After two months at SI.com, I think I'm just about due a Mailbag column. The first thing to tackle is the mountain of mail I received after picking my
I'm not sure about that question, since none of them plays the same position as Fabregas or any of the others, but I certainly take the point. Fabregas's stats (27 appearances; 15 goals, 15 assists) point to a very fine season, and in all honesty, he was in and out like your leg in the Hokey Pokey as I shaped the list. Come crunch time, I opted for 4-3-3 to accommodate three of the four exceptional strikers in the Premier League this season, and Fabregas lost out to
Questions like this will no doubt be playing on the young Spaniard's mind as he deals with the loud serenade from Barcelona, the club where you suspect his heart lies. There are some excellent players at Arsenal -- let's not forget that before injuries ripped into the end of the season,
In a similar vein, other readers suggested that Fulham's
Hangeland has certainly been a rock for Fulham for the last two seasons, and his performances in Europe have reportedly caught the eye of AC Milan, in addition to a gaggle of Premiership clubs. His commitment to the Fulham cause makes him a likeable player, too. However, I'm not convinced he did it any better than Dawson, Vermaelen or
No arguments here, Fletcher has been excellent when played in his natural position rather than in defense, where he had to appear more often than he would have liked thanks to injuries. Let's not make too much of the Carrick comparison, however: the nosedive in the latter's form distorts it massively, and even if it remains permanent, I doubt Fletcher will ever show quite the moments of exquisite culture on the ball that Carrick is capable of. Can't fault him for work-rate, tackling, a-to-b distribution and drive, though.
I agree that Tuncay can be a dangerous player, but he only ever seems to function in fits and starts. That might be a result of his patchy relationship with manager
Over a dead ball, Taylor is dangerous -- more than 60 percent of his goals come from free kicks and penalties -- but he's too slow, too easily worked out of a game to really be considered a great player, for my money. Hunt is the kind of dedicated, tireless player we'd all like to see on our team, though there is a less palatable side to his game that will probably always, rightly or wrongly, hide his qualities from some eyes. Etherington has been superb for Stoke this season, motoring up the flanks to supply a lot of City's most threatening moves. Like Parker, he's where the real quality in his team is to be found.
You're right, Ryan, I was wooed by
The important comparison is between the clubs that didn't already have a firm place in the Champions League, and therefore needed to improve their squads. Last year Aston Villa's net spend was $37m, Manchester City's $150m. Redknapp spent $9m.
These things are hard to measure, and there are so many factors -- personnel, funds, league competition and so on -- that the success of one coach isn't ever directly comparable to others. Mourinho is certainly a remarkable tactician, and his evident (and effective) rapport with differing sets of players suggests an obsessive concern with managing all variables, which lots of managers fail to do.
However, Mourinho so polarizes opinion that he might need to take Real Madrid (if all this speculation ends with him there next season) to a European treble before being secure in such an accolade. It's hard not to feel that he cares more about his career than the game, and that, at least in the last six years, he's had ample talent at his disposal. When you consider the achievements of managers like
I was already a fan of Donovan, and it was great to see him make such an impact at Everton. That said, I suspect he wouldn't get much time on the pitch at either of the top two, he's simply not at that level -- ask yourself whom he could displace at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. He may get there, but I suspect he's a top-half player, rather than a top-four player. I sincerely hope to have him back in the Premiership come August, anyway.
Thanks for all your e-mails in the last two months -- keep them coming.