...And no it's not Luis Suarez or Daniel Sturridge, but confidence. Brendan Rodgers inspired Liverpool last season through positivity and self-belief. It looks shot now...
That's the message from the afternoon mailbox after it was claimed that the Chelsea boss has transformed Cesc Fabregas into a complete player. Plus, more on Arsenal...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Liverpool Are Like Sarah Millican
Whilst I totally understand the frustrations of fellow Liverpool fans about our current transfer window, I would like to add that do my fellow fans understand that playing for Liverpool may come across to any transfer targets as being similar to that of dating Sarah Milican. On the surface Sarah isn't unpleasant to look at by any means, but when faced with the Arsenals of this world (who comparatively would be looking at someone like Kate Upton) their eyes, not their brains, make the decision. Arsenal with their 60,000-seater stadium, long-term world respected manager and a world-class, (this season maybe) World Cup winning player in Ozil, all seem like attractive options on the surface, just like Kate.
However, if they took Sarah Millican out for a nice steak dinner then I'm sure they would encounter a rich personality, filled with fun and stories of tight knickers...I've lost my point here a bit...BUT what I'm trying to point out is that on the surface Arsenal appear to be a 'keeper' but like Kate Upton have nothing of interest or depth below the glossy front cover. Liverpool are a player's path to all the things they ever wanted once they get past the glasses and the chubby thighs. That of a long-term prosperous future...with a little bit of nostalgic humour built in.
Jon (Irrelevant point maker) LFC
Feeling Optimistic About Liverpool
There seems to be very little that prompts as much as debate in the mailbox as 'Scouse maths' and transfers, but Tom G's mail this morning struck a chord with me.
It has been incredibly frustrating being a Liverpool fan over the past two-three windows, watching poor players sign and seeing noted targets join Chelsea, Spurs, etc. but this year has seen a shift in that. Yes, Sanchez moved to Arsenal, but our other targets have been secured rather swiftly.
And, anyone who wants to scoff at the idea of it being our best window in years, take a look at the facts...
In: Lallana, Lambert, Can, Markovic.
Out: Suarez, Aspas
In: Sakho, Alberto, Ilori, Moses, Aspas, Mignolet, Toure, Cissokho
Out: Carroll, Shelvey, Downing & Reina, Borini, etc. on loan
In: Allen, Borini, Sahin, Assaidi, Yesil
Out: Adam, Aquilani, Kuyt, Bellamy, Maxi, Cole
In: Downing, Henderson, Adam, Enrique, Coates, Bellamy, Doni
Out: Meireles, Ngog, Konchesky, Insua, Jovanovic
In: Meireles, Poulsen, Konchesky, Jones, Wilson, Shelvey, Cole, Jovanovic
Out: Mascherano, Babel, Riera, Benayoun
Losing Suarez is a blow. No team can recover, but it is also just one player at the end of the day. We have a bigger squad, more capable of dealing with the demands of a minimum six extra games and, hopefully, the ability to actually compete in the FA or League Cups. Last summer, money was wasted on Aspas and, while Ilori and Alberto might turn out to be good, we could ill afford to spend £10m on potential with a squad as thin as ours.
2012, the outs column is better than the ins (Joe Cole aside), while the major success of 2011 was getting £4.5m for David Ngog! (And Jordan Henderson)...
Summer windows generally go quite badly for Liverpool. Hindsight next May might say the same thing. But as it stands, our business has been conducted quicker, quieter and more efficiently than Liverpool fans have seen in quite some time.
I'm sorry the Mailbox isn't full of doom and gloom merchants, some of us want to at least try see the glass as half full before someone knocks it off the table.
Oh, and, finally, Brendan...Sort out the f*cking defence! No Bertrand, and if Southampton want £25m for Lovren say no!! An extra £5m would get Benatia ffs!! Surely we have enough stamps on our Southampton loyalty card for a freebie at this stage?
Kevin, LFC, Cork
...A few people getting rather antsy about Liverpool's transfer activity I see. A question to those people: what were you expecting? It's almost as if these people have been paying close to zero attention to what has been happening to football for the past five years. Here's an update. There are around eight to ten clubs in European football that are disgustingly rich. Most of the very best players in the world play for these clubs. Those that don't aspire to do so. Liverpool are not part of this group of clubs and they very likely never will be.
