Somebody mentions Paul Scholes and everybody writes in with those quotes from Zidane etc. Dull dull dull. We've ignored them. There's plenty more to enjoy here...
It does seem logical that the best thing to do with the best players is to play them from the start, when they have the most time to make an impact, rather than the last 15 minutes...
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Frustrated With Pool Transfers
Just wanted to vent my current frustrations with the transfer policy that seems to be shaping up during the Rodgers Reign. I am, in most ways, a supporter of B.R. and don't have too much to complain about. He has made a noticeable impact and injected some life into the squad and our play since his arrival, despite the bumps and bruises along the way. I've got one major complaint to lodge now that he has had a good amount of time to settle in and is producing some great results: our transfer policy is that of a side who's highest ambition is to simply stay in the Premier League year to year, rather than one who strives to compete for a title.
I am a huge fan of the gems FSG and Rodgers found in Coutinho and Sturridge, and I think Sakho will ultimately be a success, but otherwise we just don't seem committed to making that real challenge on the big guns of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City. One might say Arsenal haven't bought big names in years, but when it counted they made arguably the best transfer of the summer with Ozil. Manchester City obviously has the cash to give anyone a run for their money, but you'll never see them sitting on their laurels. Fernandinho, Navas and Negredo were amazing additions this past year to a side that wasn't really missing much of anything to begin with. Chelsea have an embarrassment of talented players that never actually play for the club and probably never will (unless we start allowing 15 on the pitch at a time). The similarities with these teams consistently above us in the table is that they don't mind splashing the cash when its worth it.
I understand the FSG policy of buying low cost, young talent and developing it, but unless you are comfortable with inconsistent results and mid-table mediocrity you'll never reach the top without proven, world-class leaders on a squad (and ours are getting old or considering getting a plane ticket to Madrid). Despite the talk I just don't see a willingness to make the "right" purchases. I don't have confidence the money is there should the "right" player become available. If I've learned anything about the transfer market its that almost every player is available - you just have to be willing to back up your interest with money. I don't have confidence FSG is targeting the top class talents Liverpool will require to make a title assault. I have every confidence in their ability to scout obscure talents on the fringes in other leagues and pick them up for more than they'll be sold on for. I just don't see FSG or Rodgers having the audacity to sign the next Steven Gerrard or Xabi Alonso, even if they were "available".
Robert - LFC USA
And Angry At Coutinho
It's time Phillipe Coutinho was dropped. He's been average and doesn't seem to like putting the ball in the net. He's a good player, and will probably become a great player, but he's not doing an awful lot at the moment. Put Sturridge back in and let's see if it gives him a kick up the bum bum.
Give Moses back to Chelsea - he's rubbish.
Two More Points On Liverpool
1. The floundering defence
While Liverpool's defence of the previous month or three has been not much short of woeful, I reckon there are some pretty mitigating circumstances. Our best two centre backs, Agger and Sakho, are yet to be paired together at centre back I believe, with Rodgers preferring to play Skrtel and one other. In my opinion they have the potential to make a pretty effective partnership - rather than complementing each other by having some strengths and also major deficiencies (see the successful Mertielny partnership), they both have good all-round games, they're strong in the tackle, good in the air, have superb distribution and are good leaders at the back. Our first choice left back has been injured for 90% of the season, forcing us to play a centre half, a 20 year old or a worryingly substandard loanee, and Johnson, one of Liverpool's best performers of the last two seasons, has been absolutely pants this term. If Johnson can approach something near his best form, Enrique returns and Rodgers can bring himself to play Agger and Sakho together I foresee a much more stable back four.
