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A question to all the Liverpool supporters (and others). Will finishing outside top four will be taken as a failure this season?
Dushyant (Win or Lose - YNWA) Jamwal, India
No Squad Depth? It's Brendan's Fault
Since Brendan Rodgers has taken charge of Liverpool he has bought 15 players with a net spend of £72million, he has now had three transfer windows to get his squad the way he wants it, unlike AVB, he also kept his best player in the summer. After getting completely outplayed by last year's second-best Championship team yesterday he bemoaned a lack of depth in his squad, as he now has a team unable to cope with an injury to his second-best striker.
Since Liverpool defeated Man United over three months ago they have played 11 games, and have won just four - Sunderland, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Fulham. Three of those four teams have sacked their managers this season, and look most likely to get relegated come May.
Perhaps Rodgers is lucky that AVB is under so much pressure at the minute and that his poor performance isn't coming under scrutiny, but there will be a point when he can't continue to rely on Suarez/Sturridge to cover up his own failings, like last weekend when Sturridge spared his blushes after his poor substitutions let Everton back in the game. If Rodgers can't manage to get a squad with enough depth to play without any European football, how can he be trusted to successfully challenge for Champions League places while operating two games a week like every other manager around him seems to be able to, most having spent a lot less cash. Last season's 7th place and 11 points off the Europa League place shows that he can't.
Perhaps a lack of depth comes from having bought players like Joe Allen, Borini, Assaidi, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Victor Moses or Aly Cissokho. All of whom have shown they are either not good enough for a mid-table team, or can't be trusted with a meaningful run of games; or maybe it's just Brendan who is out of his depth.
...Once again Liverpool have demonstrated why they are a f***ing frustrating team to support.
The judgement of our managers in recent times has been shocking. The inclusion of both Sterling and Moses yesterday was just astounding. The approach to the game was almost 'it's only Hull' and that kind of outlook from the manager means it quickly filters through to the players. Rodgers also needs to stop playing centre-backs at full-back, they are not full-backs, and get the bloody defence to work on their concentration.
In a season where we have started reasonably well and where most of the other teams are dropping points, given we have no other distractions (FA Cup yet to start), all Rodgers needs to do is play his best 11 every week (unless injuries don't allow that). With Sturbridge injured and the fact Coutinho didn't start said all I needed to know in terms of what we'd create - SFA.
Ash (Where has common sense management gone?) LFC
Do Wingers Have No Worth Now?
So, Kyle Walker should become a right winger? As should Baines. And much the same was said of Glen Johnson earlier in his career. Is this what it's come to? In the age of the inflated importance of the defensive midfielder, the false nine, the trequartista (literally no one in Britain should know what this, or how to spell it) the position of 'winger' has no value. What to do with a full-back who can't defend? Stick him on the wing. What to do with a striker who can't score? Stick him on the wing. What to do with central midfielder out of form? Stick him on the wing? What to do with an attacking midfielder who isn't Rooney or Van Persie?...you get my point...
I love a good winger. A proper winger, playing on the same side of the pitch as their preferred kicking foot, beating a full back, crossing for a confident forward to sweep into the net, lovely. It appears I'm alone though. Winger seems to be to professional football what goalkeeper was to primary school football. I blame Liverpool, we started this with Cisse, Kuyt and Finnan playing right wing. In fact I blame Antonio Nunez for being so rubbish.
I am old.
Give Zaha A Pop
One brief moan after a fairly creditable draw for a United side which essentially doesn't have a central midfield: Zaha.
Plainly, Zaha hasn't done enough in training to convince Moyes of his readiness for a first-team spot (and, in truth, Zaha simply doesn't seem a Moyes player). But when United's options to change a match are whichever of Valencia, Young, Welbeck and Nani aren't already playing, Zaha simply cannot be any worse. Moyes is having to play with a team hamstrung by a lack of creativity, ball retention, or any semblance of threat, in midfield (a situation whose creation he's partially responsible for), and he actually seems to have made United more solid and more counter-attacking. But United, domestically at least, are struggling to create, threaten and score. Zaha might not be defensively as reliable as Valencia or Welbeck, but when United are chasing a goal in the last ten minutes, I suspect Zaha's skill, technique and unpredictability would be more threatening than any wide player apart from Nani and Januzaj.
If it doesn't pay off, fine. But as United scarcely have Ronaldo, Best or Giggs lighting up their wings at the moment, it's probably worth a go.
I felt like I was watching Bambi on Ice as I watched the replay of Spurs' second goal as Cleverley keeled over when Sandro turned him inside out before spanking that thunderb**tard into the top corner. That pretty much sums him up. He's awful on the turn. A strawweight off the ball. A doormat for a midfielder and the antithesis of what a United midfielder should be, i.e. a Robbo,a Keano, a Fletcher, even a P Nev for god's sake. What's more, Phil Jones is out for the Everton game so we're goosed again in the midfield trenches. Sure maybe Fellaini will slot in. He's physical, he's strong...but ermmm he can't bloody move...or pass. Sigh.
Brian, MUFC, Dublin
Sticking Up For AVB
I find it unbearable that there are reports that AVB has 'cracked' as a result of his points he made regarding the Daily Mail gutter journalism working against him. It is very evident that there is an agenda at play. Martin Samuel, who wrote Harry Redknapp's autobiography, is clearly still ired that his man got the flick from Spurs for a far more astute and successful manager in AVB. He has attacked his methods, his means and I think he was correct in saying they did question his integrity.
Harry Redknapp's major trophy hall stands at one FA Cup. In decades of management. No major club, other than Spurs, saw fit to have him as their manager. An indictment of his lack of tactical nous. AVB arrived in England with a Portuguese title and a Europa League. More as a young manager in a couple of seasons than Harry in a full career.