Liverpool have no option but to shop in the second tier of players. Buying players even such as Sanchez or Reus would be a veritable coup for Liverpool. As soon as they decide to move for a player, the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Barcelona (and Tottenham, of course) know about it. If they decide they'd like said player, they simply offer them 25% more money and that's it, Liverpool are gazumped. However, Atletico Madrid and Dortmund in recent seasons have shown that success is possible without vast wealth (though you need at least a pot to p*** in), which is fantastic news for Liverpool and the rest.
Liverpool are in the situation where their best player has left for a huge sum. The temptation is there to splurge it all on half a new team. I feel that's the wrong approach. Liverpool's success has been built around Brendan Rodgers coming in and insisting on a certain way of playing (I refuse to call it a philosophy, so let's call it a system). That has been very successful for Liverpool, and with the exception of Suarez, it has been done using good, but not great players. If the World Cup should have taught us anything it is that the system is king.
Liverpool don't need to sign superstars. They don't need to sign a like-for-like replacement for Suarez. There isn't one, and the system worked just fine without him, lest we forget. Stick to the system, sign players that you feel will fit into it and tweak it where necessary. I don't know very much at all about Markovic (fancy that, a person who doesn't watch endless Portuguese football) but in Lallana and Lambert, Liverpool have signed good intelligent footballers that would, on the face of it, appear to fit in with the way we play. A couple more signings and the progression of some of the younger players should ensure that we have some strength in depth to compete across all fronts.
The future looks okay for Liverpool. I think though it's important to manage expectations. Even with Suarez, I rated Liverpool's chances of another top-four finish at slightly less than 50%. It's not a disaster to fail however and it's important people realise this. If we qualify for the Champions League two years out of five, bearing in mind what we're competing against, that would represent success to me. If we have a stupid season like last year, there is of course the chance of winning a league but in today's football, those seasons are only likely to come along once every 10-15 years.
Andy (can one be a voyeur and a seducer?), London
...After all the pessimism/optimism dividing Liverpool fans in this morning's mailbox, I'd just like to point out that Liverpool's rivals haven't exactly set the trail blazing either with the exception of Chelsea and possibly Arsenal. While Sanchez is a huge signing for Arsenal, they're still yet to sign anyone else of note (although Debuchy will sign soon apparently) and City have been pretty underwhelming so far with only two squad players coming in. However, I think Liverpool should be looking further down the table for their potential rivals next season as, lets face it, every Liverpool fan would grab a 3rd/4th place finish with both hands right now.
So, who have the teams that finished immediately outside the top four signed so far? Gareth Barry, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw. That's it. Spurs have a new manager and no new signings (with Liverpool probably beating them to Davies and Bony), United will obviously spend further but currently have a centre back pairing of Smalling and Jones and only half a central midfield and Everton are clearly struggling to find a replacement for Lukaku. Right now, there is nothing to be afraid of despite the departure of Suarez. Only United can rival (and surpass) Liverpool's spending power and they're the only team that Liverpool potentially need fear.
Van Gaal is clearly a brilliant manager but he is having to rebuild almost an entire defence and create a midfield almost from scratch at United and none but the most optimistic of United fans will claim that they're going to easily climb into fourth place or beyond. They will challenge but until the fabled arrivals of Vidal, Hummels and Di Maria among others arrive, forgive me for being positive about Liverpool's chances next season.
Elvis > Beatles
Tom G stated this morning in regards to Liverpool's transfer dealings, 'This has been our best window for years', well I hate to point it out Tom, but you've just sold (arguably) the third best player in the world right now, and the fee is immaterial.
Regardless of who Liverpool sign in the remaining six weeks, this transfer window will have been a regressive one, but I applaud the misguided optimism.
Selling Elvis and buying the Beatles?...I'll take The King all day long.
Lay Off Lallana...Please
Hi footballing world - Is it not possible to just say that Kroos is just massively under-priced seeing as he was in the last year of his contract rather than comparing him to Lallana at every possible juncture. Larger transfer fees have been paid this window by Man Utd for a left-back and a deep lying midfielder who has yet to be capped by his national team and so I don't really understand the general level of mockingness (yeah it's a word) that the Lallana deal is getting.
For those who aren't 100% sure Kroos and Lallana are actually two completely different human beings, honestly. If you look at a picture of them both next to each other it becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly. The similarity in price of the pair is driven solely by Kroos' contractual status at Bayern not as a gauge of the player's ability. I certainly don't dispute Kroos is a better player than Lallana but using Real Madrid's explotation of the situation as a stick to beat Lallana alone is not really fair.
