champions league position or if not, almost certainly bring European football to their fans which , at the end of the day, is very memorable.

When I look at the last relegation spot I am equally dumbfounded, today it looks like Palace who may plummet with the south coast’s other minnows.

If United win this afternoon a lot of people will be chatting about an unlikely gallop to the winners post . It’s all good and exciting.

Peter, Andalucia

Author: editor

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