James Maddison can have the same impact as Gazza for England at the World Cup

The Mailbox is buzzing to see James Maddison in England’s squad. Also: why we must highlight Qatar’s record; Arsenal; Garnacho, and what would it take to stop supporting your team?

Get your views in to [email protected].

Gazza vibes
I’m Irish,
I’m the wrong side of 40,
I have no skin in the game,
And I am definitely too old to be using words like vibes but…

James Maddison going to the World Cup has definite Gazza Italian 90 vibes.

He will be the star of the show for England.

Watch this space.


What would it take for you to walk away?
It’s an interesting question, ‘what would it take to stop supporting your club’. As an Arsenal fan there’s been more than a few rage inducing, embarrassing defeats, you all know the ones, and they certainly made me question why I put myself through it all. But really there has only ever been one thing that made me think this far and no further. The ESL.

When that was announced, I spent the next few days contemplating what a life without Arsenal would be. And whilst I didn’t like the answers, I was prepared for it. The whole thing pissed me off so much and it wouldn’t be the thing I love any more. Football is important. But it isn’t really. And there is more to life. So I would simply stop.

Of course, my resolve wasn’t testing. The ESL folded quicker than us in a champions league tie against Bayern Munich, and that has, for now, passed. The cynics among you will say I wouldn’t have quit. And you may be right. But folk fall out of football all the time.

More interestingly, to me, are the folk who can never see themselves stopping. Like never? Is there no crime so heinous a football club could commit that would have you stop watching them? Anything they could do that would ruin your love of them or the game? I’m not sure that’s fandom really. Seems more like Stockholm syndrome. But then maybe we’ve all got a touch of that.


Southgate’s selection methods
Shout out to all the people demanding Tomori gets into the England squad. I know you’ve been watching him and Chris Smalling every week for the last 12 months. Honestly, why do people say this sh*te? We know nobody actually watches them week in week out and their opinions are solely based on Tomori starting for a Milan side who won the league.

People think this is a Southgate problem and it’s not. Every international manager is like this. It’s how you’re meant to be. You can’t fully focus on form. There’s a lot more than that. People were always going to complain about the 26 man squad no matter what. Phillips being called up is fine. You can go into a tournament without many minutes or not being fully fit. It happens every single tournament. Worked out alright for Iniesta and Schweinsteiger.


World Cup whataboutery
So for some reason, we are not allowed to criticize the current World Cup hosts because past World Cup hosts were bad. You know, the whole whole « 50 years ago, England hosted the World Cup when it was illegal to be gay, so Qatar should be allowed to do so » argument. I would like to think that people, as well as nations, are supposed to grow up and change their minds about things. Actually, I think it should be expected. Yelling « homosexuality was illegal in 1966 » is probably the equivalent of my (adult) neighbor telling me I used to walk around naked some 30 something years ago, and so I should allow him be publicly nude in peace.

Whataboutism is never a defense. It is what you do when you don’t have one. Point the finger at someone else. Put pointing the finger back at 60, 40, or even 10 years ago is quite desperate. If you want to point back to the past, you can point at Russia. But even then, we are allowed to have moved on from accepting Russia to realizing it was a mistake. It is called growing.

If you really want to point your finger at any World Cup host, point it at the US, the 2026 host, whose then president essentially threatened sanctions on countries who opposed their bid https://sports.yahoo.com/dear-president-trump-please-never-tweet-soccer-021330153.html

Trump tweets about 2026 World Cup bid, maybe breaks FIFA rule – Yahoo!
President Donald Trump sent out a bad tweet about “U.S. bid” for 2026 World Cup hosting rights. It’s problematic on multiple levels.
. Maybe next time North Korea could threaten Nuclear War if they are not given the hosting rights, or Brazil could threaten to burn down the Amazon. Oh, wait, Brazil is already doing that.

So yes, we were crappy people in the past. We are hopefully less crappy now, and in some ten years in the future, we’ll hopefully look back and marvel at how intolerant we were. That doesn’t mean we should give intolerant people a pass because we once were.
El If, Girona FC (We beat Real Madrid!), Dakar


…It’s funny, I’m not watching the world cup (for obvious reasons) and yet I still found myself browsing the squad news. Gabriel not selected for Brazil. Gotze going for Germany after a 5 year hiatus. But that’s not what I’m here to write about.

Ive been following arguments for and against this world cup and almost bit a few times. (Shz etc).

