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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Some Happy Liverpoolers
If there was a way to lift the mood of Liverpool fans following our failings in the transfer market, that was it. What a performance. Brilliant pressing, quick counterattacking and concentration when Everton had the ball for long periods from Liverpool.
The front four of Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho and Sturridge(in the first half), were absolutely fantastic. It was good to see Coutinho back in the number 10 role and he showed that he is much more effective there than out on the left wing. Sterling caused the Everton defence lots of problems, despite still having obvious flaws to his game. If he improves his first touch, finishing and decision making he'll be a top, top player. Even if he doesn't, he showed last night he's a bloody nightmare for defenders. Flanagan was excellent at the back too, it's remarkable how much he's improved and Mignolet dealt well with a few swerving shots that could be troubling to a keeper in his form.
As a side note though, we should still sign another player or two, and let's have Gerrard taking every penalty now please.
James (No 'finishing above Liverpool' trophy for Everton this year) LFC
...I hope that shuts the Liverpool doom-mongers up for a while. Reading yesterday afternoons mailbox after the Everton game shows how stuoudly reactionary some fans had become. Back our team you muppets, and stop making the rest of us look bad.
Gavin (all the way from Sunny South Africa) Higgins
...Good news for Aidan, EFC. He wouldn't have had to be nervous for long. The game was over in half an hour. As a Liverpool fan I'm actually disappointed we didn't have more of a challenge from our (not very noisy) neighbors.
Sam, LFC, NOL
...What a result. I was fearful beforehand that they would overrun us in midfield but Henderson and Gerrard were so diligent and did the one thing they needed to do to destroy this Everton team-move the ball on to our front four and let them work their magic.
Defensively, we showed a resilience that has been missing for the past month or so, and the clean sheet will work wonders for our confidence. I would still spent the next few days working hard to get a left-back in because Cissokho is nowhere near good enough, but if Flanagan can slot in for Johnson we should be fine on that side.
A DM is still needed, and I hope this 'major signing' being spoke of is an enforcer who will fill in for Lucas for the next couple of months and then challenge him for the DM role once he's back fit. It's a shame Chelsea snapped up Matic so quickly because he looks like a class act.
I DO NOT consider this a win to put us back in the title-race. Brendan needs to realise that talking about the title does us no good, we need to shut up, focus on each game as it comes, and try and secure the top 4 spot that we so badly need.
Hard luck on Everton. I don't subscribe to the Liverpool fan rhetoric of taking the p*ss out of their loan deals and belittling their success. They're a good side, and a big club. The only player I truly hate on their team is Mirallas, I think he's an over-rated highlights player.
Joe, LFC, Washington DC
Saints Arsenal Thoughts
After watching Arsenal vs. Southampton I have some thoughts to help me put off actual work.
- The Saints played with intent and pace. Young lads showing real hunger.
- Arsenals first half was sloppy and lethargic. 2nd half was improved.
But my main point is this, Arteta is a liability. I've been thinking it for a while but have bit my tongue as we've been doing pretty well thank you, but his display against Southampton was woeful. He is slow, afraid to make a challenge, gives away possession cheaply (often in stupid positions) and then fails to chase back to clean up. He appears to make Kos and Mertsacker nervous when other teams come at them as he fails to track a man and expects them to cover two.
He is a lovely chap by all accounts, a Spaniard, quiet, fantastic hair and a consummate professional but he cannot justify a starting birth. The solace is that he was in for Wilshere but I still think Wenger plays him too much. It's amazing how the return of Flamini has exposed the gulf between the two (shocking tackle and definite straight red from him though!)
George AFC, Wellington, NZ
...What a game last night. One of the best I have watched for a long time. As a Saints fan now living abroad, obviously I can't go watch them live, so have to make do with TV/internet. I know my Dad went last night, and I'm sure he will have enjoyed it!
In terms of quality of the football, and entertainment, surely one of the best games of the season. The fact that it was a close game makes it even better. Yes, Man City putting 6 past Arsenal and Spurs is immpressive, but those games stopped being a contest long before the end.Last night was exciting right to the final whistle.
