That's one question posed in the afternoon mailbox, although it looks like the Japanese playmaker could soon be on his way. Plus, tipping Palace to go down under Warnock...
Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
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Liverpool vs Atletico
If the tables of both the Premier League and La Liga finished as they are - which team would have achieved more: Liverpool or Atletico? Both would have beaten teams that have invested heavily. Both have had fairly consistent starting XIs and minimal injury lists (of a comparison to the usual Arsenal hit-list).
Liverpool out of Europe but Atletico competing all the way? On the latter, I'd be tempted to say Atletico.
Phil (funny brackets comment), London
Sweeter Than Sugar (It's Stanger, by the way)
In response to Matt Stranger's question as to why Daniel Levy doesn't get too much criticism from Spurs fans, I give you the following:
Alan Sugar: 1991 to 2000. Final League Positions: 10th, 15th, 8th, 15th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 11th, 10th, 12th.
Daniel Levy: 2001 to present day: 9th, 10th, 14th, 9th, 5th, 5th, 11th, 8th, 4th, 5th, 4th, 5th (with a potential 6th place finish this season).
Quite simply, under ENIC and Daniel Levy we have come a long way. If we finish 6th it'll be seen as a disappointment. From the Alan Sugar wilderness years of mid table mediocrity to genuine top 4 contenders. Ok, Levy isn't perfect; AVB Should've had more time (if you appoint a young, inexperienced manager you have to let him develop) and Tim probably shouldn't have been afforded any time, but this season is being seen as a disaster and we're sixth. Sixth!! I grew up with disaster seasons finishing 15th. Long may finishing sixth and it being seen as a disaster continue!
In general, Spurs fans don't have the sense of entitlement that we should be winning the league. I think most of us are happy hunting for a champions league place and who knows, maybe one day all the stars will align and we'll win the damn thing. But it is not our right and we act accordingly. Give an FA cup every 5 years and a 4th place and we'll be more than content.
We have a lot to thank Levy for. He may not be perfect, but what chairman is? What he has given through is a chance for Tottenham to be genuine challengers at the top of the league. In a League with the behemoths of Utd, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, to even be in that group and to be consistently competing (not including this season), is a huge success.
So, yes, criticise Levy to a point but let's not hang him out to dry. Tim almost had us all convinced he was up to the job. Hopefully Levy will atone for his errors by getting Tim as far away from the dugout (or stands) as possible come the end of the season.
Praise the Doctor
I'm loving the praise that is flowing towards Brendan Rodgers for stabilising and improving the club over the last 2 years following on from the dark depths of the Gillet and Hicks era, and I'm trying to keep as calm and level headed as possible at the thought of Stevie G finally filling the one remaining hole on his CV, but I felt that I had to write in (for the first time) to praise/highlight the work of one man who hasn't been mentioned much yet. Step forward Dr Steve Peters, take a bow
Some of his most visible successes have come with Snooker World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, as well as the fantastically successful GB cycling team, and Dr Peters has been working with Liverpool since Rodgers took over. I'm no expert on the power of a psychiatrist in the world of football, although
I strongly believe it is an area where clubs should be looking for an added "edge" and whilst talk of Liverpool not getting injuries and not having the burden of playing in Europe this season upon them are cited as reasons for their success, lets also put forward Dr Peters as another possible reason for Liverpool's success.
Lee (brackets virgin) Michaelas
Manager Of The Year
In my opinion, Manager of the Year has always been an interesting decision. do you pick the guy who wins the most or the guy who's made the biggest difference?
Though football will always be my sport of choice, second place would be the American hand throwing version. in the NFL, it's pretty much accepted that the difference between the good teams and great teams is the level of coaching the team receives. in short, the talent level of the players varies little, but any difference is magnified by how good (or bad) the coach is.
Now, to bring that concept to football, i think we've seen exactly the same thing in the Premier League this year. i honestly don't believe there's too much difference in quality between the players playing at the top seven teams. some clubs have more of them of course, but it's always going to be 12 vs 12 on any given day (including managers).
Moyes has taken last year's title winners and turned them into a team fighting for 6th. Liverpool's first 11, on paper weren't expected to achieve much at the start of the season but thanks to Rodgers, they're playing the best football in the League and have done so for a few months now. Everton have clearly improved under Martinez. Chelsea and Manchester City have both improved slightly under new managers. As for my beloved Tottenham...the less said about Sherwood the better. it actually pains me that someone so dense is in charge of us and he should be sacked immediately.
On this basis, as much as i dislike him and his quotes, Rodgers has to win 'Manager of the Year, regardless of whether Liverpool actually win the title. what he's done to Liverpool is nothing short of extraordinary. his buys over the summer may be questionable, but his ability to coach certainly isn't.
As far as I'm concerned, the only other manager who can come close to winning is Tony Pulis. Crystal Palace were abject when he arrived and now they're deservedly beating Chelsea.