Why are the people who justify watching it referencing British or others atrocities from years gone by?
How is that relevant with regards THIS world cup? I’m genuinely interested.
Also, we aren’t talking about Argentina or South Africa. We are talking about Qatar as that is something we can do something about. You do realize Argentina is over 40 years ago, an entire generation of people ago.
I don’t have a time machine, if I did, I’d fix a whole lot more than Argentina (Hitler etc). See, we are talking about the present, today. But since we are talking in the past,
you know before England was England or the United Kingdom was the United Kingdom, they used to slaughter and r### each other, right? Like Mercia and wessex and so on. Their own people.
See, there’s the thing, it’s PEOPLE that are shit, not races or creeds. Pol Pot murdered his own Cambodians by the millions, his own people and thats one example, there are countless others. The fact that Britain or others have committed heinous crimes or genocide is irrelevant to this conversation.
If it is relevant for you, we are working towards reparation for our crimes and rightly so (it doesnt excuse the past), returning artifcats from museums to their countries, recognizing positive black history, over here in Canada, its reconciliation for natives. All of this is progress, and healing and reconciliation takes time (and largely bigoted generations to disappear – bye bye boomers) to make way for more progressive leaders. But I don’t see progress in Qatar.
British people and others have the ability to notice the difference between right and wrong. We cant change our countries past, we were born well after that happened, but we all can change the worlds future, with a little more unity and compassion vs division and ignorance. Imagine we all had got together 5-10 years ago and put as much energy into getting the world cup moved, instead of arguing over why we are or arent watching it now. It’s a bit late now tho.
Anyway, let’s face it, even if most are going to watch, it’s still going on be through gritted teeth for many, is that the kind of world cup we want? . Qatar won’t change, they live in a dogma where religion dictates and brainwashes people from free, independent thought, that leads to their ambassador saying being gay is a “disease of the mind”. The idea that all Qataris think like that is idiotic, sadly, they are just too aftaid to speak out against the regime and dont know any different. Take a look at Iran right now for what happens when you do speak out. In Afghanistan, the taliban have just banned women from going to the park, even when accompanied by men. These arent countries that are fit to host world cups.
If the goal was to hightlight positive muslim culture, there are countles more free countries you could have awarded the world cup to. No country is perfect but we arent atriving for perfection, we are striving for progress. It’s wrong to support a world cup that is intolerant of others and only want obedience. Qatar is intolerant, among other things, they might bend a little for this world cup, but it’ll spring right back. It’s therefore not fit to host a world cup.

If I type my name out will I get chopped up by an embassy?…


…I’m the parent of an LGBT kid. If they lived in Qatar, Human Rights Watch says they would be arbitrarily detained, beaten, perhaps sexually assaulted, and forced to attend government-sponsored “conversion therapy” sessions. In the UK, we have incredible support from our local school to ensure they receive a happy, inclusive education and opportunities to be themselves despite their differences.

The UK clearly isn’t perfect, but suggesting the two situations are comparable and that we should “get our house in order” before criticising others is misguided and unhelpful. We should absolutely try to change our society to improve our own human rights record – I doubt I’m the only reader who finds the Rwanda flights organised by the Home Office absolutely horrendous – but if we insist every country has to clear an arbitrary bar for moral authority before seeking change elsewhere then nothing will ever change anywhere.

I understand people want to watch the World Cup. I have more reason than most people to wish they would not, but I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world to do so. It’s not your fault that they gave the tournament to Qatar. But I would just ask that if you do engage with it, try to think about and learn about what is happening to LGBT people there, or migrant workers, and don’t belittle people for whom those issues are more than just a discussion point on an online forum. You can “focus on the football” while also being a good citizen of the world.


World Cup hypocrisy
Hi F365, first time writing/last time boring you all…

My work colleague is a scouser and has repeatedly told me, when leading up to international tournaments/friendlies involving England that he is Scouse not English. I found it quite funny however that the longer we stayed in the euros, the more excited he became as he was desperate to clock off early so he could watch that glorious run to the final.

This has made me wonder how many fans, who have decided to boycott this world cup on moral grounds, will end up getting the flags out and belting out The Lightening Seeds should we continue to progress further in the tournament. I’m predicting a fair few.

I myself am going to watch this world cup and enjoy the anticipation leading up to it, as always. On the other hand, I will also be aware of the lives that have been lost as well as the disgusting attitudes of some in regard to equality (or lack of). Yes ill feel guilty and powerless, not sure there’s much I can do though.

I would finally like to remind people that the previous tournament was in Russia (yea you know the place) as well as this in 1978 the world cup was hosted under a military dictatorship in Argentina. If I could be arsed (remember I’m the one who’s still going to watch this world cup) I’d dig up more details on previous hosts and their appalling crimes and attitudes. Then we would all see that this isn’t something new, its just the tip of an iceberg we all live in, where money talks and the masters tell us to close our eyes before inserting their………..

Just saying.
Jim, Lincoln City forever.


Why I’m not watching
I see the Mailbox is increasingly full of people who are keen to morally justify themselves as they prepare to watch the World Cup. And sure, there’s been sporting events in countries that have different (and dubious) perspectives on the place of women in society, gay rights and more. Moreover, I doubt very many hands in very many countries are clean when it comes to bribery and favours to secure these tournaments in the first place.

But for me, one statistic stands above all the rest. To make this tournament happen, thousands of people, mostly vulnerable, poor, desperate people, were enticed to go to Qatar to work. They ended up as, essentially, indentured slaves trying to earn back their passports and a ride home. Qatar had to get poor, desperate people to do it because who else would work in 50 degree heat, risking their life from heat exhaustion, for such a pittance in pay? From amongst these exploited, mostly anonymous people, 6,500 of them have died in the process of building the stadiums and infrastructure needed for this god-forsaken tournament to go ahead. Not only did they lose their lives, but not a single one of their families has had anything in the way of recognition, let alone compensation.