Luke Shaw probably added another couple of million to his transfer price last night. Absolutely astounding performace. Left back is probably the only position in which England has a selection of quality players, but I do wonder if he might force his way into the squad befor Brazil. Based on last night, Roy could do a lot worse than play him on the left wing. I think him and Baines would be a very potent combination, with the added bonus of being defensively sound.
Lallana was also excellent. Real pace, balance and control on the ball. Sadly I think this summer will be yet another 'final hurrah' for the #GoldenGeneration. The same old faces and same old excuses. But hopefully afterwards it will be time to bring in some new ones. An England team featuring the likes of Wilshere, Lallana, Barkley etc. is hopefully something to look forward to.
Philosophy Or Manager?
Watching United get out-passed last night by bottom of the league Cardiff got me thinking about something; Are we underrating the importance of the non-playing staff when it comes to the quality of team's possession? We rave about the importance of a playmaker, or the size of a team's coffers or even structural stuff like formations, but seldom do we directly attribute this quality to the manager and his coaching staff.
This is not a rant against Moyes, but merely an observation that is pretty obvious sometimes, yet rarely spoken about. Bear with me. Consider this, that there seem to be two extreme school of thoughts for managers out there - The ones who think that motivation, player's desire and players management to be the key (Ferguson, Moyes, Mourinho, Tony Pulis) and on the other end, the ones who thinks that a playing philosophy throughout the team to be the key (Guardiola, Klopp, Wenger, Laudrup and Martinez). Of course, managers are rarely on the extreme end of each side, but typically tend to show more of one side than the other.
Now, to throw out a hypothesis - "Big clubs tend to do better with a playing philosophy, while small clubs tend to do better with a motivating manager". While some may disagree, consider that this hypothesis does explain some of the following observations below;
Barcelona became arguably the greatest club in history by having a strong playing philosophy - made even stronger by Pep Guardiola's focus on work ethic while keeping a continuous emphasis on Tiki Taka.
Mourinho brings success wherever he goes, by virtue of being a great motivator rather than as a tactical coach, though it's very evident that Mourinho is actually very adept at setting his team up defensively and should also be considered a good tactician, at least, a defensive sort.
Martinez struggles at Wigan despite being a good tactician, for ultimately, the quality of his players are lower individually. For example, If given the same opportunity, it is far more likely that Van Persie scores than Kone. This explains the typical high possession stats, but also typical lack of end product and goals. But critically, when given access to better players, managers like Martinez flourishes at bigger clubs - Everton this season have been playing much better than in Moyes years, while Liverpool with Rodgers seem to fall in the same pattern. They may be good big club managers, along with Klopp, Laudrup.
David Moyes, being a good man-manager, is able to wring the best out of his Everton players, at least in terms of work rate and work ethic, but have thus far fail to impress in United. Going back to the hypothesis, I think it is quite evident that United have lacked a playing identify this season, and without that, their league position may not actually be an anomaly. United actually does look like his Everton. Players running hard, tackling hard, but often depending on the individual brilliance of key players.
I think if you consider these points carefully, they may be the fundamental block that determines how well a team does over time. It seems that for big clubs at least, an excellent playing philosophy with motivated players would do better than highly motivated players with an average playing philosophy. The Barcelona vs United games are perhaps, the best illustration of this fact.
Gabriel, MUFC, Singapore
As F365 is fond of saying, swap deals never happen. Especially between PL clubs. So behold a swap deal between PL clubs in the January window. And it's Odemwingie and Kenwyn Jones. Pitiful. Why can't it be Rooney for Torres, or sommat more interesting?
In fact, whilst we are talking about swap deals...has there ever been a good swap deal? For either one or both of the parties involved. I can't think of one and I'm far too important to actually find out myself. So perhaps the readers would care to answer.
Mata = Kagawa
It's half time in United v Cardiff.
Mata is basically an expensive version of Kagawa. Both are clearly classy and excellent players, United just don't play to their strengths. Mata's heart must be breaking every time he looks up and it isn't Giggs or Van Persie that's free, Young and Valencia are a waste of the Daz that the kit man uses to wash up after the game with.
Silvio Dante (Young and Valencia out, Jones in defence)