And on another note can our own fans, looking at you Justin (LFC) get off Rodgers' back and stop f*cing crying every time a player moves to another club and realise that whilst we are now in the Champs League (due in large part to the manager's own contribution) this does not mean that Toni Kroos at this time would see Liverpool as a better destination than Real Madrid. If Real Madrid go in for a player and flutter their incredibly voluptuous eyelashes at him, im afraid no amount of knicker-showing from us would see us being able to compete with them. We want to be there, but the reality is, right now, we are not. Get over it.
Mick, LFC, Amsterdam
...I've read in loads of places (including this morning's mailbox) that the Kroos/Lallana comparison proves the premium of English players but in reality the comparison is totally facile. Kroos had 12 months left on his deal with Bayern and was rumoured to have already signed a deal to join Real next summer for free. In that context, £20m looks like fairly good business for Bayern (same situation and incidentally same price tag as van Persie to United). I'm not saying no such premium on English players exists, but this is comparing two totally incomparable situations to draw a conclusion. I think if he were under contract Kroos would be getting closer to Goetze's €37m or Ozil's €50 fees. World Cup winner's premium perhaps?
...There seems to be a lot of emails on the relative prices paid for certain, and yes 20m for Kroos as opposed to 25m for Lallana dose seem odd on the surface, but given that Kroos wages will be a lot higher - no idea of what both are on but let's say Lallana £100,000 a week and Kroos £200000 a week, over his six-year contract Kroos will cost an extra 40m.
Maybe Liverpool couldn't afford that. I'd like to see wages included in prices so we can actually get a like-for-like comparison.
They Should Go For Balotelli
Whether or not you think they're having a good summer in the transfer market, you can't argue Liverpool's starting XI is stronger without Luis Suarez. The multiple additions could well make the squad better suited to pursuing a top-four position with added European fixtures, but they will strike less fear into opponents without the Uruguayan up front (and not just because the opponents don't have to worry about being eaten).
In footballing terms, the list of players who would completely replace, let alone improve on, Suarez is very short, and I'm not saying the man I'd suggest Liverpool target is on it just yet. But he's young, has played at the highest level, including the Premier League, possesses prodigal talent, knows the north-west, intimidates defenders and is very much available. I'm talking of course about Mario Balotelli.
He's a very different player to Suarez, so would necessitate a change of approach, but Balotelli can win games on his own and almost certainly has his best years ahead of him. The principal criticism thrown at him is a lack of effort, which certainly isn't something you could level at Suarez, but I think the fact he's a mercurial talent wrapped up in a complex personality may be good news for Liverpool.
This morning people were talking Arsene Wenger up as the arch-seducer of players, and with Fergie gone, there's really only Mourinho to match his gravitas in the English game. So where does that leave Brendan Rodgers? Well, so long as he doesn't slip into his David Brent-eqsue alter ego, he can paint himself as the man who got the best out of Suarez, the ideal manager for a player who is considered damaged goods.
While Balotelli is yet to consistently deliver on his potential, you get the feeling that he wouldn't be available if there wasn't concern over his mentality. If Suarez is anything to go by, Rodgers could cajole the best out of the Italian. He would cost a fair whack, but Balotelli has the ability to make it look cheap very quickly, and if he starts firing, with the strengthened cast around him, Liverpool could be back to stay.
Will (they'd probably have to explain away the whole supporting-the-racist thing, though) O'Doherty
Those of us of a certain age are used to the ignorance of people who think Sky invented football in 1992, but Brian (something about Jordan Ibe), LFC really pulled one out of the hat in this morning's mailbox. He stated, and I quote, 'Liverpool went from a seventh place finish to a second place finish in the span of one season. An unprecedented feat'. Sorry, that should read 'UNPRECEDENTED'.
To take just one outstanding example of a team achieving something like this, in fact far superior to this supposedly UNPRECEDENTED achievement, in 1976-77, Nottingham Forest won promotion from the old Second Division, now the Championship of course. The following season they followed this winning the First Divsion title and even managed to improve on this by winning the European Cup (that's the equivalent of the Champions League, by the way, Brian), not just in the following season, but in the session after that as well. Now that's not only UNPRECEDENTED, but no-one's achieved anything like it since, either.
Youngsters today, I dunno.
