With Real Madrid playing at the Club World Cup, all eyes in La Liga turn to Atletico Madrid's trip to Athletic Bilbao this weekend. It could be brutal...
Plus Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks 'heart-breakingly well-suited to a Real Madrid shirt' according to one United fan. Plus, words from the good doctor and plenty more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Didn't Liverpool Move For Cole?
I can't be the only Liverpool fan wondering why on earth we've let Roma nab Ashley Cole? We're crying out for a decent left back with Champions League experience who can help organise our flaky defence.
Kudos to the guy for expanding his horizons and all but surely we could have made a compelling offer? If we end up with Ryan Bertrand there can be no denying we've gone a bit 'Spurs'.
All very worrying.
Not Impressed By Pool's Spending
This might be a bit late for the morning mailbox but I wanted to agree with Jo's email from yesterday but approach it from a different angle. In Jo's analogy he says they are buying a "host of exciting players from across Europe", which I believe is precisely what Liverpool are not doing.
They did exceptionally well last year and had a great system and team spirit which clearly worked, however, the most crucial part of this team looks like he will be leaving. Do Liverpool fans really believe that Lambert and Origi are going to be able to cover the goals left by Suarez next year? Not to mention the assists? We have seen how difficult it is to break in to the top four and I just don't think Liverpool will be there next year.
Next part of the team - midfield. Can looks half decent but I am not even sure he is going to be a starter, good squad player I think. The other two are the ones I'm concerned about, Lallana and Markovic. Firstly, to spend £25m on a player who seemingly underperformed Bebe last year looks absolutely mental, and whilst Lallana is a good player does he have the pace to fit this Liverpool system? It looks likely one of them will be a £25m sub anyway as I can't see Sterling shifting too much.
Finally, Lovren. Is he really better than Agger? I don't think so. Essentially my point is that whilst Liverpool are adding much needed depth, their first XI will not be anywhere near as strong as next year. For Lallana and Markovic surely they should be looking at someone like Falcao or another world class forward, or perhaps trying to find a long term replacement for Gerrard?
Can't wait for the Scouce responses to this (I support Sheffield United by the way, digs welcome).
...Have to agree to an extent with Scott, Manchester on Liverpool looking worryingly like Spurs (except that Liverpool won't get a fee to match Bale's for Suarez, even though he'd be worth it). A lot of the guys being signed seem quite mediocre for the price they're (supposedly) being signed for. I don't think the comparison with what happened to AVB is fair though because in fairness to him, he didn't deserve to be sacked when he was in my opinion, in spite of the money he spent. Spurs were (slightly) better than they were the previous season, just not by as much as they possibly should have been given the financial investment they'd made.
I think AVB should have been given the whole season to prove himself though given that that many new players aren't going to bed in straight away and I'm confident, barring a disaster of Moyesian proportions, that Rodgers will still be the manager of Liverpool on the last day of the season at which point his successes or failures in the transfer market can be properly assessed. Given his mixed record in that respect to date though, I'm a little worried.
Has it not occurred to anyone else, that maybe this is all just a ploy. A cunning plan thought up by Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool hierarchy. Offer Luis Suarez to Barcelona, who use their considerable influence within Fifa (which we all know they've got) to reduce/remove his ban; then drag on the transfer process until finally informing Barcelona that their offer wasn't nearly good enough.
I know it sounds far fetched - I mean it did all come to me last night in a dream - but think about it. Why hasn't there been a single quote from Brendan Rodgers regarding the Suarez transfer, or even the biting incident? He did receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster recently, so its not as if he's disappeared off the face of the Earth. A deal of around £63m has been mentioned, but its way below his valuation. Also, why would Suarez want to leave Liverpool after last season? He scored more Premier league goals from open play than anyone in the modern era, really enjoyed his football for once, got rid of the diving and play acting and swept up every award there was. At a club level, Liverpool agonizingly missed out on the title, but with guaranteed Champions league football can now improve on what is still a very young but immensely talented squad, to challenge on all four fronts next season.
But without Suarez it all falls apart. I tried convincing myself after the biting incident that Liverpool don't need him, and that we'd be just fine without him; but I watched all his goals last night over and over again marveling at the sheer brilliance of the man. He is one of only three players in the world who is irreplaceable, in my opinion. How will Rodgers begin to replace the 31 goals he scored (no penalties!) last season? With Origi? Sanchez? It is simply not possible. Surely working with Suarez for the last couple of years he knows that better than anyone.
Ian Rosario (If he does leave, blow it all on James Rodrigues. That boy is going to be some player)
OK, there were some acceptable points raised by Shaun, Livingston, so I'll concede to him the draw and agree we were both right to an extent, but he delivered a low blow at the end. Personally I have little to no recollection of the events of that Saturday afternoon on 4th March 1995, (I think it was round about then), none whatsoever, I don't even think about it every single time I see a team go 6 or 7 up, but it's a little harsh reminding other Ipswich fans who read the famous Mailbox when it's just me being a twunt, not everyone is as resolute as I am.