Lloyd Stiles, THFC, Vienna
£100m Isn't Enough For Arsenal
In Tuesday's Gossip, you report that Arsene may get a transfer budget of £100m to spend in the Summer. Regardless of whether it's Wenger or anyone else, as an Arsenal fan I am worried that we'll have to make a number of acquisitions just to stand still, let alone improve the squad and first team.
Most Arsenal fans have accepted that Vermaelen will be leaving in the Summer, along with Fabianski. Bendtner is certain to leave and Sagna seems likely to leave on a free when his contract expires. There have also been rumours that Podolski may be on his way. That leaves Arsenal needing to sign a goalkeeper, at least (but probably two centre backs), a first choice right back (Jenkinson is not ready yet), someone for wide left and a backup striker just to fill the holes created by players leaving.
Add in the need for a first class striker and a holding midfielder and the shopping list is unfeasibly long. I'm a Wenger supporter, but even I realise that there is absolutely zero chance of him signing 8-9 players.
In my view, Rosicky has been one of our most consistent performers this year, but he's 33. I think the fabled £100m war chest could come up short when you consider what's needed.
No Shift Of Power
Interesting article from John Nicholson. I would of course love him to be right, but I do feel he is a little bit premature in declaring a shift in the balance of power. The big worry for me and I'm sure other Liverpool fans, is that we've been here before.
In 2001/2002 we had an excellent season and, but for a stupendous run of 13 wins in their last 13 games from Arsenal, could easily have walked away with the title. Same again in 08/09, where we finished on 86 points and became the first team to lose less than 3 games in a season and not take the title, due to United taking something silly like 52 points from their last possible 60.
The problem with both of these seasons was that after them we had a massive opportunity to build on them and establish ourselves back at the top of the game; but we blew it. Poor decision making and dithering from the top brass, and poor judgement from the managers at the time meant we failed to capitalise on it and were back amongst the also rans almost immediately.
If by some miracle Liverpool do end up winning the league (and it is still very unlikely in my opinion), then if Johnny Nic is to be proved right Liverpool simply have to get it right this time. For me, this is a massive summer coming up for Liverpool. Get it right and they could be set up to challenge consistently for the very highest honours for the next 5 plus years. Get it wrong, and this season ends up being another false dawn to go with all the others we've seen over the years and Tim Colyer from this mornings mailbox will be right.
Like I said, big summer coming up, and if we do win the league then Brendan and FSG need to get their arses into gear and take maximum advantage of our new found status. Do it properly and we could potentially become Chelsea of 04/05 (i.e, get that first title under our belt and then dominate for a few years). Do it wrong (i.e piss about and sign dross/let other clubs sign all the best players while we sit around twiddling our thumbs like we have in the past), and we'll just be another Montpellier of 2012.
Oh, and one more thing. Top of the league with 6 games to go. Not bad for a 'mid-table club'......
Criticising Hodgson For Things That Haven't Happened
Its not the shirt price that is so woeful about English national football, but the Manager.
He has probably the most dynamic squad available to him for this campaign. They might not achieve much, but the experience will no doubt help them endlessly.
The trouble is Hodgson is so defensive in his setups that it's practically impossible for us to score or win. He will fall foul of picking players who think they should be in brazil rather than picking on form and ability.
I will enjoy Brazil once we have crashed out on the back of poor managerial decisions.
Quite Simply, It's The Elephant In the Room
As always, a marvellous round up by Mediawatch today, but why do they even bother with what the Daily Mail say, and more specifically, Adrian Durham? As an example:
If you cast your minds back to Spurs 6-0 defeat at city, and the aftermath of that, you'll remember the entire week was devoted to a misrepresentation of the word 'we' spoken by AVB, a word I'm sure you'll agree has the most simple of meanings...as in 'all of us', 'collectively' etc. we remember Samuel's piece about how AVB always blames others and never takes responsibility.(he was the opposite and lest we forget, Samuel ghost wrote Redknapp's autobiography...this in irony terms is surely in the MEGA-LOLZ' category)
With all this in mind, I was amazed to read the D*ily M*il website on Monday, expecting in the realms of fairness that Sherwood would be held to account for his clear lack of preparation for the Liverpool match and rather naive admission that he stayed in the stands as he couldn't influence the game.
The story they had instead? It was about 'whose monster calves are these'? With a picture of a Bayern players legs. Liverpool v spurs didn't seem to happen.
I do despair. Can they not even bother to cover up their blatant bias?
A Little Game
Create a team of the season, with no more than one player from any one team.
GK - Speroni
DL - Evra
CB - Caulker
CB - Chico
DR - Debuchy
AML - Hazard
MC - Yaya Toure
MC - Ramsey
AMR - Lallana
ST - Lukaku
ST - Suarez
The defence is a little shakey but I think the rest of the team would be very solid. Can someone come up with a better team?