In case you’re not good at numbers, let me spell it out. There are more people who have died to bring you this tournament than there will be minutes of play in the entire tournament. So watch the World Cup if you want, but I’m not watching.
Father Dave, England till I die.
p.s. Just seen FIFA have banned Denmark from wearing a shirt for being “too political”. The shirt reads “Human rights for all”. And you still want to watch?


Arsenal as title contenders
The debate of Arsenal as title contenders is an interesting one. On one hand City are going to win the league. They are better at being a football club in every department than Arsenal. On the other hand they have a very good points haul and are beating big teams.

My view on why Arsenal fans don’t think that they are title contenders is to avoid the cognisant dissonance of the following areas:

They are on track for 99 points. This will be more that the Invincibles team and we know that they won’t be Invincibles. This means that for this Arsenal to win, they will need to score more point than the Invincibles team with out being Invincible. So who is the better team? This team needs to not only beat city, but also the Ghosts of the Invincibles.

They are on track for 99 points assuming that they don’t play City, which they will. They will still lose to City because City are better at being a football club. This would be their best ever points hall and they still won’t win the league. We all know from Liverpool based BANTZ that not winning the league, even with 99 points, means that you are SH*T. Highest points total without winning the league. You’re sh*t mate.

City are on another level to Arsenal. For all Arsenal’s legacy at being a top side they haven’t won a champions league knock out tie since Sol Campbell was in the team. They are already down to 2.5 tournaments compared to City’s 4. Europa is half a Champions League. We know that winning the league Cup and FA cup without winning the league and champions league is shit mate. Good thing Arsenal took a tactical defeat in that league cup. Tactics mate.
Alex, South London

Arsenal ladder
Long time reader, first time caller.

Odegaard at #10 in that ladder that guy sent in is a crime against football. As Mikel clearly agrees as he made him captain after about a week.

We have an embarrassment of riches in this current squad (Rafa SquAAd) but give the man his dues ffs.

Ramsdale 6? Are you mental?? Anyway here’s the real ladder:

1. Saka
2. Xhaka
3. Odegaard
4. Partey
5. Martinelli
6. Saliba
7. Jesus
8. White
9. Gabriel
10. Tierney
11. Tomiyasu
12. Ramsdale
13. ESR (cos he’s injured)
14. Zinchenko
15. Elneny
16. Holding
17. Vieira (give him time, will rise like bread)
18. Sambi
19. Cedric
20. Turner

Imagine being on that list. Possibly Champions of Europe in a few years. Imagine trying to chart them. Well I’ve done it, and I’ve done it better than your previous compiler so I hope you enjoy.
James, Big Time Gun Boy, Ireland


Garnacho cameo the highlight of a great cup tie
United V Villa was exactly what you want out of a cup game with Garnacho having a brilliant cameo and good minutes for players who don’t get many games.

The first half was terrible from both sides but it’s what you’d expect from two heavily rotated squads. Fred and McTominay rolled back the years with two disastrous performances in the first half. Fred lost the ball the most of anyone on the pitch in the first half, and McTominay slowed down the game every time he got the ball. I feel for Donny in the first half and the two other games he’s played as he’s making the right runs and making passes hoping for a one-two but since this team is nowhere near how Ten Hag’s football is meant to look he just looks like he’s running around doing nothing. It looks like the game plan has been to play the ball over the top to the forwards but every pass is either too strong or not strong enough and our forwards can not stay onside to save their lives. Malacia and Dalot were probably the only two positives in the first half as Malacia was making great overlapping runs and defensively looked solid. Dalot is continuing his impressive form and will be a real miss against Fulham.

The second half was very fun to watch but also worrying as it seemed for the first twenty minutes of the second half was you score one I score one but luckily United were able to put the nail in the coffin on the game. Garnacho and Eriksen came on and changed the game. Those thirty minutes from Garnacho were the most promising I’ve seen him play even without scoring as it shows he’s improving every game and not just one-dimensional. Malacia had a good game and I imagine he comes in for Dalot as it seems Ten Hag does not want to touch Wan-Bissaka with a ten-inch pole. Defensively there were some worries with the first goal as Maguire just leaves his man which lets Watkins be free and score and the second goal was a poor one to concede as Ashley Young should have been closed down.

Overall, It was a great cup game and a good experience for the players who do not get much football. With many big teams already out of the Carabao cup, it’s a good chance at some silverware this season but also might become a pain if we do well in Europe. The man of the match for me was Malacia for 90 as I think he showed both great defensive work and great attacking runs and crosses but Garnacho also deserves praise as he really looked special with the thirty minutes he got.
Max Of Whitegate

Read more: Big Weekend: Newcastle v Chelsea, World Cup-bound stars, Everton, Saints’ new boss, Lancs derby

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