Paul Quinton, Wolves
Why Arsenal Really Attract 'Stars'
Without meaning to sound nasty but isn't the real reason that Arsenal signed Ozil and Sanchez because their previous clubs didn't really want them anymore as they had improved on those players, because silly money was being offered and that the players could be a big fish in a smaller pond?
The pressure is off the players now, they have gone from clubs who fight for the title and Champions League to one that rewards consistency over ambition. Ozil is a case in point, he could have still been leading the assists charts and a CL winner, instead he has question marks and an FA Cup.
Or maybe it was just because Wenger spoke to them in their own language, makes more sense.
Steve (Wenger - a track record of making expensive players regress)
...so Wenger's the master seducer? Nothing to do with doubling their wages. It's kind of like how my mate seduced all them beautiful ladies standing under red lights in Amsterdam last year.
You can tell me until you are blue in the face that Wenger is a master seducer but he has the ultimate ally in this...London.
If you are Johnny Foreigner and you have two choices - London club or any northern city - you will choose London unless insane cash is mentioned.
London for a foreigner is where England is at, everywhere else isn't.
Paul Rhodes, Liverpool fan since you ask
A Long Mail About Southampton
I disagree whole-heartedly with your writer's assertion that Southampton are the empty supermarket shelves and "the rest of the Premier League are dabbing the corners of their mouths with a napkin". For one thing, only two of the 19 teams that make up the rest of the Premier League have actually bought any of our players so far and, even if we lose Rodriguez and Lovren, that figure will likely stay the same.
But the fact is we have not lost J-Rod or Lovren and the club are going all out not to. Furthermore, of the three players we have sold we have replaced two of them with arguably better players at half the price: £29m for Lallana and Rickie Lee vs £16m for Tadic and Pelle (who has scored more goals in his time in the Eredivisie than either Wilf Bony or Luis Saurez managed in their time there). While I am aware there is a risk Pelle could turn out to be another Pablo Osvaldo, the flip side is that, if he is the business, we can sell him to Liverpool in four years when he's 32 for £4m, rising to £7m dependent on various clauses). So that leaves just one spare shirt from last season. Hardly empty supermarket shelves - although I will concede (if that is the right word) that we have cannily got rid of one item that was fast approaching its best before date.
The three players sold generated an immediate £56m - with potentially more to come - which is far more than they are worth, as proved by Toni Kroos' recent transfer fee. And while Lallana was integral to our success last season can the same be said of Lambert and Shaw? Even if Lovren, Schniders and J-Rod leave we will still have Jack Cork, Victor Wanyama, Callum Chambers, Nathanial Clyne, Jose Fonte, Graziano Pelle, James Ward Prowse, Dusan Tadic and Steven Davies who, for me, is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. And those are only the ones you might have heard of. Matt Target could be a direct replacement for Luke Shaw who would cost us nothing and the likes of Harrison Reed, Luke Hesketh, Jake Sinclair, Jack Stephens and Lloyd Isgrove all look well on track to make the first XI over the course of this season or next.
It is disappointing, of course, that we are having to spend time replacing first-team mainstays this summer (rather than concentrating on adding depth to the squad and raising money only from selling misfits Osvaldo and Ramirez), but we are Southampton and do not pay weekly six-figure sums to our players because we want to remain in existence. For that kind of money they have to leave and, if they get such a chance, it is obviously very difficult to ask them to turn it down.
But the way I see it we are in rude health. The idea that we are not a selling club is laughable. Of course we are. As is every club in the world except Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is a chain and we are in it. Manchester United sell to Real. Liverpool sell to Barca. We sell to Manchester United and Liverpool. And, pleasingly, we have ripped them both right off - and will do the same again if Liverpool come back for anyone else or Arsenal make a move for Schniderlin. It is not like the old days when we had to take whatever we could for Walcott or Oxlaide-Chamberlain, or worse, sell to the likes of Derby County and Blackburn Rovers. Those days are gone, for now at least. Though we recognise our place in the chain we don't need to sell, so if you want our players you will pay over the odds and we will replace them like for like, or better for like, simply because we are in a position where we can 1) take a punt on a player, and 2) be bothered to do the legwork rather than just wait for someone else to sign them to see if they are any good. If you are happy with that then go ahead and take your pick. But you will need to have deeper pockets than us: If you are Cardiff and you are after Jose Fonte you will find you cannot afford him.