Just to prove I don't care I'm off to the shed with my 'Escape to Victory' DVD, before I turn my support to Die Deutschen later tonight.
Chris ITFC, (Can't believe they are thinking of remaking that film, I mean who from the Ipswich Team will they pick this time around?) Liverpool
Scott, Manchester points out that Bebe has out-scored Markovic and thus the Markovic price tag must be an act of lunacy. I think the key difference is that Markovic is only 20 so has development still to come. Bebe is a striker too whilst Markovic is a winger so not sure the comparison is fair.
I can't agree or disagree regarding the Liverpool buying spree and whether or not it makes sense but I like that we have signed a couple of experienced premier league players. Hopefully neither of them will need time to settle and Lallana is tactically versatile which makes me think he and Sterling will works wonders behind Sturridge. Can looks pretty cool and will balance out the largely unattractive Skrtel/Lucas axis we've got going on too and everyone knows a good squad needs a balance.
I'd also argue that having champions league football might help Liverpool attract a higher calibre of player. That's obviously why we keep getting linked with Ryan Bertrand.
...I'd pay £25million for Lazar Markovic. He looks like Alessandro Nesta in his halcyon Lazio days (in a team that should be much more fondly remembered than it is). If Rodgers insists that Skrtel grows a slightly kitsch goatee, and gives somebody a Nedved wig, Liverpool would make me very happy to watch.
In Defence Of Liverpool's Transfers
I feel that saying Liverpool are doing a Spurs does us a bit of a disservice if I'm honest. I know people want to revel in the notion that us losing Suarez and bringing in exciting, young talent means that their club will become relevant in terms of the upper echelon again.
Let's analyse the situation. Spurs sell Bale and bring in some of the much-vaunted, populist choices in Lamela, Capoue, Paulinho and Soldado. Sometimes I wonder whether if Levy does transfer business based on red top reports the way he goes after targets. He threw as many good players as he can who are totally unsuited to the way AVB wanted his teams to set up
Liverpool are selling Suarez and have already brought in players from teams who are familiar with our way of playing. Lambert and Lallana are used to quick transitions in attack and are technically good. Can is an athletic and strong central midfielder who should suit a quick counter game. Lovren is, from what I've seen, very good 1v1 and that was one of the things lacking from our defence last year. Will admit I don't see a lot of Portuguese football but the profile for Markovic is promising: a quick technically proficient attacker should suit us just fine.
I think it's quite clear that we have definite ideas of the traits we're after in our signings and we're not just scatter gunning our way through £80m. Every transfer is a gamble but we're trying to play it as smart as we can, not just seeing what s**t sticks to the wall a la Levy.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
...After having sold Bale, Spurs dropped by three points from their previous season's tally. If Liverpool were to do a Spurs and get 81 points, I will take that every day of the week.
On English Youngsters
It is well documented that young English players are getting very few opportunities to play and develop their talents in the Premier League. A lot of blame has been bandied around to different sources (always expected after England go out of a major tournament of course) but I am a firm believer that a huge portion of the problem is down to the nature of the hiring and firing of managers in the Premier League and the pressure cooker environment this creates.
It is far too much of a risk for any manager to pick younger up and coming players ahead of vital knowhow and experience regardless of what country they are from and if they can get it cheaper elsewhere then of course they will it is a no brainer...
If they make those kind of decisions and they go wrongly and they lose/get relegated it is their c*ck on the block and they get fired. Most clubs/managers have a budget to work to and most are forced to work within their means. Managers are under far too much scrutiny over their every decision so they are not likely to be able to take risks with their jobs at stake.
I think it may be possible for a minimum term contract to be put in place for any manager taking over a new club and the club must stick to it and set out a long term plan which would include youth set ups, coaching, scouting plans etc. and it could possibly be regulated by the FA/Premier League and possibly beyond. I am not sure how this would work in truth but I would say it is definitely achievable and a club must give a damn good reason to be able to get out of this contract with stiff punishments for those who so.
Even Fergie in his later years was reluctant to blood many youngsters as United were under severe pressure from Chelsea and City. The Pogba issue is a (painful) case in point but long gone are the days when a manager is given a 5 year plan where they can develop teams including youngsters where mistakes are expected/tolerated and this can only have a detrimental effect on the International team. Never win with kids eh? Maybe Alan Hansen was right all those years ago he was just on about the wrong decade. I am sure there could be potential flaws to this but rather than trying to curb foreign imports I think we should be looking to give managers a platform from which they are able to play these players instead of shopping for the cheaper tried and tested options from abroad.
Phil (Just for the record I have been part of the Moyes out brigade since the day he was appointed) MUFC Salford