2. Gerrard moving to 'DM'
In theory, I can see this working really well - Gerrard is extremely good in the tackle and strong in the air (as evidenced on Sunday), and has the passing ability to dictate a game (we've seen him take charge of England for a few seasons now). He doesn't make many lungbusting runs these days so wouldn't be caught out of position often either. I reckon he can perform a role pretty similar to what Alonso did for us - a deep-lying playmaker with defensive attributes to boot. The benefit of doing this is that Liverpool should be able to get away with a two man centre midfield, a la City, Real Madrid, and play both Sturridge and Suarez up front together. However, I feel Liverpool don't have the 'second' player to justify dropping Gerrard deeper just yet. They need a creative, forward thinking central midfielder if he's just going to sit deep, the Marchisio to a Pirlo, the Modric to an Alonso, the Ramsey/Wilshere to an Arteta, a player Liverpool simply don't have at present (Henderson is a bit better roaming further forward and Allen is simply too lightweight to cut it in a two-man midfield). So if Rodgers doesn't make signing a central midfielder a priority, this particular experiment should hold off till the summer.
On Keane's Side
I rather enjoyed the article on the Top 10 footballing insults.
But it reminded me of something I have never quite understood. I have to preface this by admitting I follow United so I am a bit biased. But why do people get on Roy Keane's side over the 2002 affair? I would be inclined to agree with him that if you're going to the World Cup, you want to give your boys the best chance possible to do well, not train on a pitch where you might end up with a broken ankle. So when Keano complained about the organisation of the Irish preparations, wasn't he right?
Yes he could have just kept his mouth shut, but this isn't preparing for a Sunday game with your mates, this is the World Cup! So could someone with better understanding of the whole thing enlighten me?
Angry About Meaningless Awards
I suppose most of the contributions regarding the football Oscars will revolve around Ronaldo's win. As ever there will be those who argue for and against it.The reality is that for an individual award you cannot overlook his staggering goalscoring record,regardless of Real Madrid's lack of success and his very annoying face.
However,that argument does not concern me. I am more interested in the team award.I think this more than anything else exposes the flaws of the voting system. It is once again lazy voting on behalf of the ballot,voting for names and past successes, rather than actually considering the best players of the year.
You will find no bigger fan of Iniesta than me but how he and Xavi made it in ahead of Schweinsteiger, Reus and even Martinez is ridiculous, considering their form in 2013. There are no Dortmund players which is staggering considering their demolition of Madrid and appearance in the champions league final.
It is also the appearance of Ibra and Silva.Yes they won the French league but is that more worthy of Van Persie firing United to the title,Suarez's carrying of Liverpool or even more perplexing Lewandoski's incredible performances. What about Juventus and Benfica? Not one player close after their seasons?
I think there needs to be a rethink of the voting system or at least greater clarity concerning what the voters are actually voting on.Is it reputations or performances over the calendar year? Is it medals or individual statistics?Is it tangible or intangible influence?
At least Jupp won best coach.Don't get me started on the nominations for that award.
We Feel Bilious
Cristiano, you're wonderful. I never needed you to win the Ballon D'Or to realise how wonderful you are. You are the best player I have ever seen play, and United have shone less brightly since you left.
Tight Is Right
When Koscielny & Mertesacker play the full 90 minutes together:
Played - 28
Wins - 20
Draws - 8
Losses - 0
Conceded - 14
Clean sheets - 16
Maybe Arsene can buy defenders afterall.
Nick C. (10th through 20th are separated by SIX points!) Burlington, ON
If you had turned on for the last 20mins of the Arsenal game last night you may have been misled in thinking that Villa made a good game of it. Lambert can go into a press conference and talk about the 'positives' to take from the game. In truth, we started the match as if we had already lost, conceded two goals in quick succession and waited for Arsenal to sit on their lead before trying to do anything. Arsenal should have been out of sight by half-time but they let us back in.
For the Wilshere first goal, please see the Welbeck opener for Utd in our defeat to them a couple of months ago. An untracked midfielder (this time Januzaj) breaks to the edge of the box and meets a cross unmarked, leading to a goal. What does Lambert do all week? Surely if I can spot that our midfielders do not follow runs from deep he can? Yet I see no attempt act rectifying this weakness.
Couple this with a Plan A involving 'lump it up to the big man, everyone run to catch up with him and look for a knock down' and a Plan B which reads 'Plan A, but with a different big man' that have led to 8 goals in 11 home games and you can see that perhaps Paul Lambert has no tactical acumen. If this is his 'project' and this is his idea of 'playing football the right way' then this needs to be nipped in the bud as it is utterly joyless. We resemble the Stoke of old more and more every day, but what is worse, we aren't remotely as effective. A damning indictment.