Recently you have not published my mails - as is your prerogative - but I hope you publish this one as I feel it addresses a few points that real football fans, such as your good selves, are increasingly getting wrong and thereby making themselves look slightly foolish.
Mort Snort, Saints
I know it's almost been a week since the World Cup final but it's only just occurred to me where the best destination would have been to have watched the final.
No, not the stadium which hosted the final, nor Copacabana beach, nor Berlin or Buenos Airies. The best place to have watched the game would have been the Vatican.
For the first time in history a final has been played while we have had two living Popes - Benedict the retired Pope Emeritus and the current pontiff.
What is so splendiferous about the current set-up is the German Benedict, I believe, has a residency on the grounds of the Vatican so it's quite possible he would have watched the game with the current football-mad Argentinian Pope.
One wonders if Benedict has spent the last week gloating at the current Pope's expense. Oh to have been a fly on the wall.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Why Data And Football Don't Mix
Since FiveThirtyEights entry into football world, I knew it was only a matter of time that Nate Silver would be mentioned in the glorious Mailbox. The man is probably the best known statistician in America, not only for his work in baseball but for predicting the last few Presidential Elections accurately.
However, his predictions on Brazil winning have been a stain on an otherwise glowing CV. These were numbers that ignored the pressure of expectation, the paucity of attacking talent in this Selecao, the over-reliance on one player, and the history of Brazil's previous footballing disaster on home soil. I love that F365 rails against narrative in football, however I always suspected that the narrative of Brazil winning the cup at home was never going to come true, and the anti-narrative, of bitter rivals Argentina winning it in Rio, was more likely due to the universe's affection for irony. Even without Neymar and Silva, they predicted Brazil to have a 65% chance of beating Germany. where every semi-intelligent life form could have told you the match was Germany's to lose.
I think the problem with predictive data analysis is football itself. I don't watch baseball but often compare football to basketball, where data analytics is much bigger. The reason you can often predict NBA games correctly through data is because basketball is a fundamentally fair game while football is not. A basketball game is decided by which team performs better for the most amount of time during a match. A bad quarter can be turned around, but you can't score two goals in the 93rd minute and turn around a game you've been losing for the previous 90. Scoring being easy, weighted lightly, and being done often creates a fair game. Scoring being hard, being weighted heavily and being low in number means that football, like life, is fundamentally unfair. Add to this that having an amazing Center can help your defense, but having a goalie playing out of his skin can completely stop a dominating team from winning.
No-one talks about getting the rub of the green, or the...paint...of...the court (sorry) in basketball.
Stan Millworth, Portland Timbers
In light of the showpiece occasion that was #RioInRio, my friends and I came up with a list of other programmes we would like to our licence payers' money to go towards being created. These include:
Hansen on Hanson - Former Liverpool great connects with Taylor, Zac and Isaac to discover how much Mmmmbop changed their lives and how having a number one hit so early in their careers affected them.
Crooks on Crooks - Think Garth Crooks in a Ross Kemp on Gangs style documentary.
Banks on Banks - ex England World Cup winning goalkeeper investigates the fiscal irresponsibility displayed by major mortgage lenders in the early 21st Century and whether public confidence in major financial institutions has been fully restored.
Yorke on York - Jordan's former flame discusses the Viking invasion of the 9th Century and its impact on the city today.
Chamberlain on Chamberlain - the Arsenal midfielder considers Neville's appeasement of Hitler and asks if the former Prime Minister is unfairly maligned.
Cole on Coal - Ashley, Andy and Joe join forces to discuss the decline of the coal industry in the 70's and 80's and the affect on Northern England.
Griffin on Griffin - the former Stoke full-back muses whether the rise of Nigel Farage has destroyed Nick Griffin's electoral hopes.
And our personal favourite:
Gazza on Gaza -the controversial midfielder ruffles a few feathers by comparing the Hamas-Fatah schism to the Tyne-Wear derby
Allowfc! (with TB Utd influence)
Clicking On the Mail
Thanks to Mediawatch today I clicked through to the MailOnline for the first time ever. Were you aware that by pointing out the typically chauvinistic attitude by the Mail editor you were inadvertently encouraging me to click and therefore increase the Mail's much-demanded click-throughs? Shame on you for preying on my weakness for a glimpse of a semi-clad lingerie model. Unless of course we've both fallen victim to a very clever trap.
JazGooner (A morning with no boss and the transfer blog. A lethal combination)