Mailbag: Spurs’ Defense, Mou’s Bus Preferences, Monaco’s Rebirth


Q: Will Tottenham ever find a back four that actually knows how to defend properly?

A: Spurs have benefited a lot this season (and last and even the season before last) from Hugo Lloris’ talents. He’s has made no shortage of huge saves for Spurs this season, and averages 3.3 saves per game, the fifth most in the Premier League. But if he moves on in summer, the backline he has shielded could have real problems.

There’s no real area of strength in Tottenham’s back four. Danny Rose isn’t up to the quality of a team that has ambitions of playing in the Champions League. Kyle Walker is solid but unspectacular. Eric Dier isn’t a natural right back (he’s a CB, and he’s only 21), and DeAndre Yedlin is not ready for Premier League action. Federico Fazio started terribly, but has been better lately. Jan Vertonghen is probably still scarred from the abuse he suffered at the hands of Marc Wilmots this past summer.

West-Ham-United-v-Tottenham-Hotspur-Premier-LeagueBasically, Mauricio Pochettino needs to sign three players. He needs a true #1 centerback, an improvement at left back and a depth signing at right back. Additionally, a good CDM that can help Poch use his press to his liking will make the centerbacks’ jobs a lot easier.

We really don’t yet know what Tottenham will be willing to spend this summer to achieve this. They splurged after the Bale sale and were subsequently awful; they were more prudent last summer and have really improved. So to answer the question: Spurs really could have a nice backline within two years. But remember: Spurs.–Jordan

Q: Why is Diego Costa?

A: Maaaaan. The pace, the power, the strength, the finishing…he’s ridiculous. A lot of people didn’t know much about him before he exploded last season, but his ascent really started during a 10-goal, 16-game loan spell at Rayo Vallecano in 2011-12. The next year, he scored 20 in all comps and was instrumental in Atlético’s Copa victory, and after Radamel Falcao’s departure, he became the guy we all know now (and the guy SOME CHELSEA FANS DIDN’T WANT). The only thing(s) that can stop him are his disciplinary issues and his hamstrings–I’m still not convinced he won’t have a recurrence of damage to the latter.–Jeremy

Q: What’s Jose Mourinho’s favorite model of bus?

A: Excellent question. There are so many buses to choose from: the standard floor bus you see every day, the school bus, the tourist trolley. There are an infinite amount of possible answers to this question. Personally? I would think Jose’s favorite bus is the campaign bus. Wikipedia describes the campaign bus as “a bus used as both a vehicle and a center of operations in a political campaign, whether for a specific candidate, a political party, or a political cause.”

It fits well with Mou’s second stint in Chelsea. All of last season, he talked about how the EPL season is a campaign, that he wanted to get his little horses to the finish line. This season, he’s talked about a campaign AGAINST Chelsea staged by the FA. Plus the size of Park-the-bus-is-phrase-Jo-008the bus is humongous so when it’s parked, it’s a sight to behold. But why stop there, let’s look at other favorite models of buses for football clubs:

  • Monaco (Armoured Bus)

An armoured bus is pretty much as advertised: heavily armoured and equipped to protected civilians from explosive devices. Turkish manufacturer Temsa, was the first to manufacture armored buses. Monaco frankly don’t care about playing anything close to attractive football and have no shame for it. They only care for results and they’re producing them to the groan of every viewer sad enough to take in a Monaco game.

  • Villarreal (Chicken Bus)

Latin American countries use a chicken bus to transport both people and goods. the chicken part of the name could have something to do with how crammed it can be inside, but the essence of the bus is colorful, decorated and vibrant. Since their promotion back to La Liga, Villarreal have been a breath of fresh air for the league and have helped it become much stronger one through seven.

  • Chievo (Oil Tankers)

We’re cheating a bit here since oil tankers aren’t actually buses (they’re ships), but nonetheless, as Serie A expert Cole Patty once said:”Buses?! Chievo park oil tankers.”–Moe


Q: Has Asier Illarramendi ever been hurt and had someone call him ‘Illonthemendi’?

A: Asier Illarramendi has never been hurt because he plays five minutes at a time every Asier+Illarramendi+Real+Madrid+CF+v+Sevilla+ce_NXlzb28plcouple weeks. Boom roasted.–Jeremy

Q: Do you consider the PSG project to be a failure if they don’t win the league this year? Also, with the youth Monaco have, could we see them perennially challenging for the title with a bit of continued investment?

A: In short: no and maybe. Ligue 1 is arguably at its lowest point in quite some time, but back-to-back title wins with the average gap between them and second being 10.5 points is impressive. Two straight Champions League quarterfinal appearances is no laughing matter and PSG could have easily been in the semifinals in both instances. The shelf life of this iteration of the project is nearing the end and though losing the domestic title to Lyon would be a shock, it still doesn’t take away from their success between 2012-14.

As for Monaco, it’s been very impressive to see them rebound despite FFP sanctions and their owner’s highly publicized divorce, which contributed to a mass exodus of talent last summer. The style of play is dogged, grim and downright putrid at times (but they still arsene-wengers-most-humiliating-defeats-arsenal-1-3-monaco_cmvbnk1artc31bpzhk1odphknbeat the shit out of Arsenal), but it works; they’re fourth in Ligue 1 and will participate in the CL quarterfinals (woo Ligue 1 coefficient!).

But I just don’t see how they could be a perennial challenger going forward unless Anthony Martial improves drastically or they find a world-class striker who they can keep for more than a year. Lyon look like they’ll be a formidable domestic club going forward with their youth academy policy and the added revenue of the Champions League, PSG will still be a contender in Ligue 1 even as they undergo a transition and Marseille, with a smart manager hire post-Bielsa, could lock themselves into a solid place for the next 3-4 years. A perennial top four side? Sure. But title contender might be too much, too soon. –Moe

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