We all know the media have certain agendas, especially the red rags, but for both Daily Mail journalists to spend another week of hammering one man in particular (AVB) in their columns stinks of pure agenda-driven bias towards their previous man 'arry. Or does it just stink of a hatred of the Johnny Foreigner manager. You decide.
...I'm all for AVB standing his ground with the journos. Though what he will discover is that some of them will now come after him with increased venom than previously. Additionally, the two Daily Mail bozos will be revelling in this story as it makes them seem important and will keep the story running as long as possible to boost their already gargantuan egos. Lads, you report on football matches, get over yourselves. A lot of these people genuinely think what they say holds importance in the football world. It doesn't. They are self-aggrandising little boys largely following an agenda. AVB is a foreigner. The Daily Mail don't care much for foreigners, least of all those ones who come over here and take jobs of top top English lads. And even worse, foreigners who don't play the game.
I wrote to the maibox (unpublished I think) when AVB replaced Redknapp. In it I illustrated that the press goodwill to Tottenham will disappear almost overnight. To be fair it took a bit longer but it was always going to happen. Football press journalists seem to be an unpleasant bunch. I've met a few over the years and theres only one (Paddy Barclay) that I would willingly spend time with again. They can deny they are agenda-driven at times but it's clear they can be. The Glenn Hoddle when in charge of England issue was an embarrassment that even took in a Prime Minister. Hoddle began feeding misinformation to the press about player injuries and non injuries. Boy did they not like that. Feeding misinformation is their job after all, isn't it? They would deny this of course, but then they should explain to us all, each and every one of the transfer stories and exclusives over the last say, 12 months, which turned out to be the pish we as the public assumed they were, and they the guardians of morality, always knew them to be. Of course after Hoddle started playing the press at their own game he was doomed. He wasnt the first and clearly wouldn't be the last. AVB like the rest of us are probably better off avoiding particularly the Daily Mail for a while.
I am a manager of a team in London, I have just guided my team to their highest ever points finish.
I am a manager of a team in London, I have just relegated my team.
My team has has played 22 games and scored 34 goals.
My team has played 19 games and scored 19 goals.
My team is 10 points off the top, in the QF of the League Cup, has won their Europa League Group with a game to spare.
My team is 3 points off the top, and out of the League Cup.
My job is apparently under threat and I'm unpopular with my players and with the press if you believe everything you read.
My job is safe and I should be replacing the man above 'cos I'm a tr'ffic bloke and a top top top manager, all my mates in the press will tell you so.
Ashton For Nobel?
Neil Ashton really is such a great guy.
Last night we had fans of teams from across the nation uniting in their contempt. Gooner and Spud were as one in voicing their derision. And now he has done the unthinkable and rendered the comments of a PL Diary article (practically) free of abuse for the writers. Get this man to the Middle East then on to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Make him a UN envoy to Africa's most war-town lands.
Forget Gandhi, forget Martin Luther King, forget peaceful protest altogether. The path to the promised land of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men (and women) is clear: it's the unstinting c***iness of Neil Ashton, and the unifying instinctive revulsion it inspires in the rest of us.
One day they'll build statues of him. Though knowing how he prefers to stay out of the spotlight, I'm sure the idea would mortify him.
Is Neil Ashton persuing a vendetta against AVB as they are in factlong lost brothers, and AVB is the sole benefactor in the family'swill?
Sam, LFC, Yorks
Go Down Rather Than Cross?
Amongst all the well-deserved criticism of Owen's 'insight' on the Spurs v United game, the one that annoyed me most of all hasn't be brought up yet. At one stage Lennon was attacking the right side of the box and tried to send a cross over, which was cut out I think. Owen then expressed his bafflement that Lennon had opted to try and put a cross in, when he should have held onto the ball and waited for contact from Evra. Owen often peddles his rhetoric of how players going down under contact isn't the same as diving to anyone who'll listen, but personally I think this is going a bit far - actually criticising a player for trying to play a bit of football rather than instinctively trying to con the ref? In the interest of trying to stamp diving out of the game, which I thought was something everyone wanted fairly unanimously, I don't think allowing backwards-thinking like this from Owen to be broadcast is really helping things.
On a similar note, I fully agree with Andrew, Canada's email, on Welbeck dragging his foot to ensure contact. It was a definite penalty under the current rules, but players 'ensuring contact' is something to watch out for in future.
Olly Cole, THFC (love Sandro, still no idea what to make of Walker)
Durham And The Wolves
Adrian Durham doing a forfeit 'involving real live wolves'? Santa, mate, you're 22 days (and about 11 hours) too early!
My suggestion would be Durham wearing the Lady Gaga 'meat dress' while presenting his radio show. He'd be surrounded by a pack of rabid wolves (oh, and they haven't been fed for a week) chained up a few feet away from him, and they are released the first time he says something ridiculous/inflammatory/not true.
Darren Gough will have to do the remaining two hours, 59 minutes and 50 seconds of the show on his own.
...As he's clearly not going to do anything involving real live wolves, I'd make him dress up as a wolf and escape from Colchester Zoo.
Peter Thody, Leeds
Let's End With A Joke
RE: your Non-Football Story of the Day in today's Mediawatch, I am reminded of one of my favourite stand-up routines. It went thusly:
"All these people who turn up to A&E with their excuses for how they have come about their ailment. If it were me, I'd just be honest with them and say: 'I was rogering the dog on the stairs whilst my mum was giving me a reach-around, all whilst doing the vacuuming...and I just slipped and twisted my ankle.'"
Unfortunately I am unable to give due credit as I forget the guy's name (it was a backstreet comedy night in a pub).
David McCulloch, MUFC