Not to worry though, our glorious leader has decided the squad needs some experience in it, a simple enough conclusion that many have been drawing for the past 18 months, but that is by the by. Paul Lambert has cast his eye far and wide, and has, in true David Moyes fashion, gone for someone he recognises. Grant '2 goals in the Championship this season' Holt. A man who had a good season in the Premier League two and a half season's ago. I would rather we signed another Ligue 2 player than Grant Holt. Bring back Mark Draper.
On Transfer Bedfellows
Regarding Ziggy's question asking which teams we loved to deal with in the Transfer window. As a Spurs fan I would have to say Leeds. We have over the last few years acquired Aaron Lennon, Danny Rose and we also bought England's No. 1 Paul Robinson for a snip at 1.5M after Leeds were relegated. All 3 have been great signings for us, but the best player we ever got from them lot was Sir Robbie Keane (yes I know he's Irish and would never be knighted lolz) what a player gave 100% every minute of every game, scored some amazing and important goals plus that goal celebration was the best I ever seen ha ha. We have also leant them a few of our young stars recently as well, Andros Townsend and Jake Livermore are 2 off the top of my head (not sure how well they did tbh, but sure it helped them develop and I wouldn't really count Livermore as a star just yet).
On the other hand, I hate dealing with Real Madrid and vice-versa for obvious reasons. I'm sure Arsenal fans would say the same about Barca.
In the future, I would love to have dealings with Bayern, Chelsea or Man City as there cast-offs are all still of great quality and would walk into most of the other 18 Premier league teams I'm sure. Mata would be a great start as we need goal scorers but doubt that would ever happen.
Stuart, Channel Islander in Dublin
...In response to Ziggy's email about transfer bed-fellows, as a Watford fan I've noticed a number of players arriving over the last couple of seasons from Udinese and, to a lesser extent, Granada. I'm not sure if this has been picked up on by the wider populous or even the media but there certainly seems to be a trend. Maybe it's just a coincidence though...
...This might have been slightly lost in translation, but my friend from Barcelona told me they joke about how they should have a free box at the Emirates for all the sh*t overpriced players they've signed from there.
This was when Fabregas was struggling, but I thought it was interesting to see the Barcelona perspective as I'd only really heard Arsenal fans complain about Barcelona pinching their best players
Jimmy (Meireles was quality at Chelsea btw) Sham
...In response to Ziggy's mail in yesterday's mailbox regards teams you love to deal with, I got to say we've done alright out of Leeds. In recent times they've sold us Ferdinand, Smith and the daddy of them all, Le God (for a million quid!!!) and in return they got Lee Sharpe. And not when he was good, but during his wobbly club v clubbing phase. Oh, and Wooton. Not bad business me thinks, and they hate us with a passion (mutual of course).
Lanky (we did sell them Giles though) manc
Football Should Be Fun
In your recent Winners and Losers, you mentioned "that Liverpool have now conceded at least two goals in seven of their last eight away matches" and it is something they need to fix. I am sure many fans are inclined to initially agree with this sentiment because it makes such good sense, but I'm going to play devil's advocate and say that football should be fun and entertaining.
I know we're supposed to want to win at all costs, but after seeing what that looks like under Rafa, this new style is a breath of fresh air and I'll happily take a 5-3 win (or even a 5-4 loss) over dour 1-0 wins and losses and the promise of incremental improvement based on tightening things up at the back. It's not my job, it's entertainment.
I understand those people who would rather win the title on the back of nothing but 1-0 wins without any flair or joy (lifting the trophy would be all the joy these types need). But surely we can understand the other point of view that scoring more goals than the other team even if they score ten still counts as winning and still gets you the three points. If not, let's just have 20 Jose Mourinhos and batten down the hatches to celebrate the next John Terry and future Jamie Carragher giving it their all to keep a clean sheet.